Saturday, August 16, 2008

Yankees Demote Melky And Other Stories

  • Yankees demote Cabrera, cut Sexson, then lose to the Royals:
For a player who was only a moderate prospect in the minors, through sheer hard work and winning attitude Melky Cabrera became an
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everyday player on a team with designs on a championship year-after-year. Up until the brief time right before his recall in 2006, Cabrera's minor league numbers----minor league stats----never indicated that he'd be anything more than a defensively minded fourth outfielder who could run; but he made it to the big leagues and learned on the fly; he hustled, he played good defense, produced clutch hits.
Looking like the type of player who seized his opportunity and would develop into a 15-20 homer man as he matured and got stronger, the Yankees had no reason to believe that there would be this kind of a regression at the plate and in the field. After an excellent start, Cabrera has provided little since early May. It's possible that it wasn't his hitting that prompted Cabrera's demotion to
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Triple A though; it may have been that he's playing as if he's in a fog. There have been the defensive lapses----the most egregious and youth-infused being that he misplayed a ball because he was waving to the fans in the bleachers as they did the Yankees lineup "roll call"----and other instances of his head not being where it should be that angered manager Joe Girardi and made the Yankees decide to send him down rather than bench him.
The easiest thing to do now is to say that he wasn't that talented a player to begin with, but it's not that hard to recover what it was that made Cabrera into an everyday player at the age of 22 if he gets his head on straight; this demotion might be a version of a wake-up call to shock him into getting back to what it was that made people believe he was going to develop into a solid 15 homer, 85 RBI, basestealing, opportunistic, defensively minded center fielder. He's still only 23 and can once again regain what it was that made the Yankees think they could play him as their regular center fielder in the first place.
The Richie Sexson signing was a low-cost gamble that didn't work. Sometimes a change
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of scenery works with a veteran player and it was worth a shot to bring Sexson into a better situation than what was going on in Seattle to see if it would wake up his bat. Sexson wasn't awful, but he wasn't contributing much of anything either and it makes sense to cut him now.
After these moves, the Yankees then went out and lost to the Royals 4-3. For a staggering team trying to find some way to stay in contention and keep from falling out completely, the Yankees cannot have Mariano Rivera giving up the winning run on a wild pitch. To inject a little (more) urgency into their situation, it has to be noted that they're closer in the standings to the Blue Jays and Orioles than they are to the Red Sox and Rays. (Oh, and Joe Torre has won five in a row with the Dodgers, who are getting healthy and have some magic working.)
  • Tom Glavine should retire:
While it's completely understandable that Tom Glavine: A) didn't want to end his career
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with that embarrassing performance for the Mets on the last day of the regular season in 2007; B) wanted to pitch at home in Atlanta; and C) wouldn't want to end his Hall of Fame career due to injury, he should probably retire after this trip back to the DL.
For a pitcher of Glavine's stature, it's more palatable to retire having to be dragged off the mound with injuries than to skulk away having given a performance that a high school kid could have replicated in his last start for the Mets. He's always been a quiet bulldog type on the mound stemming from his days as a hockey player in high school and it's fitting for him to walk away because he physically can't perform rather than because he's not any good anymore.
He's got his 300 wins; he's won his World Series (including the MVP of that series); he's got two Cy Young Awards; he survived playing in New York; and in 2008, he's pretty much done the equivalent of a football player signing a one-day contract to retire with his preferred team. Does he really want to go through rehab and/or surgery for a rebuilding team that may not even want him back next year due to anything more than loyalty and a severance contract? It's up to him, but why go through all of that for no reason? He's got a big career in broadcasting ahead of him if he wants it and he should walk off the field now rather than hang on only to get hurt again.
  • Mike Hargrove's pronouncement lends credence to the stories of the Ichiro-force out:
Former Mariners, Orioles and Indians manager Mike Hargrove, who resigned last season from the Mariners as the team was in the middle of an eight game win streak and had leapt
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into surprising contention after years of mediocrity, has said he wants to manage in the big leagues again----ESPN Story. While all parties deny it, it's clear that there was something to the Ichiro contract situation and that he was less likely to return to the Mariners if Hargrove were still the manager. (That's worked out great for Ichiro's bank account; less so everywhere else.)
Hargrove may have mistaken "losing his passion" for the game for exhaustion at dealing with a prima donna like Ichiro and wanted a break or a different situation where the team wasn't going to hinge on the whims of one overrated player. Hargrove's silence or deflection of blame in the Mariners situation is indicative of his personality of the strong, silent, cowboy type who you probably don't want to mess around with. There have been managers and coaches who felt burned out and walked away from their respective games----Dick Vermeil, Hubie Brown----only to come back and have success; Hargrove is a competent manager and, in the right situation, deserves another opportunity without having the statement that he "lost his passion" haunt him.

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