"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

News of the Day – 5/27/09

Today’s news is powered by the closest connection I could make between “Star Trek” and baseball:

New York Yankees catcher Jorge Posada played three innings of defense during a simulated game Tuesday.

Sidelined since straining his right hamstring while sliding in a game against Boston May 4, also batted in the simulated game. The five-time AL All-Star threw to second from behind the plate and ran the bases after the game.

[My take: The Mets sold pairs of Shea seats for $869.00.  So it only seems reasonable the Yanks would blow that price out of the water when it came time to sell their old seats.]

As I was talking to Sabathia a few days ago about why he decided to live in Bergen County, N.J., he asked some questions that indicated he plans to be with the Yankees for the long haul. Carsten Charles III, C.C.’s son, turns 6 in September, but C.C. quizzed me about which county high schools have the best athletic programs. Little C.C. is only in kindergarten, but his father was already thinking about possible high schools.

If Sabathia was planning to bolt the Yankees in three seasons, would he even be aware of Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey, N.J.? Probably not, but Sabathia cited the school’s sports pedigree. Sabathia had done some homework, too, because Don Bosco’s baseball team was undefeated last year.

Tino Martinez and Lee Mazzilli will serve as club representatives for the New York Yankees at the First-Year Player Draft, to be held at the MLB Network studio next month. The Yankees’ first pick will come at No. 29 overall.

MLB.com will offer live coverage and analysis of the entire First-Year Player Draft on June 9-11. MLB Network will broadcast the first round beginning at 6 p.m. ET on June 9 from its Studio 42 in Secaucus, N.J., and those 32 selections will also be simulcast live on MLB.com.

. . . John Vendikos says the Yankees have dumped him for the same reason they ditched their storied stadium: old age.

The 73-year-old mixologist, who poured drinks at the Stadium Club for legends such as Joe DiMaggio, as well as for legions of fans, had hoped to move to the shiny new ballpark.

But in January, he was told he had to re-interview for his old job because the Yankees had created their own food-service company.

“I had to wait in line for three hours, and when I got in, the guy said to me, ‘Why should I hire you? You’re an old man,’ ” Vendikos told The Post.

“We deny the allegation of any age discrimination,” team spokeswoman Alice McGillion said. “We have hired many people over the age of 65 at the new stadium.”

[My take: This is true . . . just look at their shortstop! (ba-dum-bum)]

  • This isn’t about the Yankees, but its a very cool Q&A with S.L. Price regarding his upcoming book (here’s the lead-in):

Mike Coolbaugh and Tino Sanchez toiled in the minor leagues for a combined 28 years. They were baseball lifers, devoted to a game that gave them only fleeting chances to play at the pinnacle of their sport. On July 22, 2007, in North Little Rock, Ark., Sanchez, playing for the Class AA Tulsa Drillers, sharply hit a foul ball that struck Coolbaugh, who was coaching at first base, in the back of the neck. The ball crushed an artery, cutting off blood to Coolbaugh’s brain and killing him almost instantly.

S.L. Price, a senior writer for Sports Illustrated, first wrote about Coolbaugh in “A Death in the Baseball Family” (S.I., September 2007). In “Heart of the Game: Life Death, and Mercy in Minor League America” (Ecco), Price traces the lives of Coolbaugh and Sanchez, their working-class struggles, their disappointments and how their paths converged in a random, tragic moment. And in the telling, Price unravels the culture of minor league baseball and its unheralded community of players and coaches.

With the publication this month of “Heart of the Game,” Price discussed Mike Coolbaugh, Tino Sanchez and minor league baseball.

Poll time!

[poll id=”31″]

  • A happy 60th birthday to oft-time pitching coach Mark Connor.  He hooked on with the Yankees as a scout in 1979. Next he was the pitching coach for the Greensboro Hornets (1980-1982), Columbus Clippers (1983- mid-1984), and Fort Lauderdale Yankees (mid-1985). He also served the first two of three stints as a major league coach for the Yankees (mid-1984 to mid-1985 and May, 1986 through 1987). Connor returned to the Yankees as bullpen coach (1990, 1993) and the third stint as pitching coach (1991-1992).
  • On this date in 1960, Baltimore Orioles catcher Clint Courtney used an oversized mitt in an effort to handle the pitches of knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm. The mitt, designed by Baltimore manager Paul Richards, was 50 percent larger than the standard. Courtney handled Wilhelm’s pitches flawlessly in a 3 – 2 win over the Yankees. The oversized mitt will later be banned.

