Thursday, April 28, 2011

Brian Cashman Headed for Eternal Damnation?

With Bartolo Colon, Freddie Garcia and Ivan Nova manning 60% of the Yanks' starting rotation, Phil Hughes destined for the knife, and the likes of Kevin Millwood and Carlos Silva the current plan B, I must say I fear for Brian Cashman's mortal soul.

Before pulling the trigger on any trades Cash should make an appointment in Hell to speak with the last person to cast out a savior named Jesus...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

2011 Predictions

With 2 days remaining until the open of the 2011 season, it's time for my annual predictions post.

Last year didn't exactly show me to be a master prognosticator (AJ winning Cy Young? Ugh!), but this year I have my Nostradamus hat on and will undoubtedly fare much better!

AL East-

1. Red Sox
2. Yanks
3. Rays
4. O's
5. Blue Jays

While it is true the Sox picked up 2 very good players this off season, they also lost 2 substantial pieces from last year's team. Replacing Beltre with Gonzalez and Vmart with Crawford may or may not be a push, the Sox still have a better rotation than the Yanks and I think it will carry them to a very close win of the AL East crown.

AL Central-

1. Twins
2. Tigers
3. White Sox
4. Cleveland
5. Kansas City

2011 may be the last year teams will be able to kick the Royals around...enjoy it while it lasts!

AL West

1. Oakland
2. Texas
3. LAA
4. Seattle

A solid, young staff and some nice additions make the A's the team to beat out west

NL East-

1. Phillies
2. Braves
3. Marlins
4. Nationals
5. Muts

The turmoil continues in Queens where Reyes is traded mid-season and the team loses 100 games.

NL Central-

1. Brewers
2. Reds
3. Cards
4. Cubs
5. Pirates

Don't all accounts teams will be beating up on the Pirates for years to come!

NL West-

1. Giants
2. Rockies
3. Dodgers
4. Padres
5. DBacks

AL Wild Card - Yanks
NL Wild Card - Braves

Yanks over Twins
Sox over A's
ALCS - Yanks over Sox

Phillies over Giants
Brewers over Braves
NLCS - Phillies over Brewers

WS - Yanks over Phillies

AL MVP - Alex Rodriguez
NL MVP- Troy Tulowitzki
AL Cy Young - Justin Verlander
NL Cy Young - Josh Johnson

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Rotation Continues to be Cashman's Downfall

While we spend a lot of attention debating the merits of retreads like Garcias and Colon the real issue is the inability of Brain Cashman to build a complete starting 5. I know there was some excitement last year over adding Vasquez to an already good rotation but we know how that turned out. The Vasquez move was widely applauded but a GM must be scored on his results NOT how a move appeared to the public and MSM at the time.

Take a look at some of the staffs the Yankees have had since 2005. I have put any player with an ERA+ of over 100 in bold and listed all starters with 10 or more starts;

2005 Yankees - Johnson, Mussina, Wang, Pavano, Brown, Wright, Chacon, Leiter, Small (9 starts)
Post the series we never speak of the Yankees "loaded up" by signing Pavano and Wright. This works out so well they needed a player off the trash heap(Chacon) and a player from the independent league(Small) to catch fire for them to make the playoffs.

2006 Yankees - Wang, Johnson, Mussina, Wright, Chacon, Lidle (9 Starts)
Jaret Wright actually proved useful this year but unfortunately the 42 year old Johnson was less then useful. Who could have seen that coming? Chacon and Small both had era's north of 7 and picked up Lidle at the deadline in an attempt to have someone useful at the tail end of the rotation.

2007 Yankees - Pettitte, Wang, Mussina, Clemens, Hughes, Igawa
This year was two bad decisions maybe three. Clemens was brought back (OH MY GOD HE IS IN GEORGE'S BOX!), the great Igawa was signed and Hughes was rushed into the rotation at age 21.

2008 Yankees - Mussina, Pettitte, Rasner, Wang, Ponson, Joba
The Yankees took a chance with some youth and it didn't work out in the short term. Joba got hurt after pitching well, Kennedy was horrible and Hughes was horrible and injured.

2009 Yankees - Sabathia, Burnett, Pettitte, Joba
Three deep with a decent number 4. The 5th starter spot was split between Mitre, Wang, Hughes and Gaudin. The real difference in 2009 was the top three were legit.

