Monthly Archives: April 2010

HAVE THE JETS DONE TOO MUCH?

                                                                                       Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas

After a great run in the playoffs, you knew the Jets weren’t going to stand pat (no pun intended). They clearly made a decision to improve their team by taking players regardless of character. They look more and more like the Ravens of yesteryear.

But have the Jets done too much? Yes, they brought in a quality guy like LaDainian Tomlinson (hopefully nobody in New York will refer to him as LT – there’s only one of those and he played for the Giants), but a back who is past his prime. But they also brought in questionable guys like Santonio Holmes and Antonio Cromartie. And no matter what you think of him, Jet-hater Jason Taylor is on the down side. Yes, they seemed to have a pretty good draft with top cornerback prospect Kyle Wilson from Boise State and (maybe) offensive lineman Vladimir Ducasse from UMass and (maybe) running back Joe McKnight from USC.

BUT LOOK WHO THEY HAVE LOST!

It’s hard to believe that the Jets would virtually gut their running back tandem of Thomas Jones AND Leon Washington, bringing back neither. Yes, Shonn Greene played great for Gang Green. But are he and Tomlinson the answer? And can McKnight or anyone replace the returning threat and all-purpose yardage machine that is Washington? All of this remains to be seen.

Worse, from this angle, is the unceremonious dumping of the perennial Pro Bowl guard, Alan Faneca. A number of Jets seem particularly unhappy about this, none more so than his running buddy, center Nick Mangold. According to the New York Post, Mangold was actually eating dinner with Faneca at a steakhouse in Summit, New Jersey when Faneca got the call from Rex Ryan, telling him that he was cut.

Not only did Mangold tell the Post that the decision was “very disappointing and difficult to deal with,” he showed how tough it’s going to be for any new guy (Ducasse?) to step in by saying “I’m going into my fifth year and I still don’t know exactly everything about the [Jets’] system.”

Translation: It’s going to be very hard to replace this guy and still be the line of a year ago.

SO, WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE THE JETS?

It leaves them battling again with the always-dangerous Patriots and the improving Dolphins. While it’s not the NFC East, it is one of the toughest divisions in football. With the questionable chemistry, the character, all of these new guys, it says here that it’s going to be very hard to beat the Patriots for the division or to go as far as they went last year.

© Copyright 2010 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved.

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YANKEES OFF TO A GREAT START, BUT …

                                                                                       Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas

Not surprisingly, the Yankees are off to a wonderful 7-3 start and are in first place in the ultra-tough A.L. East. Even more impressive, they did it by winning series from the Red Sox, the Rays and the always-tough-on-the-Yankees Angels. After losing two of the toughest, clutch lefties ever, Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon, the Yankees seem to have not missed a beat – they are well on their way to another playoff berth and World Series appearance.

Or are they?

WHAT’S UP WITH MARK TEIXEIRA?

All the alleged experts who attributed Mark Teixeira’s great turnaround after a miserable start in 2009 to the return of A-Rod into the Yankee line-up didn’t know what they were talking about. It had virtually nothing to do with A-Rod. If you knew what you were talking about last year (that is, that Teixeira is (historically) a notoriously poor starter in April with or without protection in the line-up), you wouldn’t be shocked by Teixeira’s slow start this year.

The problem this year, with A-Rod batting behind Teixeira from Day 1, is that Teixeira’s not cold, he’s frigid. Batting under .100 has to at least give the Yankees pause. But it says here, even though this start is worse than cold, Teixeira will do what Teixeira does – become an excellent hitter/RBI man. Teixeira is a guy who must pray it’s going to be May rather than April from the get-go. To his credit, of course, no excuses (and look what the Yankees have done while he is in his offensive – not defensive – funk).

WHAT’S UP WITH A-ROD?

Maybe you could argue that part of Teixeira’s slump is due to a lack of production from his “protection,” A-Rod. That would be unfair, of course, because A-Rod is still A-Rod and ten games isn’t going to change that.

