Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?
According to SI, the Yankees have offered Bernie Williams a spring training invite. That's it - just an invitation to spring training. And Bernie is apparently considering it, even though he could probably get more from another club.
I'd kill for a chance to wear pinstripes and play in Yankee Stadium, even for a day. So I can't blame Bernie for wanting to stick around as long as possible. But I think Roger Staubach was right. He said he wanted to retire while it was still his decision - not wait until other people decided it was time for him to retire. (And he did. He retired at age 37, after one of the best seasons of his career.)
Aaron Small is not retiring yet. He was thinking about it, before his magical year with the Yankees, so I thought he might it call it a career now. But he's signed a minor league deal with the Seattle Mariners. He always seemed like a really nice guy, and I wish him the best.
And speaking of people who should be retired...Ruben Sierra - the 41-year-old, .179-hitting Ruben Sierra - has been signed to a minor league contract by the Mets. Good grief. They'd be better off signing Ruben Studdard.
Sierra had some nice moments as a Yankee, but I mostly remember him blocking younger players who deserved a shot. In particular, 2005, when Torre kept running him out there instead of Bubba. Man, that was aggravating. Even in September, when Bubba was hitting something like .350 and Sierra was hitting about .100, Torre kept using Sierra. Even after Sierra's incredible ineptness in right field finally got Bubba the start, Torre kept using Sierra to pinch-hit for Bubba.
What are the Mets going to do with this guy? They're an NL team, so they can't use him as a DH. Are they really that hard up for outfielders?
Bubba hasn't been forgotten by Yankees fans. Came across this article, about the New Jersey high school girls' bowler of the week, Laura Ackerson. In her profile, she names the Yankees as her favorite team, and Bubba Crosby as her favorite player. She's not the first high school athlete I've seen list Bubba as her favorite. He seems to be quite popular among teenage girls.
But not all his fans are girls. In this week's Yankees Mailbag, "Jonathan D." of Palm Beach, Florida, asks about Bubba:
What happened to Bubba Crosby? Is he going to play for the Yankees again, or another MLB team? He seemed to be a good player who didn't have too many chances.
Could be. Crosby left the Yankees as a six-year Minor League free agent after the season and latched on with Cincinnati. Crosby isn't guaranteed anything, but he's headed to camp in Sarasota, Fla., to fight for a roster spot as a reserve outfielder.
A friend of mine who moved to Tampa recently saw Derek Jeter at a night club there last night. Also there were Gary Sheffield and Michael Jordan. She managed to wangle an invitation to a party at Sheff's house afterwards. She reports that it's a gorgeous mansion on an island near where the Yankees have spring training. (The Tigers are just down the road a little, so no, I don't think he's selling. ;-)
Reds Caravan has kicked off. Red Hot Mama reports that a lot more people turned up in Muncie, Indiana than they'd expected.
And this article, from one of the Ohio stops, has a fairly long interview with Reds' GM Wayne Krivsky. He seems to think the roster is set now, aside from maybe a pitcher or two. He says Ryan Freel will be the leadoff hitter when he plays, but doesn't know who'll get that slot otherwise.
Of course, I've got some ideas about that. I've always thought Bubba was the leadoff hitting type. (The Clippers apparently agree, since they ended up using Bubba as their everyday leadoff hitter at the end of last season.)
The scouting reports all say that he's got a good eye. He didn't show a lot of patience at the plate with the Yankees, but that's not unusual. With the Yankees, there's so much pressure on young players to get the big hit. (Poor Andy Phillips went something like three weeks without drawing a walk...and he was starting every day.) They know if they don't hit, they'll lose their jobs. IMO, a little job security would go a long way toward improving Bubba's plate discipline.
No major news, but there's a lot of little stuff...
RHP Jason Standridge was released by the Mets today. Standridge was the pitcher DFA'd by the Reds to clear a roster spot for Bubba. He was picked up by the Mets four days later. Wow. You'd think they'd at least keep him until spring training.
The Reds released their 2002 first round draft pick, Chris Gruler. He had some injury issues last season, but still, this is a surprise.
The Red Sox finally got the J.D. Drew deal done. As suspected, the holdup was a possible shoulder injury.
