Owen writes: While the Yankees have a number of interesting options at first base, each candidate has a lot of questions marks surrounding him. My question to you is why hasn’t Nick Johnson been mentioned as a possible trade target? Johnson is coming back from a major injury and Washington already has Dimitri Young holding the fort down. Johnson could be a wonderful insurance policy for the Yankees, has this been pursued by Cash and friends?
Answer: Yankee fans like Nick Johnson like sportswriters like a free lunch. Johnson didn’t play at all last season because of a broken leg that was slow to heal. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training but he’s still a question mark. Nationals GM Jim Bowden is notoriously hard to deal with and would want a significant player in return for Johnson. I think Cashman really wants to see what Shelley Duncan can do. If that fails, first base would be easy position to find somebody in July.
Jay writes: I’m sure you saw the article in the NY Times that mentioned how an active player was left out of the Mitchell Report, even though he admitted he bought PEDs from Kirk Radomski, but was able to show corroborated evidence that the drugs were disposed of without use. What do you think of Mitchell excluding the player from the report? I thought he was a fact-finder and not there to pass judgement on who is innocent/guilty? Seems to me that someone admitting to buying PEDs is an important fact. It seems like Mitchell included a lot of info based on hearsay and very little based on actual fact.
Answer: Jay, are you suggesting that the Mitchell Report was somehow flawed? I mean it’s not like baseball hired an employee of one of the teams and had him compile a report based largely on the testimony of an indicted weightlifter who now cleans cars for a living. Oh, wait …
Sean writes: My friends and I have been bouncing this idea (or pipe dream) around for a month or so now, but what do you think the chances are of Paul O’Neill ever coaching or managing the Yankees? I’ve truly believed part of their problem the past seven years has been the inability of filling his role in the clubhouse.
Answer: What role would that be exactly? Because O’Neill kicked a lot of water coolers, fans believe he must have been giving inspirational speeches in the clubhouse. Baseball doesn’t really work that way. Each guy has his own way of getting ready for the game. It wasn’t like O’Neill walked around threatening to smack guys around unless they beat the Mets in 2000.
Adam writes: In your opinion how much was Bud Selig looking the other way after ’94 and was responsible for the Steroids Era?
Answer: It’s hard to pin it on one person. The commissioner wasn’t handing out needles. But he certainly took a pass in the face of assorted media reports and crazy statistical spikes.
Grace writes: Would you please explain what the following two types of arbitration are, and how each it work?
Answer: For players with six or more years of MLB service time, clubs can offer them arbitration when they become free agent. If the player accepts, at worse he will get a one-deal determined by a neutral party. For a player with 3-6 years of service time, arbitration is used to settle contract disputes. There really aren’t two types of arbitration, just different dates when it’s offered to the two sets of players.
Dewey writes: Whats up with Ron Guidry? Was there ever an official explanation on his departure from the Yankees? Is he not wanted anymore, or does he just not want to do it? It should be fun to watch Dave Eiland take on the role as pitching coach. But, I will surely miss the Gator.
Answer: The Gator is a good guy who took an old-school approach to being the pitching coach. His primary quality, from what I could tell, was that he got along with Joe Torre. With Torre gone, that was it. Say this for Guidry, however: He did a lot to help Chien-Ming Wang learn his way around the majors.
Jerry writes: Why don’t the Yankees have interest in Rich Harden? I know he still has some lingering arm problems but if the Yankees are willing to gamble on Prior, why not deal for Harden?
Answer: I don’t think they’re much interested in Prior. Harden is coming off an injury and probably isn’t work the risk. Why trade for trouble?
Dustin from Texas writes: Do you think anyone would request that Roger Clemens take a polygraph test? I know they are not admissable in court, but they’ve helped “suspects” become “non-suspects” in murder investigations. And wouldn’t that shut the book on this thing?
Answer: It would make for fascinating television. Strap Roger to the lie detector on ESPN and let Bob Ley and Jeremy Schapp grill him. I doubt the Rocket and his lawyers would put him in that spot.
Brian writes: Considering that rumors about Johan Santana and others are likely to continue for a while, can you help folks like me get a better handle on what kind of future might be in store for some of the Yankees mentioned in trade talks? Should I think of Phil Hughes, or Ian Kennedy, or Alan Horne as similar to Any Pettitte? Ron Darling? Mike Mussina? Mark Prior? Frank Viola? What about position players like Austin Jackson, and others? Having a better understanding of how the Yankees view the futures of these prospects would help me evaluate the rumored trades better.
Answer: I cover the MLB team, Brian, and rarely get a chance to see the prospects after spring training. I know more about Hughes because of his status in the organization. I think he’s going to be pretty damn good because of his variety of pitches and the maturity he has shown. He could be a John Smoltz type. Everybody compares Kennedy to Mussina and that is accurate. They even look the same on the mound. I have not seen Horne and Jackson enough to give you a good read. I hear good things about Horne while Jackson needs to build on the breakthrough season he had in 2007.
Kathryn writes: Hey Pete, where do the writers stay in spring training? Does the team put you up?
Answer: If the team put us up, we would be at a Motel 6 on the outskirts of town. Contrary to what many people think, the sportswriters don’t travel with the team and most of us generally do not stay in the same hotel. We make all of our own plans. I tend to pocket the expense money and sleep at bus stations.
Anonymous writes: I’ve been reading your blog for a few months. Most of what you write is wrong and your little jokes are all stupid. I don’t want to hear about the Patriots or Springstein (sic). Your job is to write about THE YANKEES and that’s it. Your jokes about Pavano are getting old. You just wish you were him.
Answer: Merry Christmas to you too, Mom.
Thanks for the questions. Well, most of them.