Self Parody Alert: The New York Post declares Lance Berkman "A True Yankee"


This morning I mocked Joel Sherman of the New York Post and others who talked up all of that “Berkman will never be able to hack it in New York” junk at the time of the trade. A close relative of that specious line of thinking is the little game in which New York columnists and radio people decide who is and who isn’t “a True Yankee.”

It was a meme that sprung up around the time the Yankees traded for A-Rod. He was better than Derek Jeter, you see, and the tabloid guys just love, love, love Derek Jeter, so they had to find a way to elevate Jeter and diminish Rodriguez. The “true Yankee” thing was great for that. It was so malleable! It could be about leadership. It could be about championships. It could be about character. Whenever there was a need to distinguish between heroes and villains on the Yankee roster, the designation of “true Yankee” did the trick.

I thought that all went away last year, but I guess not, because Sherman and the Post trotted it out again today for Lance Berkman. The headline: “Crucial hits make Berkman true member of Yankees.” Sherman:

Lance Berkman resided
in an interesting place as he came to bat in the fifth inning last
night. Technically, he was a Yankee. He had the uniform, drew a paycheck
signed by a Steinbrenner, enjoyed the company of a clubhouse saturated
with All-Stars. But even Berkman admitted he wasn’t really a Yankee.

I think that’s stretching it, by the way. He acknowledged that he wasn’t all that helpful down the stretch and that his teammates were the ones carrying the team to the playoffs. He said that he didn’t feel “part of the team” due to his lack of contributions. That’s reasonable. But that’s a different thing altogether, I’d argue, than admitting that he was not “a True Yankee” as that loaded phrase has come to be used. That there was some performance threshold that must be exceeded — in terms of numbers, clutchness, character and dramatics — before one can be a True Yankee

Thankfully, however, none of that matters now:

spending the majority of his career as a play-against-everyone No. 3
hitter and first baseman for the Astros, Berkman has been relegated to a
platoon, eighth-place-batting DH — an accidental tourist on the world’s
most famous traveling team. Yet, he considers this heavenly
nevertheless . . . . the
homer and double last night were particularly sweet. They allowed him
to step inside the velvet rope and really join the Yankees.

While I’m tempted to ask whether Sherman realizes just how much of a self-parody this kind of thing has become, I won’t. Rather, I’ll congratulate him for finding a new use of the concept of “True Yankee.”

Rather than merely be deployed to keep someone out of the club, now it’s far more versatile: it’s a means of covering the writer’s butt when his original take on a guy (Player X can’t hack it in New York) proves inoperative and a new, slightly less-ridiculous take must be deployed.

Erik Johnson likely to open 2016 in the White Sox rotation

DENVER, CO - APRIL 09:  Starting pitcher Erik Johnson #45 of the Chicago White Sox delivers against the Colorado Rockies during Interleague play at Coors Field on April 9, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the White Sox 10-4.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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With the White Sox losing Jeff Samardzija to free agency, Erik Johnson will likely get a shot to contribute out of the rotation to open up the 2016 season, GM Rick Hahn said in a conference call on Wednesday, per a report from’s Scott Merkin.

“As we sit here today, I think it will be an opportunity for Erik Johnson to convert on sort of the return to form he showed back in 2015 when he was International League pitcher of the year for [Triple-A] Charlotte,” Hahn said. “Obviously, he got some starts in September and continued to show the progress in Chicago he had shown in the Minor Leagues over the course of the last season.

“So if Opening Day were today, then I think Johnson is penciled in to that spot in the rotation right now. In all probability, once we get closer to spring, there will be some competition for him to earn that spot. But if we were strictly looking at today, then I would think Johnson has the inside track on filling Samardzija’s innings.”

Johnson was called up from Triple-A Charlotte in September and made six starts, allowing 14 runs (13 earned) on 32 hits and 17 walks with 30 strikeouts in 35 innings. That followed up an impressive five months in the minors where he compiled a 2.37 ERA and a 136/41 K/BB ratio across 132 2/3 innings.

Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and each included Johnson on their top-100 prospect lists, ranking him 63rd, 67th, and 70th, respectively. The right-hander was selected by the White Sox in the second round of the 2011 draft.

Major League Baseball will investigate Yasiel Puig for his role in Miami nightclub brawl

Yasiel Puig
AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi

It was reported on Friday afternoon that Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was involved in a brawl at a Miami nightclub. Details were scant at the time, but he reportedly left with a bruise on his face.

Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that Major League Baseball plans to investigate Puig under the league’s new domestic violence policy for his role in the brawl. Citing a report from TMZ, Hernandez notes that Puig shoved his sister, “brutally sucker-punched” the manager of the bar, and instigated the brawl.

The Dodgers and Puig’s agent have thus far refused to comment on the situation.

Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes was the first player to be investigated under the league’s new domestic violence policy earlier this month, as he allegedly assaulted his wife. Reyes has pleaded not guilty after he was charged with domestic abuse in Hawaii.

As our own Craig Calcaterra pointed out, commissioner Rob Manfred does not need to wait for Puig to plead guilty or to be found guilty to levy a punishment.

Dayan Viciedo close to signing with Japan’s Chunichi Dragons

Dayan Viciedo
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Patrick Newman is reporting that the Chunichi Dragons of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and outfielder Dayan Viciedo are close to an agreement on a contract. Newman notes that the Dragons are close to signing pitcher Jordan Norberto as well.

Viciedo, 26, has struggled since making his major league debut in 2010 with the White Sox, batting an aggregate .254/.298/.424 with 66 home runs and 211 RBI in 1,798 plate appearances. He spent the 2015 season with Triple-A Charlotte (White Sox) and Nashville (Athletics), hitting a composite .287/.348/.450. While Viciedo can hit the occasional home run, he hasn’t shown the ability to do much else at the big league level. Given his age, he could prove himself in Japan and parlay that into a renewed shot in the majors in the future.

The White Sox signed Viciedo out of Cuba in December 2008, agreeing to a four-year, $10 million deal. The club re-signed him to one-year deals in 2013 and ’14 for $2.8 million each and $4.4 million ahead of the 2015 season.

Blue Jays sign J.A. Happ to a three-year, $36 million contract

J.A. Happ
AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Update (8:45 PM EST): Per Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi, Happ will get $10 million in 2016 and $13 million each in 2017 and ’18.

*’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the Blue Jays have signed lefty J.A. Happ to a three-year deal worth $36 million.

Happ, 33, had a rebirth as a member of the Pirates last season after starting the season with 20 subpar starts with the Mariners. He made 11 starts for the Buccos, boasting a 1.85 ERA with a 69/13 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.

Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported this past August that Happ’s newfound success had to do with a delivery tweak suggested by Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage. The Blue Jays are certainly hoping that adjustment is the full explanation for his success.

The Jays’ signing of Happ most likely signifies they won’t be pursuing free agent lefty David Price.

This will be Happ’s second stint with the Blue Jays. The Astros dealt him to Toronto in a July 2012 trade. He posted a 4.39 ERA with a 256/113 K/BB ratio in 291 innings with the Jays, then went to the Mariners in a trade this past December that brought outfielder Michael Saunders to the Jays.