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Yankee Woes

From NY Daily News:

Yanks up to neck in woes

Stiff Giambi forced out as Kyle and bats falter


The Yankees got another strong start from Mike Mussina, but their sputtering offense, missing two vital cogs, let them down again and so did Kyle Farnsworth, the reliever who botched last night's game in a rainy eighth inning.
The Yankees lost to Texas, 4-2, in front of 41,115 at the Stadium on a night they got only six hits for the second consecutive game. Not coincidentally, they've lost two in a row for the first time in a month.

The Yankees have scored only nine times in their past four games and only three times in their last two. Clearly, they miss injured stars Hideki Matsui and Gary Sheffield and now they hope they won't have to pine for Jason Giambi, who left last night's game with a strained neck after jamming it while diving to snare a grounder in the third inning.

While Giambi, who came out of the game after the seventh, said he didn't think the neck would be a big problem, Johnny Damon noted, "We need to stay away from injuries. Hopefully, we don't walk in (today) and see him down for a little bit.

"(The offense) is a major concern right now. We just didn't do anything with our bats. Hopefully, we can wake up (tonight). We're just swinging and missing right now and now's not the time to do it. We've got to pick up the slack.

"We're bad right now. We're awful."

The Yankees had beaten Texas eight straight times and seemed poised to do it again with a 2-0 lead and Mussina cruising. But he gave up two runs in the fifth and was saved from further damage by Bubba Crosby's leaping catch that turned a possible double by Michael Young into just a run-scoring sac fly.

Mussina went seven innings, allowing two runs and six hits as he recorded his ninth quality start in as many outings this year.

The Yankees, meanwhile, had little success against Rangers starter Kevin Millwood, who gave up five hits and two runs in seven innings. He constantly got ahead of Yankee hitters, robbing them of their ability to be patient.

The decisive eighth started when Gary Matthews, Jr. hit a ball down the left-field line off Farnsworth. He appeared to hold up at first, but Melky Cabrera slipped while trying to field the ball and Matthews ran to second with a double.

"He got a fastball that was up and away a little bit. He stuck the bat out there and hit it to the right space," Farnsworth said. "Nothing you can do about that."

One out later, Mark Teixeira singled to right on an 0-2 pitch to give Texas a one-run lead. Farnsworth said later it was a slider that was supposed to be down. "He just got a base hit," Farnsworth said. "They hit good pitches. It's just something you've got to deal with.

"Yeah, I left it up a little bit and he put a pretty good swing on it and hit this little blooper to right field. It's tough."

Rain, which had started earlier, got heavier as the inning wore on, but that didn't stop the Rangers. Farnsworth admitted the weather made pitching more difficult, "but everybody else had to deal with it. No excuses out there."

Phil Nevin followed with a walk and Hank Blalock blooped a single to left for another run. Teixeira beat Cabrera's throw home - the Yankee probably should've hit a cutoff man - but it actually worked in the Yanks' favor when Blalock tried to advance on the throw without realizing that Nevin was standing on second. Jorge Posada ran out and tagged Blalock for the second out and Farnsworth struck out Kevin Mench to end the inning.

In all, Farnsworth (1-1) allowed two runs, three hits and a walk in one inning. He also threw a wild pitch.

But the lack of offense, a lineup-wide malaise, is perhaps more of a concern.

Originally published on May 16, 2006

Best seats at Yankee games will cost $110

Supporting baseball's biggest payroll will mean an increase in ticket prices for the New York Yankees, who are boosting the price of many of their best box seats over $100.

The Yankees said Friday they are raising the price of their box seats closest to the field by $5 to $20, depending on their row and location. The seats, known as field championship boxes, will sell for $110, $105, $100 and $95, up from $90 last season.

New York's best regular seats, which include waiter service, are available only as part of season ticket plans.

With many sections for next year already sold out because of season tickets, the price of the top seat available in advance for individual game sales will be $55 for lower deck reserved, an increase of $5. Those seats will sell for $57 on the days of games.

