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McCarthy makes more sense for Yankees than Lester or Scherzer — October 30, 2014

McCarthy makes more sense for Yankees than Lester or Scherzer

By NoMaas

Considering Brian Cashman’s recent comments, it seems like an exercise in futility for us to make our traditional offseason recommendations. This team WILL BE lousy next season, but the front office will undoubtedly issue its now annual “championship-caliber” propaganda, be “short-term oriented“, and try to deceive the masses (and it’s amazing how many people still fellate this front office).

But what the hell, we’ll offer our suggestions in what now seems to be a perpetual uphill battle against a front office THAT PUBLICLY REFUSES TO CHANGE HOW THEY DO THINGS. After all, NoMaas was founded as a protest site, so why change our original mission. No one else has the balls to do it. Just be good sheep and Hal will pat you on the head.

One of the main reasons the Yankees are in their current predicament is the club’s penchant to sign players to long-ass deals. Max Scherzer and Jon Lester will command long-ass deals, and they’re both 30+ years old. They will not be worth the money and inflexibility that will undoubtedly result from their contract terms. Brandon McCarthy will certainly command less years and dollars.

Second, the Yankees’ pitching is not a problem. Larry Rotschild is a great pitching coach and the Yankees have achieved excellent results from their staff, finishing 1st in pitching WAR (Fangraphs) in 2014. So why commit major dollars/years to what will be a marginal upgrade?

Third, this team will miss the playoffs next season. The point of Scherzer or Lester will be what exactly?

McCarthy makes much more sense for the club.

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MLB hot stove: Yankees, Boston Red Sox considering Chase Headley —

MLB hot stove: Yankees, Boston Red Sox considering Chase Headley

By Brendan Kuty

chase headlet,

Jul 24, 2014; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees third baseman Chase Headley (12) heads to the dugout after making an out against the Texas Rangers during the second inning at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees-Red Sox rivalry could extend into the offseason as the clubs could battle over Chase Headley.

Both teams are interested in signing the 30-year-old third baseman, according to a report fromCBS Sports’ Jon Heyman.

The report said the Yankees’ interest in Headley is a sign they’re worried that Alex Rodriguez can’t be an everyday third baseman going into his age 40 season.

General manager Brian Cashman has said he doesn’t believe it’s smart to assume A-Rod will be the team’s everyday third baseman, considering he spent the last season suspended and has endured two major hip surgeries. Cashman added that manager Joe Girardi has talked to Rodriguez about playing some first base.

Boston is also intrigued by Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval, the report said.

Headley enjoyed his time in New York after initial trepidation when he was traded there. The Yankees acquired him from the Padres in exchange for utility infielder Yangervis Solarte.’

Headley had a rough start in San Diego, but picked it up in New York while flashing his top-notch defense throughout the season and enduring lower back pain. He finished with a .243 batting average, 13 homers and 49 RBI.

Headley has said he’d prefer to sign with a team that gives him an opportunity to be the everyday starter at third base. He played a little bit of first base during his time with the Yankees, too.

The Red Sox didn’t get a ton of offense from their third baseman in 2014 as Will Middlebrooks and Xander Bogaerts shared most of the duties there and put up poor numbers.

Yankees shopping list: All 157 potentially eligible free agents — October 28, 2014

Yankees shopping list: All 157 potentially eligible free agents

By Chad Jennings

ALCS Royals Orioles Baseball

The baseball season could end tonight, which means the real offseason could start as early as tomorrow. From The Associated Press, here’s a useful list of all the major-league players eligible for free agency this offseason. The list does not include non-tender candidates, many of whom will also hit the market. It does, however, including anyone with a contract option, many of whom will not hit the market. Still, not a bad list to have as we wait for the World Series to wrap up.

The 157 players potentially eligible for free agency
(c-club option, p-player option, m-mutual option)

Max ScherzerAMERICAN LEAGUE

BALTIMORE (11) — Wei-Yin Chen, lhp; Nelson Cruz, of; c-Nick Hundley, c; Kelly Johnson, 2b; m-Nick Markakis, of; m-Andrew Miller, lhp; c-Darren O’Day, rhp; Johan Santana, lhp; Joe Saunders, lhp; Delmon Young, of.

