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2 More Weeks Till Opening Day!
Friday, March 19, 2010
Howdy chickadees!

Sorry for my blogging absence. As mentioned approximately 912891230324 times previously, I have a hectic schedule between work and school.

The good news is that school is ALMOST OVER! Not just for the year - for good! (What's that, Steinbrenner? You want to give me season tickets as a graduation gift? Why thank you! Send them on over!)

You know what that means... more time for blogging!

I will return when the season starts in just over 2 weeks for more consistent blogging, I assure thee. I have no time right now, and let's be honest: it's pointless to waste everyone's time with thoughts on Spring Training anyway (stop trying to convince yourself that what you see in Spring Training will translate to the regular season - it never does).

In the meantime, don't forget that you can follow me on the TWITTERVERSE: Hit me up, I'm @yankeeschickmo. 50% of my tweets are baseball-related, 48% expose my WWE obsession, and the other 2% tend to be complaints about restaurants not having Dr Pepper. You know you want in on that!


posted by Yankees Chick @ Friday, March 19, 2010   0 comments
Top Ten Tuesdays (srsly!): Play it Again, Boys!
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
It's been a minute or two since I did a Top Ten Tuesday post, but back when I was blogging constantly (AKA when I had even less of a life than I do now), they were one of my fave posts to craft up - so let's bring 'em back!

As each member of the Yanks rolled into camp for Spring Training and were pounced upon by the media, every single one of them reiterated the same cliched sentiment: "we just want to repeat what we did last year." A lovely goal, but as history has shown us, a tough one to realize. There are so many variables involved in winning even one World Series - not just your own team's injuries, slumps, and luck (good and bad), but that of 29 other teams, too! - that winning two in a row is no small feat, even with a spectacular team.

The Yanks do have a spectacular team, of course - arguably even better than last year's championship roster. They've got about as good a chance of repeating as any team in recent history, but there's a few things that need to fall into place just right if they want any chance of back to back titles.

Top Ten Things the Yanks Need to Get Ring #28 in 2010:

10) A big year from Cano. Robby Cano Dont'cha Know had a dandy year last year in most regards - solid defense, stellar average, and a nice burst of power (25 home runs compared to his previous career high of 19). However... he couldn't always hack it in big situations and hit into 22 double plays. If he can get his act together just a tiny bit more, it'd be huge for the team. Let's just hope he's not too distracted by the loss of his BFF to play well - we don't want a repeat of 2008's performance.

9) A decent performance from the Gardner/Winn/Thames contingent. I've said several times that because of the depth of the rest of the lineup, having a mediocre player in that outfield spot isn't really that big of a deal. That may be true, but there's still no room for a wretched performance. Whoever ends up in that spot needs to at least be consistent and able to contribute to the team in some way - we can't have a .200 hitter going out there every day.

8) Minimal injuries. It's a "duh" one to even put on here, but really: some of these dudes ain't spring chickens, and we've got at least one guy that is particularly injury-prone (I'm looking at you, Nick Johnson. Try not to trip over a sunflower seed on your way to the dugout.) A rash of ill-timed minor injuries or a totally debilitating injury to a key player like A-Rod or Sabathia could be fatal. To their dreams. And anyone sitting near me when it happens.

7) We need the 2008 Granderson, not the 2009 one. Last year was a relatively rough year for Curtis, at least in comparison to his previous seasons - he only hit .249 with a .327 OBP (although he did hit 30 homers, which he can hopefully duplicate with the Yanks' homer-friendly right field). Worst of all, his splits last year were heinous - he only hit .183 against lefties last year. We need better.

6) No burnout for Sabathia. Sabathia has earned a reputation for being a workhorse, never turning down an opportunity to pitch one more inning or on one fewer day of rest. This was key last year, but can he keep it up?

5) Jobamania AND Hughsie need to be ON all year. Wherever they end up, they both need to finally live up to their hype - and stay healthy. Whichever one ends up starting is going to make a huge impact on the team every five days, and whoever ends up in the 'pen has the ability to be a stabilizing force on the team. Both are important roles, obviously, but it would also be a big morale booster for the team to see both of their young "future stars" finally become stars.

4) A drama-free A-Rod. I think after last year, we can pretty much confirm that A-Rod's attitude makes a WORLD of difference in his performance - and it also makes it easier for the rest of the team to relax and play their best, too. If A-Rod gets entangled in a baby-mama drama with a Real Housewife of New Jersey or continues to be thrust into the spotlight for past transgressions, all bets are off.

3) Jorgie MUST be able to catch (and preferably hit) as often as humanly possible - and he needs to hug it out with Burnett. No offense to Cervelli, but Jorgie better be prepared to play 140 games. Plus, with no Molina to fall back on this year, AJ's gonna have to suck it up and learn to get along with Posada - work on those signs, kiddos.

2) Mariano not to wake up and realize he's 40 years old and shouldn't by any stretch of the imagination still be this good. For a closer to still be this automatic at this stage in his career is obscene... and absolutely necessary for the Yanks' success. If the Yanks lose the luxury of being able to count on winning just about every game when they take a lead into the 9th inning, maintaining momentum and confidence will get a lot trickier.

1) Girardi needs to prove that his strategy wasn't a fluke. I cannot begin to count the number of times last year that I hollered and ranted about Girardi's "over-managing". By the end of September, the man was driving me insane - taking pitchers out when they clearly had more in the tank, giving people days off - I felt like it was killing the rhythm. Clearly, it worked... but I'm not sure I'm convinced it's the best way to do things. Girardi needs to pay close attention to his team this year and make adjustments if necessary (or not - I'm willing to be proved wrong again!)

What say you, YC-ers? Anything you'd like to add to the list?

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posted by Yankees Chick @ Tuesday, March 02, 2010   3 comments
Release 'The Steroid List" Already, for A-Rod's (and Gossip's) Sake!
Monday, March 01, 2010
When I saw on Yankees.com today that A-Rod has been contacted by the FBI to discuss Anthony Galea, a sketchy Toronto-based sports medicine doctor suspected of supplying 'roids to a variety of athletes (his assistant was caught smuggling HGH across the border... but I'm sure that was just a coincidence), I initially was uninterested. We already know A-Rod juiced and have made our decisions about whether we give a shit or not. Do we need to hear every time his name comes up in a discussion about steroids? He got the steroids somewhere and presumably used them in the presence of others - it's not like he made them himself in a converted meth lab and did them in isolation - of course his name is going to come up in connection with a steroid supplier. That's not news, it's exactly what you'd expect.

I'm so uninterested, I'm interested again. About being uninterested about A-Rod.

A-Rod cheated. SO DID A WHOLE BUNCH OF OTHER DUDES. I'm so ill of A-Rod being the poster boy for early 2000's steroid use, just because someone leaked his name and not the other hundred-plus goons on that 2003 "anonymous" list of players who tested positive. Of course, that list is by no means the end-all be-all of who did or didn't do steroids - there are surely even more - but I really feel that it needs to come out in its entirety to give the entire era some context. It's simply unfair for A-Rod to be the one taking the heat when so many of his teammates were doing the exact same thing (or worse). The fact that a whole bunch of players were doing steroids doesn't make A-Rod's cheating "less bad", but it does make it more understandable, and having to acknowledge how many good players were using illegal substances would perhaps quiet (even marginally) not just the A-Rod haters but the entire community of "oh my god using steroids is as cheat-y as incapacitating your opponents with a Tonya Harding whack; I could never vote a steroid user into the Hall of Fame!" idiots (get it through your heads: steroids don't magically make a bad player good. A-Rod still would have been good without them. Matt Lawton didn't turn into Barry Bonds with them. It doesn't work like that, so stop discounting everything a steroid user did the minute a positive test comes back.)

A-Rod participated in the test under the impression that the results where to remain anonymous. Why was that revoked for him and not others? I don't know all the legalities involved, but I sure do wish someone could step in and insist that the list be revealed in full, just to even things out a bit.

And if that's not legally possible for someone to demand, then Sports Illustrated should bust out the checkbook and find themselves a former lab assistant willing to spill the beans for a nice payout... because I'm sick of reading the words "steroids" and "Alex Rodriguez" in the same sentence. Let's start spreading the blame!

"Both my muscles and rage are natural, I swear!"

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posted by Yankees Chick @ Monday, March 01, 2010   5 comments
Chan Ho Park Ready to Provide Pitching and Ninja Protection to the Yanks
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
As the Yanks report for duty in Florida to gear up for a repeat of last year's championship performance (no pressure though, dudes), there will be a few new teammates with whom to get acquainted. Since their big win in November, the Yanks added Curtis Granderson, Nick Johnson, Javier Vasquez, and Randy Winn (as well as an assortment of random non-roster invitee types), and yesterday it was announced that there will soon be another new face at camp: Chan Ho Park.

Huh? Eh, why not.

