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Is It Too Soon to Knock Alex Rodriguez off the Superstar Perch?

For the first time in almost a decade and a half, Alex Rodriguez is not being taken in the first round of fantasy drafts.

Think about that for a second. A-Rod has been a star Major League player for almost as long as he hasn’t. His breakthrough season came in 1996, when he hit .358 with 36 homers and 123 RBIs … as a 20-year-old.

He led the league in total bases at a time in his life when he couldn’t even legally drink. He finished sixth in the league in RBIs that season; everyone else in the top 10 is retired.

Even through the admittedly dumb prism of rotisserie baseball, the sustained excellence of Rodriguez’s career has been incredible.

Age and injury concerns have finally dimmed A-Rod’s impeccable fantasy reputation, as the Yankees third baseman is going early in the third round of most drafts.

He missed significant time for the third consecutive season in 2010 and hasn’t put together a truly great year since his magnificent 2007 MVP campaign. Meanwhile, his ability to steal bases — the skill that separates good fantasy players from great ones — is history. He’s dropped from 18 to 14 to four in that category since 2008.

Despite that, Rodriguez is giving hints down south that he may have one more big year in him, the type of season that will have people remembering how they “stole” one of the greatest players of all-time while others were taking the likes of Matt Kemp and Justin Upton.

He’s played in 13 games this spring, and he has a hit in every one. And he’s not just slapping singles to right, either. Cameron Diaz’s love pillow has six doubles, five home runs, and leads the Yankees with 11 RBIs.

And since I brought it up, we can’t discount the Diaz Effect in play here. A-Rod resurrected his postseason reputation back in 2009 with the foxy Kate Hudson dutifully cheering him on from the front row. Penny Lane has gone the way of Stillwater, but Diaz could prove to be a worthy replacement. She’s even attending some games in Tampa, which is pretty good GF work when you consider how excruciating spring training games can be.

If A-Rod can stay healthy — and admittedly big “if” — the 35-year-old might have a huge “Nobody believed in me!” season in store. It’s hard to expect him to deliver the type of 50-homer, 150-RBI seasons he produced during his pre-hip surgery, pre-PED admission days, but it wouldn’t be wise to completely rule it out.

Remember this, fantasy friends: When it comes to Alex Rodriguez, we’re talking about a man who thrives on infuriating the army of people who detest him. And what could anger the A-Rod haters more than a MVP-type season when most thought it was impossible?

Dan Hanzus writes three columns a week on his New York Yankees site, River & Sunset. He can be reached at Follow Dan on Twitter @danhanzus.

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The Ongoing Quest To Know the ‘Real’ Derek Jeter

Every two years or so, a glossy men’s magazine will profile Derek Jeter. Like death, taxes, and Adam Sandler comedies with melodramatic courtroom climaxes, it’s unavoidable.

I surmise the goal of these profiles is get to know the real Derek Jeter, misguided as that notion may be. As anyone who’s followed the shortstop’s career can attest, Jeter enjoys sharing intimate details about himself about as much as he likes sliding shoulder-first into Ken Huckaby’s shin guard.

Jeter’s a pro in so many ways, and he’s not going to talk himself into trouble. His interactions with the media are evidence of this.

Because of this, each profile inevitably becomes a rehash of the same stories and themes you’ve heard before. You’ll typically come away from these features with the understanding that Jeter:

a) is a nice guy.
b) Is a hard worker.
c) Likes his privacy.

GQ profiled the 11-time All-Star for their April 2011 edition, sending a season-ticket-holding Red Sox fan (what?!) to meet with the Yankees icon over two days in Florida.

The results were more or less what we’ve come to expect from this type of affair, though to the magazine’s credit, they did get Jeter to pose with a prop. That was pretty cool.

Here are a few noteworthy nuggets from the piece:

In The Captain, his forthcoming biography of Jeter, Ian O’Connor writes about a small party Jeter hosted. When Jeter’s then flame and one of her girlfriends arrived at his house, Jeter answered the door and politely asked his guests to remove any cell phones or cameras they were carrying and place them on a table, explaining that he wanted to protect his privacy.

