And If Boras Did Ask For Cano’s Contract To Be Reworked?

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The overreaction was widespread and silly.

If Scott Boras did make the request, so what?

Boras is Robinson Cano‘s agent; his job is to get him as much money as possible and put his client in an advantageous situation to do so. If he did try and find a way for the Yankees to nullify the final two years of Cano’s contract—which are options held by the Yankees—what’s the problem?

There was a moderate uproar when the new broke that Boras had called Yankees GM Brian Cashman and checked into getting Cano’s contract options torn up for him to sign a new deal; never mind that the story came from our intrepid, hard-partying, pitchers can’t win the MVP believing, Yankees apologist masquerading as a reporter, George A. King III; if it was a credible reporter, the story wouldn’t be any more or less realistic or reasonable.

Why shouldn’t Boras ask?

Wouldn’t that benefit Cano? Isn’t that Boras’s madate?

The Yankees aren’t in the best situation with Cano even as they hold those two option years at $29 million; Cano cost himself money in the long-run by agreeing to that contract.

On the open market, he could make more money than the current top-tier free agents, but that’s the risk a player runs when he chooses to forego his first crack at free agency.

The problem the Yankees have with being the Yankees is that they’re known to have the money and motivation to keep their players regardless of the cost.

The players are aware (the Cano tagline is “are you not aware?”) that when it comes down to it, in spite of GM Brian Cashman’s desires to keep the payroll within reason, they’re going to eventually ante up and give the players the money they’re asking for—especially the players who are essentially irreplaceable like Cano.

You can make the case that the Yankees would be better-served to nullify the two remaining years on Cano’s contract and lock him up for the next 8-10 years before the price for his services skyrocket even further. If Boras is asking for $180-200 million for Prince Fielder—a first baseman who puts up massive power numbers and is a defensive liability who’s eventually going to have to DH—what’s he going to want for a second baseman like Cano who isn’t a threat to balloon to well over 300 lbs as he ages?

After 2013, with the likelihood that both Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera will both be gone and Cano taking over as the face of a franchise, Boras is going to ask for $250 million.

Wouldn’t it be better to deal with it now and perhaps save some money in the process?

I’m not sure why it’s considered so anger-inducing and ludicrous for Boras to ask.

It’s his job and he’s great at it.

Sometimes he even gets a deranged amount of money for his clients as he did with Jayson Werth.

It was worth a shot.

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Verlander’s MVP Chances, Hurricanes And Hackery

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A confluence of events are bringing back a controversy from 12 years ago as the borderline incoherent ramblings of a writer with a partisan agenda and flimsy excuses should again be brought to light.

Justin Verlander‘s candidacy for Most Valuable Player in the American League is discussed in today’s New York Times by Baseball-Reference‘s Neil Paine.

Naturally the arguments will pop up as to whether a pitcher should be considered for the MVP. This debate is generally based on them having their own award (the Cy Young Award); and that advanced metrics dictate that a pitcher’s contribution—no matter how good—doesn’t have the affect on team fortunes that an everyday player’s does. These awards are subjective and voted on by the baseball writers. There are some who know what they’re talking about; some who don’t; some shills for the home team; some simply looking for attention; and some who do what’s right rather than what would be palatable based on team and employer allegiances. Anecdotal evidence doesn’t imply guilt or innocence in a particular vote and there are no rules to dictate who should win various awards. It’s a judgment call.

I look at the MVP as a multiple-pronged decision.

Was the player (pitcher or not) the best in the league that particular year?

Would his club have been in their current position with or without him?

Who are his competitors?

Paine says that Verlander probably won’t win the award—and he’s right; one thing he fails to mention when talking about pitchers who’ve won and been snubbed is how one or two individuals can make a mockery of the process by injecting factional disputes or self-imposed “rules” into their thought process.

In 1999 George A. King III left Pedro Martinez off his ballot entirely.

Martinez’s numbers that season speak for themselves. Martinez went 23-4; struck out 313 in 213 innings; had a 2.07 ERA to go along with the advanced stats Paine mentions. He finished second in the voting to Ivan Rodriguez of the Rangers and should’ve been the MVP in addition to his CYA; but that’s irrelevant compared to King’s response to the rightful criticisms levied upon him.

In this NY Post retort, King discusses a life and death experience surviving a hurricane while he was on vacation as the controversy was taking place. Whether this is a maudlin attempt at sympathy or to provide “perspective” for life out of baseball’s context is unknown. I have no patience for this in a baseball-related discussion because it’s generally disguised as social commentary and a learning tool when in reality it’s a clumsy and self-serving attempt to sound philosophical. Adding his pet and children into his tale of survival is all the more ridiculous.