But say what you want, A-Rod has no homers in ten games. And while that is too small a sample to get worried about and one would expect that A-Rod will bust out of it sooner rather than later, maybe these are tiny chinks in the Yankee armor.

Of course, the flip side of that is that, without much offensive contribution from their two best offensive players, the Yankees are still in first and rolling over their toughest opponents. But questions remain and they can’t possibly be answered until the playoffs.

SO, WHAT’S THE “BUT” IN THE TITLE OF THIS ARTICLE?

The “but” still remains: how will the Yankees replace the clutchness and lefty-on-lefty talent of Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon IN THE PLAYOFFS? Of course, no matter what happens during the regular season, that question can’t be answered, by definition, until the playoffs.

How’s Curtis Granderson doing? Well, he’s doing great overall and his numbers against lefties are OK in a small sample: 4-15, one triple, .267 against lefties. Better than his .183 against lefties in 2009 or his .211 against lefties lifetime.

But the questions remain and there are two of them: Can he do it against lefties IN THE PLAYOFFS and can he hit in general in the clutch in the playoffs? Nobody knows.

The other part of the “but” is Nick Johnson. Hitting under .200 but with an OBP of .432 (astounding!), there are a lot of “buts” with Nick. Can he stay healthy? If the Yankees let Matsui go (remember, he only signed with the Angels for $6.5 million) because they wanted to “free up” the DH for Posada and once-in-a-while for Teixeira, A-Rod, Jeter, you fill in the blank, how is it that Johnson is now essentially viewed as a full-time DH?

It’s preposterous, but that’s where we are.

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

Well, the Yankees are off to a great start and, with their excellent pitching staff, seem like a cinch to make the playoffs. But questions still abound. It will just be a number of months until they can possibly be answered.

© Copyright 2010 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved.

YANKEE GREED HURTS YANKEES

                                                                                       Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas

If you are a Yankee fan, you expect the absurd ticket prices, the ridiculous prices for parking, programs, food, etc. It comes with the territory – you are at Yankee Stadium. And while it may never replace the aura of the old Yankee Stadium (Question: “Hey, dad, where did Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio and Mantle play? Answer: “Across the street, son.”), it’s a nice new facility with many more amenities than the old one.

But, surprisingly, in 2010, Yankee greed may hurt the Yankees. On Saturday, the Yankees had a made-up game between the Yankees and their “Future Stars,” whatever that means. Played in Tampa, it seems like a made-for-TV event. What, the Yankees need more money? What, the rookies and future stars couldn’t have played with or against them before?

WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL?

Here’s the big deal: according to published reports, some of the Yankee players are very upset at playing this game in Tampa the day before the season opener against the Red Sox up in Fenway. Presumably, the intelligent players who are upset would rather get into Boston earlier and workout at Fenway on Saturday. George King of the Post quoted Andy Pettitte as saying, ”[f]or the position players, it would have been ideal to get a workout there.”

Once upon a time, decades and decades ago, players had to play these kinds of games: glorified scrimmages that were a waste of time. Arguably, once upon a time, teams had to play these kinds of games to defray expenses or expose professional baseball on the way north when there weren’t major league baseball teams in the Deep South.

But to do it today, in 2010, to the New York Yankees, the day before they open against the Red Sox?

That’s preposterous.

Hopefully, nobody got hurt. Hopefully, the fans and “future stars” (how many of them really are future STARS) had a good time. But to make the defending champions delay their arrival in Boston to play a scrimmage is beyond stupid.

Wouldn’t it have just been more intelligent to let the team (especially the new guys who haven’t felt Yankees-Red Sox first-hand) acclimate itself to Fenway Park and Opening Day?

The article about the game on the Yankee web site was entitled, “Bombers Teach Future Stars a Lesson.”  Here’s hoping the Yankees themselves learn a lesson from their own stupidity.

The Yankee organization already hurt the Yankee team by upsetting a number of players with a meaningless exhibition game.  We’ll see if it hurts the team on Sunday.

© Copyright 2010 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved.