Saturday, July 27, 2013

Cashman Tells Rodriguez to Make His Day and File Grievance

Now Brian Cashman is calling Alex Rodriguez's bluff.

He is daring the troubled third baseman to file a grievance with the MLB Players Association if he feels the Yankees are preventing him from playing if he is indeed healthy.

Here's the recap: a week before he was scheduled to return from his minor league rehab assignment, Rodriguez told the Yankees that he strained his quad. Yankees doctors examined him, and found that it was a grade 1 strain, and pushed back his time table for a return.

Of course, Rodriguez didn't trust the Yankees doctors, and went for a second opinion against Yankee wishes. He checked with Dr. Michael Gross who is the Director of the Active Center of Health and Wellness at Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, NJ, and according to sources, told A-Rod that he was healthy and didn't see a strain.

Of course Gross tried to back out of those claims on Mike Francesa's WFAN show this past week. This is also the same Dr. Gross who was fined by the NJ Attorney General's office some $40,000 for failing to provided adequate treatment for his patients.

Then there is this nugget. That Rodriguez doesn't trust the Yankees because he feels the organization doesn't want to activate him so they can recoup the $28 million owed to him through insurance. IF that is the case, he could file a grievance with the league.

" Yankees general manager Brian Cashman in a statement last night said he heard from Rodriguez via text message yesterday the slugger had retained Gross to review his medical situation.
“Contrary to the Basic Agreement, Mr. Rodriguez did not notify us at any time that he was seeking a second opinion from any doctor with regard to his quad strain,” the statement read. “As you know, it is the Yankees’ desire to have Alex return to the lineup as soon as possible. And we have done everything to try and accomplish this.'" (NY POST). 

What twisted webs Rodriguez has weaved for the Yankees. Rodriguez has been belligerent, sending out public tweets about his progress, and making time to do interviews on talk radio without the Yankees consent.

The Yankees are crossing their fingers that MLB suspends A-Rod for 100 games, if not for life for his refusal to cooperate with MLB and its steroid investigation into Biogenesis.

Chances are he will be suspended. Whether he is banned for life is something that is highly unlikely, but the scumbag deserves it.

This story is not going anywhere any time soon.

Yankees Welcome Back Alfonso Soriano, Another Desperate Move by Desperate Team

Alfonso Soriano made his return to Yankee pinstripes Friday night, and proceeded to go 0-for-5 at the plate. Acquired early Friday morning for minor league pitcher Corey Black, the Yankees bring back Soriano in a time where they are desperate for a power bat in the middle of their lineup.

So desperate that Soriano was batting clean-up in last night's lineup.

But such is life for the NY Yankees in 2013, a year where they have seen their star players: Derek Jeter, Mark Teixiera, and Curtis Granderson miss most, if not all, of the season due to injuries. A year where the Yankees have been at war with Alex Rodriguez over a quad injury, as well as in wait for MLB's ruling whether to suspend Rodriguez for 100 games due to steroid use.

It's been a fun year all around for the Bronx Bombers.

To think that Soriano is going to come in here and turn things around, you better get ready to be disappointed.

This could go down as another typical Yankees deal, where they bring in an aging star who is well passed his prime, in short its par for the course.

"Of the estimated $24.5 million Soriano is owed through the end of next season, the Cubs are going to pick up about $17.7 million and the Yankees will cover the remaining $6.8 million, sources told ESPN. Soriano is scheduled to make $18 million next season, $5 million of which will be paid by the Yankees, the sources said." (ESPN)

Soriano was tasked with carrying the Chicago Cubs the past six and a half years, and could never do it, because he didn't have the resources around him.

While it is the Yankees, the resources aren't there this time around.

Soriano right now is the Yankees best power hitter from the right hand side, with Vernon Wells leading all right handed Yankees hitters with 10. He is now the second best hitter on the team, behind the man who initially replaced Soriano at second base many years ago, Robinson Cano.

Those two alone are not going to carry the Yankees to October.

They need more help in the lineup, and unless Jeter, Granderson, and even A-Rod return to the field as the guys from circa 2012 it won't be enough.