First off, how did Ian O’Connor get this information? If I were him, I’d be be installing new security equipment at my house… Jeter may be Out For Justice, Seagal-style. That’s right Ian, we’re talking compound wrist fractures and a possible screwdriver wound to the esophagus.

Can you imagine attending a dinner party and being asked to remove all electronic devices like you’re going through security at LAX?

Here’s another one …

By all accounts, when Jeter has felt at risk of being exposed, he’s taken swift steps. About ten years ago, a freelancer working on a piece for The New York Times was in the Yankees locker room after batting practice. Jeter and some other players were joking around—”it was something totally innocuous,” the reporter says—when Jeter realized there was a tape recorder in the room. Later that night, the reporter was buttonholed by a Yankees PR staffer and one of the team’s security guards. When the reporter tried to apologize to Jeter for any misunderstanding, he says, Jeter refused to acknowledge that anything had happened in the first place.

The “I don’t even know what you’re talking about” gag! Glad to see this still has a place in 21st century discourse. And while we’re here, what do you think Jeter and his teammates were being so “innocuous” about? I’ve got 20 bucks saying they were ragging on Giambi for a particularly nasty fart. Any takers?

Moving on …

Jeter didn’t watch (Andy) Pettitte’s (retirement) press conference, he was doing his weekday-morning workout, and he ignored my efforts to get him to talk about the implications for his own career. “It’s something you won’t even realize until you get to spring training,” he said when I asked him whether Pettitte’s decision made him think about his own future. “But the thing about Andy is, he left for three years to play in Houston. You don’t want to say you’re used to him not being there, but at least you have something to compare it to. There was a while there where he was gone.”

There was something about that quote that makes me wonder if Jeter harbors any resentment toward Pettitte for his three-year sabbatical in Houston. We know Jeter is a loyalty guy that keeps a tight circle. Maybe I’m just reading into that the wrong way, but thought it warranted mentioning.

Could you imagine Jeter using the same icy tone a year from now when Posada goes off into the sunset?

And one more …

Before I left for the airport, I asked Jeter what he had planned for the rest of the day. “I’m probably going to go home and watch a movie,” he said, grinning. “I’m going to watch The Roommate. It’s a new one. Just came out today. Go check it out.” It was a rare acknowledgment of his private life. His girlfriend, Minka Kelly, is one of the movie’s stars. We exchanged some more pleasantries, and then, as he was climbing into his car, he shouted over one last time: “Remember: The Roommate. Seriously. Check it out. It’s worth it.”

Talented, handsome, hard-working … and a sense of humor!

Dan Hanzus writes three columns a week on his New York Yankees site, River & Sunset. He can be reached at Follow Dan on Twitter @danhanzus.

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Yankees Have No Choice but to Put Faith in A.J. Burnett

It was the snapshot that summed up a season: A.J. Burnett standing on the mound in disbelief, his hands on top of his head, while a pumped up Bengie Molina carried his impressive gut around the base-paths at Yankee Stadium.

The Texas catcher’s three-run homer in Game Four of the ALCS neatly accomplished two feats—it effectively ended the Yankees‘ repeat hopes while also putting a bow on Burnett’s miserable second season in the Bronx.

How awful was Burnett in 2010? He was Creed-awful. He was 2001 Kobe Bryant rap single “K.O.B.E.“-awful. He was Dane Cook movie-awful. You hear me? Dane Cook movie-awful, people! Have you ever seen My Best Friend’s Girl?

Thirty-three starts, 186 2/3 innings, 204 hits, 5.26 ERA, a 10-15 record—and those numbers don’t begin to do justice to how bad Burnett was for long stretches in 2010. When Dave Eiland mysteriously disappeared for six weeks last summer, perhaps we all missed the obvious explanation—Burnett had driven the beleaguered pitching coach into hiding.

Enter Larry Rothschild, whose principle job as Eiland’s replacement was to somehow fix a very expensive broken piece of machinery. It’s pretty much a sure thing that part of Rothschild’s interview process involved a detailed battle plan for salvaging Burnett, who’s entering the third-year of a getting-worse-by-the-minute five-year, $82.5 million deal signed in December 2008.