The Yanks have struck a one-year, $1.2 million deal with the 36-year-old veteran former starter, with plans to stick him in the bullpen and shore that sucker up as much as possible. Park has primarily been a starter throughout his 16-year career, but pitched decently out of the bullpen for the Phillies last year (including shutting down the Yanks in four appearances in the World Series). With the unheard of surplus of starters the Yanks are lucky enough to be in possession of there's certainly no need (or room) for him in the rotation, but when it comes to the bullpen, as the Cash Man so eloquently put it: "The more, the merrier. You can never have enough."

With Park rounding out a bullpen that already includes the likes of Edwar Ramirez, David Robertson, Sergio Mitre, Mariano, and of course whichever members of the Hughes-Jobamania-Guadin-Aceves contingent don't wind up with the starting gig, the Yanks roster seems to be improving by the day. And if anyone thinks otherwise....

why could I not find the video of this gorgeous display of ass-kickery (the absolute ONLY thing I ever think of when I hear Chan Ho Park's name)?!

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posted by Yankees Chick @ Tuesday, February 23, 2010   3 comments
Farewell to the Wangster (And to What Might Have Been)
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
If you had asked any baseball expert on June 14, 2008 to predict what Chien Ming Wang would be doing in 2010, I doubt a single one would have answered "pitching for the Nationals after putting up a 9+ ERA in 42 innings in 2009".

Alas, thanks to a freak foot injury incurred whilst running the bases during an interleague game on June 15, 2008, that is precisely the state of affairs in Wang-ville. Despite all the promise he showed in New York from 2005 through early 2008, the Wangster's days as a Yankee are over: it was announced yesterday that he signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Nationals.

90 seconds after the last time Wang was effective

There's no question that since that fateful day in Houston, the Wangster has made limited contributions to the team - he didn't pitch again in 2008, and when he returned in 2009 he went 1-6 with a 9.64 ERA before having season-ending shoulder surgery in July. Before the completely preventable injury (*cough* ADOPT THE DH RULE, NL JACKASSES *cough*), he was a vital part of the Yanks' rotation and on his way to becoming a bona fide ace. Before we bid him adieu and wish him luck in DC (where, ironically, he'll be forced to run the bases on a regular basis - let's hope he's more careful this time), let's take a gander at the highlights of his Yankee tenure:

2005: After being called up from AAA mid-season, the Wangster made 17 starts, putting up an 8-5 record with a 4.02 ERA. During the game against the Orioles on September 19, he tied a record for assists in a game by a pitcher with 9!

2006: A breakout year! 19-6 in 33 starts with a 3.63 ERA, a performance impressive enough to finish 2nd place in the Cy Young voting.

2007: Almost as good as the previous year, with a 19-7 record in 30 games started and a 3.70 ERA. He came 5 outs away from a perfect game against the Mariners in May and took a no-hitter against the BoSox into the 7th inning in August.

2008: In the brief time before the injury threw his career (and the Yanks' rotation) off track, the Wangster was putting together another nice year, with an 8-2 record and 4.07 ERA. When he won his 85th career start in April, he became the fastest starting pitcher to reach 50 wins since Dwight Gooden in 1986.

Had he not gotten injured, who knows how things might have turned out?

The moral of the story? Your choice: interleague play sucks, or the NL needs to get hip and join the DH train. Or both!

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posted by Yankees Chick @ Wednesday, February 17, 2010   1 comments
A Quickie Post: Ready to Fire Boras Yet, Damon?
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
It's finals time for me, so I apologize for the lack of updates lately - this situation shall be rectified in short order and I'll be back to posting multiple times a week soon, I promise!

To tide us over until my schoolwork is complete tomorrow, here's an interesting little nugget courtesy of the New Haven Register, who had a chat with the Cash Man recently. Cashman confirmed to the Register that the Yankees made not one but two generous offers to Damon, both of which $cott Bora$ turned down. The first offer was a 2-year, $14 million deal, which was promptly turned down despite the fact that that was pretty much exactly what Damon had requested (and about four times what he's worth). The Yanks tried one more time before signing Nick Johnson, this time offering one year for $6 million - far less than they had originally asked for, but by that point the demand for him had dried up considerably and the Yanks needed Damon less thanks to Granderson, so still a decent offer all things considered. Needless to say, that was rejected as well.

Per the Cash Man, Bora$ cited Abreu as the reason for the rejections, saying: "Bobby Abreu’s (new) contract is $9 million a year right now on the table so why would we do that? So I expect to see a Bobby Abreu contract."