2010 Yankees - Sabathia, Burnett, Hughes, Vasquez, Pettitte
Three good starters and two bad starters. This was enough to get the Yankees to the ALCS.

So since 2009 the rotation has produced a good staff once, in 2009. We had aging stars who could no longer get it done(Clemens, Brown, Johnson), some bad signings(Pavano, Igawa, Wright), a player who had nothing on any of his pitches (Vasquez), and a lot of mediocre veterans(Rasner, Ponson, Small, Chacon, Leiter, Lidle). These results are simply not good enough for a championship caliber team. Cashman can excuse away one or two years of mistakes but the fact of the matter is the rotation has been and remains an issue.

The Yankees inability to build a rotation has been an issue since 2005 and with the likes of Colon, Garcia and Millwood lining up for significant starts in 2011 it appears it will continue to be an issue.

Nova the Next Wang?

Ivan Nova forced his way into the Number 4 spot of the Yankee rotation by doing his best Chien-Ming Wang impressive this spring. Which got me thinking - How similar are Nova and Wang at this point of their career?

First both players have gone basically unnoticed by Baseball America. Want cracked the Yankee top ten once in 2005. Nova on the other hand has never cracked the Yankee top ten. Wang struggled in AA but blossomed at bit at AAA
AA - 4.36 era, 1.355 WHIP, 9.9 h/9, 6.8 k/9
AAA - 2.58 era, 1.088 whip, 8.0 h/9, 6.5 k/9
Looks like Wang figured out the power of the GB in AAA.

Nova on the other hand excelled in AA (2.36era in '09) and struggled in his first pass at AAA (5.10 era , 1.4 whip, and 5.8 k/9). However, much like Wang something clicked eventually for Nova as last year he lowered his hit rate (8.4 h/9) raised his k rate (7.1 k/9) and lowered his walk rate almost a full batter per 9 to 3.0 bb/9. More clicked for Nova then just realizing the power of a good sinker as is clear by his jump in k rate but the early struggles followed by success sounds just like what happened to Wang.
Now the main difference between Wang and Nova is the walk rate of Wang was much lower in the minors (2.0 bb/9). However, I do think that Nova has similar skills, followed a similar path, and even has a similar build to Wang. So maybe Nova can be the new version of Wang which for a team like the Yankees is extremely valueable.

Molina over Montero?

News came down yesterday that Gustavo Molina would most likely break camp as the Yankee starting catcher. There is no reason for a player with a career .643 OPS in the minors to be on the roster of the Yankees. Cervelli is going to be back in about a month so why not just break camp with Montero or Romine and let them experience New York? Worse case they sit and/or struglle in which case they go down in May m issing only 3 weeks of games. Best case you have your catcher of the future.

Yankees always seem to pick the guarnteed mediocrity of a veteran over the potential payoff of a prospect.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Jesus Montero is Still the Savior

This week's SI has an article about the prodigy for the Braves, Jason Heyward, and to sum it up the kid is the chosen one. As a Yankee fan I tend to read every baseball story and relate it back to my Yankees in some way. My first thought was why didn't we get this kid! My second, how does Jesus Montero compare? I know Jesus is not the athlete that Heyward is but what about as a hitter? Heyward is 2 months older then Jeses and already in the bigs but check out the two as minor leaguers;

Heyward 238 games .318/.391/.508 899 OPS .12 HR Rate .53 RBI Rate
Montero 257 Games .325/.379/.509 888 OPS .14 HR Rate .68 RBI Rate

Not listed is Heyward's superior SB numbers but we all know Jesus is not the athlete that Heyward is but so far in their careers he has been up to par as a hitter. Also, it isn't like Jesus has done his damage at rookie ball with Heyward mashing AAA pitching. Their games played by level is very close - Montero Rookie 33, A 132, A+ 48, AA 44 and Heyward Rk 12, A 120, A+ 56, AA 47 and AAA 3. So Jesus has put up similar numbers, at the same age and at the same levels as Heyward. So Yankee fans can be jealous of Heyward's total package but as far as being the top power prospect in the game goes, don't count out Jesus. in other words, Jesus lives!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

2010 Predictions

With opening day tomorrow it's time to make our predictions for the upcoming year:

AL East
1. Yanks
2. Rays
3. Sox
4. O's
5. Blue Jays

Losing Matsui and Damon would hurt, except that Granderson will more than make up for the loss of Damon, and a full year of Arod + Nick Johnson should help mitigate the loss of HMat. Add Javy Vazquez to an already potent staff that includes my Cy Young winner in AJ Burnett, and the Yanks are the clear favorites.