BOSTON (5) — Burke Badenhop, rhp; c-Craig Breslow, lhp; Ryan Doumit, c; David Ross, c; Koji Uehara, rhp.

CLEVELAND (2) — c-Mike Aviles, rhp; Jason Giambi, 1b.

CHICAGO (3) — Paul Konerko, 1b; Matt Lindstom, rhp; c-Felipe Paulino, rhp.

DETROIT (8) — Joba Chamberlain, rhp; Phil Coke, lhp; Joel Hanrahan, rhp; Torii Hunter, of; Jim Johnson, rhp; Victor Martinez, c; Max Scherzer, rhp; c-Joakim Soria, rhp.

HOUSTON (3) — Matt Albers, rhp; Jesse Crain, rhp; Jose Veras, rhp.

KANSAS CITY (8) — Nori Aoki, of; c-Billy Butler, 1b; Scott Downs, lhp; Jason Frasor, rhp; Luck Hochevar, rhp; Raul Ibanez, of; James Shields, rhp; Josh Willingham, of.

LOS ANGELES (6) — John Buck, c; c-Sean Burnett, lhp; Jason Grilli, rhp; John McDonald, ss; c-Huston Street, rhp; Joe Thatcher, lhp.

MINNESOTA (1) — Jared Burton, rhp.

NEW YORK (10) — Chris Capuano, lhp; Stephen Drew, ss; Chase Headley, 3b; Rich Hill, lhp; Derek Jeter, ss; Hiroki Kuroda, rhp; Brandon McCarthy, rhp; David Robertson, rhp; Ichiro Suzuki, of; Chris Young, of.

OAKLAND (8) — Alberto Callaspo, 3b; Jonny Gomes, of; Luke Gregerson, rhp; Jason Hammel, rhp; Jon Lester, lhp; Jed Lowrie, ss; c-Hiroyuki Nakajima, ss; Geovany Soto, c.

SEATTLE (8) — Joe Beimel, lhp; Endy Chavez, of; Chris Denorfia, of; Franklin Gutierrez, of; Corey Hart, of; Kendrys Morales, dh; Humberto Quintero, c; Chris Young, rhp.

TAMPA BAY (2) — c-Joel Peralta, rhp; c-Ben Zobrist, of-inf.

TEXAS (4) — Scott Baker, rhp; Neal Cotts, lhp; Colby Lewis, rhp; Alex Rios, of.

TORONTO (7) — Melky Cabrera, of; c-J.A. Happ, lhp; c-Casey Janssen, rhp; c-Adam Lind, 1b; c-Dustin McGowan, rhp; c-Brandon Morrow, rhp; Colby Rasmus, of.

___

Hanley RamirezNATIONAL LEAGUE

ATLANTA (6) — Emilio Bonifacio, 2b; m-Ryan Doumit, c; c-Gavin Floyd, rhp; Aaron Harang, rhp; Gerald Laird, c; Ervin Santana, rhp.

CHICAGO (3) — c-Kyuji Fujikawa, rhp; m-Carlos Villanueva, rhp; c-Tsuyoshi Wada, lhp.

CINCINNATI (4) — c-Johnny Cueto, rhp; c-Jack Hannahan, 3b; m-Ryan Ludwick, of; Ramon Santiago, ss.

COLORADO (6) — c-Brett Anderson, lhp; Matt Belisle, rhp; Michael Cuddyer, of; c-LaTroy Hawkins, rhp; Nick Masset, rhp; Franklin Morales, lhp.

LOS ANGELES (10) — Josh Beckett, rhp; c-Chad Billingsley, rhp; Kevin Correia, rhp; p-Dan Haren, rhp; Roberto Hernandez, rhp; Paul Maholm, lhp; Chris Perez, rhp; Hanley Ramirez, ss; p-Brian Wilson, rhp; Jamey Wright, rhp.

MIAMI (5) — Rafael Furcal, ss; Kevin Gregg, rhp; Reed Johnson, of; c-Jeff Mathis, c; Brad Penny, rhp.

