All Things Bubba

Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Andy Phillips and the Tuscaloosa Tornadoes

In case you were wondering about Andy Phillips and his family...

From the NY Times:

A Former Yankee Applies Big-League Lessons at Alabama

Andy Phillips was on a recruiting trip Wednesday when tornadoes ravaged his hometown, Tuscaloosa, Ala. Phillips, a former Yankees infielder who is now the hitting coach at the University of Alabama, said his family and his players were accounted for. But some players lost everything, he said, and friends told him the campus had been devastated.

“There’s almost a milewide path the tornado went through,” Phillips said over the phone. “They said you could literally stand a mile and a half away from the Coliseum, where there used to be homes and buildings in between, and now there’s nothing.”

Phillips, 34, is a proud Alabaman, finally home after a 12-year professional odyssey. He played for three College World Series teams at Alabama, then toiled in the minors for six seasons before the Yankees called him up in September 2004. He spent much of the next three seasons with the Yankees, jumped to the Cincinnati Reds and the Mets in 2008, and played the past two seasons in Japan.

Last December, Phillips worked out on campus for the Boston Red Sox. When he was done, the Alabama head coach, Mitch Gaspard, told Phillips he had an opening on his staff and would hate to fill it without asking Phillips first.

Phillips immediately called his agent and decided to retire from playing — “on my terms, not as a roster casualty,” he said — to stay at home and coach for the Crimson Tide. He said the transition had been smooth.

“I could have done the whole minor-league-invite thing, gone to Triple-A and fought my way to get back for a few months,” Phillips said. “But I looked at it and I thought, Is it really going to get any better professionally than what I’ve already done? No. And I was cool with that. I haven’t thought about playing one time.”

Phillips, who hit .250 in 259 career games, said he often shared techniques he picked up from Don Mattingly and Kevin Long, his coaches with the Yankees. From Manager Joe Torre, he said, he learned the importance of staying consistent emotionally.

After Florida swept the Tide in a three-game series last weekend, Phillips told his players about a pep talk he received from Derek Jeter when the Yankees were struggling in 2007.

“We had a losing record in April and May, and we were 14 games back,” Phillips said. “I remember talking to him one night and saying, ‘What do you think?’ And he said: ‘Everybody shows up tomorrow. Everybody decides they’re going to get a little better, elevate their game a little bit. Then we’ll win tomorrow, do the same thing the next day, and at the end of the year, we’ll be where we want to be.’ ”

The Yankees, who were 14 ½ games behind Boston on May 29, indeed rallied to capture a wild-card berth, but Phillips was inactive for the playoffs. He broke his wrist on an errant pitch in early September, when he was batting .292.

The injury ended his season, and Phillips never played for the Yankees again. But five years in the majors, and more time striving to get there, are paying off now.

“Looking back at my playing career, there were a lot of positives to all different positions I had to learn,” Phillips said. “That’s really prepared me to help our guys now.”

The twisters that hit Alabama were among the largest and most powerful ever recorded.


posted by BubbaFan, 2:26 PM | link | 0 comments |

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Soft-J and Hard-Jay have a good day

Paul Janish is apparently in the habit of explaining that his last name is pronounced with a "soft J." (I'm not sure that's entirely accurate. I always thought a soft J was a French J/G, like the second G in "garage." He pronounces it like a Y, which is common in Germanic-type languages.) But anyways, former Reds beat writer C. Trent Rosecrans promptly nicknamed Janish "Soft Baby J," which was soon shortened to "Soft-J." I even saw a girl at the ballpark wearing a t-shirt that said, "I ♥ Soft-J."

Amusingly, some Reds fans have taken to calling Jay Bruce, Janish's teammate, "Hard Jay." Very fitting, IMO. Not least because Bruce and Janish are apparently very good friends - Texas boys who came up together in the Reds system.

