Archive for July, 2008

Considering Jose Molina’s superb defense, I figured the Yankee braintrust was just fine with his mediocre (at best) hitting and fully expected him to remain as the starting catcher down the stretch following the the news that Posada’s season is officially finished. Chad Moeller would continue serving ably as Molina’s backup.

Apparently I was mistaken. In 302 at bats, Rodriguez (I won’t call him Pudge – as terrific as he’s been for a long time now, Carlton Fisk is the only “Pudge” as far as I’m concerned) is hitting .295 with a modest .417 slugging percentage. That gives the Yanks two of the best defensive catchers in the game, one who can hit in the middle of the lineup, to boot.

Presumably the Yankees will pay whatever is left of Rodriguez’ $13m 2008 salary. He becomes a free agent after this season, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

I guess that eliminates the need to keep Moeller around, which is really too bad. He’s a blue collar guy who already survived being placed on waivers once and served admirably through what could have been a much more tumultuous period, helping keep the backstop position stable through the first significant injury of Posada’s career. I’m sorry to see him go and it’s a little sad to think that most new-age Yankee fans (people who wear Mattingly jerseys and t-shirts despite having no memory of those lean years, either because they are too young or are just fair weather fans) won’t remember his name a few months from now. Thanks for helping to hold it down, Chad.

Farnsworth was having his best first decent season since coming to the Bronx and I don’t know any Yankee fans who trusted him to remain dependable through the stretch run and the playoffs. Girardi has been nothing short of superb in his management of the Yankees’ bulpen and the result has been that several options have emerged to set up mariano Rivera in the 8th inning. The controversy over whether to move Joba to the rotation seems like it was years ago now. Further marginalizing Farnsworth among the Yankee relief corps was last week’s addition of Demaso Marte.

The fantasy baseball impact here is also significant. Farnsworth becomes the Tigers’ closer two days after Todd Jones was demoted in favor of Fernendo Rodney. Presumably, Rodney moves back into the setup role.


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The Economist (requires subscription)

The brain behind this idea is Donald Highgate, a polymers expert, who made his name in the 1970s by developing soft contact lenses. The polymer he has come up with this time is used to make what are known as proton-exchange membranes. These, depending on how the device containing them is set up, can act as the guts of a fuel cell or as its opposite, turning water and electricity into hydrogen and oxygen.

That process is known as electrolysis, and normal commercial electrolysers are chunky units placed next to power stations to produce industrial quantities of hydrogen for the chemical industry. They rely on platinum, a metal that costs twice as much as gold, to catalyse the reaction.

Existing fuel cells intended for cars are not quite so greedy.

Making hydrogen at home, using one of these membranes, gets around the problem of a lack of hydrogen filling stations. In effect, hydrogen becomes a way of storing off-peak electricity. The result can be pumped into your car and run through a fuel cell—or even burned in a conventional internal combustion engine.

Sounds great to me. What’s one of those thingies gonna cost me and how many uses do I get out of it?

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LA Times

PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN — A Pakistani security official said an apparent U.S. missile strike early Monday may have killed a senior Al Qaeda trainer believed to be a chemical weapons expert.

Local officials in the tribal region of South Waziristan said that at least 12 people died in the attack, believed to have been carried out by an unmanned aerial drone. Foreign militants were among the dead, and one of them was thought to be Abu Khabab Masri, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The Pakistani military, as is its custom, denied knowledge of the missile strike and whether it had been carried out by the United States. American attacks inside Pakistan are highly sensitive politically.

One U.S. official familiar with the incident said the Pentagon was not involved and that “it was an agency-run op all the way,” a reference to the CIA. The agency had no comment.

A U.S. counter-terrorism official in Washington said that Masri, whose given name is Midhat Mursi al-Sayid Umar, was believed dead. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity.

Some might recall a Washington Times exclusive from earlier this month, reporting that the US had brokered a deal with Pervez Musharraf early in the Iraq war that allowed American Predator Drones to launch missile strikes at Osama Bin Laden, should he be located by American intelligence.

The State Department’s “Rewards for Justice” program offers a $5 million reward. Here’s the photo included on Masri’s page at the Reward for Justice site:

Information at Masri’s Wikipedia Page states that he was an “alleged top bomb maker for al-Qaeda and part of Osama bin-Laden’s inner circle.”

Well Done.

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Thats the rumor currently being reported at MLB.com

PITTSBURGH — Pirates right fielder Xavier Nady and reliever Damaso Marte have been traded to the Yankees.
Though the team confirmed a trade, the Pirates have not confirmed that both players are indeed going to New York. However, according to one official baseball source, Nady and Marte have been dealt for right-hander Ross Ohlendorf and three prospects. Those prospects are believed to be lefty Phil Coke, outfielder Jose Tabata and right-hander George Kontos.

Coke pitched one inning for Double-A Trenton on Friday before being pulled.

The Pirates have not officially made an announcement and said they will do so after medical evaluations are completed.