As Damon approaches the last few weeks before Spring Training without a contract, I can't help but wonder if he's as pissed at Boras as he should be. Sure, "Abreu money" would be great, but times have changed - teams aren't doling out millions of dollars for dudes with sub-par fielding skills (even ones who can hit 25+ home runs in the new stadium). The offers the Yanks made were perfectly reasonable, and methinks Boras and Damon made a huge mistake in assuming that other teams would be looser with their wallets than the Yankees. It's not 2006 anymore (thank god) - the days of absurd contracts are largely over.

The Cash Man got a little jab in, saying "I hope he does not sign for something less than our offer. That means he should have been a Yankee and that’s not our fault.

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posted by Yankees Chick @ Tuesday, February 16, 2010   0 comments
And the Starting Left Fielder Is... Who Knows.
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
After the announcement of the decision to sign veteran Randy Winn last week that put the official kibosh on any hopes of a Damon return in 2010, one might have come to the conclusion that the Yankees were pretty much set with their left field plans. They've got Gardner, they've got Winn, they've got no more money allotted to improving that position - that just about settles that, right?

Apparently not!

The Yanks have now invited 32-year-old righty Marcus Thames to Spring Training with the intent of having him compete for the left field gig with Garder and Winn. Or they may platoon two of them. Or all three of them! There doesn't appear to be any plan in place at this point - these three potentially-capable candidates will have to battle it out in March to see who sucks the least; the one or two still standing come April will be our starting left fielder.

Ya know what would have been easier? Scraping together a few million bucks from the spare change in Big Stein's couch and signing Damon for the everyday job.

But i digress.

As I said a couple of weeks ago when I was advocating that the Yanks should just settle on Gardner and be done with it, with the other 8 dudes in the lineup there's really nothing to be concerned about even if our left fielder does suck. That is not to say that whichever of these three guys (or combination thereof) ends up starting will suck - just that they might, and that's actually OK. Let's take a gander at these three dudes and discuss what they may be capable of adding to the team:

Brett Gardner: A youngster - just 26 years old with two seasons of experience, both with the Yanks. Lifetime .256 average and .325 OBP; his slugging percentage is just .352, but he's 39-for-45 on his stolen base attempts (in just one and a half seasons). While he is a lefty, unfortunately not much potential for taking over for Damon in the cheap right-field homers category.

Randy Winn: The most seasoned of the bunch at 35 years old and 12 years of experience, and the only switch-hitter. Lifetime .286 average, .344 OBP, and .418 slugging percentage, and he's averaged 21 stolen bases per season during his career. Not a ton of power, but could hit a few to right field (who couldn't?).

Marcus Thames: 32 years old, 8-ish seasons of MLB experience (not many games played in some of those seasons), including 7 games for the Yanks in 2002 (you don't remember because it was not memorable). Lifetime .243 batting average, .306 OBP, .491 slugging, has stolen a whopping THREE bases in 8 years... and been caught 9 times (for the non-mathletes among us, that is a very, very poor ratio). Potential for hitting a bunch of cheapo right-field home runs is not remarkable. On the bright side, he's been hit by pitches 11 times in his career!

At least you got on base, we'll take it.

You'll notice I didn't bother to compare the fielding skills of these lads - I've determined that aspect is a moot point after last year; as long as the 2010 left fielder runs himself into walls 10% less often and his relay throws make it an extra 4 feet, we can consider it an upgrade over Damon's fielding.

While Winn arguably has the best stats of the three, my money is still on Gardner for the starting gig. He plays hard and has been steadily improving since his time in the minors, and he's got youth on his side. Gardner's speed and hustle (perhaps he's a John Cena fan?) are unique on a team packed with older guys with ample power, and quite valuable. What he lacks in power will be picked up by the other guys, and when he gets on base we know he'll be jetting down to second base.

Winn won't be out of a job, though - I anticipate that he'll be playing a few times a week, or coming in to bat in certain situations (remember, he's a switch-hitter while Gardner's a lefty).

As for Thames... I don't even understand why they invited him. Hope he likes Scranton!


posted by Yankees Chick @ Tuesday, February 09, 2010   2 comments
A Double Shot of BQE: An Footballin Cashman-Hater and a Pitcher on a Mission
Friday, February 05, 2010
After a long week of work and school, I finally had a spare moment to review the happenings in Yankeeville from the past couple days, and was quite jazzed to find not just one but two quotable quotes to dissect!

