LADY AT THE BAT: August 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Mess That Is The New York Mets

As a Yankee fan living in New York these days, I don't have much to complain, worry or feel bad about. With the exception of a (real or imagined) battery feud and a stale soap opera about a promising young right-hander, I have nothing to feel really bad about these days.

But I'm not just a Yankee fan. I'm a baseball fan. What is happening over in Flushing with the New York Mets is just plain sad. Earlier in the season, I laughed and gloated with the best of them. Now I truly feel for this team and all of their fans. Injuries galore, an unassisted game-ending triple play, a badly-handled front office firing and a GM who seems not to know what is going on in his own organization.

This GM, Omar Minaya, is no doubt being suffering the effects of something the Mets subscribe to called a collegial management style. Former Mets GM Steve Phillips described this management style recently:

The Mets don’t necessarily believe in the chain of command,” Phillips said. “They believe in one of their core values, in what they call a collegial organization. What that means is people down the ladder can go to people up the ladder, and people up the ladder can go down the ladder to any level and have conversations, share thoughts, ideas. …

“It sounds nice, but it’s not functional. Because what ends up happening is it tears apart the fabric of the organization and its structure.” []

I worked for many years at a company who also held to the collegial management style. It was a lot of fun, until I became a supervisor. I was undermined constantly, and when I complained about it, I was told, as Steve Phillips was told, that I had an ego problem.

I don't agree with a lot of what Steve Phillips says, but he is dead on when it comes to this. The Mets need to scrap this collegial garbage and put a chain of command in place. If they had a chain of command, perhaps this mess, injuries included, wouldn't be as bad as it is.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Cano's Work Ethic Is Killing Him

As the Cano Counter over on the sidebar indicates, Robinson Cano is rebounding nicely from his horrible 2008 season. A by-product of this success seems to be comparisons to other second basemen around MLB, especially to Boston's Dustin Pedroia (.296 AVG, 10HR, 53 RBI, .371 OBP). Joel Sherman of The New York Post assembled a committee recently, and that committee, comprised of front office executives from around Major League Baseball, came to the conclusion that they'd prefer to have Dustin Pedroia on their team rather than Robinson Cano.

The reason they came to this conclusion? Pedroia's work ethic. Hardworking, scrappy players are more desirable than those with natural ability whom, it is assumed, don't work as hard.

Sherman's article appeared just a day after Mark Teixeira was interviewed on The Michal Kay Show. Kay asked Teixeira if there was anyone on the team of whom his opinion had changed since becoming his teammate. His answer? Robinson Cano. Teixeira said that he sees how hard Cano works and that he believes his teammate is a future MVP and a future Hall Of Famer. (For his part, Kay sounded utterly shocked to hear this.)

I don't know about the Hall Of Famer part, but I was happy to hear Mark Teixeira speak positively about Robinson Cano. Teixeira ought to know what he is talking about. He is around Cano everyday. Front office executives from other teams (and Michael Kay, too, for that matter) are not.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Pat Venditte Continuing To Make Progress

Switch pitcher Pat Venditte is continuing to make his mark in the Yankee farm system. ESPN recently caught up with him:

Pat Venditte on E:60

When I interviewed Pat on LATB Radio a few months ago it became the highlight of my aspiring broadcasting career. Click the link below to hear that interview:

Pat Venditte on LATB Radio

Let's go Pat!!


Monday, August 17, 2009

Eight Days Of Rest For Joba

Thanks to the Joba Rules, Joba Chamberlain will get eight days off before his next start.

He had about the same amount of time off during the All Star Break and ended up having three excellent starts. If he comes off this latest break and has three more great starts, what will it tell us?

Will it mean that he's out of shape? I can't help thinking about that as a possibility. Joba is a kid, only 23 years old, but you have to admit that he's not a lean, mean fighting machine.

During an appearance on MLB Network earlier this year, before Spring Training, Joba mentioned a lunch date he had with CC Sabathia:

His interviewer looked at him and said, "You ate with CC?"

Joba replied: "CC and I can put away some food."

I'm sure they can. Will those two be the next two spokesmen for Nutrisystem For Men? They could make it a competition. Who will lose the most weight? I'm not a betting woman, but I could even see people taking bets on it. Online Betting and MLB Baseball Betting could take a whole new turn! Just a thought.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Never Say Never

The proclamations began last night, after the Yankees completed their four-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox. When I heard them I cringed.

Here's what people were and are proclaiming: The Red Sox will never overcome the 6.5 game lead that the Yankees now hold over them. People are pretty confident about this. After all, Boston has never overcome a 5-game Yankee lead this late in the season.

Never say never.

Am I the only one who's thinking this? Does no one else remember the 2004 ALCS? Down 3 games to 0, the Red Sox were left for dead until they did what no team in sports history had ever done before. True, their team has different issues now (injuries, lack of pitching, etc.) than it did in 2004, but I'm still not ready to declare the Yankees the winners of the AL East.

There are still over 50 games left. A lot can happen in 50 games.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

The MLBPA's Questionable Timing

So, now we know why David Ortiz took so long to respond to the news that he is on the list of 104.

The statement that the Players Association released yesterday all but dismissed the list of 104 as not being worth the paper it is printed on. According the MLBPA, only 96 of the names on the list are of players who actually tested positive and, of that 96, the number who tested positive for steroids might only have been 83. They don't know exactly what those 96 players took and cannot find out because the test results are legally sealed.

The MLBPA released this statement before Ortiz held his press conference, at which he essentially placed himself in that group of 96 players whose results are not available. How convenient, Papi.

My question is this: If this is all true, where in the world was the Major League Baseball Players Association when Alex Rodriguez was outed? Why did they not come to his defense the same way they did for David Ortiz? If they had, they could have spared a lot of people a lot of stress, including Ortiz himself, because no one would have questioned his name coming up on the list and he would not have gone through all of the stress he's been going through since July 30.

I am not saying that I believe David Ortiz. His stats over the years and his body type keep me from doing so. I just think the MLBPA dropped the ball on this one. Big time.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Big Papi's Long Weekend Begins

Tonight David Ortiz will come to bat in the Bronx against the Yankees for the first time since his 2003 positive drug test was revealed. As Pete Abraham said on his blog today, it'll be a long weekend for Big Papi.

I've listened to a lot of sportstalk radio since this revelation, and the consensus among most show hosts is that Yankee fans should keep their mouths shut and don't torment Ortiz. After all, Yankee fans have Alex Rodriguez, as well as a whole slew of guys who have used steroids or have probably used steroids. For that reason I agree with the talkshow hosts.

But I'm not going to keep my mouth shut. I'm going to jeer him as loud as I can. (Granted, it'll be in the privacy of my apartment; I don't have tickets to any game in the series.) Why? Two reasons:

1) Because of what Ortiz has said in the past. He pulled a Palmiero. He came down so hard on steroid users back in February when A-Rod was outed.

2) Because he claims not to know how he got on the list of 104 and he's still waiting to find out what he took that got him on the list. According to ESPN (I believe it was Karl Ravitch who actually said it), the Mitchell Report specifically states that everyone who failed the 2003 survey test was told that they failed it. They may not have been told how they failed it, but they were told that they failed it. A-Rod knew he failed.

Anyone who pulls garbage like this deserves to be booed lustily, even if those doing the booing have their own cheaters. So, get ready Big Papi. It's going to be a looooooooonnnnnng weekend.


Melky Has Earned His Money

Back in January I was shocked to hear that the Yankees had avoided arbitration with Melky Cabrera and signed him to a $1.4 million deal for 2009. I wasn't the only one who felt that way.

Every Yankee fan remembers the atrocious 2008 season Melky had, and no one could understand the Yankees opening their pockets that much after paying him only $461,200 in 2008. Maybe the Yankees themselves didn't understand it. But, they paid him anyway.

It turns out they did the right thing. The Yankee I like to call Baby Clutch has been just that this season. He's hitting a solid .284 with 10 HR and a respectable .347 OBP. He leads the team in clutch hits and, aside from throwing to the wrong base occasionally, he makes the plays in centerfield.

Now Melky has become the first Yankee since 1995 to hit for the cycle. Who expected him to be the one to do that? I didn't. True, hitting for the cycle involves luck, but don't dismiss the skill either. Melky Cabrera has skills, and in using those skills, in my opinion, he is earning every penny of that $1.4 million.


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Why The Yankees Haven't Gotten Another Starter Yet

Yankee fifth starter Sergio Mitre threw a clunker just hours after the trade deadline came and went without Brian Cashman acquiring another starter. Fans are just beside themselves, asking how this could possibly happen. How could Jarrod Washburn end up in Detroit? How could the Yankees not get Bronson Arroyo? Why not Doug Davis? What about Roy Halladay????

Well, the Yankees could have had Washburn if they were willing to give up Austin Jackson and perhaps another prospect. Is Washburn really worth giving up Austin Jackson for? I don't think so, and neither does Cashman, evidently. Roy Halladay probably would have taken both Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain. Do I have to explain how ridiculous that would be? As for Bronson Arroyo and/or Doug Davis, they're easier to pick up on waivers in the next few weeks.

Cashman is counting on the current economy to make it easier for pitchers to get through waivers without being claimed before the Yankees can put in their own claim. In a better economy a team would be more likely to claim a player just to keep the Yankees from doing so. These days, a lot of teams aren't able or willing to take on salary for that reason alone.

So, sit tight, Yankees Universe. Your fifth starter is coming.