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The Problem With Yankees Ownership, Nassau Bid Fails, Daniel Murphy the Scapegoat, Lucas Duda, Six Man Rotation



By Mike Silva ~ August 2nd, 2011. Filed under: Morning Digest.

For as much progress the Yankees have made since the dysfunction of the eighties, you see a glimpse of how ownership has the potential to be a worry. Ken Rosenthal wrote this on Fox Sports yesterday:

The Yankees on Sunday made a play for Houston Astros lefty Wandy Rodriguez, but that push was driven by ownership, not Cashman, according to major-league sources. The Yankees were willing to pay $21 million of the $38 million remaining on the final three-plus years of Rodriguez’s contract, according to SI.com. The Astros, on the other hand, were willing to pay $2 million of Rodriguez’s salary this season or $5 million if his option for 2014 were exercised, sources said. But the teams, unable to bridge the financial gap, never even got to the point of discussing names.

I don’t think it’s a bad idea going after Wandy Rodriguez (depending on the price), but the quote “driven by ownership” would concern me. Last I looked Hal Steinbrenner, Randy Levine, or anyone on that Upper East Side Board of Directors hasn’t built a baseball team. They know luxury brands, financial power, and using the powerful Yankees name to get what they want. Those skills (if that is what you call it) do not translate to intelligent baseball decisions.

Brian Cashman was hired to make the baseball decisions. If he believes Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes, or Adam Warren are better options than Rodriguez, then you have to trust him. It’s the equivalent of me opening up a retail store, hiring a store manager, and then stepping in anytime a big decision needs to be made. Why don’t I just run it myself? You saw the brilliant baseball decisions made this winter by the Steinbrenner/Levine crowd when they forced Rafael Soriano down everyone’s throat. This was to show Yankees fans they were active in trying to improve the team.

An old High School teacher told me that “worry is like a rocking chair; it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere.” Making a move for the sake of “showing the fans you are active” is equivalent to a rocking chair. You think you are going somewhere, but you are always still in the same place. Sometimes it has a detrimental effect.

Cashman made a cryptic quote to Trenton Thunder beat reporter Mike Ashmore a few weeks ago about how “he has bosses.” If I were Cashman I would use the power of his free agency this winter to find a home free of the Upper East Side ownership. Get away from people that are more interested in selling Jim Beam Suites, then baseball.

Ownership is going to make a critical decision to cost the Yankees on the field. It’s not a matter of if; it’s a matter of when. They forget that good baseball decisions are what got them to the point where they can yield their financial muscle. The brand is because of baseball, not because of anything Randy Levine and company did.

***

The voters of Nassau County rejected a proposal yesterday that would have authorized the County to borrow $400 million dollars for construction of a new arena, a minor league baseball park and other economic development projects in the 77-acre Nassau hub area. There is a real chance the Islanders will leave Long Island after their lease expires in 2015. This also put a stop to a new Atlantic League baseball team that was going to play in the minor league baseball park that was part of the proposal.

I can’t blame the residents of Nassau County for their vote. Taxes are a very polarizing issue on Long Island, and quite frankly, are driving the middle class out of the area. As someone who owned a home in Suffolk County, where taxes are not quite as obtuse, it became a daily struggle to keep a home budget “balanced” when property taxes were going up significantly more than whatever income increases I realized. With the prices of food, utilities, oil, and other general cost of living expenses, it’s hard to justify spending on sports arenas.

With that said, I doubt this “no” vote will stop the County from raising the residents taxes. Other increases may be disguised in a way where it goes to education, but the reality is the Union wins in that case, not the students. In prior years, my school district asked for increases in spending for general administration jobs, maintenance, and infrastructure unrelated to educating students. Of course, it’s loosely connected to the students, but in a time where many families need that extra $16 dollars per $1,000 of property taxes to put gas in the car to go to work, it comes across as obtuse.

Knowing the tax fight is essentially a losing battle on Long Island it might have behooved the residents to authorize something that would go into economic development. The Islanders, shops, and sports stadiums are a better investment then, let’s say, two janitors for a job that requires one.

I suspect they will see just as big an increase in their property taxes even with the failed bid of the Nassau Coliseum. That makes everyone a loser last night.

***

Daniel Murphy is going to get blamed for last night’s 7-3 loss to Florida, but that is patently unfair. Murphy has made a few bonehead plays in the field the last week, but the guy is about a pure a hitter as we have seen around here in some time.  He is currently fourth in the National League in batting with his .320 batting average.

The story last night was how Florida’s Mike Stanton won the game. He threw out Jose Reyes at the plate in the fifth, and hit a grand slam off Jason Isringhausen to win it. If you want to go the scapegoat route, David Wright made another critical throwing error, and Angel Pagan didn’t backup Jason Bay on Omar Infante’s triple in the first. Those plays led to two runs, which would have made Lucas Duda‘s two run blast a game winner.

