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July 24, 2009

It's time to graduate to the new blog system

MV5BMjEwOTkyOTI3M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTQxMjU1MQ%40%40._V1._SX95_SY140_.jpgOK, while our new system is far from perfect, they have made progress. There is now the ability to post comments and, thankfully, it appears that all of the old comments (at least those from January 2008 and since) have been retained.

So...I'm going to ask all of you who have bookmarked this site to make this site your new bookmark. There will be some growing pains, but I'm confident we'll work through them - and soon. Shoot, the trade deadline is already in full force with the Matt Holliday deal (which I analyzed for the new site).

It touched me like you wouldn't believe that we got 50 comments yesterday, at a time when the only way this site could be accessed was by bookmarkers. I really do appreciate all of the support.

So...onward!

Thanks to the IMDb for the photo.

July 23, 2009

Watching Mark Buehrle with the A's

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For the moment, I'm going to post here, since our new system is not yet capable of accepting comments. What's the point of blogging if you can't get feedback and exchange ideas, right? I feel like I'm going off the grid, sort of like Krusty did in this episode of "The Simpsons" when he broadcast his show from "the civil defense shack in the remote Alkali Flats of the Springfield Badlands."

Anyway, I was fortunate enough to catch the end of Mark Buehrle's perfect game
, on a TV in the A's clubhouse at Yankee Stadium. The entire room was riveted.

The funniest part: Bob Geren and his coaches were watching along with the players in the main dressing area, but in a side room, out of the media's view, the broadcast feed was apparently coming in a second or so quicker. So when DeWayne Wise made his absolutely amazing catch of Gabe Kapler's would-be home run, we heard a yelp in the other room, and then we saw the play.

So what did Geren and his coaches do? They bolted for the other room, of course. They wanted to be on top of the situation.

Congrats to Buehrle, and to Wise. And to White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, for executing perhaps the greatest defensive substitution (Wise in center field) in baseball history.

  • Here at a soggy Yankee Stadium, we're certainly not starting the game on time. The forecast is horrible, but they seem to think we'll get the game in somehow.

    News from here: Chien-Ming Wang admitted to being more worried about his ailing right shoulder than he had been last week, and Wang went to get a second opinion on his shoulder from David Altchek, the well-known Mets team physician. We're still awaiting the results of that consultation.

    There was much discussion from Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman concerning Joba Chamberlain and his innings limit, which someone brought up today in our live chat. I don't think it's going to be a serious problem, as Chamberlain is at 95 2/3 innings pitched with nearly 60 percent of the season completed. That projects him to the 150-160 innings mark. If he starts pitching deeper and longer into games, then perhaps the Yankees would sit him out one turn through the rotation, using as off day to their advantage. Or, if they wrap up a playoff spot early enough, and if Wang somehow is healthy at that point, AND if Andy Pettitte puts up a strong second half, they could transition Joba to the bullpen for the postseason. But those are some serious ifs.

    Cashman said that, should another member of the Yankees' starting rotation go down, the next move would be to switch Alfredo Aceves from the bullpen to the starting rotation, rather than giving Kei Igawa another shot.

  • Tough break for the surging Astros: Lance Berkman is going on the disabled list.

  • Thanks to the Associated Press for the photo.

  • Trapped in a bizarro universe, for the moment. In any case, there's a live chat today

    bizarro.jpgCan anyone see this? If you can, I'd appreciate it if you could leave a comment, to let me know. My suspicion is that people who bookmark the blog are still getting this, the old version, rather than the new version. Because even though Newsday's new blog system took effect last night, we still had comments here as late (early?) as 4:59 this morning, from Jeff.

    I apologize for this confusion. My hope is that the new system has worked out its kinks by next Monday, at which point we'll be ready to go into maximum overdrive for the July 31 non-waivers trading deadline.

    Many of my posts _ most from this month, and all from before January 2008 _ apparently didn't make it. And it appears that absolutely none of the comments are there, for which I apologize. Perhaps that will change.