[My take: Remember folks . . . its not the size of the (g)love that matters.]

Categories:  Diane Firstman  News of the Day

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1 Bum Rush   ~  May 27, 2009 9:58 am

I predict they'll be giving those seats away by the end of the year - "Buy two Legend Suite seats and get two old fart-stained seats free!". This Yankee group really is a bunch of greedy motherfuckers. Old George was never like this. He valued winning above all else. Now it's becoming obvious that this Levine-Trost-Goldman Sachs led group values profit above all else. For George, winning was an end to itself. For this group, winning is only a means to more profits.

Fuck them.

2 Bum Rush   ~  May 27, 2009 9:59 am

Whoever voted to move Joba - their second-best starting pitcher - stand up and make yourself known for all the mockery possible.

3 Bum Rush   ~  May 27, 2009 10:11 am

Jaffe points out that the Rangers went from dead last in 2008 for defensive efficiency to first this year. The only big difference? Moving their below average shortstop.


You know what else happened? It rejuvenated that shortstop's bat.


4 rbj   ~  May 27, 2009 10:19 am

That stinks about John Vendikos. Gee, why wouldn't the Yankees want a bartender who could tell some stories about Joe DiMaggio and other Yankees. Part of being a bartender is to have such stories.

OH, and Joba stays in the rotation. I'd rather flip Molina for a quality reliever.

5 Raf   ~  May 27, 2009 10:28 am

Whoever voted to move Joba - their second-best starting pitcher - stand up and make yourself known for all the mockery possible.

Yeah, I'd like to be in on the mockery as well. Fill the spot from within, you have Robertson and Melancon there. Pick someone up from the waiver wire. It really isn't that big a deal, nor is it difficult.

Jaffe points out that the Rangers went from dead last in 2008 for defensive efficiency to first this year. The only big difference? Moving their below average shortstop.

That was the only big difference, but they have improved at other positions in the IF & OF as well.

6 Rich   ~  May 27, 2009 10:33 am

How is Wang ever going to build up arm strength when he never pitches?

7 Rich   ~  May 27, 2009 10:37 am

Also, what does Robertson need to do in order to be used in high leverage situations?

8 Raf   ~  May 27, 2009 11:03 am

To build on that, the worst defensive players (going by UZR/150) are Marlon Byrd (-27.6) and Michael Young (-29.5). Last year, OTOH, you had Catalanotto (-66.4), and a bunch of sieves playing 3B (-155.9).

There has also been a big improvement from Ian Kinsler -8.1 to 13.4.

9 Rich   ~  May 27, 2009 11:11 am

I don't have time to look right now, but it would be interesting to find out whether Texas' staff has more FB or GB pitchers. Obviously, if it's the latter, the improvements in the INF would have more impact.

10 Diane Firstman   ~  May 27, 2009 11:19 am


League GB/FB rate: 0.75
Rangers: 0.74

League: 0.78
Rangers: 0.76

11 Diane Firstman   ~  May 27, 2009 11:22 am


Rangers' Opponent's BABIP:

2009: .285
2008: .317

(league average each season has been .300)

12 Bum Rush   ~  May 27, 2009 11:40 am

@ 9

I don't know if this is what you're looking for, but (AVG/SLG):

In 2009 -
GB: .226/.242
FB: .168/.512
LD: .717/.993

In 2008 -
GB: .249/.273
FB: .217/.599
LD: .740/1.013

Yankees in 2009 -
GB: .248/.272
FB: .224/.680
LD: .714/1.019

13 randym77   ~  May 27, 2009 12:11 pm

At least some of the Star Trek writers were obviously baseball fans. This was most evident in Deep Space 9. Not only was there "Take Me Out To the Holosuite," there was "In the Cards," which revolves around an attempt to buy a mint Willie Mays rookie card.

There was a scene in the DS9 episode "Past Tense," where they're talking about the best baseball teams of all time. One character picks the 1999 Yankees. (The episode aired in 1995!)

