Tuesday, October 26, 2010


  • Instruments of message and self-preservation:

Only with the insane and absurd expectations of the Yankees would a 95-67 season; a dominating win against a good team in the Division Series; and a loss in the ALCS turn into an indictment of the manager, coaching staff and players followed by a firing; a dissection of what's "wrong"; and endless analysis of what needs to be done to "fix" the problems.

Someone needs to take an evenhanded and impartial look at the Yankees and the overreactions that are currently taking place inside the organization, the fan base and the media.

The Yankees need a reality check.

And here it is.

GM Brian Cashman fires pitching coach Dave Eiland:

It's hard to get a true gauge on the reasons for this----Cashman didn't really give one. John Harper suggests in his NY Daily News column that Eiland's month-long absence in the summer played a part in Cashman's decision. Manager Joe Girardi had no say in the matter. If Eiland is going to get the unfair blame for the failures of Joba Chamberlain; Javier Vazquez; A.J. Burnett, shouldn't he get credit for C.C. Sabathia; Mariano Rivera; David Robertson and Boone Logan?

The sly implication from Harper implies that Eiland's leave-of-absence is the reason for the firing:

Almost certainly it wasn't as much performance-related as a case of the GM refusing to tolerate Eiland's month-long absence from the team over the summer for personal reasons that have never been explained publicly.

Nothing has been leaked as to the reason for Eiland leaving the team. No rumors; no innuendo; nothing. I find it amazing----in the twitter/blog/web/busybody-infested world we now live in----that nothing has come out or been said as to what the "personal issue" was. And it could literally have been anything. Because of that, I can't say that I wouldn't have done the same thing as Cashman did yesterday.

If it was performance-related, then Cashman needs a mirror.

Aside from his big-ticket, guaranteed performers like Sabathia, when precisely has Cashman shown himself to be an astute judge of pitchers? He was warned about Javier Vazquez; Vazquez didn't need a star pitching coach as much as he needed a psychiatrist. Chamberlain has been essentially ruined and stunted by organizational edicts as to his use----I can't believe that Eiland or Girardi would've been on the exact same page as those who enacted the paranoid and failed Joba Rules.

We can go on and on about Kei Igawa; Jose Contreras; Kyle Farnsworth; Damaso Marte, and any of the other wasted contracts on pitchers Cashman brought in only to see fail.

His record is not good.

The difference between now and five years ago is that George Steinbrenner is no longer around for Cashman to hold his left palm perpendicular to his face in karate chop fashion and, with eyes shiftily darting back and forth in conspiratorial fashion, point to the owner with his right index finger as if to say, "It was him!"

Realistically, there's no one to blame now aside from the GM.

Then we get to A.J. Burnett.

For all the continued allusions to Burnett's talent, the Yankees and Cashman can't have it both ways; they can't say they're following the new-age lead of the Red Sox and use objective analysis to determine their pursuits in one sentence and then simultaneously salivate and defend Burnett by referring to his talent in the next sentence.

That said, with objective analysis, we can come to one conclusion with Burnett whether we're stat people or old-school; and the conclusion is: This is what the Yankees bought!!!

If anyone thought that Burnett would suddenly morph into a perennial Cy Young Award contender and dominating presence commensurate with his devastating stuff simply by way of wearing a Yankee uniform and getting an $82 million contract, they were kidding themselves. No one----not Eiland; not Brad Arnsberg; not Mark Wiley; perhaps not even Dave Duncan can figure him out.

He has 20-win stuff; he can blow people away; and he is a complete enigma from whom you do not know what you're going to get from one start, one pitch to the next.

If Cashman thinks he's going to bring in a new pitching coach who's going to penetrate Burnett's skull----at age 34!!!----then Cashman's time under the thumb of Steinbrenner has made him stir crazy.