    Anyway, time to move forward. There's a live chat today at noon. I'd love for you to join us.

    In the meantime, reiterating some basic points:

  • Yes, Tony Bernazard should be fired.
  • No, the Red Sox won't miss the playoffs. They'll get through this stretch. They're too good not to.
  • Roy Halladay will most likely stay with the Blue Jays, with a trade to the Phillies ranking as the second-most likely scenario.

    See you at noon.

  • Thanks to this site for the cartoon.

  • July 22, 2009

    Mid-day reading: Aubrey Huff, Tony Bernazard and Adam LaRoche

    20090617-001656-pic-516401083_t756.jpgFor my Midweek Insider, I spoke with Aubrey Huff, who should be traded _ he's a veteran in his walk year, on a bad team _ but might not because of, in part, (everyone together now!) the economy. There's also an Ian Kennedy update.

    The Adam LaRoche trade to the Red Sox exemplifies the realities of the market. The Pirates received very little talent in return because, unless you're acquiring Roy Halladay, teams have to give up dollars or prospects but not both. The Sawx's willingness to take on the remaining $2.95 million that LaRoche is owed made this, essentially, a purchase.

    Good trade by the Red Sox. Low-risk, really. And Pittsburgh, going nowhere this year, continues to be bold in reshaping its roster. We'll see in a couple of years whether the plan worked.

  • Now, Tony Bernazard. It doesn't sound like he'll be fired for this latest transgression. Should he be? I think so. If you're going to bully and berate and backstab (as he did to Willie Randolph) and basically act as a social nuisance, then you'd better be putting together one heck of a farm system. And Bernazard clearly is not doing that.

    Bernazard enjoys a strong working relationship with the Wilpons, and you'd better believe that counts for a great deal.

  • On Twitter, Jeff Fletcher linked to this compelling Bill James column about illegal PED users and the Hall of Fame.

  • Thanks to the Associated Press for the photo. We're scheduled to switch blog systems tonight (no, we're not charging for it, yet), so if some items are disappearing or you see my face on the Shop Talk blog, just hang in there. We should be good to go by tomorrow morning.

  • UPDATE, 7:22 p.m.: The Red Sox also traded Julio Lugo for Chris Duncan. This is just a matter of getting a warm body (and a second one to be identified later) for Lugo, who might be Theo Epstein's worst acquisition.

  • What? No outrage over Sergio Mitre?

    mitre.jpgSergio Mitre pitched competently last night, earning another start for the Yankees. And that was the essence of my column: That the Yankees, given their strong offense, need mere competence from their fifth starter's spot.

    I thought about the nice ovation Mitre received as he left the mound, and the notion that, when Manny Ramirez received cheers these past few weeks, some people in the yakosphere (trademark Neil Best) reacted as though the sky were falling.

    Mitre, just like Manny, received a 50-game suspension for violating baseball's drug program.

    So what's the deal? We wring our hands only when it's a really important player, like Manny?

    The people have spoken, clearly, and they're tired of the entire illegal PED issue. I won't fault the fans for letting Mitre, Manny or anyone else get on with their lives, after they've served the time for their crime. That's why it was a no-brainer, for me, to write about Mitre's pitching, rather than his past.

  • To be more precise on my stated belief yesterday that the Mets did not turn down a package of Fernando Martinez, Jon Niese, Bobby Parnell and Ruben Tejada for Roy Halladay: As David Lennon reported, the discussions between the Mets and Toronto didn't develop to a point where a hard offer was made. But names certainly were discussed.

  • Alex Rodriguez, starting at DH, had another good night. I'm not sure what this is worth, but A-Rod, for the bulk of his season, has appeared far more relaxed at the plate. His 50 walks in 274 plate appearances is easily the best ratio of his career.

  • Thanks to Newsday for the photo. Check back later for the Midweek Insider.