I have a fondness for the redheaded stepchild of Trekdom: Voyager. Their baseball episode was "One Small Step," about an astronaut who dies on a mission in 2032, while the last World Series ever, between the NY Yankees and the London Kings, is being played on earth. (This contradicts DS9, which claimed baseball ended in 2042, but never mind.) The astornaut's only regret was not finding out who won the WS, so as his remains, found centuries later by the Voyager crew, are laid to rest, Seven of Nine tells his casket, "Yankees in six."

Also revealed in that episode is that the Cubbies fans are still waiting until next year...until finally there is no next year.

14 Diane Firstman   ~  May 27, 2009 12:18 pm


This is another reason I love the Banter .... we are have our little corners of subject matter expertise.

15 randym77   ~  May 27, 2009 12:29 pm

Oh, and about size not mattering...tell that to Mickey Hatcher!

16 PJ   ~  May 27, 2009 1:25 pm

[14] I'm no expert...

I'm a spud.

Still, I know that the "Joba to the Pen" crowd is similar to the minority that pines for Joe Torre and the 1998 Yankees to come running through the proverbial door to save the day!

It's not going to happen. Even Booji Boy and all of the Mongoloids know that!

I got a Gut Feeling that there are Too Much Paranoias to accept the "core" has done nothing more than get Sloppy, as they continue to Shrivel-Up... regardless of all of the Praying Hands!

"It's a God-given fact, that you can't go back!"

The only constant that remains is the Uncontrollable Urge to get Satisfaction...

And that's just from one album that came out a generation ago!

: )

17 51cq24   ~  May 27, 2009 1:27 pm

if moving joba to the pen is an option, moving hughes there should be too. i would like them to give robertson and melancon real opportunities (and i think they will), but in the end i think they'll have to trade for one reliable 8th inning guy.

18 Diane Firstman   ~  May 27, 2009 1:29 pm


I (heart) you ...

Are we not men .... we are Banter!

19 Diane Firstman   ~  May 27, 2009 1:30 pm

Word nerd alert .... Scripps National Spelling Bee going on now ...

20 Diane Firstman   ~  May 27, 2009 1:33 pm


Hey PJ ... you HAVE seen this, haven't you?

21 PJ   ~  May 27, 2009 1:40 pm

[20] Now what kind of spud would I be if I hadn't?

Please excuse me now while I rewatch The Complete Truth About De-Evolution...

FYI, I think Gardner has an S.I.B.!

: )

22 The Hawk   ~  May 27, 2009 1:45 pm

If Wang gets back to normal, and you have six starters and five spots, then Chamberlain is the obvious choice to put in the bullpen. He was a beast out of the pen - I don't think Wang or Hughes is capable of that. Conversely I think they are both probably capable of doing what Chamberlain is doing as a starter.

I'm not saying Chamberlain should be a reliever for good, just that it seems like the simplest, most sensible arrangement for now-ish.

23 williamnyy23   ~  May 27, 2009 2:00 pm

[22] That's pretty close to my position. I'd love for Joba to really establish himself in the rotation so this issue would go away for good, but have to admit that his inconsistent and often mediocre outings do little to accomplish that.

24 flycaster   ~  May 27, 2009 2:08 pm

[7] Show that he can get major league hitters out in low pressure situations. The minor league dominance thing hasn't been translating to the show for him yet. I'd like to see him figure it out. We sorely need someone to step up.

25 Bum Rush   ~  May 27, 2009 4:32 pm

@ 22, 23

You put the second-best starter in the bullpen? That makes exactly zero sense.

By the way, they wouldn't be having these bullpen problems if the GM had actually improved the bullpen this winter and when guys were available for half their value. How's that contract to Marte looking?

26 Bum Rush   ~  May 27, 2009 4:34 pm

I'd sooner put Burnett in the bullpen - you know the worst of the five starters right now. How's his contract looking again?

Any idiot can spend money. Cashman has been that idiot for 12 years.

27 Raf   ~  May 27, 2009 4:48 pm

I’d sooner put Burnett in the bullpen - you know the worst of the five starters right now. How’s his contract looking again?

Actually, the worst of the 5 starters is Hughes. Granted, the differences between the two have been negligible (FIP's are near identical).