Rothschild has likely studied plenty of tape from Burnett’s 2010 season, which I surmise was as pleasurable as watching The Human Centipede in 3D. What he saw was two pitchers—one very good (April, May, July) and one comically bad (June, August, September). After escaping the maniacal clutches of Carlos Zambrano in Chicago, Rothschild must be wondering what he did to deserve this.

He’ll quickly learn that when it comes to Burnett, it’s all about taking the good with the bad. That’s something Brian Cashman knew even before he brought the pitcher to New York. Sure, Burnett let Molina and the Rangers throw a Molotov cocktail at their 2010 postseason, but we can’t forget starts like Game Two of the 2009 World Series, when Burnett overwhelmed a loaded Phillies lineup over seven brilliant innings.

His performance that night was one of the best—and most important—in recent franchise playoff history. It makes it all the more frustrating when he goes through funks like last June, when he went 0-5 with a 11.35 ERA. It’s hard to be that dreadful. It’s almost as if there’s an A.J. Burnett doppelganger out there pulling a Frank Drebin/Enrico Pallazzo move as the real Allan James lays hog-tied in the clubhouse.

Now, the scary part. When Andy Pettitte decided to stay in Deer Park and Cliff Lee had his cheese-steak epiphany, Burnett suddenly, unbelievably, became the key to the Yankees’ 2011 season. I peed myself a little just writing that last sentence. Seriously.

If Burnett can’t figure out a way to turn it around, the Yankees have virtually no chance of going back to the postseason. As it stands, the team already needs something in the neighborhood of 40 wins between CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes, the former coming off knee surgery and the latter armed with just one full season of starting experience. The back end of the rotation is a well-chronicled work in progress, making Burnett the link between both sides of the rotation.

You know that with Burnett we won’t get much in the way of middle ground. He’ll either be the glue that holds the rotation together, or he’ll be the one who flicks the match on a haystack soaked in kerosene. In other words, if Burnett didn’t already have enough pressure on himself to get his career back on track, he also holds his team’s fate in his hands.

I need to go lay down.

Dan Hanzus writes three columns a week on his New York Yankees site, River & Sunset. He can be reached at Follow Dan on Twitter @danhanzus.

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New York Yankees Will Lean Heavily on the Power of the Comeback

Considering how many Yankees had sub par seasons by their standards in 2010, it can be considered a minor miracle the team came within two games of returning to the World Series last fall.

Many of those slumping stars are back in 2011. Does having several key players with something to prove provide a perfect cocktail for success? Or are the Yankees closing in on a new season with a roster filled with soon-to-be has-beens?

River & Sunset is here to give you a list of the Yankees looking to improve on their season of a year ago.



A.J. Burnett: The tattooed one’s ERA by month in 2010: 2.43, 4.03, 11.35, 2.00, 7.80, 5.60. There’s a great pitcher locked away in there somewhere. Larry Rothschild, I present you baseball’s Rubik’s Cube.

Joba Chamberlain: There’s a growing legion of doubters when it comes to Chamberlain—will he use that as motivation or ignore it and continue to wallow in mediocrity? The overarching question with Joba: Does he get it?


Curtis Granderson: Now here’s a prime candidate for a comeback season. Some guys take a full year before they’re comfortable and playing at their full capability in New York, and Granderson seems like the classic example. Fantasy owners be advised.

Mark Teixiera: Totally underrated subplot of the Yankees’ failure to defend their championship last season was Teixeira’s baffling fall from the ranks of superstardom. His numbers were hardly terrible (33 homers, 108 RBI, league-leading 113 runs), but his game sprung leaks that you’d never expect from a T-800 cyborg. Perhaps the hand and foot injuries were more serious then he let on. I’m more of the feeling that (yet another) slow start led to some bad habits that snowballed on him. If Tex gets out of the gate fast this April, he’s an MVP candidate.


Alex Rodriguez: He was still an epic run producer last season (125 RBIs in 137 games), but it’s fair to ask if the superstar era of A-Rod’s career is over. His OPS has declined in each of the past three years and he’s missed 87 games since 2008 after missing just 19 in the seven years prior. The 35-year-old said he’s feels like himself this spring, but you wonder if the hip condition is something that will prevent him from being that elite guy again.