  • July 21, 2009

    The obligatory Roy Halladay update, instant replay and Brett Tomko

    7261e884-3210-4722-ada3-23b87fc74b61.jpgI might as well link you right to MLBTradeRumors.com, as they're doing an outstanding job of tracking the steady drip of reports. The bottom line: Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi has set a July 28 deadline to trade Halladay _ which doesn't make any sense _ and he says he doesn't think he'll be trading his ace.

    I still say the most likely scenario calls for Halladay staying with the Blue Jays, and the second-most likely is for the Phillies to get the right-hander, with the Dodgers, Cardinals and Angels lurking. I don't believe it's accurate that the Mets turned down the reported offer (Fernando Martinez, Jon Niese, Bobby Parnell and Ruben Tejada) from the Jays.

    IMO, people underestimate the value of the Jays just keeping Halladay into next year. Billy Beane, earlier this decade, proved the merits of this strategy when he held onto Johnny Damon, Jason Giambi and Miguel Tejada in their walk years.

    Granted, those A's weren't playing in a brutally difficult AL East. But the Jays can't just give Halladay away for a lackluster package. They'd be better off rolling the dice in '10, when a bunch of their injured pitchers (Shaun Marcum and Dustin McGowan, primarily) will be back and their impressive young players should be even better. And if it doesn't work out, then you shop Halladay next July, and decide whether packages at that time exceed the quality of the two compensatory draft picks you'll receive.

  • Did anyone see the end of the Twins-A's game last night? The home-plate umpire, Mike Michilinski, blew a play at the plate; Minnesota's Michael Cuddyer, trying to score the tying run from second on a Michael Wuertz wild pitch, was clearly safe. Instead, the out call ended the game.

    What if the Twins miss out on a playoff spot by one game? Baseball has done a fine job on instant replay with "boundary" calls. Now it's time to expand that to safe/out and fair/foul.

  • To make room for Sergio Mitre on their roster, the Yankees designated Brett Tomko for assignment. Tomko complained to reporters that he didn't get a fair chance; look for the story later. He might be right, but that's life when you're the last pitcher on the staff. I think it was the right move. I'd rather see what Mark Melancon can do.

  • The Red Sox placed Tim Wakefield on the disabled list, citing a lower back strain, and recalled minor-league stud Clay Buchholz.

  • I'm on Twitter.

  • Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel, Chien-Ming Wang, Albert Pujols and Garrett Jones

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    Don't feel like having a smile be your umbrella on this rainy morning? Then how about a Spadafore-style blog entry?

    News: Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel get votes of confidence.

    Views: We didn't think either one was in imminent jeopardy, right? And Minaya has stunning job security, as he's signed through 2012. I still don't think Manuel should get too ambitious regarding future plans. If this Mets season gets even uglier - something like 90+ losses - the Mets, ever concerned about public perception, might feel compelled to make a change in the manager's office.

    Regarding Minaya: Yes, he has done a terrible job building roster depth, both at the major-league level and in the farm system, and he (as well as the Wilpons) have to be accountable for the horrendous medical staff. But let's not underestimate not only the impact of the injuries to Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado and Jose Reyes, but also how unexpected they were.

    It's possible the only PECOTA of which the Mets know is this one, but it's worth noting that the computers didn't see the Mets' misfortune coming, either.

    Here are the PECOTA projections for the Mets' big (injured) three, for 2009:

    Carlos Beltran: 652 plate appearances, .385 OBP, .513 SLG, 7.1 WARP
    Carlos Delgado: 583 PA, .356 OBP, .511 SLG, 2.8 WARP
    Jose Reyes: 718 PA, .374 OBP, .478 SLG, 7.2 WARP

    Part of a GM's job is to anticipate the worst and plan for it, and Minaya whiffed there, particularly in the minor leagues. Yet if Beltran, Delgado and Reyes were performing anywhere near their predicted levels, the Mets would at least be within shouting distance of a playoff spot.

    (Which they sort of are, by the way. Not that there's any reason to think the Mets can make the playoffs, but the race for the wild-card spot has come back to them some. The Mets trail the Rockies by six and a half games, and they host the Rockies in a four-game set next week - which, at this point, won't go very well, you'd figure.)

