Tag:Joe Girardi
Posted on: May 4, 2009 12:58 pm
 

A-Rod: The book

On the other hand, at least the new book released today, A-Rod: The Many Lives of Alex Rodriguez, presents no evidence that Our Man is obsessed with adopting Cambodian babies alongside Angelina Jolie. So praise the heavens for that.

As you probably heard from noted literary critic Joe Girardi, publication of Selena Roberts' hot new tome was moved up to today, May 4, because of public clamoring and, well, the publisher's interest of selling as many books as possible.

While Girardi bitched and moaned about it, the rest of us could do the same about the Yankees manager for expediting his expected publication date of a New York lineup card with Alex Rodriguez's name on it. Once not planned until later this summer, Rodriguez's rehab has progressed quickly enough so as to align the stars for this serendipitous occasion: Now, he and the book will hit the charts within mere days of each other.

Beautiful. Wasn't life so much more enjoyable while A-Rod was away getting his hip fixed, or his stories straight, or wherever he was?

As for the book, there are no more steroids bombshells. Yeah, there's the stuff from anonymous sources making Roberts' case that A-Rod became ripped from steroids as far back as high school, and that he may have continued to work with HGH into his Yankee Years. It's interesting, juicy, tawdry stuff. But the bombshell came back in February when Roberts first reported the story that Rodriguez had failed a steroid test back in 2003. That's when Rodriguez fell hard from grace. Now it's just a matter of how far the fall is.

Rodriguez already having been revealed as a cheat and a liar, the book would be more satisfying if it contained another smoking gun extending Rodriguez's performance-enhancing drugs era. While Roberts presents extensive anonymous sources and much circumstantial evidence, however, there is no smoking gun.

What we do know is that, on this particular subject, Roberts has a whopping lead over A-Rod in the credibility department. So while it is utterly believable that he gulped steroids at 16 or to suspect that he used HGH in Yankee pinstripes, A-Rod does not produce proof positive -- which places it alongside so much else in the Steroid Era. We suspect this, we think that, but we just cannot know for sure.

Frankly, the sexiest news to emerge is the book's charges that A-Rod tipped friendly opposing batters as to what pitches were coming next in blowouts when he was with the Rangers, expecting the same in return from them. That's the part that should especially get the attention of the Commissioner's Office because that strikes at the very heart of the competition.

The lasting lesson from the 1919 World Series is that if the games are fixed, the sport is ruined. These charges, if true, may not have affected the outcome of games, but they damn sure chip away at the credibility of parts of games, rendering them less authentic and leading perilously close to the point of no return.

Aside from that, the book spends much of its time psychoanalyzing Rodriguez. Roberts is a very sharp woman with keen insights and a graceful pen. She finds meaning in small detail and paints an even creepier portrait than the A-Rod narrative to date has done. There is plenty of material to mine, and the hard hat and miner's lamp suits her well. A-Rod long ago became the emperor with no clothes. Read A-Rod, and Our Man is laid even more bare by the time Roberts finishes with him.

In the end, despite word that the Commissioner's Office is cranking up for another investigation into A-Rod's PED usage, my guess is that this book will prove more valuable to fans in opposing cities than it will to investigators. I mean, if the Balco study Game of Shadows, published in 2006, didn't aid baseball in suspending Barry Bonds and preventing him from swiping Hank Aaron's all-time home run record in 2007, it's difficult to see Bud Selig and Co. producing a book report now that culminates with an A-Rod suspension.

But wow, if A-Rod is coming to a ballpark near you this summer -- attention, Fenway Park denizens -- this book is rich with material for hecklers. The weird Madonna obsession, the divorce from Cynthia, the swingers' clubs and strip joints ... ugh.

Anybody who viewed those Details magazine photos this spring picturing Rodriguez kissing himself in the mirror knows that this is one twisted individual. I mean, what grown man do you know who would do that, ever, either in private or for a photo shoot? Kiss himself in a mirror?

This is one strange and bizarre dude, and what the Yankees are about to gain with his bat in the lineup, they're also about to gain tenfold paparazzi.

As for Girardi, he should worry about managing.

"I get tired of answering these questions," he said Sunday at Yankee Stadium.