The Yankees' deal with Miguel Cairo became official today; pitcher Matt Salvo was DFA'd to make room for him.
This story is kind of sad:
Bernie beginning to understand he's not wanted
"Part of me says if they wanted me, they would have made an offer by now," he said in a story published yesterday. "When you play this game for a long time, you take things for granted and think it won't end. But the harsh reality of it is, it will."
...A Yankee from 1991 through 2006, Williams clearly is hurt by the Yankees' decision. Asked whether he would play for another club, he said, "Yeah, I think I could. The loyalty factor goes both ways. When a team that you've played for doesn't want to offer a contract, it is making a business decision. So I have to make a business decision."
The chatter about the Reds outfield situation continues. Trent says:
Another interesting tidbit is that Narron said he and Josh Hamilton have been meeting halfway between their hometowns in North Carolina, in a town called Smithfield, to work out several times a week.
"It's been a lot of fun watching him," Narron said. "He's a tremendous athlete. He's got great bat speed. The one thing that's really hurt him is he hasn't played the last couple of years. It's going to be a huge adjustment for him and hopefully he makes our ballclub."
Narron said his plan is to play Hamilton nearly every day and get him about 80-100 at-bats in the spring, no matter how he does. He'll also play him in all three outfield positions.
"There are very few players in the major leagues with the kind of talent he has," Narron said. "But when you haven't played above (Class) A ball, it's a huge challenge for him."
Aaron Guiel leaves for Japan this Sunday:
Guiel looking forward to his baseball adventure in Japan
He's not getting paid all that much, but he says he's not doing this because he didn't have any other options. It's something he planned to do: end his career in Japan. Now that he's played with the Yankees, he feels he's done all he can in MLB. He wants some stability now, and Japan can give him that.
Best of luck to ya, Ralph Malph.
And while we're talking about former Yankees...Shawn Chacon has apparently decided not to have surgery on his knee after all. Dejan Kovacevic likes Chacon, and thinks his knee is the reason he didn't pitch well last season.
And Carlos Pena is signing with the Devil Rays.
The NY papers reported yesterday that Robinson Cano was asked to give up his number. Yup, you guessed it: they want to free up #22, in case a Rocket is incoming. Young Robby is now listed as #24 on the roster.
I'm not at all surprised that the Yanks want to shore up the rotation. I'm not sure if Clemens would want to return to NY, though. The Yankees aren't likely to treat him as a prima donna, as Houston did. And at his age, a return to the AL might be pretty rough. The Yanks are apparently hoping his pal Pettitte will lure him to the Bronx.
The Reds.com Around the Horn series covers outfielders today. Nothing really new. Griffey is healing well, and should be ready by spring training. He says he's planning to play 162 games, but given his age and history, it's not likely.
He seems to want to stay in center field, but it sounds like the Reds may have other ideas.
Should Griffey remain in center field, right field could be a revolving door among several players. Freel, a utility player who can play several positions well, might see a bulk of the playing time. Also in the mix will be new acquisitions Jeff Conine and Bubba Crosby, Denorfia and Norris Hopper.
..."We have a lot of guys that can play right field and left field or left, center and right. We have guys that play all over," Krivsky said. "It's very unlikely we'll have a set lineup for 162 games. It gives the manager more options, depending on who's pitching against us on a given night. It's important to have that kind of versatility. Guys that play more than one position are a plus."
The Reds traded Double-A pitcher David Shafer for Kirk Saarloos today. They don't know if he'll be a starter or a reliever. Shafer was on the 40-man roster, so no roster move was necessary to make room for Saarloos.
They also announced that they signed former Yankee Mark Bellhorn. Bellhorn had a great year with the Red Sox in 2004. Though usually a utility infielder, injuries gave him the starting job, and he made the most of it. But he hasn't hit well since. The Reds gave him a minor league deal and an invite to spring training.