Upper deck reserved seats will remain unchanged: $17 as part of season tickets, $19 in advance of individual games and $20 on days of games. Bleacher seats will remain at $10 as part of season tickets and $12 for individual games.

The Yankees open their season April 3 at Oakland and play their home opener April 11 against Kansas City. Individual game tickets go on sale Dec. 16.

New York had a payroll of about $205 million last season, when it lost to the Los Angeles Angels in the first round of the playoffs. The Yankees had 43 sellouts at home and drew an AL record 4,090,696 fans at home last season.

Yankees' 2005 no season for regret

The Yankees' 2005 season was filled with ups and downs. For every Carl Pavano and Kevin Brown, there was a Shawn Chacon and Aaron Small. For every Tony Womack, there was a Robinson Cano. For every Jason Giambi, there was a ... Jason Giambi.
New York had its share of surprises this season, none bigger than the 11-19 start which caused a fair amount of panic in the Bronx. The Yankees found themselves nine games out of first place on May 6, a strange place for a team which had won seven consecutive American League East titles.

"May 6, I wasn't really concerned, because there was a long way to go," said manager Joe Torre. "The only concern we had was playing up to our capabilities, because we felt the wins would come."

After the 11-19 start, the Yankees made some significant changes. Cano was called up from Triple-A Columbus and made the starting second baseman, pushing Womack to center field and Bernie Williams to the bench. Steve Karsay was also released, as the Yankees tried to remake the roster on the fly.

It didn't work immediately, as the Yanks dropped three straight games to the Devil Rays -- something that would become a trend, as New York dropped 11 of 19 games to the feisty Rays.

Mike Mussina snapped the four-game skid on May 7 with a three-hit shutout of the A's, sparking a 10-game winning streak which lifted the Yankees past the .500 mark, though there was still a lot of work to do.

That's because Jaret Wright, one of the team's major pitching acquisitions, was already on the disabled list with a shoulder injury, while its other two significant acquisitions, Randy Johnson and Pavano, hadn't gotten off to the hot starts the team had hoped for.

Chien-Ming Wang stepped in to fill Wright's spot, showing the Yankees that he was capable of contributing on the Major League level. But it wasn't enough to make up for the team's other deficiencies, including a dreadful start by Giambi, who had just four homers and 13 RBIs at the end of May.

Things didn't get much better over the next two months, including a dismal 3-9 road trip which included a sweep at the hands of the lowly Royals and series losses at Minnesota, Milwaukee and St. Louis. The last series included a sloppy 8-1 loss at Busch Stadium, prompting Torre to tee off on his players in a closed-door meeting following the game.

On July 1, the Yankees stood at 39-39, and their direction for the season remained a mystery to everybody.

"The first half of the year, we didn't know who we were," said John Flaherty. "We were struggling and we didn't know how it would end up."

Enter Al Leiter, Small and Chacon.

The three pitchers -- one acquired from the Marlins after a miserable first half, one brought up from the Triple-A scrap heap and another brought over in a deadline deal with a 1-7 record -- gave a huge boost to the Yankees' rotation, making up for injuries to Wang, Pavano and Brown.

"If you're going to have a good year, then people you don't count on have to come through," Mussina said. "These guys have done it."

"They came here with an opportunity to do something as a long shot," said Torre. "I don't think they've felt the pressure that other people did who came in here with high expectations. They had a chance to gain their confidence without people really knowing who they were."
With the pitching finally hitting its stride, the Yankees started winning. The offense, which ranked second in the American League with 885 runs scored, continued hitting. Alex Rodriguez posted MVP-type numbers, while Gary Sheffield and Hideki Matsui drove in runs with regularity.

Even Giambi rebounded after his slow start, bashing 14 homers in July while hitting .355. The Yankees went 19-10 that month, beginning their climb back into the AL East race.

"Pitching is the name of the game," Jeter said. "Wang, Chacon, Small; all these guys started to step up, which took a lot of pressure off the offense."