In any case, both had pretty good days at the office today. In fact, all the Reds' Texas boys did, with the exception of relief pitcher Logan Ondrusek, who struggled a bit. Bruce was 3 for 5 with a run scored. Drew Stubbs was 2 for 5 with 3 runs scored, a walk, and the game-winning homer. His UT teammate, Sam LeCure, was the starting pitcher, and did okay, all things considered. And Janish was 3 for 4 with a double and a sac fly.

Dusty Baker has been shuffling the lineup around a bit, partly because the Reds have been struggling offensively, partly because injuries have left him without a real third baseman. With Scott Rolen and his backup, Juan Francisco, both on the DL, Miguel Cairo is the starting third baseman. As we Yankee fans know, Miggy's a decent utility guy, but best in small doses. Dusty apparently realizes this, and has been giving Janish some time at 3B while Renteria plays SS. I'm not sure I like this. Janish is a fine third baseman, but his strongest asset is his elite defense at the critical SS position. But Renteria either can't or won't play 3B, so Dusty may not have much choice. (Renteria had his third error today - a bad throw that let a run score. Given how little playing time he's gotten, that's not good.)

Perhaps most interesting was that Dusty moved Janish up in the lineup. He usually bats 8th. Today, he batted 7th, with catcher Ryan Hanigan batting 8th. Supposedly, this was to give Janish better pitches to hit. Hanigan has been struggling lately...but Janish has been struggling more. Perhaps Dusty thinks Hanigan is more likely to work a walk than Janish. Janish is pretty good at taking a walk, but Hanigan's even better.

And after today's results, Janish might find himself batting 7th more often.


posted by BubbaFan, 7:09 PM | link | 0 comments |

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Grand Theft Lillibridge

Second heartbreaking loss to the White Sox in a row for the Yankees tonight. But honestly, I almost didn't mind. Brent Lillibridge's two game-saving catches in the bottom of the 9th were so stunning I couldn't help but cheer for him. One against the fence, one a diving catch he barely got to. It was just unreal.

I admit, I love a great catch in the outfield more than any other play in baseball. And yes, Lillibridge's acrobatics reminded me of Bubba. I was thinking of him anyway, because the Pale Hose always seemed to bring out the best in Bubba. He had only four home runs in his major league career...three of them against the White Sox.

Lillibridge even looks a little like Bubba. He's righthanded, but is a speedy little guy. Lillibridge's ears are so prominent that some Yankee fans were calling him "Dumbo." Which reminded me of the NY Times beat writer who described Bubba as "all ears and enthusiasm."

Speaking of Bubba...I couldn't find Yankees Magazine on the newstands around here. I ended up subscribing. Still haven't gotten it. If that issue isn't included in my subscription, I figure there will at least be information on how to order back issues in the more recent ones.

posted by BubbaFan, 10:36 PM | link | 0 comments |

Holy Cow

Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Phil Humber was awesome last night. He took a no-hitter into the 7th, finally giving up a single to A-Rod. Not bad for a guy who was waived twice during the off-season.

Is he really that good? Not sure. Al Leiter liked how he was pitching. But the Yanks have traditionally struggled against pitchers they've never seen before. He might have a much harder time of it if he faces them again.

Paul Janish, OTOH, did not have a great night. He went 0 for 3 with a walk, and committed his first error of the season. Luckily, the rest of his teammates did fine, giving the Reds the victory. Still, the Brewers announcers called him out for being the only Red without a hit. (No respect for walks in Milwaukee, I guess.)


posted by BubbaFan, 7:01 AM | link | 0 comments |

Monday, April 25, 2011

Humber faces the Yankees

Phil Humber, after being DFA'd by both the Royals and the A's in the off-season, was called up the White Sox and is doing okay. He takes the mound in Yankee Stadium tonight.

And there's this article, about Paul Janish:

Overshadowed Janish quietly seizing shot with Reds

It's from April 12, but has some interesting stuff. In particular, Dusty Baker got Rich Aurilia to serve as a mentor for Janish.

Among the things that helped Janish maintain confidence and perspective during the summer -- and among the examples of why Baker is so skilled at handling players -- was the fact that the manager recruited one of his former players, Rich Aurilia, to essentially act as a psychological tutor.

