It’s Friday, so that means it’s time for me to answer my readers’ emails in another edition of Rich’s Replies. I received several emails so let’s get right into it.
Up first is an email from a frequent contributor to this article: Is Brian Cashman doing everything he can to make the Yankees rotation as good as it can be? For the record, I believe he is. – MIke T., South Jersey
Brian Cashman has had a rough offseason; he got overruled by management in the Rafael Soriano deal, Cliff Lee passed on signing with the Yankees, the Derek Jeter talks got ugly, he signed Bartolo Colon to a minor league deal and yesterday was getting slammed on Twitter for being a bartender at a charity event for cancer. Hell, even I questioned him somewhat in this week’s Rich’s Rants when it was revealed he was in talks (and actually made an offer) to Carl Pavano. There’s no denying Cashman has made mistakes in the past when it comes to the pitching rotation; he refused to give up on some prospects to get Johan Santana or Cliff Lee (two times) and those prospects haven’t quite panned out yet (Joba Chamberlain for example) or the prospects haven’t played at the MLB level yet, he gave big dollars to AJ Burnett and he’s been hit and miss (more hit though if your an opposing team). However, Cashman also made some smart moves; bringing in CC Sabathia, keeping Phil Hughes, and bringing in Mariano’s replacement in Rafael Soriano (though he did overpay). People have to understand that you don’t build a pitching staff overnight or in one offseason; it takes years. You have to develop young pitchers and make a decision to keep them or trade them away for a proven veteran, you have to hope key pieces of your rotation don’t retire with gas still left in the tank (Andy Pettitte) and you have to hope free agents don’t pass on your huge offers. The real problem I think Yankee fans have with Cashman is they were spoiled in the mid/late 90s when every move Cashman made was gold which has now set him up for “failure”. Those Yankee fans expect to win every single season but Yankees fans like myself who lived through the Yankees of the 80s understand that you’re not going to win every year and every offseason move won’t equate to a championship the following season. Cashman is still one of the best GMs in the game (yes, you can say it’s easy to be a great GM when you have the money Cashman has to throw at players or cover mistakes); he’s the reason Andy Pettitte was a Yankee in the 90s and didn’t get traded away, he’s the reason Mariano was a Yankee in the 90s and didn’t get traded away, he’s the reason Robbie Cano/Phil Hughes/Jesus Montero are Yankees today – he saw something in all those players that told him “don’t get rid of them, no matter who you can get, because with patience they will do great things for the Yankees”. My question to all the Cashman-bashers, what will you say when he pulls off a trade for Felix Hernandez or Chris Carpenter or someone else like that in July? Will you still be bashing him? No – you’ll be extolling his virtues once again. Patience my dear Yankee fans, patience. Also, keep this in mind Yankee fans, would you rather be a fan of the Yankees and deal with occasional misses by Cashman or would you rather be a fan of the Pirates and whoever their GM is, and watch them trade away young talent after young talent and never bring in a single free agent of any value? I thought so.
Let’s stick with baseball for the next email: Should the Cubs pursue Albert Pujols if he doesn’t sign an extension with the Cardinals? If Pujols leaves the Cardinals, would it start St Louis’ version of the Curse of the Bambino? – Greg R., Missouri
If the Cardinals don’t sign Pujols to an extension, every single team in baseball except the Yankees (already set with Texeira) and Boston (already set with Gonzalez) along with maybe one or two others, will be going after Pujols (which is why I think the Cubs signed Pena to only a one year deal this offseason). The Cubs have the money to be amongst the front-runners for Pujols and if he does leave St Louis, can you imagine Pujols’ numbers when he gets to play 81 games in Wrigley? Dear lord. Pujols deserves to be the highest paid player in the game and the Cardinals will have to pay him as such. The Cardinals are in a bad position though – if they don’t sign him their fans will be in an uproar but if they do sign him they probably can’t afford to bring in anyone else (may even be forced to trade away key pieces like Chris Carpenter) and the fans will be in an uproar. I don’t believe if the Cards lose Pujols it will kick off their own “Curse of the Bambino”; losing the best player in the game to free agency is different than willingly trading him away. However, if they do lose him and the Cardinals drop in the standings for years to come, you can bet fans and media will point to losing Pujols as the reason. I firmly believe the Cardinals need to do what the Twins did with Joe Mauer – offer the most money you possibly can as a franchise and hope for the best; the Cardinals are one of the best franchises in baseball with some of the best fans and they deserve to keep the best player in the game.
One more baseball email to get to: So Rich, why isn’t Kent Tekulve in the Hall? One of the greatest relievers of all time. If he would have come along 20 years later he would have been a closer and everyone would be saying Mariano who? Oh the Panamanian guy, yeah well he’s OK but he’s no Kent Tekulve. So what do you say, come out in support of a great sidearmer. – Marty A.