The Yankees posted an identical 19-10 mark in August, pulling within 2 1/2 games of the first-place Red Sox by the end of the month. That deficit increased to four games by Sept. 8, as the Yankees prepared to host Boston for three games in the Bronx.

The two teams split the first two games, but the Big Unit outdueled veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield in the finale, pulling New York within three games instead of falling behind by five.

That victory served as a wakeup call, as the Bombers went on to win 15 of their next 19 games -- the last of those wins coming at Fenway Park to clinch New York's eighth straight division title.

"We needed every inch of it. These guys wouldn't be denied," Torre said while celebrating the clincher. "The first is always memorable, but this is the best of all of them because of all the questions that were asked. This has to be the most special because of everything that went on this year.

"This is something you can't take for granted," Jeter said. "Especially as difficult as it was this year, you realize how hard it was to do."

Despite the Division Series loss to the Angels, the Yankees headed their separate ways with the knowledge that they overcame some very large obstacles to reach the postseason.

"It's disappointing," said A-Rod after his 2-for-15 ALDS performance. "This was a year of such trials and tribulations for us, and we played so well down the stretch. To end in this fashion -- it's disappointing."

"It's not an easy thing to do," said Jeter of winning the World Series. "If it was easy to do, a lot of teams would be doing it. You have to be the hottest team, and we haven't been the hottest team the last few years."

The regular-season success isn't going to heal the wounds of another early October exit, but the Yankees will be back next year to take aim at a 27th World Series title.

"When you have to play the games, go through six weeks of Spring Training and six months of baseball just to get to the postseason, it's not as easy as it looks sometimes," Mussina said. "This season was an obvious example for us that nobody can walk on the field and just win a division or go to the postseason.

"We found contributions from people we didn't expect to get contributions from, and guys came through for us," the pitcher added. "It's hard to get to the postseason, but we've been doing it every year. When we get to October, we like our chances. We just didn't play well enough."

Yanks break off talks with Mazzone

The Yankees will not be hiring Leo Mazzone to replace departed pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre, as the club and Mazzone broke off talks on Wednesday afternoon.
"The window for the Yankees to speak with representatives of Leo Mazzone closed today at 5:00 p.m. [ET]," said Yankees spokesperson Jason Zillo. "Both sides agreed to end their discussions without resolution."

Mazzone, who has been the Braves' pitching coach since 1990, is currently in discussions with the Orioles. Baltimore's manager, Sam Perlozzo, is one of Mazzone's best friends.

Todd Thrasher, who represents Mazzone, did not return a phone call.

The Yankees will continue their search for a new pitching coach. The club has some in-house candidates, including bullpen coach Neil Allen, former Yankees left-hander and current spring instructor Ron Guidry and Triple-A Columbus pitching coach Gil Patterson.

Should the Yankees decide to go outside the organization, potential candidates include Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti, who pitched for New York from 1979-90, and White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper.

"There are several guys that are capable," said manager Joe Torre on Tuesday, when asked about Stottlemyre's potential replacement.

The Yankees will also be in the market for a new bench coach, as Joe Girardi accepted the job as the Florida Marlins' new manager on Wednesday.

Hitting coach Don Mattingly will be a candidate to replace Girardi, though Torre said on Tuesday that Mattingly's value as a hitting coach may be greater to the team.

"I think he's going to be an outstanding manager when he decides to do that and the opportunity comes to him," Torre said. "It's not that you couldn't replace him, but he does such a good job and he's got so much trust with the players. He seems to really enjoy it, and I'd hate to lose that part of it."

Torre knows moves must be made

The Yankees won 95 games and captured their eighth consecutive American League East title this season, but Joe Torre knows that there are areas that need improvement for the 2006 campaign.
The two glaring spots are center field and the bullpen, which the Yankees will try to address via free agency and the trade market.

"We have to improve our bullpen somewhat and find someone to play center field," Torre said. "Teams have to change all the time to try to stay up with things and try to improve."

Bernie Williams, who has roamed center field for the Yankees on a full-time basis since 1993, will be a free agent this winter, and his return to New York is far from certain.