Another interesting element to this deal is the fact that it looks like GM Brian Cashman is in the midst of a power struggle with the Yankees brass.

According to the NY Post and Joel Sherman, Cashman didn't want to bring back Soriano. He wanted to keep Black, and stock pile on young arms in the Yankees farm system. However, Hank and Hal Steinbrenner have other plans and that of course is to try to win now with a bunch of has beens.

If you read the article, you can see that Cashman has been warning the Yankees about adding old players to this roster in the past. He was against the signing of Rafael Soriano in 2010, and very much against the return of Ichiro Suzuki to the Bronx. He wanted Russell Martin back, the owners did not.

If this is true, we have a very interesting development brewing in the Yankees front office. Does Cashman continue in his current role and risk being fired for moves he didn't want to make? Or does he just step down and leave with his head held high?

Just speculation. But with all of the issues surrounding Cashman from the Steinbrenners to A-Rod, I wouldn't blame him if he left.

Who knew that the Mets would be better run than the Yankees.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Derek Jeter Returns, Then Exists Stage Left

It was supposed to be a grand occasion for the the New York Yankees.

They were getting their super star shortstop back on the field for the first time since a hideous ankle injury last October in the ALCS that put Jeter's season on ice, and dooming the Bronx Bombers playoff chances in the process.

After missing 91 games, Jeter made his season debut on Thursday at Yankees Stadium against the Royals. It got off to a great start, as he legged out an infield single and scored on a sacrifice fly by Vernon Wells. Overall, Jeter went 1-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI.

However, in the eighth inning he left the ball game with tightness in his quad, and will have to reexamined today with an MRI, and the Yankees and Jeter are hoping it's nothing serious.

Jeter was rushed up to the big club because of the number of injuries this team has endured this year. Both Travis Hafner and Brett Gardner were injured and add that to the teams' struggles this season, and the result was bringing up Jeter ASAP to keep the fans happy and give the team hope.

But, it only lasted for a New York minute.

Thus has been the case with these Yankees. They have counted on seeing their aging stars return from injury only to see them go down for the count again. Curtis Granderson re-injured his hand in Tampa and has yet to return. Mark Tiexiera was lost for the season after his brief return to the Bronx, and A-Rod? Well, who cares about him -- he's struggling in his rehab in the minors, and is due to be suspended for steroid use anyway.

The Yankees are running out of time in 2013. They are in fourth place in the AL East, which has gotten younger and stronger than them over the last few years. We knew that Baltimore and Tampa Bay were going to be good this year, but nobody foresaw the Red Sox having a renaissance year with a bunch of tough kids.

If Jeter is forced to a DL stint, even 15-days it won't do anything to help the Yankees current situation. They aren't getting good play from they guys on this roster; the contributions from their farm system products are limited at best. Remember when Yankee fans were in love with David Adams? Yeah, that lasted a few seconds.

Let's face it, the Yankees need Jeter and vice versa. But the fact is the Yankees have to come to terms with the fact that Jeter is 39, and his co-stars from Yankees teams of the past are getting up their in age as well.

Giants Ink Victor Cruz to Long Term Deal

Victor Cruz is not the only one doing the salsa right now.

Every Giants fan in the area is joining in as Cruz and the New York Giants agreed to a brand new five year, $43 million contract that will take him through the 2018 season.

Cruz has been one of the NFL's more prolific rising young stars. A down-to-earth kid from Paterson, NJ, Cruz wanted to remain a Giant -- whether the contract was done now or later.

The fact that he got the deal done now is a credit to him for not dragging negotiations into the season, and creating a distraction in the process.

In the last two seasons combined, Cruz has 168 receptions for 2,628 yards and 19 touchdowns. He rose to fame in 2011, when he burst onto the scene as an undrafted rookie, and lit it up, highlighted by his 99-yard touchdown against the Jets, that propelled the Giants to another Super Bowl run.

Now, Cruz is no longer a surprise to do big things, he is expected to do big things. While Hakeem Nicks is considered by some to be the Giants number 1 receiver, it is Cruz who is truly Eli Manning's go-to guy.

