Curt Schilling

Curt Schilling provided a list of 14 teams, including Boston, that he would consider playing for next season.  Schilling, on his blog 38Pitches, give us insight into the free agency process from a players point of view.  Very interesting.  I have heard/read a lot in the past 24 hours that it is looking like he won’t be back, but he really doesn’t say that and in fact expresses his desire to remain with Boston given the choice.

After Boston, he lists:  Cleveland, Detroit, Anaheim, New York (Mets), Philadelphia, Atlanta, Los Angeles, San Diego, Arizona, Chicago (Cubs),  St. Louis and Milwaukee.

Take a read and decide for yourself.

My take on Schilling is that it would be very nice to have him around next season.  Certainly his season doesn’t warrant another year at $13m, but I would consider $8-10m.  Here are some of the cold hard facts:

  2006 2007
ERA 3.97 3.87
WHIP 1.216 1.245
IP 204 151
H 220 165
BB 28 23
K 183 101
W 15 9
L 7


K/BB 6.54 4.39
K/9 8.07 6.02

ERA and WHIP look pretty similar.  What is noticeable is the drop off in innings.  As pitchers get older, it isn’t expected that they will pitch more innings than the year before, so it should be expected that they shouldn’t be paid as much either.  But moving on, His K/BB ratio and K/9 are the most telling stats.  Essentially his K rate has dropped meaning he is getting more of his outs via balls put in play.  While a pitcher can’t control what happens to balls put into play (other than home runs) he can control things by avoiding BB, Hit-by-pitches and by striking out more batters.

Voros McCracken has pioneered Defense Independent Pitching Statistics (DIPS) which many teams, probably like the Red Sox, use extensively to evaluate pitchers.  I say the Red Sox probably use it b/c they employed McCracken for a time (I’m not certain if he still works for them or not).  For Schilling, his inability to strike guys out has limited his effectiveness.

Anyway, I’m not sure he will be back, but given his drop in effectiveness, I’d like him back at a reduced rate.  A rate that isn’t going to kill should Schilling get hurt.  Schilling offers some additional perks as well as he is always going to help the young pitchers.  Thoughts?

Bobby Meacham

Want a quick and easy way to see if someone in their 30’s or older is a real Yankees’ fan?  Say the name Bobby Meacham to them.  If they stare at you blankly, they are not a real fan.  If they say to you, "the guy who tried to hold back Milton Bradley a few weeks ago?", they know their baseball, but not their Yankees.  If they start shuddering at the very mention of the name, they are a true Yankees’ fan. 

For those of you who are too young to remember, Bobby Meacham was the starting shortstop for the 1985 Yankees, probably the best team of the Mattingly era and the one that fell two games short of the division title.  (Sadly, we didn’t have a wild card then)  Those two games were probably due to Bobby Meacham and the psychological damage he caused to this writer was immense.  The guy simply couldn’t play.  He would strikeout in a big spot or make a huge error.  For the record, Meacham hit .218/.302/.266- yes a .266 slugging percentage and made 24 errors.  Why the Yankees didn’t do anything to upgrade that position is still one of the greatest frustrations of my years as a fan. 

Why do I bring this up?  Because Peter Abraham is reporting that Bobby Meacham is going to be the Yankees ‘ third base coach next season.  I am sure he is a nice man, but the scars of 1985 run deep and I can only hope he is a much better coach than he was a player.  One thing is for sure, the Yankees have to re-sign Posada now because I think a lot of us couldn’t handle seeing Bobby Meacham wearing #20 again. 

Pena Back As A Coach

I listened to a lot of the Mattingly and Girardi conference calls today and these were the big points I got out of them.

1- Mattingly isn’t mad, bitter anything. He is going to try and become a manager elsewhere, but I think he will come back to Yankee Stadium whenever invited. (phew)

2- Pena is back as a coach for the Yankees. His role hasn’t been determined and the Yankees are trying right now to lock up other coaches (contracts for current coaches expire tomorrow) no word on which ones.

3- Girardi said all the right things and really didn’t give much else. Apparently, there will be a “formal” introduction Thursday at the Stadium.

Lastly, the Daily News reported that Mariano and his agent were in Tampa negotiating with the Yankees today.