Yesterday's Reds Mailbag had a question about the outfielder situation. Beat reporter Mark Sheldon seems to think right field (or maybe center field) is wide open:
If Denorfia does not end up as an everyday player, he could certainly be a guy that plays a lot in Narron's frequently tweaked lineups. He has the ability to play all three outfield spots, which helps. With right field currently not firmed up, Denorfia, Hopper, Ryan Freel, Jeff Conine, Bubba Crosby, Josh Hamilton and possibly Ken Griffey Jr. could all be potential choices.
Jon Heyman of SI has come out with Hot Stove report cards for the AL and NL. The Yankees got an "incomplete." I have to agree; I find it hard to believe Cashman is going to stand with his current hand. Boston got a "A." The Reds got a "C-." Heyman likes the A-Gon signing, but thinks they overpaid for Stanton and Conine.
The Mets got a "D" for being so cheap. The only team to get an "F" was the Nationals. Guess he's not impressed with their collection of Reds rejects.
Reds blogger JinAZ thinks Bubba Crosby is a lock to make the 25-man roster. I'm not so sure, myself. Though Norris Hopper and Chris Denorfia still have options left, which may work in Bubba's favor.
Former Reds pitching coach Vern Ruhle passed away last night at MD Anderson Hospital in Houston. (Yes, that's the same hospital that's treating Bobby Murcer.)
Ruhle was diagnosed with cancer last year, but declined to say what kind. ABC says it was multiple myeloma, a blood cancer. He died of complications from a stem cell transplant.
Requisat in pace.
Sweet Lou is thinking about putting Soriano in center field. That could be interesting. Though BP 's rate shows Soriano is above average in left field, Baseball Musings defensive chart shows him to be below average.
From what I saw (in the games he played LF against the Yanks), he wasn't that great. He's got excellent wheels, but he still plays the outfield like an infielder.
BTW, those defensive charts are pretty interesting. In case you're wondering, yes, they did crunch Bubba's 2006 numbers:
He didn't get a lot of playing time last season; the sample size is pretty small. So I wouldn't read too much into them. But they're worth a look.
Former Reds infielder Ray Olmedo was claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays. Little Ray Ray was popular with the Reds fans, and I'm sure many were hoping he cleared waivers. But Krivsky made it clear Olmedo didn't have a future with the organization. He's better off with a new team and a fresh start.
Welcome to the AL East, kid!
The Jays have also signed former Yankee backup catcher Sal Fasano to a minor league deal. Well, "Sal's Pals" should be happy. Toronto is closer to Philadelphia than a lot of the other options.
And former Yankee pitcher Shawn Chacon and his new team, the Pirates, have avoided arbitration. Details not announced yet, but he probably got around $4 million.
I always liked Chacon. Maybe the knee surgery will let him find that magic again.
The Reds host the Cubs on opening day, April 2, and Sweet Lou already has his starter picked out: Carlos Zambrano.
"I know one thing, [Carlos] Zambrano will be my Opening Day starter," Piniella said of the right-hander, who will kick off the season for the third straight year.
Tony Womack and the Washington Nationals have agreed to a minor league deal that would pay the veteran infielder $600,000 (U.S.) if he makes the 40-man roster.
I guess winter hasn't been canceled after all. Yikes. From Texas to Maine, California to New York, the weather's turned nasty. Spring training suddenly seems a lot farther away. But time is winding down...
The Reds avoided arbitration with Lohse; that leaves only Harang. They are also close to signing closer Eddie Guardado to a minor league deal.
Meanwhile, the long-rumored Gonzo for LaRoche trade between the Pirates and the Braves is finally a go. Details are still fuzzy, but rumor is, it's a four-player deal. The other players are supposedly shortstop Brent Lillibridge, one of Pittsburgh's top prospects, and Atlanta prospect Jamie Romak, an outfielder. Guess this means Cashman's dreams of adding Gonzo to the bullpen are over. Unless they can work a trade with Atlanta, of course.
This article claims that the Yankees are eying K-Rod as Mo's possible successor. The Yankees without Mo...it's almost unimaginable to me. But he's 37, so I guess they have to start thinking about the post-Rivera era. If not Gonzo, K-Rod?
