Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?
I e-mailed the Bats radio guys tonight, and asked them about Bubba. Apparently, they meant it literally when they said they had no news about Bubba. They said they haven't heard anything about him from either manager Rick Sweet or trainer Chris Lapole.
They did say that, unofficially, they heard that Bubba might be rejoining the Bats to continue rehabbing. And they didn't rule out his being activated in time to play when the Bats come to Scranton at the end of July. So I guess there's still hope.
On the pinstriped front...no trade news yet. Yanks lost again. Igawa gave up way too many home runs, but it didn't really matter, since the Yanks didn't score at all.
Amazingly, Andy Phillips got yet another start at first base. He went 0 for 2 with a walk. No one did very well at the plate today. The Yanks had only one hit in the entire game (by Johnny Damon). At least Joe didn't put Cairo in for Andy today. (Probably because down 0-7, defense wasn't what was needed.)
Chris Basak came in at the top of the 9th for Jeter. (Wow, Basak is alive. Who knew?) No, it wasn't a defensive replacement. Jeter has some right knee tendinitis. Torre expects Jeter to play tomorrow, but if he can't, Cairo will play SS. (Which would mean Andy starts at 1B again, I guess.)
Bats radio announcer Jim Kelch said tonight that there's no news at all about Bubba. Which he saw as bad news. Miguel Perez, who was expected to miss the entire season, was playing for the Gulf Coast Reds, and is now playing for the Sarasota Reds. Bubba isn't. Jim thinks this may end up being a "lost season" for Bubba.
Sigh. I was really hoping he'd be back with the Bats when they come to Scranton at the end of July.
The Reds once again flamed out in the 8th inning tonight. It took them three pitchers to get through the dreaded 8th, and they gave up three runs and the lead.
On the bright side, Ryan Freel is playing very well down in Louisville, and may be rejoining the Reds soon.
The Yankees won a one-run game tonight (a rarity for them this season). Andy Phillips' homer yesterday apparently impressed Joe enough that he got another start tonight. Unfortunately, Andy went 0 for 3, and Joe pulled him at the top of the 8th to put Miguel Cairo in.
I don't get that at all. I'm a fan of Miggy's defense, and I would understand the move if it was 2B or 3B. But at 1B, Andy has the better glove. He certainly isn't worse than Cairo. What was Joe thinking?
The Reds have resorted to desperate measures to get buns in the seats. They've giving away free gasoline.
Appropriate, I guess. Relief pitchers are supposed to put out fires, but Cincinnati's pour gasoline on them.
I think Reds have given up on the season.
The Yankees are almost as bad, but being the Yankees, they haven't quite given up. Tonight, the Angels told Shea Hillenbrand that he's being DFA'd on Friday. And some are speculating that that means he's being traded to the Yanks.
Ugh. I'm not wild about that idea. One, Hillenbrand seems like a troublemaker. That's why the Jays got rid of him. Two, he's not that great. A .600 OPS for a DH is nothing to write home about. Three, what will it cost to get him? Four, it probably means Andy Phillips gets DFA'd. I hope this rumor turns out to be untrue.
The Yankees were blanked by the Orioles tonight. It was Clemens vs. Bedard, and Clemens didn't quite look ready for prime time yet.
Of course the game reminded me of Bubba's walkoff homer game. The Yanks struggled against Bedard that night, too. Except Bubba, who went 2 for 3 against him, before he hit the home run off DuBose.
The Yanks sure could've used some of that tonight.
RESUME: Led Vero Beach (A) in home runs in 2000... Overcame back, knee, and shoulder injuries... Hit .296 with 19 steals for San Bernardino (A) in 1999... Swatted .394 with 25 homers for Rice Owls in '98... Named to Western Athletic All-Conference Team.
SKILLS: Good power/speed hybrid... Shows fine strike zone judgment... Impresses scouts with work ethic and attitude.