Derek Jeter: Just to be clear, the captain doesn’t need the insane ramblings of Hank Steinbrenner to get motivated. He’s coming off the worst season of his career, and there’s no way he didn’t go nuts this offseason looking to wash out the taste of ’10. The question is whether he has another classic Jeterian season (200 hits, 115 runs, 15 homers) in his 36-year-old bones. Count me as a believer.

Jorge Posada: I don’t see much in the way of middle ground when it comes to Posada at this point. He’ll either get 500 at-bats, hit 20-25 homers and drive 70-80 runs as the full-time DH/spot catcher, or he’ll break down and enter the depressing late-period Jason Varitek phase of his career. I’ve made a lot of Jason Varitek jokes since 2008; I’m praying karma isn’t going to take it out on Georgie.



Jesus Montero: The Yankees seem committed to taking it slow with Montero, but they should also be cognizant not to keep a Buster Posey-type talent in the minors just because they “don’t want to rush” the process. If the kid hits in spring training, there’s no reason he shouldn’t replace Cervelli as backup catcher. If he keeps hitting, there’s no reason he shouldn’t replace Russell Martin as starter. Yep, I’m drinking the Jesus Juice.



Brian Cashman: It’s been pretty tough sledding for Cashman since the Yankees’ World Series win, with some failed acquisitions and two whiffs on Cliff Lee. Now he enters the walk year of his contract. If the wheels fall off this season, it would be very interesting to see if the front office thought a change in culture was necessary.


No. 4 and 5 starters: The good news for the two guys that win these roles? Everyone already assumes you’re going to suck. So, yeah, the bar is pretty close to the pavement here. Whether you’re Sergio Mitre, Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, a Bronx garbage man, that guy with the riser in your Sunday morning softball league, Charlie Sheen, or one of Charlie Sheen escorts, understand that if you string a couple of quality starts together you’ll get the Michael Kay equivalent of Al Michaels’ “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!”

Dan Hanzus writes three columns a week on his New York Yankees site, River & Sunset. He can be reached at Follow Dan on Twitter @danhanzus.

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New York Yankees: What Joba’s Gut Says About Joba

It started out innocently enough.

Last Wednesday, Joba Chamberlain was among several Yankees pitchers to report early to the team’s spring complex in Tampa, and some beat writers on the scene remarked on Twitter that the reliever looked as though he’d put on weight.

Only, nothing is really innocent when it comes to Twitter and reporting anymore. The two have converged suddenly—you could argue recklessly—in the past year, turning off-the-cuff thoughts into BREAKING NEWS. Chamberlain and Chubgate was just the latest example.

On one hand, it was hardly a big deal. Baseball is the last bastion for the beer-gutted professional athlete. Basketball and football have long since become workplaces where even punters and third-string power forwards look like T-800 Terminator models.

The majority of baseball players are also more fit than ever, but it remains the one sport—not counting bowling and golf … never count bowling and golf—where you can be overweight and still be elite. Look no further than the top of the Yankees’ rotation, where CC Sabathia—even after swearing off the salty tyrant of the breakfast table, Cap’n Crunch—tips the scales at 290 pounds.

If Chamberlain is carrying a little more heat around the midsection, so be it. He’s a middle reliever anyway, designed for short bursts of efficiency. When I was in college in Boston, the Red Sox’s most reliable setup man was Rich Garces, a dude whose fitness level was so ghastly he earned the mocking nickname, “El Guapo.”

But on the other hand, you can’t help but wonder if this is just the latest red flag for Chamberlain. Right now, he’s using the husky frat guy excuse (“Been pumpin’ iron, bro, addin’ mass, bro, just gettin’ big, bro”), but it’s not exactly convincing. Brian Cashman appeared to bite his tongue when asked about Chubgate, remarking, “He is heavier. Leave it at that.”

Joe Girardi, a classic my-body-is-my-temple type and the guy who banned sweets from the Yankees clubhouse, reserved judgment in his chat with the media, but it’s clearly the 800-pound middle reliever in the room right now.

What’s most disappointing is that Chamberlain entered the offseason fully aware that this is a make-or-break season in his Yankees career. He was passed over for a rotation spot last spring, and was then slowly fazed from the bullpen hierarchy during the summer and fall. The most telling move came in December, when the New York spent millions and a draft pick to make Rafael Soriano the world’s most expensive understudy.

