Wednesday, February 9, 2011

4 comments Wallace Matthews Doesn't Appreciate Brian Cashman's Inability To Predict the Future

We all know by now that Andy Pettitte has retired and will no longer pitch for the New York Yankees. Unless he is planning on being like his (ex) good buddy Roger Clemens and coming back mid-season, it appears his career is over. Now it is official, it is time for the useless second-guessing of Brian Cashman to begin. Wallace Matthews feels free to lead the way. Wallace feels the Yankees need more pitching, which is true, but he mostly feels like the Yankees should have prepared for Pettitte's retirement by signing Cliff Lee or trading for another pitcher. Why did the Yankees think of trying this? I am sure it never crossed their mind to go after all the quality pitching that is just hanging out on the trade and free agent market waiting to be grabbed up.

Four months ago, Andy Pettitte walked out of the visitors clubhouse in Arlington, Texas, after letting everyone know he probably wouldn't be back.

In fairness, while the Yankees still need pitching, there have been indications Pettitte was thinking of retiring a few times in his career. Every year, there have been whispers Pettitte will retire, and Cashman did say Nova and Mitre would be the 4th and 5th starters this year previously. So I am sure replacing Pettitte was a priority, there just wasn't a hell of a lot of pitching out there that correctly fit how much the Yankees were willing to trade or pay for that pitcher's services.

Now, we are 10 days away from pitchers and catchers and he still hasn't been replaced.

That is the real story today, not that Pettitte will hold a news conference on Friday morning to make official what everyone around the Yankees should have accepted back on Oct. 22.

So Wallace's position is the Yankees should have known Pettitte would retire back in October. It's weird though, because on January 31 of this year Wallace wrote this blog entry. In this blog posting, Wallace displays his (now what appears to be) absolute certainty Pettitte was retiring with comments like these:

Of course, that also means there's no less reason to believe he's coming back, which puts us right back at square one. Maybe Pettitte is planning to make a diva-like surprise entrance at The George on Valentine's Day, which would be most un-Pettitte-like. Or maybe things will heat up this week or next.

Or maybe Pettitte really meant it when he said he was seriously leaning toward retirement this time.

It's so funny how AFTER Pettitte retires, it was just a foregone conclusion he was gone, but as of January 31st his retirement was still very much in the air. This is second-guessing reactionary journalism at its factual worst.

My point is, no one really knows, not even the Yankees and perhaps not even Pettitte. We're all going on wishful thinking, gut feelings, amateur psychology and guesswork.

So on January 31st, NOBODY KNEW A DAMN THING about Pettitte's status, yet on February 4, it was CRYSTAL FUCKING CLEAR retirement was Pettitte's choice at the time. What a difference four days makes! It's almost like Wallace heard Pettitte was retiring and felt like second-guessing Brian Cashman, ignored his past feelings on the topic, and made it sound like everyone knew Pettitte would retire...despite evidence in Wallace's own columns to the contrary.

So naturally in his February 4th article, Wallace criticizes Brian Cashman for not preparing for Pettitte's retirement, even though his January 31st blog entry said in no uncertain terms that nobody knows anything. This contradiction and crappy second-guessing is why I write here on this blog.

How about I prove Wallace is full of even more shit? Kindly:

My gut feeling, which is no more informed or accurate than yours -- or Marchand's, for that matter -- is that Pettitte wants to play but something is holding him back from committing.

So while on February 4th everyone knew Pettitte was retiring, January 31st no one knew Pettitte's status and Wallace Matthews himself (unless he has multiple personalities, which based on some of his writing I wouldn't completely rule out) said he doesn't know whether Pettitte will play in 2011 or not. In fact, Wallace thought Pettitte DID want to play in 2011. Based on this, I am not sure how he should have expected Cashman to prepare for Pettitte's retirement since Wallace didn't fully anticipate Pettitte's retirement either.

But I'm not making any predictions one way or the other for the simple reason that like everyone else specualting on this, I don't know. And maybe neither does Pettitte.

Except, on February 4th Wallace thinks that Brian Cashman should have known. Nothing like second-guessing the man for no real good reason and without consistency. Of course at ESPN this is called "journalism."

So obvious was it that Pettitte was retiring, Wallace's colleague Andrew Marchand on January 31st predicted Pettitte would be back. It sure sounds to me like Wallace Matthews needs to be called out for writing about a subject that is clearly a contradiction on something he had written prior. I will be the one doing that.

When Pettitte told them in October that he was probably going to retire, the Yankees needed a starting pitcher.

Nearly every Major League team needs a starting pitcher. This is a broad need that is relevant to nearly every MLB team.

They still need one today.

How is this possible?

Let's establish first off that quality starting pitching is expensive, over-priced in fact in many cases, and very hard to come by. So most pitchers that are free agents are too expensive or there is a reason they are free agents and haven't been signed. Acquiring a pitcher through trade requires trading prospects, which seems to be the opposite of what Cashman wants to do with the Yankees in the future.