UP CLOSE: Hit homer in second game of '00 Cal League playoffs to lead San Bernardino to 6-5 win over Lake Elsinore.
...is that tomorrow is Friday.
You know it's not going to be a good day when you arrive at work and find there's been a hazardous waste spill in the building. The place was filled with weird chemical smells, and OSHA representatives were there telling everyone not to worry, it may smell bad, but the harmful part has already evaporated and it's safe.
Needless to say, many were not reassured. There were meetings, and calls to the union, and much furious e-mailing. I ignored it all, and kept my nose to the computer. Half an hour before lunch, an e-mail popped up on my screen. They're shutting down the building, go home. Woot! Free time off.
It was a beautiful day. The first day of summer. I should have gone out and enjoyed it. Maybe visited the farmer's market they have Thursday afternoons at the local college. But noooo, I decided to try and fix my home wireless network. It had gotten really glitchy the past two days. I couldn't even get in to MLB.com - disaster! I figured it wouldn't take long.
Hah. I ended up wrestling with it all day. I have a hard time walking away from an unsolved problem. When I finally figured it out, it was after dinner time, and I had no idea where the time went. (It was the SPI firewall that was the problem, if anyone's wondering. Don't ask me why it was suddenly a problem now, after working fine for four months. Computers move in mysterious ways.)
I did have the Yankees game on while I was futzing around with the router. Nice that there was a day game on. Not nice that the Yanks lost again. They were swept by the Rockies. The Reds were not swept, at least.
Poor Andy Phillips is not doing well. He has yet to get a hit, and he's had some pretty crummy at-bats. GIDP, strike out on three pitches, etc.
He's gotten only one start, and it's not like the rest of the lineup is hitting much, either. But I fear the leash will be very short for Andy. If he doesn't hit well right away, they'll DFA him and trade for a first baseman. Possibly the Reds' Scott Hatteberg.
Hatteberg would be the best fit, but the grapevine is saying that Hatteberg (and Dunn) are a smokescreen. The Reds really want to trade Griffey. Supposedly because he's made it clear he wants to be traded.
I could understand that, if it's true. He's done just about everything...except win a ring. He doesn't have much time left. It's natural to want to go to a contender. His career may be over by the time Cincinnati finishes rebuilding.
Still, I don't really see a match with the Yankees. They don't need another DH. They need a first baseman, not an outfielder. They want a righty, not a lefty. He's a valuable marquee star in Cincinnati; in NY, he'd be just another aging all-star on a team full of them. And the press would drive him crazy.
The Bats' second charity auction (camouflage jerseys, to benefit the children of members of the military killed in the line of duty) ended at midnight last night. Once again, Bellhorn was the one who brought in the most money. Joey Votto was leading for most of the auction, but as I suspected, Bellhorn's beantowners were just waiting to make their move. When the dust settled, Votto's jersey went for $360, and Bellhorn's went for $810.
Buddy Bat came in third at $250. But Aaron Herr was close behind, at $215.
I'm sure Bubba's jersey would have brought in some dinero if he was still with the team. I'd have bid.
Bubba is apparently still in Florida. Not sure what he's doing. He doesn't seem to be playing with either the Sarasota Reds or the Gulf Coast Reds.
Bats radio announcer Jim Kelch said today that Bubba's had a setback in his throwing. I'm not sure if he's talking about the same setback announced previously, or if this is a new one. I could have e-mailed him and asked, but if it was bad news, I didn't want to hear it. Not today.
According to ads running on local TV, today is the first game for the Hudson Valley Renegades, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' short-season class-A team (where Josh Hamilton was playing last year). That means extended spring training must be over. So what are they going to do with Bubba?
I e-mailed the Bats radio announcers last night to ask, and they said there hasn't been a decision yet. The Reds organization is still mulling it over.
