Where’s the reset button?…
2014 has been a year of disappointment for many. Pitchers are lining up for Tommy John surgery at an alarming rate and proven star performers like Prince Fielder and Bryce Harper are on the DL.
Certainly, the Boston Red Sox rank of one of the year’s greatest disappointments (as discussed in Nick Cafardo’s column today in the Boston Globe). I realize the team has struggled with the losses of Jacoby Ellsbury and Jared Saltalamacchia, but the effort and focus of the team collectively seems to be lacking. I know, a Yankee fan making negative comments about the Red Sox…shocking. But still, watch the 15th inning of yesterday’s Sox-Rays game seemed to be a microcosm of Boston’s season. While everyone was critical of reliever Andrew Miller’s errant throw at second base that allowed Tampa Bay to score the winning run, it was an earlier play that I felt was equally as critical. The Rays laid down a perfect bunt toward third and Miller had the closest line to the ball, yet he pulled up and didn’t make an attempt for it. It appeared to me that they would have been able to record an out had Miller gone for the ball, but instead the runners advanced. Sure, the loss cannot be placed on Miller alone. But it was a random sample of what ails the Sox.
Kim Klement/USA Today Sports
I know better than to ever underestimate the Red Sox. They’ve overcome adversity too often to think their season is done. But they need to find the “magic” soon if they intend to defend their crown.
Battling to stay above .500…
Of course, as I write about the Red Sox, my team…the Yankees…have their own problems. Entering the season, there were two primary concerns: the infield and the bullpen.
The latter has become a strength with the emergence of young relievers like Dellin Betances and Adam Warren. I have lost no sleep about Joba Chamberlain being in Detroit, whlle Betances has become a late inning force. David Robertson has been very effective as Mariano Rivera’s replacement (regardless of the two run walk-off home run by Chicago’s Adam Dunn the other night). But time will tell how long it will hold up with the collapse…at least injury-wise…of the starting rotation. With CC Sabathia, ivan Nova and Michael Pineda on the DL, the bullpen has lost reliable arms to the rotation (Vidal Nuno and David Phelps). The Yankees ability to find a permanent solution for the losses of Sabathia and Nova and the successful return of Pineda will go a long way toward determining where the Yankees will be in late September.
The infield has been as expected. Sure, Yangervis Solarte has been a pleasant surprise but I do not realistically expect him to keep it up for the duration of the season. Brian Roberts, to no surprise, is nicked up and hasn’t played for a couple of games. Kelly Johnson is a better role player than starter. But sadly, the biggest disappointment might be Derek Jeter. A sure-fire first ballot Hall of Famer, Derek is unquestionably on his last legs. I am not trying to knock Jeter but he’s just as susceptible to age as the rest of us. Only Mariano Rivera was exempt…
So, it becomes a question of what changes can be made at what price…and when?…
The end of the streak…
In a way, it was good to see Masahiro Tanaka finally lose his first regular season game since 2012. The streak was becoming the focus and with it, a distraction. Everyone has a bad day and Tanaka is no exception. But now, he can just pitch and continue to improve his game without the added pressure of maintaining the streak.
The loss was inevitable and the many storylines about it have been written. Let’s move on.
Jerry Lai/USA Today Sports
The Boy Who Cried Wolf…
Now that Kim Kardashian’s wedding in Florence, Italy is over, I wonder what she’ll do for her next wedding when she gets re-married…
Such a great start…
Such a disappointing middle and end…
Friday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays in
St. Petersburg, FL, started so strong, but then the team’s offense
flatlined. After a Derek Jeter single
and a Nick Swisher home run to start the game, the Yankees could only manage
two more hits (singles by Robinson Cano) the rest of the way against winner
Wade Davis and the Rays bullpen.
Similarly, Phil Hughes started strong and it looked
like he was cruising with a 2-0 lead until the bottom of the 6th
inning when a three-run home run by Matt Joyce put the Rays up, 3-2 (which
proved to be the final score).
Bridget Wentworth/The Star Ledger
Alex Rodriguez was a huge disappointment…again…as
he went 0-for-4 in his extended quest for 600 home runs. The only way that A-Rod could have gotten a
hit would have been for Mark Teixeira to smack him. I’ll be glad when he finally does hit #600
because this is getting painful watching the pathetic at-bats.
Bridget Wentworth/The Star Ledger
The Rays found themselves just a game out of first
place, with Matt Garza on the mound Saturday against Javier Vazquez. Garza threw a no-hitter against the Detroit
Tigers in his last outing, so he’ll be looking to extend the scoreless, hitless
streak against the Yankees. Hopefully,
Javy will be up for the challenge.
