Cashman gets three years and changes begin for Yankees
By Rich Mancuso
BRONX, NEW YORK, OCTOBER 11- Brian Cashman obviously was not at fault for the New York Yankees failure of not making the postseason a second consecutive year. Instead the team announced Friday that their GM has a new three-year contract but the hitting and third base coaches have been dismissed.
Mick Kelleher and hitting coach Kevin Long were dismissed, though in the end it was the failure of an expected and high paid offense that did not produce. Cashman made some mid season adjustments to keep the Yankees competitive in a tight race for the second American League wild card, but they won fewer games, (84) than they did the previous year.
So why did the Yankees grant Cashman another three years, after $438 million of spending went to not seeing baseball being played again in the Bronx this month? Cashman has helped build the Yankees to 14 post season appearances in 16 years.
Simple: Cashman does not take the field. A combination of injuries and expectations of a roster not producing will eventually lead to failure, and the Yankees were once again an example of spending and expectations, but you have to play out the entire 162-game schedule.
As for Long and Kelleher, they became the victims because baseball is a game where changes are made when expectations and hopes do not come to fruition. And as much as there has been a call from fans to dismiss manager Joe Girardi, he did the impossible.
Under the circumstances, and trying to find a solution, Girardi often adjusted the lineup and used reinforcements that Cashman acquired. The results were the same resulting in a fourth place finish and one of the lowest scoring teams in the league.
“Nick Kelleher was not responsible,” Cashman explained to reporters late Thursday afternoon in a media conference call. And perhaps neither was Long responsible, who did his best to help a struggling lineup make adjustments.
On the dismissal of Long, Cashman said: “He tried everything in his power by his own assessment…. I know he publicly stated late in the year that he tried everything. The effort was sufficient, the results weren’t. We had higher hopes for the offense.”
Cashman added that a bone spur injury to Carlos Beltran to his right elbow was a serious blow for the entire team. And it was, as Beltran missed a significant amount of games and had surgery to remove the spur two days after the season concluded.
But Cashman, responding to a question did say, “Changing staff has to come to an expense.” So with the season about two weeks over, and with Cashman settled in again for a 17th year in his chair, the coaching changes are the beginning of what is expected to be an off season of activity.
That includes filling a void at shortstop for the retired and certain first ballot Hall of Famer Derek Jeter, and what to do with the return of Alex Rodriguez who becomes active upon completion of the World Series after sitting out a season long suspension from violating a strict baseball anti steroid policy.
The Yankee are expected to have Rodriguez when players report to Tampa, Florida in mid February and begin the first of what is hoped to be a productive three remaining years of that lucrative 10-year $275 million contract.
On the return of his 14-time all-star who played a role with the Yankees’ 2009 championship team, Cashman said there will be “contingency plans” in the event he is not up to par. Rodriguez, will turn 40 in July and will be the center of attention with the void of Jeter,and there is concern about his mobility manning third base especially being out a year and having surgery to both of his hips.
Cashman may look at free agent options, go with someone on the roster, or use a player in the Yankees under manned minor league system. Regardless, Rodriguez is expected in the lineup at third or in the designated hitter spot.
“Third base, safe to say we have some contingencies in place with Alex,” said Cashman when asked about the health and age of Rodriguez.
There is also the acquisition of Martin Prado, acquired in mid season who can play the position and was the Yankees most potent hitter down the stretch before going on the disabled list with appendicitis.
“I don’t know what to expect because he, (Rodriguez) missed a full year though he brings dedication and competes,” said Cashman. “Any alternatives for contingency purposes remain to be seen. We have to pursue all options… Just need to make sure I have the protection to provide alternatives to pursue third base options.”
Pitching was not the issue of failures. If there was anything about the 2014 Yankees it was how Cashman and Girardi were able to get good performances from a makeship staff that replaced four of five starters that were on the disabled list.
Cashman is hoping CC Sabathia can fully recover from a knee procedure, and that the seven-year investment in Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka will be healthy to pitch an entire season, not having to be concerned about Tanaka needing Tommy John surgery.
He did hint there is reason to upgrade in the pitching department, whether it be free agency or from within.
The process of re-signing David Robertson who in his opinion, “Graduated with honors” and is a “bonafide closer,” is also an immediate priority. The obvious reference that his 39 saves this past season was not an easy task in filling the shoes of the all-time saves leader.
The GM concluded that this offseason will be no different from the last 16. “In this chair every winter has it’s challenges. I’m responsible for it all, offense, defense.”
And most of all that challenge is for the fan base.
Because no matter what Cashman does, the Yankees not playing baseball in October is unacceptable to the fans, and of course his bosses that gave him another three years.
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Saturday, October 11, 2014
Monday, June 2, 2014
Boos for Hughes' Return
A totally different outcome for Phil Hughes in his return to the Bronx
By Rich Mancuso
BRONX, NEW YORK, JUNE 2- Phil Hughes was booed mildly at Yankee Stadium Sunday afternoon when his name was announced before the first pitch as the starting pitcher for the visiting Minnesota Twins. He was the second former Yankee starter making a return to the Bronx this season. Fans get one more opportunity to greet and boo Robinson Cano of the Mariners Monday night in the Bronx, a makeup game of an April 30th game that was postponed by rain..