    News: Chien-Ming Wang suffers a setback.

    Views: The options to upgrade the starting rotation aren't wonderful for the Yankees. As Wally Matthews wrote, don't bet on Roy Halladay joining the team. Doug Davis got hammered last night. The Mariners are still very much in the AL West race, so there's no reason to think - at this point - that they'll sell Erik Bedard and Jarrod Washburn.

    This is where Brian Cashman's statement the other day - that the July 31 non-waivers trading deadline is only mildly relevant - comes into play. If the Yankees can't find another starter by the end of this month, it won't be tragic. Bedard and Washburn could be in play, should the Mariners fade, in August. In the meantime, the Yankees can continue to evaluate newcomer Sergio Mitre as well as Joba Chamberlain and Andy Pettitte, both of whom pitched very well after extended rest from the All-Star break.

    Hal Steinbrenner said the Yankees are open to anything, and I suppose that statement could hold up in a court of law, thanks to the flexibility of the term "open." But it's pretty apparent the Yankees don't intend to make any more huge expenditures this season.

    News: Albert Pujols leads the National League in all three Triple Crown categories.

    Views: This is a dicey subject, because the last thing we want to do is disrespect Albert Pujols in any way. But we now realize, far more than we did back in 1967, when Carl Yastrzemski was the last guy to pull this off, that these three statistics aren't the three best ways to measure hitters, right?

    I mean, we know that batting average is essentially a useless stat, while RBI reflect RBI opportunities more than they do a player's propensity for driving in runs.

    Yes, we've waited a while for one of these, and the fact that no one has pulled it off since '67 certainly means something. I just think there are other, better ways to convey Pujols' greatness.

    News: Garrett Jones is en fuego.

    Views: Of course he can't keep this up. But remember that Jones replaced current Yankee Eric Hinske, whom the Pirates helped pay ($400,000) to put him in pinstripes. The $400,000 that the Yankees assumed from Hinske's salary went toward paying Jones.

    The point? This Pittsburgh management, now in its second year, has made some bold moves, and we need more time to fully see how they play out. But don't lump in this group's transactions with those of their predecessors. People tend to rip the Pirates for the last 17 years, as if one person was making all of those decisions. That is of course not the case.

  • Thanks to the Associated Press for the photo. I'll check in tonight from Yankee Stadium

  • July 20, 2009

    Issues of the Day: The Phillies, the Mets, the Yankees, Joba Chamberlain and Don Zimmer

    When I interned for "The McLaughlin Group" in the summer of 1992, I learned quickly about unusual office environments and unusual people. The "TMG" office culture revolved around John McLaughglin, or as he was referred to in the office, "JM." Or, as you called him to his face, "Dr. McLaughlin." Even though that reminded me of the old "Perspectives" skit on "Saturday Night Live,", when Tim Meadows' character would introduce David Alan Grier's character as "Dr. (something)," then quickly ask, "Are you really a doctor?" and Grier's character, after a pause would say, "No."

    So one day, the show made a significant hire at the producer level. Everyone was very excited. Since there was no inter-office e-mail back then, the senior producer typed out an announcement on her computer, printed it out and put it on a bulletin board. This guy was going to make the show better.

    On his first day, he, another producer and I were asked to take the elevator to the building's basement, pick up some bottles of water that were being delivered and carry them back into the office. The bottles, arranged in boxes, were heavy, but it wasn't quite like we were transporting furniture. This was what you did at "TMG." You did whatever you were asked to do, even if wasn't very producer-y.

    The next day, 10:00 rolled around, and there was no sign of The New Guy. Then 11:00. Noon. 1:00.

    "Did you say something to him?" a laughing producer asked me.

    It turned out that the guy was so freaked out by the water-bottle task that he called his old workplace and asked if he could come back. His old workplace apparently said yes. We never saw him again.

    And the gentleman, while perhaps enjoying a less stressful existence, missed out on the opportunity to compile more anecdotes about Dr. McLaughlin and his odd universe.