In other news, the Baltimore Orioles fired manager Sam Perlozzo (leading some to speculate that the Reds' Jerry Narron may be next). Bubba Crosby fans may remember Perlozzo as the manager who was ejected from the game for arguing that Bubba was running inside the line during the collision with Brian Roberts. (He wasn't, as replay, including an overhead shot, clearly showed.) To give Perlozzo credit, when he cooled down, he admitted that Bubba had done nothing wrong. Perlozzo said he was just upset at seeing Roberts in such pain - which is entirely understandable.
The Bats are auctioning off special camouflage jerseys. They were worn on June 12. The auction will benefit the children of armed forces members killed in the line of duty.
Joey Votto's jersey has the high bid. I'm kind of surprised Mark Bellhorn's jersey isn't getting more. He was the runaway winner in the last auction (for Virginia Tech hats), easily beating out runners-up Homer Bailey and Bubba Crosby.
All kinds of trade rumors swirling over the past couple of days. The Reds may be ready to stick a fork in their season, and hold a fire sale. Or at least sell some of their stars today in hopes of making a run next year.
A Reds scout was spotted at the Yankees-Diamondbacks game last night. Everyone thinks the Yanks are after Adam Dunn, or maybe David Weathers. But Hal McCoy hinted tonight that Hatteberg is the target, not Dunn.
That actually makes sense to me. There's no room for Dunn on the Yankees. They don't need an all-bat, no glove outfielder. True, Damon has had injury issues this season, but Dunn doesn't have the range for CF.
The Yankees do need a first baseman. Hatteberg is pretty old, but he'd only be a rent-a-player. And that's what they need this season. Minky's on the DL for a couple of months, and Giambi's probably out for the rest of the season. Phelps is a nightmare on defense. Basak will be stuck behind Cairo, and probably wouldn't be that great even if he did get a chance to play.
Hatteberg's got a good bat (though perhaps not as good away from GABP). And his defense is very solid. Baseball Think Factory picked him as the NL's Gold Glove first baseman last year.
(The AL picks are here. Minky is number 2 on the list; I guess they don't agree with those who say his Gold Glove days are behind him now. Most interesting is the comment that the Yankees' outfield was horrible defensively, and that that's why they couldn't get past the Tiggers. Damon was fine last year by their stats, but Bernie, Melky, and surprisingly, Abreu, were terrible.)
Anyways, assuming there's substance to these trade rumors...who were the Reds scouting last night? Most of the Yankees' 25-man roster are probably beyond the Reds' budget. Melky Cabrera is a possibility. The Reds will need an outfielder if they trade Dunn. Melky has better range than Dunn, though his bat is suspect. He's young and cheap.
Another possibility: Kyle Farnsworth. His $5 million a year salary is reasonable. The Reds desperately need a closer, and Farnsworth was one, before he became the Yanks' setup man. I think the Yanks would be willing to deal him, because he's kind of a pain. He can't pitch more than one inning, he can't pitch on back-to-back days, and his back is prone to going out with no warning. You gotta love his 102 mph fastball, but all his limitations are a serious burden on the rest of the pen.
We'll have to wait and see if anything comes of this. The Reds are playing much better lately, and so are the Yanks. Maybe they'll decide there's no need for a trade.
Jim Kelch, the Bats radio announcer, usually interviews someone connected to the Bats during the pre-game show. Today it was Bats trainer Chris Lapole. He talked about all the Bats players on the DL. I snagged the short clip where he discusses Bubba; you can listen to it here (Windows Media).
Lapole said Bubba is doing very well down in Florida. He's DHing in the extended spring training games, and doing long-tossing. He said they found a problem with Bubba's throwing mechanics. That's why he couldn't quite get game-ready. He's working on fixing that. They expect him back with the Bats at the end of July.
The end of July...yikes. That means he'll miss more than half the season. I don't think he's ever missed this much time.
On the bright side, he just might be ready when the Bats make their northeast swing in July. Louisville is at Scranton July 24 to 27; I'm sure Yankee fans would be happy to see Bubba again.