The Sox have a formidable starting staff, and as has been talked about on the Worldwide Leader ad nauseum their D is improved, but if you can't score runs it just doesn't matter! The Rays have a more balanced attack and will take the wild card.

AL Central

1. White Sox
2. Twins
3. Tigers
4. Royals
5. Indians

The White Sox's starting pitching is deep and very good and their pen is one of the best in the game. Expect a full powerhouse season from Carlos Quentin and a bounce-back from Alex Rios.

AL West

1. Angels
2. Texas
3. M's
4. A's

This is the toughest division to call. The Angels lost some significant pieces, the Ranger pitching is suspect, and the Mariners will have problems scoring runs. Until someone unseats the Angels it's tough to pick against them.

NL East

1. Phillies
2. Braves
3. Marlins
4. Nationals
5. Mets

The Phillies are the clear 2nd best team in all of baseball. The Mets are like an addict that has been able to hold on to their job with a tenuous grasp...this is the year it all falls apart and they hit rock bottom.

NL Central

1. Cardinals
2. Brewers
3. Cubs
4. Pirates
5. Astros

The 1/2 punch of Carpenter and Wainwright plus the best hitter in all of baseball give the Cards the easiest division in baseball.

NL West

1. Rockies
2. Dodgers
3. Giants
4. Diamondbacks
5. Padres

It will be a dogfight in the NL West between the Dodgers, Rockies and Giants. The Giants lose out because of a lack of offense and a drop off by Cy Lincecum. Clayton Kershaw becomes a monster for the Dodgers, but the Rockies will be too tough for them to beat.

AL Wild Card - Tampa Rays
NL Wild Card - Atlanta Braves

AL MVP - Evan Longoria
NL MVP - Troy Tulowitzki
AL Cy Young - AJ Burnett
NL Cy Young - Doc Halliday
AL Breakout player - BJ Upton
NL Breakout player - Chase Headley


Yanks over Angels
Rays over White Sox
Yanks over Rays

Phils over Cards
Rockies over Braves
Phillies over Rockies

World Series
Yanks over Phillies

Looking Back before we Go Forward

Today is the last day of the offseason and everyone has now published their 2010 predictions. I thought it would be a good time to take a look back at the experts 2009 predictions to help put things in perspective.

ESPN has the advantage of the sheer volume of analysts so you figure someone would have nailed at least the world series match up. Wrong.
How about AL MVP? Well in the AL not a single expert picked Mauer.
AL Cy Young? 0 for again, 3 ESPN staffers actually chose Liriano and his 5.80 era.
AL Rookie of the year? Thw worldwide leader again strikes out.
Also, 5 of the ESPNers picked the Cubs to make the series...

Sporting News
TSN actually nails all of the AL playoff teams and picks the Yankees to win it all. Not too bad but the also picked the Cubs to make the series.

Sports Illustrated
In the official preview edition SI picked the Cubs to lead the NL in wins and the Yankees to set the pace in the AL. The series match they predicted was Mets versus Angels. SI also listed picks from each of their experts. % out of 13 picked the Cubs to make the series while only 2 picked the Yanks( the same amount who picked the Diamondbacks!). Worst Cy Young award pick goes to Albert Chen who jumped on the ESPN Liriano band wagon.

So what does this all tell us? Don't believe a damn word of these predictions. Also beware Cubs love because for some reason it seems analysts love to pick the Cubs.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

PECOTA's on Crack

Let's ignore the fact that they have had to update their projections at least twice due to some kind of issue (Yanks 3rd? Yeah, better re-do!) - but a projected 836 runs scored for the '10 Yanks?

The Yanks scored 915 runs last year and allowed 753. While Vazquez should help the runs allowed number I doubt it gets as low as the 707 they project.

