New York Yankees: Missing Links

Missing Links: Joba the Dad

March, 28, 2012
3/28/12
12:15
PM ET
Joba Chamberlain's explanation on how he hurt his ankle has been meant with some criticism. Today, Harper from the News and Kernan from the Post both said Joba should have been more careful. Harper wrote.
Chamberlain tried to make his injury sound as fluky as being struck by lightning. But let’s face it, if you’re a 250-pound man, you’re putting yourself at some risk the minute you get on a trampoline.

Kernan wrote:
Asked last night the lesson learned from his terrible trampoline accident Thursday, which produced a grotesque right ankle/foot injury as Chamberlain was on an outing with his 5-year-old son Karter, the Yankees right-hander answered: “I will never question being a father.”

He shouldn’t question being a father but he needs to question the choices he makes. If he doesn’t, the Yankees will question if it’s the right move to keep him in pinstripes.
If you read both columns, they are not as harsh as the headlines, but I still disagree with the sentiment. Yes, trampolines can be dangerous, but, if Joba's story is fully legit, it sounds like a freak accident.

It could have happened in any activity. David Robertson hurt his foot, carrying an empty box down a flight of stairs. Things happen.

Perhaps the trampoline wasn't the best choice, but I don't feel like the activity was so dangerous it should be considered off-limits.

If you take out the hysteria that came with the misinformation in one story about how Joba almost lost his life, I think the dramatics of the situation is greatly reduced.

I agree with Joba. He was just being a dad and an unfortunate thing happened. It can occur, even to professional athletes. In the end, I think it was more bad luck than bad judgement.

QUESTION: What do you think?
Let's do some Friday Missing Links:

1) A year ago during spring training, Mariano Rivera told me MannyBanuelos is the best pitching prospect he has ever seen. The only pitcher that Rivera even thought to put with Banulos was Brien Taylor. What could have been for the No. 1 overall pick from 1991 is an old, sad tale, but it just got a little sadder today.Here is the story from the local ABC affiliate in North Carolina.
Taylor, 40, was arrested Thursday in Beaufort and now faces a host of cocaine charges after a joint effort between the Carteret County Sheriff's Office and the Morehead City Police Department. Investigators said they bought "a large quantity of cocaine and crack cocaine from Taylor over a period of several months."The former No. 1 selection in the Major League Baseball draft now faces a slew of charges involving the possession of and the intent to sell and distribute cocaine.
2) The outspoken Luke Scott, now of the Rays, has something in common with a lot of Yankee fans -- he does not like Red Sox fans. Deep in this story on MLB.com, he goes into it.
"Just their arrogance," Scott said. "The fans come in and they take over the city. They're ruthless. They're vulgar. They cause trouble. They talk about your family. Swear at you. Who likes that? When people do that, it just gives you more incentive to beat them. Then when things like [the last game of last season] happen, you celebrate even more. You go to St. Louis -- classiest fans in the game. You do well, there's no vulgarity. You know what? You don't wish them bad."

Scott, who was an Oriole last year, really enjoyed knocking the Sox out of the playoffs on the final day of the season.
"I got to see a priceless thing driving back to my apartment," Scott said. "I see all the Boston fans walking around, and I mean they were crying crocodile tears. People were like this, walking side by side."

Scott wrapped his arm around a reporter's waist and began to wail to demonstrate.

"It was like someone shot their dog. I rolled down the window and I'm like, 'Ah, hah, sucks doesn't it, when someone laughs or makes fun of you when things aren't going your way.'"

Missing Links: Bobby V, Martin & Williams

February, 29, 2012
2/29/12
9:36
AM ET
Let's do some Wednesday Missing Links:

1) Joba Chamberlain as the savior? That is what Wally wrote a column about. In some respects, it seems farfetched with Joba not returning until June and with Rafael Soriano, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera ahead of him on the depth chart. However, Wally makes a really good point about the length and preconceived notions during a baseball season.
By the time Joba is ready to return, the Yankees might be more than ready to welcome him back. They might very well need him.

Because as we often see over the course of a baseball season, things that seem carved out of granite in April sometimes turn to sand in August.

The Yankees bullpen, now so deep and stocked there would hardly seem to be a place for Joba if he were healthy, might be begging for him in a couple of months.