The first comes to us courtesy of our dear Jobamania and relates to the surprising issue I wrote about a couple weeks ago: the surplus of starting pitching that the Yanks have to work with for 2010. Unlike most of his teammates, whose roles on the team are set, Joba will be heading into Spring Training without the promise of a starting gig. The Yanks have made it clear that they have not made a decision on who will be the fifth starter and will make a decision during or after Spring Training. Joba will need to compete for a spot in the rotation (which is where he wants to be - he is intent on being a starter despite the fact that he's arguably been more successful in the bullpen... but that's a whole other discussion I shan't delve into tonight) against Phil Hughes, Chad Gaudin, Sergio Mitre, and possibly even Alfredo Aceves.
This picture is too awesome to NOT include. It reminds me of this. Enjoy.

Despite a disappointingly mediocre 2009, Joba is still fired up and confident in his skills as a starter. He's ready to get down to Florida and prove himself, and understands that having four of five guys competing for one spot will benefit everyone:
"It's something that's going to be a battle. The greatest part about it is it's not only going to make guys fight for that No. 5 spot, but it's going to make our team better. We're going to push each other and continue to try to outwork each other. That's the greatest part about this game; not only do you push one another to do better, but the team is going to be better for it."
Joba is likely the frontrunner for the gig - barring a disastrous Spring, of course - but forcing him to work for it will make him even better. Of course, the bonus effect of this Spring competition will be an improved bullpen, too!

(Until everyone gets burned out in August because they worked so hard in the off-season.)

Alas, not everyone in the world is as gung-ho about the Yanks as Joba... which brings us to our second BQE!

The Yanks are, as we are well aware, a polarizing force. They certainly have their share of detractors, and their wealth is a main bone of contention amongst many of the haters. We've all heard the "the Yankees buy their championships!" scoff (9 times out of 10 in a Boston accent) enough times to want to beat a Bostonian over the head with a bag of chewed-up sunflower seeds, but Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti took the "Yankees and their money" complaint to an interesting new level this week. Bisciotti's beef is apparently not just the disparity between the Yanks' payroll and that of the other teams, but also that the Yankees don't win enough (seriously):
"It certainly doesn’t show up in the standings. If I’m a Yankees fan, I’m upset we’re not winning 130 games with the roster that they have and the money that they pay out. I think it’s a disgrace they only beat the average team by 10 games in the standings with three times the money. I’d fire that GM. You don’t need a GM. All you have to do is buy the last Cy Young Award winner every year."
"It's PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE that the team I run blew it (again) this year!!!"

I... don't know where to start here. This is so absurd I don't even know how to mock it properly. Are you angry that they have money? Or are you OK with the money but think that the number of wins should be directly proportional to the number of dollars spent (it doesn't work that way - talk to the Mets)? If it's a disgrace that they "only" won 10 more games than the average team, then I suppose it is also a disgrace that it took them 6 games to win the World Series. And if all a team has to do to be successful is be in possession of the previous year's Cy Young winner, then shouldn't the Giants have been in the Series? Seriously, I'm confused.

If anyone speaks idiot and wants to translate that for me, I implore you!

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posted by Yankees Chick @ Friday, February 05, 2010   0 comments
Swish Gets YC to Watch a Sitcom...
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
When baseball is out of season, most of my ample allowance of TV time is dedicated to a healthy balance of traumatizing true-crime shows, reality competitions (often equally traumatizing), and watching oiled-up muscly men with no acting skills roll around (I'm referring to the WWE, not porn - just for the record), but last night I had to make an exception and allot some precious DVR space to a much different type of show. The Yanks' ever-cheerful faux-hawked right-fielder, the one and only Nick Swisher, made his acting debut last night on "How I Met Your Mother", a show I'd previously only heard of from commercials and thought was called "We've Got Doogie... and He's Always Cheerful!"

Calling it Swish's "acting" debut is a bit of a stretch, as he played himself, but the dear boy was charming and represented himself quite well (which is, sadly, more than I can say for Johnny Damon's cringe-worthily awkward guest host gig on WWE Raw earlier this year*). Swish's participation in the episode consisted primarily of him looking cute (a job well done) and wooing the ladies, dishing out sage observations like "aren't we all trying to find that special someone to share a toothbrush with?" I can't say Swish's skills convinced me to give Doogie and his cheese-fest a permanent spot on my DVR, but he really did do a nice job. Maybe next he and Cano can go on Dancing With the Stars.

