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Where Cliff Lee Will Sign if He’s NOT Gonna Be a Yankee

“Come on Mr. Lee and do your stuff
Come on Mr. Lee and do your stuff
‘Cause you’re gonna be mine
‘Til the end of time”

By Eric Marmon

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports recently tweeted (and the NY Sports Digest re-tweeted…why haven’t you signed up for our Twitter account yet?) that there are seven to eight teams interested in Cliff Lee.

Unfortunately for NY Sports fans, the Yankees can only be one of them.

Let’s dissolve one myth first: No team in Major League Baseball is going to offer Cliff Lee as much money as the New York Yankees.

Truthfully, there are small countries that couldn’t offer Lee the kind of money the Yankees will be able to. They may not offer him a blank check in the same way they did for CC Sabathia two years ago, but they are expected to offer him a deal that would make him the richest pitcher in baseball.

On top of that, no franchise will be able to offer the same year-after-year consistency the Bronx Bombers can. If Lee signs a six-year contract with any other team, he’ll have no idea whether that franchise will be buyers or sellers five years down the road.

In the Bronx, Lee knows every season is championship-or-bust. The only other franchise that can promise a similar guaranteed-contender status year after year might be Boston, but even they can’t be put on the same tier as the Yankees.

So if the Yanks money can’t be matched, and their year-by-year consistency can’t be matched either, Lee in pinstripes should be a done deal. And yet it’s not, and most pundits predict a deal won’t be made until sometime between Thanksgiving and the Winter Meetings.

Is this just your basic negotiating timetable? Or is Lee looking for something more than what the Yankees can offer?

Or is his wife just calling the shots?

Whatever the case, the smart money is still on Lee opening the 2011 MLB season in Yankee pinstripes. But for all those who like to overanalyze (we sure do), here’s a look at the other potential landing spots for Clifton Phifer Lee.

The Texas Rangers

Well, duh.

Considering the Rangers defeated the Yankees twice this past season (once when they acquired him from Seattle at the trade deadline, and again in the ALCS), a switch from Arlington to The Bronx could be interpreted as a step down.

But let’s be serious; signing with the Yankees has never been, and never will be, seen as a “step down.”

That being said, the franchise is in the best financial state it’s probably ever experienced, with new ownership headed by former New York Met Nolan Ryan. The Hall of Fame pitcher-turned-owner has publically stated his team will be aggressive in trying to re-sign Lee, so don’t be surprised if the contract they offer is enough to purchase a dozen small islands.

Also, any news you hear claiming the Texas state income taxes are negligible is false. Besides, the amount of endorsement-dough Lee could bring in playing in NY completely neutralizes that, anyway.

On paper, the Rangers are the favorite to re-sign the Ace…the favorite behind the Yankees, that is.


The Washington Nationals

Think back to the winter of 2008.

Brian Cashman and the Yankees were parading AJ Burnett and CC Sabathia around like Carl Paladino with a baseball bat, while the lowly Washington Nationals were in a bidding war with the Baltimore Orioles for the services of former Maryland resident Mark Teixiera.

Although Cashman ended up swooping in and stealing Tex for himself, it was the first time the franchise formerly known as the Expos had flexed any sort of financial muscle.

Two years later, Nats GM Mike Rizzo has publically announced on several occasions his team will be targeting Lee. They have shown a willingness to offer the big paycheck, even if they’ve yet to put signatures on any.

And with slugger Adam Dunn looking to sign elsewhere, they’ll have even more of that unspent money to spend.

That being said, it still comes back to winning, something the Nats have yet to ever really do. Yes, a 1-2 punch of Lee and Stephen Strasburg will look nice…in 2015, if/when Strasburg returns from Tommy John surgery.

Look for Lee and his agent to look long and hard at a big-money contract from DC…then use it as leverage with Texas or New York.


The Boston Red Sox

They haven’t said whether they have or haven’t contacted the free-agent hurler.

And as we previously mentioned, they’re the only team that can promise a year-in and year-out championship-or-bust mentality similar to the Yankees. Not to mention, some pundits have concluded Lee actually loves sticking it to the Yankees.

And obviously, no team offers a better opportunity to do that than the Sawks.

But their rotation is already pretty crowded with Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Josh Beckett, Dice-K and John Lackey already under contract for 2011. Throw in Tim Wakefield (also under contract for next year) and they’ve already got one-too-many.

Plus prospects Felix Doubront and Michael Bowden seem ready for their shots at starting in the bigsopportunities not likely to come unless two or three of the “Big Six” suffers an injury.

Yes, it’s a league based on pitching, pitching, pitching. But if Boston signed Cliff Lee, they’d be the first team in MLB history to have too much of it.

Barring a major trade, Cliff Lee won’t be in Boston.

The Philadelphia Phillies

This might be the biggest Wild Card in the Cliff Lee sweepstakes.