MILWAUKEE (8) — Zach Duke, lhp; c-Yovani Gallardo, rhp; Tom Gorzelanny, lhp; Lyle Overbay, 1b; m-Aramis Ramirez, 3b; Mark Reynolds, 1b; Francisco Rodriguez, rhp; c-Rickie Weeks, 2b.

NEW YORK (2) — Bobby Abreu, of; Daisuke Matsuzaka, rhp.

PHILADELPHIA (5) — c-Mike Adams, rhp; mp-A.J. Burnett, rhp; Kyle Kendrick, rhp; Wil Nieves, c; Grady Sizemore, of.

PITTSBURGH (4) — Clint Barmes, ss; Francisco Liriano, lhp; Russell Martin, c; Edinson Volquez, rhp.

ST. LOUIS (6) — Mark Ellis, 2b; c-John Lackey, rhp; Justin Masterson, rhp; Jason Motte, rhp; Pat Neshek, rhp; A.J. Pierzynski, c.

SAN DIEGO (2) — c-Josh Johnson, rhp; Tim Stauffer, rhp.

SAN FRANCISCO (5) — Michael Morse, of; Jake Peavy, rhp; Sergio Romo, rhp; Pablo Sandoval, 3b; Ryan Vogelsong, rhp.

WASHINGTON (6) — Asdrubal Cabrera, ss; Scott Hairston, of; m-Adam LaRoche, 1b; Nate Schierholtz, of; c-Rafael Soriano, rhp; c-Denard Span, of.

What to do about first base? — October 24, 2014

What to do about first base?

By Chad Jennings

Teixeira11-450x282

For the Yankees, there’s no question what to do about choosing an everyday first baseman. Or, if there is a question, it’s not one with many answers. The team made its choice six years ago when it committed to Mark Teixeira. He has full no-trade protection, and there’s too much invested these next two years to simply cut ties.

Barring something unforeseen, Teixeira will be at first base on Opening Day. And he’ll probably be hitting in the middle of the order. And the Yankees will simply have to trust – or, perhaps simply hope – that the power he showed in this season’s first three months will return and maintain through a full season.

Question is, what to do about his backup.

Last year, the Yankees really had no concrete backup plan at first base. They had the vague idea that Kelly Johnson should be able to play first base occasionally, but Johnson didn’t meet expectations in any way, and so the Yankees were left with Brian McCann and Francisco Cervelli getting a combined 16 starts at first base.

Neither had previously played the position, and together they started nearly 10 percent of the time.

Brian McCannSo what to do next year?

1. Let the catchers do it again
Actually, McCann didn’t look too bad at first base last season. Cervelli’s had some scattered infield experience through the years and generally looks surprisingly passable. Both John Ryan Murphy and Austin Romine have seen some infield time in the minor leagues. The Yankees could simply go into the season thinking of their catchers as their backup first basemen. Would be a solid way to give either Cervelli or Murphy a few more at-bats, which might be a plus considering the offensive potential they’ve shown.

2. Teach someone to play first
We already know the Yankees have talked to Alex Rodriguez about getting a little bit of time at first base next season, presumably in a backup role. I suppose a case could be made for asking Carlos Beltran to do the same (though a similar plan with Alfonso Soriano was quickly discarded last spring). A guy like Jose Pirela, who will be coming to camp with a little bit of first base experience, could be another relatively inexperienced option. In theory, this “make A-Rod do it” plan seems to make sense, but Johnson showed at times that learning first base on the fly isn’t always smooth or easy. This is the plan that didn’t work too well this year.

3. Carry a second first baseman
This would be a pure first baseman. Might even be a guy like Kyle Roller, this year’s Triple-A first baseman who has a pretty bad glove but has shown a pretty good left-handed swing. Although he’s never generated much prospect attention, Roller hit .283/.378/.497 in Triple-A this season, and he was able to hit both lefties and righties. Any pure backup first baseman would surely have to show enough bat to occasionally start at designated hitter.