The Final A-Rod Post

Some ancient cultures punished people who had committed great crimes by literally erasing their names from history.  They became nameless entities or a symbol was used in place of their name and I can think of no greater punishment than that for A-Rod.  So, from now on, when I comment about A-Rod, I will do so with the following symbol:  "<".  Why "<" instead of "$"?  Well "$" is seemingly appropriate, but I think "<" as in less than, is a better way to describe he who shall now be nameless.  Anyway, I don’t think I will be using the < that often, because unless he plays the Yankees, I have no reason to ever discuss him again and I could not be happier about that. 
But, before we say goodbye to <, I thought it would be fun to look at something he said, or something he wrote on his blog last year.  As a note to all athletes, don’t blog unless you mean it.  Here it is:
"After we were eliminated on Saturday, the media asked me a lot of questions regarding my future in New York — whether I want to leave, or if I will be traded, etc. I will tell you what I told them: I am 100 percent committed to being a Yankee now and in the future. I don’t want to play anywhere else. I never have (and never will) run away from the responsibility I have to this team. I believe I am part of the solution to winning a championship here. I want to finish my career in New York."
Here’s the link, though I imagine Boras&Co will be smart enough to take this down quickly because how you go from that to opting out 10 days early and not even talking to the Yankees is unfathomable.   
As for my own feelings about <‘s departure, the stat guy in me is distraught.  Replacing that production is going to be very hard.  But, the rest of me is actually pretty happy.  < was too much of the story in New York, I spent too much time worrying about him and defending him and I can’t help but agree with Andy who thinks that <‘s personality detracts from whatever team he plays for.  As much as I hate Scott Boras, I don’t think that announcement Sunday night was done without <‘s approval.  I am not saying the Yankees will be better next year without him, but I have a hunch that <‘s departure is not going to be as bad as we think.
And let’s talk about replacements.  There seems to be three ways to go:
1- Sign/trade for another third baseman or let Betemit play the position.
2- Move Cano from 2nd to 3rd and find another second baseman.
3- Move Jeter from SS to 3rd and find another shortstop.
Of the three possibilities, #2 is the one I like the least.  Cano has transformed himself into a pretty good secondbaseman.  He turns a nice double play and his bat (.306/.353/.488) is one of the best at his position. (AL 2B hit .284/.339/.416)  If he moves to third, his bat is still good, but not as good when compared to the position. (AL 3B hit .280/.348/.456).  I think you leave Cano where he is right now.
I don’t like the idea of Betemit everyday, I think he is perfect for the bench, so I wouldn’t mess with that.  The third baseman available in free agency do not impress me.  I know Mike Lowell just won the MVP of the World Series, but he is going to be 34 and he had a OPS split of .993/.767 home and away.  I think he will get a big contract, and I hope the Yankees don’t give it to him.
Aaron Boone is available.  Just kidding, wanted to see if you were still paying attention.   But, that’s my point, there isn’t much out there.
Trades may be a better way to go and while many will say go get Cabrera from the Marlins.  He scares me.  He is bigger everytime I see him and he makes Manny Ramirez look like a model citizen.  No, I would check and see if two injured guys might be available on the cheap, Joe Crede and Eric Chavez.   
Neither one of these guys is going to come close to replacing the offensive production the Yankees lost at third, but they are both much better defensively than <.  You are taking a risk since they both are coming off of surgery, but that is why I am betting you could get them cheaply.  Chavez to me presents the most intriguing possibility because I wonder if you could spin off Jason Giambi in a deal for him?
Let me explain, Chavez is signed through 2010 with a club option for 2011 at total of $37 million if he is bought out after 2010.  Giambi is due $27 million for 2008 plus a buyout of his 2009 option.  Billy Beane is one of the best GM’s in the business and I can’t imagine he likes the idea of 12% of his payroll for the next three years going to a guy coming off of two surgeries.  Giambi was incredibly popular in Oakland and I bet he would go back for a last hurrah.  If the Yankees paid the $5 million fee for the option and sent something to Oakland, would Beane bite?  He would be freed from the Giambi obligation at the end of the season and have money to spend.  The Yankees could take the risk on Chavez and get rid of Giambi at the same time which would free up the DH spot for Matsui. I think it is worth a phone call.
As for Crede, Josh Fields hit 23 HR’s in his absence last year and Crede will be a free agent after 2008.  Would Chicago be willing to give him up for a mid-level prospect since they might want to go with Fields?  Again, worth a phone call.
My last idea is more generalized, but what about moving Jeter over to third?  Cal Ripken did it, so why not Jeter?  Despite the gold gloves, he has never been a great shortstop and his arm is good enough for the longer throws.  At some point, I think the Yankees will have to make this move anyway, so what about doing it now?
There are obviously a lot of other ways to go and we will discuss them more in the future, but from now on it will be about filling the opening at third base and not about <. 