Lee has publically declared, on several occasions, how much he enjoyed playing in Philly as well as the atmosphere in the team’s locker-room…endorsements he didn’t offer about Seattle or Texas.

Additionally, Phils GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has shown he’ll do whatever it takes to get his man. And nobody knows this better than Lee himself, who was jettisoned to Seattle as part of the fall-out when the team acquired Roy Halladay from Toronto.

Allegedly, they’ve reached the limit on their budget. But don’t sleep on Amaro pulling off something crazy.

The Houston Astros

SI’s Jon Heyman said Houston has thrown their hat into the mix.

They’ve shown a willingness to overpay pitchers in the past (see Roy Oswalt). With their former ace now throwing up north, they should be in the market for a replacement.

That being said, there have been rumors that Cliff Lee hates pitching in the South during the summer months (rumors he vehemently denied). Regardless of whether they’re true or not, one can only wonder; if he’s going to re-sign in Texas, why not do it with the Rangers?

The Los Angeles Dodgers

Any discussion about who is after Lee has included LA, although they still have ownership issues, and according to Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post they’ve already targeted right-hander Brandon Webb.

It would appear the only way Don Mattingly gets to manage Lee is if/when he gets his well-deserved shot managing the Yankees.

The New York Mets

What? Yeah, sure, why not?

New general manager Sandy Alderson has said the Mets will be conservative spenders under his watch. But for Cliff Lee, they should make an exception.

And considering the Wilpons were the only people in the world that made money off Bernie Madoff, they have no built-in financial excuse not to.

Signing Lee would be a huge victory for the Mets on a series of different fronts. One, it would give them arguably the best 1-2 punch in the Majors if/when Johan Sanatana is able to return.

And not only would it help them stack up against the Big Three in Philly, it would also crush the Philadelphia fanbase, having to go up against the former Cy Young winner who is still beloved on Broad Street.

And if you think it would sting Phils fans, imagine the burn it would give Yankee supporters. Fans of the Bronx Bombers have had their eyes on Lee almost as long as Knicks fans were eyeing LeBron (Almost).

At least King James ran off to Miami, far, far, away. Can you imagine the backlash if Cliff Lee took his talents to Queens?

This article originally appeared on The NY Sports Digest. If it’s off-beat and it’s about the Mets, Yankees, Knicks, Giants, Jets, Islanders, or Rangers, then The Digest is the spot to get it.

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CC Sabathia, King Felix, Price and More: The 2010 American League Cy Young Race

By Mark C. Rinaldi

There are five American League pitchers who are truly deserving of the Cy Young Award. The award is given to the best pitcher, but personally I feel there should be some worth placed on the players value to the team.

For example, Zack Greinke is a great pitcher, but the Royals could have finished in last place without him. Here are my predictions to how the voting will shape out.

But before we get to the top five, lets take a look at the outsiders, in alphabetical order.

Cliff Lee—Lee was less than spectacular with Seattle, and he took his time getting assimilated to the heat in Texas. But the Rangers would have been watching the playoffs from their La-Z-Boys without him.

Carl Pavano—He is the best pitcher on a team that easily won its division. He won 17 games and was among the league leaders in innings pitched, but his success still reminds me of his time in pinstripes.

Rafael Soriano—Soriano was the closer for the best team during the AL regular season. He had more saves then anyone else in the AL, and down the stretch, when he came in the game for the Rays, it was as good as over.

Justin Verlander—Verlander had another impressive season worthy of Cy Young consideration. But overall, his numbers weren’t good enough to get any votes, especially since he played for third-place team. 

Jered Weaver—Weaver pitched well for a team that was below .500, so even though he ate up innings and had an ERA of three, the team’s performance was not good enough to say he had any significant value on any playoff race.


And now, the Big Five:

5. Clay Buchholz—Buchholz finished second in the AL in ERA, and he was among the league leaders in wins. He missed some starts during the season, and never truly established himself as a big-game pitcher.

So though he looked good on a stat sheet, with the Red Sox not making the playoffs, he may be out of the top vote-getters for the Cy Young.

4. Jon Lester—The Red Sox have two postseason heroes in Josh Beckett and John Lackey, but Lester somehow established himself as the best pitcher (and maybe best player) in Boston this year.

His 19 wins finished second to only the Yankees’ CC Sabathia, but Boston finished third in the division. So as good as he was, he wasn’t good enough to crack the league’s elite.

Plus, when two candidates come from the same team, they always tend to split the vote.

3. Felix Hernandez—Without a doubt, Hernandez had the best statistical season of any pitcher in the major leagues.

But thanks to the fact he played on the American League’s worst team, he only went 13-12. So even though he led the league in several categories such as ERA, innings and strikeouts, he only comes away with the bronze.

2. CC Sabathia—For the first time in his career, CC won more than 20 games. His 21 victories tied for the lead in the majors, but he gave up more hits and runs then anyone else on this list.