    Issue One: Should the Phillies still gut their farm system to acquire Roy Halladay? After all, thanks to their current roll, the Phillies have a comfortable, 6 1/2-game lead over the Braves. The Phils just humbled the Marlins, and the Mets are doing a fine job humbling themselves every day, thank you. J.A. Happ has helped solidify the starting rotation, and Jamie Moyer has been been less horrible than he had been pitching.

    So the Phillies should be able to get by without Halladay into the playoffs. Obviously, he would help a great deal in October, and then they could have him signed for next year, too.

    Should they pull the trigger? I say yes. Halladay is a special enough player, even for a year and a half, to justify rolling the dice. Shoot, can you imagine what the Phillies could do for their brand if they could win three straight World Series? Halladay far from guarantees that. But he makes it more feasible, for certain.

    Issue Two: Should the Mets just pack up their tent now and begin selling? You'd have to be delusional at this point to think they're getting back in this race. So why not sell off the few interesting pieces you have, meaning Brian Schneider and...um...I guess Gary Sheffield if he gets healthy, although he'll raise a stink. If Carlos Delgado could actually get back on the field by mid-August and put together a few good games, you could certainly get something back for him during the waivers period.

    But...I'd give the Mets one more week. What the heck. If they can pull off a miracle and actually play well through Washington and Houston, I'd let them play things out a little longer.

    Really, as you can see by the above list, it's not like "sell mode" is going to bring back some huge haul of young talent. What the Mets should be doing right now, for both the present and the future, is playing Daniel Murphy every day and pitching Jon Niese in the starting rotation.

    Issue Three: Can anyone catch the Yankees in the race for a playoff berth? Don't get sucked into the old-school mentality of obsessing over the AL East standings. I don't want to say those are irrelevant - you'd obviously rather win the division, for homefield advantage purposes in the playoffs - but they're overrated. Last year's World Series marked the first time since 2001 that neither league's wild-card entry made it all the way into the Fall Classic.

    So what do you think? The Rays, four games back in the loss column, are the most obvious threat. Baseball Prospectus' most recent Playoff Odds Report has the Yankees as 62.18 percent likely to qualify for the postseason, and the Rays at 51.81 percent. That's not an immense difference.

    The Yankees close the regular season with three games in Tampa Bay, and it wouldn't be shocking for those games to still mean something.

    Issue Four: Now what do you think about Joba Chamberlain? I think it's hilarious that every single Chamberlain start becomes a new referendum for the "Starter or reliever?" debate. The guy clearly has the potential to be the sort of frontline starting pitcher the Yankees envision him being. He was excellent yesterday, on eight days' rest. We'll see what he looks like Friday, with the normal four days off.

    Issue Five: Could Don Zimmer have made the difference in the 2004 ALCS? Zimmer quit as the Yankees' bench coach following the 2003 season, and yesterday marked his first time back in the pinstripes, after Zimmer made peace (at least in his own mind) with George Steinbrenner.

    In the immediate aftermath of the '04 ALCS, some Yankees officials wondered whether Joe Torre missed Zimmer's presence on the bench. And that was before we knew that series would hover over the Yankees organization, like a dark cloud, for four years and running now.

    I think the benefit of time has only strengthened the notion that Zimmer could have made a difference. That series was just so darn close, at least before Game 7, and it featured such unfathomably bad in-game strategy on the Yankees' part. How could they not even try running on Tim Wakefield in Game 5, when Jason Varitek couldn't catch any of Wakefield's pitches. How could they not even try bunting on Curt Schilling in Game 6, after Schilling's infamous ankle procedure?

    Torre listened to Zimmer and at least considered his ideas. He didn't have anywhere as close a relationship with Zimmer's successor Willie Randolph. Alas, the same vigor that Zimmer brought to his job was what led him to leave after '03.

  • Johnny Damon took the day off. Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira went deep.

    The old-timers liked the new Yankee Stadium.

  • Livan Hernandez might not be much longer for the Mets' starting rotation. If Hernandez can somehow put together two good starts, perhaps he can something small back in a trade.

