"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

News of the Day – 4/29/09

Today’s news is powered by …. Post-its!:


EepyBird’s Sticky Note experiment from Eepybird on Vimeo.

  • Christina Kahrl has some thoughts on the construction of the Yankees roster:

The Yankees are supposed to be a good team, but it might be a little hard to see that when, to replace the immortal Cody Ransom at third base, they’ve stopped to… Angel Berroa. Apparently innumerable other bipeds weren’t available, or had already sought other engagements to make themselves unavailable . . .

The alternative would be that this organization, the same proud organization that struggled to come up with a first baseman better than Miguel Cairo in 2007, learned nothing about the value of adequate replacements from that particular lineup atrocity, and was blowing another week of their season on some new A-Rod substitute at third base that almost no other team in the league might consider. Sure, when Alex Rodriguez returns next week, this might prove a minor matter, but blowing the last few roster spots—let alone lineup cards, not to mention forgoing a decision to simply try to stock their minor league affiliates with useful journeymen—has cost this team in the past, and costs them to this day. It’s as if Clay Bellinger wasn’t a happy accident, but a choice informed by what we hope must be an appallingly parochial and ideally uninfectious local sense of taste.

[My take: OUCH! (but she's right) . . . for a $200+ million team, the Yankee teams of the last few years have been increasingly "bipolar" in terms of their roster construction.  "Stars and Scrubs" might work in Roto . . . but it doesn't work in real life.]

Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees have moved up A-Rod’s target date and are now shooting for a return to the team sometime in the first week of May, sources say.

Rodriguez and the Yankees were originally calling May 15 the target date for his return, and that is still the publicly stated goal. However, Rodriguez’s progress has been so good, both he and the team are hopeful he can return more than a week earlier than first expected.

  • Ken Rosenthal allays any “Joba (back) to the ‘pen” fears.
  • The Bombers have sort of seen the error of their economic ways, and are reducing prices on some of their top tier seats.  Here are some of the reductions:

• Tickets in the first row of sections 15A, 15B, 24B and 25 will be reduced, from $2,500 to $1,250, per regular-season game.

• The first row of sections 11, 12, 13, 27B, 28 and 29 will drop, from $1,000 to $650, per regular-season game.

• All fans who purchased full-season, $2,500 Legends Suite seats in the first row of sections 16-24A will receive an equal number of complimentary Legends Suite seats in the first row of the same sections for each of the remaining regular-season games this season.

• Fans who purchased full-season, $1,250 Legends Suite seats will receive an equal number of complimentary Legends Suite seats in the same price category for 24 games during the season, as selected by the Yankees. . . .

In addition, the Yankees are adopting a program affecting a few hundred seats in Field Level sections 115-125.

From now on, fans purchasing on a full-season basis three full regular-season ticket plans priced at $325 in those sections will receive a fourth ticket free.

[My take: Wonder if the Mets will follow suit . . .]

We were recently introduced to the extremely useful FanSnap.com. It is essentially Kayak.com – but for event tickets instead of airline tickets. In other words, the search engine has access to inventory for tickets from multiple sources and aggregates them within a well-designed website (why don’t we ever think of this stuff?!) In perusing the website for Yankee tickets, we realized that there is considerably more inventory on the secondary market for Yankee tickets than for any other baseball team. This may explain why Yankee Stadium looked so empty during the first homestand. . . .

The Yankees officially state the maximum capacity of the new Yankee Stadium at 52,235, which includes “approximately” 2,000 standing room only tickets. However, the Yankees announced opening day’s crowd of 48,271 as a sell out. Therefore, we will operate under the assumption that 48,271 is the maximum number of Yankee tickets that could ever be on the secondary market (standing room only will only be day of game sales, if they ever start selling them).

Referring back to FanSnap.com, the number of tickets available for the remaining 75 Yankee games is ridiculous. Doing math based on the rounded numbers of tickets available according to the site (which does not include all ticket brokers, or Craigs List), an average of 16,900 Yankee tickets are available on the secondary market for each game. In other words, 35% of the per-game inventory sold by the Yankees is now back on the market, presumably with the intent of making a profit. Even worse, ticket inventory for “premium” games such as the Red Sox and the Mets come in at over 20,000 tickets available. According to FanSnap.com. nearly half of the tickets sold for the premium games were bought just to sell and and these totals don’t even include outlets such as Craigs List. For some perspective, the Mets secondary market doesn’t have one game with 10,000 tickets available – not even when the Yankees visit their cross-town rivals in Queens.

