Along with the news that Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon are reuniting to join the Rays comes word that Damon will be paid a $750,000 performance bonus. I’m not even going to attempt to make a bad joke about performance.
(Okay, I just did. Sorry about that.) Anyhow, I’m wondering how the Rays will determine whether or not Johnny earns his $750,000 in 2011. Will the bonus be based on the number of tickets sold throughout the course of the season or the number of bodies that actually show up at the Trop? If so, how would they attribute the totals to Damon, as opposed to any other player? Or maybe it has to do with how many Damon jerseys they move? How many bobble head dolls? I don’t mean to be deliberately obtuse. I just don’t get it. Can someone explain?
As for the Angels’ acquisition of Vernon Wells, I’m glad he’s out of the AL East. He may be a streaky player for whom Anaheim overpaid, but he always seemed to do damage against the Yankees and I’m not sorry to see him go west.
Meanwhile, we head into another weekend without answers for our rotation. I remain mystified by this. Yes, Yankee fans are spoiled, used to having our pick of the best guys available, blah blah blah. So what. We’ve long moved past the years when Andy Hawkins and Dave LaPoint were our aces. We deserve better. Right, Hal? Look at me. I’m talking to you.
Before we get to Cliffy, raise your hand if you watched the Jeter press conference today?
Here’s what jumped out at me about the presser, which I watched on the MLB Network at 11:30 California time.
#1. Jeter was the only one who came dressed for the occasion. Loved the suit, the shirt, the tie. Good job by Jeet on his wardrobe choices, but why did all the other guys have to look like schlubs?
#2. Jeter was emotional (for him) when he got up to speak – and not in a good way. You could tell how angry he was at the Yankees for making the negotiations public. He said as much, but there was also a chilliness to his words. I’m sure it’ll all be fine, but I’m glad he was honest about his feelings.
#3. Nobody on the dais but Girardi and Jeter spoke. Couldn’t Hal have said a few words on behalf of ownership? Seriously?
#4. Cashman kept glancing at his phone while Jeter was talking. I found it annoying. Granted, he’s in the middle of the winter meetings and Cliff Lee’s future is hanging in the balance, but still. Show a little respect, dude.
Speaking of Lee, supposedly there are a couple of teams actually willing to give him a 7 year deal (maybe or maybe not including those free-spending Nationals). Will the Yankees make him an offer already or must we gnaw on our fingernails for the foreseeable future?
Hopefully, my Operation Cliff Lee Countdown will speed things along. For tonight’s video, I picked a recap of Game 3 of the ALCS against the Rangers – a game we lost, obviously – during which Doug Mientkiewicz (if you’ve read my She-Fan book you know why I have a special affection for the former Yankees first baseman) waxes poetic about Lee. Take a look.
Here are some of Mientkiewicz’s quotes about Cliffy that especially caught my attention:
“He’s about to make a lot of money.”
“He’s dominated the best lineups in baseball and he’s making it look easy.”
“I don’t see how anybody can beat him.”
“He’s not afraid of contact.”
We need you, Cliffy. We do. Please don’t sign anywhere else. I’m asking you nicely.
What a busy baseball day for a lazy Sunday in December, right? There I was, sitting in a screening for a movie called “Barney’s Version,” completely unaware that Jayson Werth had signed a monster contract with the Nationals and that Adrian Gonzalez had backed out of his deal with the Red Sox.
Before I move off “Barney’s Version,” I have to recommend it to everyone. It’s based on the highly acclaimed novel by Canadian writer Mordecai Richler and it’s just great. Paul Giamatti plays the hard-drinking, cigar-smoking, politically incorrect son of a cop (Dustin Hoffman) who falls in love with a woman – at his own wedding. The movie tells the story of his life and is both funny and touching. It opens in January. Here’s the trailer.
Back to baseball. I don’t even know what to say about the Werth deal except that Carl Crawford must be dancing in the streets. And if the Red Sox aren’t able to put the Gonzo deal back together, it’ll be like their near-miss with Tex. But mostly, it’s time to focus on Lee. With the GMs gathered in Orlando, will Cashman finally make his agent an offer that’ll blow the Rangers and all other suitors out of the water? Taking no chances, I thought we needed to start the Operation Cliff Lee Countdown right away, posting a video either of him or about him each night until he’s wearing pinstripes.