  • Transaction Analysis: The Brewers' acquisition of Felipe Lopez should help, but I still don't think Milwaukee has enough to keep up with the Cardinals and Cubs.

  • The Pirates will look to trade Freddy Sanchez and Jack Wilson, after both players rejected offers for contract extensions that would've represented pay cuts.

    Bye-bye!

  • July 19, 2009

    Sunday reading: Ted Lilly, Brian Cashman, Jerry Manuel and Walter Cronkite

    tedlilly.jpg

    For my Sunday Insider, I wrote about Ted Lilly, who never broke a sweat over the Yankees rejecting him not once, but twice. I didn't understand why the Yankees traded Lilly in a three-way deal that netted them Jeff Weaver, back in 2002; check out the quotes by Brian Cashman in the story. They're just brutal.

    I was more supportive when the Yankees said no thanks to the free agent Lilly during the 2006-07 offseason to sign Kei Igawa, instead. But then again, I didn't spend time and effort scouting Igawa. I foolishly figured the Yankees knew what they were doing.

    Lilly performed well with the Blue Jays in 2004 and 2006 (not so much 2005), and he is the type of guy who doesn't worry about things he can't control - a particularly good mindset for a New York player. In January 2002, I wrote a story for Newsday that the Yankees were shopping Lilly. Officials from other clubs read that and called Cashman to express their interest. Only my story was wrong. Cashman called me to inform me, politely, that he wasn't shopping Lilly. He did so because he figured that, if I stopped writing that, then other teams' officials would stop calling him about Lilly.

    Come spring training in Tampa, I went to Lilly and said, "Hey, I don't know if you got any calls from friends or whatnot about the story I wrote, but the story was wrong. I apologize. Fully my fault."

    Lilly looked at me as if I had just proposed that he and I open up a Tan 'N' Wash together. "Do you honestly think I'm the type of guy who would be bothered by something like that?" he asked. "Don't worry about it."

  • Off the Yankees game, I wrote a column about Cashman's approach toward the July 31 non-waivers trading deadline.

    Joel Sherman writes, in a tangential way, about the Yankees' farm system and their "spend big" mentality.

  • Johnny Damon is hurting.

  • The Mets picked up their first victory of the second half. I'm not sure what else there is to say about the Mets right now. They are teetering on irrelevance. We'll see over the next week whether they should just become flat-out sellers.

    One thought: I think the Mets' front office should cut Jerry Manuel some slack on his joke Friday night about the Mets' doctors. When asked about Gary Sheffield, he said, "They're calling it cramps," before pausing and adding, "Surgery Thursday."

    Sometimes we need to laugh so we don't cry. And while Manuel has helped create his own problems this year with some terrible managing, the team's medical staff has been even more incompetent. If Manuel does get fired following this season, I'd expect some choice comments from him about the problem, which the team absolutely needs to address.

  • A truly amazing development: The Marlins broke ground on a new ballpark.It seemed like they would be stuck forever sharing a stadium with the Dolphins.

  • Finally, a belated rest in peace to Walter Cronkite, who passed away Friday night. My one encounter with Cronkite occurred on Bob Sheppard Day in 2000, at Yankee Stadium. If memory serves correct, then Cronkite emceed the event. At the least, he played a significant role. And he was terrible! Botching names and so forth.

    At the end of the game, I and a few other writers rode down an elevator with Cronkite, who nodded hello and smiled. Part of me wanted to grab Cronkite by the lapels and shout, "You SUCKED! You ruined Bob Sheppard Day!' Thankfully, self-restraint and cowardice prevailed. I'm pretty sure, with perspective, that Cronkite's lifetime's good work outweighed a shaky performance on Bob Sheppard Day.

  • Thanks to the Associated Press for the photo.

  • Self-promotion alert: I'll be on "Sports Extra" tonight, 10:30 on Fox 5, with Duke Castiglione. And for the blog's many, many readers in Baltimore, I'll be on WNST tomorrow morning at 8 a.m., with Drew Forrester.