A drop of 79 runs scored, though, would be a big number. Yes, we lost Damon and Matsui, but Granderson's production will cancel out Damon, and a whole year of Arod + Nick Johnson should make up for the loss of Matsui.

(h/t RAB)

Rob Dibble is Dumb as Dirt

Being the baseball nut that I am, I listen to XM Radio's 'Home Plate' channel just about every time I'm in the car. Most of the on-air talent is pretty good; Jody MacDonald and Jim Duquette in particular. Among the on-air talent is former Red closer and 'Bad Boy' Rob Dibble.

While I never begrudge anyone their opinion (even when they are avid Yankee-haters...Russo!), I do have an issue with pure idiocy.

During the off-season discussion about Doc Halliday, there was much talk about him being traded to the Yanks. Dibble, in his infinite wisdom, stated that if the Yanks were to trade for Doc commissioner Selig should step in and reverse the trade using the 'best interests of baseball' powers afforded the commissioner.

Dibble went on to say that there was actually precedent for the commish to do this pointing to the reversal of Charley Finley's sale of players for cash in the 1970's. In 1976 A's owner Charlie Finley attempted to sell his 3 best players Vida Blue (to the Yanks), Rollie Fingers and Joe Rudi (to the Red Sox) for a total of $3.5mm. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn stepped in and disallowed the sale stating that it was not in the best interest of baseball. He did so as the A's were not attempting in any way to better their team; rather, A's owner Finley was simply trying to line his pockets by selling off players.

First, there is a HUGE difference between what Finley was doing and what the Yanks would have been doing had they traded for Halliday. My 6 year old can see the difference, and Dibble can't?

Second, if the commissioner starts stepping in and blocking trades what would be next...mandatory player transfers? 'The Yanks are too good, so let's move Arod to the Pirates and Tex to the Nationals'.

I tried to call the show and discuss the lunacy of what Dibble was saying with him on the air, but once they heard what I wanted to discuss the screener hung up while I was in mid-sentence.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

How Bad for the Yankees is Arod's Contract?

After the 2007 season Alex Rodriguez signed a 10 year $275 million contract. For a player with a single team bidding entering his age 32 season this was quite the player friendly contract. Before Arod signed with the Yankees the lack of interest around baseball was significant enough that the MLB player association discussed filing a grievance. So while the Yankees might have overpaid how much have they overpaid? First lets get an idea of the production you can expect from Arod for the duration of the contract. Baseball Think Factory ran some rough projections before the 2008 season, I have replaced the 2008 and 2009 numbers with his actual production;

The RBI numbers will probably drop as Arod goes from a 3-4 hitter to a bit lower in the lineup as he ages. 2013-2017 seem to the big issue. Arod project to be a slightly above average player for most of the time(the average OPS in 2009 was .758) while most likely remaining the top paid player in baseball. You add in the potential 20 million a year Jeter will require for a 4 year extensions and the Yankees could be dishing out 50 million a year in 2013 and 2014 for below average players. They will have an additional 47 million invested in CC and Texieira. Texieria will only be 33 in 2014 and CC 32 so you can expect a fairly high level of production from those two. However the 2013/2014 Yankees will have 100 million in 4 players, possibly achieving only slightly above average production from those 4 spots.

Essentially what the Arod contract has forced the Yankees into is a budget minded approach where they will have to produce cheap players from within their own system. If they do not even the Yankees don't have the financially ability to spend their way into contention. As we get deeper into Arod's contract it will get worse and worse. I know this one is supposedly on Hank but Cashman has to get some blame here too.

But how bad is the contract? Ask me again when Arod is a 41 year old DH producing below average production while making 32 million a year....

The Joba Saga Just Won't Go Away

As the Yankees enter 2010 the team is pretty much set.
The infield spots are rock set in stone;
The OF is now also set, even though the roles and positions could change slightly with Granderson switching to LF and Gardner switching to CF. Also, Winn could potentially get some ABs as a LH if Gardner struggles;
LF-Gardner/Winn vs Lefties
DH and Catcher are also settled;
The rotation has 4 spots settled with AJ, CC, Vasquez and Andy. Throw in Mo closing and there is only two spots of significance left up for debate; 8th inning reliever and 5th starter. This is why the Joba saga just won't go away. If Joba starts and succeeds and 8th inning is a struggle you will here the talk that Joba needs to go to the pen. If the 5th starter struggles with Joba in the pen you have to question why the Yankees suffered through Joba rules only to give up on them so quickly.