The player who gets it comes into camp more determined than ever. He feels angry, disrespected even. The Revenge Factor is at Balboa-Drago levels. Roger Clemens once revitalized his career in Toronto with the help of a chip on his shoulder.

Chamberlain makes you worry that he’s the type of guy who doesn’t get it. Of course, it’d be unfair to pass judgment on the basis of a few tweets and a handful of AP photos. But when it comes to Chamberlain, the average Yankees fan has gone from dreaming big to expecting the worst.

What a big fat waste that would be.

Dan Hanzus writes three columns a week on his New York Yankees site, River & Sunset. He can be reached at Follow Dan on Twitter @danhanzus.

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New York Yankees: To Understand the Rotation Woes, Start at the Roots

If you’re looking for a scapegoat as you stare at the Yankees‘ funny-if-it-weren’t-so-sad starting rotation, you might as well go with Joba Chamberlain. The man’s already a human punching bag at this point, so I doubt he’ll mind.

Had Chamberlain developed as the team expected, the departure of Andy Pettitte wouldn’t feel like such a cataclysmic event.

In an ideal world, the Yankees would have entered 2011 with Chamberlain and Hughes already entrenched as established talents to pair with CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett.

The only issue—other than getting Burnett back on the grid, of course—would be finding a fifth starter, a problem they’d share with approximately 85 percent of the teams in baseball.

Hughes has held up his end of the bargain, an 18-game winner in 2010 who appears on his way to a productive career.

But Chamberlain’s struggles have become emblematic of the organization’s failure as a whole when it comes to developing starting rotation talent.

Think about it. Between the time Pettitte arrived on the scene in 1995 and now, how many productive starters has the minor league system churned out besides Hughes?

(I’ll give you a minute … or two … or three.)

Here’s what I came up with:

  • Ted Lilly was a young lefty with talent dealt away in exchange for Jeff Weaver in 2002. (Obviously, an awesome decision.)
  • Chien-Ming Wang wasn’t exactly homegrown (he was an amateur free-agent signing in 2000), but he developed into a legitimate front-line starter before injuries derailed his career and wiped out the team’s Taiwanese fan base.
  • Chase Wright was pretty great, if you define great as an ability to give up four consecutive homers at Fenway Park, then drop off the face of the planet like Ray Finkle.
  • Ian Kennedy was a promising right-hander with attitude issues who was shipped out of town as part of the Curtis Granderson deal.

And then there’s this sobering bit of perspective: My buddy Howie pointed out that when Hughes won his sixth career game, he set the club record for victories by a first-round pick.

How is that possible?

As history and World Series flags indicate, this obviously hasn’t hurt the franchise all that much. But the business of the game has changed in recent years.

Teams now put a far greater emphasis on homegrown pitching talent, and they’re less apt to let a young ace get to the open market. Ten years ago, the Yankees would have been licking their chops as Felix Hernandez entered his walk season.

Now they’d probably have to give up Jesus Montero, Granderson and a Derek Jeter DNA sample just to get the Mariners in the same room.

The fact that the Yankees were able to get their hands on Sabathia was an anomaly in that respect. And the whiff on Cliff Lee hurts double, since those opportunities simply don’t come around as often as they once did.

This isn’t to say the Yankees have no way of acquiring premium pitching from an outside source, but we’re learning you’ll probably have to pay outrageously for it.

Remember when the Yankees acquired David Cone from the Blue Jays for a bag of baseballs and a signed Alanis Morissette CD? Those days are over.

The Yankees seem to have 400 catchers ready for the Bronx, but it’s unclear what kind of pitching talent they have in the pipeline.

Potential No. 5 starter Ivan Nova is a mid-level prospect at best. Andrew Brackman, their 2007 first-round pick, is 25 and yet to make any impact.

Manuel Banuelos and Dellin Betances are raw prospects with potential, but neither are likely to make a big-league contribution until 2012 at the earliest.

So why haven’t the Yankees been able to develop their own starting pitching…and what needs to be done to change that?

These are questions best directed toward Damon Oppenheimer and Mark Newman, the brains behind the Yankees’ draft and farm strategies.

Whoever is in charge, it needs to be fixed, or the Yankees are about to become dinosaurs in more ways than one.