  • July 18, 2009

    Brian Cashman calls the July 31 trade deadline "more of a fictitious one now, anway"

    MV5BMTY0MDc1NjkzNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzgyMjIyMQ%40%40._V1._SX98_SY140_.jpgA few reporters got Brian Cashman before the game, to discuss the clubs' needs as we head toward the July 31 non-waivers trade deadline.

    And one of the Yankees' GM's most interesting thoughts was that he doesn't believe this deadline holds much value anymore.

    "I think over the years, this trade deadline is no longer even in existence," Cashman said. "...The waiver stuff is not going to prevent deals in August. Guys are going to get through because people are going to be afraid to afraid to claim and get stuck with money that they can’t afford. And so the July 31 trade deadline is more of a fictitious one now, anyway.

    "It’s not like it was when Steve Phillips (when he was the Mets' GM) and I were going haywire, claiming everyone on the wire. Those days are dead and buried, because no one can live with a mistake like they used to. Because the economy has changed and has affected everybody both in and out of sports. Although July 31 is approaching, it’ll affect some level of players. Most, most likely, will clear. There’ll be a very large population to pick from as we move forward, anyway."

    Cashman is referring to waiver claims that backfire, such as when he claimed Jose Canseco in 2000 for the sole purpose of blocking Canseco from going to the Red Sox or Blue Jays - only to see Tampa Bay say, "Here, you can have him" to the Yankees.

    Obviously, a guy like Roy Halladay would get claimed in August. While Cashman wouldn't come out and say that he's not acquiring the Blue Jays' ace, he made it sound unlikely. Said Cashman: "I’m not opposed to anything, but some things are more realistic than others. And we’ll just stay engaged and try to make the best decisions possible."

    Besides, the Blue Jays don't want to trade Halladay within the AL East, anyway.

    The Yankees' weakness right now is starting pitching, Cashman acknowledged, and he expressed a desire to fix that problem internally. Which is SOP. If Sergio Mitre bombs, or if Joba Chamberlain or Andy Pettitte can't straighten out, the next internal option is...Kei Igawa!

    But, as Cashman said, "It’d probably be easier to find some bullpen guy and take one of the starters out of the ‘pen and put him back in the rotation than go outside and trade for someone."

  • Thanks to the IMDb for the photo.

  • Contest: Win a fun, silly book by stats-hater Steve Lyons

    35738339.JPGWhen I received "The Psycho 100: Baseball's Most Outrageous Moments," by Steve Lyons with Burton Rocks (the photo is from the link), I wasn't expecting great literature. And the book didn't let me down, I suppose you could say.

    But even though I'm not a big Lyons guy, what with this and this and this, I nevertheless considered the book a guilty pleasure.

    The book is basically an excuse to recall many of the game's wackiest moments, like the Pine Tar Game or Tommy Lasorda getting into a fight with the Phillie Phanatic. I chuckled often.

    So now, I'll give the book to the first person who e-mails me - at kdavidoff@newsday.com - with the correct answer to this question:

    On the night Roger Clemens threw a broken bat toward Mike Piazza - another highlighted moment - who made the last out of the game for the Mets?

  • Meanwhile, greetings from Yankee Stadium. As I type, it's a 0-0 game in the bottom of the fourth. I don't even know where to begin with the Mets' problems, so I'll just let them fester some more until tomorrow.

    UPDATE, 2:40 p.m.: We have a winner! Mike Fuchs from Bayside knew that Kurt Abbott made the last out in Game 2, getting called out on strikes.

  • July 17, 2009

    Contest: Win the A-Rod book

    41LCHQBVaRL._SL75_.jpgI suppose this isn't our finest prize, given how things went for this book, but "A-Rod," by Selena Roberts (thanks to the accompanying link for the photo), has its merits. The two chapters I most enjoyed detailed A-Rod's negotiations with the Mariners following the 1993 amateur draft _ and how A-Rod "fired" Scott Boras (a precursor of future events, no question) _ and how concerned people were for him in 2008, as he drifted into extracurricular activities.