Trent has some news about Ryan Freel today. It's not good. He's getting better, but is still suffering bad headaches and is not cleared for any physical activity. Freel estimates he's had about ten concussions in his life. It was the tenth concussion that ended Troy Aikman's career. Trent actually asked Freel his career might be in jeopardy; he just said he didn't want to think about that.
It may be a long time before Freel is back in the lineup. If he comes back.
Former Yankee Kelly Stinnett played in a Reds-Cards a couple of days ago. I was surprised to see him; I thought he'd retired. Apparently, he had, until the World Series champs begged him to un-retire.
As for why Stinnett was in the game...Molina is the DL. A foul tip fractured his wrist. Then Harang beaned Gary Bennett, and it was Kelly Stinnett to the rescue.
BTW...La Russa is an idiot. He went off on Harang for the HBP. Which was unfair. Harang is not that kind of guy, and even if he was, there was no reason for him to intentionally bean someone. There was nothing to retaliate for, and if you are going headhunting, the backup catcher is not usually the victim.
But seeing your player being hit in the head is frightening. (Especially when the backup is Kelly Stinnett.) I could understand his being upset. Remember that time the Orioles manager accused Bubba of running inside the line, the time Brian Roberts put his elbow between Bubba and 1B? He argued it so heatedly that he ended up being ejected. But...he cooled down the next day, and said that Bubba hadn't done anything wrong.
But La Russa was still kvetching and demanding that Harang be suspended two days later. Good gravy, man. Get a grip.
And on the Louisville front...the Bats announcers are steamed about Scranton's Shelly Duncan being chosen minor league player of the month over Joey Votto. They've been complaining about it for two days now. Maybe the coaches who voted were considering defense as well as offense. Though Duncan is probably not a future Gold Glover.
A lot of roster moves were made. Homer was called up, to the surprise of no one. Coffey was sent down to make room on the 25-man roster, which was a surprise. I was expecting McBeth to get the ticket to Louisville. I'm glad he'll stick around. He looks promising.
And Jeff Bannon, who was on, then off, then on the DL, is off again. Earl Snyder was released to make room for him. Wow. Snyder hadn't been hitting well, but I wasn't expecting him to be released.
Disappointing news about Bubba. He's suffered a setback down in Florida. When he left the Bats, he was long-tossing 120 feet and was considered almost ready to return. But they've cut him back to 90 feet, and he's now considered "a ways away."
Well, the Yanks made their move yesterday, and Andy Phillips did not get the call. Instead, they called up Chris Basak.
Basak is not hitting anywhere near as well as Andy. And no, it's not a matter of giving a young player with more upside a chance. Basak is 28, only a year younger than Andy. He was drafted at the same time, but has never been called up until now. This guy is not a prospect.
I suspect Basak got the call instead of Andy because he has options left, and Andy does not. Basak is probably going to be the "break glass in case of emergency" backup, perhaps riding the Scranton shuttle periodically. Miguel Cairo will probably be getting most of the starts at 1B.
I like Miggy. He's a good clutch hitter, can bunt well, and is solid on defense. Bowa said he was the best baserunner on the team. And he's content to be a backup, and to play any position they ask. Infield, outfield, catcher - he's game.
But a little Cairo goes a long way. He's best as a utility guy. I'm fine with him spot-starting, but Minky is going to be out two months or more. In this situation, they should call up a player and use him every day, and keep Cairo as the backup. This was one reason I wanted Andy called up. I think Joe trusted him enough to use him every day, ahead of Miggy.
The Yankees also made other moves. Matt DeSalvo was sent back to Scranton. Sean Henn was recalled. Kevin Thompson was sent down to make room for him. And Carl Pavano was moved from the 15-day to the 60-day DL to clear space on the 40-main roster for Basak.