That being said, the man is a horse. He pitched more innings than just about everyone else, and in most games he threw well over a 100 pitches, giving the Yankees a legitimate chance to win every time he took the ball.

1. David Price—As good as his stats are, Price gets the nod over CC for two reasons. First, the good old “eye test”. If you watched any of the games where CC and Price squared off, Price was a more impressive looking pitcher.

Second, the Rays beat out the Yankees in the division, and if value to the team’s final standing is taken into consideration for the award, then Price’s team’s accomplishment will help him win his first Cy Young.

This article originally appeared on The NY Sports Digest. If its off-beat and it’s about the Mets, Yankees, Knicks, Giants, Jets, Islanders, or Rangers, than The Digest is the spot to get it. Stop with the mega-sites and get a feel for the true pulse of New York at


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Chuck Greenberg Bashes New York Yankee Fans: Why Are We All So Shocked?

By Shani Muschel

Do you call yourself a sports fan, especially a New York sports fan? Then unless you’ve been living under a large rock covered by a large building in Timbuktu, you’ve been hearing about Rangers’ owner Chuck Greenberg’s ‘outlandish’ criticism of Yankee fans this week.

Still haven’t got the memo?

Then let me break it down for you. In a guest spot on ESPN radio, Greenberg publicly called out Yankee fans, bashing them for their poor behavior this offseason.

“I thought Yankee fans, frankly, were awful,” Greenberg told ESPN. “They were either violent or apathetic, neither of which is good. So I thought Yankee fans were by far the worst of any I’ve seen in the postseason. I thought they were an embarrassment.”

Greenberg swiftly followed up his statement with a call to Hal Steinbrenner in which he apologized for his remarks (presumably at the behest of one Mr. Bud Selig). Because how dare someone take a swing at the holy Yankee establishment and get away with it.

I can’t help but feel like there is a lot of misplaced outrage over this whole ordeal. Let’s all make sure that we’re thinking logically here. Why the upheaval? Is anyone really surprised by these comments? The only real argument anyone can make is the fact that the comments were made by another team owner on the radio, and that was probably not the smartest thing to do. This can be looked at as slightly surprising and disappointing.

But can any Yankee fan or NY sports fan say that they honestly disagree with what was pointed out by Greenberg?

Let’s face it. The guy was spot on. I’ve been a Mets fan since about 2006, but I spent a large part of my life worshipping the Evil Empire (long story that involves my fanatic Mets fan husband, a panel of wise men also fanatic Mets fans. And the dissolution and swearing off of a particular fandom, not a story for right now).

I’ve gone to many a Yankee game, and while I personally have never witnessed or experienced any violent behavior, I have to say, I can’t really argue with either assessment, violence or apathy. When it comes down to it, the Yankee fan base is made up of three parts apathetic executive/rich guy and one part drunk frat-guy bleacher creature, with maybe a sprinkle of fathers and sons thrown in.

What do I mean by that? Let’s dissect the statement, shall we?

The whole lower bowl of Yankee Stadium is filled with men still in their business suits and ties, coming to the game straight from work, who got the tickets from their company and are either conducting a business meeting with clients in the seats or tapping furiously away at their Blackberry’s.

The Yankees are lucky if they get the faintest of “woos” from these guys. Most likely they have no clue what’s even going on in the game and are using it as a means to escape their wives and kids for another couple of hours. This is the definition of apathy, and the high ticket prices at Yankee stadium will only continue to draw this kind of “fan” to the exclusion of the real, true, hardworking middle class fans who are stuck sitting at home rooting for their team (if they are lucky enough to have a cable provider who actually carries FOX) because they have been priced out.

This is why the Yankees have apathetic fans. It is of their own greedy doing, and the reason why Greenberg’s comments stung so badly is because they know it’s true.

Now let’s examine the “violent” characterization.

Again, if we’re really being honest, can we truly disagree with him? Take recent events for example. Has any team ever had to outlaw certain fan cheers in their stadiums? Yes, actually, come to think of it, another team that plays right across the river, the New York Jets, whose fans equal supplanted Bleacher Creatures during baseball offseason/football season, had to do just that.

Come on, just admit it.

The Bleacher Creatures are awful human beings. They’re rude, obnoxious, elitist, mean and extremely disrespectful, and they truly are an embarrassment to an organization that values pride and class above all else. The Yankee organization has looked the other way for too long.

Maybe instead of all the misplaced outrage and empty apologies in response to Greenberg’s comments, the Yankees should be using this constructive criticism as an impetus to finally take a good look at what goes on in their stadium and work to make some changes to improve fan experience at their games, so that every paying patron, even (Heaven Forbid!) non-Yankee fans, can come away from the game with a good taste in their mouth instead of full of beer.

Clearly, this is not the first time Yankee fans, specifically the Bleacher Creatures, have been called out on their despicable behavior. The only distinction here is who actually did the calling out. And if it takes a public figure in Chuck Greenberg standing up to get the Yankee fans to finally clean up their act, I say good for you Mr. Greenberg, for having the you-know-what to stand up publicly and face off against the almighty Empire. It’s about time.