Free agents yet unsigned must be getting nervous. I wonder where Craig Wilson will wind up? I liked him even before he was a Yankee, and it's sad that the Yankees have apparently ruined the market for him. He did not play well with the Yanks, but he really didn't get a fair shot. I'm surprised his value has fallen so far, so fast. Nobody seems to want him. The Orioles chose Aubrey Huff instead. The Yankees signed Doug Mientkiewicz (who has been given Sheff's old number - can I just call him #11 now?). The Reds picked Jeff Conine. Now it appears the Pirates have the first baseman of their dreams, LaRoche.
Speaking of Conine, he's claimed #19 from Chris Denorfia. I hope he gives the kid something nice in return. "Heartthrob" is now assigned #27.
The Dayton Daily News is reporting that Griffey may be moving to right field.
"Griffey is very open to doing what he can do to be on the field more," Narron said. "He realizes that Kirby Puckett moved (to right field) and that Cal Ripken, Jr. moved to third base.
"He wants to do what is best for the Cincinnati Reds," Narron added. "He realizes that to be on the field more he has to change positions."
Before moving, Griffey wants to be certain somebody better can play center field, the position Griffey has played since signing his first major-league contract in 1987.
Hard to believe it's barely a month until spring training starts...
The grapevine is still saying the Yankees want to sign the Rocket. I'm not thrilled at the idea, to tell you the truth. I fear Clemens is over the hill. He can't go a whole season any more, and he hasn't been great in the post-season lately. Then there's the whole steroid thing. I suspect both Andy and the Rocket are going to find out you can't go home again.
OTOH, you can't blame the Yanks for trying. It's not like there's a lot else out there.
Meanwhile, the Reds have signed catcher David Ross, who Wally Pipped Jason LaRue last season.
From the Seattle Times:
Good news for the Cincinnati Reds.
Ken Griffey Jr.'s agent announced that the outfielder's broken hand should be healed in time for him to be injured again in spring training.
All Reds spring training tickets are now on sale. This includes tickets to the "premium" games, such as the Yankees game.
And Brandon Claussen has signed a minor league deal with the Nationals. Once the Yankees' top prospect, Claussen was traded to the Reds for Aaron Boone. A shoulder injury cut short his season last year, and he was DFA'd in December.
I'm kind of surprised there wasn't more interest in Claussen. He had surgery on his shoulder and won't be ready by spring training, but still...
Yesterday, Mike G. of Yankees Roundtable offers a Proper Sendoff for Bubba:
I know this comes very late, but I realized that we never gave Crosby a proper goodbye after his four years with the Yanks...
While there was certainly no room for Bubba anymore on the Yankees, it was a little sad to see him go. He did have a lot of great moments and provide us with some good memories... He left the team leaving Yankee fans with a good feeling about his tenure.
Saw Mike’s post on Bubba Crosby and the video clip. Take a look at it again and note the following:
The Defensive clip is essentially the same play from the ALDS against Anaheim when Sheffield collided with Bubba. Note how fast Bubba tracked down the ball and crashed into the wall, while Sheffield clearly had decided to play it off the wall. If only Sheffield had done that in 2005.
The Reds traded a minor league pitcher to the Royals, and got reserve infielder Jeff Keppinger in return. To make room on the roster, infielder Ray Olmedo was DFA'd.
I have to admit, that kind of surprised me. Olmedo's stats aren't great, but he's young yet, and hasn't really gotten a lot of time to play. And he was doing well in winterball. Marc says the Reds management had issues with his work ethic.
Well, looking at the numbers, Keppinger is probably a good pickup. He's a much better hitter than Olmedo for both average and power (judging from their minor league stats), and appears to be better on defense, too. And he's only one year older.
The Reds also announced the Winter Caravan schedule. Near as I can tell, Winter Caravan is something small market teams do to promote the team in the off-season. Team officials, broadcasters, and a few players travel around and make stops in various towns, where fans can talk to them, get autographs, pose for photos, etc. Not a lot of players listed yet, and apparently, it's not the big name stars who sign up for this. Bubba is not on the list, and I don't know if they'd ask him. He's not really known to Reds fans.