Check out Swish's Emmy-worthy performance below:

*I wasn't kidding about the WWE obsession

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posted by Yankees Chick @ Tuesday, February 02, 2010   1 comments
The King of Dumpster Diving (AKA Kevin Towers) to Join Yanks as Consulant?
Thursday, January 28, 2010
According to a tweet (the most official and scientific of all resources!) today by Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Yankees plan to announce a deal with former Padres GM Kevin Towers sometime before Spring Training, most likely as some sort of "special consultant" (the Cash Man ain't going anywhere, simmer down). Buster Olney predicted it back in October, and Towers himself said during the Winter Meetings (during which he met with several teams, including the Yanks) that he'd like to work with an American League team, so while Nightengale's tweet is not "official" news, Towers almost certainly will be joining the Yankees in 2010.

Whatever it is he'll be doing for the Yanks, I'm willing to bet it will result in all sorts of goodness. Even with the Padres' budget, which is approximately equal to my salary at my after-school job in high school (Jane's Cakes and Chocolates, represent!), the Padres won four division championships made it all the way to the World Series in 1998 during his reign. Before becoming GM, Towers was a scout, and used his skills to put together some surprisingly impressive teams made up primarily of random under-the-radar dudes - particularly pitchers - who had been cast off by other teams (deemed "dumpster diving" by the San Diego Union Tribune). He was also responsible for one of the most ridiculous trades of the past couple years, when he arranged a deal that sent a minor league catcher (Billy Killian), Akinori Otsuka (whose performances in the local "Corkys Pest Control" commercials remain the highlight of his career) and Adam Eaton to Texas in exchange for Adrian Gonzalez, Chris Young and OF Terrmel Sledge.

He won't be in sole charge of trades in New York, but I look forward to seeing what he comes up with for the Yanks - with his keen sixth sense for under-valued talent and the Yanks' money to behind him, I anticipate big things.

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posted by Yankees Chick @ Thursday, January 28, 2010   0 comments
Damon Watch 2010! ...is over.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
This bobble head almost makes everything better. He's literally on his knees begging us to like him.

Well, my fellow Damon fans, the sad fate we knew we were likely facing has come to fruition. The Yanks signed fellow - but much cheaper - veteran Randy Winn today for $2 million to be their fourth outfielder, shutting the door on any hopes of a Damon return. Joe Girardi confirmed the news on Mike Francesa's radio show tonight, saying he called Damon to wish him well and that he "is going to be missed".

As I explained last week, with an already incredible lineup and Brett Gardner available to play left field, investing in a pricey free agent like Damon really didn't make much sense. For just $2 million, Randy Winn actually fits the bill for the Yanks pretty well. He's a switch-hitter with a career .286 batting average (although he had a wretched 2009 - let's hope that was a fluke),, can run okay, and will almost certainly mis-play 90% fewer balls than Damon.

And if he sucks, Gardner will still be there.

In short, signing Winn was a generally wise move: why pay big bucks for a star when others are available to do 70% as good a job for 20% of the price?

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posted by Yankees Chick @ Wednesday, January 27, 2010   3 comments
B.Q.E. o' the Week: A-Rod Can Laugh at Himself as Much as We Laugh at Him
Monday, January 25, 2010

A-Rod's New York state of mind circa 2004-2008 (left) and 2009 (right)

When I posted the BQE with McGwire's non-apology apology for juicing a couple weeks ago, I noted that it was unlikely that any other quote would ever top that one in terms of idiocy and amusement factor. That statement stands and likely will for some time (because really, how are we going to top "I did this for health purposes"???), but A-Rod's reaction to winning an award for post-season excellence this weekend earned him a spot on the BQE list for a different reason entirely: it was sincere, endearing, and humble. In other words, totally different from any other BQE I've ever posted.

A variety of awards were handed out at the 87th annual New York baseball writers’ dinner in NYC on Saturday, from the traditional AL and NL MVP to more personal honors like the Joan Payson Award for community service (given to Carlos Beltran... that'll make his team feel better about him concealing his surgery from them, right?) and the Arthur and Milton Richman You Gotta Have Heart Award (which was given to Aaron Boone, obv). Our dear A-Rod was honored as the winner of the Babe Ruth Award (the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s postseason MVP), an award no one who had ever uttered the words "choke artist" or "A-Fraud" during the 2004, 2005, 2006, or 2007 playoffs would have fathomed him earning.

But earn it he did! His 2009 post-season numbers were indeed award-worthy: he batted .365 with six home runs (most of them undeniably clutch) and 18 RBI in 15 games, a performance worthy not just of an award but of a pardon for his prior playoff shortcomings. His amazing post-season capped off an equally impressive regular season, something no one would have expected after everything he'd endured in the previous couple of years (events which include, but are not limited to: a bitchy wife that wore clothes adorned with "Fuck You" to his games, a nasty divorce from said bitch, a romance with a near senior citizen with freakishly muscular arms [I'm looking at you, Madonna], getting dumped by said old lady for a 20 year old male model, opting out of a mega-huge contract in order to get an even bigger one [although I hold Boras primarily responsible for that one], being mocked by his former manager in a high-profile book, and a steroid scandal).