Yeah, well, ask Joe Torre about that. It's part of the gig managing the circus that is the Yankees. You wanted the job? It comes whole, not in small, digestible pieces.

Besides, nobody forced the Yankees to re-sign this guy after he arrogantly opted out of his contract during Game 4 of the 2007 World Series, anyway. You make your bed, you lie in it. Don't start whining now.

 

Posted on: February 15, 2009 5:06 pm
 

Where have you gone, Phil Hughes?

TAMPA, Fla. -- His locker is just a couple down from heavyweights CC Sabathia and Joba Chamberlain in the New York Yankees' spring clubhouse here, yet he comes and goes with barely a notice.

Last spring, right-hander Phil Hughes was one of the most highly touted prospects in baseball.

Now, with an injury practically being the only thing that could knock Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Chien-Ming Wang, Andy Pettitte and Chamberlain from the rotation, Hughes is something else.

An apparition.

"Last spring, Ian (Kennedy) and I had a lot of pressure to step in. It's different this year," said Hughes in what may be as big an understatement as you'll hear all spring. "I look at it as a positive. We have three or four guys in our rotation who would be capable of being in the top of any rotation in baseball.

"Whether I fit into it now or toward the end of the year, I'll try and contribute wherever I'm needed."

Maybe it's better this way. Hughes, still only 22, was catapulted into the limelight last winter when the Yankees decided to follow Boston's lead (Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Jonathan Papelbon) and emphasize its young pitching. Then Hughes became The Next Can't Miss Kid when the Yanks refused to include him in a deal with Minnesota for Johan Santana, who eventually was traded to the New York Mets.

Ultimately, Hughes not only failed to achieve liftoff in 2008, he mostly looked unsure of himself and completely overmatched in going 0-4 with a 6.62 ERA in eight starts before minor-league assignments and a broken rib sidetracked the rest of what was supposed to be his coming-out party.

Instead, he found himself pitching in obscurity in the Arizona Fall League in October as the Yankees were sitting out the playoffs for the first time since 1993.

Meanwhile, Kennedy went 0-4 with an 8.17 ERA and managed to pitch himself further out of New York's plans than did Hughes.

"I thought it was important that they learned from last year," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "That they took something from it, and that they understand what it takes to stay here."

Girardi said that each needs to understand "how to attack the (strike) zone" and locate his fastball.

One of the few openings the club is expected to have probably will be for a long reliever who can double as a spot starter, and Girardi made it clear that while Hughes possibly could fill that void, he would be concerned that it could slow the kid's development. Most likely, the long reliever/spot starter job is what the Yankees brought in guys like Brett Tomko for.

Also, Hughes has suffered a string of injuries, which adds to the evidence of those wondering whether he's star-crossed. In addition to the rib, he's suffered hamstring and ankle injuries in the past two years.

Mostly, the Yankees think that Hughes and Kennedy simply need to pitch, that the more innings they rack up, the more steadily they will develop. However, after sitting out October last year, the difference this year, what with moving into the new stadium in April and signing Sabathia and Burnett, is that the Yanks no longer are willing to allow them to learn on the job.

Hughes thinks he is back on track after fighting his mechanics for most of '08.

"My mechanics ideally should stay the same on every pitch," he said, meaning fastball, curve, whatever the selection. "That happens when I slow things down and get a good balance point."

He never could slow things down in his on-the-job audition with the Yankees in '08.

He says he was able to slow them down in Arizona, and his first bullpen session of the spring went well -- in his estimation -- on Sunday.

"In the past, I was rushing through my balance point," Hughes said. "When I'm deliberate in my delivery, I get a good balance point. And everything comes from that."

Likes: Brian Cashman's honesty. Whatever you think of the Yankees, love 'em or hate 'em, the general manager is a stand-up guy. Answering Alex Rodriguez questions the other day, he said that the organization had to run toward the A-Rod situation, not run away from it. True enough. But I especially chuckled over his assessment of this year's Yankees in Tyler Kepner's piece in Sunday's New York Times: "We are a bad defensive team, so a guy that prevents the ball from being put into play is a good thing for us." He was referring to A.J. Burnett ranking third in strikeouts per nine innings among pitchers who worked 500 or more innings last year, and CC Sabathia ranking seventh. Everybody knows that Yankees aren't exactly overloaded with Gold Glovers -- not with Johnny Damon in the outfield, range-challenged Derek Jeter at shortstop, Robinson Cano at second, etc. But for a GM to come right out and say "we are a bad defensive team" ... priceless.