4. Make first base a utility-man priority
Problem with carrying another pure first baseman on the bench is that it limits the team’s flexibility. The Yankees have a DH spot and four bench roles, and given the team’s age and injury concerns, flexibility is a real plus. In their search for a Rodriguez alternative at third base, the Yankees could certainly prioritize finding someone who has also played first base (a guy like Casey McGehee has played quite a bit of first; Chase Headley has played a very little bit; Pablo Sandoval used to do it several years ago, Aramis Ramirez has never done it). Another version of this solution would be an outfielder/DH with first base experience. Maybe Michael Cuddyer? Michael Morse? Buy really low on Corey Hart? All of these option come with cost issues. How often would they play, and how much is that worth?

What CC Sabathia thinks of Yankees’ potential target Jon Lester — October 23, 2014

What CC Sabathia thinks of Yankees’ potential target Jon Lester

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By Brendan Kuty

The one man CC Sabathia would want on the mound in a pressure situation could very well be his teammate in 2015.

“It would have to be, I guess, Jon Lester. I like Lester,” Sabathia said on ESPN Radio Wednesday. “He obvioulsy pitched the Red Sox to a World Series last year. Fell a little bit short in that (Wild Card play-in) game to Kansas City.”

Sabathia, however, stopped short of saying theYankees should pursue him this offseason.

“It ain’t my money to spend,” he said. “I’ll leave that up to the front office.”

Lester, 30, is set to become a free agent and will be among the three most sought-after starting pitchers on the market, alongside James Shields and Max Scherzer.

Lester, a lefty, spent the first full eight seasons of his career in Boston, where he tormented the Yankees.

But the Red Sox dealt him and outfielder Jonny Gomes to Oakland in exchange for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes at the trade deadline. Boston had reportedly been unable to work out a contract extension with the three-time All-Star.

The Red Sox, however, had also reportedly told Lester they’d court him aggressively in the offseason and Lester has said he won’t simply go to the highest bidder.

The Yankees would likely be willing to outbid almost any team for Lester, a competitor they’ve grown to respect over the years. New York’s projected 2015 starting rotation has plenty of question marks and adding Lester would give them a second ace to go along with Masahiro Tanaka for years.

Sabathia, however, is simply hoping to be healthy next season after undergoing knee surgery that cut his 2014 short.

Scouts see Refsnyder resemblance in Giants’ 2B Panik — October 22, 2014

Scouts see Refsnyder resemblance in Giants’ 2B Panik

By Chad Jennings

Joe Panik

For anyone wanting the Yankees to go with prospect Rob Refsnyder at second base next season, it might be worth keeping an eye on the kid playing second base for the Giants this week. Three different scouts, all from different organizations, said they saw pretty solid similarities between Refsnyder and San Francisco rookie Joe Panik.

“I think that’s a very good comparison,” one scout said. “Two guys making the most of their ability, and both have the knack of putting the barrel to the ball.”

Reading through most any scouting report on Panik feels almost exactly like reading a report on Refsnyder. At least, in terms of offensive ability and intangible makeup.

ph_605412Panik is a “fundamentally sound line drive hitter who makes contact but doesn’t have a ton of power.” Through the minor leagues he showed “an advanced approach with a lean toward patience.” Even if he doesn’t have a standout tool, Panik “rarely strikes out, draws walks and looks like he should be able to continue hitting for a high average.” One of his minor league hitting coaches said that Panik was “professional, came from a decent family, and a good school at St. John’s.”

But the favorable comparisons largely end when it comes to defensive ability. Refsnyder was a college outfielder who’s made progress at second base but remains a work in progress. Panik was a college shortstop, so his move to second base was from a harder position to an easier one. Panik is seen as a better defensive player.

“Offensively I would make that comparison,” another scout said, noting that he’s seen far more of Refsnyder. “(Panik) looks smoother at second base.”

Called up to the big leagues in mid June, 23-year-old Panik hit .305/.343/.368 in his rookie season. He was regularly batting eighth, then seventh, and by the end of August he was San Francisco’s No. 2 hitter. He’s stayed in that spot through the postseason. Panik hit only one home run and had no stolen bases, but the bat itself — ability to make contact and get on base — largely lived up to its billing.

RefsnyderRefsnyder is five months younger and he was drafted one year later (Panik was a first-rounder in 2011; Refsnyder went in the fifth round in 2012). It’s hard to perfectly compare their minor league careers — Panik moved one step at a time, one year at each level; Refsnyder got an early-season promotion in back-to-back years; there’s also no league overlap — but their career numbers are fairly similar.

