As it stands today, and I realize that it is still early
January, the Boston Red Sox are clearly the class of the AL. The Yankees inability to snag a frontline
pitcher will haunt the team, and the missed opportunities to upgrade in other
areas will cost the team valuable victories in the highly competitive AL East.
Jim Davis/Boston Globe
At the moment, Ivan Nova represents the #4 starter behind
CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett.
I’d argue that Burnett should be considered no more than a #4 if he can’t
turn it around. Meanwhile, other teams
are getting stronger. The latest AL team
to improve was the Texas Rangers with the addition of former Boston third
baseman Adrian Beltre. I know that the
Rangers, like the Yankees, still need more starting pitching, but they’ve
clearly improved the offensive and defensive makeup of the team.
It appears that the Chicago Cubs have acquired pitcher
Matt Garza from the Tampa Bay Rays. At
face value, it would appear the move weakens the Rays for the short term,
particularly in light of the previous losses (namely Carl Crawford, Rafael Soriano,
and Carlos Pena). However, the Rays have
a rich farm system and of course they needed a spot in the rotation for high
end prospect Jeremy Hellickson. Everyone
seems to be writing off the Rays, but I fully expect them to be in the thick of
the race. Somehow, they are the New
England Patriots of baseball…they may suffer huge personnel loss but there’s
always someone ready to step up their play as a replacement.
Jim Davis/Boston Globe
The rest of the division has gotten better, while the
Yankees have simply gotten older.
Last year, when the Rays trotted out Joaquin Benoit and
Rafael Soriano, it was game over. As it
stands, the Yankees set up crew consists of David Robertson and Joba
Chamberlain…a combo that was not consistent last year and forced the deadline
trade for Kerry Wood who solidified the position. I would have really liked to have seen the
Yanks pursue Soriano for the set up role, especially after his agent expressed
his willingness to set up for Mariano Rivera.
I was disappointed when GM Brian Cashman came out today to say there was
no chance of a Soriano signing since it would cost a first round pick. I get it.
The farm system is important and it has taken years for the Yankees to
rebuild the system after the cupboards were left bare. But still, it is hard not to think about how
effective a bullpen duo of Soriano-Rivera would be. It would probably be the best one-two punch
since the days of Rivera-Wetteland in the mid 90’s.
It definitely sounds as though Andy Pettitte won’t be
making the trip to Florida next month. I
want Andy to come back but I am okay if he decides to stay home. If he came and his heart wasn’t in it, he
just wouldn’t be the same pitcher we’ve come to rely upon. I wanted Minnesota Vikings QB Brett Favre to
come back this year and he did after much coaxing by his teammates, but the
results were horrific. Andy either has
to be “all in” or he should go ahead and hang up the glove. I would hate to see Andy leave with a Javier
Vazquez type of season.
The Yankees have made minor moves this off-season that I’ve
liked. The latest is the pick-up of
former Chicago Cubs reliever Brian Schlitter.
While he was not effective in his brief time with the major league club
last season, I have to believe this signing had much input from former Cubs,
and now Yankees, pitching coach Larry Rothschild. If Larry felt the Yanks should move on
Schlitter, then I feel he showed Larry enough to prove that he could be a
valuable and effective arm in the pen.
There’s still time for the Yankees to make the necessary
moves to improve the roster and certainly if an “all in” Andy Pettitte signs up
for a final season, the team will look much better than it does today.
If they maintain the status quo, I can’t help but wonder
how intense the pressure will be on manager Joe Girardi. Can he survive a season where he finishes
third (or worse) in the division? I am
not so sure. His best friend is his new
three year contract. Managing General
Partner Hal Steinbrenner is a numbers guy, and unlike his father, might not be
so willing to “eat” a contract. As much
as I would dislike the move, I can’t help but think that the Yankees failure to
land a quality frontline starter has enhanced the chances that we will see
Bobby Valentine in the Yankees dugout.
Ugh, I hope it doesn’t come to that…
Sadly, today brought the loss of another former Yankee
(Ryne Duren). Duren was a reliever for
the Yanks in the late 50’s and early 60’s, and was known for his coke bottle
glasses and 100 mph fastball. I liked
Yogi Berra’s quote about Duren: “Ryne could throw the heck out of the ball. He threw
fear in some hitters. I remember he had several pair of glasses but it didn’t
seem like he saw good in any of them.” Duren
passed away in Florida on Thursday at the age of 81.
Diamond Images/Getty Images
Congratulations to Jim Harbaugh, the new head coach of
the San Francisco 49ers. My favorite
Harbaugh moment still has to be in 1992 when the Chicago Bears were leading the
Minnesota Vikings 20-0 in the fourth quarter and the Vikings came back to win,
21-20. I can still remember the
frustrated Harbaugh wondering what hit him.
Nevertheless, I do wish him much success as he attempts to revitalize
the 49ers. It should be fun next season
when the Niners play the Baltimore Ravens, coached by Harbaugh’s brother
Well, I guess I’ll go back to waiting for the Yankees to
make a move…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…