Friday, May 29, 2009
I am a big fan of Brian Cashman as a general manager. Sometimes I may even go so far as to fall intowhat one might deem Cashman apology. One thing that does bother me sometimes about his approach is his seemingly laid back public persona. Maybe its because I’m used to George coming out after a 5 game losing streak in April and calling the player with the worst average a pansy, or Mr. April or something equally as derogatory yet blissfully entertaining to us plebes, or maybe its not. What I do know is that Cashman almost always seems to eschew what showing emotion or voicing an opinion for the cryptic or the corporate speak response. What I like to see is someone telling it like it is or at least how they think it is. One problem with this, though, is that people (I’m looking at you Mike Francesca) don’t know when to shut up and blather on and on even after they have been proven to be misinformed or completely, utterly, and embarrassingly incorrect, but, as is my wont, I digress. As for the Yankee’s gm, we might be witnessing his bursting from his corporate shell. Allow me to elaborate.
This morning, when perusing my favorite blog (River Avenue Blues), and overall best Yankee site hands down, I read an interesting quote in one of the articles there. It was about comments made by Andrew Marchand regarding Chien-Ming Wang. In it Marchand mentions how the Yankees, having no experience with the Lisfranc injury that Wang suffered last year, told him not to work out his legs this offseason for fear of reinjury. The meat and potatoes comes when Marchand mentions he talked to Wang’s agent, Alan Nero, and details what he said and Cashman’s response. Mike Axisa writes:
"Marchand also said he spoke Alan Nero, Wang’s agent, who said his client is upset about being told not to work his legs, as well as having to work out of the bullpen. He’ll go along with it for the time being because he’s a team player. Cashman’s response: “His contract says baseball player, not starting pitcher.” That’s an OH SNAP! moment if there ever was one."
OH SNAP! just about hits the nail on the head. I think this is such a great response in so many ways. The Yankees and Brian Cashman do not owe one player on that roster a damn thing. They get paid to show up and play. Chien-Ming Wang won 19 years in 2006 and 2007. That’s awesome. He had an era over 30 this year. That is Teh Epic Suck©®™ and deserves nothing more than a reality check. He gets nothing handed to him nor deserves a damn thing until he proves he can get people out in whatever way the Yankees see fit. He is, in fact, a baseball player under contract to play baseball. If he feels disrespected for that and is unable to forgive the Yankees for their blatant mishandling of his DL stint and subsequent activation (my opinion obv) then let him walk when he is eligible for free agency and don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out Monsieur Wang.
Now, had this been an isolated incident, I would have thought nothing of it other than +1 for Cashman and his portrayal of someone who has a set of balls. But, as Erik Boland’s Newsday.com article shows us, we might just be seeing Brian Cashman taking his set of brass balls off the mantle and finally putting them to good use. In the article Cashman discusses none other than Joba Chamberlain and (for God sakes already) the bullpen. I plowed through the first few sentences expecting the typical line of he is in the rotation and we have no plans to move him back to the bullpen at this time yada yada yada. But, much to my surprise and joy, there was more. The topic turns to Joba’s velocity, or lack thereof at the beginning of games and Boland brings up the argument (sorry, the really stupid and “but I see it with my own eyes” argument) that there may be an adrenaline rush resulting from pitching out of the bullpen that would allow him to come in and pump 1000 mph fastballs that would burrow holes through the barrels of the bats and be completely unhittable for one inning a game every couple days. Cashman’s response is great:
"That's all crap," he said. "Wake up and smell the coffee. If he's on national television on ESPN and throws 91 on the 22nd pitch, why would you think if he comes in in the eighth inning protecting a 4-3 lead [he'd throw 96]? Stop, he's a starter.''
While not quite an OH SNAP! moment it does seem to be a concrete dig at B-Jobbers the world over and only moves him higher up Teh Awesome scale coming on the heels of today’s earlier comments from Marchand. Will Joba be moved back to the bullpen? "It's not even an option," quoth the Cash$$. We are all witnesses.
