Billy-Ball Daily: 2007-10-9

Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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The only spin here is on my screwball

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Top of the 1st
Today is an off-day in this new extended made for television post-season, as opposed to tomorrow which is a travel day and Thursday which, for the AL, is a practice day for their game Friday night and a regular day for the NL which resumes play Thursday night.

This is also a day for ownership, fans, and observers of the New York Yankees to reflect upon what this season has wrought as they watch the Clevelands prepare to do battle with the Bostons for the right to call themselves American League champions. The primary discussion point will be the future of Joe Torre. Not that our ruminations will have any impact, but this is the bubbling pot on the Hot Stove.

Let me quickly cut to the chase: I think it is time for Joe Torre to resign.

This is not say that Mr. Torre has done a poor job, in fact, he may have done some of his best work in the second half of the season enabling the Yankees to recover and make the postseason. I just think the Yankees need a change of perspective to move them to the next level.

This was a transition year for the Yankees and they all should be thrilled that they went as far as they did. When you look at the two teams that outlasted them, you will understand my point. The Red Sox won the championship in 2004, were the Wild Card eliminated in the first round in 2005, and finished in third place in 2006. The Indians won 93 games in 2005 and finished six games under .500 last year. The Yankees simply lost their hold on the AL East but still performed well enough to reach the ALDS.

The question is what does the future portend? First, they have a number of health and contract issues to address. I wouldn’t be surprised to read that both Derek Jeter and Hideki Matsui get their knees cleaned out during the off-season. I won’t be shocked if other players have other procedures as well. The team looked beat up.

Contracts are a big issue for the Yankees. The team has little choice but to try and sign Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera. They will have to overpay each and their contracts will be for at least one year longer than they should receive, but for so many reasons, both real and perceived, Posada certainly must be signed and Mariano probably will be signed.

Bobby Abreu is not an automatic re-sign, but the $16 million for one year might not be a bad investment. Torii Hunter and Aaron Rowand are available and Melky Cabrera could move to right and with Johnny Damon in left, the Yanks would have a swift fielding outfield with two strong arms (I remind you of the signs from Damon’s long-haired, bearded Red Sox days that proclaimed that he looked like Jesus and threw like Mary).

The 30 million pound elephant in the room is Alex Rodriguez. This decision is all Scott Boras’, A-Rod’s agent. If Rodriguez declares free agency, which is his right by virtue of the brilliant contract Boras originally negotiated with the Texas Rangers, his career with the Yankees is over. The Yankees cannot get into a bidding war because a big portion of Rodriguez’s contract is still being paid by Texas. If he signs a new contract it will be all New York’s money and they will not pay it.

What to do, what to do, what to do? Well, here is an interesting idea that could be enticing to Rodriguez ego, but is unlikely to happen. Offer Rodriguez the shortstop position. But isn’t the future Hall of Famer, Derek Jeter there? Yup. Many great shortstops have moved to different positions as their career progressed. Cal Ripken went to third. Ernie Banks went to first. Carlos Guillen is moving to first next year for the Tigers. As John Dewan, the estimable fielding expert, has pointed out, Jeter is a liability at short. His range is becoming increasingly limited and he never compared well to A-Rod at short, even in his younger days. Move Jeter to first, move A-Rod to short and go after Mike Lowell at third. It will dramatically improve the Yankee infield, shore up the hitting, and put a hurt on the Red Sox. It will also give the Yankees veteran leadership to complement their youngsters. Chien-Ming Wang becomes a much better pitcher with a stronger infield behind his sinker.

If the Yanks don’t pull off this bold move (which is very likely) then Doug Mientkiewicz needs to be the everyday first baseman. He’s a Gold Glover, whose bat will improve the more he plays. The Yanks will still hope for a force majeure (today’s word of the day meaning an unforeseeable and uncontrollable event that exempts a party from a contract) that would enable them to extricate themselves from Jason Giambi. They still might want to pick up most of the contract and send him to Oakland.

As for the pitching, the Yanks need to say goodbye to Roger Clemens and most likely, Andy Pettitte, but are still stuck with one more year of Mike Mussina. On the upside, or the young side, between Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, Russ Ohlendorf, Tyler Clippard, Humberto Sanchez, Jeff Kennard, Steven White, Dellin Betances, Kevin Whelen, and, of course, Joba the Heat, the Yanks have some potentially significant pitchers. Any combination of their youngsters still could be packaged and sent to Minnesota for Johan Santana.

But, I’m looking way too far ahead but whatever team the Yanks put out there next season (which for them begins today), they need a fresh attitude leading them. The media frenzy known as New York requires an experienced hand. As baseball moves away from the steroid induced home run, managers need also the ability to help their team create runs.