Looking Ahead, Is It Too Soon?

While still enjoying things, my mind wandered to thoughts of 2008.  Just a few notes to consider when forming your strategies and opinions on how to construct a team capable of defending a world title.

Salaries coming off the books:

Matt Clement – $9.5m, Curt Schilling – $13m, Mike Lowell – $8m, Tim Wakefield – $4m, Julian Tavarez – $3.35m, Eric Hinske – $2.8125m, Mike Timlin – $2.7m, Wily Mo Pena (already gone) – $2.5m, J.C. Romero (already gone) – $1.6m, Brendan Donnelly – $1.4m, Doug Mirabelli – $750k, Eric Gagne – $6m, Bobby Kielty – $500k.

That’s over $56m in payroll that drops off the books.  Now consider that raises are in order for Kevin Youkilis (first year arb. elig.) and slight increases for Jonathan Papelbon and the other guys under 3 full seasons, but still there is going to be cash available.  Also consider that Coco Crisp is likely to be traded this off-season.  His $5.17m put it to $60m in freed up cash.

Some of that extra cash will also be spent on Mike Lowell, should he be re-signed.  If he gets $12m that cuts the resources to $48m, still enough to make significant inroads to helping the team.  But please tell me, won’t you, just where you’d spend that money.

Your immediate options include re-signing current free agents and perhaps considering giving long term deals to Papalbon and Kevin Youkilis ala Nomar Garciaparra.  The idea would be to have them sign into their free agency years.  Those are just a few.  While we can all keep enjoying these good times, there is work to be done to keep this train a rollin’.

Anyway, I’ll cut it at that and let me know your ideas.

That Was Fast

Check out this report in the Journal News tonight.  That is a great spot for them both and I hope they have a lot of success.   I just hope A-Rod doesn’t join them.

And, if you were wondering, the Yankees are not scheduled to play the Dodgers next season.  But they will come to New York May 29th to play the Mets.  Of course the NL does come to Yankee Stadium for the All-Star Game.

UPDATE 12:35am- Joe Torre was just on Letterman and David asked him about going to LA.  Torre’s response was:  "There has been a time or two when something that’s been in the newspaper hasn’t been true.  There is nothing to any of it, so far."  (Keep in mind, they usually film these shows around 5-6pm. 

With that, I am going to bed. 

Boras on 1050AM In New York At 5:20pm Today

If you are not in New York, follow this link if you are interested in listening.  I will be picking up my daughter, so please post a comment if you hear anything good.

Statement From Mattingly

Don’s agent released the following today:

“Don was extremely disappointed to learn today that he wasn’t the organizations choice to fill the managerial vacancy. Instead, he was informed the organization offered the position to Joe Giradi.

Don feels both Joe and Tony Pena represent true professionalism both on and off the field and he was honored to be among them as candidates for the managerial position. Don extends congratulations to Joe and wishes him and the organization good luck next year!

Today is a very difficult day because managing the Yankees was Don’s aspiration and goal since becoming the hitting coach four years ago. Even though this opportunity has passed him by he wants to thank Mr. Steinbrenner for his initial faith, inspiration and support throughout his playing and coaching career.
Don will use this time to reflect on this experience while considering future family and career options. In the meantime, he did inform the Yankee’s that given the circumstances he won’t accept a coaching position within the organization during 2008.”

Typical class from Don and hopefully he will be back at Old Timer’s Day soon. 

Another Crazy Day In Yankeeland

Say this for the Yankees, they might not be playing, but they are certainly making news.  Fresh off the A-Rod debacle, the Yankees have apparently offered the managerial job to Joe Girardi. 

These are not George’s Yankees anymore, George would have given the job to Mattingly in a second.  Not saying that’s a bad thing, but it is a notable one.

And, what can we expect from Girardi?  We know he will work hard, but his usage of young pitchers makes me pause.  Let’s look at the 2006 Marlins staff.