Cruz will count only $2.53 million against the Giants cap this season, but it will increase over the course of the contract, hitting a ceiling of $9.9 million against the cap in 2016.

With Cruz in the fold long term, he now become a leader on the team, along side Manning. Quiet the contrast in leadership that this club once had about a decade ago when they relied on meat-heads like Jeremy Shockey, Michael Strahan and Tiki Barber.

Cruz's signing also signals that the Giants can now move along and try to negotiate a long term deal with the oft-injured Nicks, and keep him in the fold. As Cruz told WFAN a day after the signing, the Giants haven't even hit their stride yet offensively, especially if they stay healthy.

It's salsa time Giants fans!

Broadway Harvey, Time for Mets to Reel in Star Pitcher

Matt Harvey has been everything the Mets would have hoped for in his first full season at the top of the Mets rotation. He has been spectacular for most of the season, with a 7-2 record and a 2.35 ERA. He has made Mets' fans forget about Johan Santana, and is already drawing comparisons to Tom Seaver and Doc Gooden.

There is even the chance that Harvey could get a nod in the All Star game which is at Citi Field in less than a week.

So what's not to like about where Matt Havery is at this point in his life?

Well, apparently the Mets ace, or at least Harvey and his agent, feel that he has achieved enough stardom that it requires him to make a clown of himself with GQ-like spreads in the New York Post and ESPN the Magazine.

There was Harvey sporting himself either half naked, or in cloths that probably cost more than the contract that he is currently in with the Mets, posing for pictures with an erotic blonde bombshell. Broadway Matt Harvey has arrived!

“I’ve always wanted to be in the spotlight,” Harvey tells The Post. “I’ve always wanted to be that guy — and that comes with fans approaching you and media being all over you and paparazzi. At the same time, everybody says how annoying it gets, but I understand it comes with the territory, and I’m not one to shy away from that. I don’t want to be the starting pitcher for the Mets that nobody knows. Being able to put on a uniform that says New York has been a dream come true.”

“[Acting] is something that has been interesting to me. I wouldn’t do the modeling stuff, but definitely movies. Even now, I’m not really afraid of a camera,” he says, adding, “Obviously I don’t have a lot of time, but Tom Brady showed up on ‘Entourage,’ and I always thought that would be really cool.”

Now is the time for the Mets to clamp down on their young pitcher before he gets really carried away. The Mets and Havery have been obsessed with his rise to stardom, begging San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochey to start him in the All Star Game, even though Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers is probably more deserving, and on a contender. 

The Mets have also refused to stop the comparisons to Seaver, which, in all honesty is not fair considering Harvey hasn't won 10 games in a season yet, nor has he yet to win a Cy Young award.

It is ironic that these photos come out with Harvey in the midst of a slump. He gave up five runs to the D-Backs two starts ago, and served up three runs to the Giants this week. The Mets are using a blister on Harvey's pitching hand as an excuse for his recent struggles; heck they won't even start him in Pittsburgh because of the blister, yet have no qualms about him starting a meaningless All Star game.

Let's put two and two together and relaize that perhaps this rise to fame, glitz and glam might be getting to Harvey's head a little, and the Mets might be skipping him as a lesson. 

The entire spread in the Post with Harvey, which extends for three pages, not to mention about a half dozen photos of Harvey making himself out to be a "movie star" is simply embarrassing. While the Mets need Harvey to rebuild the image of the team, they don't need him to rebuild it in the image of the Mets and also Matt Harvey. 

In short the last thing they need Harvey to become is their version of Alex Rodriguez. 

What the Mets should do, especially the veterans on this team, such as David Wright, is to sit Harvey down and ream into him that he has to slow it down about 90 mph with the public appearances, and modeling photo shoots. 

As a professional baseball player, getting lost in New York is very easy. This town will welcome you in one minute, and chew you up and spit you out the next. Maybe Harvey should ask Mark Sanchez about that. Remember when Sanchez was the Sanchise? Remember when Sanchez had to appear in all the same GQ shoots Harvey is in? 

This is not to say that Harvey is destined for failure; quiet the opposite. He is going to be a very good pitcher for a very long time. But to become that, he has to learn to say NO, when it comes to making a public fool of himself in tabloids and magazines. 

He's 24, so he has time to learn, but the Mets have to ring him in and tell him to stop it first.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Rex Ryan running with bulls another Jets ploy for attention

I guess it has been too long since the Jets have last been in the news for all the wrong reasons.

Maybe Rex Ryan was getting antsy as the Patriots and former tight end Aaron Hernandez grabbed the headlines for his arrest as a suspect in a homicide case, and the fact that Tim Tebow, Ryan's favorite tire to kick, signed with the Pats as well?

So what better way to get attention to go to Pamplona, Spain and run from a bunch of teed-off bulls.

Ryan was pictured running for his life from a gigantic bull that had pushed its way through the center of the square. I guess it's all in good fun for Rex -- because nothing could be scarier then a 80,000 angry Jets fans -- so I guess a bull is nothing.

Luckily for Ryan the bull didn't gourd him where it hurts. I wonder though, if Ryan got gourd in the rear end, would it be considered a butt-fumble? Maybe he should have taken Mark Sanchez with him to show him what running into a rear end is really like?

As usual the Jets want press and they find ways to get it. It's not about wins for Ryan -- it's about attention. I'm sure Woody Johnson is pleased.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Shut the F*** Up, A-Rod Is Ready to Return

A week after the A-Rod Twitter-gate that led to Yankees GM Brian Cashman to tell Rodriguez to "shut the (blank) up," Alex Rodriguez has been finally cleared to participate in baseball activities.

He will begin his rehab assignment this week in Charleston, South Carolina.

Typically news like this wouldn't draw much attention, but since it's Rodriguez, it's going to garner plenty. While he hasn't played at all this season, Rodriguez has been in the news enough this year.

He has been linked to a Miami based steroid pod, Biogenesis, and is one of many star players who could face a 100-game suspension if MLB digs up enough information to suspend him.

Rodriguez is the ultimate lightning rod. The last time we saw him at Yankee Stadium he was ogling a group of young women near the Yankees dugout during New York's hideous sweep at the hands of the Detroit Tigers.

For a Yankees team that has been struggling of late, adding Rodriguez could be both a great asset and a  great cancer. If A-Rod can produce than having him return is defiantly worth it. If not, and Rodriguez just remains the clubhouse cancer than he tends to be, then this Yankees season could spiral out of control real fast.

Nets Making a Big Mistake With Acquisition of Pierce and Garnett

The last time we saw Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry they were throwing bricks in a listless performance against the Knicks in the first round of this NBA playoffs this past Spring.

Yet, that performance doesn't seem to bother the Nets ownership group, and General Manger Billy King, who swung a deal with the Boston Celtics to acquire the three elder stars for Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, Reggie Evans, Keith Bogans, Kris Joseph, AND the Nets first round draft picks in 2014, '16, and '18.

While some might scuff at Wallace and Humphries, as well as the unknown in three draft picks, the Nets gave up a lot for three guys who have very little left to offer in their NBA career.

Sure Pierce and Garnett are first ballot Hall of Famers, but the point is the Nets did themselves, their new head coach Jason Kidd, a huge disservice bringing in two aging stars to a ball club that was initially trying to build a team that would compete year in and year out.

Instead Brooklyn is making the same mistake we have seen plenty of New York teams make in the past, and that is go for the brass ring in the middle of the off-season without even proving it on the field or court.

On paper a lineup of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce screams big things, but lets be honest, we will likely never see this line-up on the court at the same time ever during the course of the 2013-14 season.

For starters, Garnett and Lopez each play the same position, center. Garnett is typically banged up over the course of a long season, and over the last few years, former Celtics coach Doc Rivers had limited Garnett's minutes to keep him fresh for the end of the season.

At age 37, there is no telling how much Garnett has left; maybe this year and that is that.

As for Pierce, he has seen his shooting percentage drop precipitously over the last three years. In 2010 he was still shooting 49.7 percent from the floor, just this season he was hitting a measly 43 percent, and was downright awful against the Knicks in the playoffs.

Pierce is the ultimate ball hog too, and Nets fans better get used to seeing Pierce take shots away from Johnson, Lopez and whomever is left on the Nets bench, and don't expect Pierce to nail them with the consisetncy that he did when he was a true All Star player.

The fact is All Star teams like this never work. Forget the Miami Heat, whom the Nets are trying to emulate with a move like this.

That team while it has three stars in their prime, LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosch, the reason the Heat have been so successful is because of the contributions from roll players like Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier, and Mike Miller.

In short to become an NBA champion you need a balance. The Nets don't have that balance anymore, they traded most of it away in this deal.

What makes this marriage so odd, is the fact that Nets have put this team together with a rookie head coach in place in Jason Kidd. Kidd has never coached a game in his life, and now he is begin asked to manage some of the top personalities in the sport during the ebb and flow of a long 82-game season.

There is no telling how Kidd will do when this team struggles; there is also no telling how he will "win" the locker room over when things are going tough, and trust me with this group they will.

It's one thing to ask a rookie coach to coach the team the Nets had previous to this trade, a team with a couple of stars and a lot of home grown roll players, now he has to coach an Eastern Conference All Star Team Circa 2008, and that is not even counting himself, who used to be a star point guard.

The fact is the Nets have gambled and it ultimately could cost Billy King his job, and Kidd his as well. They have pushed all the chips to the front of the table when there really wasn't any need to do so. The Nets were the number 4 seed in the Eastern Conference this past year, and look ahead to 2013-14, the Nets would have competed for a top seed again regardless.

All that stands between any challenger in the East and the NBA title is the Miami Heat, and they are now on the downside of their run.

The Bulls are a question mark with and without Derrick Rose; the Knicks are the ultimate Jekyll and Hyde. Only the Pacers seem like a formidable threat to the Heat, and that is just based off of this year's Eastern Conference Finals.

So in short, the Nets could have competed without adding Pierce and Garnett. Now, they BETTER compete, or else.

By trading away first round picks in 2014, '16, and '18 drafts that figure to be much better than this year's draft, the Nets are mortgaging their future on immediate results that may never come. When we look back at this trade, we might be thinking to ourselves how the Celtics got one up on the Nets, since they traded two aging stars for picks that they turned into gold down the road -- picks that could have been playing for the Nets if they hadn't bitten the Devil's apple.

So lets' say the Nets go through 2013-14 with this aging group, and again fall short in the first round of the playoffs, or don't even make it to the playoffs, would it have been worth it? Would all the PR drummed up by the Nets brass look brilliant then?

The Nets don't have to look far to see how thinking P.R./Glitz & Glamor and Season tickets first can blow up in your face in a New York minute.

The Mets tried this back in 2002 adding Roberto Alomar, Mo Vaughn and Jeremy Burnitz. How many World Series did they win?

The Jets have become the ultimate circus under Woody Johnson and Rex Ryan. How many Super Bowls have the Jets won since Rex Ryan arrived on the scene?

The Yankees have only one World Series to show for legitimizing Alex Rodriguez's bloated and uncomfortable 10-year stay in New York. And all the playoff failures the Yankees have had the last decade are more memorable than their one shining moment in 2009.

All this trade does is prove the point that owner Mikhail Prokorov and Jay-Z care more about selling tickets, merchandise, and the Nets brand rather than winning. They proved that when they fired Avery Johnson; later they disposed of a winner in P.J. Carlesmo, and hired the untested Kidd rather than a sure bet in Brian Shaw.

It's all about public sex appeal for the Nets. The hard on the Nets get by their own publicity stunts is as great as the idiotic billboard they posted in downtown Manhattan a couple years ago when they termed the Prokorov/Jay-Z regime as the "Blueprint for Greatness." So far that success hasn't happened yet.

The names Garnett and Pierce sound better than Wallace and Humphries, but in the end if it doesn't result in more victories, then the Nets are just another laughing stock.