Meanwhile, it's looking like former Reds pitcher Scott Schoeneweis will sign with the Mets. (The Yankees, in search of a lefty reliever, were reportedly interested in Schoeneweis. Villone says he's still hopeful the Yanks will call, and Pittsburgh is still hoping they can trade Gonzo, but the Yanks may just use Vizcaino against lefties. He's got good numbers against southpaws.)
The news on Bobby Murcer isn't good. The tumor was malignant after all. He will be undergoing chemo and radiation therapy.
If you would like to send him a card, you can write to him in care of YES:
Yankees Entertainment and Sports
405 Lexington Avenue, 36th Floor
New York, NY 10174-3699
The Reds put out a press release (PDF) yesterday. It's kind of a newsletter thing, with tidbits about all kinds of things. Griffey's hand is "healing as expected" - which is apparently what they always say. There's a list of the winterball stats of all the Reds players who participated. (Watch out for Norris Hopper, Bubba.) And there's a list of the spring training non-roster invitees. Only one outfielder on that list: Dewayne Wise, a 28-year-old lefty who would have made the roster last spring if not for an ill-timed injury.
So there will be nine outfielders at spring training. Ken Griffey, Jr., Adam Dunn, and Ryan Freel are guaranteed spots, which leaves Bubba Crosby, Chris Denorfia, Chris Dickerson, Josh Hamilton, Norris Hopper, and Dewayne Wise competing for the (probably) two remaining spots.
The press release also said the Reds would be providing satellite video feeds from Florida. Interviews, and that kind of thing, for the local news to show. Hopefully, MLB.TV will pick them up for us non-locals.
So, how about them Gators? I have to admit, I thought Michigan should have played Ohio State for the championship. But the BCS computer proved right in the end. Michigan didn't deserve to play in the Fiesta Bowl. Florida did.
I don't know what's worse, being blown out by a team you were supposed to easily beat, or just barely losing, as the Cowboys did against Seattle. Poor Tony Romo. He lost the game, not as quarterback, but as holder. I had a really bad feeling about that field goal kick, but I thought it would be the long snapper or Grammatica who would screw up, not Romo.
Back to baseball...Bucco Blog thinks the reason the Melky-for-Gonzo trade fell through was that Melky wasn't playing that well in winterball.
Then came the Yankees/Braves/Pirates swap'ola while Cabrera was playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic. While Melky saw a vast improvement in his strike zone judgment and ran better routes in the OF, he didn't show any power at the plate which refueled everyone's speculation that he simply doesn't have MLB corner OF stamped on him for a good team and will never run good enough routes to play adequate CF.
I guess the biggest news of the day is that Miguel Cairo has been re-signed. This despite all the reports yesterday that Cashman was "looking outside the organization."
A lot of Yankees fans don't like Cairo. I'm not sure why. He's not a slugger, but if he was, he wouldn't be a utility guy. Most stats say he's better on defense than the starters, but perhaps fans don't realize it because he looks kind of klutzy on the field. He doesn't have the grace of a Jeter or a Cano. But he gets to the ball. His batting average is not very good, but it's much better with runners on. He's a good situational hitter. He's probably the best bunter on the team, now that Bubba's left for greener (er...Redder?) pastures. And Bowa says Cairo is the best baserunner on the team. Not the fastest, but the best.
There were a lot of ex-Yankees in the news this week. Mike Vento, an outfielder who got a cup of coffee with the Yankees a couple of years ago, got a minor league deal with the Blue Jays, and an invitation to spring training. He had a pretty good season with the Nats, mostly with their Triple-A club.
The Rockies were rumored to be talking to Sal Fasano, but it sounds like they will be signing Javy Lopez as a backup catcher instead.
Karim Garcia lost his job in Japan, and is back in the states. The Rockies have offered him a minor league deal.
Ron Villone says he hasn't heard from the Yankees, though they purport to be still considering him. I think the Yankees will be adding a southpaw to the bullpen soon. If not Villone, then Mike Gonzalez or Scott Schoeneweis.
On the Reds front...WBRS Sports Blog has a story about a personal encounter with Ken Griffey, Jr. (Cast and all.) He seems like a really nice guy.
And ye gods and little fishies, a Red Sox fan signed my guestbook. She's a fan of Bubba's, but hates the Yanks, so she's glad he's escaped from the "Evil Empire." Wow. Who knew Bubba had fans in Red Sox Nation?