Looking at the Yankee coaching staff, I would eliminate Don Mattingly immediately because of his inexperience and I think Larry Bowa is a better coach than manager. The same is true for Tony Pena who has helped Jorge Posada immensely. I would let Ron Guidry go. I believe that a manager should always be to choose his pitching coach.

So that leaves us with Buck Showalter, who I’m not crazy about and Joe Girardi, whom I like very much. But I don’t think either will be the next manager as much as each will lobby for the gig.

You know, I haven’t mentioned GM Brian Cashman who I think has done an admirable job keeping Yankee prospects and building a farm system and who should come back as GM. Unless…

Wouldn’t it be something if the Yankees called a second press conference, the one after sadly thanking Joe Torre for the job he has done, which is the one after Joe himself called to resign before he was fired, and announced that Brian Cashman is also leaving and…

Then the Yankees introduced Walt Jocketty as their new General Manager and Tony LaRussa as their new field manager.

It’s just a passing thought, on a day before the Yankees have to face a lot of tomorrows with nothing to do but think about 2008.

Top of the 2nd
Cleveland Indians vs. Boston Red Sox
Gm Date Site Time ET (TV)
1 Fri., Oct. 12 @BOS 7 p.m. (FOX)
2 Sat., Oct. 13 @BOS 8 p.m. (FOX)
3 Mon., Oct. 15 @CLE 7 p.m. (FOX)
4 Tues., Oct. 16 @CLE 8 p.m. (FOX)
* 5 Thurs., Oct. 18 @CLE 8 p.m. (FOX)
* 6 Sat., Oct. 20 @BOS TBD (FOX)
* 7 Sun., Oct. 21 @BOS TBD (FOX)

Colorado Rockies vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
Gm Date Site Time ET (TV)
1 Thurs., Oct. 11 @ARI 8:30 p.m. (TBS)
COL: J. Francis (1-0, 1.29) ARI: B. Webb (1-0, 1.29)
2 Fri., Oct. 12 @ARI 10 p.m. (TBS)
COL: J. Fogg (1-0, 0.00) ARI: D. Davis (1-0, 6.35)
3 Sun., Oct. 14 @COL 8:30 (TBS)
ARI: L. Hernandez (1-0, 1.50) COL: F. Morales (0-0, 9.00)
4 Mon,. Oct. 15 @COL 10 p.m. (TBS)
ARI: M. Owings (0-0, 0.00) COL: U. Jimenez (0-0, 1.42)
* 5 Wed., Oct. 17 @COL 8:30 p.m. (TBS)
ARI: B. Webb COL: J. Francis (1-0, 3.00)
* 6 Fri., Oct. 19 @ARI 8:30 p.m. (TBS)
* 7 Sat., Oct. 20 @ARI TBD (TBS)
* if necessary

Gm Date Site Time (TV)
1 Wed., Oct. 24 AL hosts FOX
2 Thurs., Oct. 25 AL hosts FOX
3 Sat., Oct. 27 NL hosts FOX
4 Sun., Oct. 28 NL hosts FOX
* 5 Mon., Oct. 29 NL hosts FOX
* 6 Wed., Oct. 31 AL hosts FOX
* 7 Thurs., Nov. 1 AL hosts FOX

Top of the 3rd

N.Y. Yankees vs. Cleveland Indians
Gm Date Site Time (TV)/Result
1 Thurs., Oct. 4 @ CLE CLE 12, NYY 3
W: C.C. Sabathia (1-0) L: C. Wang (0-1)
2 Fri., Oct. 5 @ CLE CLE 2, NYY 1
W: R. Perez (1-0) L: L. Vizcaino (0-1)
3 Sun., Oct. 7 @ NYY NYY 8, CLE 4
W: P. Hughes (1-0) L: J. Westbrook (0-1)
4 Mon., Oct. 8 @ NYY CLE 6, NYY 4
W: P. Byrd (1-0) L: C. Wang (0-2)
Indians win series 3-1

Colorado Rockies vs. Philadelphia Phillies
Gm Date Site Time ET (TV)/Result
1 Wed., Oct. 3 @ PHI COL 4, PHI 2
W: J. Francis (1-0) L: C. Hamels (0-1)
2 Thurs., Oct. 4 @ PHI COL 10, PHI 5
W: J. Fogg (1-0) L: K. Kendrick (0-1) S: M. Corpas (2)
3 Sat., Oct. 6 @ COL COL 2, PHI 1
W: B. Fuentes (1-0) L: J. Romero (0-1)
Rockies win series 3-0

Chi. Cubs vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
Gm Date Site Time ET (TV)/Result
1 Wed., Oct. 3 @ ARI ARI 3, CHC 1
W: B. Webb (1-0) L: C. Marmol (0-1)
2 Thurs., Oct. 4 @ ARI ARI 8, CHC 4
W: D. Davis (1-0) L: Ted Lilly (0-1)
3 Sat., Oct. 6 @ CHC ARI 5, CHC 1
W: L. Hernandez (1-0) L: R. Hill (0-1)
Diamondbacks win series 3-0

L.A. Angels vs. Boston Red Sox
Gm Date Site Time ET (TV)/Result
1 Wed., Oct. 3 @ BOS BOS 4, LAA 0
W: J. Beckett (1-0) L: J. Lackey (0-1)
2 Fri., Oct. 5 @ BOS BOS 6, ANA 3
W: J. Papelbon (1-0) L: J. Speier (0-1)
3 Sun., Oct. 7 @ LAA BOS 9, LAA 1
W: C. Schilling (1-0) L: J. Weaver (0-1)
Red Sox win series 3-0

Top of the 4th
“Kirby,” is a new play that examines Puckett’s Kirby spectacular rise and fall and what happens to larger-than-life characters when they are thrown off the pedestal. It premieres Oct. 13 at the History Theatre in downtown St. Paul, MN.

“I think the play is a tribute to Kirby,” said Syl Jones, the playwright. “You can’t help but come away feeling incredibly compassionate for him and about him, and also passionate about the game of baseball. I loved Kirby, and I wanted to share what I felt and what I thought was true about him as soon as I could,” Jones said.

Top of the 5th
Some highlights from the weekly rankings as put forth by the Seattle Times’ brilliant columnist Larry Stone:

1 Boston (2) Boston Herald headline after Ramirez’s Game 2 walkoff: “Manny Being Manly”
2 Cleveland (1) LeBron wears Yankee cap; Sizemore declares Dwyane Wade best player in NBA
3 Angels (3) Angels wondering where their swarm of debilitating gnats is hiding
4 Colorado (8)
5 Yankees (4) Joba victimized in Cleveland by the infield fly rule
6 Arizona (5) Fox executives in cold sweat over prospect of Diamondbacks-Indians World Series
7 Philadelphia (6) Where’s Michael Jack Schmidt when you really need him?
8 Cubs (9)
9 San Diego (7)
10 Detroit (11) Tigers pitchers offer to give new AL champ postseason fielding lessons
11 Seattle (12) Solve two problems at once: Richie Sexson, first-base coach
12 Atlanta (10) Admit it: You miss the Braves tanking in the playoffs just a teensy weensy bit
13 Mets (13) Thanks to Isiah, Randolph had only second-worst week of a New York head man
14 Milwaukee (15)
15 Toronto (14)
16 Dodgers (16)
17 Minnesota (17)
18 St. Louis (18)
19 Oakland (20)
20 Texas (19) Not hard to envision Torii Hunter playing center for Rangers next season
21 Washington (21)
22 Houston (22)
23 Cincinnati (24)
24 White Sox (23) Not a good sign when one of team’s beat writers is from
25 San Francisco (26) Marion Jones, like B*nds, suffers from FODS (Flaxseed Oil Delusional Syndrome)
26 Florida (25)
27 Kansas City (28)
28 Baltimore (27) Ripken extends his new streak to 4 consecutive nights of lackluster studio analysis
29 Pittsburgh (29)
30 Tampa Bay (30) Devil Rays are a bonafide No. 30 Power Rankings dynasty

Top of the 6th
There has only been one really exciting game thus far in the postseason and I was lucky enough to be there Friday night (Thank you Alex Bok and Kirk Elmquist) when Manny Ramirez’ 9th inning homer on Friday gave the Red Sox their 9th lifetime walk-off win in post-season play:
Game 8, 1912 World Series: Larry Gardner’s sacrifice fly in the 10th scored Steve Yerkes for a 3-2 in over the New York Giants.
Game 3, 1915 World Series: Duffy Lewis hit an RBI single with one out in the 9th to score Harry Hooper to beat the Phillies, 2-1.
Game 2, 1916 World Series: Pinch hitter Del Gainer singled in Mike McNally with one out in the 14th for a 2-1 win over Brooklyn.
Game 6, 1975 World Series: Carlton Fisk led off the 12th with a homer off Cincinnati’s Pat Darcy for a 7-6 win.
Game 3, 2003 ALDS: Pinch hitter Trot Nixon hit a two-run homer in the 11th off Oakland’s Rich Harden.
Game 3, 2004 ALDS: David Ortiz completed a sweep of the Angels with a two-run homer in the 10th off Jarrod Washburn.
Game 4, 2004 ALCS: Ortiz hit a two-run homer to right off New York’s Paul Quantrill in the 12th.
Game 5, 2004 ALCS: Ortiz singled home Johnny Damon off Esteban Loaiza in the 14th for a 5-4 win over the Yankees.
Game 2, 2007 ALDS: Manny Ram