Yankees

Keefe To The City: April Apologies To The Yankees

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Bartolo Colon #40 of the New York Yankees against the Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium on April 3, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Bartolo Colon #40 of the New York Yankees against the Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium on April 3, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images)

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By Neil Keefe
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On Thursday night at the Stadium, Curtis Granderson stood on second, representing the tying run in the seventh inning with the Yankees trailing 5-4. Brett Gardner was at the plate with two outs and all of a sudden Matt Wieters threw down to second. Granderson was caught hanging way off second, but a bad throw let him get back safely.

When Wieters’ throw was in the air and I looked to see where Granderson was, I thought the Yankees were about to lose the tying run in scoring position. I turned to Sweeny Murti and had the same look on my face that I had when Ryan Seacrest told me Pia Toscano would be going home while a cast of clowns remained on “American Idol”. Sweeny told me I reminded him of when Jake Taylor tells Rick Vaughn, “Take it easy. We got 162 of these to go” in “Major League”. But I told Sweeny, “They all count the same.”

Last week after the Yankees (well, Rafael Soriano) blew a 4-0 lead to the Twins, I said, “There will be a game like the Sunday night game against the Dodgers last summer when the Yankees trailed 6-2 with one out and no one on in the ninth inning. But until a win like that happens I have a reason to be upset about Tuesday night.” I didn’t think it would come just nine days later. Coming back down 5-0 against the Orioles by completing the comeback in the ninth inning and then walking off in the 10th? I would say that evens things out from last Tuesday against the Twins.

When Joe Girardi makes ridiculous managerial moves with his pitchers (and it happens a lot), I’m always quick to write another episode of The Joe Girardi Show. So, when he does something good, I have to give credit where credit is due.

Last night Phil Hughes was throwing in the 80s again and the only reason the game didn’t officially get out of hand was because of web gems from Granderson and Nick Swisher at the wall. With Hughes running on empty, Girardi recognized it and instead of letting Hughes continue to get devastated, he went to the bullpen. I was all for the move and trying to salvage the game, but a lot of Twitter followers thought they should let Hughes work it out.

But for the first time in 2011, Joe Girardi had seen enough and instead of chalking it up as a loss and letting Hughes try to work out his problems (which he might need to do at Triple-A at this point), he went to the bullpen, and he decided to give the offense a chance with five-at bats left to make something of the game.

I’m not apologizing for the things I said about Joe Girardi last week because there will be plenty of questionable moves from him over the next 151 games, and there will be future editions of The Joe Girardi Show. That’s a guarantee. But I’m commending him on a good game last night. Nice job, Joe.

Before the game even started, Brian Cashman made headlines again on what is now the fifth month of his “The Stupid Things I Say” Tour in which he throws everyone he has every worked professionally with under the bus.

At the end of every “CenterStage” with Michael Kay on YES, Kay asks the guest who they would like to be stuck in a fox hole with. There’s very little chance anyone would ever pick Brian Cashman. Well, unless you want to be publicly berated and embarrassed.

Like Gary Grobowski says in “The Break Up” on his way off the bowling team “Hey, Cashman … “Band of Brothers” … you should rent it sometime.” And like Henry Hill in “Goodfellas” taking down all of his friends to clear his own name, Cashman continues to try and save face with every decision he makes that turns bad by turning on anyone no longer in the organization. Actually he doesn’t care if you’re in the organization or not since he went after the Yankees executives for signing Rafael Soriano at Soriano’s press conference with Soriano just a few feet away. Pride! Power! Pinstripes!

I didn’t think it could get any worse than it did at the breakfast at the Hard Rock Café in January, but then Cashman called out the Mets for “abusing” Pedro Feliciano, who he had just handed $8 million to in the same offseason that he counted his pennies against the face of the franchise and the greatest closer in THE HISTORY of baseball — two men responsible for Cashman still having a job. So now Felciaino is just another guy on the Yankees’ payroll that probably won’t ever help the team and might not ever pitch for them. No big deal.

I liked the move to sign Feliciano because I don’t like Boone Logan and I’m open to giving any lefty a chance if it means fewer appearances for Logan. But for Cashman to say Feliciano wasn’t “damaged goods” and to throw the blame on the Mets for using a reliever the way the Yankees have used relievers under his watch was unnecessary embarrassing.

Cashman didn’t like that Feliciano hurt his shoulder, but he didn’t like the media was calling him a hypocrite for calling out the Mets since Cashman has had a hand in ruining some reliever’s careers over the years. The “real” Brian Cashman came out. The Brian Cashman that showed at that January breakfast that what the media says about him does matter to him and that it does take a toll on him. So, to clear his name, he decided to turn on others.

“If you get Joe Torre on the phone, you will know I am not a hypocrite,” Cashman said on Thursday night. “I dealt with our pitching coach and I dealt with our manager. You can’t put your assets in jeopardy. You can’t overuse them or you lose them.”

And he went on …

“We had an intervention with Joe and his coaches and it didn’t go well,” Cashman said. “The player is never going to say no, so you pay people who know the answer, the manager and the pitching coach.”

Everyone outside of the organization always thought Cashman and Torre were close because that’s what they made it seem like, but in Torre’s book “The Yankee Years” you get to see the real Cashman, who just stood there and let Torre go down in flames at the now famous meeting in Tampa when Cashman could have saved Joe Torre’s job, but oddly kept his mouth shut. But I guess you don’t get to be the general manager of a major league team without ratting on your colleagues and turning on some people and ending friendships and relationships along the way.