With noting else to really debate on this team the radio waves and newspapers will be flush with recycled arguments in both directions. Is there anything that can save us from the same old story here? I don't think so, there is the possibility Joba can dominate as a starter and Phil will do the same in the 8th inning but even then you will hear the whispers. If either struggle the whispers become a roar. So Yankee fans prepare to roll your eyes through months of the Joba debate (again!), hopefully THIS is the last year and next year we can move on to bigger and better things. But as we approach 2010 come to the realization that the Joba debate is here to stay.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Were the Tigers Selling High on Granderson?

When the Tigers unloaded Granderson earlier this offseason it was widely believed they were unloading salary. Dave Cameron at Fangraphs said at the time;
" The Tigers aren't as good today as they were yesterday, but they did manage to shed some payroll...."
Makes sense the Tigers were shedding payroll and restocking with MLB ready talent. But then word comes of the Jose Valverde signing, 2 years and 14 million. Valverde will make the same salary in 2010 as Curtis Granderson. Also, there are rumors of Detroit being in on Damon. So what gives?

The only possible explanation is that Detroit was selling high on Granderson believing that his 2009 was closer to the player he is and his stellar 2007 was the aberration. With clubs still viewing him as the player the saw in 2007 Detroit unloaded him when they had the chance. His salary in 2010 is very reasonable but it climbs to 8.5 in 2011 and 10 million in 2011. If he had another year like 2009 the tigers would have gotten almost nothing back in return for him after the 2010 season.

Now obviously the Yankees feel that Granderson is closer to the 2007 version of himself or they wouldn't have made the trade. However, you have to wonder if the Tigers were watching him every day and felt he was possibly on decline were the Yankees possibly wrong here? Did they buy a player on decline? We will see how it plays out but maybe this deal isn't the slam duck we thought it was at the time.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

1998 - A look Back

1998 was a banner year for baseball. Of course Yankees fans will remember the Yankees dominating the regular season on their way to the World Series. It was also an expansion year featuring new teams in Arizona and Tampa Bay. There were great individual performances as David Wells pitched a perfect game, Kerry Woods K's 20, Roger Clemens K's 18 and then, of course, there were the home runs.

We all remember Sosa and McGwire but 98 was also the first year in baseball history were 4 players hit more then 50 home runs as Greg Vaughn(!) and Ken Griffey jr. joined Sosa and Big Mac. So now that McGwire has admitted what we already knew how does 1998 hold up to hindsight? For starters the top players were clearly cheating as six of the top ten in the MVP voting were most likely on steroids in the NL(Sosa, Big Mac, Vaughn, Biggio, Galarraga,Bonds) and seven of the top ten in the AL(Juan Gonzalez, Nomar, Mo Vaughn, Manny, Albert Belle, Arod and Pudge).

For the Yankees, you also have to wonder how many players were doing steroids with Knoblauch and Pettitte already linked. As hard as it is to admit you have to wonder about some of the Yankees other top players. What about Bernie, Paulie, and even Tino? Any name linked to steroids (outside of Jeter but maybe that is even being naive) would not surprise me.

So now we have the top players and the top team linked to steroids.

So this is where the difficult part of the steroid era really comes into play. If the players and teams who succeeded during this period were clearly cheating what do we do with the records and the accomplishments of this time? Do we discount it all or do we simply take the stance that everyone cheated and call it even?

For the Yankees, I have come to the conclusion that the Yankees were the best team of the era with some of the best players. There is no way that most of the other top players were cheating but the Yankees core was not. However, the shear number of players who are being outed make it hard to discount or even taint the accomplishment of a team when they were clearly competing against other steroid using teams. Using that same logic you have to say the same for McGwire as well. He was facing opponents that were doing the same things he was. So basically the best then we still need to consider the best now. Sure those who were clean faced a competitive disadvantage and it isn’t fair to those players but I am not willing to complete throw those years out.

Knowing what we know now we either accept the timeframe for what it was or wipe it out completely. I am not willing to erase those year so Bonds, Big Mac, Sosa and 125 wins should stand forever in the record books and the Hall of Fame.