Logically, it makes a semblance of sense to bring in a new voice to try and unlock the mystery of Burnett since they still owe him $50 million and want to recoup something on that loony investment. He's untradeable because of that contract unless they took back a similarly bad deal. On the bright side with Burnett, the other aspect of "what they bought" hasn't cropped up (yet) as he's stayed healthy. That's something.

Joe Girardi, the Binder and the gaffes:

As is so conveniently forgotten when people call Terry Francona the "best" manager in baseball, he was hired to implement the decisions of the front office and do as he was told; it's the same thing with Girardi.

Joe Girardi is stiff and somewhat paranoid as a manager. The players seem to like playing for him; he's gotten better at handling the media; and he's very, very smart. Because they won the World Series in 2009, Girardi's flaws were glossed over. He made horrible mistakes----based mostly on his security blanket of statistics (the Binder)----that could easily have cost the Yankees and gotten them bounced in the earlier rounds last year. It just so happened that his mistakes did cost them this year.

That's not to take anything away from a dominant performance in every facet of the game by the Rangers, but had Girardi done a few things differently, perhaps they would've gotten the opportunity to see if they could beat Cliff Lee in a game 7. The failed strategies have been documented here and most were based on an over-reliance on conventionally believed universal truths that wouldn't have been followed by a more experienced and fearless manager.

The Yankees are negotiating a new contract with Girardi, but the firing of his pitching coach----like the dispatching of his hand-picked coach Bobby Meacham after the missed playoff season of 2008----is a warning. Eventually the pawns sacrificed to send a message are no longer adequate to get the point across. Girardi knows the expectations with the Yankees, as unfair and unreasonable as they are.

The end of the world is nigh:

In what venue is an ALCS loss for the defending World Champions treated with such an air of doom, gloom and pending danger?

I'm not getting into the specific rantings of Yankee fans, media members and upper management, but they need to get a grip. The idea that this team is on the way into a downward spiral is a derangement at its height. The suggested moves----trading Nick Swisher; finding a taker for A.J. Burnett; signing Cliff Lee; getting "younger and more athletic"----are missing the point and some are knee-jerk and reactionary based on the immediate after-effects of failed expectations.

Was Swisher the problem in the ALCS? Or was it the shortness of starting pitching?

Would the signing of Lee solve the issues in the dugout as Girardi overmanages or makes mistakes to cost his team playoff games?

What precisely does "younger and more athletic" mean?

The Yankees can't move Alex Rodriguez's contract; Jorge Posada needs to be a part-time catcher and DH the rest of the time; and Derek Jeter won't be allowed to leave.

This is where they are. They're old. They have a few young players on the horizon, but how many of them are adequate replacements for the stars that are in the twilight of their careers?

Presumably Chamberlain would be able to rack up the saves once Mariano Rivera retires, but will he be trustworthy in the playoffs? That's always been the main attribute of Rivera that's separated him from the Trevor Hoffmans of the world----he gets the outs in the playoffs.

Who's going to be the shortstop after Jeter's gone? Will Ivan Nova be constrained by the set of "rules" that have been such a detriment to the development of Phil Hughes and Chamberlain? And are the Yankees aware that if they sign Lee, they're going to have a very expensive rotation of starting pitchers, most of whom are in the mid-30s?

After all the plans and schemes to save money and build from within in 2008, a missed playoff year spurred them to throw money at the problems after the year; it worked as they won the World Series. They're getting panicky without accepting the reality that they lost in the playoffs.

It happens.

They were beaten.

Get over it.

Now what?

It's already begun as the votes are being tabulated (more on this in a moment); the bloodletting has started as Cashman swung his sickle at Dave Eiland; and there are targets for elimination and acquisition in his crosshairs.

But where's Cashman's punishment? When is he held accountable for these unreasonable expectations that have forced such an overwhelming explosion of symbolic repudiation with the firing of Eiland?