How is it possible for the New York Yankees, the richest, most successful franchise in the history of professional sports, with a ton of cash to spend, a huge and insatiable fan base to please, and a behemoth of a ballpark to fill on a nightly basis, to have let this problem go unattended for so long?

There's nothing like a little New York Yankee panic from a sportswriter. It starts with the idea that the Yankees are naturally superior to other teams so they should get pretty much whatever they want. Reality doesn't always match this idea.

Did they not believe Pettitte, who has always been a man of his word?

Says the exact same sportswriter who didn't think Pettitte would retire just four days earlier.

Or did they just think that a starting pitcher would fall from the sky into their laps precisely when they needed one?

Says the exact same sportswriter who, in this very article, just made clear his lack of understanding on how the Yankees didn't just magically fix their starting pitcher problem with no ideas on how other than saying the Yankees are "the richest, most successful franchise in the history of professional sports."

Wallace has no suggestions on how to get another pitcher for the Yankees, but he does know they needed one and should have gotten one. Why does Wallace know this? He knows it because EVERYONE knew Pettitte was retiring, you know, except for Wallace Matthews himself.

No matter how you spin it, the Yankees' GM hasn't had much of an offseason. So far, his biggest free-agent acquisition in terms of expenditure is Derek Jeter. That will not be nearly enough.

Based on Wallace's ability to predict the future over the last couple of weeks it seems like we can book the Yankees for the 2011 World Series now. I don't mean to piss in Wallace's oatmeal, but the Yankees made the ALCS last year and they are still going to be a really good team in the upcoming 2011 season. Pettitte only made 21 starts last year, so he didn't make 30+ starts and the Yankees still made the ALCS. Giving Ivan Nova a chance to pitch with a great offense behind him isn't a terrible thing.

But what do they do on Day 2 of the season, and Days 3, 4 and 5?

The same thing they did last year. Use A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes. There are much worse options out there. A rotation that includes two 24 year old pitchers isn't a terrible thing. I know Wallace isn't comfortable using a 24 year old pitcher unless he is merely trade bait, but with the Yankees offense they can start the season with Nova and Mitre in the rotation and see how the season goes. This isn't the sexiest option available, but it very well could be one of the smartest.

Truly, the Yankees' rotation is no more of a mess today than it was on the night they were eliminated from the ALCS. And it is no less of a mess.

Yet, there is reason to panic? Much like many other idiots, Wallace would rather the Yankees give the illusion of progress by signing pitchers who aren't that great rather than stand pat. The fact nothing changed from a team that was in the ALCS the year before isn't necessarily a cause for concern.

Behind Sabathia is Phil Hughes, who is either a stud who won 18 games last year or a 25-year-old kid who faded badly in the second half of the season.

Which happened to also be his first full year starting.

Then comes A.J. Burnett, who is either a great candidate for comeback player of the year or an incorrigible head case destined to drive every manager, GM and pitching coach he comes in contact with absolutely nuts.

This didn't seem to bother Wallace as Burnett pitched well enough in 2009 to help the Yankees win a World Series. Burnett has always been this way.

Then there is Ivan Nova, either a 23-year-old with uncommon poise and limitless potential, or a green kid with all of 42 major league innings on his résumé and a disturbing tendency to fade late in games.

Nova could be a 24 year old kid with uncommon poise and limitless potential while still having only 42 major league innings on his resume. He can be both. Guess how he will get less "green" and get more innings? By the Yankees giving him a chance to start games at the major league level. It's hard to get experience pitching in the majors by not pitching in the majors.

Wallace can't bitch about how green Nova is and then complain he is getting a spot in the rotation. Wallace's complaint is the cure for his problem with Nova.

Then we come to the scrap heap, which so far consists of Sergio Mitre, Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon, and may soon include Kevin Millwood,

I don't think Millwood is the worst option, depending on how much money he wants. We saw how terrible he could be last year, but when he is just average he would make a great 5th starter. How many MLB teams (even quality ones) have the 5th starter spot locked down with a quality starter? Not many, so it is not like the Yankees are alone. I know being the average isn't what the Yankees are supposed to be, but it doesn't mean it is a sign of huge trouble.

The fact that the Yankees whiffed on Lee is not Cashman's fault. Once the Phillies entered the picture, no amount of Boss Bucks was going to lure him to the Bronx.

And after Lee, there really wasn't anyone on the free-agent market worth splurging on, unless you saw the comedic value in American Idle II, the return of Carl Pavano.

So continuing his reign of idiocy, Wallace says the Yankees should have traded for a better pitcher "knowing" Pettitte would retire...even though there wasn't a great pitcher to go and get. This is also forgetting the fact that Wallace himself stated on January 31st he didn't know Pettitte would retire. That's the problem with idle bitching like this. If you don't have a solution, it makes your bitching worthless, and your bitching is even more worthless when your current statements don't match up with statements you have made in the past.

It's sad writing a column complaining a general manager should have added a quality pitcher, while also acknowledging there wasn't a quality pitcher to add, is acceptable sports journalism.

But surely something might have been done on the trade market, knowing as we all did (or should have), that Pettitte probably meant what he said.

