Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday Lightning 3.14.2010

  • Aceves's spring success is not helping the Yankees:

Yankees righty Alfredo Aceves, battling for the fifth spot in the starting rotation, has been pitching masterfully all spring. While this normally wouldn't be seen as a problem, it's creating a dilemma for the Yankees as they've clearly wanted either Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain to stake their claim to the rotation spot once and for all. Chamberlain's been terrible; Hughes has been pitching well, but not as well as Aceves.

Based on performance alone, clearly Aceves would be the fifth starter; and the Yankees have put themselves in this position of having to watch and essentially hope that Aceves doesn't pitch as well as he has to make things easier for them to insert either Hughes or Chamberlain into the rotation.

Hughes is still the likeliest of the candidates to be named fifth starter and won't be needed to start a game until mid-April anyway; it's not really a "competition" but a mind-game to keep the two young starters' heads together as they vie for the slot. Chamberlain has been so rotten that he's not only losing the battle, but if he keeps pitching like this he might be sent to the minors (unlikely); or kept in Florida for extended spring training (very possible).

Chamberlain could be inadvertently self-sabotaging since everyone----the media, the fans, the players and Chamberlain himself----knows that he wants to be a reliever; that he should be a reliever. That doesn't matter. The only voices that count are the factions in the Yankees front office that insist Chamberlain should be given the chance to be a starter. His head is so screwed up by the way the club has jerked him around that it's no wonder he's degenerating into a total disaster.

The Yankees now find themselves in an untenable situation. Aceves has taken the lead in the race, but on this Yankees team, he's not a starter; he's more valuable out of the bullpen as a multiple-innings gobbler. He and the other background actors in the drama----Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre----knew they had little chance of wresting the job from Hughes/Chamberlain with Gaudin and Mitre not even guaranteed of a spot on the big league roster.

Based on performance, of course Aceves would win the job; but Hughes is the man who should be the fifth starter. The Yankees know this and they're going to have to twist things to make that happen if Aceves pitches as well as he has. It's not that big of a problem, but it's something to be vigilant about.

If Hughes and Chamberlain are edged out or even demoted, they'd both have a right to pop off to the club. Teams tell their players in spring training not to worry too much about stats and performance, then use stats and performance to justify what they do. It's not fair to tell Hughes/Chamberlain to work on their changeups; or to pump fastballs in without concern for results, then punish them if they get shelled.

No matter how well Aceves pitches, barring anything catastrophic, Phil Hughes will be in the Yankees starting rotation because it was never a competition to begin with; it was a statement for consumption without truth.

This happens quite often where one thing is said to the players and the public, but circumstances require a contradiction that looks like a lie. But it's not a lie. As was said in Ball Four, it's just baseball.


Now there are rumors going around that with the Joe Mauer contract negotiations hitting a snag, the Twins might consider trading him.

Listen to me very carefully:









Get it?


He's not going anywhere.






First of all, he doesn't want to leave. Second of all, the Twins can't let him leave. Third of all, there's no way for the club to get equal value for him if they did trade him. Fourth, they're moving into a new ballpark with all sorts of good feeling and a promise of contention (even without Joe Nathan); they have a real chance to win a championship this year.

He's not going anywhere.

I've gone on again and again about Mauer and the Twins needing each other; about how his agent Ron Shapiro is the polar opposite of Scott Boras in that he first asks his players where they want to play before even starting with the monetary aspects of the deal; that they can't let him leave. But let's say hypothetically that things break down completely in the contract talks and the Twins even entertain the notion of dealing the best hitter in baseball this side of Albert Pujols.

What are they going to get for him?

The Twins don't exactly have the best trading history in the world in recent years. Both the Johan Santana trade and the Matt Garza/Jason Bartlett for Delmon Young trades were train wrecks; and they're going to get a fraction of what Mauer's worth on and off the field if they did consider moving him.

In this economy, no team is going to sacrifice a chunk of their farm system and essentially sign Mauer to a $200 million contract to keep him. Despite Mauer not being a "pay me" player whose main focus is money, if he's traded to a big market team with the prospects to get him (the Yankes, Red Sox, Mets, Dodgers), he's going to say he wants his money; and we're talking an Alex Rodriguez-type contract.

The Twins screwed up the Santana trade hideously by asking for too much from the Yankees and Red Sox, who were both reluctant to make the trade-and-sign transaction. The only deal left for the Twins was what the Mets offered and they had no choice but to take it. It was a total washout. The way things are now, they might end up getting less for Mauer than they got for Santana!