Panik: .296/.365/.403 in 1,620 career at-bats
.321/.382/.447 in 74 Triple-A games

Refsnyder: .297/.389/.444 in 1,144 career at-bats
.300/.389/.456 in 77 Triple-A games

Overall, Refsnyder has the better numbers, and that’s with Panik playing in a more hitter-friendly Triple-A league. Refsnyder has struck out more frequently, but he’s also walked more often. He’s also stolen more bases as a better success rate, but ultimately, the numbers are too similar to pick out any overwhelming differences. Give Refsnyder an additional 500 at-bats, and his career slugging percentage might dip a bit.

“Solid baseball guys that find a way to get better,” one scout said.

It’s risky business to assume two players will handle the major leagues in the same way, but baseball is often a game of comparisons, especially when it comes to on-the-verge prospects. Right now the Yankees have a young second baseman on the verge of the big leagues, and at least on the offensive side, there might be a solid comparison currently playing in the World Series.

Sorting through Yankees arbitration and non-tender candidates — October 21, 2014

Sorting through Yankees arbitration and non-tender candidates

By Chad Jennings

Michael Pineda

Yesterday, MLB Trade Rumors announced it’s typically reliable salary predictions for the seven Yankees who are arbitration eligible this winter. The MLBTR predictions aren’t fool-proof, and they aren’t necessarily exact, but over time we’ve learned that they tend to provide a pretty solid expectation for what an individual player stands to earn through offseason negotiations.

So with these figures in mind, which arbitration-eligible Yankees are most likely to be non-tendered this winter?

IVAN NOVA
This year: $3.3 million
Next year prediction: $3.3 million

No logical chance of a non-tender. Last year’s elbow injury cost the Yankees a full season from one of their top young starting pitchers, but it also made him significantly less expensive in his second year of arbitration. Despite the injury, the Yankees will gladly sign up for $3.3 million on a pitcher who could be at least a strong No. 3-4 starter with the potential to go on a run of near-ace-like production for several weeks at a time. The injury might keep them from considering a multi-year deal at this point, but one year at this price is surely a no-brainer.

Shawn KelleySHAWN KELLEY
This year: $1.765 million
Next year prediction: $2.5 million

A $3.5-million commitment was enough for the Yankees to cut ties with Matt Thornton back in August, so the possibility of a $2.5-million deal with Kelley shouldn’t be completely dismissed. It’s not pocket change. That said, Kelley’s been a nice find for the Yankees bullpen. A back injury slowed him down for a while this year, but his key numbers — strikeout rate, walk rate, WHIP, etc. — were actually better in 2014 than in 2013. He’s a pretty reliable strikeout pitcher, and a one-year commitment to a reliever like this seems just about perfect at this point. The Yankees have some solid arms on the way, and one more year of Kelley might perfectly bridge the gap. No compelling reason to non-tender him.

MICHAEL PINEDA
This year: roughly $500,000 (slightly more than the minimum)
Next year prediction: $2.1 million

Pretty big salary jump for a guy who’s made 13 big league starts since 2011. But that’s the nature of the business with a player who’s coming back from a long-term injury and a bunch of time on the 60-day disabled list. Ultimately, a little more than $2 million should be a bargain as long as Pineda stays healthy. And if he doesn’t, it probably means another chance for a similar low-risk, one-year contract next winter. Again, this one is a no-brainer. Pineda will certainly be back, and even with the injury concern and time missed, there’s no reason to balk at $2.1 million for a pitcher with Pineda’s proven talent.

ESMIL ROGERS
This year: $1.85 million
Next year prediction: $1.9 million

Probably the strongest non-tender candidate of the bunch. Obviously the Yankees like Rogers’ arm — and at times they got terrific production out of him during his brief Yankees tenure last season — but he’s ultimately a 29-year-old with a 1.56 career WHIP, 5.54 career ERA, and a large enough sample size to suggest those numbers are a reasonable expectation for next year. Even if $1.9 million isn’t a ton of money, a one-year deal with Rogers probably isn’t the best way to spend it. Not with better options — or at least similar options — already in the system. The 40-man is going to be tight, money could be tight, and it’s probably not be worth using either a roster spot or a couple million bucks to retain Rogers. If the Yankees had less pitching depth, the situation might be different.

David PhelpsDAVID PHELPS
This year: roughly $500,000 (slightly more than the minimum)
Next year prediction: $1.3 million

It seems Phelps just made it past the cutoff for early arbitration eligibility. I’m sure the Yankees would like one more year at the minimum, but I’m sure they also realize that Phelps is a really nice fit for them in the immediate future. He’s proven capable of filling any role, and this Yankees pitching staff should have a need for a long man who can either slide into the rotation or move into a late-inning role if necessary. That’s Phelps. As he more thoroughly defines himself one way or the other — and as his arbitration price goes up with each passing offseason — the Yankees will have a choice to make about how much he’s worth, but at slightly more than a million dollars, Phelps is still a good fit at a cheap price.

FRANCISCO CERVELLI
This year: $700,000
Next year prediction: $1.1 million

You know, Cervelli has really developed into a nice catcher. He’s played like a high-end backup or a low-end (with upside) starter. And $1.1 million isn’t too much to pay for a guy like that. Even as the Yankees surely need to make a decision behind the plate — makes sense to make a move with either Cervelli, John Ryan Murphy or Austin Romine — it would be a waste to simply non-tender Cervelli. Surely there’s trade value there, and even if the Yankees decide to cut him in spring training, arbitration-eligible players are never given guaranteed contracts, so the Yankees could move on a fraction of the price. Certainly worth signing a new contract, even if it’s also worth immediately trying to trade him.

DAVID HUFF
This year: roughly $500,000 (slightly more than the minimum)
Next year prediction: $700,000

Could be a non-tender candidate despite having a pretty nice year. Huff walks quite a few batters, and he doesn’t strike out a ton of guys, but he had a 1.31 WHIP and a 1.85 ERA during his stint with the Yankees (granted, with a much higher FIP and xFIP). Ultimately, he was fine. Nothing about his season suggests he’s not worth a modest raise to $700,000. That said, the Yankees always treated him like a last-man in the bullpen, and his career splits don’t suggest a reliable lefty specialist. Solid year, fairly cheap price, but could be non-tendered just to open a roster spot for someone else.

The Boss’ last, secret kindness to George Brett’s dad in Brooklyn — October 20, 2014

The Boss’ last, secret kindness to George Brett’s dad in Brooklyn

By George A. King III

George Brett

Royals great George Brett has been a major presence during the team’s run to the World Series.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A man who tormented George Steinbrenner’s team had a father who visited his native Brooklyn late in life to take a final look at New York, where he was raised, educated, worked and fathered three sons.

The year was 1992, and while the Royals-Yankees rivalry was nowhere near as hot as it was in the ’80s, there was no way The Boss or anybody associated with the Yankees would ever forget how George Brett punished the Yankees.

Brett, a career .307 hitter with 29 homers and 117 RBIs in 203 games against the Yankees, was a year away from retiring and waiting five more to enter Cooperstown on the first ballot.

Arthur Richman, who worked for Steinbrenner and was close with the greatest player in Royals history, told The Boss that Jack Brett was coming to see New York for the final time.

“Two weeks before he passed away, he went back to New York to see the old sights,’’ George Brett said of Jack, who attended Pace University, during the Royals’ amazing run to the World Series that starts Tuesday night with Game 1 at Kauffman Stadium against the Giants. “My brother Ken was there and Arthur must have said something to George because the whole time he was in New York a Town Car was at his disposal thanks to George.’’

Ken Brett pitched in the big leagues for 14 years, including two games for the 1976 Yankees.

Obit Steinbrenner Baseball

George Steinbrenner during his heyday

Goose Gossage and Willie Randolph, a Brooklyn native, never heard of the Brett family’s connection to Brooklyn. But Steinbrenner lending a hand to Jack Brett didn’t surprise Gossage.

“George [Steinbrenner] had tremendous respect for gamers, and George [Brett] was a gamer,’’ Gossage said of the left-handed hitter who took Gossage into the upper deck of Yankee Stadium to finish the Yankees in the third game of the 1980 ALCS, won by the Royals, 3-0, and homered off him in the infamous “Pine Tar Game’’ in 1983 at the Stadium.

Despite being dealt by the Pirates with Ken Brett — and Dock Ellis — to the Yankees for Doc Medich on Dec. 11, 1975, Randolph was startled to learn of Brett’s Brooklyn background.

“I didn’t know that,’’ the Tilden High School product said.

Brett’s three brothers were born in Brooklyn. George Brett was born in Glen Dale, West Va. The Brett family then moved to Southern California.

“I never asked why,’’ Brett said of him being the only son of Jack and Ethel not born in Brooklyn.

As Brett developed into one of the best hitters ever, he didn’t ignore his parents’ roots.

“Every time we played the Yankees, I would go see my grandmothers in Brooklyn,’’ said Brett, a VP of baseball operations with the Royals. “It was on 4th and Ovington.’’

Randolph remembers how intense the Royals-Yankees rivalry was and how it’s not completely dead to Brett.

“People talk about the Yankees and Red Sox, that rivalry with the Royals was just as intense. We respected them, but we went at it with them and we fought with them,’’ Randolph said. “If I see George Brett today, he gives me a half high-five. To this day he won’t let it go. He won’t give me a lot of conversation.’’

Thirty-four baseball seasons later, Gossage can’t get the sound of Brett’s 1980 homer out of his head.

“That was the last nail in the coffin. With the pitch I never heard a bat make contact like that. I flinched at the noise,’’ Gossage recalls. “I could never get it out of my head and never have.’’

The bitterness of the Yankees-Royals rivalry has faded to the point Gossage was thinking of his nemesis as the Royals rolled to the World Series for the first time since 1985.

“I watched their playoff run and I thought how excited he must be,’’ Gossage said. “I hated all the Royals, but George, wow-wee. It’s the thing I miss the most, facing a guy like him. He was the ultimate challenge.’’

Red Sox hire Chili Davis as hitting coach — October 19, 2014

Red Sox hire Chili Davis as hitting coach

By Bill Baer

chilli

WEEI’s Rob Bradford is reporting that the Red Sox have agreed to terms with Chili Davis, ending their search for a hitting coach after Greg Colbrunn resigned.

Davis, 54, had previously interviewed with the Yankees and was considered a possibility for the Rangers as well. He served as a minor league hitting instructor for the Red Sox in the past.

During his 19-year playing career, Davis hit .274/.360/.451 with 350 home runs and 1,372 RBI.

Time for Teixeira to shift his priorities —

Time for Teixeira to shift his priorities

By Wallace Matthews

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As Mark Teixeira has aged, his numbers — and, seemingly, his desire — have dipped. Will he ever be a big-time player again?

The New York Yankees have one of the highest-paid first basemen in all of baseball. They also had, in 2014, one of the least productive first basemen in all of baseball.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Mark Teixeira. Of course, you’d probably give him right back.

A player as perceptive and business-savvy as Teixeira — who will collect $45 million in paychecks from the Yankees over the next two seasons — would probably be among the first to admit that over the past couple of seasons, he has not even come close to giving his club its money’s worth.

You can throw out 2013, when Teixeira missed all but 15 games after suffering a torn wrist tendon sheath that required season-ending surgery. And you can probably excuse some, but not all, of 2014 because it was probably too much to expect a 34-year-old player to fully bounce back from that kind of surgery in less than a year.

What you can’t throw out, however, is the nagging belief that for some reason, Teixeira no longer has the burning desire to be the kind of iron man presence he was in his first nine seasons, in which he averaged 153 games, or the ability to be the kind of hitter he was when he was not only hitting 30 home runs and knocking in 100 runs a season, but regularly batting between .280 and .308, his career high in 2008.

In 2014, Teixeira appeared in 123 games, a significant number. But there were too many nagging injuries, and a couple too many unsettling absences — one for “tired legs” early in the season, another for lightheadedness — for a player who likes to say, “I play through anything.”

Uh, not anymore.

It’s possible that at his age — Teixeira will turn 35 on April 11 — injuries that he once would have played through now force him to take a day or two off.

But it’s also possible that at his salary level and level of achievement — he’s been a world champion, an All-Star and a five-time Gold Glove winner — the same hunger is no longer there.

