Word out of Japan is that the Yanks have gotten lefty starter Kei Igawa in the fold, for a reasonable 5 years and $20 million. Well, that and $26 million for the posting fee. All told, the Yanks will spend a prorated $25 million to add Igawa and Andy Pettitte to the fold. One projection system (codenamed CHONE), developed by Angels Blogger Sean Smith (presented here by the Replacement Level Yankee blog), thinks Igawa and Pettitte will be roughly equivalent pitchers in '07--190-odd innings of low-mid fours ERA. If that's what we get, is this a good bargain? If the standard is $11 million for Gil Meche, and $10 million for Ted Lilly...maybe.
Looking for more lefties, the big rumor out there is that Melky Cabrera leaves town, in exchange for Pirates closer Mike Gonzalez, possibly in a three-way with Atlanta. I'd be really sad to see Melky go, for reasons both emotional (Cabrera has endeared himself to Yankee fans with his passionate style of play) and rational (the Yankees jave a fair number of relievers but don't have many young, major league ready position players; trading Cabrera would thin out the Yanks' outfield, leaving no safety net in case one of the starting three gets injured). Also--even though I don't put much stock in these assessments, but lots of fans and media seem to believe that nothing else matters--I seem to recall a fair amount of chatter in Pittsburgh questioning Gonzalez's toughness and ability to handle pressure. We'll leave this one alone, for now.
There's a scene in Robert Deniro's directorial debut, A Bronx Tale, where Chazz Palminteri, playing a local mob boss, steps into a bar that's paying him protection, where a bunch of bikers have been busting up the joint. Palminteri asks the bikers to go; when they refuse, he goes to the front door and locks it, announcing to the bikers "Now youse can't leave." That's the first, word-association type thing that popped into my head when I read this story, about a rumor that Randy Johnson is looking for a trade. Forget for a moment that this story is probably B.S. , fact is that the idea of Johnson requesting a trade is risible beyond belief. So let's see: you force the Arizona Diamondbacks to trade you to a contender; you leverage a big extension from the Yankees; then you proceed to have two of the worst seasons of your career, and help torpedo the team in consecutive Division Series; oh, and you injure your back requiring surgery that makes you iffy for the 2007 season...and now you want a trade?
I'm sorry, Randy, but now youse can't leave. Youse got next to no trade value, and a huge salary of which the Yanks would have to eat a whole bunch, just to accommodate such a request. No thanks.
By the way, I love the Cashman quote from that article, which almost perfectly hangs Johnson out to dry, while still denying the rumor: "He hasn't called me officially and asked me to trade him, no." Leaving open the possibilities of informal trade requests by means other than a personal phone call.
Changing gears, I'm going into baseball withdrawal this winter, and I only see one cure: winter league baseball, preferably from the Dominican Winter League. ESPN Deportes carries Dominican League action, but I'm once again shocked to find that Time Warner Cable, the cable carrier which serves possibly the largest Dominican enclave in the U.S.--the community in Washington Heights and Upper Manhattan--doesn't carry ESPN Deportes. They carry literally dozens of channels on their digital television service that no one watches, and a whole block of channels--the 800s--in Spanish, including the baseball-free Fox Sports en Espanol. But they can't be bothered to bring Dominican League action to arvid baseball fans.
In order to request a channel be added to Time Warner's lineup, you have to send snailmail to one of their VPs. Requests by email, which I've already made, are not entertained. So I'm going to ask any of you out there who are Time Warner New York subscribers to join me in putting pen to paper and investing $0.39 worth of postage to let people know that you care about baseball, and that you want more of it on TV. Send all letters to:
VP Programming, New Business Development
Time Warner Cable
120 E. 23rd Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10010
The usual rules of letter-writing campaigns apply: be polite, be brief and be clear about what you're asking for--in this case, that ESPN Deportes be carried by Time Warner Cable throughout New York City, specifically for the value of its Winter League baseball programming. It's a good deed, a way of making your voice heard as a baseball fan, and a way of keeping me from slipping into the usual withdrawal symptoms (depression, catatonia) that follow whenever I don't get enough baseball in my diet. If none of that's persuasive, think of this as your Christmas present to baseball fans throughout the five boroughs (but specifically, for my sake, Manhattan).