Williams hit .249 with 12 home runs and 64 RBIs in 141 games this season, though he started just 99 games in center field. Even if he returns to the Yankees in 2006, it won't be as a starting center fielder, but as a role player off the bench and part-time designated hitter.

"I don't think that's outside the realm of possibility," Torre said. "Bernie enjoys being here; it's the only place he's ever been.

"I don't want to say he got used to it, but I think he understood this year, with his reduced role, that this is what he should be concentrating on. That doesn't mean he's not valuable."

The free agent market lacks many big-name center fielders, with Boston's Johnny Damon, San Diego's Brian Giles and Washington's Preston Wilson topping the list. Florida may consider dealing Juan Pierre, who is a year away from free agency, while Minnesota may shop Torii Hunter this winter.

Another option would be to play Hideki Matsui -- a free agent expected to re-sign with the Yankees -- in center field and sign a left fielder.

"That's always a possibility; we have to wait and see what our options are, see if we can zero in on any player that's going to fit," Torre said. "[Matsui] can play center field -- of course, 'Matty' has to be signed, too."

For the first time in several years, the Yankees won't be focused on acquiring starting pitching this winter. New York's staff was ravaged by injuries this season, using 14 pitchers to start games, but the Yankees should enter the 2006 season with seven starters under contract, assuming they offer arbitration to Shawn Chacon and Aaron Small. Randy Johnson, Mike Mussina, Carl Pavano, Jaret Wright and Chien-Ming Wang are under contract.

"Starting pitching should be fine," Torre said. "If we get healthy, and with Chacon and Wang, we should have numbers again."

The bullpen, however, needs some reinforcements to replace Tom Gordon, Al Leiter, Alan Embree and Felix Rodriguez, all of whom are free agents. Gordon could return, though he has said that he wants another chance to be a closer before he retires.

Baltimore left-hander B.J. Ryan tops the list of available relievers, though he will surely be pursued by teams looking for a new closer.

Bellhorn bolts: The Yankees announced Tuesday that infielder Mark Bellhorn has declined an outright assignment to Triple-A Columbus, instead electing to become a free agent.

Bellhorn hit .210 with eight home runs and 30 RBIs in 94 games with Boston and New York in 2005, hitting .118 with one home run and two RBIs in 17 at-bats for the Yankees.

He was released by Boston on Aug. 26, and he signed with New York on Aug. 31

Yanks offer Bowa third base coach job

Larry Bowa has been offered the job of third base coach for the Yankees next season, the former Phillies manager told MLB.com on Thursday.
Bowa, who has been working this season as a baseball commentator for ESPN and XM Radio, said he has had several conversations in the past two days with Yankees manager Joe Torre and general manager Brian Cashman, and he expects to speak to Cashman again this weekend.

Bowa said he hasn't made up his mind about whether he wants to take the position.

"We're still talking," he said.

Cashman couldn't be reached for comment.

One of the sticking points for Bowa apparently is whether Cashman will return in the same capacity next season. Cashman's current contract expires at the end of the month and he has yet to make a decision.

Bowa had many years of experience as a third base coach in between his two managing stints for the Padres in 1987-88 and the Phillies from 2001 to 2004. He took the third base coach job in Philadelphia after the Padres dismissed him during the 1988 season and held the post until Terry Francona became the Phillies manager in 1997.

After that, Bowa worked for three years on the third base line for the Angels under Terry Collins and then one year under Lou Piniella with the Mariners. He replaced Francona as the skipper in Philadelphia in 2001 and had a .522 winning percentage (337-308) in his four seasons with the Phillies.

Bowa was dismissed, though, when the Phillies were unable to make the playoffs in 2004, as was general manager Ed Wade after this past season. Wade hired and dismissed Bowa, replacing him last year with Charlie Manuel.

Bowa has generated some interest this offseason for managing opportunities in Oakland and Los Angeles. His name is also on a list of candidates to manage Team USA next March in the first World Baseball Classic, said Bob Watson, Major League Baseball's vice president of on-field discipline and general manager of Team USA.