Dan Hanzus writes three columns a week on his New York Yankees site, River & Sunset. He can be reached at Follow Dan on Twitter @danhanzus.

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Core No More: Andy Pettitte Says Goodbye to New York Yankees

If you’re like me, watching Andy Pettitte sitting in front of the media to announce his retirement on Friday had the effect of your mind blowing out of the back of your skull.

Part of me will always see Pettitte and think of the 21-year-old kid who helped return the franchise to glory back in 1996. I’m 30 years old, which makes Pettitte the first great Yankee that I feel like I saw all the way through.

I grew up idolizing Don Mattingly, but he was already in his late 20s and an established star by the time I truly started following baseball. With Pettitte, it was different. He entered the farm system in 1991, right around the time my parents got me a subscription to the team-published Yankees Magazine for Christmas.

I remember sifting through a relentless number of ads from Nobody Beats the Wiz, Citibank and Hitachi to read about the prospects in the system, among them a left-hander who was dominating the minor leagues the way the franchise thought Brien Taylor would.

By the time Pettitte reached the Yankees in ’95, he had run up an impressive 51-22 mark in various levels of the system. Pettitte knew how to win even when he didn’t know what he was doing yet. He won 21 games in his first full season in 1996 and had he never played another year, he had already created a legacy with his unforgettable 8 1/3-inning performance in Game 5 of the World Series against the Braves.

Pettitte compiled some impressive numbers over 16 seasons, statistics worthy of Cooperstown consideration. He retires at 240-138, with a 3.88 ERA over 3,055.1 innings. He won 14 or more games 12 times and never posted a losing season. He has a Major League-record 19 victories in the postseason, including six wins in clinching scenarios, also a record.

He owns five World Series rings, the most for a Yankee starter since Whitey Ford.

It’s easy to forget parts of Pettitte’s career that don’t fit True Yankee™ criteria. He authored possibly the worst start in Yankees postseason history in Game 6 of the 2001 World Series. He left town for three years to pitch for the Houston Astros. And there was the HGH admission in 2007, a black mark that may ultimately keep him out of the Hall of Fame.

But we never held any of Pettitte’s faults against him, mainly because he took ownership of his mistakes. He made no excuses following his disaster in Arizona, even as we learned he had been inadvertently tipping his pitches. He left for Houston in 2004 to be closer to his family and his respectful exit from New York left the door open for his return three years later.

As for the PED admission? Pettitte provided the template for which all busted users should follow. Own up to it, explain why you did it…and move on.

His buddy Roger should have taken notes.

Pettitte said on Friday that Cliff Lee’s decision to sign with the Phillies made him feel like he had “an obligation” to come back. Ultimately, he decided his time had come, however, and you have to respect a guy who retires one year too soon rather than one year too late.

Pettitte heads off into the sunset, reducing the Core Four to the decidedly less-catchy Core Three. Jorge Posada will probably be next to go, and maybe now he’ll finally begin to receive the level of admiration he deserves. Pettitte’s importance to the team has always been understood, which is why his exit already has fans trying to figure out what it means for the 2011 Yankees.

Not here, though. Today is all about No. 46, a player who always made following the Yankees better. I’m proud to say I got to follow him all the way through.

Dan Hanzus writes three columns a week on his New York Yankees site, River & Sunset. He can be reached at Follow Dan on Twitter @danhanzus.

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Freddy Garcia the Latest in New York Yankees Back-End Rotation Search

The New York Yankees agreed to terms with Freddy Garcia on Tuesday, the latest in a succession of bargain basement signings of once-great pitchers rendered ordinary (or worse) by age, injuries—or in the case of Bartolo Colon—the soft late-night glow of the refrigerator.

This strategy was last employed with success by the 1989 Cleveland Indians, which would be cause for encouragement if it didn’t occur in the fictional world of the movie Major League.

(Seriously, this is the only example I can think of where this strategy was effective.)

Signing ostensibly “over-the-hill” players with the hope of a return to form is a very un-Yankee like move. These are the types of transactions usually reserved for luxury tax-pocketing bottom feeders of baseball. Witnessing the Evil Empire pulling the same routine is jarring to say the least.