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.

This article originally appeared on The NY Sports Digest. If its off-beat and it’s about the Mets, Yankees, Knicks, Giants, Jets, Islanders, or Rangers, than The Digest is the spot to get it. Stop with the mega-sites and get a feel for the true pulse of New York at

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Hal Steinbrenner Disrespects Derek Jeter

At the end of the day, it’s a business. That’s the line always thrown out during any player’s contract negotiations, especially when the player is a fan favorite and a longtime resident. That said, if there was ever a guy bigger than the business, Derek Jeter would be it.

However, during an interview with Michael Kay on 1050 ESPN, Hal Steinbrenner gave the impression that there would be no special treatment for the Yankee Legend:

“There’s always the possibility that things could get messy,” Steinbrenner said. “We absolutely want him back. We absolutely want [Mariano Rivera] back. They’re career Yankees. But having said that, we’re running a business here. So if there’s a deal to be done, it’s going to be a deal that both sides are happy with.”

Hopefully, people won’t blow this out of proportion (which may be a little hypocritical of us, considering the headline). This just seems like basic negotiating tactics. If you want to get heated because you think Jeter deserves better than media-posturing, that’s fair, but please don’t take this to mean Jeter will be snagging grounders somewhere else next season.

The two sides will come to an agreement, and a deal will eventually happen. Derek Jeter will be the Yankees starting shortstop in 2011, and his Hall of Fame bust will have nothing but “Yankees” written from 1996 to the year he ends up leaving the game for good.

So stop with the posturing and the radio shows and the silly comments, and just get this deal done already.

This article originally appeared on The NY Sports Digest. If it’s offbeat and it’s about the Mets, Yankees, Knicks, Giants, Jets, Islanders or Rangers, then The Digest is the spot to get it. Stop with the mega-sites and get a feel for the true pulse of New York at



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New York Yankees Offseason Questions (and Answers)

OK Yankee fans. No more thoughts about the loss. The time for looking forward is now. We’ve already discussed Girardi’s fresh new contract, as well as looked at some of the players YOU want gone and the main reason why Cliff Lee won’t be allowed to come to New York.

But we know you need to move on, and trust us, we do to. So, to help us start thinking about our 2011 New York Yankees, we sat down with MLB Pitch Effects Auditor Stephen Florival to talk about some of the biggest questions still spinning the heads of Yankee fans.


Was the 2010 NYY season a success?

Steph: Normally championship or failure is the status quo in Yankee land, however the 2010 season was a failure for other reasons.  The manner in which Texas ousted the pinstripes was alarming.  The Yankees were thoroughly out-pitched and out-hit and also looked the part of an old, worn down team.  Many of the team’s issues could be credited back to a lackluster offseason, which included acquiring first baseman Nick Johnson and Starting Pitcher Javier Vazquez as key cogs for a defending champ.


With A-Rod and DJ in their late-30s, how defensively sound is the left side of the Yankees infield in 2011?

Steph: Just a year ago the Yankees were statistically the best defensive infield in baseball. Alex Rodriguez still shows flashes of an above-average to good glove at the hot corner, however Jeter’s skills have quickly eroded at the age of 36.  2009 was a revelation year for the Captain, as he spent all offseason to recreate himself as a defensive shortstop.  At this point of his career, you wonder if he can possibly reinvent himself again with the lack of tread on his tires.  His range is severely limited and pales in comparison to average defensive shortstops in baseball.


What length contract does Mariano get? Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Steph: Mariano Rivera continues to dominate baseball with one pitch and will be the ripe age of 41 on Opening Day 2011.  Mariano figures to receive a two to three-year deal with an annual salary similar to his 2010 figure of $15 mil per year. If Rivera were to fall off, the Yankees figure to still have a manageable closer.  In today’s baseball, that probably equals the contract Rivera appears to be heading towards.


Does Andy Pettitte come back? Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Steph: My prediction is we have seen the last of Andy Pettitte in pinstripes.  Midway through July, Pettitte was having a renaissance year.  A sub-3 ERA, 11-plus wins and an All-Star caliber year at age 38.  A groin injury sidelined him for a couple months and after the playoffs Manager Joe Girardi revealed that Pettitte battled leg and back injuries in the postseason.

When asked about his future plans following the Yanks season ending loss, Pettitte responded, “I wish I could tell you.”  Well I’m telling you all that Pettitte’s career has come to an end, and I am correct then the Yankees will greatly miss his big game experience, veteran leadership and stability.  Should Pettitte retire, the winner clearly is Cliff Lee, as the Yankees would be desperate for starting pitching.  Which brings up the question…


What happens if the Yankees can’t sign Cliff Lee?