When Aurilia was a pup coming up in San Francisco, same thing had happened to him with Royce Clayton, Shawon Dunston and Jose Vizcaino.

"Richie had to do it three times," Baker says of his former shortstop having the rug pulled out from under him as a young player. "Paulie had to do it once.

"At least this time I had a little more input than last time with Rich."

Meaning, as an established manager now, Baker is allowed more input by general manager Walt Jocketty than he was back in the early days in San Francisco by then-GM Bob Quinn.

The conversations with Aurilia meant a lot to Janish.

"I didn't know Rich well, but he's an awesome guy," Janish says. "And Dusty getting me in touch with him showed me a lot about what Dusty thought of me long-term, too."

Janish hopes to be the long-term answer at shortstop.

"I'm not looking just to interview in the first half of the season," Janish says. "I'm looking to be the shortstop here for a long time."

The Reds could do worse than Janish. Yes, he's a light hitter, but most shortstops are, these days. For awhile it looked like Zack Cozart, who has a bit more power than Janish, if less patience, might be the shortstop of the future for the Reds. But he's repeating AAA this year, and is not doing well. There's plenty of talent in the Reds farm system, but no one near ready for the show yet.

I would like to see Janish hit for a little more power, and walk a little more. During spring training and during the regular season so far, he's put up a good batting average, but it's all singles. He's had a good eye at the plate all his career, so it's weird that he's walked so little. Especially since he's hitting in front of the pitcher. And I don't expect him to be a power hitter, but he's shown occasional pop over his career, both in the minors and last year in the big leagues. He's the only Reds starter who hasn't hit a single home run yet this season. He hit three or four of them the month he started last season.

Labels: ,

posted by BubbaFan, 5:17 PM | link | 0 comments |

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pendleton's Second Outing

I guess the Yankees' plan was for Lance Pendleton to "shadow" Bartolo Colon. Colon didn't really need a shadow last night. He was lights-out. Like the Colon of old.

Nevertheless, with the pen exhausted, Pendleton got the nod in the bottom of the ninth. The good news is that his ERA is still 0.00. The bad news is that it's because he got the hook and Rafael Soriano cleaned up his mess. He walked Edwin Encarnacion, got a lineout from J. P. Arencibia, then gave up a double to Travis Snider. With runners at second and third and the score 6-2, Girardi had seen enough, and Pendleton got the hook.

Too many walks was the reason the Astros returned him to the Yankees after taking him in the Rule 5 draft. Guess he still has a few things to work on.


posted by BubbaFan, 6:28 PM | link | 0 comments |

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lance Pendleton called up

This actually happened last week, but I've been on the road and not keeping up with baseball.

Pendleton is well-traveled this season. A teammate of Paul Janish's at Rice, he was drafted by the Yankees in the 4th round in 2005. His hometown Astros took him from the Yanks last December in the Rule 5 draft, but returned him at the end of spring training. He cleared waivers and ended up in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

With Phil Hughes on the DL with a tired arm, Bartolo Colon was moved from the bullpen to the starting rotation. Pendleton is taking Colon's spot in the pen. So far, so good.

They Like Lance A Lot

Lance Pendleton got the word in Scranton Friday that he always hoped he'd hear.

He was off to the Bronx to make his major league debut.

"I was told at 3:10 p.m.," Pendleton said. "I packed up my locker, packed a suitcase, got the wife and son, dropped off the dog and, don't tell the state police, but I made it in two hours."

Pendleton, who was selected by the Astros from the Yankees in the Rule 5 Draft in December but returned to the Yanks in March, ended his hectic day with three perfect innings, including striking out Elvis Andrus, his first batter in the bigs.

"It's so surreal," said Pendleton, who pitched a flawless seventh, eighth and ninth. "I definitely had some butterflies going but it was good to keep them down in my stomach and not let them affect by arm."

Pendleton first had to convince his wife that he wasn't kidding about his callup.

"At first she thought I was joking," Pendleton said. "But we have a little secret word that we say that you can't joke if we say that word and then she started crying and said, 'What are we going to do? What does this mean?' I said I have no idea. I know we're driving to New York and past that I have no idea.'"

