Three cheers for Jimmy Nice Guy. Right?

Photo credit: Jim Mone/Associated Press

Earlier this year, I wrote that I could really care less about A-Rod’s 600th home run beyond what it would mean for the Yankees as a team trying to win its division.

With Jim Thome, it’s different.

Thome passed McGwire on the all-time home run list Saturday when he slugged two — nos. 583 and 584 — against the Rangers. (He’s since hit two more, tying him with Hall-of-Famer Frank Robinson at 8th on the all-time list.)

To me, Thome is always an Indian, even though it’s been eight years since he played for the Manny Ramirez and Albert Belle Cleveland teams that scared the shit out of American League pitching in the mid-’90s.

I could be idealizing here because Thome is among the last of a generation of players who I saw as a kid, but he always seemed to me to be the kind of classic slugger it’s tough to dislike or root against. Like Frank Thomas.

Thome’s a big guy. Really big. And country strong. A first baseman who looked like he could hit the ball a ton and usually did, even though he’s never won an MVP award and only led his league in homers once (47 in 2003 for the Phillies).

But after the mid-90s, baseball became confusing. Continue reading

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Carl Crawford to New York? No, not *that* New York

Photo credit: Steve Nesius/Associated Press

I don’t claim to be an expert in anything having to do with the Mets. I don’t even like going to Queens because of the number of bridges involved.

But I can’t see why — other than that, granted, they already owe buckets of money to two aging outfielders — that the team from Flushing shouldn’t make a serious run at Rays left fielder Carl Crawford this winter.

Earlier this year — when the Yankees’ long-term left-field situation was anybody’s guess — conventional wisdom had it that the Yanks would be a major player for Crawford when he becomes a free agent after this season.

That still may be the case. Plenty of folks don’t think Brett Gardner is a credible, long-term solution.

Crawford, however, would seemingly be a great fit for the Mets’ outfield — a morose place at the moment in which Angel Pagan is currently the most promising player. Continue reading

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Nyjer Morgan is out of his damn mind

Photo credit: Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

I’m not sure what else you say about the two weeks Nyjer Morgan has had: He’s pegged a fan in the head with with a ball, ended a catcher’s season with a dubious extra-inning collision (that also cost his team a run and possibly the game) and charged the mound Wednesday night, igniting a brawl that he left celebrating like a rabid MMA fighter.

There’s video here.

I’d chalk it up to ‘roid rage, but Morgan’s only hitting .257/.317/.319.

The real outrage is that Morgan probably won’t get half the suspension that Manny Ramirez got for violating MLB’s drug policy. And really, which one of these guys is actually worse for baseball?

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And you thought Victor Martinez was a mess …

Let me start by saying there are an awful lot of things to like about Francisco Cervelli. For one, he’s a catcher with a closer’s ferocity.

It’s just that his ability to throw out base runners isn’t among them.

Red Sox catcher Victor Martinez was taking a beating earlier this season for his defense — especially after the Rangers stole nine bases on him and knuckleballer Tim Wakefield one night in April. At the time, runners had successfully swiped 23 bases on Martinez in 24 attempts.

But the cold truth for Yankees fans is this: Four months later, both of the Yanks’  primary backstops are among the American League’s worst when it comes to saving runs by preventing stolen bases.

As of today, Jorge Posada is, in fact, the AL’s worst — allowing an additional four runs to score so far this season. Cervelli is in a three-way tie for second-worst. (V-Mart, if you’re curious, isn’t much better.) Continue reading

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Miguel Tejada: A lesson in why I can’t always believe my eyes

Those who believe strongly in advanced baseball statistics will often tell you can’t trust your eyes. I tend to ignore them when they say that.  I know what I see. Except, apparently, when I don’t.

I was pretty stoked when the Orioles dealt Miguel Tejada to the Padres at the non-waiver trade deadline last month — mostly because it’s completely annoying when there’s a guy on the worst team in the league that your pitching staff can’t get out. Right?

Well, not so much. Continue reading

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Marcus Thames: You know, that other ex-Tigers outfielder

Photo credit: Andrew Mills/The Star-Ledger

It’s fun to wistfully look back on the days when I thought Curtis Granderson might just hit 35 home runs this year in Yankee Stadium.

Well, maybe it’s not that fun.

It was easy then — you know, in February — to overlook the return of Marcus Thames, what with all the excitement surrounding the signing of Randy Winn.

But seriously. Of the two somewhat-hobbled, aging outfielders, I thought Winn — not Thames — would end up contributing to the most to the Yankees this year. I liked his speed and defense. And, like most Yankees fans, I was probably desperately trying to come to terms with Johnny Damon’s departure — which I viewed as painful but necessary.

But here we are at the end of August and it’s Thames who, perhaps more than any of the Yankees’ off-season pick-ups (save maybe Nick ‘Glass Jaw’ Johnson), continues to be exactly as advertised: A sluggish outfielder who absolutely hammers left-handed pitching. Continue reading

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The view from here

Greetings!

Welcome to Foul lines, which is what I’m calling this thing until I come up with something more clever. So, for starters, suggestions are welcome.

To pay the mortgage, I write newspaper stories. To pass the time, I watch baseball — probably more than my fiancee would like. I grew up just outside New York City, went to college in Boston and live in Upstate New York now, making me an unreconstructed Yankees fan.

I don’t apologize for it, but I don’t gloat either. I love the team because my father did but feel like I do a decent job looking past all the mystique and aura mumbo jumbo to see the franchise’s warts for what they are.

I write exclusively about the Yankees at Homers, a blog I share with a colleague — an inveterate Red Sox fan — and which focuses mainly on the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.

Here, my plan is to cross-pollinate my Yankees posts from Homers with posts about other teams and other baseball whatnot. I’m an American League guy, but I hope to broaden my horizons with this blog, forcing myself to learn more about the Senior Circuit by occasionally writing about it.

Most important: I’m a fan, not an expert. I find myself increasingly fascinated by advanced baseball statistics, but I think Joe Torre was right in The Yankee Years when he said you ignore the human element at your own peril. Continue reading

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