Steph: Paired with Andy Pettitte retiring, this would be a nightmare scenario for the Yankees.  The Yanks would have a rotation of Sabathia, Burnett, Hughes and not much else.  The Yankees will undoubtedly offer Lee more money than anyone else by a wide margin.

However, let’s say Lee is infatuated by the young vibrant Texas Ranger clubhouse and accepts a lesser deal to play in a place he loves.  The drop-off from there is dramatic.  The Royals have stated they will entertain offers for Zach Greinke, but you wonder if a person who suffered from social anxiety disorder just a couple years ago will fit in the media mad house of New York.  The free agent pitching market doesn’t bear much other rich fruit as its top prize.  Beyond Lee, the top starters available will be Bronson Arroyo, Jon Garland and Hiroki Kuroda.


Was 2010 a hiccup or a trend for Derek Jeter’s offense?

Steph: 2010 featured Jeter’s season career lows in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.   He hit 44 points below his career average.  The answer lies between Jeter’s 2010 output and the production from years of past. Derek Jeter has visibly lost bat speed and his trademark inside-out opposite field hitting has made infrequent appearances.  Experts ripped Jeter’s defense in 2008, and the next year he followed a below average defensive year with a Gold Glove-caliber year. Naysayers will predict doom and gloom this offseason which will fuel the Yankee Captain to return as close to form as possible at his age.


Will we ever see the 2007 Joba again?

Steph: In a word, no.  The mystique and intimidation factor has dissipated, and Joba’s fastball lacks the extra giddy-up of when he first came on the scene.  He started 2010 as the Yankees setup man. He finished as arguably the Yankees third or fourth choice in relief.


Does Posada play more games at C or DH in 2011?

Steph: At this point of his career, Jorge Posada is best served as a DH who catches in the range of 40-60 games a year.  Teams such as the Rangers and Rays knew they could run all day on Posada, and the defensive skills which were average in his prime have eroded to below mediocre.  Posada is more valuable to the Yankees as a borderline full-time DH to keep his bat fresh.


Is Joe Girardi the right guy for this team?

Steph: Girardi proved in 2009 he can handle the New York spotlight and push the right buttons for October success.  As critical as Yankees fans may be of Girardi, with the lack of timely hitting, and inconsistent quality starting pitching, the 2010 Yankees would not have won with Casey Stengel managing.


What changes do you expect for the 2011 Yankees?

Steph: Cliff Lee is the headline name for the Yankees.  A rotation topped by Lee and Sabathia will make the Yankees clear cut winners this off-season. A name to keep an eye on is Yankees minor league catcher Jesus Montero.  He’s regarded as a top-10 prospect in baseball.  He hits for average and features a powerful bat.  But at 6’4”, his size and athleticism behind the plate do not project him as a full-time catcher.  One way or another, he will be part of the 2011 Yankees lineup or he will be dangled to acquire a key contributor.  Montero was originally supposed to head to Seattle in a deal which would have landed the Pinstripes Cliff Lee.  Other notable names on the Yankee radar include Jayson Werth and Carl Crawford.  Also, middle relief must be addressed.


Who are the five guys in your 2011 rotation?

Steph: C.C Sabathia, Phil Hughes, A.J. Burnett, with the additions of Cliff Lee and Bronson Arroyo.

This article originally appeared on The NY Sports Digest. If it’s off-beat and it’s about the Mets, Yankees, Knicks, Giants, Jets, Islanders or Rangers, then The Digest is the spot to get it. Stop with the mega-sites and get a feel for the true pulse of New York at



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Jorge Posada Out, Jesus Montero In, and Other Moves Yankee Fans Want for 2011

By Eric Marmon

Interesting read in the NY Post today, which took at a poll on their official website asking fans of the New York Yankees who they want back in pinstripes in 2011. The most noticeable was, when asked who they wanted to start the majority of games behind the plate for the Bronx Bombers next season, Yankee lifer Jorge Posada received just 32.5 percent of the vote, while Triple-A phenom Jesus Montero received 67.5 percent.

New York’s displeasure with Posada doesn’t come as a complete shock. Of the Yankees “Big Four”, the catcher seems to be the least beloved. And the fact that he seemed physically unable to throw out base-stealers by the start of fall (a major necessity with guys like CC and AJ pitching), combined with his drop in production and 39-years-of-age make Jorge an easy target for fan frustration.

That being said, Montero is a complete unknown. Sure, he batted .289 with 21 home runs in Triple-A last season, but come on… the guy isn’t even old enough to drink yet. There is ZERO reason to believe he is ready to replace Posada. He’s kind of like how Brett Ratliff was viewed for the Jets a few years back.

Does Jorge Posada need to be replaced? Yes, if not in 2011, then beyond. But is the 20-year-old Jesus Montero ready for the role? Probably not. He’ll get a chance in spring training to compete for a spot on the 25-man roster, but it just feels like a guy his age would probably be best suited with more time in the minors.