While accepting his award, A-Rod acknowledged both his record of crappy playoff performances and the personal problems:
“Postseason MVP. Wow. What’s next, the good guy award?”
Seeing A-Rod cap off an impressive 2009 with a well-deserved award and a humble, self-aware acceptance speech is a delightful symbol of his shift in attitude. Yankees fans have been hoping for a change like this since he joined the team nearly 6 years ago, and it fills me with hope for what we'll be seeing from him for the next 8 years. A relaxed A-Rod that performs like a champ in the playoffs? It seemed unlikely just one year ago, but he proved me wrong. Perhaps that good guy award is up next after all!

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posted by Yankees Chick @ Monday, January 25, 2010   0 comments
A Pitching... SURPLUS?!?!
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Less video gamin', more fighting-for-your-rotation-spot, please.

After a few shaky years of relying on one or two solid starters backed up by a series of interchangeable question marks (Rasner, Ponson, Chacon) and downright WTF's (Igawa, Wright, Pavano), the 2009 Yanks finally managed to put together a roster of starters that came close to being as impressive as their lineup. The Wangster was a bust, but they still had four starting pitchers pitch the entire season without injury or major disaster (CC, AJ, Pettitte, Joba), and the collection of dudes that filled in at the 5th spot was refreshingly reliable - as far as 5th starters go, that is - as well (Hughes, Gaudin, Mitre). As we look forward to 2010, the Yanks' list of starters is even more impressive. In fact, the Yanks appear to be in possession of - I'm frightened to even say this for fear of it causing a wave of Pavano-esque injuries and sending us right back to where we were in years past - a surplus of starting pitching.

Could this really be true? Is this real life? In addition to their three best performing starters from last year (CC, AJ, and Pettitte), the Yankees will also have Javier Vazquez in 2010, giving them a rotation any team would be thrilled to have regardless of who was rounding out the last spot. Unlike previous years where the 5th (and sometimes 4th) spot was at best a gamble and at worst a throwaway, the Yanks have four viable starters to fill in after CC, AJ, Pettitte, and Javy. Hughes and Joba are the obvious candidates for the spot - Girardi and Stein still consider both of them as potential starting pitchers, not relievers - but the Yanks also still have Sergio Mitre and Chad Gaudin, who started 9 and 6 games last year, respectively.

Who will actually get that spot remains a mystery for now; arguments can be made in several directions (and we shall discuss them in a later post). The fact that they have all these options is the important thing. Not only does it give the Yankees some breathing room in the event that someone gets injured or proves to have an off year, but it also forces all of them to step up their game to earn the spot - having to beat out their teammates to get the chance to pitch will surely inspire some serious hard work and determination. I don't necessarily anticipate Chad Gaudin to bust out an epic season and knock Joba and Hughes out of the rotation, but for those two to know that if they don't pitch well they could easily be bumped can only be good.

It's been quite a while since I've felt such confidence in the Yankees' pitching staff. Not having to rely solely on Mariano and offense was a nice treat last year, and I'm really looking forward to enjoying that same luxury this year. With a lineup that actually could carry a team with poor pitching and a rotation like this to take the pressure off, this team is looking downright absurd*.

*Superstition disclaimer: Not I would count my chickens before they hatch. Knock on wood, etc etc.

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posted by Yankees Chick @ Wednesday, January 20, 2010   1 comments
Poll: Settle on Gardner, or Keep Looking Elsewhere?
Monday, January 18, 2010
Let him go, Brett. You can hang on your own.

As I mentioned last week, my love for Damon (post-Boston/beard Damon, that is) had me rooting for him to return to the Bronx for another season - if the price was right (even as a fan, I can't justify the Yanks spending more than a couple million on him, nor would I want them to sign him for anything more than one season). Unfortunately for Damon fans like myself, since the Yanks (wisely) don't want to shell out big bucks for their left field spot and Damon is still holding on to hope of scoring big elsewhere, it's time to accept the fact that Damon will likely NOT be manning left field in 2010. Thus the time has come to suss out other possibilities...