    The bulk of the book, however is replete with unsubstantiated hearsay and amateur psychology. Roberts often attempts to serve as a mind-reader, and that's dangerous territory. It reminded me of a moment from this episode of "The Simpsons."

    Bart: If only you knew what he was thinking!
    Sideshow Bob: I hope they still make that shampoo I like.

    Anyway, I'll give my copy of the book who e-mails me - at kdavidoff@newsday.com - with the correct answer to this question:

    A-Rod has 12 seasons with 35 or more home runs, and no one in the game's history has produced more such campaigns. One player also has 12 seasons with 35+ homers. Who is that other player?

    UPDATE, 2:12 p.m.: We have a winner! Alex (not Rodriguez) knew that Babe Ruth was the only other player to produce 12 seasons with 35 or more homers.

    Check back in tomorrow afternoon for another contest.

    Live chat with Ken Davidoff

    Ken Davidoff talks baseball and answers your questions today in a live chat at 11 a.m.

    Weekend predictions, and a self-promotion - and there's a live chat today

    The_Simpsons_4F12.png

    1. The Mets will inspire a glimmer of hope by taking two of the next three from the Braves. And that's not all: Omar Minaya will announce further good news on the injury front with the revelations that Jose Reyes "can now whistle the music to 'Chariots of Fire,'"; John Maine "can now locate Buffalo on a map" and Carlos Delgado "can't wait to see 'Funny People.'"

    Meanwhile, SNY, in a bold move, will announce that every Mets loss of 2009 will be re-aired as a "Mets Classic."

    2. The Yankees will sprint out of the gate, sweeping the Tigers at home. Even Joba Chamberlain will provide optimism Sunday with a strong, seven-inning, two-run performance. Alas, consistent with Chamberlain's contrarian statements of late, he'll announce, "That was the worst my stuff has been all year. I think it's time to put me back in the bullpen."

    3. The Nationals, after getting swept by the Cubs this weekend, will fire new manager Jim Riggleman, very late Sunday night. He'll be replaced by Frank Robinson, who will last a week before yielding the manager's office to Felipe Alou, who will go 0-3 before Dick Williams takes his place.

    But you have nothing to fear, Nationals fans (are there any of you left?). After Williams gets ejected while giving the lineup card to the umpire in his first game, Bud Selig will assure you that your club is "on the right track."

    4. I'll be on Sporting News Radio this morning at 10:25.

    5. Live chat at 11:00. We'll talk trade deadline, Mets, Yankees, All-Star Game, the merits of having passengers drive trains - whatever's on your mind.

    And after the live chat, at some point, we'll have a book giveaway today. And then another one tomorrow.

  • Thanks to this site for the cartoon.

  • July 16, 2009

    Contest: Win Keith Hernandez's book on the 2008 Mets

    37462220.JPGThe book "Shea-Good-Bye," by Keith Hernandez with Matthew Silverman (whom I mentioned just this morning), is an enjoyably sentimental take on Shea Stadium and its final inhabitant. The photo is from the accompanying link.

    Hernandez, as you'd think, is entertaining, although he does lapse into cliches more than once. What stood out to me, in this book, is just how wacky the Mets' 2008 season was. It will go down as "The Second Collapse," and hey, that was the end result. But these guys "fought" like crazy, if you will, to overcome their absolutely abominable bullpen.

    It's also easy to forget that, as much as I didn't have a problem with the Willie Randolph firing, if Billy Wagner had done his job for Randolph's final two weeks...they wouldn't have been Randolph's final two weeks.

    Anyway, I'll send a copy of the book to the first person who e-mails me - at kdavidoff@newsday.com - with the correct answer to this question:

    Who scored the final run at Shea Stadium?

    UPDATE, 12:59 p.m.: We have a winner! Jason knew that Dan Uggla scored the final run at Shea, thanks to his eighth-inning homer off Luis Ayala on Sept. 28 of last year.

    We'll have another book giveaway contest tomorrow.

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