It gives you an idea of how thin the pitching market really is this offseason. As long as Andy Pettitte keeps up his Brett Favre routine, Brian Cashman has little choice but to throw crap against the wall and hope something sticks.

The Yankees had a similar dearth in rotation depth back in 2005 only to be miraculously bailed out by Aaron Small and Shawn Chacon, two men now remembered as one-hit wonders on the level of Hoobastank.

Cashman is hoping to catch lightning in a bottle again this season. If Pettitte stays gone, Garcia, Colon, Mark Prior, Sergio Mitre and Ivan Nova will all get their shot to claim the final two spots in the rotation.

There’s no hiding that this is a huge gamble for the Yankees. This is a potentially season-wrecking problem for which there’s no easy solution. If none of the pitchers prove up to the task—and let’s face it, that’s certainly possible—the Yankees will be staring down the barrel of a dark October.

They’re going to need some luck. Like with Prior and Colon, the Garcia signing is an admission of that on some level. Cashman knows he doesn’t have any ideal fits, but the more pitchers he involves in the process the better his odds that he hits on another Chacon or Small.

It’s the same story, different day for the Yankees, who continue their scramble to create a rotation while simultaneously praying Pettitte decides Deer Park can wait another year.

Dan Hanzus writes three columns a week on his New York Yankees site, River & Sunset. He can be reached at Follow Dan on Twitter @danhanzus.

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New York Yankees: Jorge Posada Shares Thoughts on Shifting Role, We Translate

Is anybody else convinced that Jorge Posada is so not on board with this full-time DH thing?

Po’s been the Yankees‘ resident lovable curmudgeon for 15 years. He’s not exactly the personality type that embraces change. And nothing good can come from change when you’re a 39 year old catcher.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Clint Eastwood modeled his character in Gran Torino after the salty Yankees veteran. Walt Kowalski was a gruff, stubborn old man who wouldn’t hesitate to shoot you with a rifle if you messed with him or his car; the same probably applies to Posada and his catching position.

(That ringing you hear is Jesus Montero calling Brian Cashman to make sure he’s staying in the minors in 2011.)

Posada spoke about the shift to DH for the first time on Sunday night at a Bernie Williams event, where I presume the former center fielder busted out some soccer mom-approved guitar licks.

God love him, Po tried so hard to be the good soldier during his brief media chat, but what he said definitely didn’t sound like what he meant.

Luckily, River & Sunset has the gift for decoding such jock speak.

All initial quotes come via the Daily News.

What Georgie said:

“I can’t complain. I always like to catch, I’m used to catching, but if they want me to DH to help out the team, you have to do that. It is what it is. I look forward to everything I do. I try to help out the team, and if that’s going to help out the team and that’s what they want, I’m OK with it.”

What Georgie meant:

“I can’t complain. Literally, I can’t complain. I’m a 39 year old professional baseball player. Have you noticed what GMs think of guys my age now? We’re dinosaurs staring down a fiery meteor. I’m used to catching, because I’m a man, and men don’t DH. Jose Canseco is a DH. Jorge Posada is a man. I’m not OK with it.”

What Georgie said:

“I’ll catch. I’ll catch. I’ll catch this year. I’ll DH and then they’re going to want me to catch one of those days. I’m keeping an open mind. I would love to catch. I’m training like I always do, and if I have to catch, I’ll catch.”

What Georgie meant:

“I’ll catch. I’ll catch. I’ll catch this year. If I have to do Girardi’s laundry, cook his lunch, pay his orthodontist bill, I’ll do it. I’ll do anything, you hear me? I’m keeping an open mind, and by “open mind,” I mean a closed mind. I’m training like I always do, but that’s mostly because I have to stay cut up for Laura, my insanely hot wife. I’ll catch. I’ll catch. I’ll catch. I’ll catch. I’ll catch.”

What Georgie said:

“Derek’s a shortstop and Derek’s not going to move to another position. He hasn’t even started playing this year and you’re talking about four years from now. You can’t see the future.”

What Georgie meant:

“Have you seen Jeter’s new house? They’re calling it Jetropolis. Well, no they’re not, but I am. The place is insane. You can mark my words: If he invites me, I’ll never leave. I’ll show up with Laura and the kids and we’ll just bunker down like Cousin Eddie from the Vacation movies. The place is so big he won’t even know we’re there…but seriously, I don’t want to be the DH.”

