The Angels added Vladimir Guerrero this week, but nobody in baseball will make a bigger splash than Jerry Krause. The self-proclaimed architect of six NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls, Krause signed on with the Yankees as a scout extraordinaire. In addition to frequent water cooler conversations about the White Sox with former boss Jerry Reinsdorf, Krause has previous scouting experience with the Indians, A's, Mariners and Cubs. He'll be charged with surveying the landscape at all levels of play, and generally making sure the Yankees don't sign any more Michigan quarterbacks.
But will Krause be any more successful in baseball than his old pal Michael Jordan? Using our perpetual powers of prescience, we've uncovered the diary from his first month back on the road. Let's just say there were some growing pains.
|Krause is itching to find baseball's equivalent of the Baby Bulls.|
May 2 -- Wichita, Kansas
This isn't starting well. First, someone must have gotten the time wrong on my flight, because there was no limo driver waiting at the airport. Then, the cab driver had no clue how to find the Ritz Carlton Wichita. We stopped at a convenience store near the airport, but when I asked the clerk for the quickest way to the Ritz he just said, "Easy there big fella, just take a left down aisle seven and they're right past the peanuts." Anyway, I'm staying at the Holiday Inn Express until the New York office gets this sorted out. At least this place has a free continental breakfast.
May 4 -- Still in Wichita
Apparently, George has to save money somewhere. Not only does this job come without limos or five-star hotels, the secretary told me I owed them $754 for upgrading to first class on the flight from Sioux Falls to Wichita. Worst of all, the hotel's free breakfast is a really sorry affair. I've had to stop by McDonald's for a couple of McGriddles every morning just to make it to Elevenses. Man, those McGriddles are good. We'd have made a killing in Chicago if Reinsdorf had just listened to my idea about infusing hot dogs with pizza.
May 5 -- Wichita Wranglers 5, Round Rock Express 2
Time to get down to business and scout some baseball. I wasn't in the stands for the first inning, but the Red Sox scout said I didn't miss anything. Although, it's funny, when I was waiting in line for a pretzel the guy behind me was talking about some Taiwanese flamethrower who the Express had on a strict one-inning leash. I figure he was just talking about the Altoona Express.
The Yankees told me to keep an eye on this hot outfield prospect for the Wranglers, in case they can pry him away from the Royals if Tony Pena needs one of the $2-million relievers we've got throwing batting practice. Frankly, I'm not sure what they see in this kid. He never once went to his left out of the batter's box. Major leaguers are going to figure that out and start forcing him left.
May 8 -- Birmingham Barons 6 Carolina Mudcats 4
What a strange day. I was supposed to scout Birmingham's starting pitcher today, but the gate attendant wouldn't recognize my credentials. I even showed him the hand-written note George gave me for emergencies, but he wouldn't take it. And I'm pretty sure I heard him call me "Crumbs" at one point. I finally decided to just buy a ticket and file an expense report, but the woman at the ticket window told me the game was sold out. Sure, it was Paris Hilton Bobblehead Night, but there's no way the place was sold out. It's almost like someone had paid everyone in the organization to give me a hard time.
May 10 -- Omaha, Nebraska
|It's hard to see Krause having an eye for talent -- especially behind the heavy lids.|
Finally got around to reading Paul O'Neill's book, and I'm not sure what all the fuss was about. So he didn't get along with Lou Piniella in Cincinnati. Big deal, who did? And it's not like he's the only guy who regrets going with a mullet.
May 12 -- El Paso Diablos 7, Arkansas Travelers 2
Who teaches these kids fundamentals? Today they had me scouting one of El Paso's first basemen, in case we need to trade for Giambi's eventual replacement. But Arkansas must have put the ball in the air 11 or 12 times with a runner on first, and this first basemen didn't turn and box out the runner once. Not once! Bill Cartwright would have fed this kid his lunch through his earhole.
May 14 -- Battle Creek Yankees 4, Lansing Lugnuts 3
Starting to get the hang of this again. Brian Cashman wasn't too thrilled with my first few reports. I still say there's no use worrying about a player who can't play both ends of the field and only puts the ball in his left hand, but Cashman says that's just how it is with pitchers. I say if I taught Jordan how to play defense, I can teach this Danny Borrell kid to play third base between starts. Better quit for the night, they want me to watch tapes of "This Week In Baseball" to get me back in the swing of things.
May 18 -- Dyersville, Iowa
I may need another sabbatical. My rental car broke down in the middle of nowhere today, and I started hearing voices while I was waiting for the tow truck. At first I thought it was just the wind, but then someone clearly said, "If you build it, make sure and take full credit."
May 20 -- New York
Made a quick stop in the Big Apple to meet with Cashman. He's a nice enough guy, but he doesn't have much vision as far as a legacy goes. Derek Jeter is a decent player, but we could get two really talented high schoolers from Los Angeles if Cashman wasn't so darn loyal. These two kids the Dodgers are offering just dominated in high school, so I have no doubt they'll do the same in the majors. Oh well, I'll just keep biding my time until I can shape this team in my own image.
May 22 -- Nashville Sounds 0, Memphis Redbirds 0
The Rendezvous Cafe grades out at the top of my list. Between the spicy pork shoulder ribs and the sweet-and-tangy ribs, it's easily the best all-around talent I've seen on my travels. I noticed a couple of flaws in the waiter's delivery, but those can be worked out with proper coaching. Top's Bar-B-Q wasn't quite as impressive, but I think their pulled pork sandwiches could make it in New York, although possibly in a reserve role. A & R Barbeque is doing well down here, but I'm not sure if they're cut out for the bigs. Definitely Quadruple-A potential for their burgers, but they do deserve a cup of coffee. And a few beers. Oh, and today's game was rained out.
May 24 -- Split, Croatia
|Yet another mind-boggling move by George and the Yankees.|
They're going to kill me when they find out I'm not in Chattanooga, but there's this Croatian kid my sources told me was the European Michael Jordan. Unfortunately, they meant he couldn't hit the breaking ball and didn't have a clue how to hit the cutoff man. At least they know a thing or two about breakfast over here.
May 27 -- Seymour, Indiana (Otis R. Tefford Recreational Fields)
I know the Boss was a little miffed at all the media attention Major League Soccer got for signing that Freddy Adu kid, but I just felt ridiculous pulling out my radar gun at the tee-ball game today. They don't even pitch in tee-ball! But George caught wind of this eight-year-old who had back-to-back four-homer games and wanted me to come down and check it out. The kid does have a nice stroke, but he swings at anything. I've been reading Billy Beane's Moneyball at night and I just don't think this kid has the plate discipline to post a good on-base percentage.
May 30 -- Columbus, Ohio
It has been a long first month, but it's all starting to come together. Kevin Brown -- who I told George before I was hired would be a better addition to the rotation than Rick Helling or Jeff Fassero -- beat the Tigers today, and Mike Mussina -- who is clearly benefiting from the faith I showed by taking him in the first round of my fantasy draft -- beat them yesterday. I think taking two-of-three from the Tigers behind pitchers I recommended clearly demonstrates that it'll be the organization that gets this team back to winning championships.
Graham Hays writes "Out of the Box" five days a week in-between moonlighting for Page 2. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.