It says something about the starting price of Yankees tickets that even the reduced rates announced on Tuesday are very, very high. Those $2,625 seats that sat empty during the first homestand? Now the Yankees are practically giving them away, for $1,250 each. . . .

Look at the big picture for the Yankees so far, and it’s amazing they’re just a game under .500 with all that has gone wrong.

The new $1.5 billion stadium opened, and two topics overshadowed everything else: unfilled luxury seats within an instantly notorious concrete moat; and the jet stream to right field that produced more homers in the first six games than any other ballpark ever had.

  • Someone at the Times has a problem with the new Stadium . . . specifically the beer:

The stadium pushes the usual mass-market brews, which is to be expected of any big venue. It also has a beers-of-the-world stand that sells brews like Heineken, from the Netherlands; Beck’s, from Germany; and Stella Artois, from Belgium — all from nowheresville, if you ask me.

It has a retro-beer stand that sells — give me strength — Pabst Blue Ribbon and Schaefer. If you look really hard, you can find Guinness, which is an acceptable fallback. But with all the great craft beers available nowadays, why aren’t any of them at Yankee Stadium? . . .

Look, I don’t even know if I can afford to go to these two fancy new ballparks, much less pay for the beer. I have children about to go to college, and paying $9 for a can of Pabst, even the 16-ounce can at Yankee Stadium, is one of the least enjoyable ways I can think of to blow their college fund.

But if I do go to Yankee Stadium, I want some beers worthy of the team. . . .

  • On this date in 1923, the Yankees sign 20-year-old prospect Lou Gehrig to a contract paying him a salary of $2,000 and a bonus of $1,500. Yankees scout Paul Krichell had watched the Columbia University star blast a 450-foot home run against New York University one day earlier.
  • On this date in 1967, Whitey Ford earns his final major league victory. His 236th win comes against the Chicago White Sox, an 11 – 2 decision at Yankee Stadium.
  • Sterling Hitchcock turns 38 today.  Hitchcock’s best season for the Bombers was 1995, when he went 11-10 with a 4.70 ERA in 168 IP as a  24-year-old.  The Yanks then included him with Russ Davis in one of their best deals of the 90s, getting Tino Martinez, Jim Mecir and Jeff Nelson from the Mariners.
  • John Vander Wal (reserve outfielder on 2002 squad) turns 43 today.

Categories:  Diane Firstman  News of the Day

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30 comments

1 The Hawk   ~  Apr 29, 2009 9:33 am

"... a choice informed by what we hope must be an appallingly parochial and ideally uninfectious local sense of taste."

Someone had alphabet soup for dinner last night ...

2 williamnyy23   ~  Apr 29, 2009 9:45 am

While Kahrl's position is correct, I don't think it's as easy for the Yankees to assemble solid backup infielders as it might be for other teams. With Jeter and Arod having established a long history of playing every game, signing with the Yankees would be signing up to ride the pine. Even if the Yankees offered more guaranteed salary, what quality back-ups probably value more is the chance to enhance their future value by playing more.

Off the top of my head, I can't come up with someone the Yankees should have and could have signed over the off season.

3 Diane Firstman   ~  Apr 29, 2009 9:50 am

[1]

Ms. Kahrl DOES like to flex her vocabulary, and she's quite well-read and eclectic.

4 Dimelo   ~  Apr 29, 2009 10:05 am

It's not that the roster construction of replacement players is so bad, it's just that when an infielder goes down that there doesn't exist a semi-decent young player, in the Yankees minor league system, to replace said injured player.

That's where Cashman has failed miserably. If the Yanks want to carry a Cody Ransom type as a backup, but at the same time have a young player playing everyday at the AAA level and ready whenever he's needed, then I have no problem with that and I thought that was the philosophy Cashman wanted to incorporate after 2005. Which he still hasn't done a good job of. My problem is that ARod goes down and Ransom IS the replacement, as opposed to calling up that young player to come up to the majors. Then Ransom goes down and we get Angel B-ERROR-oa.

I used to be a Cashman fan, but I think I've officially jumped ship. I guess everyone can be inspired by Specter's move.

While we're at it, can Gardner and his speed be DFA'ed? I just don't see the point of carrying Gardner on the roster.

5 JohnnyC   ~  Apr 29, 2009 10:14 am

Ms. Kahrl is right in principle about roster construction but, it's not as easy as she thinks to have a "serviceable" replacement for someone like Jed Lowrie much less Alex Rodriguez, or why would the boy genius start Nick Green at shortstop for most of April?