Dontrelle Willis was the ace. He was 25 and his first six starts of the year by pitch count were: 107, 111, 113, 106, 92, 120.  Of his 34 starts, only five were less than 100 pitches and at one point he made seven-straight starts of more than 115 pitches.  To be fair to Girardi, he never let him go past 125 pitches, but it was a lot.

And it wasn’t just Willis.  Jason Johnson didn’t become a starter until May and once he was he got used. He was 41st overall in baseball at an average of 99.297, just ahead of Andy Pettite.  Anibal Sanchez wasn’t far behind (48th/98.8235) just ahead of Randy Johnson. 

None of this means it isn’t correctable.  Just as the "Joba Rules" were put in place this year, Cashman can come up with some Kennedy and Phil rules to protect them.  I hope he does and if so, I think this will be a pretty good choice.  Joe Torre always talked about how great a manager Girardi would be and in his one year of work, he was very, very good. 

The sad part of all of this is Don Mattingly.  What happens with him now?  I am afraid he might take this rejection personally.  He clearly wanted the job and he didn’t get it.  Reports say he has turned down an offer to coach and I would expect him to show up as a coach in LA if Joe Torre really does head there to manage.  But, the big question is next season when they close Yankee Stadium, will Mattingly choose to be a part of that?  It would be awful if he didn’t and I hope the Yankees do everything they can to make sure he is there.

I was originally going with an A-Rod post today, but that will wait for tomorrow.  If you haven’t read it, check out Buster Olney’s take on ESPN or Mike Vaccaro’s in the Post.  Better yet, take a listen to Peter Gammons on ESPN Radio.  (I can’t link to it and you need to be an insider to get it, but it is worth a little digging to find.) I can’t recall ever hearing Gammons come down on a player like that.  Cynics will say it’s his Red Sox bias showing through, but I think he is genuinely upset. 

Boston Red Sox – 2007 World Series Champions

Wow, so many New Englanders just won free furniture from Jordan’s.  That’s what this World Series win is all about, free furniture.  All all of the nation won free tacos too.  That’s right, coast to coast, free tacos.

Ok, it feels good to have a 2nd Championship in 4 years too.

I think Tom Werner said it best (I can’t believe I just said that) when during the postgame ceremony, that 2004 was for all Red Sox fans of present and past while this one was for the fans today proving that the Red Sox could do it again.

MVP – Mike Lowell

Not a bad pick.

So many others contributed both this postseason and all season long.  Lowell, Okajima, Papelbon, Ortiz, Ramirez, Pedroia, Youkilis, Beckett and Francona.  I’m not sure what I’m writing about right now as it takes a team, from top to bottom and no one individual makes a team.

Soak it in Red Sox fans and stake out your spot on the victory parade (whether on the street or on your couch…or Tivo).

All the worry about blowing the AL East lead, signing J.D. Drew to an outrageously large contract, Julio Lugo stinking to start the year, getting down 3-1 to Cleveland, that worry can all be dismissed.  The Red Sox won the World Series.

Hats off to Bobby Kielty too as his home run, extending the lead to 3 runs, was the winning run.  Jon Lester too.

One last note before I sign off.  Just what was Fox thinking when they decided Game 4 of the World Series was a good time to spend 15 minutes talking about Alex Rodriguez?  If baseball is supposed to mean anything, isn’t it insulting to Rockies fans, Red Sox fans and baseball fans in general to talk about a guy and his opting out of a contract during a tense part of the World Series?  Alex Rodriguez and his agent Scott Boras called Fox reporter/columnist Ken Rosenthal during the game to get maximum publicity for ARod’s cause.  What a joke.  Boras obviously doesn’t respect the game if he felt tonight was the appropriate time to let the world know of his client’s intentions.

I know, it’s all about money for Boras and ARod.  Enjoy your money Alex and your mercenary approach to baseball.  And if you think he has really opted out of this deal, you might not have ever been involved in a negotiation.  Boras is using his leverage on this one don’t forget he has 10 days from now to officially decide.  Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, just when I thought I could stand you two, you take the ARod story and run with it.  Poor timing lads.

Now that the season is over, feel free to talk about it, but not during the World Series.  Alright, rant over.  I do hope Fox doesn’t hold lifetime rights to MLB playoffs though.

Be safe Red Sox fans and find a way to safely enjoy this win.