I must admit that when I got this email I couldn’t stop laughing for a good twenty minutes because all I remember of Kent Tekulve was his baseball card always seemed to be in any pack of baseball cards I got in the 80s. So, giving Marty the benefit of the doubt, I went to baseball-reference.com and decided to see exactly what could make him think Tekulve deserved to be in the Hall of Fame; maybe Tekulve was underrated and I simply didn’t know about it. Well after perusing his stats, all I can think is Marty must be a Pirates fan who remembers Tekulve’s “dominant” seasons of 78 and 79, when he pitched in over 130 innings each season, had over 30 saves, led the league in games appeared in for a pitcher (over 90 each season) and had ERA+ of 160 and 143. That’s right, in 16 seasons of baseball, Tekulve had two seasons which would be considered great. Granted, relievers were used differently in the 70s/80s so the stats can be skewed compared to relievers now and Tekulve might have had more saves, however, he had a bad career WHIP (1.250), his ERA+ for his career was only 132. Compare him to another great sidearmer (and who I believe was underrated as a reliever), Dan Quisenberry. Quisenberry only pitched for 12 seasons, but his peak was better (check out his 80 – 85 seasons) and his career numbers were better – ERA+ of 147, WHIP of 1.175. So, if I had to support one great sidearmer, it would be Quisenberry, not Tekulve. As for the comparison to the great Mariano Rivera, sorry Marty, but nothing from what I see in Tekulve’s stats shows me he would have done as good or better in today’s game than Rivera. I give Tekulve credit – he managed to pitch for 16 seasons at a servicable to good level and it’s always good to see that the unsung players like Tekulve still have fans today.
Next up, another email from Greg R., this time dealing with a sport I don’t really follow: NASCAR made a change this week to the points system. 43 points for a winner 42 for second, down to 1 for last. While intuitive, there is very little incentive to move from 5th to 2st for only a 3 points. Meanwhile NASCAR simply refuses to admit that driving in a circle 500 times is dull. “I absolutely think the races ought to be shorter, and I think the season ought to be shorter,” said Rick Hendrick, NASCAR’s winningest team owner. “It’s just so long. If we had three more months off, I think the fans would be more eager to get back and watch it.” Why does NASCAR screw with the points when so many other things are broken? – Greg R., Missouri
I have to admit, the last NASCAR race I watched was the Daytona 500 in which Dale Earnhardt died and even then I didn’t really care for it. I’ve never understood the attraction to watching cars go in circles for hours on end. Needless to say, one of the rules of Rich’s Replies is that I have to answer all questions I get to the best of my ability. First off, I believe NASCAR “screwed with the points when so many other things are broken” because it at least gives the impression that NASCAR is trying to improve on how their champion is decided and it is something they have direct control over. As for the point change itself; I believe there should be a bigger gap between the standings to give more weight to finishing in top 5, top 10, top 20 etc; it shouldn’t just be 1 point difference between 1 and 2, and only 4 point difference between 1 and 5 so I don’t like the change at all. Also, screwing with the points won’t get sponsors or the host cities mad at NASCAR. Can you imagine the fallout if NASCAR shortened the season? How many cities would lose their one and only NASCAR race? How many sponsors would back out or cut down their sponsorship? How would TV deals be affected? NASCAR is extremely popular and brings in big money so there’s just no way NASCAR would cut the season short. Can you imagine if the NFL decided to cut the season to 14 games? Wouldn’t happen for the same reason NASCAR won’t shorten their season – there’s way too much money to be lost. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if NASCAR is trying to lenghten the season – more events means more money and that’s all what any pro sports league/organization cares about.
My gut, just like the Magic 8-ball, says “outlook not so good”. I believe the owners have the upperhand in this negotiation (mainly because even with a lockout, the teams will still receive money from the TV deals) and will be able to drag it out until they come out “winners” in the negotations because the players will have to give in to more demands than I believe they want to. This morning on Mike and Mike in the Morning, Ron Jaworski said he believes we’ll miss two to six regular season games basically because the players won’t really begin to deal until they start missing paychecks (they only get paid during the regular season). I don’t often agree with Jaws, but in this case I do. If the NFL players had a chance to go play elsewhere for equal or more money (like the NBA players do – they can go to Europe and play, thus giving them some leverage), they would have a better chance at getting more of their demands met but they don’t. Negotiations like this are never pretty and normally aren’t resolved until one side decides they are tired of losing money and are willing to compromise and in this case the teams will be making money but the players won’t be, so they’ll end up being the first to give in. However, there is talk of the union decertifying, which if I understand correctly, would mean the league can’t lockout the players because they’d be facing anti-trust issues (which no pro sports league wants to deal with). If that’s the case, the NFL Players’ Union may just decertify, but in my opinion, that would knock the league back 30 years because each player would be on his own to negotiate with the league and that opens a different can of worms. I do believe that whenever the lockout ends, we’ll have an 18 game season, a rookie salary cap and the players will end up getting basically the same cut of the money pie they currently do (with a slight increase because the league will give in slightly to get the 18 games and rookie wage scale). Hopefully by the draft, we can ask the Magic 8-ball “will we have football by October?” and this time the answer will be “Yes – definitely”.
Thanks to all who sent in emails and comments! What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? You can send questions or comments via email to firstname.lastname@example.org, you can also leave a comment below, on my Facebook Page or on Twitter. Remember, any email or comment you make, may just make it into Rich’s Replies each Friday! Also, be sure to check out Rich’s Rants every Tuesday.