When the Yankees decided to not bring back Hughes, their first round pick in 2004 after seven seasons, where he compiled a 56-50 record with an ERA of 4.53, it was, as they say, all about business. The fly ball pitcher was not fit to pitch at Yankee Stadium after a miserable 4-14 season of 2013 that went with an ERA of 5.19.
But, baseball has become a business. The Twins have a healthy and happy Hughes and it showed Sunday after a masterful eight-inning outing against his former team. The 27-year old right-hander never looked more comfortable on the mound at Yankee Stadium holding his former team to two-runs, three hits, and striking out six.
The Twins with six runs in the ninth inning, including a home run off Yankees closer David Robertson went on to win 7-2, taking the series and Hughes (6-1), won his sixth straight game.
Best part of it, the knock about Hughes was his tendency to throw the home run ball at Yankee Stadium. He was more of a ground out pitcher. After his best outing of the season perhaps the Yankees, with a depleted and injured pitching staff have second thoughts of not bringing him back to the Bronx.
“I had pretty good stuff pretty good fast ball. “Tipped my cap to Larry Rotshchild as I was coming out,” said Hughes about his former pitching coach. "It was a little strange but after the first inning I was hoping I wasn’t walking towards their dugout.”
The fans, he said, by the bullpen area did not give him a Bronx cheer. He also threw a ball to one of them. And as the game went along, Hughes got into a groove after giving up a run in the first inning.
“Got into my game routine and did not think about it,” he commented. “I had pretty good stuff and pretty good fast ball.” The three hits were all consecutive in the fourth inning and then he would retire his final 15 batters.
The obvious question is, did his win in the Bronx have any type of vindication, this after a season of discontent and the Yankees making little effort to bring him back? Though Hughes wasn’t one to show emotion and he showed no change in his demeanor.
“Doesn’t mean any more,” Hughes said about the win being more significant against the Yankees. He signed a three-year contract with the Twins last December 5th and has been part of a pitching staff that has a combined 4.41 ERA.
He added, “Looking at last year, obvious there was emotion before the game… It was easy. I had a few wandering thoughts as I was warming up. Once I threw the first pitch it was all business. I won four games last year. I know how precious these are.”
In his seven seasons as a Yankee, Hughes' career record at the new Yankee Stadium was 28-21 with a 4.82 ERA and 71 HRs allowed in 356-1/3 innings. The problems of the home run ball also hindered his efforts but the Yankees said it was all about business and nothing to do with his command in their decision to not re-sign him.
“You make pitches in this game you get people out,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire commented about his starter. “What we hoped would happen, happened. He was relaxed. He’s under complete control and moving the ball in and out. He never stopped attacking, made some pitches and that’s what baseball is all about.”
Gardenhire added, “You come back, you want to win…Its baseball. He wanted to come back here and win a game for this baseball team.”
Hughes certainly came back and won a game for his team. The Yankees at this point may be questioning after this return to the Bronx, why did they let Phil Hughes go?
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Wednesday, January 15, 2014
(Photos by Ken Carozza)
By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, JANUARY 15- Successful athletic teams and athletic heroes are important to every college and university. They serve as a unifying factor among the student body; are an encouragement for increased donations from alumni; are sources of pride to current students and alumni and can be inducements for prospective students to enroll.
Many colleges and universities have created athletic halls of fame to recognize past student-athletes who have excelled in their sports and added respect and interest to the institutions they have attended.
The Fordham Athletic Hall of Fame has been in existence for more than 40 years. The first induction took place during the 1970-71 academic year and included honorees such as Frankie “Fordham Flash” Frisch and Vince Lombardi.
This year’s induction was held at the McGinley Center Ballroom on Fordham’s Bronx campus on January 11, in the late afternoon between the men’s and women’s basketball contests of Fordham and Richmond. Eleven former Rams were honored. One track star, Jack Faith (’68), was previously inducted 34 years ago.
The other 10 former Rams added to the HOF represent a total of six sports programs. Jim Groark (67), Brian Hernon (67) and Don May (68) were teammates of Faith on the remarkable 1967 Two-Mile Relay Team. The foursome broke both the Fordham and Penn Relay marks for their specialty. It was later pointed out that May made the furthest journey, from Alaska, to receive his award.
The baseball and basketball teams each had two representatives on the Class of 2014. Both Tom Davis (08) and Cory Riordan (12) were pitchers. Davis was selected as Pitcher of the Year by the Atlantic-10 in his senior year. He graduated with the Fordham record for starts (50) and innings (339).
Riordan was voted as the Rookie of the Year by the Atlantic-10 in his freshman year when he compiled a 10-4 mark. He completed his career at Fordham with a 21-11 record and 200 strikeouts in 246 innings.
The award for Bryant Dunstan (08), currently playing basketball professionally in Greece, was accepted by his dad. Dunstan compiled stats among the best in the school’s basketball history. He is second in points with 1,832, 54 less than the legendary Ed Conlin, fourth in rebounds with 993 and first in blocks, 246.