Sunblock day? Barely. Warm, a little humid, but not much sun on a mis-named Sunday.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Ring the bells that still can ring
"Forget your perfect offering
"There is a crack, a crack in everything
"That's how the light gets in."

-- Leonard Cohen, Anthem

 

Posted on: February 15, 2009 5:02 pm
 

Where have you gone, Phil Hughes?

TAMPA, Fla. -- His locker is just a couple down from heavyweights CC Sabathia and Joba Chamberlain in the New York Yankees' spring clubhouse here, yet he comes and goes with barely a notice.

Last spring, right-hander Phil Hughes was one of the most highly touted prospects in baseball.

Now, with an injury practically being the only thing that could knock Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Chien-Ming Wang, Andy Pettitte and Chamberlain from the rotation, Hughes is something else.

An apparition.

"Last spring, Ian (Kennedy) and I had a lot of pressure to step in. It's different this year," said Hughes in what may be as big an understatement as you'll hear all spring. "I look at it as a positive. We have three or four guys in our rotation who would be capable of being in the top of any rotation in baseball.

"Whether I fit into it now or toward the end of the year, I'll try and contribute wherever I'm needed."

Maybe it's better this way. Hughes, still only 22, was catapulted into the limelight last winter when the Yankees decided to follow Boston's lead (Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Jonathan Papelbon) and emphasize its young pitching. Then Hughes became The Next Can't Miss Kid when the Yanks refused to include him in a deal with Minnesota for Johan Santana, who eventually was traded to the New York Mets.

Ultimately, Hughes not only failed to achieve liftoff in 2008, he mostly looked unsure of himself and completely overmatched in going 0-4 with a 6.62 ERA in eight starts before minor-league assignments and a broken rib sidetracked the rest of what was supposed to be his coming-out party.

Instead, he found himself pitching in obscurity in the Arizona Fall League in October as the Yankees were sitting out the playoffs for the first time since 1993.

Meanwhile, Kennedy went 0-4 with an 8.17 ERA and managed to pitch himself further out of New York's plans than did Hughes.

"I thought it was important that they learned from last year," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "That they took something from it, and that they understand what it takes to stay here."

Girardi said that each needs to understand "how to attack the (strike) zone" and locate his fastball.

One of the few openings the club is expected to have probably will be for a long reliever who can double as a spot starter, and Girardi made it clear that while Hughes possibly could fill that void, he would be concerned that it could slow the kid's development. Most likely, the long reliever/spot starter job is what the Yankees brought in guys like Brett Tomko for.

Also, Hughes has suffered a string of injuries, which adds to the evidence of those wondering whether he's star-crossed. In addition to the rib, he's suffered hamstring and ankle injuries in the past two years.

Mostly, the Yankees think that Hughes and Kennedy simply need to pitch, that the more innings they rack up, the more steadily they will develop. However, after sitting out October last year, the difference this year, what with moving into the new stadium in April and signing Sabathia and Burnett, is that the Yanks no longer are willing to allow them to learn on the job.

Hughes thinks he is back on track after fighting his mechanics for most of '08.

"My mechanics ideally should stay the same on every pitch," he said, meaning fastball, curve, whatever the selection. "That happens when I slow things down and get a good balance point."

He never could slow things down in his on-the-job audition with the Yankees in '08.

He says he was able to slow them down in Arizona, and his first bullpen session of the spring went well -- in his estimation -- on Sunday.

"In the past, I was rushing through my balance point," Hughes said. "When I'm deliberate in my delivery, I get a good balance point. And everything comes from that."

Likes: Brian Cashman's honesty. Whatever you think of the Yankees, love 'em or hate 'em, the general manager is a stand-up guy. Answering Alex Rodriguez questions the other day, he said that the organization had to run toward the A-Rod situation, not run away from it. True enough. But I especially chuckled over his assessment of this year's Yankees in Tyler Kepner's piece in Sunday's New York Times: "We are a bad defensive team, so a guy that prevents the ball from being put into play is a good thing for us." He was referring to A.J. Burnett ranking third in strikeouts per nine innings among pitchers who worked 500 or more innings last year, and CC Sabathia ranking seventh. Everybody knows that Yankees aren't exactly overloaded with Gold Glovers -- not with Johnny Damon in the outfield, range-challenged Derek Jeter at shortstop, Robinson Cano at second, etc. But for a GM to come right out and say "we are a bad defensive team" ... priceless.