Sorry fans. Look for the Yanks to either go with a Francisco Cervelli/Jorge Posada platoon for the majority of 2011, or to sign a veteran catcher to help Jorge out until Montero has fully developed.

Some other interesting things from the poll:

– While 87.1 percent of voters thought Derek Jeter should be the starting shortstop, voters in a separate poll weren’t really sure whether the Yankee captain should come back at all. Of nearly 16,500 voters, over 20 percent said the Yankees should let Jeter walk. [Just a reminder: this was an informal, unofficial poll on Mets fans (and everyone else) could vote too, which might explain the anti-DJ results]

– The closest vote was over who the primary designated hitter should be, with free-agent-to-be Adam Dunn getting 24.4 percent, Lance Berkman getting 19.3 percent, and guys like Marcus Thames, Hideki Matsui, Victor Martinez and—believe it or not—Manny Ramirez all within 10 percent of each other.

– Gardner not needed. When asked about center field, 86 percent of voters took Curtis Granderson over Brett Gardner, and when asked about right field, 57.4 percent wanted free-agent Carl Crawford over the speedy Gardner.

-And if you’re looking for one more sign that the 2009 honeymoon is long over for AJ Burnett, more fan votes went in favor of Javier Vazquez being the fifth starter over AJ.


This article originally appeared on The NY Sports Digest. If its off-beat and it’s about the Mets, Yankees, Knicks, Giants, Jets, Islanders, or Rangers, than The Digest is the spot to get it. Stop with the mega-sites and get a feel for the true pulse of New York at

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New York Mets GM Sandy Alderson is Just a New Omar Minaya

Like The Who said, “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”

Technically, your New York Mets have yet to officially name Sandy Alderson as the new General Manager, but that’s mostly out of respect for the World Series than anything else. Mets fans everywhere can rejoice as the hiring of Alderson is set to start a whole new era of Metropolitan baseball.

Or is it?

The “Sandy Plan” was the topic of an article in this mornings NY Post by Dan Martin. It’s a good read for any Mets fan who wants to know more about the new guy in charge and who had little interest in watching the Knicks open the season in Toronto. Even as a Yankees supporter, I recommend checking out the article.

That being said, the following quote from a former Alderson co-worker should come with a few red-flags:

“It’s a totally different job when you have the revenue to work with that he’ll have with the Mets,” one former associate said. “But having the background of having dealt with a lack of revenue will only help him now.”

Well, that’s all well-and-good, except that it sounds exactly like what was being said about the last guy who held the GM spot for the Mets. If you remember correctly, Omar Minaya was applauded for his ability to build a contending team in Montreal despite the Expos being owned by the other 29 teams and financial resources being, well, limited.

The prevailing thought was that if you just give Minaya the means, he’ll be able to build a champion. And by means, we mean dollas.

And we all know how that turned out.

Yet that’s the exact tune we are now hearing about Sandy Alderson. Grady Fuson, who worked with the Mets NEW general manager in both San Diego and Oakland, had this to say:

“He realizes that there are different expectations in New York,” Fuson said. “And that there should be no five-year rebuilding process when you have the resources the Mets do.”

So all of a sudden the Mets aren’t a rebuilding process? ‘Cause they have the money the Wilpons made off Bernie Madoff and a GM who won a World Series when the first George Bush was President?

I dunno, Met fans. Y’all love to jump down the Yankees throats, but it seems to me it’s your franchise that keeps repeating history. And unlike the history of New York’s CONTENDING Baseball team, the history of the New York Mets doesn’t seem like something worth repeating.


This article originally appeared on The NY Sports Digest. If its off-beat and it’s about the Mets, Yankees, Knicks, Giants, Jets, Islanders, or Rangers, than The Digest is the spot to get it. Stop with the mega-sites and get a feel for the true pulse of New York at

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Dr. Lou Tells Us How to Fix Baseball: Stop the Spitting

By Dr. Louis Marmon

Baseball has loads of issues. The bats shatter and impale baserunners. The games are too long, and so is the season. Since when is the World Series supposed to be played in November?

It is also clear that Bud Selig isn’t creative enough to figure out a way to effectively use instant replay. He claims that these issues require further study before he can make any changes since he doesn’t want to diminish the fans’ experience.

But there is one thing that Selig can do immediately that will enhance the game for everyone watching:

Stop the spitting.

Why is that every time the camera pans on a baseball player he is spitting something? Most of the time they aren’t chewing anything. There isn’t any gum, tobacco, chaw, pinch, snuff, seeds or any other substance in their mouths except their own natural secretions—which, at least the last time I checked, are not toxic except if they end up going on or into someone else.

It’s not like they are playing in a dust bowl and have to clear out the schmutz so they can breathe. I doubt coal miners spit as much as most ballplayers.

It is a behavior that would never be tolerated in any other location or environment. Can you imagine their mothers or wives condoning this at their homes? “It’s OK, dear, just park that hocker over there by the ottoman.” You can’t even get away with it on the street, let alone another public venue.