As for the contracts (Burnett & Marte), I wouldn't pass judgment on it just yet. No more than I'm willing to say that Raul Ibanez is a great signing for the Phillies.

The bullpen was fine going into the season, considering how well they performed last season, with backups available @ SWB.

28 Bum Rush   ~  May 27, 2009 4:55 pm

@ 27

I like me stats normalized:

Burnett = 87 ERA+
Hughes = 89 ERA+

The difference is negligible. But Burnett is still the worst.

29 Bum Rush   ~  May 27, 2009 4:55 pm

Plus, who would you rather see out there - Burnett or Hughes? Then, when you toss in their value, it's no contest.

30 Raf   ~  May 27, 2009 4:57 pm

FWIW FIP's of the starters

CC Sabathia : 3.42
Andy Pettitte: 4.78
Joba Chamberlain: 4.91
A.J. Burnett: 5.28
Phil Hughes: 5.83
Chien-Ming Wang: 10.33

Burnett and Hughes aren't as close as I thought, I looked at the wrong colums

31 Bum Rush   ~  May 27, 2009 5:00 pm

Cliff warned us on Burnett. Awful, awful signing. Just terrible. The guy has never been consistent. And Jays fans were happy to see him go. I will be too...in 2013

32 Raf   ~  May 27, 2009 5:04 pm

Looking @ Fangraphs value rankings

Hughes: $200K
Burnett: $1.8M

Lee Sinins' RSAA totals

Hughes: -6
Burnett: -4

Of course, it should be noted somewhere that Burnett has double the innings than Hughes.

33 Raf   ~  May 27, 2009 5:07 pm

Cliff warned us on Burnett.

IIRC, he also softened his stance on Burnett.

34 Raf   ~  May 27, 2009 5:09 pm

FWIW, from Fangraphs;
"Burnett’s five-year pact with the Bombers was considered a significant risk from a health standpoint, but he was expected to perform quite well when available. So far, that hasn’t been the case: fresh off a 3.45 FIP with the Blue Jays, Burnett has posted a 5.27 FIP in 58 innings. Some of that is poor luck on flyballs- his HR/FB% is somewhat high at 14.3 percent. Still, his strikeout rate is down (7.76 K/9 in 2009, 9.39 in 2008), he’s walking too many batters (4.19 BB/9), and he’s surrendering far more flyballs this season. His 41.7 GB% is significantly lower than his 48.5% mark in 2008, which in turn was quite a bit lower than his 54.8% figure in 2007. Considering that seemingly innocuous flyballs are whizzing out of new Yankee Stadium at a dizzying pace (1.62 HR park factor), that’s not a positive trend." - David Golebiewski

35 Bum Rush   ~  May 27, 2009 5:24 pm

Thanks Raf, but if you're arguing that Burnett isn't as bad, just barely, as a 22 year old, then my point still stands.

Burnett sucks. And at $16.5 M, he royally blows.

By the way, this argument started with the pen. They wouldn't have that problem if they signed Looper and were ready to move him to the pen for Hughes.

36 The Hawk   ~  May 27, 2009 6:21 pm

It's so simple. The bullpen needs help. You have too many starters, one of whom is on an innings limit and is terrific out of the pen. If Wang stinks forever - keep Joba in the rotation. If Hughes melts down - keep Joba in the rotation. Otherwise at some point he needs to go and do what he does best - for now.

Whether or not Chamberlain is the second-best starter (which is highly debatable) with just half of his starts being so-called "quality" starts, he's not exactly tearing it up out there. Again: Too many starters + too few relievers = Chamberlain to the pen.

37 The Hawk   ~  May 27, 2009 6:23 pm

I wonder what happened to Burnett. Since the Boston game, he's only pitched well once, and decently once.

38 Bum Rush   ~  May 27, 2009 6:39 pm

@ 36

Yeah, that makes a ton of sense. Trade 6 innings a week of guaranteed high leverage work (you know when the score starts tied) for maybe 2 to 4 innings of the same. I know you math isn't too good, but surely you know that 6 > 2 and 6 > 4, right?

If him being the second-best starter is "highly debatable" then debate it. Too bad there's nothing to debate though. Pettitte isn't better. Burnett isn't better. Not Wang. Not Hughes. So who's better? The Amazing Emaciated Fucking Toad Kei Igawa?