(Hat tip to the Village Voice for the odd Photo Shopping)
So without further ado, let’s go to the videotape. It worked for Jeter.
Yes, this video is long. Sorry about that. But here’s why I picked it: It gives us a taste of what Lee’s press conference at Yankee Stadium will be like when Cashman, Girardi and Hal introduce him to the New York media. Well, with one big difference – there’ll be a lot more reporters and photographers in the Bronx. (From the look of this Mariners presser, there were maybe 10 media people there.) I had to laugh when he was asked what kind of a contract he’s expecting and he said, “10 years for $200 billion.” Yes, he did say billion. But he’s such a kidder, that Cliffy. Did everybody catch the cool attitude when the reporter (don’t they use recording devices in Seattle or just pads and pencils?) asked him to talk about hitting Sammy Sosa in the head in Texas. Lee shrugged and said, “What can I say? I hit Sammy Sosa in the head.” And then there’s the interview the same reporter did with Cliffy’s wife – about their dog. I think he’ll be much happier with the Yankees. Don’t you?
Update: Looks like I spoke too soon on the Red Sox-Gonzo deal. Apparently, all is well now and there is joy in Beantown.
I hope everybody has been enjoying their Thanksgiving weekend. I’ve been enjoying mine. Well, except for the cold, hard reality that The Captain and The Yankees remain in negotiations hell. The fact that they haven’t made a deal and seem to be in a bona fide standoff is upsetting to me. It haunts my sleep. It creates low-level anxiety. It causes me to snap at my husband for no apparent reason.
(Oddly, I’m not worried about Mo’s situation. The Yankees need him and will pay him, and that deal will happen.) Anyhow, I’ve decided that I’m going to post a different Jeter video every night on this blog until the announcement comes down that he’s safely back in the fold – no matter how long it takes. So here’s Video #1. I’d like Cashman and the Steinbrenners to watch it and then try to tell Casey Close with a straight face that his client is just another ballplayer.
BREAKING NEWS: It looks like after a day of media reports that the two sides were far apart in their contract negotiations, Brian Cashman and Derek Jeter have met and decided to make a deal. I’m very relieved, to say the least.
Somehow, lost in all the chatter about what Jeter wants and what Jeter will get, hardly anybody is talking about signing Mo. Yes, Hal or Cashman or both have “reached out” to his agent, but let’s focus, people: The Yankees are not the Yankees without Mariano Rivera.
You can talk about Jeter’s iconic status 24/7, but there wouldn’t be all those championships without Mo, plain and simple. And, unlike Jeter, he did not have a “down” year. He had his usual bumps during the season, but he was mostly as lights out as ever and the one constant in the pen.
How many years should he get on the new contract? As many as he wants. He’s not the type of player who will hang on too long and embarrass himself. No worries about having to move him around the infield or DH him, as with Jeter. He’ll just go out and save games until he can’t do it anymore, and I trust him to know when his time is up.
How much money should he get? As much as he wants. If the Yankees so much as try to nickel and dime him, I’ll get very angry. And I won’t be the only one.
I listened to Mike Francesca’s interview with Hal today, and was struck by how much more self-assured the Yankees’ big cheese sounded. He wasn’t full of his father’s bluster by any means, but he was no longer the reluctant boss. When Francesca brought up Jeter and Mo and whether signing them was a foregone conclusion, Hal made the expected noises about how much he wanted to bring them back, how they should always remain Yankees, blah blah. But he also said – twice – “but we’re running a business here.”
My heart kind of dropped when he used those words. I’m not naive enough to think there’s no budget and I realize that Jeter and Mo, while icons, aren’t young. But I got the feeling that Hal isn’t planning to write any blank checks or offer long-term contracts. In fact, I started to panic. What if the Yankees can’t come to terms with their two legends? Is that humanly possible?
Putting Mo aside for now (we need a closer and there’s no one better), I came up with five value-added ways to keep Jeter around when he can’t play shortstop or swing a bat. I pulled these from a blog post I wrote in February ’09 and they’re still options as far as I’m concerned.