Spitting directly at someone during a game uniformly results in heavy fines, and it may have cost Roberto Alomar the chance to be a first ballot Hall-of-Famer. Not even spectators can do it without offending someone. In fact, some disreputable spitting Yankees fans may have cost the team the chance to sign Cliff Lee.

Spitting has become such an integral aspect of Major League Baseball that Little Leaguers and even female softball players can be seen launching loogies as they step into the batter’s box or onto the pitcher’s mound. Is that really the image we want our kids to emulate?

Tobacco use has been wisely curtailed in the minor leagues for years, which makes the persistent spitting in the majors even more of a mystery. You see it occasionally in football and other field sports, and boxers spitting into a bucket is iconic. But it almost never occurs in golf or tennis.

Is spitting a way to demonstrate masculinity? To mark territory or to prove that you are tough enough to play the game? It is certainly not a way to attract women—at least not the women I would find interesting.

There is little doubt that ritual spitting was an integral part of early baseball history. Mark Twain noted that there was more tobacco use the further south and west he traveled. By the 1800s tobacco chewing had declined in the Northeast and likely peaked in the US by the 1880s. But it persisted in baseball perhaps as a throwback to a more rural lifestyle.

As players switched to other forms of oral entertainment, like sunflower seeds or gum, the spitting persisted in large part because it was always associated with the game.

Spitting the last mouthful of water is almost understandable since many coaches mistakenly believed for years that drinking water was bad for performance and would lead to stomach cramps.

But it doesn’t make much sense right now.

Spitting is ugly, boorish, unsanitary, unnecessary and generally uncalled for since even those who feel compelled to consume sunflower seeds in the dugout can rid themselves of the husks into a cup rather than onto the ground.

It’s about time Selig raised the playing field above the level of a spittoon. It may even elevate the level of play.

Or, at the very least, the level of on-field behavior.


This article originally appeared on The NY Sports Digest. If its off-beat and it’s about the Mets, Yankees, Knicks, Giants, Jets, Islanders, or Rangers, than The Digest is the spot to get it. Stop with the mega-sites and get a feel for the true pulse of New York at

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New York Mets Fans: Meet Sandy Alderson

By Cooper L. Train

Congratulations, fans of the New York Mets. We have a new leader and he has a girls name.

Multiple new sources are revealing that the Mets have extended an offer to Richard Lynn “Sandy” Alderson to be the team’s next GM. No official announcement has been made yet, because Major League Baseball has a rule that no major moves are allowed to occur during the World Series. (You’ll remember in a similar instance, former Yankee owner George Steinbrenner elected to die during the All-Star Break on the only day during the summer no games are played, so that his passing wouldn’t interfere with day-to-day baseball activities.)

Many expect the Wilpons to get a special exemption from Bud Selig that would allow them to announce Alderson’s hiring on Friday, when the Rangers and Giants are off for a travel day.

Speaking of Bud Selig, the rumor going around is that Sandy Alderson came highly recommended by the dorky and often-despised commissioner of baseball which is kind of similar to the worst deli owner in history telling you what his favorite sandwich is. Sure, it may be a great sandwich. But it doesn’t mean a thing coming from him.

That being said, Alderson’s resume is impressive. Here’s just a few quick things we found on the Mets new GM:

“I trusted Sandy Alderson, and in this game, that’s huge… You always knew where you stood with Sandy, [and he] was always one of those guys who wasn’t afraid to think outside the box… He was all about making sure you think through everything before making the decision.  Sandy is a smart guy.  He’ll have a network of people he’ll bring in who will make that organization better if he gets the job.” -Kevin Powers, GM of the San Diego Padres when Alderson was Team CEO

From Yahoo! Sports:

“Alderson’s résumé is unmatched, having served as GM and later president of the Oakland Athletics from 1983 to 1997. With Alderson and manager Tony La Russa in the lead, the A’s teams of 1988-1992 with Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire and Dennis Eckersley won four division titles and reached three World Series — winning it all in ’89.

With Alderson as GM, the A’s also turned out three straight AL Rookies of the Year — Canseco, McGwire and Walt Weiss. Canseco wasn’t drafted by Alderson, but he should get credit for developing him. And those A’s teams were constructed every which way — draft, free agency, trades, etc.

If there’s a downside to Alderson, it’s that he hasn’t run day-to-day baseball operations since ’97, having served as CEO for the San Diego Padres until working for the commissioner’s office this past season.”

From MLB Trade Rumors:

“Alderson was a forward thinker in the A’s front office. He surrounded himself with people trained in quantitative analysis to make the most of the team’s resources.

The A’s, like the Padres, operate on a limited budget, so despite all of his time in the game, Alderson’s experience comes mostly from small West Coast markets. In fact he has a history of speaking out against massive contracts.”