This is just maddening. Kevin Thompson got all of one start in the month he was in the big leagues. DeSalvo and Henn deserve longer leashes than they've gotten.
It's classic Torre, really. Sit the kid on the bench until he's cold as ice and covered with rust, then throw him out there. When he fails, decide he'll never make it, and bury him at the back of the bench.
The jump from AAA to the big leagues is huge, much greater than any of the minor league jumps. Players need time to adjust if they hope to succeed. The Yankees have been notoriously impatient with young players, and I think Torre is a big reason why. He never gives the kids a chance, unless he's forced to, or they are heralded as the next superstar.
Maybe players like Andy Phillips and Bubba Crosby were never going to be hall of famers, but they could have solid big league careers, and be very useful. But not with Torre in charge.
I have been on the fence about Torre. I don't hate him, and I haven't bashed him like many other fans. I recognize and appreciate his strengths (dealing with player egos and the rats-on-crack New York media). I didn't really want him fired.
I've changed my mind. Joe must go. Not because he can't seem to get along with A-Rod. Not because of his push-button game managing and terrible bullpen use. I want him gone, because of what his "veterans only" bias is doing to the careers of young players - and to the future of the Yankees. Enough, already.
The photo is from spring training 1999, which would make Bubba 22 years old when it was taken. I've added several more portraits to the Web site, from Bubba's Dodgers and Yankees days.
And I've come across several familiar names recently, and thought I'd do a brief rundown...
Poor Doug Mientkiewicz got kicked in the head by Mike Lowell yesterday in a collision at 1B. He has a concussion, a sprained neck, and a broken wrist. He's on the DL, expected to be out 6-8 weeks. The Yankees have called up pitcher Matt de Salvo again for now, but eventually will have to call up a first baseman. A lot of Yankees fans are hoping for Shelly Duncan, who is raking. But most think that it will be Andy Phillips. He was held out of the Scranton lineup tonight, giving weight to the rumors.
I wouldn't mind seeing Andy again. It did pleck me off when they kept him but DFA'd Bubba. I felt Bubba had a lot more to offer as a bench player than Andy, who couldn't hit, was mediocre on defense, and was a terrible baserunner.
But Andy's defense is much better than Josh Phelps'. And he could probably learn to hit big league pitching. His left/right splits were reversed last year, and I suspect it was because the scouts found a hole in his swing and pitchers adjusted. He has to made adjustments in turn, and I think he can.
Besides, I'm kinda sentimental. I think of former Yankees as old friends, and I'm always happy to see them again.
Speaking of which...I was surprised to find Craig Wilson in the Charlotte Knights lineup last week when they were playing the Bats. I'd heard Atlanta released him, but I hadn't heard he'd been signed. He was. The Chicago White Sox signed him to a minor league deal.
I never expected his stock to fall so far, so fast. He's just never been the same since he left Pittsburgh.
And part of my recent vacation was spent in the Pittsburgh area. I watched a lot of Pirates games. (I stayed with a friend who's a rabid Pirates fan.) Shawn Chacon had been relegated to the bullpen, but did so well there that he was promoted to fifth starter. I saw his first start, and it wasn't great. It was typical Obi-Shawn - a lot of walks, a lot of hits, but the score not as bad as it could be. He was pulled in the 5th inning. Probably partly because he was in trouble, partly because it was his first start. But he did a lot better in his second start: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 10 K. He didn't get the win, though, because the closer, Salomon Torres, blew it. Torres was sent down the minors after the game. Guess they miss Gonzo.
And I watched part of the Yankees Classic game on YES this afternoon. It was the one where Jeter flies face-first into the stands. I hadn't noticed before, but they showed Bubba cheering in the dugout a lot. He got so excited he was jumping up and down like a rabbit on crack.
Okay, Barry isn't a hurricane. It was a tropical storm, and is now a tropical depression. But it sounds like it rained out Sarasota's extended spring training game today. And it's now moving up the east coast, and will likely rain out the Bats in Durham tomorrow.
