Brian Cashman Jokes About A.J. Burnett’s Black Eye

Yankees pitcher A.J. Burnett conjured up memories of Miguel Cabrera when he showed up for his start on Friday night sporting a shiner. The flaky but talented pitcher went seven innings of three-run ball taking a no decision against the Orioles as the Yanks won 4-3.

Given Burnett’s inconsistencies this year (he’s 10-13 with a 5.08 ERA), GM Brian Cashman was unfazed by the black eye. Cashman said prior to Saturday’s game that Burnett “should’ve gotten it earlier. He pitched real well with it. I’m not worried about shiners. The guy was great. If he’s great with a shiner, go get another one. Maybe a couple of other guys on our staff could use one.”

Burnett flew ahead to Baltimore with his wife during the week so he was not with the team when they traveled to Maryland. There’s no word on how A.J. got the shiner, but knowing him there was some funny business involved. Remember a few months ago Burnett had to leave a start early after cutting his palms slamming the doors to the Yankees’ clubhouse. Burnett initially lied about how that happened, so we should not expect to get the truth of the situation.

Heck, maybe Cashman is right — as long as he pitches well with it what difference does it make? He’s still going to be considered a bust with the Yanks and that’s all that matters to me. Let’s be real though, the Yankees have a strong suspicion what happened here and have to be fed up with Burnett at this point. It’s their fault for pouring major money into a flake like him.

Photo Credit: bronxbaseballdaily

Don Mattingly Was Contractually Manager-in-Waiting for Dodgers

If you were wondering why Dodgers hitting coach Don Mattingly turned down interviews to manage the Nats and Indians, now we now why. Mattingly, who was announced as Joe Torre’s successor on Friday, apparently had it written in his contract that he would be the Dodgers’ manager should Torre step down.

Dodgers reporter Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times tweeted (via MLB Trade Rumors and LBS contributor Alan Hull) that “Mattingly had signed a deal that guaranteed him the manager’s job if Torre stepped down” before the season began. The practice has been common in college football where coaches and schools name a “coach-in-waiting” so that they don’t lose valuable assistants to other schools. As far as we know, this is the first time the practice has been used in baseball.

MLB granted the Dodgers an exemption from the rule that requires teams to interview minority candidates for managerial jobs because they kept the League updated on their plans. As much as Mattingly figured his future was solidified, I would caution him against making great plans; the Dodgers could have new owners before too long and those new owners might want new managers.

As far as Joe Torre goes, the man has been incredibly celebrated by baseball. I always felt he had the easiest job in baseball all those years with the Yankees. He really did underachieve with many of those teams. Until the Dodgers got Manny in 2008, the Dodgers weren’t going anywhere. This year, the team went down the crapper under his watchful eye as he completely mishandled the bullpen and overused too many arms. You know what? Mattingly should fit in perfectly.

Hideki Matsui Won $5,000 Bet with a Triple

The Angels are 71-74 and have become so bad that I stopped watching their games a month ago. Torii Hunter must be in the same boat because the outfielder had a little side wager going to keep things interesting. (OK, it sounds like the wager was made before the start of the season but it makes this story sound better).

Hunter scored from first on a triple by teammate Hideki Matsui during the second inning Wednesday. On his way to the dugout after scoring, Hunter noticed that Matsui had made it to third and apparently had a strange reaction. As he told the OC Register via Hardball Talk, he said “I was like, ‘What the …? Ah, hell no … I’m not talking to Matsui anymore.”

That’s because Hunter had bet $5,000 that Matsui and his bad knees wouldn’t have a triple the entire season. It may have taken 145 games and 443 at-bats but Matsui finally got his triple. Ironically enough, that’s one more than Torii has.

Torii Hunter lost $5,000 on Hideki Matsui’s triple last night [Hardball Talk]
Conger’s big-league debut a big success [OC Register]

Derek Jeter Made the Right Baseball Move

People have been buzzing about the Derek Jeter fake hit-by-pitch that took place on Wednesday night. With the Yankees down 2-1 in the 7th against the Rays, Chad Qualls threw inside on Jeter who turned and acted as if he were hit by the pitch. Turns out the pitch hit the knob of the bat — not Jeter — but Jeter acted hurt and was sent to first base. Curtis Granderson followed with a home run to make it 3-2 Yankees. Had Dan Johnson not delivered the game-winning two-run home run in the bottom half, Jeter’s play may have won the game for the Yankees. So the question people have been debating today is whether or not that was a lame acting job similar to flopping, or whether that was a smart baseball play.

If I were in Jeter’s shoes, I would have acted like the pitch hit me too and happily taken my base had it been awarded by the umpires. I’ve argued for instant replay many times but as long as baseball is stubborn about it then you might as well take advantage of their weaknesses. For instance, if an umpire gives your pitcher a few inches off the corner, you throw it there even if you know it’s a ball. If you know the umpire will give you the out at second when you do a phantom tag then you do a phantom swipe on double plays. That’s all about taking advantage of baseball’s umpire-related weaknesses. Some help your team, some go against it. Jeter acting like he was hit is not about him slumping and looking for an out, it’s about seizing an opportunity. Sure, some of the media will give him the benefit of the doubt because he’s Derek Jeter, but he made the right move.

As for the common sense argument, well, if we know the ball didn’t hit him then he should not have been awarded the base. This is just another example of why baseball needs instant replay. Here’s a video of Derek Jeter’s hit by pitch in case you haven’t seen it:

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Hilarious Fake Press Release Rips Cubs

When reporters and writers arrived at Miller Park to take in the Brewers-Cubs game on Friday night, they were treated to some unexpected hilarity.  Hidden within the regular game day press notes was a fake press release making fun of the Cubs and G.M. Jim Hendry.  Here’s a picture of the sheet:

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Aaron Cook Drilled With Line Drive

As far as taking a line drive off the leg goes, I must say Aaron Cook did it like a champ on Wednesday night.  When Cincinnati’s Joey Votto cranked a liner back at Cook, it broke his fibula and you can hear it loud and clear when you watch the clip.  Considering the gnarly sound it made, Cook has to be one tough s.o.b.  That, or he had yet to even realize his fibula had been shattered.  Check out the Aaron Cook injury video, courtesy of Deadspin:

Video Credit: Deadspin

Albert Pujols Personifies a Team Leader

There was major news over the weekend in St. Louis when it was reported that center fielder Colby Rasmus had requested a trade earlier in the year. Rasmus has been unhappy with his role in the organization for a few years now and wants to go somewhere he can play consistently.

When he was told about the trade request, Albert Pujols did not respond politely. In fact, the St. Louis first baseman and eventual Hall of Famer spoke sternly and more passionately about his team than almost any player I’ve ever heard. Even though it’s old news, you have to see Albert’s quotes in case you missed it. Here’s what he said:

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