Friday, April 17, 2009

Maybe They Should've Brought In Nick Swisher Instead

  • Indians 10-Yankees 2:
When the Yankees acquired Damaso Marte with the idea of him being a "crossover lefty" to pitch to batters from both sides of the plate, I doubt they meant that he'd get shelled equally by each. Grady Sizemore has been vulnerable to lefties his entire career, but in all fairness, at age 26 he's entering his prime years and could be learning to handle them much better to take the next step into superstar/MVP contention; Victor Martinez's numbers against lefties are righties (he's a switch-hitter) have been similar also.
That being said, Marte's line from yesterday was so hideous that all the talk of the Yankees "figuring out how to use him", which were supposedly the problems from last season and the genesis of his struggles, don't look like they've been resolved. The Indians lineup was too good to continue to slump as it has since the start of the season, but there's no excuse for the way Marte pitched yesterday, nor is there one for a nine-run inning.
I criticized the Yankees decision to decline Marte's contract option during the winter. It was for $6 million as I recall and the Yankees decided instead to re-sign Marte to a 3-year extension worth nearly $12 million. In the long term, it might've been a sound business decision, but Marte is 34-years-old , has only been involved in high-pressure situations once in his career (with the White Sox in 2005) and struggled to throw strikes in the playoffs----stats. There's every possibility that he simply can't handle pitching in such a high-pressure atmosphere as for the Yankees. It would've cost them more money over the one year to exercise Marte's option, but at least he: A) would've been singing for his supper and impending free agency; and B) he'd be gone after the year if he pitched like this. The Yankees are stuck with him because no one's taking that contract now and he's signed through 2011.
  • Viewer Mail 4.17.2009
Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE Xavier Nady and Nick Swisher:

Supposedly, Nady is trying rest and rehab to avoid surgery. I sure hope it works and he's not lost for the season. Just wrote up today's post about the home opener. What a disaster that game was.

I, too, wondered if using Swisher would cause possible injury. I certainly hope not!

Historically, I've found that when guys try rest and rehab for a severe injury, all they do is waste time they could've spent rehabbing after surgery. It happened with Jorge Posada last year; they'd be better off getting it done now if it's as bad as they're implying.

With Swisher, I doubt we'll see Joe Girardi pull something like that again. Sometimes I get the impression that Girardi's like a smart kid who's given control of a really successful business and does some really stupid things with it occasionally, mostly without thinking. Last year I suggested that the Yankees needed a smart, veteran bench coach who had some managerial experience, but had no designs on managing again so as not to be a threat to the young and occasionally defensive manager. Tony Pena ain't it. Girardi's lack of managerial experience shows itself far too often for my taste----and I'm a Mets fan!!!

Jeff at Red State Blue State posts three comments:

I feel ya on the MLBlogs issues. Getting a bit too much... throw in my issues with MLB.TV (I mean, they boast of the NextDef plug-in giving me HD but I have yet to actually see a game in HD because the damn thing doesn't work and we're well into week 2 already). *Ahem*... as for Motte, from what I read, TLR and Dunc want to put him in in a non-pressure situation first to get him the work. When lefties are a comin', we'll be seeing lots of Dennys "Big Sweat" Reyes. Franklin has the experience. And Perez could get a call-up any day. I was shaking in my boots last night as Franklin gave up a two-out single and Arizona fans actually made some noise, but it was all for naught. You're right, Prince. If anyone knows how to manage a closer-by-committee, it's LaRussa. The big challenge will be this week against the Cubs. So far I am pleasantly surprised. When it comes to Swisher, like I told Jane, I can't take him seriously anyway, unless he has a beer in his hand.

Carpenter is becoming the Cardinals' version of Mark Prior. Meanwhile, the bullpen continues to rear its ugly head. Last night's game made me vomit, twice. In other news: You're right. It ain't fair, Prince, but I don't think you're a schmuck. Manny, now Manny is a schmuck. Great hitter. Big schmuck. Why is balance so hard to find in the universe these days?

I'm going to wrigley today to see if the Redbirds are for real or not. If you never hear from me again it's because I opened my big mouth -- again -- and got pummeled underneath the bleachers -- again. And no sweat on the Padres; I have faith they'll tailspin soon as you predicted.

The one thing I do not understand about MLBlogs is why they put up with this shit. An entity that big and lucrative for the website designer should be working night and day to make sure it runs correctly. I'm not an advocate for screaming and yelling for no reason, but why isn't anyone on the phone screaming and yelling at their web designer to get the thing working correctly. A swath of viral negatives can really affect one's business far worse than a couple of positives.

With Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan, it's probably hell on their stomachs not to have a closer they can trust, but at the end of the day, they're also probably getting some satisfaction out of finding a way to deal with the problem so creatively.

I wouldn't stick Carpenter in with Prior. At least Carpenter recovered from some of his injuries and fulfilled a bit of his potential; plus, he's just got one of those bodies that breaks down; not much you can do at this point except pitch him when he feels good and sit him when he's hurt while not expecting too much.

As for the stuff at Wrigley: People actually take swings at you? Good grief. This is the problem with a free society: there's no IQ or common sense test to let people out of their house; to swill beer; to interact with others, etc.

Joe at Statistician Magician writes RE the Rays right field platoon of Matt Joyce and Gabe Kapler:

The platoon should be given more time though before a decision should be made as to whether or not they want to try something different.

I didn't actually suggest that they try something different; I just wondered if they saw what they had and regretted what they'd done. Kapler can't be expected to provide much of anything; Joyce is young and inexpensive in terms of dollars, but I wouldn't have traded an arm like Edwin Jackson for him. Whether or not they try something different at this point is irrelevant; they've got what they got. Kapler's won't be part of the regular outfield rotation for much longer either because he'll get hurt or won't start hitting and he ain't worth the $1 million plus they're paying him.
  • The issue with my website:
Here's the thing: I've left the batcave for a couple weeks for unspecified reasons and there's some kinda problem that keeps popping up with the following message:

Temporary Interruption
An error has interrupted communication between your browser and the web site server. Internal errors can have many causes.

Click here to continue working.

Because of this interruption, you may have to log in again, or repeat your last action.

The consensus is that it's the internet connection, but it's been working fine so far. Dunno if it's something I did or downloaded or whatever. If anyone's computer savvy and has any suggestions that might help, I'm all ears. It could be a couple of days or it could be until the end of the month, but I'll be posting here in the interim as I try to fix the problems without flinging my computer out the window.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Notes From Yankeeland

  • Xavier Nady may be out for the year:

This is a great example of why it's good for teams----especially teams with the cash to pay for quality----to have depth on their roster. In retrospect, the Yankees lukewarm attempts to trade either Nick Swisher or Nady in the spring were a positive failure. If Nady's elbow injury is as serious as it sounds, he's also going to be costing himself a guaranteed contract as an everyday players somewhere next year as he heads into free agency.

That Nady hurt himself making a routine throw emphasizes the risky stupidity of manager Joe Girardi having Nick Swisher pitch in Monday's blowout. I doubt we'll see a key everyday player on the mound again under Girardi no matter what the score is.

  • Uh, let's calm down about A.J. Burnett:
The man's pitched two games and all of a sudden we're seeing articles with titles like this from John Harper of the New York Daily News:

A.J. Burnett worth every penny as he stops another Yankee skid

The questions with Burnett have never, ever had anything to do with his stuff. The questions have to do with whether or not he's going to stay healthy. How someone can equate two starts with a pitcher who has the injury history of Burnett to being "worth" the $82.5 million contract he signed is inexplicable.

I don't think even the Yankees expect Burnett's tenure with the team to be free of at least one or two trips to the disabled list in the best case scenario; and one thing that would really be on my mind is how this newfound acclaim is going to affect Burnett if he does feel a twinge that will require some rest. Is he going to be afraid to tell the team that there's something wrong because of how it'll look and make things worse? And it should be remembered, as Burnett is being seen as the Anti-Carl Pavano, is that Pavano won his first start as a Yankee (against the Red Sox no less!) and pitched pretty well in his first two months with the team before the wheels fell off----2005 Pavano Gamelogs. It's a bit premature to be validating the Burnett signing after two starts.

  • Could the Rays be regretting their right field platoon already?

Neither Gabe Kapler nor Matt Joyce have done much of anything so far this season and you have to wonder if the Rays are regretting not going more aggressively after Bobby Abreu (defensive lapses aside) or just shutting their eyes and repeating last season's widespread use of their entire roster with Ben Zobrist and Gabe Gross as their primary right fielders. Their offense is good enough to withstand Gross returning to the offensive black hole he was before the sudden (and unforeseen) burst of power after he joined the Rays; and Zobrist has shown he can hit enough to be a semi-regular.