Sunblock day? Barely. Warm, a little humid, but not much sun on a mis-named Sunday.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Ring the bells that still can ring
"Forget your perfect offering
"There is a crack, a crack in everything
"That's how the light gets in."

-- Leonard Cohen, Anthem

 

Posted on: February 15, 2009 4:07 pm
Edited on: February 15, 2009 5:22 pm
 

A-Rod: Circle the date

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees are bracing for Alex Rodriguez's arrival, expecting him to report on Tuesday and -- they anticipate -- hold a news conference that day.

Because their first full-squad workout is scheduled for Wednesday, and because they know know the A-Rod/steroids story will loom over them all season, they're hoping he can at least clear the air somewhat so they can hold Wednesday's workout in relative peace.

"Let me tell you, I'm really looking forward to getting beyond Tuesday," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said following Sunday's workout, comparing the A-Rod situation with last year's Andy Pettitte scenario. "I think (the story) will linger a little bit, I think like Andy's did in a sense, and maybe to a little larger magnitude just becasue people stay around for a little bit.

"Everyone can't stay around forever. There's other stories in the world -- hopefully fairly quickly."

Last spring, Pettitte, who had admitted using human growth hormone after he was named in the Mitchell Report, was one of the biggest of those stories. And in a scene depressingly familiar with what is expected to transpire when A-Rod arrives, the Yankees hosted a press conference with Pettitte at the microphone that was part confessional, part apology and part therapy.

With A-Rod, the club has not scheduled anything official yet, but Tuesday is reporting day for position players. Girardi, general manager Brian Cashman, Pettitte, catcher Jorge Posada and shortstop Derek Jeter -- and likely others -- plan to attend A-Rod's session as a show of support. Cashman said Sunday that several players have asked when it is.

"He's dealing with the problem," said Cashman, who has spoken with A-Rod multiple times since the third baseman admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs from 2001-2003. "He's trying to address it in the most honest way he can. His conversation with ESPN was an important first step."

Even though Rodriguez has yet to arrive, the story threatened to overshadow even the reporting of two marquee free agent pitchers on Friday, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett. And so many other things are near afterthoughts.

As pitchers and catchers worked out for a second day Sunday, Chien-Ming Wang was back in uniform after missing half a season last year with a broken foot. Catcher Jorge Posada continued his throwing program after playing in a career-low 51 games last season because of a shoulder in need of surgery. Prospect Phil Hughes tried to regain his balance after last year's dismal flop.

And yet, even with little national media presence on Sunday, Girardi fielded nearly as many questions about Rodriguez as anything else following the workout.

"I will be there," Girardi said in response to a query regarding the spring's most anticipated news conference. "I support him. We understand he's going through a difficult time. I supported Andy last year. It's my job."

Girardi also said he thinks the symbolism of teammates attending is important.

"I think it shows the unity of the club," he said. "And I think that's real important. I think it's important for teammates to back teammates, and they're there for each other, and they know during difficult times they can lean on each other.

"Because, you know what? There's going to be something else that comes up this year that's difficult maybe for a player to get through."

Acknowledging that this undoubtedly is an uncomfortable time for Rodriguez -- "I think it probably would be uncomfortable for anyone" -- Girardi said he intends to speak with A-Rod upon the third baseman's arrival in Tampa just to gauge how he's feeling.

The manager also said he expects to monitor A-Rod all season.

"Only time will tell how he's handling it," Girardi said. "It could be that he's managing to handle it great. Who knows where we go from Tuesday. It's something I'll watch carefully."

Former manager Joe Torre, in his book The Yankee Years, noted that Rodriguez was the type of personality that needs constant approval, constant attention, day-to-day.

Asked whether that was his observation during his rookie season at the helm of the Yanks in 2008, Girardi said, "I have no personally felt that way with Alex. All players, including myself, need a pat on the back because it's a game of failure.