June 9, 2006: Tampa Yankees 2, Dunedin Blue Jays 1
This was the first rehab game Bubba played, when he was working his way back from that hamstring injury. I decided it deserves a recap, because the losing pitcher was one Daryl Harang. He's the younger, smaller, left-handed brother of Aaron Harang, the Reds' ace.
At least, I'm pretty sure they're brothers. They were both born in San Diego and attended San Diego State. And this page says Daryl and Aaron are brothers. Though curiously, it gives Daryl's middle name as Andrew, instead of Merritt. But there can't be two left-handed pitchers named Daryl Harang from San Diego. Or could there? ("This is my brother Daryl, and this is my other brother Daryl...")
Anyway, this was the first game Bubba had played in three weeks. He was in left field, batting third. Though he was fine in the outfield, he was a little rusty at the plate. Things didn't start out well. Bubba came up in the first inning, one out, man on first. And grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Bubba came up again in the 4th, man on 1B, no outs. He singled to right, moving the runner to 3B. He was out at 2B on the next play, another GIDP, but the runner on 3B scored, tying the game at 1-1. A fly out ended the inning, but Tampa was on the board.
He led off at the top of the 7th, but struck out. The game was still tied, 1-1, in bottom of the 9th, when Daryl Harang took the mound. Groundout, double, groundout. Bubba comes to bat with two outs, a man on third. Talk about your clutch situations. Does he bring the winning run home? Or strike out again? Neither. He's hit by a pitch. Harang then throws a wild pitch to the next batter, and the runner on 3B scores. The Yan-kees win!
So there you have it...how Bubba got plunked by Aaron Harang's kid brother and helped win the game. What a clutch HBP.
The Yankees are back from the holidays and trading up a storm. They've signed Doug Mientkiewicz to play first base. He's a lefty, which they really didn't need. But he's supposedly got a good glove (or once did, anyway). This might be bad news for Andy Phillips.
It's probably good news for A-Rod (assuming he's not traded). Doug and Alex were childhood chums, so A-Rod will have at least one friend in the clubhouse now.
Many Yankee fans are disappointed; they wanted a better hitter. I'd have preferred to give Craig Wilson another shot, but I can live with Mientkiewicz. I'm not sure I can live with spelling his name, though. If the Yankees end up signing Scott Schoeneweis, too, I may just give up writing about the Yankees.
The long-rumored Randy Johnson trade has been finalized as well, and the Yankees did better than I expected, getting four players: Luis Vizcaino, Ross Ohlendorf, Stephen Jackson and Alberto Gonzalez. Gonzalez is a shortstop; the others are all right-handed pitchers.
Which leads one to believe that Cashman may be stocking up on some trade chips, since the Yanks now have a ton of pitching talent at all levels, particularly right-handed pitchers. Perhaps he's planning to make a run for Santana or Willis? And the Melky-for-Gonzo deal may be back on. If Ian Kennedy is involved, as was rumored before Christmas, they couldn't finalize it until the end of January anyway. Now they have Vizcaino to offer as well - either as a trade chip, or a replacement for Proctor, should they trade him.
Yankees spring training tickets go on sale tomorrow. They host the Reds twice.
Not much going on on the Reds front. USA Today posted a Reds organizational report today. No mention of Bubba, but it's interesting anyway. They faded down the stretch last season; Narron thinks they wore down mentally. Just not used to still being in it at that point in the year.
They also have a new batting coach, who they are hoping will help them reduce strikouts.
The new batting coach, Brook Jacoby, who had a career .270 average over 11 major league seasons, replaces Chris Chambliss and will try to shift the offense from relying on power to one that's more versatile and can generate runs in various ways.
Reds spring training tickets are now on sale. But they aren't selling tickets to the Yankees game yet, except as part of a multigame pack. Single-game tickets for that one will go on sale January 13.
And check out this car ad, starring Bronson Arroyo. Bwahahahahahaha! I'm not sure what the story with that is. Outtake? Fake? I can't believe it's a real ad. Whatever it is, it's hilarious.