It is time to accept the period for what it was and move on.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

We're Back!

The inactive period here at Yankee GM is over!

Come back soon for the new and improved Yankee GM blog!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Benched My a**

Benched? Every major news site and newspaper screamed with the headline the Alex had been 'benched' for 2 games when the truth is that after surgery he needs a rest. A question - if the Sox gave any one of their regulars a 2 day rest do you think for a moment anyone would call it a 'benching?'

Another example of the media unnecessarily taking every opportunity to give a negative slant to any info on A-Rod.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Top Ten Prospect?

Jesus Montero was a much publicized signing as a 16 year-old.  There was talk of his power being an 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale. A possible once in the generation type of talent that also happened to play catcher.  The Yankees opened up their checkbook and signed the teen to a large contract.  

Since then all Montero has done is hit.  He is currently 19 playing high A and hitting the cover off the ball(.967 OPS!).  This is pretty impressive considering his young age and his position.  The question now is Montero becoming one of the top prospects in baseball? His defense is the
 sticking point and the only real difference between him and say uber prospect Matt Weiters but even if he is a bad fielding first baseman his numbers might warrant a little more attention then what he is getting. I know, hard to believe in New York that a prospect is being under hyped but check out his numbers against the first baseman ranked higher then him on the BA top 100 list;

At a younger age he is having more success then those ranked higher on the list from Baseball America.  There is also talk of him being promoted in the near future which will allow us to do a little more of a direct comparison against those in AA.  

If the call-up comes and he continues to hit Jesus should start to warrant Joba circa 2007 like attention.  

Friday, May 8, 2009

Swing and a miss

While I'm sure everyone reading this blog also checks in with the grand daddy of Yankee bloggers, Pete Abraham, as A-Rod will make his return tonight I thought re-printing Pete's post from today would be wise - 

As I read A-Rod: The Many Lives of Alex Rodriguez by Selena Roberts, I thought back to an introduction to journalism course I took at UMass a long time ago.

The professor one day spoke about the difference between writing a story for a newspaper and a column. A story, he explained, contained only what you could prove. A column was what you thought.

The book is 246 pages of what Roberts thinks about Rodriguez. What she proves isn’t much of anything.

Because Roberts broke the story in February about Rodriguez having tested positive for steroids use, I wrongly assumed the book would include other revelations. Instead it’s page after page of “one teammate” suggesting Rodriguez did something wrong. Or “a player” insinuating that he did something else. “Friends” of Rodriguez paint him in unflattering terms.

In her postscript, Roberts acknowledges the use of 19 anonymous sources. But no explanation is given as to why these sources needed anonymity. It’s also unclear whether the 19 sources were used equally or whether one or two sources provided the bulk of the information. We’re supposed to trust her judgment, apparently.

Even those facts that could be documented are not. Roberts, for instance, reports that notorious Dominican trainer Angel Presinal was signed into major league clubhouses by security officers while attending to Rodriguez. But no dates or places are given.

Throughout the book, Roberts even places herself in Rodriguez’s conscience and writes as though she knows what he was thinking. In her version of his thoughts, Rodriguez is a weak-willed, narcissistic cheater and womanizer willing to do anything to succeed.

Given the completeness of the February story in Sports Illustrated, I expected more in the book, certainly more detail. But the book does not meet the standards of the magazine. It is, in essence, a 246-page column.

This is not to say that Rodriguez deserves the benefit of the doubt. He has admitted to using steroids from 2001-03 and it’s difficult to believe he limited himself to those three years. Roberts is able to prove he associated with suspicious characters and she is a skillful enough writer to lead you believe that Rodriguez probably did use PEDs at other points of his career. There are many layers of hearsay evidence.

But she doesn’t prove anything beyond that he’s not particularly well-liked by his teammates and says a lot of dumb things. That we knew. The rest is unfair to Rodriguez.

Roberts come close. But a good editor would have kicked the manuscript back and told her to come back when she more.

A-Rod might have a tough time saying the right thing; he might attract the wrong kind of spotlight too often. He is our player, though, and deserves and needs to get all the support we as fans can give him. We need him, and he needs us - let's not let him down.

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