"I think all of us need to hear, 'Job well done', whether when you're working from your boss, or a son from a father."

As Girardi said of Tuesday, "It's a start. There are still things he's going to have to deal with during the course of the season, but it's a start. This is another step in a process."

Posted on: September 9, 2008 9:32 pm
 

Pudge Rodriguez out, Angels need a secretary

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- One day after his dustup with Torii Hunter, Yankees catcher Pudge Rodriguez was not in the lineup for Tuesday night's game with the Los Angeles Angels.

New York manager Joe Girardi said something about "whiplash", and Rodriguez did spend some time in the trainer's room, but the catcher said it was nothing serious.

"I'm doing fine," Rodriguez said. "I'm doing good."

There was no word of suspensions. Maybe that'll come -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia said nobody from the league had called him with questions -- but it shouldn't.

Pudge elbowed Hunter, Hunter shoved back, there was an open-handed slap (nobody threw any punches) ... and then, following the ejections, the two met in a tunnel below Angel Stadium, apologized to each other and then did one of those handshake-hugs.

And that was before each was quoted offering apologies in the morning newspapers.

Rodriguez and Hunter settled it all on their own, like a couple of mature men.

Shouldn't baseball applaud that as a model for how others who lose their temper should behave?

"I'm not anticipating any suspensions," Scioscia said. "You never know what the league is going to do, but it was pretty benign.

"Those two guys are two classy guys. They play the game hard. They play to win. It was an unfortunate incident, but it really was rather mild."

The apology occurred when Rodriguez sent an envoy to the Angels' clubhouse to apologize to Hunter. At that point, Hunter, wanting to talk with Pudge himself, told the guy to ask Pudge to come out of the clubhouse and into the tunnel.

The conversation went from there.

"Pudge and I have had mutual respect for all these years," Hunter said. "It's like any pickup game at the gym. It can be your brother who fouls you as you're going for a layup. You might push your brother or friend, like, 'Hey, what are you doing?!'

"It was kind of like that."

It did make for a semi-light-hearted moment shortly after the ejections.

As the game was resuming, with emotions still overflowing and the Los Angeles dugout not quite settled down, Angels media relations director Larry Babcock phoned downstairs from the press box to inquire whether there were any ejections besides Hunter and Rodriguez so he could relay the information along to the broadcasters and other media.

The telephone in the dugout rang and rang. Finally, because nobody else was answering, outfielder Garret Anderson picked up. After speaking briefly with Babcock, Anderson hollered to his manager -- "Hey, Mike, it's for you!" -- before Babcock could ask for bench coach Ron Roenicke.

As you might expect, any manager -- Scioscia included -- doesn't really take kindly to being disturbed in the middle of a game. Which is why Babcock was seeking Roenicke.

The conversation went something like this:

"Hey Mike, I'm just double-checking whether there were any other ejections," Babcock asked.

"Of course there were ejections," Scioscia snapped.

"No, I know Hunter and Rodriguez were ejected. I just need to know whether there were any others. ..."

Um, that would be a no. And now, back to live action. ...

 

Posted on: July 15, 2008 4:29 pm
 

Of All-Stars, fathers, sons and the big night

NEW YORK -- I'm sitting here in the Yankee Stadium press box more than four hours before tonight's All-Star Game, and it's one of my favorite times of day. Early afternoon, when the ballpark is quiet, with just the very early signs of it stirring to life.

Outside, it's a mob scene here in New York and if you get a chance to be in front of the television and get a look at the pre-game show, from what I'm hearing, you should make sure to see it.

More than 40 Hall of Famers are here for a special pre-game ceremony, and -- careful, spoiler alert -- it sounds like they're going emerge from Monument Park as they're being introduced to the sold-out crowd of some 55,000, and walk across the outfield before taking their positions -- whatever position they played.

Anyway, there are just a few TV folks down on the field now. Actually, they're off to the side, in front of the dugouts. Aside from a couple of groundskeepers, the only folks on the infield are Yankees manager Joe Girardi and his son Dante, 6. Girardi was pitching to Dante a little bit ago, then Dante went out to third base and Girardi hit him several ground balls and pop-ups.