It could be fun to see if the situation, that Wally paints, plays itself out and the Yankees need Joba this summer in an important role.

2) The dynamic of Bobby Valentine into the Rivalry has already started and the teams have not even played their first exhibition game against each other. That comes March 13th at The Boss.

For right now and forever, Valentine just loves being the center of attention and, as a smart man, I think he knows it is good to divert everyone's eyes from the horrors of last season for the Red Sox. So Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter were on jab line yesterday in Bobby V's latest Boston Tweak Party.

At the Winter Meetings, when Valentine said he hates the Yankees, I thought he was putting those words out there on purpose. I said it was just the beginning. Harper from the News agrees.
What you have to remember about Bobby Valentine, especially on a day when he makes news taking jabs at the Yankees, is that he never says anything by accident. And he truly seems to enjoy being an agitator.


This stuff is just getting started. It won't end. Some Yankee fans are calling Bobby V the Rex Ryan of baseball -- a lot of talk and no rings. That is not inaccurate but I think Valentine is much smarter than Ryan. And Ryan, people seem to forget, has been pretty successful as the Jets coach despite not fully living up to his big talk.


3) We wrote yesterday about how the expected Yadier Molina five-year, $70-75M deal should help Russell Martin and hurt the Yankees chances of resigning or, at least, at the price they wanted. Martin agrees in this story by King & Sherman of the Post.

“Thanks, Yadi,’’ Martin said in the middle of the Yankees’ clubhouse yesterday.”That sets the tone right there. It helps me because teams understand how important [offense and defense] are for a catcher.’’
4) I've talked to a lot of people about Mason Williams. He is the guy who is going to replace Manny Banuelos and Jesus Montero as the prospect you are going to hear about incessantly. He has not hit for power yet, but the Yankees think that will come. Everything else -- at least at A-ball -- is already there. He is a kid to watch. McCarron from the News profiled him.

Sure, it’s only drills during a pre-spring training workout for a kid who’s only 20, who has all of 73 games of professional experience, mostly at low-Class A. But Williams has gotten so good so quickly that it’s not only the wags around the batting cage talking about him.

Opposing teams are asking for him when they talk trade with the Yankees. “His name is on the tip of all of their tongues,” says Mark Newman, he Yankees’ senior VP of baseball operations. “All the time.”

The A’s wanted Williams when the Yankees spoke to Oakland about possibly dealing for Gio Gonzalez over the winter.

And Williams was recently named on several lists ranking the top 100 prospects in baseball, reaching No. 34 on the list compiled by ESPN’s Keith Law, a former baseball executive. Williams was the player of the year in the New York-Penn League last year after batting .349 with a .395 on-base percentage and .468 slugging percentage and 28 steals for the league champ Staten Island Yankees.

“He deserves what buzz he’s gotten because he went out and dominated a league of mostly college players when he was 19-20,” says Damon Oppenheimer, the Yankees’ director of amateur scouting. Oppenheimer chose Williams out of high school in the fourth round of the 2010 draft. “Now it’s a case of continuing to earn it. It’s baseball - he’s going to have to prove it at every level. But with his ability, his tools and his makeup, he should continue to get better and perform.”
5) Last spring, Mariano Rivera told me that Manny Banuelos was the best pitching prospect he has ever seen. In this Q&A with Carig from the Ledger, Banulos says he is learning from Rivera.
Who in here has taught you a lot? Who do you listen to?
Mariano (Rivera), of course. Always baseball. He taught me about pitching, how I can learn the hitters’ swings with my pitches, especially with my fastball. Just looking at hitters and how they’re swinging at my pitches. And after that, what can I throw. Just watching their reaction.

Banuelos has a better chance of reaching the majors this season, but it won't happen for awhile, if at all. The Yankees want him to refine his fastball and next year at this time he could be in competition for the No. 5 spot. If he gets called up this year, it could possibly be late as a lefty reliever, if the Yankees have a need there.

Missing Links: Martin deal, Jones in Hall

February, 23, 2012
2/23/12
11:45
AM ET
Let's deliver some Thursday Missing Links.