Dan Hanzus writes three columns a week on his New York Yankees site, River & Sunset. He can be reached at Follow Dan on Twitter @danhanzus.

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New York Yankees: David Cone Returns To YES, Tino Martinez Kills With Trident

One of the aspects of Yankees fandom that I’d like to delve into more in 2011 is the media coverage of the team, particularly on the television end.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to turn into a crusty old curmudgeon like Phil Mushnick, yelling at Al Leiter to stop leaving bags of poop on my front porch. At least not yet.

The telecast is the filter by which most fans not attending the games experience the Yankees, and seeing how I enjoy making inappropriate inferences about both Ken Singleton’s hairline and Kim Jones’ personal life, I think it’s time to bring these thoughts to a public forum.

Today, we’ll take a look at some recent news out of the YES broadcast booth.

We learned from Joel Sherman on Tuesday that David Cone has either agreed or is in talks to return to YES for 25 games this season. Cone, if you recall, provided smart and candid analysis for the network from 2008-09. Perhaps too smart and candid it turned out, as his exit was tied to organizational discontent with opinions deemed to be too negative at times.

Let’s try to glance over the disconcerting nature of that reality for a second, and instead celebrate the dual good news of Yankee brass coming to its senses as well as Cone’s return likely coming at the expense of his overmatched replacement, Tino Martinez.

As a Donnie Baseball disciple, Tino will always hold an undeserved black place in my heart. But just to be clear here, said darkened valve has nothing to do with my satisfaction about his presumed ouster. That’s actually more on account of Martinez having the on-camera savvy of Brick from Anchorman. “I don’t know what we’re yelling about!”

Anyway, I’m excited that Cone will be back. I quite like Michael Kay as play-by-play man, but Singleton is a bit dry and John Flaherty can be annoying with the incessant references to his middling playing career. Hey Flash, no offense, but you weren’t Carlton Fisk.

Lastly, say this for Cone: Not many guys can have a “Sex scandals” sub-section in their Wikipedia profile and still come off as an affable and decent human being. Not bad, Coney. Not bad at all.

If you have thoughts on the YES guys or even the 400-year-old invincible behemoth of the transistor radio they call John Sterling, please share your feelings in the comment section or at

Stray observations…

  • I’m not sure if the Yankees have thought this far ahead, but putting the beefy Bartolo Colon on the same team as fellow trans-fat enthusiast Andruw Jones probably isn’t the best idea. This would be like asking a recovering coke addict to live in the studio with Oasis during the recording of Be Here Now. You’re just begging for a relapse.
  • I’m starting to wonder if Brian Cashman is in the midst of some kind of WWE heel turn. First, he takes a few cheap shots at Derek Jeter during the shortstop’s contract negotiations. Then he gets all passive-aggressive to the media regarding management at the Rafael Soriano press conference. Now he’s tweaking the captain again, unnecessarily speculating the battle plan for booting Jeter from shortstop at a WFAN breakfast event. If this ends with Cashman super-kicking Hal Steinbrenner through the Barber Shop window I’m going to be very excited.
  • Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez are teammates again, having signed on with the Rays to entertain the dozens of die-hards in attendance at Tropicana Field in 2011. I was surprised the Yankees didn’t take a closer look at Ramirez, until I remembered a) he’s an aging doofus of a human and b) he might make Marcus Thames look like Ichiro in the outfield.
  • Some baseball people apparently still believe Andy Pettitte will pitch for the Yankees this season. “Why would he be working out if he’s not playing?” I’m conflicted since I already purchased my official Mark Prior jersey.
  • Derek Jeter was reportedly working out in a batting cage on Wednesday. This may be the least newsworthy item of information you will ever come across.
  • Well, besides this. I’m telling you, Hank is going to bring down the Yankees. I’m thinking it will be a power-of-attorney type snafu, like how Paulie lost Stallone’s fortune in Rocky V. Man, that movie sucked.

Dan Hanzus writes three columns a week on his New York Yankees site, River & Sunset. He can be reached at Follow Dan on Twitter @danhanzus.

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