Now Dante is pitching to his pop, though with that little arm, he's not exactly all the way back to the mound. What a nice moment it is, before the big stadium lights come on later and the noise level rises and the stakes get higher.

Yes, this time it counts, again. And here are just a couple of other items as we head toward first pitch:

-- Commissioner Bud Selig, at a lunch with the Baseball Writers' Assn. of America, said he's fully committed to keeping the current format in which the All-Star Game winner decides World Series home-field advantage. "It's restored intensity to the sport," Selig said. "You don't hear people bitching and whining anymore about coming to the game. There was a time in the 1990s where people didn't want to come. Players were gone by the third or fourth inning." Hey Frank Thomas, your ears burning?

-- Selig said he thinks Florida will have a stadium soon. And he said Oakland needs one. "They need a new ballpark. There were people in the '70s who thought they needed a new ballpark, and they got Charley (Finley, the old owner) instead," Selig quipped.

-- He danced around the topic of the Yankees charging up to $2,000 a ticket for games in their new ballpark next year. Yes, you read that right. The lowest ticket in new Yankee Stadium is expected to go for $50. Hey family of four, good luck. "I am sensitive to ticket prices and, for the most part, I'm very proud of what clubs have done," he said. "You always assume the club is sensitive to its local market and knows it's market and will do what works in its market. I'm going to give both the Yankees and Mets their due in that regard. Life had changed. When I ran a club (Milwaukee), in the '70s and '80s I used to sit and agonize for months over a quarter raise (in ticket prices)."

-- Good line from NL manager Clint Hurdle the other day discussing how he put his starting lineup together: "I tried to combine some speed and some power, tried to have length in the lineup, had all that from top to bottom. And you look at the numbers that many of these men have put up, you know, I'm a big fan, I hear a lot about OPS, OBP ... I'm a big fan of G-U-T-S. I like guts."

Posted on: May 23, 2008 11:01 pm
 

Did Dusty do The Bump?

Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker was steaming Friday afternoon after being socked with a two-game suspension and $1,500 fine for "bumping" umpire Eric Cooper a night earlier.

It was an animated argument, but Cooper's definition of "bumping" might be different from the average guy's. Replays barely showed a graze, if that. If Baker was deserving of a suspension, then Earl Weaver, Billy Martin and Lou Piniella -- among many, many other managers -- probably earned lifetime bans several times over.

At this rate, it won't be long until managers are required to wear priest collars and carry prayer books in the dugout. Two games? Really?

Baseball long ago went corporate, but the way Bob Watson is doling out punishments, the goal appears to make the game as antiseptic as possible.

The one-gamer handed to Yankees manager Joe Girardi for his dirt-kicking tantrum the other night was excessive, too.

As for Baker, he was expecting a fine for his ejection but was shocked at the suspension -- though Cooper did accuse Baker of bumping him during the argument.

"I didn't see it and I didn't feel it," said Baker, who was intending to watch Friday night's game in San Diego from the manager's office. "(Cooper) told me I sprayed him with dip, tobacco, and that I grazed him and made contact with him. I was trying everything I could not to make contact."

Baker said he didn't even bother watching the replays because he would "get mad all over again."

And let me tell you, it was an odd experience listening to Baker vent ... while bouncing son Darren, 9, on his lap.

When Baker acknowledged that he was " more pissed now than I was earlier today", Darren, with an actor's sense of timing, turned around and wrapped his dad in a big hug.

It was difficult not to laugh.

And definitely difficult not to chuckle at baseball's evolving code of conduct for managers.

Someone needs to give Watson some more things to do so he's got less time on his hands. Last time I saw discipline this over-the-top, it was from Sister Furmine and the other nuns in my Catholic elementary school. And I still shudder.

Best line of the afternoon came from Ken Griffey Jr., who had this to say when he learned that Baker was suspended: "Dusty just wanted to take his kid to Legoland."
 
Likes: Former outfielder Kevin Mitchell stopped by to say hello to Baker the other day, and among other things in the manager's office, it generated a conversation regarding the time the television show Silk Stalkings filmed a few scenes -- including one of Mitchell sliding into his pool -- at Mitchell's San Diego beach house. "Now I can't slide no more -- I've gotta crawl," quipped Mitchell, who isn't as big as you might suspect, or remember him being. ... Reds television broadcaster George Grande, one of the finest men in the business. ... Actual rain in San Diego. If only for a day. ... Arizona's Doug Davis winning his first start back after thyroid cancer surgery. Outstanding. ... Atlanta manager Bobby Cox signing a one-year extension to manage the Braves in 2009.