I have been a Murphy doubter in the past, but the kid works harder than anyone else on the team. He needs to start working smarter, but it hasn’t been easy considering he’s played left field, third base, second base, and first.

Everyday Murphy looks more like a pure number three hitter in the mold of Keith Hernandez or John Olerud. If he could master second base, he very well could become one of the best at that position in baseball.

Murphy’s production this year is right up there with top second baseman like Chase Utley and Robinson Cano.

***

In case you are wondering, Lucas Duda is hitting .341 with 3 homers and 9 RBI in the second half. His OPS is 1.126.

***

What should Joe Girardi do? Should he select Ivan Nova or Phil Hughes for the final spot in the rotation? Better yet, maybe he should do an extended audition in August and run with a six man rotation.

Moshe Mandel of The Yankee Analyst lays out this argument very well. This would give Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon some additional rest, and allow Girardi to evaluate Hughes and Nova ala Spring Training, but with regular season adrenaline and obviously during important games. It appears you wouldn’t lose more than 1 to 2 of CC Sabathia‘s starts, which Mandel points out isn’t a bad thing since he is on pace to exceed his career high innings pitched (253).

I am all for the six man rotation because the reality is the Yankees aren’t fighting for a playoff spot. They are a comfortable seven games ahead of Anaheim for the Wild Card. The Red Sox have their own pitching problems that will probably keep the AL East race tight the rest of the season. The division will probably come down to how the Yankees handle their mini September West Coast trip and subsequent weekend series at the Stadium versus the Red Sox.

A six man rotation will not prevent the Yankees from making the playoffs, nor will it lose them the division. With those facts comfortably in place it should be an easy decision for Girardi. Now it’s convincing this staff of veterans, who might not like their routines interrupted this late in the season.

What do you think?

***

Having Cliff Lee would make for a lethal 1-2 punch with CC Sabathia in the postseason. The only better 1-2 duo is what the Phillies currently have with Roy Halladay teaming up with Lee. The dark secret is that Lee hasn’t been all that great his first season back in Philadelphia. The overall numbers are decent (10-7, 3.21), but this includes the month of June where Lee was 5-0 with a 0.21 ERA. Without that month, Lee is 5-7, with a 4.22 ERA.

Now, don’t be fooled. Lee showed in June that he can get hot and carry a team for an extended period. He can be as good as anyone in the history of the game when it comes to the postseason. That is what the Yankees were willing to pay for. It’s what the Phillies are hoping for. The question is have we seen the Cliff Lee arc being the descent phase? Remember, this is a guy that was sent down to the minors in 2007. Considering the Phils signed him to a five year deal they better hope his best baseball is saved for October.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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8 Responses to The Problem With Yankees Ownership, Nassau Bid Fails, Daniel Murphy the Scapegoat, Lucas Duda, Six Man Rotation

  1. Chuck Johnson

    Trivia question.

    Who was the last drafted and signed Yankee pitcher to win 12 or more games in either his rookie or second season before Hughes last year?

    (This does not count El Duque, Irabu, or Wang, as they had pro experience before signing).

    How about Dave Righetti in 1983?

    Even if you lower the wins to ten, you still have to go back to Ramiro Mendoza in 1998.

    The Yankees inability to develop pitching is legendary.

    Just because George isn’t around anymore doesn’t mean the Steinbrenner philosophy of “buy, buy, buy” isn’t.

    Buy Ubaldo Jimenez. Buy Wandy Rodriguez. Buy Jason Marquis, or Ted Lilly or Eric Bedard.

    Sign Bartolo Colon and Freddie Garcia and Rafael Soriano.

    All this does is create a snowball effect..Nova is riding the Scranton/New York shuttle. So, too, is Hector Noesi, with a much less defined role.

    Instead of being in Triple A, your top two prospects are in Double A…on pitch counts.

    Hughes wins 18 games last year and for a short period of time was the stopper..not CC, not AJ, but Hughes.

    His reward? He loses his job in August because the idiots in the Yankee front office are concerned about his innings limit.

    THAT is what cost the Yankees in the ALDS..because Hughes lost some appearances and innings, which cost him command in the series.

    I know I’m in the minority, but I’m not a big believer in the talent level currently in the system, especially pitching.

    There isn’t one guy in the entire organization with a ceiling higher than Hughes, or even Ian Kennedy.

    And we’ll never find out either, because as they’ve done for the last thirty some years, the Yanks will either stifle their development, or trade them for an overpriced veteran with a name.

    I’ve been a Yankee fan for 45 years, and I can honestly say I have never been more frustrated with the current situation and long term success of the team than I’ve been the last two years.

    When George bought the team, almost the first thing he did was upgrade Yankee Stadium. Then he started throwing cash at guys like Catfish, Reggie, Goose and Winfield and the team was successful for awhile.

    Then, for whatever reason, the well ran dry. Whether it was a drying up of the free agent talent pool, or guys just deciding dealing with George’s drama wasn’t worth it, the team became less successful, and didn’t have the minor league talent to fill in.