From Goldman yesterday:

"American League pitchers make a quality start just under half the time this year -- the rate has stayed fairly constant since 2005."

Relievers are a dime a dozen. Crappy, inconsistent starters get $80M. And Joba's not either.

Go call in to Fat Slob Mike. He'll love your logic. But people here who love actual logic know there's nothing to the argument. Worse for your case, the kid hurt his shoulder last year with all the herky-jerky of the different roles. Nah, but why worry about something so theoretical as the health of young pitcher?

39 Raf   ~  May 27, 2009 6:58 pm

Thanks Raf, but if you’re arguing that Burnett isn’t as bad, just barely, as a 22 year old, then my point still stands.

Isn't so much arguing as presenting information. As for Burnett's contract, I'm not going to blast it yet, there's a long way to go, in both the contract as well as this season. The Golebiewski part I referenced to see if there was something we could see behind the numbers. He hasn't lost velocity, but he's not striking out as many batters, and is walking more batters. And hitters are making more contact.

By the way, this argument started with the pen. They wouldn’t have that problem if they signed Looper and were ready to move him to the pen for Hughes.

They wouldn't have the problem either if the pen replicated their performances from last year. Even so, I'm not ready to give up on guys like Robertson and Melancon. Regardless, they had too many starters, so even if the pen performed to their potential, we're still looking @ the same problem with the Yanks trying to find innings for all the young arms on the staff. Instead of doing it with the parent club, they'd be doing it in the minors.

As for Looper, we don't even know if he would consider NY, given his last go round with the Mets. Given that he started the past two years, and is a FT starter with the Brewers, I don't think he'd want to come to NY as a swingman. And I don't see NY taking interest in him as a swingman given the other options they had (Aceves, Giese)

In the end, these pitching logjams usually work themselves out, due to injury or ineffectiveness.

40 Rich   ~  May 27, 2009 6:59 pm

The difference between Hughes and Burnett is their respective trendlines, and that you would expect that Hughes's performances to parallel a typical learning curve, and they have. There is no comparable explanation for Burnett's stats.

[24] He did in the mLs. Despite that accomplishment, he has been given very little opportunity to do anything in the MLs.

[10] Thanks, Diane. Apparently, there are other factors that explain Texas' improved DER.

41 Raf   ~  May 27, 2009 7:03 pm

One other thing, I see that Wang hasn't pitched since Friday. Did Girardi explain why he went with Aceves over Wang? Especially since Aceves pitched the evening prior?

42 Bum Rush   ~  May 27, 2009 7:07 pm

Did Girardi explain why he went with Aceves over Wang?

Because he though they had a shot at winning the game?

43 The Hawk   ~  May 27, 2009 7:12 pm

[38] If Chamberlain gave 6 innings every week you might have an argument. He doesn't, so you don't. But it was a very energetic attempt.

Btw, how do you propose to deal with six starting pitchers? (I'll give you a heads up here and remind you that I've made my argument explicitly stating multiple times this is all in the case that Wang isn't shot and Hughes remains at least as viable as Chamberlain.)

Interesting point about Chamberlain's health - now that you bring it up, I think you're wrong. I think we should be concerned about it - it's not theoretical at all. In fact it happened last year. I'm not sure it was the very logically and scientifically-named "herky-jerky of the different roles", but maybe it's true..

44 Raf   ~  May 27, 2009 7:12 pm

[42] If that's the case, where Wang is the mop-up man, then it's curious that he wasn't used a couple of nights ago, when the score was 11-0.

45 Bum Rush   ~  May 27, 2009 7:18 pm

@ 43

Great retort! Not!

When they have 6 functioning pitchers it will be something to worry about. They don't, so I won't.

Fact is, they switched him mid-season last year - a very atypical move - and he got hurt and it was his throwing shoulder no less. Why should they repeat that experiment again?

@ 44

They could have been waiting to see if Joba would come through his bullpen and start okay.

46 Bum Rush   ~  May 27, 2009 7:21 pm

Of course, what's really absurd is that if the GM wasn't an utter moron Wang would still be in Scranton working his way back. Someone explain that to me.

47 The Hawk   ~  May 27, 2009 7:22 pm

[45] Since we agree, I'm confused as to what you're arguing.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver