MANNY IN THE BRONX?
While the Los Angeles Times continues to report that no one is blinking in the Dodgers negotiations with Manny Ramirez and his agent, Scott Boras, the rumors (generated by the fans, not the organization) continue to persist about the possibility of Manny playing in the Bronx.
Granted, Hal Steinbrenner may have the opinion that Manny will never know the inside of the home locker room at the new Yankee Stadium, and there would be a united guffaw from the Red Sox nation, but the move to the Bronx would actually make some sense.
Don Mattingly has made some very positive public statements about Manny. Of course, he only saw the “Best of…” version, and didn’t get to see the unhappy Manny version that played in excess during his later years in Boston. But there are arguments that Manny would actually be able to maintain better privacy in New York than he could in the fishbowl known as Boston. I think that’s a fair argument. As Manny’s price continues to drop, there is a point that it would make financial and baseball sense for the Yankees to enter the Manny sweepstakes. Maybe that’s why they have laid so low, without formally announcing they are not interested.
There will be holes in the Yankees batting order. The defensive combo of Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner, combined with uncertainty at the catching position, leave potential weaknesses in the order. The catching position is uncertain, obviously, because of the continued health concerns with Jorge Posada (and Jose Molina will never be confused with Mike Piazza when it comes to hitting or Bengie Molina for that matter). While I like both Xavier Nady and Nick Swisher, I think both are complimentary players and not people that you’d build your starting outfield with. Given the uncertainty of center field and the advancing age of Johnny Damon in left, it makes perfect sense to solidify right with Manny. He’d be very comfortable in front of the hometown Bronx crowd, and how scary is a batting order that starts with Damon-Jeter-Teixeira-Ramirez-ARod. That would make up for the defensive shortcomings, and would allow you to forego Andy Pettitte or Ben Sheets in the 5th spot of the rotation and go with Phil Hughes. Of course, it would also mean that both Xavier Nady and Nick Swisher would probably be dealt, although I’d like to keep Swisher due to his versatility.
For the fans, Manny’s presence in the lineup would be huge. For the Yankees, Manny’s appeal for the YES Network and the turnstiles at the new Yankee Stadium would be larger. It makes too much sense, which is why it will probably never happen…
SIGNS OF MATURITY AT SECOND BASE
I always enjoy reading Kat O’Brien’s blog on Newsday (On the Yankees Beat), and she has provided an answer to a question that has been nagging me. Where is Robinson Cano mentally and physically? At 26 years of age, has he finally realized that baseball is more than just raw talent? Okay, there were a few questions in there. According to Kat, Cano is now 208 lbs (down from 213 at the end of last season, a season that he most likely “, at a greater weight). A career .303 hitter, Cano hit .271 last season after a very slow start (.151 BA in April).
Based on Robby’s comments, he does seem to be focused this year. “I’ve just been working on my new stance,” Cano said, “just getting ready mentally and physically…I know that I have to start in April, not in May or June”.
Great insight by Kat, and great news for the Yankees!
18 DAYS TO TAMPA (PITCHERS AND CATCHERS)
With 18 days to go until pitchers and catchers report to Tampa for spring training, all has been quiet on the Yankees front. Granted, nothing may happen between now and then, but the Hot Stove League still has a few weeks of life left before it winds down.
Almost certain to be a hot topic at camp is Joe Torre’s new book, “The Yankee Years”. According to the New York Post, Joe has taken shots at Alex Rodriguez (“A-Fraud”), Brian Cashman and the Steinbrenner’s. I am sure that Joe’s comments are very ‘matter-of-fact’, and don’t have any added venom, but clearly, he was a very unhappy guy at the end of his Yankee tenure and very disappointed at how those final days played out. Nevertheless, I am fearful for what the book may mean to Torre. There could be an organizational backlash that could delay Joe’s entry to Monument Park when his managerial career is over. Joe shouldn’t be punished for calling it like he saw it, and hopefully Hal Steinbrenner and the rest of the organization will take the book in stride. But I am sure that it will be a hot topic for the next few weeks.
With the recent passing of Billy Werber, I have to admit that I did not realize that Tommy Henrich was still alive. Henrich is the last surviving member of the 1938 World Champion Yankees, although he didn’t experience his greatest individual success until the 1940’s. He was dubbed “Old Reliable” by Yankee broadcaster Mel Allen, in reference to his knack for getting a key hit when it was needed. Henrich is 96 years old, and will long be remembered for his World Series exploits. His notable achievements include:
· 5-time AL All-Star (1942, 1947, 1948, 1949 & 1950)
· AL Runs Scored Leader (1948)
· 2-time AL Triples Leader (1947 & 1948)
· 20-Home Run Seasons: 4 (1938, 1941, 1948 & 1949)
· 30-Home Run Seasons: 1 (1941)
· 100 RBI Seasons: 1 (1948)
· 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 4 (1938, 1941, 1947 & 1948)
While dreaming of a Damon-Cabrera/Gardner-Ramirez outfield, I can’t help but think how great it would have been to see the outfield of Henrich, Charlie Keller, and Joe DiMaggio…