    If I’m Robbie Cano, I’m looking around the clubhouse and seeing the older, aging guys who in five years will be either gone or Andruw Jones, and I’m thinking of where I want to play the rest of my career.

  2. Ralph C

    How about Andy Pettite in his second season (21 wins in 1996)?

  3. Chuck Johnson

    Right, Ralph.

    The original draft said, “not named Andy Pettitte” but was lost in editing.

  4. Frank Russo

    I know the Steinbrenner’s were behind the Soriano signing, but Cashman needs to take the blame for the Feliciano mess, and for not having the forsight to have a plan B beyond Cliff Lee this past off-season.

  5. Samuel

    “I know the Steinbrenner’s were behind the Soriano signing, but Cashman needs to take the blame for the Feliciano mess, and for not having the forsight to have a plan B beyond Cliff Lee this past off-season.”

    All Feliciano’s injury did was cost dollars. That is why it is not that big of a deal. Plenty of other lefties available if the Yankees really wanted to get one.

    Neither was the Kei Igawa signing a big deal. It was just money and no kids like Ian Kennedy or Dan McCutchen or Jeff Karstens were lost in a trade .

    And plan B behind Cliff Lee? What else was available last off season? Jon Garland, Carl Pavano, Ted Lilly and other scrubs like that? Lilly is 7-10 with an ERA over 5.00 in the NL West.

    LILLY SUCKS. So does Garland and Pavano and others of that ilk.

    Is that what you losers want for your rotation? The Yankees already have one in AJ Burnett. They don’t need another.

    And trades are out, because the only pitchers a team SHOULD trade for are ACES who are going to make your team significantly better. Not back rotation losers who are overpaid.

    They are not getting Weaver, Verlander, Felix or anyone like that via a trade. STOP IT ALREADY! It’s not happening!

    Stop thinking about veteran retreads and start believing in the farm system. Kids should fill the back end last two spots at all times so they get experience to get better so they can work their way up. Bring ‘em up and let them pitch.

    Nova has outpitched Burnett and I have no doubt that Noesi would have better numbers than AJ, too with the same # of starts.

    This year should have had Hughes and Nova full time in the rotation and just let them pitch. Noesi should have been killing in Triple A to fill in if a starter missed time with an injury.

    Plus, Colon and Garcia are pitching better than any of the other guys you could have gotten in a trade or free agency.

  6. Robbie bennett

    Daniel Murphy shouldn’t get the blame for Monday Night’s loss to the Marlins. Daniel is not a natural first baseman like Ike Davis is. He has been a great bat in the lineup and has been an average fielder. He also is a young player and has played all over the in-field except shortstop. They are just looking for ways to get him in the lineup.

    http://sportstalkwithrob.wordpress.com/ take a look at my blog!!

  7. Benny

    Mike:

    I want to correct you on some facts courtesy of my parents who live in Clarkstown in Rockland County.

    1) As of July 1,2011 property taxes in New York state will now be capped at 2% or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. (This was part of the budget passed this year in New York State). For anything above this rate, the voters in the municipality or county would have at least 60% of the total voters in that election. This also includes school property taxes.

    2) The agreement was not finalized between Nassau County and the Islanders. My parents are subscribers to Cablevision and they get access to to Newsday. This is in Newsday. The article headline is “Lease details not final before arena vote” written on July 16 by Ted Phillips. Mike, how could you vote for something where the agreement was not even finalized? What if the voters passed this referendum and Mangano decides to give Wang a sweetheart lease agreement. The link I sent you two weeks ago from the Nassau County website detailing the TENTATIVE agreement between the Islanders and County was so one sided against the taxpayers and favored Wang, that no way would I vote for an agreement like this.

    3: Again I point to a link I sent you about two weeks ago from the Wall Street Journal on how the voters of Hamilton County in Ohio were taken to the cleaners by both the Cincinnati Reds and Bengals after their palaces (I meant stadiums) were built. I guarantee you this would have happened in Nassau County.

    And now an opinion: I believe Mike Francesa played a part in this. The interview with Chuck Wang is still on the YES website. If you listened to the interview please tell me how one would then go out and vote for this!

    PS:

    The Jimenez deal will either elevate Mike Chernoff’s career around MLB or sink with Cleveland Indians

  8. Mike Silva

    Benny

    Thanks for all your contributions on the Nassau County vote. I know Chris Botta was on WFAN with Marc Malusis and mentioned how this deal, even if it passed, would have to go through NIFA and the Legislature. Not sure that would happen. Again, as a LI resident, I know how burdensome taxes can be. It’s almost the price to pay not to deal with the BS of NYC. I thought the property tax cap would be surperseded by this (at least what I read it seemed like it). The whole taxation process is so confusing and has yielded a distrust among the LI constituents I don’t blame them for turning it down. Of course, an empty Coliseum might not be a good alternative.

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