"Knowing as we all did..." Really Wallace????????????? Here's what you said on January 31st:

My point is, no one really knows, not even the Yankees and perhaps not even Pettitte. We're all going on wishful thinking, gut feelings, amateur psychology and guesswork.

Boy, you really nailed that one!

Pay a ransom of young talent -- say Joba Chamberlain and someone previously considered untouchable, like Jesus Montero or Austin Romine or Eduardo Nuñez -- for a second-tier pitcher to plug the hole.

The was an option BEFORE Pettitte retired as well. In fact, if the Yankees were going to make a trade like Wallace suggested this is exactly what they would have done. Nothing has changed and things haven't gotten worse. If Wallace wanted the Yankees to make a trade in December, this is exactly how they would have done it, by trading talent. The trade can still be made to bring in another pitcher.

Also, did he really call Joba "young talent?" Isn't this the guy the New York media loves to berate and have essentially given up on? How are Hughes and Nova not young talent? Wallace just got done thrashing them for not being good enough starters, yet Joba Chamberlain is a "young talent."

Or, take the chance of waiting until the trade deadline to try to pluck a quality starter from a team that has dropped out of contention, by which time the Red Sox may have run so far off with the division that Cashman will be back tending bar, only this time for the benefit of no charity other than his own.

I hope everyone is paying attention to what a contradictory idiot Wallace Matthews can be. On January 15, this is the exact sentence he wrote after the Yankees signed Rafael Soriano and Wallace (claiming) full knowledge that Andy Pettitte was retired:

If it were possible to win a division in January, then the Yankees would be American League East champions today.

The way this all plays out is yet to be determined. The bottom line today is that for the 2011 season, the two best closers in baseball will pitch for the Yankees.

That in itself makes them the champions of this offseason.

And odds-on favorites to win it all once they actually start playing the games.

So less than a month later with absolutely nothing changed, the Yankees are screwed. On January 15, when Wallace knew what he didn't know on January 31st about Pettitte really being retired, the Yankees were the favorite. Now that Wallace knows now what he claims he knew then but didn't seem to know, the Yankees are screwed.

What is abhorrent is this man gets paid to cover sports and give his opinion. Stay consistent and don't lie about your positions, that's all I ask from a sportswriter. But Wallace will lie and deceive his audience so he always seems like the smartest guy in the room.

And maybe what happened last year will happen again in 2011, that the Red Sox will fail to live up to the preseason hype and guys in the Yankees' clubhouse will overachieve, and everything will turn out OK.

As of January 15, 2011 the Yankees were paper champs of the AL East. On February 4, 2011 the Yankees need to overachieve and the Red Sox need to fail for the Yankees to win the AL East. Stay consistent, that goes a long way. Anyone who wonders why there are blogs like this, well blame Wallace Matthews for not being consistent with his message. Any idiot can change his opinion depending on the day, but a real quality sportswriter can write intelligently about a team or player, be wrong, and still have a consistent message worth reading.

But that doesn't change the fact that it never should have come down to this, especially when four months ago, Pettitte told the Yankees exactly what he was going to do, and the Yankees knew exactly where that would leave them.

It makes you wonder if anyone was actually listening.

What makes me wonder is why Wallace can write articles saying one thing in January and then write something completely different in February in a failed attempt to act like he knew what was going on all along...even when written evidence says to the contrary.


your favourite sun said...

the New York Yankees, the richest, most successful franchise in the history of professional sports

Sure, as long as we pretend certain things don't exist, like other countries and soccer.

I'm amused at how entitled writers are with regards to the Yankees. Sabathia and Hughes alone are more than what most teams have. As a Brewers fan, I'm stoked about the idea of having Greinke and Gallardo in the same rotation. We don't get that sort of thing too often(we went into one offseason believing the front end of our rotation would be Sabathia, Sheets and Gallardo...what a magical six weeks those were!), but Yankee writers are so spoiled they'd endlessly whine about it. It's a strange divide.

Bengoodfella said...

Sun, it can be a bizarre divide. The idea that a quality young pitcher like Nova would be in the rotation is a bad thing for the Yankees. Most other teams would be excited about this, but this is a point of concern for them. It really is as if Wallace Matthews believes if the Yankees don't have an All-Star at each rotation spot the team isn't complete.

There's always a complaint though. I have found that people get a fan base's personality from the writers that cover them. I am sure some Yankees fans feel like Wallace does, but overall I think (and I know a few Yankees fans) are pretty happy with Hughes in the rotation. It is the sense of entitlement though, where it can be perceived that if they don't have the best rotation on paper, then something is wrong.

Anonymous said...

Clay Bucholz and John Lester were once "green" with "uncommon poise and limitless potential" Not trading them for Santana seemed to work for the Sox

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, that's why I love Yankees writers. If it were up to Wallace, young Pettitte would have been traded for a veteran pitcher before he could start for the Yankees b/c Pettitte was too green.

I think sometimes Wallace feels like if he isn't freaking out about something then he's not comfortable with the world.

Nova may not be an All-Star ever, but compared to what is out on the market, what is wrong with giving him a shot?