If you add the new ballpark into the equation and the explosion that would be heard among Twins fans if Mauer was traded, it makes no sense, so end the speculation.

They won't trade Mauer. Mauer's going to be a Twin. Period.

  • Why is there this shock about the Blue Jays passing on Marco Scutaro?

I could understand such stupidity from the first I heard expressing his shock at the Blue Jays not making a full effort to re-sign Marco Scutaro (it was Michael Kay; I think that's enough of a reason to dismiss it); but now Bill Madden has said something similar in his column today:

Of all the new faces in Boston's winter makeover, the most interesting is the 34-year-old Scutaro, who is just now getting recognized as an above-average shortstop after nearly a decade (with five different organizations) of being labeled a utilityman. For reasons only they can explain, the rebuilding Blue Jays made no effort to re-sign Scutaro after he hit .282 with 12 homers and 60 RBI for them last year and tied for the AL lead in fielding for shortstops.

It's Marco Scutaro!!!

The man is 34-years-old; coming off his career year after having been an okay utilityman for a few years. Uh, Bill? He was "labeled a utilityman" because that's what he was. The Blue Jays, with no chance of contending this year and in the midst of a retooling, had no need of Scutaro and no chance to keep him. None. They weren't going to beat the Red Sox offer for him and the Athletics had in fact offered more for Scutaro.

In fact, what would the likes of Madden and especially that buffoon Kay say if the Blue Jays overpaid to keep Scutaro and he reverted to his career numbers for a team that was going to lose 90 games? Would the Blue Jays be ripped for repeating similar mistakes under Alex Anthopolous as they made under J.P. Ricciardi? Or would it be the understanding that the current questions imply that keeping him was a good idea?

It's Marco....Scutaro!!!!!

They were right to let him leave because they don't need him. It was the smart move.

  • Viewer Mail 3.14.2010:

The Brooklyn Trolley Blogger writes RE William C. Rhoden:

First time shame on us. Second time shame on the NY Times. There is no doubt now, Rhoden is out of his baseball mind and good job staying on top of it Prince. How the Times has fallen, from the great columnist Mr. Dave Anderson, to the daydream of sportswriting blather. Gimmie Joel Sherman!

I actually treasure these guys because they give me stuff to write about.

I can't get on board with Sherman though; he's not as bad as Rhoden, but he's no prize either.

G.E. writes RE Rhoden:

From reading Rhoden for the last few years, it seems that he has an unspoken agenda: to write about minorities in sports...and usually to defend the decisions of said minorities...

I wouldn't attack him for that basically because I haven't paid much attention to him since the Billy Wagner column I mentioned two days ago. He can write about what he wants; but when he gets into baseball and writes crap, I'm watching....and waiting. If he steps into my domain, he'd better know what he's saying----or at least have an organized argument. The last two days have shown that he has neither.

Jeff (Street Boss) at Red State Blue State writes RE the Diamondbacks:

If anything aptly represents the Diamondbacks' failure, it's gotta be Eric Byrnes (who's must be laughing all the way to the proverbial bank... still, right?!?).

The contract extension to Byrnes was crazy and they're paying almost all of the $11 million he's owed this year so he can play with the Mariners. That said, it was Byrnes's team-igniting explosion that was the catalyst to the division title in 2007 as Bud Black and Jake Peavy decided to "finish off" the Diamondbacks by pitching Peavy on short rest since he'd been so successful against them that whole season.

Here's the result of that brilliant bit of strategy: 4 innings pitched; 8 earned runs allowed on 7 hits; with 3 walks; and homers allowed to Conor Jackson and Miguel Montero.

Byrnes whipped the Diamondbacks into such an enraged frenzy that they went on to win the division title and the Padres stumbled out of the playoffs. That wasn't worth the money that they've ended up paying him, but his time as a Diamondback wasn't a complete loss.


She-Fan said...

I don't see Aceves' great pitching as a bad thing at all. It's still early in spring training. You can never have enough starting pitching. Someone always gets injured. Plus every other cliche in the book. Since Hughes will have an innings limit, why not start the season with Aceves as the #5 guy?

Jeff said...

I LOVE IT WHEN the Yankees have controversy in camp. Please, more! More! More!

Go Aceves!

Anonymous said...

Very Interesting!
Thank You!