What caused this shift in Brian Cashman? Is it not being in fear of a whimsical Big Stein who could snap at any minute and feeling like he has some job security so he doesn’t have to produce generic answers? Is it a better relationship with Hal? Maybe he is just fed up and wishes everyone would so totally just STFU and leave him the hell alone? Or maybe he has always been like this and I have just never noticed. Who knows? He could totally be an alien like Dennis Leary and Alec Baldwin and be counting the days til he can suck out our mushy brains. Frankly, I couldn’t give a damn as long as he doesn’t retire that set of balls anytime soon and keeps on bringing the entertainment. Up next, I want to hear what Cash$$ really thinks of Carl Pavano.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
I was on the train today on my way to another day at the office when I read something on ESPN mobile. It was buried in the game notes of the recap of Randy Johnson’s 299th win. Chipper Jones struck out 4 times for the first time in his career, his 15 year major league career (A-Rod currently sports 4 sombreros on his hat rack.) This made me think. Chipper has been around a long time and unless you are a Braves or Mets fan (based on the urban legend he named his son Shea because he hit so well there) has mostly been lost in the shuffle. Exactly how good is Chipper? Having not struck out 4 times in a game in 14+ seasons seemed pretty impressive to me so I thought I would check it out. My question, is Chipper Jones a 1st ballot Hall of Famer?
First off, I found out there are only 10 (
George was the offensive 3b albeit without monster power. In 21 seasons he only hit 317 HR (average of 15 a year) but he did finish his career with 3,154 hits and an impressive career line of .305/.369/.487. What jumps out a you are his 13 consecutive All Star appearances, 3 Silver Slugger awards, and 1 MVP in 1980. He was an on base machine who while not being stellar in the field was above average, winning a Gold Glove in 1985 and finishing with a career fielding percentage of .970. In 1980, his MVP year, he hit .390/.454/.664. That is just insane. Despite having 231 fewer homeruns than Mike Schmidt, Brett has the exact same number of RBI. Crazy. Oh yeah, and his hat rack is golden sombrero free, believe it or not.
Brooks is the glove of the group. He is quite possibly the best defensive 3B of all time. He won 16 CONSECUTIVE Gold Gloves (are you kidding?!11?) and appeared in 15 straight All Star games. At age 37 he not only won a Gold Glove and made the All Star Team, but got 9% of the MVP vote that year. His career offensive numbers are average overall but he cemented his legacy with an MVP award in 1964 at age 27 with just shy of 200 hits, 28 HR, 118 RBI and a triple slash of .317/.368/.521. In 1964 that is out of this world when combined with Gold Glove defense. Strangely enough, Robinson had 1 4 strikeout game in his career, giving him a 40 something year old sombrero hanging on his hat rack.
Mike Schmidt (equal sign beast)
This dude was a monster. He combined great defense with rock em sock em type power. For God sakes the guy won the MVP in 1981 and only played in 102 games and only had 112 hits! Not fair. In 18 seasons he amassed an underwhelming 2234 hits but that does not tell even one third of the story. From 1976-1984 Schmidt won the Gold Glove every year and hit 35 or more HR in 7 of those years while also going to 8 All Star games and winning 2 MVPs and 5 Silver Sluggers. His career OPS+ is the highest of the three sitting at 147. This type of power comes with a price though as he was a high strikeout guy throughout his career, finishing with more than double George Brett’s K total. As a result, he sports 6 golden sombreros.
Now after going through all of this and seeing how truly amazing each of the above individuals was in their own right we come to Chipper. He already has more hits than Schmidt (81), more HR than Brett and Robinson, and a chance, with 2 or 3 more good years of surpassing Brett and Schmidt’s RBI total. Were Chipper to retire today, his triple slash of .310/.408/.547 would be the most impressive of the three by far and his career OPS+ is only 2 points lower than that of Schmidt. Add into that Chipper’s 6 All Star games, MVP award, and 2 Silver Sluggers and his case seems even more solid. His consistency throughout his career despite spending good portions of some seasons on the DL is very impressive. Chipper probably won’t make it to 20+ years like Robinson and Brett without the benefit of moving to a 1B/DH split but he should, barring any David Ortizian Collapses®™© or serious injuries, at least be able to meet Schmidt’s 18 years of service and with that put an emphatic stamp on a very impressive career.
So next time there’s a braves game on TBS put it on and watch Chipper’s at bats so when he goes into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot you can tell your kids, “I watched him play.”
For now, I retreat back into my mother’s basement to hug my spreadsheets and play my Strat-O-Matic Baseball game.