Honestly, anything other than Isiah Thomas would have gotten us pumped. That being said, Alderson is an experienced guy with a history of success, and we’ve yet to read an opinion by anyone stating this was a bad decision. But let’s hear it from you, Mets fans. What are your expectations for the Sandy Alderson era?

This article originally appeared on The NY Sports Digest. If its off-beat and it’s about the Mets, Yankees, Knicks, Giants, Jets, Islanders, or Rangers, than The Digest is the spot to get it. Stop with the mega-sites and get a feel for the true pulse of New York at

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World Series 2010: Perseverance Works Out for Texas Rangers Ron Washington

After the Rangers advanced to the World Series Friday night, Rangers manager Ron Washington celebrated like a proud father. He ran around the field and hugged his players and his coaches. He enjoyed being soaked in champagne/ginger ale.

There was no doubt he enjoyed the moment because he knows how fortunate he is to be in this situation. He could have been out of a job in March or at the end of April.

Sports Illustrated reported that the Rangers manager tested positive for cocaine last year in March. This resulted in him doing a press conference where he apologized to players and management for his actions, and he volunteered to resign.

Fortunately for him, Rangers president of baseball Nolan Ryan rejected Washington’s resignation. He decided to let his beleaguered manager manage until such time that the players gave up on him.

After a mediocre April, there’s no question Washington was up at night worrying about his job. The Rangers played better in May and from there, the team took off. The Rangers were good enough to the point they took a chance in Cliff Lee, and the rest is history.

Washington not only led his team to the playoffs, but he is now four wins away from winning a championship.

This is a good story. This is why we watch sports. We like seeing characters out of people. We like to see if a coach or athlete bounces back from adversity.

His ability to lead through distractions shouldn’t be surprising. He gained experience from it going back to his first year as the Rangers manager.

In 2007, the Rangers were off to a rough start. Washington and Mark Teixeira bickered about the Rangers hitting philosophy. The Rangers manager wanted his petulant player to take better at-bats and go play small ball.

Teixeira took exception when the Rangers manager questioned his approach, and he started pouting. He decided to have his teammates rebel against Washington, and Washington got himself into a mess.

It was either going to be Washington or Teixeira staying. There was no way Teixeira was going to coexist with Washington, and it’s hard to believe Washington would survive if Teixeira stayed on.

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels traded Teixeira to the Braves. This gave Washington a chance to get his players back, and the guys played for him that year, despite a losing record.

The Rangers hired Nolan Ryan in 2008 to run the baseball operations. That means Daniels and Washington would have to do well in the 2008 season to have future employment.

Rangers got off to a rough start in April of 2008, and they were ready to fire Washington. If then-Rangers owner Tom Hicks was not out of the country to approve the firing, Washington would be looking for work now.

Washington bought himself some time when the Rangers won against the Twins the night he was supposed to be fired and from there, the team started to play better.

He received a short-term extension. There was no security. The message was Washington had to do it again in 2009.

He did just that when the Rangers had a winning record last year. Now, he will be getting a long-term extension from the Rangers after what he accomplished this year.

What helped Washington survive? His work ethic as a manager stood out. He taught his players how to play good baseball, and he molded the young players into stars.

Nelson Cruz, Elvis Andrus, Josh Hamilton and David Murphy are a good example of what Washington has done.

He never complained about how he was getting a bad deal from fans and several writers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. He did his job, and he never worried about it.

He’s old enough to know managers and coaches come and go. Managers never have a happy ending when it’s their time to go. Joe Torre found out the hard way with the Yankees.

He did his job and players respected him for it by playing for him.

Now, everything worked out: The Rangers feel good for sticking with Washington, Washington feels good his work has paid off and the players love playing for Washington.

Is he a good strategist? Probably not. Which manager is today? All Washington can do is put his players in a position to succeed, and it has shown in the last few years.

Will he ever win over his critics? Probably not. There are always fans who love to play the role of manager after every loss. It makes them feel so important.

But no one can take away what he has accomplished as the Rangers manager. Whether he stays for a long time, who knows? If he wins a championship, this would be a great story.

Everyone is happy for him, and rightfully so. The man is a class act.

He is the type of person that anyone would love to be friends with. He is an inspiring figure when he talks.

Know what’s neat about him? He has fun at his job. Just watch his reaction throughout the postseason in the dugout. He’s intense in a fun manner. He hugs his player for every good play out there. He shows genuine reaction.

One can’t help but smile, especially after this writer watches Yankees manager Joe Girardi act smug in the dugout as if he invented the game of baseball.

Often times in sports, the bad guys come out victorious. When teams featured talented punks, they often win in sports. It’s no wonder why Leo Durocher says nice guys finish last.

In this postseason, nice guys can finish first, and Washington showed that.


This article originally appeared on The NY Sports Digest. If its off-beat and it’s about the Mets, Yankees, Knicks, Giants, Jets, Islanders, or Rangers, than The Digest is the spot to get it. Stop with the mega-sites and get a feel for the true pulse of New York at

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