If Pendleton continues to throw as he did Friday night, he may have to send for his dog.

"He threw strikes with all his pitches," Girardi said. "For the first time pitching in Yankee Stadium against a team that went to the World Series last year, I was impressed."

Pendleton, who will wear No.39, said, "They could put 101 on my back and I won't care. I couldn't have written it up any better than this other than I wish we would have won. But if we were winning I might not have pitched."

He and his wife have a safe word for jokes? He must be quite the jokester.

I was hoping to see him pitch in Scranton later this season, but I guess I waited too long. Great opportunity for him, though, and I hope he makes it hard for them to send him back down.


posted by BubbaFan, 5:17 PM | link | 1 comments |

Friday, April 08, 2011

Bubba Crosby in Yankees Magazine

There's an article about Bubba in this month's issue (April 2011) of Yankees Magazine.

The April issue also includes the first of two “New York Yankees Alumni Newsletters” that will be published in 2011. This month’s alumni spotlight is on Bubba Crosby, who was a fan-favorite earlier in the decade and now runs a huge landscaping business in Texas.

(Hat tip to Harold, who left a message about this in the Guestbook at

I haven't actually seen the article yet. I will go out in search of it tomorrow. Hopefully it's available at local newstands. If not, I'll have to buy a subscription or something.


posted by BubbaFan, 10:32 PM | link | 0 comments |

Monday, April 04, 2011

Study: Pitchers more likely to 'bean' batters in hot weather

...but only in retaliation:

Baseball pitchers intentionally "bean" more batters in retaliation during hot weather, finds a new study.

...Researchers speculated that the uncomfortable weather may make pitchers more likely to interpret the prior hit to their teammate as “deliberate and hostile” rather than accidental, and seek revenge.

“We found that heat does not lead to more aggression in general. Instead, heat affects a specific form of aggression. It increases retribution,” Richard Larrick, a management professor, said in a news release.

I wonder what possessed them to even wonder about this. Fear that global warming will lead to more bench-clearing brawls, maybe?


posted by BubbaFan, 6:23 PM | link | 0 comments |

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Janish off to a strong start

Paul Janish has played in the first and third Reds games. He went 2 for 4 in Game 1 and 2 for 5 with a double in Game 3. Which means he's batting .444 and OPSing 1.000. Okay, probably not sustainable. But it's good that he's getting off to a strong start, or Dusty Baker might start getting ideas. As it is, Janish didn't play in Game 2; Baker sat him in favor of Edgar Renteria.

Baker alternated Janish and Renteria in spring training. I have a feeling that's his plan for the regular season, too. Sigh. I really want Janish to get more time than that. However, SS is a tough position, and probably both players will play better if they don’t have to play every day. Everyone on the roster should play regularly. Plus, after last year I’d be happy if Janish got even 50% of the starts, to be honest.

Anyways, the Lexington Herald-Leader has a nice article about Janish.

So what does the manager expect of his shortstop?

"I expect him to be Janish — pick it like he can, continue to improve offensively," Baker said. "Because he's improved a lot since he got here.

"If he's batting eighth, he knows what I expect out of him. Try to get the pitcher to the plate as often as you can. ... Especially with two outs. If you can get that pitcher to the plate, now you start the next inning off with the leadoff man, drive in some key runs."


posted by BubbaFan, 10:15 PM | link | 0 comments |

Friday, April 01, 2011

Just when you thought you'd heard it all...

High school baseball players sacrificed chickens in apparent performance ritual, say Texas cops

(CBS/AP) BENBROOK, Texas - Baseball season means...the crack of the bat...get your peanuts here!... sacrificing live chickens?

Police say two high school baseball players near Fort Worth, Texas are accused of killing baby chicks in what was believed to be a ritual to improve their on-field performance.

Both are charged with cruelty to livestock animals.

I guess it didn't work. Both were kicked off the team.

posted by BubbaFan, 9:57 PM | link | 0 comments |