Mobolaji Akiode (04) received Fordham’s most prestigious honor for female athletes, the 2003 Claire Hobbs Award as female athlete of the year. She represented her native land, Nigeria, in the Olympic Games. Of even greater importance is her founding Hope 4 Girls, a charity that is dedicated to raising opportunities for African female youths in education and sports.
Ben Dato (08) was the kicker on the football team in his years at Fordham. In his senior year he received the Vincent T. Lombardi Award as male athlete of the year. He amassed the most yards punting at Fordham.
Allison Twarowski (08) was an outstanding batter in her four seasons on a successful softball team. She graduated holding several school batting marks, hits (251), runs (181), doubles (44) and runs batted in (45).
Robert Valdes-Rodriguez (86) three times set school marks for the 100 butterfly and qualified for the NCAA tournament several times. He is currently chairman of the NYAC swim team.
Valdes-Rodriguez articulately gave the response of the Class of 2014. He gave thanks to “the Jesuit university, the coaches and the professors who helped us balance our faith, academics and athletics.”
Athletic Director David Roach began the event by saying to the honorees, “Your achievements and your total lives are a shining example to the current student-athletes.”
The television voice of the New York Yankees, Michael Kay (82), ably served, as he does every year, as the emcee of the ceremony. Kay, on the day of the announcement of the suspension of Alex Rodriguez, joked about Rodriguez having enough time on his hand to enroll at Fordham and perhaps be considered for this HOF next year.
Father Joseph McShane, the Fordham president, officially closed the ceremony with a tribute to the new members of the Fordham Athletic Hall of Fame, “Wise men and women of Fordham, we honor you for your wisdom, and your generosity to Fordham. We hold you up as models for our students, role models and sources of inspiration.”
Saturday, December 21, 2013
By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, DECEMBER 21- For the third time in the past three weeks, the New York Yankees officially introduced one of their free agent signees. These brief meetings with the press and media are wise ways for an organization to publicize its franchise in a positive manner and demonstrate to its fan base its efforts to improve the performance of the team in the coming season.
Catcher Brian McCann, center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury and on Friday, Carlos Beltran were the subjects of these public events. The player least needing an introduction to New York fans is Beltran.
The 36 year-old outfielder has been in the majors since 1998 and was a star on the New York Mets from 2005-2011. During that time, he has compiled very creditable on the field statistics and conducted himself humbly and gentlemanly off the field.
After playing 14 games for the Kansas City Royals in 1998, Beltran earned the American League Rookie-of-the Year Award in 1999. After a trade to Houston during the 2004 season, Beltran became a free agent and was hopeful of signing with the Yankees in 2005.
Beltran recalled this experience, “I grew up being a Yankee fan, a Bernie Williams fan. I used to look up to this organization. They always did what it takes to put good teams out there and win championships. Eight-nine years ago, they [Yankees] couldn’t commit to the years I wanted. They were having problems with the salary cap. They got Randy Johnson and I signed with the Mets.”
Although he still retains the hurtful memories of having been unfairly spoken of negatively by Mets brass, Beltran put the entire Mets experience in a positive light, “I have good memories of Queens. As a person, I met so many good people. In my career, my best numbers were with the Mets.”
Beltran responded with total honesty when asked how playing for the Yanks will be different than playing for the Mets, “I don’t know. I have to experience it.”
New York Yankees President Randy Levine explained one of the reasons the Yankees desired to sign Beltran, “We know he can play in New York. A lot of great players can’t.” Beltran later explained the meaning of Levine’s words from his own playing experience, “Playing here [New York] is different than playing anywhere else. The attention here is more; that’s pressure.”
Despite the pressure, he talked of his happiness of being in New York, a feeling that was not always realized by the public, “People misunderstood that I didn’t like New York. I really did enjoy it. My wife loves it here.”
As a Latino born in Puerto Rico, the veteran major leaguer expressed happiness of being in the Bronx, “I’m proud that on this side of town we have a lot of Puerto Ricans. I have a double responsibility, representing the Yankees and representing my country. We’re going to have some fun.”
The socially conscious individual also spoke of his responsibility of giving back to the community, “My opportunity as a player is to give back. We are going to do something positive.”
As a veteran player who at the end of his current three year contact will have played in the majors for 18 seasons, Beltran is thinking of the future. He said although he never gave thought to the Hall of Fame, people have told him it could be in his future. Because of this possibility, he felt a strong preference for a three year rather than two year contract, “The third year, to me, is important. It allows me to play longer and get better numbers.”
The statistics and honors earned by Beltran are already quite impressive. The eight time All-Star, three time Gold Glove winner and recipient of the Silver Slugger twice is worthy of being considered. His .333 batting average in 51 post-season games also adds to his high reputation.
He responded to a query of when he will retire, “It depends on how I feel. Right now, I consider it my last contract.”
Perhaps, the comment by Levine of why this contract between Beltran and the Yankees was signed was most appropriate, “The stars were aligned.”