Yes, we ended up with a split. And there was nothing pretty or sweet about it. How many times have we watched CC disintegrate? Hardly ever, that’s how many times. And yet he looked vulnerable through the fifth inning and positively horrendous in the sixth – like a great big parade float that was punctured and fell to the ground.
Still, I give him a pass. He’s been terrific, so he’s entitled to a bad game even if it did cost him the Cy Young award. And David Price is a really, really good pitcher. Still, how to explain the Yankees inability to score with the bases loaded – more than once? That was more troubling to me, as was Joba’s ineffectiveness and the fact that Vazquez couldn’t find home plate if he had a shovel.
Did he hit three batters in a row or did I dream it? Never mind. I know the answer. If he had plans for the postseason, he can probably forget about them and schedule a nice, long vacation for himself. Will the Yankees win the division now that they’re basically tied with the Rays again? Tampa has some comfy match ups, while we’re stuck with the Red Sox and Blue Jays. I have no idea what will happen from here on – none. Maybe I should consult the tarot card reader I spoke to last year, but I’ve been afraid to. What if she tells me something I don’t want to hear? Couldn’t handle it.
Changing the subject, did everybody see the ESPN Steinbrenner documentary directed by two-time Oscar winner Barbara Kopple? I missed its premiere on Tuesday night, but watched it after the game tonight. As some may remember, I flew to New York last year to be interviewed for the doc.
I met Barbara too, and it turned out we both grew up in Scarsdale loving the Yankees.
Here’s the bad news: I ended up on the cutting room floor of the doc. I found out a couple of weeks ago that I wasn’t in it and wasn’t surprised. Barbara shot a ton of film, interviewed hundreds of people and only had an hour of air time. The focus turned out to be the transition from the old Stadium and George’s running the team to the new Stadium and Hal’s ascendance, and I don’t think I said anything particularly interesting about any of that. I really enjoyed the film, especially the interview with Hal. Here’s a clip. It requires sitting through Pujols hawking Dove soap, but it’s worth a look.
Getting back to the present, I’m nervous about the Red Sox series this weekend. Not because it’s the Red Sox but because we just need to win games right now. Need to win games. Right now. Please.
That’s what Cashman said today, according to LoHud. And while it’s all well and good for the Yankees GM to say that HE doesn’t need a left-handed bat for the outfield, what about us fans?
Has he stopped to ask us what WE need? I said I was OK with Brett Gardner in left and I am. But the team would be stronger with Johnny Damon on the roster. So what’s the big deal? Just sign the guy and get it over with, so we can see him popping out of the dugout and knocking the ball into Damon’s Deck?
Free agents are dropping like flies. Even Eric Hinske has a new team. Did we really spend every last dime on Nick Johnson? Is there nothing left in the vault for Damon? Can’t Hal and Hank chip in a few million from their trust funds?
If all the Yankees needed was a right-handed bat off the bench to play the outfield, why not hold onto Shelley Duncan? Oh, well. We did hold onto Sergio Mitre and his 6.79 ERA. Now that’s a relief.
Cashman also said he’s not looking for bullpen help. Really? Because these two inspire so much confidence?
I know I sound cranky in this post, but I’m feeling cranky right now. I want Damon to remain a Yankee. Not forever. Not for a gazillion dollars. Just figure it out, Cashman. Johnny’s already got his favorite restaurants in New York, even if he can’t pronounce their names. Don’t mess with this, Cash.
While I was in Tampa dancing with Hal Steinbrenner and cheering on the Yankees pitchers in their Chippendale’s debut, I got a tip that Brian Cashman was in town. Apparently, he’d been summoned by the “other brother.” I’m speaking, of course, of Hankenstein.
Hank’s been keeping a low profile lately, but my sources told me he’s been incensed that Cashman hasn’t signed a left fielder yet. And now, with all signs pointing to DeRosa going to the Giants, Cash is really feeling Hank’s wrath. I went back to my hotel, fell asleep and had a horrible nightmare. As you can see below, I dreamed that Hank ate Cash – just swallowed him whole. I woke up hoping for Cash’s sake that we have a new Yankee in LF by New Year’s Day. I really don’t want to lose our GM just because Hank is hungry.