The Yanks have not yet formally announced who they plan to have in left field this year, but with Damon out of the picture, they essentially have three options: make a trade, sign a free agent, or put Brett Gardner out there. Making a trade seems unlikely - who would they be trading for? And who is left to give up? - and the list of free agents that fit the criteria the Steins have in place for their 2010 left fielder ("will work cheap" and "doesn't suck too horribly") is dwindling by the day (although Gary Sheffield is still available! I'm surprised - who wouldn't want that little ray of sunshine brightening up their team's morale?). That leaves our dear friend Brett Gardner, a guy once thought to be a better bet than Melky Cabrera before his lackluster performance relegated him back to the bench. Gardy may not be the most impressive player, but his low price (under half a mil) and potential for improvement have him just weeks away from getting the left-field gig by a process of elimination. As a Yankees fan during the Steinbrother area, I'm not used to the team "settling" at any position - they've got the money, go after the big players! - but I actually think giving the job to Gardner instead of expending more money or players is the best move the Yanks could make with their left field opening.

Why give the gig to Brett? As noted, Brett ain't the best left fielder in the league, and when compared to the rest of the Yanks lineup he looks like he belongs in the minors. That said... who cares? Have you seen the rest of that lineup? While a 1-9 can't-get-em-out lineup like we had last year is fantastic, it's also rare and simply not necessary. A-Rod, Teixeira, Jeter, Granderson, Cano, Posada, Swisher and Nick Johnson are more than capable of taking care of business whether their 9th teammate is Brett Gardner or Wily Mo Pena or even Matt Holliday. Would having another 25-home run guy on the team be nice? Sure. But it's not necessary for the Yanks to be successful in 2010.

What's more, Gardner shouldn't be written off as a "waste" of a lineup spot anyway - he has the potential to contribute much more than we saw last year. Remember, last year at Spring Training he impressed Girardi so much he was actually given the starting job in centerfield over Melky. Once the season got rolling, his performance unfortunately dropped off significantly, but he's obviously got some natural ability in there somewhere. He's only 26, and doesn't have a ton of experience - perhaps what he needs is the chance to get in a lot of at-bats without a ton of pressure (look at that lineup above). His first partial year in the Bronx, when he appeared in 42 games in 2008, was not impressive (.228/.283/.299), but he improved substantially in 2009 when he had more opportunities: .270/.345/.379 in 108 games. Why not give him the chance to prove what he can do? If he does poorly, it won't have a huge impact on the team, and if he does well the Yanks find themselves enjoying the services of a quality left fielder without sacrificing anything.

That's my two cents... what dost thou think?

What Should the Yanks Do About the Hole in Left Field?
Give Brett Gardner a chance
Sign Randy Winn
Sign X Nady
Sign Wily Mo Pena
Sign some other free agent (who? specify in the comments!!)
Make a trade for someone better (who? specify in the comments!!)
Suck it up and pony up the big bucks for Damon
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posted by Yankees Chick @ Monday, January 18, 2010   2 comments
A Sarcasm-Free YC Post (the first and likely only ever!): Follow the Yanks' Lead and HELP
Friday, January 15, 2010
If you're a long-time YC reader (all three of you), you are likely familiar with the fact that I am a tender-hearted soul, prone to empathizing to the nth degree with anyone hurting. The earthquake and subsequent disastrous state of affairs in Haiti has affected me deeply, as it has so many others (Pat Robertson excepted). I donated as much as I could afford, and I was thrilled to see yesterday that both the MLB and the Yankees stepped up to the plate themselves, to the tune of $1 million and $500,000 respectively. Makes you feel a little better about dropping $80 at a baseball game, no?

Whether you're an overly-sympathetic person accustomed to getting choked up at the thought of so much as one injured child, or a cynical ethnocentric conservative with no interest in anyone outside your immediate community, I urge you to donate something to the relief effort. This is not a political issue or a religious cause: these are human beings suffering from something completely out of anyone's control. If the Yankees can donate more than they pay Brett Gardner in a year, you can afford five bucks.

click the image to donate


posted by Yankees Chick @ Friday, January 15, 2010  
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Fun Fact O' The Week

In 2009 Curtis Granderson published a book: All You Can Be: Dream It, Draw It, Become It! Granderson "shares the lessons that he learned growing up--the importance of family and choosing the right friends, the power of listening and staying positive, and most important, the value of being yourself."
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Which Former Yank Free Agent Would You Most Like to See in Pinstripes in 2010?
Johnny Damon 53%
Chien-Ming Wang 26%
Xavier Nady 8%
Jose Molina 6%
Jason Giambi 6%
Jeff Weaver 2%
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Name: Yankees Chick
Home: San Diego, CA, United States
About Me: Just your average 26 year old Yankees lovin' gal from the SD.
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