Kapler is only two years removed from retiring to manage in the minors for the Red Sox and was an injury-prone/"looks better than he plays" type of guy during his entire career. Joyce has shown some pop in the minors, but all things being equal, they might've been better off keeping Edwin Jackson (and it's easy to critique the move while Jackson's doing a pretty fair imitation of Dave Stewart with the Tigers) and playing Gross/Zobrist. If they were so intent on trading Jackson, they could've held onto him into the season to see what the offers would be as starting pitchers began feeling twinges and going on the DL as Dasiuke Matsuzaka, Mike Pelfrey, Brandon Webb and Chris Carpenter have so far already.

This is the problem when a management team like that of the Rays begins to believe the press clippings of how "smart" and "innovative" they are: they get too smart; they think that whereas every move they made before 2008 turned to shit, every move they make now will turn to gold; and it doesn't work that way. They outsmarted themselves and it's starting to look like it's going to cost them more in the long run than it would've been to be happy with the offensive upgrade from Pat Burrell and to leave right field as it was while holding onto Jackson or trading him elsewhere for better quality than Joyce currently appears to be.

  • Is calling Chris Carpenter an "ace" even accurate at this point?

Chris Carpenter is a great pitcher when he's healthy, but the storyline that the Cardinals have "placed their ace on the disabled list" is something of a misnomer. Carpenter has barely pitched at all in the past two years; at this point, rather than calling him an "ace", maybe he should be called "an oft-injured extra from whom no one should expect much of anything and be happy if he pitches in 15 games".

  • The Farnsworth Chronicles:

Kyle (2-years, $9.25 million) Farnsworth has been in four games this season and singlehandedly gacked up two of them with his horrendous hideousness. They should consider making him into a starter. I'm serious.

  • The Padres Lossometer: 3

They've gotten off to a stunningly good start, but I still have faith that my prediction in my still available and useful book will come true and we'll be counting up (or down, however you see it) toward 106 losses.

  • You wanna see some moves? Here are some moves:

I'm stunningly pleased that the New York Rangers were able to swipe the first game of the first round NHL Stanley Cup playoffs series with the Washington Capitals with a 4-3 win. Here's a highlight video of the game and if fast forward to about 4:00 in if you'd like to see Rangers center Brandon Dubinsky's imitation of Wayne Gretzky with a move that totally discombobulated the Caps defense and won the game for the Rangers.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Sheffield A No-Lose Proposition For The Mets

*Note: My website is down, so I'm posting here until it's back up. Maybe the same fucking morons who decided to change the MLBlogs platform last year on opening weekend are trying to screw up other avenues like now as well.

There are several reports that the New York Mets are close to signing free agent outfielder Gary Sheffield and I think it's a great, no-risk move for them to bring in a veteran bat and see if he has anything left for no money.

Sheffield could genuinely be finished, but the Mets aren't taking a major risk if they sign him and take a look for a couple of months to see if they can get some production out of him and provide some right-handed pop along with the drama of a guy hitting his 500th homer. If Sheffield can recapture even 70% of what he once was, he's still a big step up from Ryan Church or Fernando Tatis.

The idea of this signing reminds me of when the Mets signed Orel Hershiser during spring training in 1999. There was talk that the signing, along with another former star veteran, Rickey Henderson, was another example of the Mets grasping at straws and trying to dig into the past to find a fading veteran and thinking that he was going to contribute to a championship team as a final piece; but it turned out that both Hershiser and Henderson did have a great deal left to add to that veteran club.

Some may scoff at equating Sheffield with Hershiser. Hershiser had a reputation of being the equivalent of an extra coach on the pitching staff; he was well-liked by the other players and the media along with the staff. Sheffield carries baggage from so many well-publicized disagreements with various front offices and managers along with outrageous behaviors and comments at which even the most paranoid conspiracy theorists would roll their eyes; but one thing about Sheffield is that you won't hear any of his former teammates say a negative word about him on the field or in the clubhouse.

Sheffield plays hard; he helps his teammates; he plays through injuries and has been known as one of the hardest workers in baseball. Add in that he's got a winning pedigree and an edge that the Mets lack. If someone tries to take the liberties as Hanley Ramirez did when he walked by the Mets dugout on the last weekend of the 2008 season and told them, en masse, that they were going home and not to the playoffs, you can bet that Gary Sheffield would leap the dugout steps and be right in Ramirez's face.

The only issue is whether Sheffield is going to be healthy and whether he can still play; but the risk is minimal because he's not going to cost any money and he'll be on his best behavior to try and impress either the Mets or another interested team for next year. It's a worthwhile gamble.

Please purchase my book Paul Lebowitz's 2009 Baseball Guide available at numerous websites.