6 JohnnyC   ~  Apr 29, 2009 10:15 am

Also, the Miguel Cairo Experience was more a product of the mind of our HOF ex-manager than Cashman. Let's be fair.

7 The Hawk   ~  Apr 29, 2009 10:17 am

[4] I hope that doesn't mean I have to like it.

; )

8 The Hawk   ~  Apr 29, 2009 10:17 am

Oops that should be [3] above. Gol durn it

9 Diane Firstman   ~  Apr 29, 2009 10:20 am

[7]

Nah .... you don't have to like it ... diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks. :-)

10 Dimelo   ~  Apr 29, 2009 10:26 am

[5] At least they had Jed Lowrie, the Yanks never had a Lowrie type.

11 Diane Firstman   ~  Apr 29, 2009 10:30 am

If you look back at the championship teams from '96 forward, you'll see that the bench players were in many cases good enough to START for a lot of teams.

I can't think of any bench player of recent vintage who you'd want to start.

12 Raf   ~  Apr 29, 2009 10:31 am

My problem is that ARod goes down and Ransom IS the replacement, as opposed to calling up that young player to come up to the majors.

That young player you speak of would have been traded or moved elsewhere on the diamond. If I'm a SS or 3B prospect in the Yankee system, I know that I'm not going to get a call to the ML club unless there's an injury, so I'd be better off trying to learn another position.

At least they had Jed Lowrie, the Yanks never had a Lowrie type.

And before Lowrie, they had Lugo, Cora, Renteria among others...

13 Raf   ~  Apr 29, 2009 10:39 am

If you look back at the championship teams from ‘96 forward, you’ll see that the bench players were in many cases good enough to START for a lot of teams.

To be fair, Charlie Hays wasn't a good starter. Strawberry was signed as a reclamation project. Canseco was a waiver claim. Chad Curtis was always a 4th OF type. Raines had durability issues. So on and so forth.

14 Start Spreading the News   ~  Apr 29, 2009 10:40 am

The Yanks are in the position because their farm system is weak in position players. Williamnyy23 is right that good players won't want to play for the yanks at those positions because the infield is set for the next year or two at least. So the farm system is the only real option and the Yanks have very few real position player prospects. We have one guy who is a hitting catcher but is already bad enough defensively that he should switch to first base and we have a prospect at center field. But neither of them are ready for the bigs this year. We do have a ton of pitching prospects however. So the Yanks are still paying for the crappy drafts they had in the past several years.

15 Bum Rush   ~  Apr 29, 2009 10:41 am

@2

Grudz and Loretta. If that failed there's a guy like DeRosa. What did Cleveland trade to get him? Three middling pitching prospects. And Grudz is still available. He's not better than Berroa?

The roster construction has been an absolute embarrassment the last few years - unless you think there wasn't another option at 1B besides Cairo?

16 Bum Rush   ~  Apr 29, 2009 10:43 am

@11

You've just nailed it. Players want to be on winning teams. If that means a spot on the bench, so be it.

17 Bum Rush   ~  Apr 29, 2009 10:47 am

Mark Loretta, also available for cash, has all of 17 ABs this year - after 200 last year. He would have been fine with be a bench player because he already was one.

So that's three very realistic candidates - Grudz, Loretta, and DeRosa - for this year's bench - all better than Ransom. Now they're relying on Angel Berroa instead.

18 cult of basebaal   ~  Apr 29, 2009 11:16 am

[7] It's such a slog to read Kahrl's transaction round ups. She's not (technically) a bad writer, but christ, she's a loooooong one.

If she were a road map, she'd take you next door by way of going across town.

19 Diane Firstman   ~  Apr 29, 2009 11:39 am

[18]

I would tend to agree with that opinion, except that she often throws in a reference that sends me Googling, and I kinda like that in a way.

20 Rich   ~  Apr 29, 2009 11:41 am

[4] Cashman has only had control of the draft since 2006, so to say that he "has failed miserably," is a gross overstatement, and patently unfair.

The Yankees are now stocked with pitching prospects as a result of Cashman's stewardship, and we are now seeing the fruits of that effort with Joba, Melacon, Roberson, and others.

I agree that they need to start having the same success with position prospects. Many of their Latin American signings have been focused in that area. The problem is that they enter the organization at an extremely young age, so it takes a longer time for them to develop.

