January 2010

The Battle in Tampa: Joba Vs. Huuuughes

No, there won’t be a tiger in the arena, although you never know with the Yankees. Busch Gardens isn’t far from Steinbrenner Field.
In any case, the debate isn’t just about whether Joba should be a starter or reliever anymore. It’s about whether he or Phil Hughes will excel in spring training and seize the #5 spot in the rotation. Only one of them will win the job, with the other going to the pen. What will happen? Will they fight it out until Opening Day? Or will one have vanquished the other by mid-March?
I’ve gone back and forth so many times on this subject that I honestly don’t know what to think. I prefer Joba as Mo’s setup guy, but Hughes was great in the 8th during the regular season. Here’s Mike Puma’s post. What do you think?

Chamberlain ready to fight for rotation spot

Comments: 7

Last Updated: 8:01 PM, January 31, 2010

Posted: 2:59 AM, January 31, 2010

Joba Chamberlain’s eyes are set squarely on the fifth spot in the Yankees’ rotation.

The right-handed pitcher told The Post last night that he will arrive in Tampa next week — well before pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report for spring training — with the idea he’s a starting pitcher for 2010. Team brass has told him to have that mindset.

But Chamberlain also said he isn’t taking anything for granted knowing that Phil Hughes and Alfredo Aceves, among others, are chasing the same carrot.

“I’m going to go in and understand a lot of guys are fighting for that spot,” Chamberlain said after an autograph signing in New Rochelle in conjunction with Steiner Sports. “Nothing is guaranteed.”

Hughes is Chamberlain’s primary competition for the final spot in the Yankees’ rotation behind CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte and Javier Vazquez.

Hughes pitched effectively from the bullpen last year, mostly in a setup role for Mariano Rivera, and Chamberlain had a shaky season as a starter, finishing 9-6 with a 4.75 ERA as he faced an innings limit toward the end of the season. Chamberlain spent the postseason in the bullpen, leading to speculation he and Hughes, who struggled most notably in the ALCS and World Series, might trade places in 2010. That could still happen, as Hughes is expected to receive a long look for the rotation.

Chamberlain said he’s most excited about the addition of Vazquez, whom the Yankees obtained last month in a trade with the Braves that included Melky Cabrera.

Vazquez pitched for the Yankees in 2004 and struggled, leading to his departure after surrendering a grand slam to Boston’s Johnny Damon in Game 7 of the ALCS.

“I think Javier Vazquez is excited to come back here and has something to prove,” Chamberlain said.

Even in the dead of winter, the Yankees are the biggest show around.

Alex Rodriguez, Rivera, Pettitte, Burnett, Chamberlain and Nick Swisher were among the players who entertained nearly 3,000 fans at yesterday’s autograph signing.

With pitchers and catchers less than three weeks away from reporting to camp, several Yankees were still basking in the glory of last year’s world championship, but also ready to start discussing 2010.

For several of the players yesterday was the first time seeing each other since November’s tickertape parade along Broadway. Rodriguez had a giant bear hug for his friend Rivera.

“What a great team and great accomplishment,” Rivera said. “We’re like a family. It was great seeing everyone. It was like a family reunion. I like the team this coming year.”

Chamberlain said he is done celebrating last season’s accomplishments.

“We understand what we did last year, but this is a New Year,” Chamberlain said. “We’re the 2009 world champions, but it doesn’t mean anything now that it’s 2010.”

Maybe the Yankees Should Sign Serena for LF

Here’s why.
* She knows how to win, having just tied Billie Jean King’s record for most grand slam singles victories.
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* She’s not afraid of performing on the proverbial “big stage.”
* She hits with right handed power.
* She’s fiery.
* She plays hurt.
* And she’s a team player….or can be.
After watching her dismantle Justin Henin in the Aussie Open Women’s Final today, I think she could cross over into baseball with no problem. She’s athletic, moves well and loves to compete. Isn’t that what the Yankees are looking for in an outfielder? There’s just one problem: she’d cost more than the $2 million Cashman budgeted for. Oh, and we already have Randy Winn. Never mind.

Happy Birthday To My Yankee Fan Sister!

I’m lucky. My sister Susan would give me the designer shirt off her back. She’s that nice.
She’s also a huge Yankee fan who would drop everything to watch a game with me if I’m in New York.
I never have to worry that we won’t have anything to talk about. She reads this blog daily and calls or emails with questions or comments. She says the blog gives her a lift each day. I hope this special birthday post gives her the best lift of all.
Happy Birthday, Sue!!!!!! Have a piece of this for me!!!!

Pecota Schmecota!

According to LoHud, the Yankees will finish third in 2010. That’s right. They won’t even make the playoffs. And I’m supposed to believe something called the PECOTA System, which stands for Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm? Don’t make me laugh.
This is why I hate stats. Even if the people at Baseball Prospectus had predicted the Yankees would repeat as World Champions, I’d feel the same way. Talk about taking the pleasure out of actually watching games for an entire season. I don’t care about what things look like on paper. I don’t care about algorithms.  And I really don’t care about any PECOTAS unless they’re a family in California’s Napa Valley that makes this.
How can they predict injuries? Slumps? Career years? An unbelievable bounce back season by Randy Winn? It’s called the human element, and it’s the reason I’m a baseball fan.
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Good News/Bad News

