Posted on: February 17, 2012 2:09 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 5:47 pm
The Pirates, spurned by free agents Edwin Jackson and Roy Oswalt this winter, need pitching. The Yankees, bastion for tabloid headlines run amok, need less chaos and fewer knuckleheads.
Call the deal sending A.J. Burnett to Pittsburgh a win-win for both clubs.
Talks for this trade have been so interminable that they've made Best Picture Oscar nominee Tree of Life seem rapid-fire. But the deal finally is moving from the on-deck circle to completion: Colleague Jon Heyman reports that the Pirates have agreed to pay $13 million of the remaining $33 million on Burnett's deal, and that two low-level minor-leaguers will move from Pittsburgh to New York: right-hander Diego Moreno, 25, and outfielder Exicardo Cayones, 20.
Only losers in this trade are the New York tabloids ("After Yankees ace flops, here comes joker" read one classic headline as Burnett followed CC Sabathia in the playoffs against the Tigers last October).
It wasn't official, but Burnett's departure papers from the Yanks' rotation were punched on that dramatic Friday evening last month when general manager Brian Cashman deftly moved to acquire Michael Pineda from Seattle and sign free agent Hiroki Kuroda. The moves were stellar and stealth, immediately adding depth and talent that has been lacking from Joe Girardi's rotation for at least the past couple of years.
That wasn't supposed to be the case with Burnett, who donated his arm to the Bronx cause (and, apparently, his brain to science) when he signed the six-year $82.5 million deal before the 2009 season. For that, the Yankees got 34 victories from him over three seasons, and a clutch (and pivotal) Game 2 win in the 2009 World Series against Philadelphia.
But more often than not, it was the Land of 1,000 Headaches with A.J. as the Yankees spend inordinate amounts of time over the past two seasons trying to fix him like a broken-down sports car on the side of the road. Who knows how many man-hours pitching coach Larry Rothschild invested in him alone last season? And just think how much quality time Rothschild now will have available for Sabathia, Kuroda, Pineda, Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes and others.
And for his part there's a good chance that, away from the New York spotlight and howling masses, Burnett can put some of the pieces back together again and help the Pirates. For one thing, he won't be freaking out about whether yet another potent AL East lineup will bash his brains in every fifth day. Facing St. Louis without Albert Pujols, Milwaukee without Prince Fielder and the Astros without anybody in the NL Central might be just what the shrink, er, doctor ordered.
Look, Burnett is a nice guy, a well-meaning guy and a hard-worker. But there historically has been a disconnect between his million-dollar arm and his brain. He was great at times, but always inconsistent, in Florida. He was at his best in Toronto when he was trying to emulate Roy Halladay and Doc's incredible work habits. He's a classic second-fiddle guy, needing to play Robin to someone else's Batman, even he's had the arm of Superman.
Pittsburgh, which has now suffered losing seasons dating back to Pie Traynor (or something like that), happily showed some signs of bounceback last year, especially early. At the All-Star break, the Bucs were in the thick of the NL Central race. But a pitching staff that owned a 3.17 ERA on July 25 fell apart thereafter. Not enough stamina or talent to last. No staying power.
Manager Clint Hurdle has some pieces in James McDonald, Jeff Karstens and Charlie Morton. GM Neal Huntington acquired Erik Bedard over the winter, which is worth a shot. Problem for the Pirates is, in their current state, their most folks' 10th or 11th choice on the free agent market. Jackson signed with the Nationals. Oswalt remains unsigned, scouring high and low for another landing spot.
Which is why focusing on a trade, and Burnett specifically, maybe isn't the first choice for the contenders out there but is the perfect move right now for Huntington. As maddeningly inconsistent as he's been, Burnett did throw 190 1/3 innings for the Yanks last summer, 186 2/3 before that and 207 innings in 2009.
Pittsburgh can use that. And Burnett can use a low-key place -- at least, a place lower key than Yankee Stadium -- as he reaches out to recapture lost glory for a team doing the same.
Here's hoping he does. Pittsburgh can really use it. And, from Burnett, the Yankees no longer need it.