The Yankees are currently in the process of overhauling their coaching staff. Torre announced last week that he would return in 2006 for his 11th season as the team's manager. But since the Angels eliminated the Yankees in this year's American League Division Series, pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre has retired and bench coach Joe Girardi was named to replace the departed Jack McKeon as manager of the Marlins.

Torre to return for 2006 season

After a week of soul-searching, Joe Torre came to the decision that he wanted to continue managing the Yankees, but he wasn't ready to make any final decisions until he heard that George Steinbrenner wanted him back.
So Torre flew to Tampa on Monday to meet with the Yankees' owner, accompanied by team president Randy Levine. The meeting, which also included Levine and general partner Steve Swindal, lasted less than an hour.

Torre left Steinbrenner's Legends Field office with the feeling that he was still the man for the job, so he ended a week of speculation Tuesday by announcing that he would return for his 11th season in the Bronx.

"I still want to manage here," Torre said. "And I'm satisfied that George feels he still wants me to manage here."

"Joe and I had a great meeting yesterday," said Steinbrenner in a statement. "We both look forward to bringing a championship back to New York and our great fans."

Throughout the year, Torre kept quiet when asked about his relationship with Steinbrenner, saying that he would address it after the season. The repeated criticism, second-guessing and statements through the media took their toll on the manager, who decided he needed to clear the air with Steinbrenner before speaking to the press.

"We did a lot of talking, and all of this stuff is behind us," Torre said. "I don't think there's anything wrong with having disagreements and being able to sit there face-to-face, talk about it and go on.

"I didn't want guarantees," he added. "I just wanted to clear the air on everything that was part of my unhappiness, anger, frustration -- I guess you can put all of those things under one heading. We talked about how we're going to go on from here."

Among Torre's primary complaints were the constant criticism of pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre, the second-guessing of his managerial moves, such as leaving Alan Embree in to face Chicago's Paul Konerko in an August game, as well as team execs feeding questions to YES Network reporters instead of calling Torre to ask them over the phone.

"I just wanted, for my own satisfaction, to find out if he still trusts me with his team," Torre said. "Not only the fact he said he did, but the way he said it was very comfortable. It wasn't forced. The atmosphere was very positive for me yesterday.

"I don't think there's anything I'm carrying forward from this year or the past 10 years that's going to be the straw that broke the camel's back," added the manager. "I'll keep doing what I do, and hopefully I'll still have the fire in my belly to do it."

As soon as Torre and Levine got on the plane, the conversation gave Torre an idea that things would work out for him.

"Randy told me, 'We want you back,'" Torre said. "That sort of broke the ice."

This may have been the most challenging season of Torre's 10-year tenure with the Yankees. His team endured an 11-19 start and a slew of injuries to the pitching staff.

After winning 95 games and an eighth consecutive American League East title, Torre and the Yankees were beaten in five games by the Angels in the Division Series, bringing their season to an early finish.

"To win the division, I was very proud of that," Torre said. "But on the other side of the coin, what enabled us to win the division just ran us dry at the end. We had to play every guy, every day, and we needed to win every single game."

Torre struggled with his decision over the past week, shutting himself out of all things baseball. He didn't watch the ALCS at all, and tuned into the NLCS for the first time on Monday night.

After spending the week with his wife, Ali, and their daughter, Andrea, Torre decided that the meeting with Steinbrenner was a necessity before he would make a final decision on his future.

"It was a waffle; it was going back and forth," he said. "The one thing I've learned is that when you're tired, you shouldn't make many decisions, because it's not going to come out real good. I was tired. I took the time to hang out at home, do what we do around the neighborhood, but I couldn't help from thinking about it quite often."

Following the loss to the Angels, Steinbrenner released a statement congratulating Los Angeles of Anaheim and its manager, Mike Scioscia. Many people felt the statement was a thinly disguised shot at Torre, who was not mentioned by the owner.

