Sunday, August 3, 2008

Randolph's Return To Pinstripes; Livan Or Maddux---Is There A Difference?

  • Randolph's return to pinstripes:
It seems the only one who wasn't taking subtle, wink-and-nod digs against the Mets during Willie Randolph's appearance at Yankees Old Timer's Day was Randolph. (There was
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speculation that he hasn't said anything negatively against his former employers because of his contractual obligations, but I don't believe that's the sole reason; Randolph probably does appreciate the opportunity the Mets gave him and holds little animosity for anyone other than Tony Bernazard.) Instead, there were people like Jeff Torborg, Michael Kay and Al Leiter----each with their own issues concerning the Mets----taking their shots.
Torborg with his "we've both been through the same thing" of being fired; but at least Randolph had something called managerial success, which is alien to Jeff Torborg. Leiter gave Randolph a "welcome back hug", but is bitter because he was essentially told to take a hike by the Mets when Omar Minaya took over and wanted to end the Chatty Cathy atmosphere in the clubhouse in which it seemed that Leiter and John Franco were running the team; Leiter's 110 pitch counts by the fifth inning made him a liability and case of diminishing returns, and his performance after he left the Mets proved that Minaya was right; and for all of the implications of Leiter returning "home" to the Yankees, the guy's a Met; he was with the Mets far longer, had greater success and made much more money than he ever did in his brief times with the Yankees. And I'm not even going to get into Kay and how he despises the Mets to a degree where he has no business saying anything about them whatsoever and lacks the required guts to openly admit it. Kay's lack of courage was exemplified as he unloaded on Joe Torre as the former Yankees manager was out the door and claimed some nonseniscal attempt to protect the Yankees with his all-knowing opinions, as if anyone cared.
I hate getting into these Yankees-Mets arguments because they're pointless, but in what position are the Yankees to be criticizing how any other organization treats their employees?
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Did they or did they not allow Joe Torre----four championships, annual playoff appearances and exuding class----to twist in the wind after 2006 and 2007? Would any Yankee fan or apologist want Randolph running their team after his foibles as manager of the Mets? All of this revisionist history is
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offensive to those that were paying attention to what's gone on with both organizations. Torborg was a rotten manager----a cookie-cutter automaton who was unable to deviate from the "book" that does nothing other than provide a blueprint to be rightfully criticized for being unable to think for himself and to lose games and the support of the players; Leiter was finished when the Mets let him go; Randolph got an opportunity as manager with the Mets and needed to be fired if 2008 had any chance of being salvaged.
This group mentality of "we've experienced this before" is absurd because when put into context, the only thing that the Mets did to Randolph that he truly has a right to be bitter about was firing him in the shoddy way they did; in every other aspect of the story, the Mets have nothing to be sorry for and the Yankees are in no position to be judging anyone else given their history of callous ruthlessness in treating their employees including one Willie Randolph, who they dumped unceremoniously in 1989 after twelve years of loyal service in which he served as a captain, in favor of Steve Sax. It's convenient that these things are forgotten during the pageantry and history of Old Timer's Day, but they're still there nonetheless and can't be covered up by scoffing and ridicule by those that are in no position to exhibit such sentiments.
  • We shall be Livan:
Keith Law writes in his blog on ESPN about players that he thinks will get through waivers and possibly be traded this month----Blog----and he mentions Greg Maddux as one possibility to go to the Dodgers. (Maddux refuses to go anywhere other than another West Coast team.)
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In looking at Law's assessment of Maddux, calling him a "strike-throwing innings-eater" and remembering ESPN's Rob Neyer's continued ripping of Livan Hernandez, I decided to take a look at the numbers of both pitchers this year and came away thinking not only would they be similar acquisitions, a team looking for such a veteran "strike-throwing innings-eater" would in fact be better off going for Hernandez.
Neither veteran has been particularly good this year, but in looking at their numbers and taking into account that Maddux is pitching his home games in the baseball equivalent of Yellowstone National Park and Hernandez is pitching in the Metrodome, they're very similar. Maddux has been pounded in six of his 23 starts this year; Hernandez in six of his 23 starts. Maddux has provided 134 innings; Hernandez 139. Maddux is an 85 pitch/six inning pitcher except in extreme circumstances; Hernandez is willing to stay out there for 145 pitches if asked. Neither strike out many, nor walk many; both give up their share of homers. Maddux has been up and down in the post-season; Hernandez a former NLCS and World Series MVP.
I probably wouldn't want either of them as anything more than a fourth starter in a playoff series and wouldn't give up more than a mid-level prospect to get them, but I don't get how Maddux with his mid-to-low 80s fastball and mediocre performance is so in demand and
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Hernandez, with his mid-to-low 80s fastball and mediocre performance is vying for consideration as the worst starting pitcher in the American League. If I had to choose between the two, I'd rather have Hernandez because at least I'd know he wouldn't beg out after 80 pitches saying he's "done" regardless of the game situation. The whole point of an innings-eater is that he eats innings by staying out there even if he's getting shelled and Hernandez can do that better than Maddux at this point and presumably would be willing to go to teams other than those that are conveniently located in his preferred destination.

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