* With the Yankees maintaining pre- and post-trade that Jesus Montero could be an everyday catcher, Russell Martin's negotiating position was a bit tenuous. If Montero could have really caught, then it is hard to imagine the Yankees breaking out the big cash for Martin. But now with Montero gone and Austin Romine probably not even going to be the team's backup, it seems like a better possibility. Martin went into that with Harper from the News.
“Everybody knows I like playing here,” Martin said in the article. “The feeling of winning is something money can’t buy. But I’ve trained very hard (to overcome injuries) and I plan on doing this the rest of my career. I don’t want to make a rash decision.”

Ultimately, the Yankees are trying to get beneath $189 million by 2014 so a contract will have to be specially structured to help make that happen.

* Is Andruw Jones a Hall of Famer? Well, in this piece by Sherman from The Post, Jones says no.
“I don’t think my numbers are there yet to be in the Hall of Fame,” Jones said. “Maybe if I get to 500 homers that would give me a better chance. With the steroid era, though, this is more confusing who gets in and who doesn’t.”

I agree with Andruw, he is not there. He hasn't made an All-Star team since 2006. But the first 10 years of his career where he averaged .267, 31 homers and 93 RBIs combined with the best center field play maybe ever, he was Cooperstown material. So Jones could be closer than you think. If he hits 80 more homers and makes it to 500 then maybe he enters the Hall one day.

Questions: Do you want Russell Martin signed to a long-term deal with prospects Austin Romine and Gary Sanchez around? Do you think Andruw Jones is a Hall of Famer?
Let's do some Saturday Missing Links.

* Wally writes an appreciation of A.J. Burnett and it all comes down to one night:
As a Yankee, A.J. Burnett was often entertaining but seldom very good, and extremely expensive but rarely very valuable.

But on one night -- Oct. 29, 2009 -- Allan James Burnett was worth every penny the Yankees paid him.

Because simply put, if Burnett doesn't come back to win Game 2 of the 2009 World Series, the odds are Joe Girardi is still wearing No. 27 on his back. That is, if he's still the manager.

On that night, Burnett outdueled Pedro Martinez and took the World Series back from Cliff Lee, who threatened to make it his own after stifling the Yankees in Game 1.

For me, from the start I always thought Burnett's contract was a bad one. I call it the Neil O'Donnell theory. You can't expect a free agent to be better than he has performed in the past. The Jets, back in the day, gave O'Donnell a huge franchise player-type contract when he was just a caretaker with the Steelers. Burnett has always been the classic -- great stuff, OK results. The Yankees probably got a little worse than that. But they will always have Game 2 in 2009. To me, that wasn't enough. In the context of that free agent year, after CC Sabathia, the Yankees next choice was Derek Lowe so there probably wasn't a right answer after CC.

* Let's sneak behind the corporate wall (don't tell anyone) and see what Keith Law said about the Yankees prospects in the Burnett trade:
In return for Burnett and for covering most of his salary, the Yankees get two minor leaguers, neither of whom is a significant prospect. Moreno throws hard with good control numbers but doesn't command the ball; he's had both injury and disciplinary issues and passed through December's Rule 5 draft unscathed. Cayones can play either corner and perhaps in center, but doesn't project to hit enough to profile as a big leaguer. They're warm bodies to make it look like a trade, but the Pirates really just got a free major league pitcher for less salary than he's likely to be worth.

I had never heard of either right-handed reliever Diego Moreno or outfielder Exicardo Cayones before the trade, but, all along, we knew the Yankees weren't receiving anything of consequence. They didn't.

* It turns out first rounder Dante Bichette Jr. is a little earthy. He is into yoga and gives it a lot of credit for his success. He thanks mom more than his more famous dad. Here is Kernan from the Post:
“All the off-the-field stuff, I have to give 100 percent credit to my mom,’’ Bichette told The Post at the Yankees’ minor league complex. “From the time I was a little kid, she taught me, first off, to be respectful to adults. She has me do yoga to keep flexible. She also puts a lot of emphasis on prayer, you have got to remember who has given you the abilities to do things and give thanks for that.’’

When he started yoga his freshman year in high school, Bichette hated it.

“But now I love doing it,” he said, “because it keeps me healthy.”


Bichette could one day be the man to replace A-Rod at third. Bichette Sr. and Joe Girardi are very close, by the way.

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