Posted on: October 1, 2011 8:27 pm
Before we get too far away from the greatest regular season night of baseball ever, some quick reactions in the aftermath of Wednesday night. ...
FROM: James J.
Re.: Rays' final chapter in comeback story defies belief
You're not that naive are you? Seriously? Joe Girardi gave Tampa Bay that game! Leaving Luis Ayala in after walks/hit batters ... and following him with SCOTT PROCTOR? C'mon Scott ... you're more with it than this! If Girardi cared about this game, Mariano would've been in.
You could not be more wrong. Girardi's Yankees had clinched the AL East title. He had Game 1 of the playoffs in two days. His responsibility was to rest his key guys and make sure they're ready for the postseason. If Boston doesn't like it, the Red Sox shouldn't have been in the position where they needed the Yankees' help. Period.
FROM: Jim M.
Do you think it was right that the Yankees treated it like a spring training game? Get your two ABs then in go the minor leaguers. The Yankees need to develop some integrity. I am not saying they lost it on purpose, but they never played to win the game. Imagine the richest team in baseball just cheapened the game!
You could not be more wrong, either. Any other takers here?
You asked how did the Rays impossible comeback and miracle happen? I can tell ya how. I prayed on it. From the 7th when they were down 7-0, through the Longoria blast in the 12th, every pitch, every at-bat. I prayed them into the playoffs and into the World Series in 2008 as well.
Now I know who I'm going to turn to in times of crisis.
FROM: Tom H.
You are so right. Last night was one of those nights that I will always remember. All I can is, Wow. For those of us that love baseball, last night will live [forever]. I will always remember the emotional roller coaster of that night. It just doesn't get any better than last night. Thanks for capturing the emotion of the night!
Five days later, I'm still trying to catch my breath.
FROM: Daniel D.
Being a Yankee fan, I just loved way Red Sox folded! Tampa Bay played great down stretch!
At the very least, the Rays seized the opportunity.
FROM: Andrew T.
Re.: Charmed life continues for Tampa with remarkable triple play
Great story! The article emotes the excitement of the now! Thanks! Go Rays!
It's been fun! Let's keep watching! Rays are looking good! Thanks!
FROM: Wally B.
The team is the Tampa Bay Rays. Tampa is a city, Tampa Bay is the home of the Rays. Where is Tropicana Field? You need to know these things.
And the Sunshine Skyway goes over ... the San Francisco Bay, correct?
Likes: Kyle Chandler was waaaaay overdue for the Emmy he won for Friday Night Lights. Too bad Connie Britton didn't win for her portrayal of his wife on the best show that's been on television in years. So sad it's over... Razzoo's Cajun restaurant in Fort Worth, Tex. The crawfish etouffee and spicy shrimp and chicken gumbo are outstanding. ... The shrimp gumbo at Pappadeaux. ... Heritage Park in Fort Worth, great place to run.
Dislikes: Smokers who toss their cigarette butts out the car window as if the world is their ashtray. Happened again on a freeway in Texas on Thursday as I was driving from the airport to my hotel. Lady in front of me just flicked it out. Pig.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric:
"Nobody on the road
"Nobody on the beach
"I feel it in the air
"Summer’s out of reach
"Empty lake, empty streets
"The sun goes down alone
"I’m drivin’ by your house
'Though I know you’re not home"
-- Don Henley, The Boys of Summer
Posted on: September 10, 2011 12:20 am
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Andruw Jones was an unexpected sub in right field for Nick Swisher, out with a sore elbow, as the Yankees opened a series here against the Angels on Friday night.
Swisher said he felt a sharp pain in his left elbow while making a throw in Baltimore on Wednesday and planned to see a doctor.
"He threw a wet ball and said he felt something," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said before Friday's game. "My guess is he'll be back in a day or two."
Swisher is batting .262 with 22 homers and 80 RBIs and has joined the White Sox's Paul Konerko and the Red Sox's David Ortiz as the only players in the AL to hit at least 20 homers in each of the past seven seasons. Since June 14, he's batting .294 with 17 homers and 53 RBI in 75 games.
Girardi says at this point he's not concerned.
"If the doctor says something else, then I might be," Girardi said.
Swisher is not expected back in the lineup until he sees the doctor.
Meantime, catcher Francisco Cervelli was scratched from the lineup after feeling dizzy. He was involved in a collision with Baltimore's Nick Markakis on Thursday.
Posted on: April 29, 2011 1:43 pm
-- The Yankees are doing exactly what they need to do in the first few weeks of the season, and that's take advantage of home cooking. They opened with 11 of 14 games at home, and through May 1, they play 18 of their first 25 games at home. So far, they're 10-5 at home, and they've got a chance to continue to pad their home record while they play 46 of their first 79 games at Yankee Stadium. The flip side, and the reason it is important for Joe Girardi's club to build up as much collateral at home as possible: From Aug 1 through season's end, the Yankees are home just 20 times (nine home games in August and 11 in September).
-- Zo-Rilla is back: Tampa Bay's Ben Zobrist has crushed four homers in his past five games, including one each in Thursday's day-night doubleheader in Minnesota. He had a monster doubleheader, collecting 10 RBI, giving him 18 over his last five games and 25 for the season. Impressive, yes, but his best moment might have come right after the game when he quipped to reporters, "This must be what it's like to feel like Sam Fuld."
-- Tampa Bay is 13-3 since April 10 which, yes, is the best record in the majors since that date.
-- Kansas City was the last team in the majors to lose a series this season, and now look at the Royals: six losses in a row. The Yankees were the last team in the majors to lose consecutive games, to the White Sox on Monday and Tuesday.
-- Seattle's historically bad offense last summer looks positively Ruthian compared to what the Padres are doing (or, rather, NOT doing) so far this season. San Diego's Adrian Gonzalez-less lineup has been shut out seven times in the month of April. That, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, is a major-league record. When the Padres score just ONE run, they're 9-9.
-- Yes, it's a different deal this year for the Padres from their 90-win team of a year ago. Ryan Ludwick (.202, four homers, 11 RBI), Brad Hawpe (.143, 23 strikeouts in 63 at-bats), Orlando Hudson (.238, .300 on-base percentage) and Jason Bartlett (.231) have gotten off to miserably slow starts, and there are growing questions regarding whether cavernous Petco Park is defeating hitters mentally. That was one key to last year's group -- which included David Eckstein, the Hairston brothers, Jerry Jr. and Scott, and Tony Gwynn Jr. -- the bottom line was winning, and there was no griping about Petco. "You've got to be mentally tough to get through some things," Padres manager Bud Black says. "That's part of being a total player, part of being a total, major league professional player. It works the same way if you're a pitcher in a small park. It works the same way for pitchers in Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Houston."
-- The Dodgers' Andre Ethier takes a 24-game hitting streak into this weekend's series with San Diego, but it could be in jeopardy Friday night. Ethier lifetime is hitting .077 (1 for 13) against Padres starter Clayton Richard.
Likes: White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen saying the other day he has his closer -- outfielder Brent Lillibridge -- following Lillibridge's great, diving catches in Yankee Stadium. ... Andre Ethier's hitting streak at 24 games. ... The way Brandon Phillips always refers to the "Redlegs", not the "Reds", in his tweets (@DatDudeBP). ... Great casting on Hawii Five-O. Alex O'Loughlin and Scott Caan (son of James) are really good together. ... First listen reaction to Steve Earle's new disc I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive: Outstanding. The disc might even be better than the title.
Dislikes: If you see me at Fast Five, please come up and say hello. Maybe that would then distract me from my next move: Jumping off of a bridge. Man, summer movie season stinks.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"Now listen youngster, be on your way
-- Little Esther, Aged and Mellow Blues
Tags: Andre Ethier, Ben Zobrist, Brad Hawpe, Brandon Phillips, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Jason Bartlett, Joe Girardi, Kansas City Royals, Little Esther, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, Orlando Hudson, Ozzie Guillen, Ryan Ludwick, Sam Fuld, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, Steve Earle, Tampa Bay Rays
Posted on: June 27, 2010 12:12 am
LOS ANGELES -- The Yankees skipped Phil Hughes' start this time around in deference to his innings-pitched count, but it was A.J. Burnett who again pitched like the guy who really needs to be skipped.
Turning in his fifth consecutive clunker in Saturday's 9-4 loss to the Dodgers, Burnett again was wild, looked lost and was working on mysteries without any clues.
Burnett now has lost five consecutive starts for the first time since 2005, when he was still pitching for Florida.
How difficult is that to do for the Yankees?
Very, it would seem. The Yankees rank second in the American League in runs scored.
"I'm pretty upset," Burnett said in response to a question about how calm he seems in the midst of his worst slump in years. "I'm pretty upset. But the guys in this clubhouse, they don't let you act that way.
"I've had a handful of guys talking to me."
Burnett, 33, has been high-maintenance throughout his career. Last season, Jose Molina evolved into his personal catcher. Molina no longer is around. And his current slide, coincidence or not, started about the same time pitching coach Dave Eiland took a leave of absence for personal reasons.
In the interim, bullpen coach -- and former pitcher -- Mike Harkey is acting as pitching coach.
"Everybody misses Dave here," Burnett said. "But I pitched 10 years without Dave also.
"We're not putting things on nobody but No. 34."
Which, of course, is Burnett's number.
"You look at everything and say, yeah, it could be," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Eiland's absence. "But A.J. knows what he has to do. He understands what he has to do.
"It's hard to pinpoint why. But he has to correct it and he has to work through it."
Over his past five starts, Burnett now has allowed 29 earned runs and nine homers. His ERA during that span is 11.35. On Saturday, 12 of 20 Dodgers Burnett faced reached base.
"Let's not forget that this game is not easy," Girardi said. "I've said all along that he's going to get out of this, and he will."
Last time out, Monday in Arizona, Burnett became the first Yankee to surrender three first-inning homers in a game since Ron Guidry in 1987.
Saturday in Los Angeles, the Dodgers scorched Burnett for two runs and three hits in the first, immediately vaulting them back into the game after the Yanks had scored three in the top of the first. But it was the third inning, when Burnett surrendered four walks (one intentional) and a couple of hits, that really cost him.
Burnett, who walked six (one intentionally) and has walked 17 hitters over his past 23 innings, said he had an "unbelievable" warm-up pre-game and that "the results were terrible but I felt a little better, believe it or not."
Burnett went through a rough time last August with the Yankees, going 0-4 with a 6.03 ERA in six starts, before pulling it together again in September (3-1, 3.83).
Difference now is, Eiland isn't around (and neither is Molina).
Still, Girardi said his inclination is to not skip Burnett's next start, scheduled for Friday at home against Toronto.
"We're 10 minutes after the game, but my thought is not to skip him," Girardi said. "It's a gut feeling of mine. His stuff is there. His command isn't. My gut is to run him out there."
Likes: Dodgers manager Joe Torre on Derek Jeter whiffing three times on his 36th birthday Saturday: "Well, it was my present to him." ... Jerry Reinsdorf for owner of the year. The White Sox, who won their 11th consecutive game on Saturday, have not lost since Reinsdorf scolded GM Kenny Williams and manager Ozzie Guillen. ... Nice run by Texas, too. ... Fernando Valenzuela never fails to elicit a loud roar in Dodger Stadium when they show him on the big scoreboard. ... Steve Martin's "leaked" tour demands for his banjo tour with the Steep Canyon Rangers. Great stuff. ... Pompilio's Italian restaurant in Newport, Ky. Good neighborhood place. Had lunch there a week or so ago. Added bonus: The Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman characters in Rain Man had a meal here in the movie (the scene where Hoffman's character insists on counting the toothpicks the drop off of the counter). ... Mojo, the new disc from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Don't love it, but like it quite a bit.
Dislikes: Carlos Zambrano signs a $91.5 million contract a few years ago and behaves like this. And the Cubs should not be happy that he went out to dinner with White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen later Friday night. After that embarrassing public meltdown, he should have stayed in and looked in the mirror.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"Well poor Tom Jefferson
-- Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Jefferson Jericho Blues
Posted on: April 25, 2010 8:58 pm
Edited on: April 25, 2010 8:59 pm
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Forget that whole champions "I'm going to Disney World" thing.
When the New York Yankees wrapped up their series here Sunday, roughly one mile from Disneyland, they were headed to the White House for an appointment on Monday.
Now, I immediately figured the obvious, that President Obama had summoned the Yanks as part of his efforts to rein in the financial industry.
What Commissioner Bud Selig hasn't been able to do -- level the playing field between the Yankees and their $200 million payroll and, say, the Pittsburgh Pirates and their $35 million payroll -- I figured was being taken up by Obama somewhere between Goldman Sachs and AIG.
Turns out, false alarm.
"No," Mark Teixeira helpfully informed me. "It's because we're champions."
And so it is that the Yankees will spend an off day before Tuesday's series-opener in Baltimore visiting the Walter Reed Medical Center, lunching in the U.S. Senate Dining Room with the World Series trophy, Senators and wounded warriors and, yes, being welcomed on the South Portico (East Room if it rains) by President Obama.
"It's going to be exciting," Yankees ace CC Sabathia said. "I'm really looking forward to it."
For Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada, this will be the third different sitting president that will welcome them as World Series champions to the White House -- Bill Clinton, the second George Bush and now Barack Obama.
"I don't know if it says they're old or presidents don't have long stays," Yankees manager Joe Girardi quipped. "I don't know what it is, but it's fairly remarkable."
Giarardi has visited the White House before as a player and said it's an awesome experience.
"You're in awe of the physical structure, the building, when you walk in," he said. "But I just think meeting a president ... I don't think any of us can fathom what that life is like. Just imagine what comes across his desk every day."
Sabathia says he'll stick to baseball, that he will bring no advice whatsoever for the president.
"I've got nothing," Sabathia said, grinning.
Likes: Loved Yankees manager Joe Girardi manning up and admitting a strategical mistake in Sunday's game. ... There is no love lost between these Yankees and Angels, who get after it pretty good. Three batters were hit with pitches Sunday: The Yankees' Robinson Cano by Scott Kazmir (who drilled a homer two plate appearances later) and the Angels' Juan Rivera (Javier Vazquez) and Torii Hunter (Damaso Marte). Nobody charged the mound, they all just kept playing -- hard. ... Angels manager Mike Scioscia was insistent that he thinks the play in which Mark Teixeira mowed over catcher Bobby Wilson at the plate Friday night, knocking Wilson into next week, was hard but clean. Teixeira still hadn't spoken with Wilson as of Sunday but had three different people deliver messages of well-wishes and had been assured the messages were received. Wilson, who suffered a concussion and a left ankle strain and was placed on the disabled list, was at Angel Stadium for the first time since the incident on Sunday. "He was playing baseball," Wilson said. "He was playing hard. I know he got hit a few pitches earlier. ... There's no hard feelings towards Tex. I know he wasn't trying to hurt me. Just playing baseball. People can say what they want whether they think it was a clean play or they think it was a dirty play. That's baseball. I know next time around, I'm telling you, I won't back down."
Dislikes: Hate to see the weekend end. Yankees-Angels has developed into one of the better rivalries in the game.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"Caught between the longing for love
-- Jackson Browne, The Pretender
Posted on: April 25, 2010 8:22 pm
Edited on: April 25, 2010 9:39 pm
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Even World Series-winning managers get the blues.
The Yankees' 8-4 loss to the Los Angeles Angels in the series finale here Sunday came complete with a very unusual moment in the seventh that directly preceded Kendry Morales' three-run homer that salted away the win for the Angels.
With Angels on first and second, two out, the Yankees trailing 5-4 and Kendry Morales at the plate, Joe Girardi ordered an intentional walk to Yankee-killer Kendry Morales.
And then he didn't.
Afterward, Girardi acknowledged, "I probably should have gone with my first instinct."
With Morales at the plate (and hitting .390 -- 23 for 59 -- lifetime against the Bronx Bombers), Girardi waved four fingers in the dugout, catcher Francisco Cervelli reinforced it and reliever Damaso Marte threw intentional ball one.
Girardi called off the walk and popped out of the dugout, taking a couple of steps toward the mound.
His intention: To summon reliever David Robertson to finish the intentional walk. Then, with two out and the bases loaded, have Robertson go hard after the next hitter, Juan Rivera.
But a few steps out of the dugout, Girardi suddenly changed his mind and U-turned.
So the lefty Marte resumed pitching to the switch-hitting Morales (batting righty) and threw ball two. But, now, not intentionally.
And taking full advantage of the Yankees' hesitation, Torii Hunter stole third base to put runners on first and third.
Next pitch, ball three.
Next, with Angels manager Mike Scioscia smartly green-lighting Morales on 3 and 0, the first baseman crushed a fat Marte fastball for a three-run homer.
Morales at the time was 1 for 3 against Marte in his career, the one hit being a double.
Had Girardi gone with his first instinct and brought Robertson in to face Juan Rivera with the bases loaded, for the record, Rivera had one RBI single in one lifetime at-bat against Robertson.
The only thing more extraordinary than a sense of wavering from the Yankees' skipper was how bluntly he assessed himself afterward, even acknowledging that once the count on Morales ran to 3 and 0, he "probably could have put up four fingers again."
"I screwed up, in a sense," Girardi said. "Not everything I do is going to be right."
Posted on: April 23, 2010 9:35 pm
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- What's the big deal with this Alex Rodriguez-Dallas Braden dustup?
Why, I thought A-Rod was quite restrained while crossing the mound and stepping on the pitching rubber while returning to first base on Thursday.
It's not as if he planted the Yankees' flag atop the mound or anything.
Seriously, after talking with several baseball people about the incident Friday, here's the big deal: Common sense and respect for an opponent should preclude someone from using the mound as a shortcut. Pure and simple.
Nobody I spoke with Friday brushed it off as A-Rod being wronged. His closest defender, of course, was Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who called the whole thing "boys being boys."
To review: With one out in the sixth inning, Rodriguez went from first to third on what turned out to be a foul fly ball. Instead of retracing his steps back to first, he cut across the mound.
"Everybody has a point of view," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said before Friday night's series opener here against the Angels. "That's the beauty of our country. That's the beauty of the human mind.
"I don't think Alex was doing anything malicious."
Braden started the controversy when he hollered at Rodriguez on the field during the game, but really ignited it afterward.
"He should probably take a note from his captain [Derek Jeter] over there and realize you don't cross the pitcher's mound in between an inning or during the game," Braden told reporters. "I was just dumbfounded that he would let that slip his mind, being someone of such status."
Said Girardi on Friday: "As far as what Dallas said, I'm concerned with how my player reacts. I'm not concerned with other players."
I talked to several people in the game about the incident on Friday, none of whom were eager to step into the latest A-Rod controversy. The consensus: Rodriguez should have avoided the mound. Or, failing that, he should have simply cut across the very back part of the dirt, or the very front part.
Just as the plate is the hitter's piece of real estate, one player told me, the mound is the pitcher's.
"I wouldn't like a pitcher running through the batter's box and messing up my dirt if he was coming back from behind the plate," the player said.
The only person I spoke with who was prepared to defend A-Rod first wanted to know where Braden was at the moment. If Braden was not on the mound, the person said, then it is no big deal. But if Braden was standing on the rubber or in the vicinity of it at the time, then it's confrontation time.
Answer to that last question: Braden was returning to the mound himself, and was a step or two onto the third-base side of the mound when A-Rod jogged directly in front of him, easily brushing within a couple of steps of him.
You can see the video for yourself here.
My take: It's not as if A-Rod committed a felony. But it's another in his long list of stupid and uncecessary moments.