The age factor; the managerial mistakes; and whatever happened with the pitchers and the pitching coach are sacraments of the organizational problems of misunderstanding that they were beaten by a younger, faster, fearless Rangers team. Dispatching the disposable is a means to an end. The fans can see that the Yankees are "doing something" whether that something is effective or not.

This team won 95 games; they have the foundation (and money) to contend on an annual basis; there's no reason to go over the edge; but that's exactly what's happening right now.

Unless they pull back and think about what their doing with an icy resolve devoid of sentimentality or cognizance of fan/media reaction, they're not going to be able to repair the few problems they have; in fact, there's a great potential for them to make things worse. Much, much worse.

It's unnecessary. Stemming from the maniacal masses, decisions to appease invariably end in disaster.

The Yankees better be careful here.

Very careful.

  • Someone has to lead:
It's a dirty job, but someone's gotta do it.

What's with all the votes determining decisions that need to be made? Every network has text polls; votes; percentages and whatever to let the clubs know what the fans want.

The media agenda is always clear if you know how to read between the lines.

Who cares what the fans want?

Who cares what the media wants?

A vast percentage of the media and fan base of the Mets want Sandy Alderson to be the new GM. As I've said previously, the majority of the voters----all due respect----don't know what they're talking about to begin with. The circular nature of the media promulgating a myth of competence that may or may not be accurate leads to a groundswell of support.

But this isn't about Alderson or my preferred choice as Mets GM Josh Byrnes; it's about the inability of individuals to think for themselves without undue influence from outside sources.

Is this truth by consensus? Because Alderson is supported by whatever percentages desire him, does that make him the right choice? This same franchise----the Mets----were lauded for their importing of Jeff Torborg after the 1991 season. Torborg had overseen the White Sox rebuilding and developed such youngsters as Frank Thomas, Jack McDowell and Alex Fernandez; he had experience working in the New York City market having been on the Yankees coaching staffs; he was a smart, prepared, nice man.

But it didn't work.

It didn't take long for his paranoia and overmanaging to undo his tenure.

The fans wanted him; the media wanted him; and what happened?

Someone has to lead. Someone has to steward the masses to save them from themselves.

If there's a viable argument to make in support of Alderson; Byrnes; making the Yankees younger; hiring and firing; trading and acquiring, then make the case; but don't join in just to be part of the crowd.

That's not thinking.

That's not analysis.

That's being a sheep.

And sheep get slaughtered.

  • I'm goin' viral!!!!

Or I am viral.

One of those.

My "crow parmigiana" recipe (inspired by Michael Kay's declaration that the ALCS was "over" in favor of the Yankees after their game 1 comeback win) was linked on Baseball Think Factory yesterday.

Here's the direct link.

Whether someone has a negative or positive thing to say, getting linked is great; it brings traffic and sometimes inspires discussion. What I don't get is why the comments to the posting degenerate into such bizarreness and deviate from the subject about what I wrote; and it happens every....single....time and not only to me.

When stat zombies or old-schoolers are posted----or even those who plainly and simply don't know what they're talking about in any sense----it's the same thing. I wish they'd come at me on my site with their comments because it's fun to take them on.

Whenever I've been linked there, invariably a few enterprising zombies or disagreeing parties will come at me here with some response. They've invariably been sent scurrying back to their lair desperately searching for their heads, but that's beside the point. I'm ready to scrap!! Let's go!!!

I was a guest with Sal on the SportsFan Buzz today talking about the World Series, the Mets, the Yankees and all sorts of other things. Click here to listen directly or here to download it from Sal's site on I-Tunes.


She-Fan said...

All the beat writers, not just Harper of the Daily News, feel Eiland was fired because of his personal issue, and there has been a lot of speculation about what it is. I don't think he was fired because of the pitchers' performances. I agree about overreaction of fans and media to the Yankees' losing the ALCS. However, on the
"old" thing...were the Yankees old when they were sweeping the Twins? I don't think so.

Jeff said...

*Posting up for stat zombie annihilation*