But Cashman took over a farm system that was awful, and it is far better now, although not yet good enough.

21 Diane Firstman   ~  Apr 29, 2009 11:44 am

[20]

Hear hear!

Its nice to be able to call up Hughes, rather than sign someone like Ponson.

22 The Hawk   ~  Apr 29, 2009 12:27 pm

[18] Yeah - it's not the vocab it's the sentences ... That is some circuitous shit. I'm a Cormac McCarthy fan but there's a time and a place, ya know?

23 williamnyy23   ~  Apr 29, 2009 12:58 pm

[11] Is that really true? While the Yankees usually had a solid OF bench, their IF utility position was filled by the likes of Sojo, Andy Foxx and Miguel Cairo.

Also, this year, Swisher was a bench player. Melky was too. I think they are two players teams would like to have.

[15] I don't think Loretta or DeRosa would have had any interest signing with the Yankees, especially DeRosa who has made himself into a quasi-starter. As for Grudz,depending on him to be healthy would mean you'd wind up counting on Ransom anyway.

24 williamnyy23   ~  Apr 29, 2009 1:07 pm

[17] Loretta has been hampered by a bad groin for most of April, so he probably wouldn't have been able to play anyway.

I guess the Yankees could have traded three pitching prospects for a guy who might never play regularly, but that would seem to me to be a poor allocation of resources.

25 Bum Rush   ~  Apr 29, 2009 1:47 pm

@24

Somehow I'd knew you'd find a way to shat on all three players even though all are clearly better than Ransom (or Pena or, shudder, Berroa) and all were available for little more than cash or AA/A bullpen fodder.

You're using the term "prospect" loosely. The Yanks could have had DeRosa for the equivalent of Hacker, Jackson, and Sanchez. That's exactly what those "resources" should be used for.

26 williamnyy23   ~  Apr 29, 2009 1:57 pm

[25] Unfortunately, players aren't compelled to opt for the Yankees, nor are other teams required to take deals that Yankee fans propose. You keep ignoring the other non-Yankee side of the equation, so at this point, I'll drop the issue.

27 Bum Rush   ~  Apr 29, 2009 2:09 pm

@26

What? Grudz is still out of work and still better than any of the above.

Furthermore, the Cubs traded DeRosa for bullpen fodder. If there's a better deal to be had, who's to say they wouldn't have taken it?

That's two players. Loretta, may or may not, have signed. Money talks and the Dodgers gave him $1.25M. If it was a priority for the Cashman, they could have easily spent 1 or 2% of their payroll on a decent bench. Instead, you didn't hear one rumor about any of these guys. They didn't even try. Instead, they will have given over 200 ABs this year to below replacement-level talent. And that's not even counting CF.

Sorry, william, but there were guys "the Yankees should have and could have signed over the off season". You're just holding your ears and your nose for some weird reason...

28 Start Spreading the News   ~  Apr 29, 2009 4:07 pm

[27] Yanks opened with $201,449,189.

2% of that is $4.03 million.

Yanks bench on opening day:
Nick Swisher -- $5.4 million
Ramiro Pena -- $400K
Melky Cabrera -- $1.4 million
Cody Ransom -- $455,100
Jose Molina -- $2,125,000

Total == $9,780,100 ~4.85% of total payroll

So the Yanks are spending more than twice what you ask them to spend on their bench.

29 Bum Rush   ~  Apr 29, 2009 4:14 pm

@28

From the context, you really couldn't tell that I was talking about the BIF role? Really?

Hmmm, Cody Ransom at 455k or Loretta at 1.25M? Hmmmm. Ramiro Pena at 450k or Mark DeRosa at 4.75M? Hmmmm. Angel Berroa at ???? or Mark Grudz at ???? Hmmmm.

Yeah, there was nothing out there.

30 FanSnap   ~  Apr 29, 2009 7:24 pm

We saw your post on the number of the tickets available at Yankee stadium. You're right, there are a ton available on FanSnap. (as an aside, we don't work with every broker or craigslist, but we show the vast majority of tickets available -- especially when you consider that most people who list tickets on Craigslist also list them with one of our partner providers)

You also correctly point out explanations for why so many tickets might be available. You're right, Yankee Stadium is huge. For that reason, there are more tickets to be had. In addition, the economic downturn hit NY harder than other towns. Thirdly, the tickets are expensive. Season ticket holders down on their economic luck have incentive to try and sell their tickets for very real money.

Great blog. Thanks for your kind words about FanSnap!

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