Speaking of Durham...there's an article in the Durham paper about Josh Hamilton today:
Hamilton's journey of peaks and valleys
(Free registration required. Or use BugMeNot.)
It has a sort-of explanation of why he was DLed.
Give Krivsky credit for being wise.
"If it wasn't the second time he had something similar, it might have been a different story," Krivsky said on the Reds' Web site. "But this is the second time in a month. If you consider everything Josh has gone through since Feb. 1 - and probably back to the winter - to prepare to come into the big leagues, he's been getting after it pretty good. I'm sure it has been a shock to his system, like it would be to anybody."
Common sense said it's a good idea to take a step back and see how Hamilton feels and plays.
...and hitting a brick wall.
I really thought the Yanks' struggles might be behind them, after the nice win against the Sox yesterday. Alas, the baseball gods were only setting me up.
I guess I should have known when the report on Clemens came in. He's got some kind of groin injury, and has been scratched from his 2007 Yankees debut. Kei Igawa may start in his place.
Today's game looked good at first. The Yanks were hitting, even players like Melky who haven't been hitting. But Moose was not pitching well, and he kept letting the Red Sox back in it. The Yanks had a lead and blew it...three times. It was the 7th inning that put a stake through the pinstriped heart. It was just horrendous. A microcosm of the Yanks' season. Torre mismanaging the bullpen with disastrous results. (I was wishing Everyday Scott Proctor had been suspended for throwing at Lowell's head yesterday, so Joe couldn't use him.) The bullpen blowing a lead...again. Bobby Abreu letting a deep fly drop in, because he's afraid of the wall. (Bubba would have gotten that one.) Jeter making two errors in the half-inning. Lowell kicking Minky in the head in a collision at 1B (he's in the hospital undergoing tests). The Sox scored five runs, and that pretty much put the game out of reach.
I hope Minky is okay. I know a lot of fans are probably hoping he'll be out awhile, to give Phelps a chance, but I hate to see any player hurt. And I like Minky. He doesn't hit much, but he's much better on defense than Phelps (or Giambi, though Giambi won't be playing any time soon). And I really think the Yanks need defense more than hitting right now. Their bats are coming alive; it's pitching and defense that's killing them.
A lot of medical news the past couple of days...
Jason Giambi is headed to the DL. He has a "tear of the plantar fascia in his left foot." He won't need surgery, but he's expected to be out for at least a month, possibly longer. Kevin Thompson has been called up. (Giambi was mostly a DH; they are planning to let Damon DH instead, and use Melky in CF, so they now need a backup outfielder.)
Meanwhile, the Reds' Ryan Freel may be out for awhile. He apparently has a concussion. He's had a lot of them, which is not surprising if you've ever watched him play.
These days, they tend to be very cautious with athletes who have suffered concussions. "Second impact syndrome" is a concern. It can be very dangerous, even life-threatening, to suffer another concussion when you're still recovering from one.
Another issue is that the damage from repeated concussions is cumulative. It can make you more vulnerable to future concussions. It can even be career-ending, as it was for Troy Aikman.
Since Freel actually lost consciousness, he had at least a Grade III concussion. That will likely keep him out at least a month.
And the Bats' Jeff Keppinger has had a setback. He came off the DL a couple of days ago, but was put back on it today. It's the same problem: left oblique strain. I guess they tried to rush him back too soon. Jesse Gutierrez was called up to take his spot.
Nothing new on Bubba; I guess no news is good news. He's in Sarasota, presumably playing in extended spring training games. Jim Kelch said he'll be keeping an eye on Bubba's progress.
Josh Hamilton said in an interview yesterday that he'll be rejoining the Reds on Tuesday. Though he's eligible to come off the DL Sunday, they don't want to fly him out to Colorado for one game. Monday is an off day, so he'll meet them in St. Louis on Tuesday.