I am reminded of a great quote from the former middleweight champion Marvin Hagler, who once described the rigors of training for a title fight as follows: “It’s tough to get out of bed to do roadwork when you’ve been sleeping in silk pajamas.” Hagler lost his next fight, to Sugar Ray Leonard, and never got up to do roadwork again.

There are some Yankees who wonder if the same syndrome is starting to affect Teixeira. His numerous business interests are well-known — he spoke of many of them in a 2013 Fortune magazine article — and last year, displayed a genuine flair for comedy in the “Foul Territory” segments he did for the YES network, in which he played himself as a bumbling TV interviewer. He has appeared on TV (“Entourage”) and in a Broadway show, and acting may be one of his post-baseball aspirations.

Where he has not shown much flair, or desire, is in overcoming the effect of the proliferation of shifts that have become the rage in major league baseball, especially against hitters like him. Anyone who can read a spray chart can see that from both sides of the plate, and especially from the left side, Teixeira is as predictable as the clock at the U.S. Naval Observatory.

As a result, although his home run and RBI totals have tailed off gradually, his batting average, on-base percentage and BABIP — a measure of how many of his balls in play become outs — have taken a steady, precipitous drop.

And much to the Yankees’ dismay, Teixeira has not seemed all that inclined to remedy it.

Just last week, at the news conference to announce his contract extension, GM Brian Cashman acknowledged the adverse effect the shift was having on some of his hitters. “The analytics have proven that certain guys obviously have tendencies that opposing defenses can take advantage of,” Cashman said.

Without mentioning any names, Cashman was obviously talking about Brian McCann and Teixeira, the heart of his 2014 batting order that saw too many line drives and hard grounders turned into outs by an infielder stationed in short right field.

Before the 2013 season, Teixeira did mention something about occasionally laying down a bunt or two, to beat the shift and keep opposing defenses honest. But more often, he has shrugged off suggestions that he try to go the other way, saying things like, “I’m in there to drive in runs” and “You don’t want to turn me into a slap hitter.”

So instead, what he has turned into is a guy who will give you the occasional home run interspersed with a heck of a lot of outs hit into the shift.

Perhaps a new hitting coach will be better able to reach Teixeira regarding his approach than the departed Kevin Long did. But the fact is, the change must come from Teixeira himself.

A baseball insider I spoke with this week said Teixeira’s “outside interests” — he is financially involved in real estate holdings, a chain of juice bars, and is working to create what he called a “marriage of baseball and social media” — had become a point of concern, with some wondering how badly he still wanted to be a baseball player.

Another said that while Teixeira’s health was a factor — he also missed time with a hamstring injury and recurring soreness in his wrist — he also needed a change in approach at the plate. “He needs to go back to being the Mark Teixeira who used the whole field,” the source said.

In truth, Teixeira’s decline began just about as soon as he signed his Yankees deal before the 2009 season. By 2010, his BA had dropped to .256, then to .248, .251, and this year’s .216, which was worse than all but two full-time MLB first basemen. His RBI total fell from a career-high 122 in 2009, to 108, 111, 84, and this year’s 62, his lowest for a full season.

In just about every other offensive category, Teixeira was in the bottom half of 23 full-time MLB first basemen: 14th in home runs, 19th in RBIs, 19th in on-base percentage, 17th in slugging percentage. As a result, the heart of the Yankees’ order, spots three, four and five, generally filled by Teixeira, the underperforming McCann, the oft-injured Carlos Beltranand the misplaced Jacoby Ellsbury, ranked well below the average for the other 14 American League teams.

And here you thought Derek Jeter was the problem!

That missing middle of the order was the reason the Yankees’ offense was so feeble this season, and Teixeira was a big part of that.

Like Alex Rodriguez, Teixeira is going to be here, collecting big paychecks and being expected to put up commensurate numbers.

But whether it’s in his approach to hitting, his attitude toward playing, or simply the condition of his body, something, and maybe several things, are going to have to change for the Yankees to get what they are paying for.

For nine seasons, you could have set your watch by the numbers on the back of Teixeira’s baseball card.

Now, how can anyone be sure of exactly what he is capable of giving them?