The funny thing about Cashman is that he’s so quick to let you know when some disastrous decision wasn’t his, and he’s quick to make excuses when something doesn’t go right. But where is he when his moves go south or when his heralded prospects don’t pan out? Where was his session with the media when he went into 2007 with Carl Pavano and Kei Igawa as 40 percent of his rotation, forcing him to prematurely call up Phil Hughes in April of 2007 or a year ago when Nick Johnson inevitably landed on the disabled list while Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon were busy playing every day for the Angels and Tigers respectively? Oh I forgot … Nick Johnson has a great OBP! Who cares if he never plays a full season?!

Unlike Cashman, when I’m wrong, I’ll admit it (obviously, I’m not wrong that often, so it’s not that big of a deal). But on the rare occasion when I’m wrong, I will stand in front of my locker in the clubhouse and take the questions on why I wrote what I wrote and what I was thinking when I wrote it.

It’s only April 15, but I have had some moments equivalent to Soriano’s meltdown last Tuesday or any of Hughes’ three starts (OK, maybe not as bad as Hughes has been). So, here are three early season apologies I would like to issue. (Boone Logan, if you’re reading this, you can stop. You aren’t listed).

Number 20, Jorge Posada, Number 20
A few months ago there was a deconstruction of the Rolling Stone’s “Gimme Shelter” on the Internet, taking the song apart piece by piece. It was pretty much the coolest thing ever until the record company, which owns the rights to the footage, took it down.

If you took my Twitter account and followed it during a Yankees game and deconstructed it, you would think that I need my blood pressure taken at the end of every inning. Twitter has become my voice for a lot of things, but especially frustration when things aren’t going right with the Yankees. During Yankees-Red Sox games, especially in Boston, I should probably be blocked from signing into Twitter because my emotions get the best of my thoughts.

Here’s what I tweeted on Sunday night when Josh Beckett (my most hated athlete) was busy striking out 10 Yankees: It sucks that Posada is going to take up a lot of at-bats that should go to Jones and Chavez.”

And when Posada struck out for the third time, I tweeted: “I would rather watch “Arthur” than another Jorge Posada at-bat.”

After Jorge’s home run on Wednesday and his clutch home run on Thursday, I would like to say I’m sorry for those tweets. I’m sorry for saying I would rather watch a Russell Brand movie than watch you hit, and I’m sorry for what I said again on Monday:

Posada is like the aging family dog that just wanders around aimlessly and goes to the bathroom all over the place and just lies around and sleeps all day. You try to pretend like the end isn’t near and you try to remember the good times to get through the bad times, and once in a while the dog will do something to remind you of what it used to be, but it’s just momentary tease.

Those three home runs at Yankee Stadium last week would be the tease. The slump you have seen from Posada since then with the terrible performance last night is what life will be more times than not in the last year of Posada’s contract.

Number 34, A.J. Burnett, Number 34
I’ve said so many things about A.J. Burnett that I couldn’t pick just one thing to place here, so I figured it would be best to just not use any of the thousands of word I have used on Burnett and just let them remain in the past. At least for now.

Burnett came into this season as a bigger unknown than Bartolo Colon’s T-shirt size. But he has put together three good efforts in three starts and is 3-0 to show for it with more wins than the two-win Red Sox. With Hughes putting out a search party for his fastball, Ivan Nova still learning the majors and Freddy Garcia having pitched just one inning in 11 games, Burnett has been the guy the Yankee gave $82.5 million and a fifth year too. Can you imagine if Burnett was being 2010 A.J. right now with Hughes being 2009 Chien-Ming Wang? Oh my.

Apologizing to A.J. Burnett this early in the season just doesn’t feel right because I have seen Burnett too many times to know that this whole thing could unravel and head south at any moment (the way it did in the seventh inning on Wednesday). So I am holding the right to revoke this apology at a later date if needed. Let’s hope it’s not needed.

Number 40, Bartolo Colon, Number 40
First I would like to get Bartolo know I haven’t forgotten about the Wendy’s Baconators I have promised him via Twitter for his good outings, and I’m keeping a running tab and will pay them off at the end of the season.

Let’s be honest, I wasn’t very nice about the idea of Bartolo Colon possibly making the rotation or the 25-man roster. I was like the elementary school kids not letting the new, fat kid play with us at recess in that I never really gave Colon a chance, and I was wrong.

But after what Colon did in Phil Hughes’s start Thursday night (3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K) and what he did in Hughes’ start last Friday at Fenway (4.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K), and in Hughes’ first start against the Tigers (4 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 5 K), it looks like Colon does have a role with this team: come in clean up Phil Hughes’ mess.

So when I said …

That’s right. Bartolo Colon is a week away from being a New York Yankee. The man who admitted to being about 25 pounds overweight (his estimation) on the first day of pitchers and catchers is going to own one of the 25 possible roster spots on the $200 million New York Yankees. I’ll give you a minute to let that settle in…

When Colon signed with the Yankees, I called the move embarrassing, saying that it was “a joke” that even though it was a low-risk, high-reward signing, it wasn’t worth the humiliation of a press release saying that the $200 million New York Yankees had signed Bartolo Colon (even if it was to a minor-league deal).

… I was wrong. I’m sorry.

Follow Neil on Twitter at http://twitter.com/NeilKeefe

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