The most glaring parts of King’s response—in a baseball sense—are also the most inexplicable and unbelievable.

King’s argument that Martinez’s exclusion from his ballot was that he was convinced—EUREKA!!!—the year before that pitchers should not win the MVP.

However, after listening to respected baseball people at last year’s Winter Meetings grouse about giving $105 million to a pitcher (Kevin Brown) who would work in about 25 percent of the Dodgers’ games, I adopted the philosophy that pitchers — especially starters — could never be included in the MVP race.

Furthermore, pitchers have their own award, the Cy Young, something position players aren’t eligible for. Martinez, the AL Cy Young winner, appeared in 29 games this year for the Red Sox. That’s 18 percent of Boston’s games. For all of Martinez’ brilliance, shortstop Nomar Garciaparra was more valuable to the Red Sox. So, too, was manager Jimy Williams, the AL Manager of the Year.

Jimy Williams?

More important than Pedro Martinez?

Then King takes swipes at other writers who ripped him by calling them a “pathetic group of hacks”.

Presumably this group included Hall of Famer Bill Madden, who eloquently discussed the absurdity in this NY Daily News piece; and Buster Olney, then a writer for the NY Times, said it made all writers look dumb.

Leaving Martinez off the ballot is one thing—it was obviously done with the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry in mind and that Martinez was public enemy number 1, 2, and 3 for the Yankees in those days; but to compound it by insulting the intelligence of anyone who can see reality with this kind of whiny, “what does it all mean” junk while simultaneously ignoring the initial point by attacking “hacks” who disagreed with him and said so was, at best, contradictory; at worst, it was pathetic. If King came out and said, “you really think I was gonna vote for Pedro Martinez as MVP after all the stuff he’s pulled against the Yankees?”, it would’ve been unprofessional as well, but at least it would’ve been honest.

I don’t know what’s going to happen at the end of the season; I might even agree if Verlander is bypassed for the award; Adrian Gonzalez, Curtis Granderson, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jose Bautista, and Michael Young all have cases to win; but Verlander deserves to be in the conversation and everyone should adhere to the rule that there is no rule for MVP eligibility and be truthful without self-indulgent qualifiers.

One thing I was unaware of is that King works hard and plays harder. I suppose that’s important as well. But it might alter my decision to call him a Yankees apologist who had a vendetta against Pedro Martinez when he cast his 1999 MVP ballot and left him off intentionally. Was there a rule against voting for then-Red Sox manager Jimy Williams as MVP? I don’t know.

I haven’t decided where I’m going with this as of yet and my excuse could have something due to the rampaging Hurricane Irene heading for New York.

I’ll let you know.

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Disabled Developmentally

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Today the Yankees placed pitcher Phil Hughes on the disabled list with “dead arm”—ESPN Story.

Naturally, there was the requisite gun-jumping from the not-so-venerable New York Post as George A. King III wrote that Hughes had been demoted to Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre.

Why is it that I feel as if “George A. King III” should have a few more pretentious names like Winthorp, Kingsbridge, Cooleridge, Bottomtooth to complete the picture of someone wearing a medieval costume with a smug look on his face?

The Post never seems to get these things right. In a continuation of similar type behaviors exemplified by Joel Sherman last July when he wrote that the Yankees had acquired Cliff Lee, King wrote of Hughes’s dramatic fall from 18-game winning All-Star to minor leaguer.

Hughes will go to the minors, but not immediately.

He’s going to the disabled list; then presumably he’ll go for a few rehab starts in the minors to try and find the critical few inches lost from his fastball.

The public reaction on Twitter was one of righteous indignation as if they wanted to keep pitching Hughes in his current incarnation—something that was a practical impossibility. He can’t pitch this way because he doesn’t know how to function without something that’s always been there: a power fastball.

Placing Hughes on the disabled list is a far better decision than sending him to the minors. Going to Triple-A wasn’t going to do him any good if there’s a physical/mechanical/mental issue that’s preventing him from throwing his normal fastball; and this isn’t an Oliver Perez/Mets-style bit of organizational sleight of hand to claim a questionable injury and placate a player who didn’t want to go down to the minor leagues—if the Yankees wanted to send Hughes down, they could’ve sent him down; Hughes has no say in the matter.

Something’s off with Hughes and a DL stint is viable in trying to discover what that something is.

They couldn’t keep pitching him in this condition. This is the right move.

On another note, in an ironic twist, on the same night that one of the starting rotation linchpins for the Yankees—Hughes—was again a shell of his former self (and got shelled because of it), the aforementioned Lee pitched a 12 strikeout, complete game masterpiece for the Phillies in shutting out the Nationals.

Had the Yankees gotten Lee, they wouldn’t be in such a mess.

But they didn’t.

And they are.

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