Dislikes: In case you missed it the other day, allow me to repeat: American Airlines now charging $15 for the first bag you check. Every time you step near an airport now, the airlines nickel and dime you. Two bucks for checking a bag curbside. Twenty-five or more bucks if you want to change from a middle seat to an aisle seat on Northwest. Gouge, gouge, gouge. Just like at the gas pump. Every time you wake up anymore, there's more bad economic news.

Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"A vial of hope and a vial of pain
"In the light they both looked the same
"Poured them out on into the world
"On every boy and every girl"

-- The Arcade Fire, Neon Bible

Posted on: April 21, 2008 5:44 pm
 

Searching for the Yankees "idiot". ...

Welcome to the New York Yankees manager's chair, Joe Girardi.

Are you an idiot?

Only chip-off-the-old-block Hank Steinbrenner knew exactly the point he was trying to make when he told the New York Times that "you have to be an idiot" to "have a guy with a 100-mile-per-hour fastball and keep him as a setup guy."

The guy, of course, is Joba Chamberlain. And Steinbrenner's early frustration is understandable, given that the Yankees have been sluggish out of the gate over these first three weeks largely because Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy are a combined 0-5 with a 9.20 ERA.

When ferreting out the idiot of whom Steinbrenner spoke, here are two very important points to remember:

-- Girardi last winter signed a three-year, $7.5 million deal to manage the Yankees that runs through 2010.

-- General manager Brian Cashman is working in the final year of his contract, and the club so far appears not to have made much of an effort to re-sign him.

That doesn't mean Cashman is a short-timer as Yankees GM. Far from it.

But as this situation develops, and as the season plays out, it definitely bears watching.

During a conversation at the club's complex in Tampa this spring, Steinbrenner was complimentary of Cashman but declined to say if or when he would get around to talking with the GM about his future beyond 2008.

"I've known Cash a long time," Steinbrenner said. "He's been with our family a long time."

Steinbrenner said then that he would discuss the future with Cashman during the season, but wouldn't be pinned down on a time.

"It'll happen when it happens," Steinbrenner said then. "The big thing with Brian is the organization he's put in place. This is not going to be based on one decision. Damon Oppenheimer as the chief of scouting obviously has paid off huge. The way he's worked with Mark Newman (senior vice-president of the Tampa-based part of the Yanks baseball operations) and Joe Girardi. ..."

So ... who's the Idiot in Yankee-land?

Could it be Girardi, who left Chamberlain out of the rotation to begin the season?

Cashman, who obviously is one of the point men in that decision?

During that same conversation this spring, Steinbrenner spoke glowingly of Girardi.

"I love what he does," Steinbrenner said. "I love what he's doing. I really do. It's more a combination of things. (The players) like him and respect him, and I think there's even a little fear. He can be intimidating. He's a tough guy."

The plan all along has been to start the 22-year-old Chamberlain in the bullpen as a way of controlling his innings-pitched odometer. At three different minor-league levels and with the Yankees last season, he threw a combined total of 112 1/3 innings.

Say he opened the season as a starter and averaged six innings a start -- he'd already be at the 112-inning mark in his 19th start. And that's barely halfway through a full season. Big-league starters usually make somewhere around 32, 33 starts per summer.

Point is, the opposite of Steinbrenner's statement is true, too: You would have to be an idiot to put a still-developing Chamberlain into the rotation and expect him not to wear out before the finish line.

It was an organizational decision this spring -- not the edict of one man, like Girardi or Cashman -- to use Chamberlain as a set-up man early and then move him into the rotation later this season.

But like anything else when a fiery Steinbrenner is in charge of the Yankees, one man just may take the blame if the whole thing goes up in smoke.

Girardi? Cashman?

Perhaps neither.

We all know Johnny Damon was a self-proclaimed Idiot when he was playing for Boston in his previous life.

You don't suppose Steinbrenner was referring to him, do you?

 

 
 
 
 
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