Nady started Friday’s game and was removed after one inning. Television cameras caught Marte hugging his teammates in the dugout in the second inning, apparently shortly after learning the news.

Nady fills the most glaring void of a right-handed corner outfielder. If the Yanks decide to re-sign him, he could replace Bobby Abreu in right next year. I’m curious to see what his defense looks like.

Offensively, I’m not expecting him to match his first half production. He was one of those supposed can’t-miss prospects that never became the star that many expected. In fact, before this year, he’d never even played more than 130 games in a season. He’s having his career year now at 29 years old. His career batting average and slugging percentage are .281 and .456, respectively, so maybe I’m being a little tough on him.

And some Yankee fans might remind me of another right fielder who’s career numbers through age 29 (the year before he came to NY) were .257 and .425, respectively. Of course Paul O’Neil was a lefty coming to Yankee Stadium and brought with him a firey heart that you can never just assume someone possesses.

It’ll be disappointing to see Tabata come up in Pittsburgh. He’s only 19 and has been with the Yankees organization since he was 16 in 2005. But he’s not having a good year, his first in AA Trenton, while fellow AA OF prospect Austin Jackson (21) is having another solid season after hitting .304 at 3 levels in the minors last year.

Marte has been effective enough this year and will probably be used as a lefty specialist. With the way the Yankees bulpen has been producing, it might be hard for him to find many other opportunities but as the adage goes, you can never have too much pitching.

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It’s been a tough year, injury-wise. Damon has returned from his recent shoulder injury, courtesy of a crash into the plexiglass portion of the left field wall and Richie Sexson provides some needed pop from the right side of the plate but the likely losses of Matsui and Posada for the remainder of the season is too much missing production to do without.

The Daily News reports that they’re looking at Pittsburgh outfielders Xavier Nady and Jason Bay. Bay has bounced back strongly from his off-year in 2007 and is signed through 2009 for a very inexpensive $7.5m. He could fill the offensive void this year and might possibly free the Yankees from having to re-sign Bobby Abreu, who is in a walk year in which he made $16m. Of course if Bay doesn’t have a right fielder’s arm this might not be the best way forward, especially considering rumored asking price:

According to various industry sources this week, the Pirates want two high-level young players and a second-tier prospect in any trade for left fielder Jason Bay

That would be more than the Twins got for Santana in the offseason, though the current market for Bay is much different than the market for Santana was over the winter and of course a team that obtains Bay gets him for one and one-third seasons for around $10m, compared with the huge payday shelled out for Santana.

There’s also a report on the Yankees website that Posada is mulling whether to have season-ending surgery on his shoulder or to continue playing, taking starts at to DH/1B whenever he can. Delaying the surgery, according to Girardi, might mean that Posada won’t be fully rehabbed in time for spring training in 2009. The writer claims that the shoulder injury primarily impacts his throwing and doesn’t affect his hitting much but a check at Posada’s power numbers suggests otherwise. In 13 games this month Jorge is hitting .214 with an anemic .262 slugging percentage.

The Daily News also notes that the Yankees are looking for pitching help and have discussed starters Jarrod Washburn, Bronson Arroyo and A.J. Burnett and relief pitchers Damaso Marte and Brian Fuentes among others. Sports Illustrated has a piece about the Yankees negotiations for Washburn.

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Today is the 8th annual Siren Music festival at Coney Island. An all day free concert featuring multiple bands performing on two stages. Its easily my favorite Brooklyn event and with the future of Coney Island sadly uncertain, I don’t know how many more Siren Festivals there will be. I’ll be sure to post lots of photos when I get back.

Check the link under “Pages” on the right for my photos from the day or just click here.

Update II
Here’s a link to The Village Voice’s photos. A more comprehensive offering than mine.

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Sexson fits in New York because the Yankees needed a right-handed slugger to match up against left-handed pitching — and Sexson had a .344 average against lefties this year.

Assuming the deal is completed, he’ll be in the lineup Saturday against Oakland.

The Yankees will only have to pay Sexson the prorated minimum of $390,000 from his $14 million salary with the Mariners. Seattle is eating the remainder of the nearly $6 million Sexson is owed for the season.

I really like the Yankees strategy of picking up castoffs. Every once in a while, you pick up a gem that just needed a little polish. “Big Sexy” is 33 and two years removed from his last solid season in 2006 when he hit .264 with 34 hr and 107 rbi. His numbers had been trending down since he hit 45 hr in 2003.

I was very surprised to see the contrast in his vs righty/lefty splits. In 61 at bats this year against lefties, he’s slugging .623 with 5 hr. In 191 ab vs righties, he’s slugging .304 with 6 hr. Interestingly, last year’s splits weren’t particularly pronounced. Clearly, his effectiveness against lefties is what interests the Yankees, as they have been vulnerable against left-handed pitching with Jeter having an off year, Melky hitting poorly from the right side and ARod hitting terribly wirth runners in scoring position.

He’ll presumably get starts at first base against lefty starters and occasional pinch hit at bats.

Welcome to New York, Richie.

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