First, a little good news on the medical front. Michael must have heard everybody wishing him well, because his fever was down today and he felt a little bit better. The bad news is he’s still on a diet of clear liquids, which means chicken broth, tea and lots of this.
Also, his Yankee fan nurse, Rachel, wasn’t on duty today. Bummer. Maybe we’ll see her in a few days. In other bad news, it looks like Michael will have to stay in the hospital for the rest of the week at least. The doctor wouldn’t commit to when he’ll come off the DL.
Back to good news, the Yankees finally signed a left fielder. The bad news is that it wasn’t Johnny Damon. It was Randy Winn, most recently of the Giants. When I read about the deal, I was like, “Excuuuuse me?” Sure, Winn fits within Cashman’s $2 million budget, but he’s 35 years old and coming off a miserable 2009 season.
But looking at the good news, the switch-hitting Winn was terrific with the Giants in ’07 and ’08 and could have a bounce back year with the Yankees in 2010, the way Swisher did last season after his dismal stint with the White Sox. Here’s more good news: Winn’s real first name is Dwight and his middle name is Randolph. Maybe he’ll perform like these two did as Yankees.
Continuing to look on the good news side of this signing, I’m hoping Winn will follow in the tradition of Paul O’Neill, who was hitting a mere .246 with the Reds in ’92, then came over to the Yanks and hit .311. Well, it could happen, couldn’t it? Or have I been spending too much time in a hospital room to think clearly?

In Sickness And In Health…The Yankees Endure

My husband Michael went to Santa Barbara’s Cottage Hospital early this morning. (The cause was a sudden infection related to a chronic illness. He was in pain, had a fever and was feeling horrible. It was scary.) We waited in the ER for many hours during which he was poked, palpated, CT-scanned, you name it. It was 4 o’clock by the time they finally admitted him and put him in a semi-private room. 
No, his roommate wasn’t Jack Nicholson or Morgan Freeman, but the guy was sound asleep when Michael arrived – a blessing. I’ll make this short, because it’s been a long, depressing day, but I just had to share a funny light at the end of the tunnel. (No, it has nothing to do with Damon. And yes, I read that Nady went to the Cubs.) As I was trying to cheer Michael up, his nurse walked in and introduced herself. When I remembered I had the She-Fan Cam in my bag, as I always do, I asked if she would let me record her. I know, I know. I was in my husband’s hospital room, not at a baseball game, but I pressed on anyway. Imagine my surprise when – without any prodding whatsoever – she turned out to be a Yankee fan. She got my husband to laugh and she reminded me that the pinstripes appear when you least expect them to. Here she is in her own words.
Thanks to everybody on Twitter who sent good wishes to Michael and me. They’re much appreciated. As of now, he’ll probably be in the hospital for another four or five days – plenty of time for him to get well….and for me to interview his nurses.🙂

Damon, Just Read This. Would You Please?

Taking a Break from the Damon Rant for Grandy

What a sweet story on MLB.com about Granderson’s final charity event in Detroit. I was planning to post yet another plea to Cashman to sign Johnny Damon, but when I read the article about Grandy I had to pause and say, “I’m so glad we signed this guy.” The Yankees used to acquire/trade for players who weren’t necessarily known for being high caliber human beings. Do these faces ring a bell?
But I’m seeing a different standard lately; we’re getting good players and good people. We don’t need any malcontents in the clubhouse. We don’t need me-me-me types. We don’t need divas. We don’t need guys with crummy work ethics. We don’t need malingerers who never come off the DL.
Which – sorry, I can’t help myself – brings me back to Damon. The guy throws his body around on the field even when he’s hurting. He talks to the media even after a bad loss. He keeps the other players loose. Oh, and did I mention that he’s won two World Series? That he drove in 100 runs last season? That he can still steal a base or two (as in Game 4 against the Phillies)? That he’s the national spokesperson for the Wounded Warriors Project? That he’s a quality guy who’s worth the extra couple of million he’s asking for? 
Just do it, Yankees. Do it and then let’s pass out the cigars.

I heard TMZ was covering athletes….

..but this is ridiculous.
They took pics of Mo on a beach while in his native Panama and called them “Topless Photos.” Seriously. When was the last time someone went swimming with a shirt on? Anyhow, it must have been a slow news day for TMZ. It was certainly a slow news day for me. The only Yankees anything was the he said/he said back and forth about Damon. Is there a deadline for him to accept the Yankees’ piddling offer? Or is Cashman telling the truth that he’s all about his budget and which players fit within it? All I can say is SIGN JOHNNY ALREADY! Isn’t he worth a couple of million more than Reed Johnson, Jim Edmonds or Jermaine Dye, for God’s sake? Wake up, Yankees, do the right thing, and pledge your allegiance to Johnny!

Movie Break – “Crazy Heart”

I braved the sixth straight day of pouring rain here in California to go and see the new movie “Crazy Heart” starring Santa Barbara’s own Jeff Bridges. Here he is at last year’s Film Festival with his wife.
Everybody in town says what a nice guy he is, so I was glad when his performance in “Crazy Heart” won him a Golden Globe award and I was looking forward to the movie, in which he plays a washed up country music singer (think: Kris Kristofferson/Waylon Jennings) trying to get his life back on track.
The fact that T Bone Burnett, who produced the Robert Plant/Alison Krauss album “Raising Sand,” was responsible for the original music only made me more eager to see the film.
And since there’s nothing going on with the Yankees, I knew I wouldn’t be missing any news if I left my computer for the afternoon. 
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Here’s the movie trailer.
The good news is that Bridges is sensational, and I think he has a real shot at winning his first Best Actor Oscar. The bad news is that the music isn’t very interesting and the plot of the movie feels as if you’ve seen it a million times before. But while I was sitting in the theater letting my mind wander to baseball, the most amazing thing happened. Maggie Gyllenhaal, who plays a reporter interviewing Bridges’ character, asks him, “What would you have been if you hadn’t become a country singer?” And he says, “A baseball player. I was pretty good but I couldn’t hit a curve ball.”

I started clapping when Bridges said the word “baseball,” and people in the theater turned around to look at me. I was very quiet the rest of the time, I swear.