"I was assured that wasn't the case," Torre said. "That happened at the time I was out there with scrambled eggs in my mind. That bothered other people who are close to me more than it bothered me."

Lou Piniella, whose name has come up as a potential replacement for Torre, was not mentioned during the meeting on Monday.

"I don't dislike Lou because people ask me about him hovering over there," Torre said. "If George wants Lou, or anybody else to manage, that's certainly his prerogative. The fact that he's available, it's never really bothered me."

Last week, when Stottlemyre announced that he would not return, he cited the division between the New York and Tampa factions of the Yankees' organization as a reason. Torre acknowledged that the issue came up in the meeting, saying that there would be a conscious effort made on all sides to resolve that problem.

"It has to be, as opposed to their opinion and their opinion, it has to be conjoined in some way," he said. "To me, it's all about communication."

Torre isn't naive enough to think that Steinbrenner will stay silent the first time the Yankees go through an extended losing streak next season, but he hopes that the behind-the-scenes chatter will fade away.

"Hopefully we can all do a better job in not having it fester up like it did this year," Torre said. "If something happens, address it right now. If you have a question to ask, get it answered right now."

Torre has two years remaining on his deal, and while he hasn't ruled out managing beyond 2007, he admitted Tuesday that this will likely be his final contract, saying, "My guess would be that this would be it."

To win a fifth championship would wrap up his career, which started as a player in 1960, with a nice bow. For him, there's no better place to do it than in the Bronx.

"You want baseball to be fun, but the fun comes from winning," Torre said. "As far as I'm concerned, you have the best chance of winning here."

Yankees focus on re-signing Cashman

With Joe Torre's announcement that he will return to the Yankees in 2006, all eyes are now focused on general manager Brian Cashman, whose contract expires at the end of October.
Cashman hasn't commented publicly since the Yankees' American League Division Series loss to the Angels, but it appears New York is trying to sign its GM to a new deal that would keep the 38-year-old with the only organization he has ever worked for.

"We want Brian to return if we can get him," George Steinbrenner told The Associated Press as he left the team's complex in Tampa.

When asked if he thought there was a good possibility that Cashman would stay on the job, Steinbrenner told The AP simply, "I do."

"The Yankees want to get Brian done," Torre said. "This is the only place he's ever known, but that doesn't mean it's going to happen."

Cashman has been with the organization since 1986, when he was an intern at the age of 19. He has been the GM since 1998, when the Yankees won the first of three consecutive World Series titles. The Yankees have won the AL East in each of Cashman's eight seasons as GM, though they have not won the World Series since 2000.

"I'd be disappointed if Brian left, but with negotiations, you never know what's going to happen," Torre said. "Brian is like Bernie Williams; he's been here his whole life. He knows the workings of it here. He's as strong as any individual I know in doing the job he's had to do here. I'm still hopeful that he'll be signed."

There has been speculation that Cashman had grown tired of interference from the Tampa office, and that he would leave the club when his contract expired. With openings in several markets, most notably Philadelphia, Cashman would certainly have options if he were to leave the Yankees.

Indeed, earlier this month, a source with knowledge of Cashman's situation said that he was leaning toward a move away from New York, with Philadelphia being the most attractive option.

Torre had some of the same concerns as Cashman, so he flew to Tampa on Monday to sit down with Steinbrenner, general partner Steve Swindal and team president Randy Levine to discuss the state of the team.

Torre seemed convinced that the Tampa and New York factions will work together toward the same goal, eliminating some of the in-house controversy which has hovered over the Yankees in the past few years.

"Anybody that has worked someplace -- especially for the New York Yankees -- as long as I've worked here, who thinks it's always a day at the beach, that's not the case," Torre said. "But the rewards are so enormous, it's certainly worth what you put in here."

Torre said that Cashman's situation didn't play directly into his own decision to return for an 11th year as the Yankees' manager, but he made it clear that he hopes to see Cashman return to the Bronx.

"Brian is a separate situation; I certainly hope that gets worked out," Torre said. "I'm very comfortable working with Brian, and I hope they find a way to get it done."

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