Brian Cashman just spoke to the media. Surprisingly, the signing of Russell Martin wasn’t the main topic of conversation. That kid from Arkansas who can’t hack the Big Apple was. No, not Burnett. The other one.
Cashman’s remarks included a lot of expected spin. Spin designed, it would seem, to disabuse other teams out there of the notion that he’s all panicky and is now willing to grossly overpay for a starting pitcher. Stuff like:
I do stress Plan B is patience. It’s not like we’re in a rush to do anything … We have a great team … It would be a rare situation for me to include Montero in a deal … I don’t think we have a lot of holes ..
With respect to plugging those holes, Cashman said “it doesn’t have to happen in the winter time,” suggesting that the Yankees could wait until the trade deadline next year. He also talked up his current rotation, saying that Ivan Nova “has taken the next step” and that he likes his team as it is, even if it can stand some improvement. All of which are smart things for him to say, even if all of his statements could be made more truthful by adding the phrase “but we really, really would like to add a top-flight pitcher.”
As for Lee himself, Cashman echoed what many people had already suspected. When the delay in an answer from the Lee camp occurred over the weekend, he knew it could be trouble. That the Yankees did everything they could do to sign him. That there are no hard feelings with Lee and no sense that Lee’s agent was jerking anyone around. It was a negotiation like any other. All in the game, yo. [Cashman did not actually say “all in the game, yo.”]
So the air is now cleared from the Yankees side of things. It won’t stop a half dozen columnists from writing about how this was a death blow for the Bombers, both competitively speaking and in terms of that Yankee Brand we keep hearing about. But hey, we need something to get us through the rest of the week, right?
As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.
The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.
Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.
Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.
The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.
Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.
Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.
Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.