With less than 24 hours to the trading deadline,
the Yankees finally pulled off a couple of deals, neither of which address the
more pressing needs (bullpen help and a backup third baseman to spell A-Rod). Granted, GM Brian Cashman is not finished,
but so far, he has added a DH and a part-time left fielder to the mix. I had wondered who would be the first player
of the post-Boss Steinbrenner era. The
award goes to first baseman Lance Berkman of the Houston Astros. He agreed to the deal that would send him to
New York for a couple of minor leaguers, but as a 10-and-5 player, the Yankees
must wait 24 hours before the deal can be finalized.
The Yankees later acquired outfielder Austin Kearns
from the Cleveland Indians, so, technically, he’ll arrive on the Yankees roster
sooner than Berkman.
Berkman effectively replaces injured Nick Johnson
as the full-time designated hitter. Nick,
who is still on the DL due to a wrist injury, is nearing his return, but he
obviously cannot be relied upon given his injury history (something the Yankees
should have recognized when they signed him last fall). Berkman is a good friend of Andy Pettitte’s
from their days in Houston so I am sure that played in Berkman’s decision to
join the Yanks after nixing previous deals like the one that would have sent
him to Anaheim as a replacement for Kendry Morales.
The 34-year-old Berkman has begun the downward
descent of his career, and is batting .245 with 13 home runs and 49 RBI’s. It is
the Yankees’ hope that the excitement of a pennant chase will energize
Berkman. The Yankees sent minor leaguers
Mark Melancon, a reliever, and Jimmy Paredes, an infielder, to Houston in the
deal. Melancon, 25, was once being groomed as an eventual
successor for Mariano Rivera, but he’s failed to achieve his potential.
The other new Yankee is former Reds, Nationals and
Indians outfielder Austin Kearns. Kearns
was in the Tribe’s lineup tonight and had a couple of hits until he was lifted
in the 7th for a pinch runner.
Kearns will move from a starting role to a part-time one with the Yanks,
and he’ll most likely start in left when Brett Gardner slides to center in
relief of Curtis Granderson against certain lefthanders. Kearns is batting .272 with 8 HR’s and 42 RBI’s.
Both players will probably be long gone by Spring
Training 2011, but for now, they have a chance to play a major role in the
Yankees’ drive for the play-offs.
The Yankees do not plan to be quiet before the end
of the trading deadline as they are rumored to be one of several teams involved
in discussions with the Chicago Cubs for pitcher Ted Lilly, a former Yank, and
according to a tweet by ESPN’s Buster Olney, they are working on a deal for a
back-up third baseman.
Regardless of what happens, the Rays are guaranteed
of seeing faces tomorrow that weren’t present at Tropicana Field tonight. I just hope that tomorrow doesn’t find Adam
Dunn in the opposing dugout.
At least the Boston Red Sox lost tonight…
What a difference a day makes!…
Of course, the Yankees could have used a few of
those runs on Tuesday night, but at least they were facing a proven major
league pitcher (Fausto Carmona) which they definitely have greater success
against than unproven, unknown rookies.
The Yankees got the scoring going early, building
up to a 6-0 lead after just three innings, and then coasted to the 8-0 win
against the Indians in Cleveland.
Another night, another homerless evening for Alex Rodriguez who remains
stuck on 599. It would be nice for him
to just hit the home run so that he’d stop pressing so hard.
Andrew Weber/US Presswire
It was also a great pitching performance by the
hotheaded A.J. Burnett, who managed to avoid a meltdown in throwing scoreless
ball for 6 1/3 innings (he gave up 7 hits and 3 walks, while striking out
I did think that it was a good idea to bring in
Joba Chamberlain in the 7th inning despite the 8 run lead. He needs to build his confidence back up
again, and become the pitcher that we know he can be. The 8th inning went to starter
reject Sergio Mitre as manager Joe Girardi continued to experiment with the
bullpen. Mitre was effective with two
strikeouts as he retired the 3 batters he faced in the 8th, although
he did struggle somewhat in the 9th (allowing two baserunners
through a hit and a walk). But he did
end the game on a swinging strikeout. I
think he’s definitely better in spots than as a starting pitcher, so perhaps he’s
found a niche. His replacement in the
rotation, Dustin Moseley, starts against the Indians tomorrow in the getaway
game. Hopefully, Dustin will enjoy
greater success than Mitre did in the last start.
Despite the Yankees’ win, they failed to pick up
any ground on either the Tampa Bay Rays or the Boston Red Sox as both team won
today. The pressure will be on the
Yankees tomorrow night, especially if the Rays win their earlier game against
the Tigers. The Rays are presently two
games back in the AL East, so they could be within a game after tomorrow’s
results. The Red Sox, 7 games back, are
I can’t say that there have been many trade
speculations this week that I have been excited about, but I agree with Mike Axisa of River Avenue Blues about the potential of adding Adam Dunn to
the lineup at DH. His swing would be a
great fit for Yankee Stadium, and unlike Nick Johnson, he is someone that can
be counted on to be around when October rolls around. He would also provide great protection for
Robinson Cano in the batting order. I
think Dunn and a solid reliever would make the July trading deadline a huge
success for the Yanks.
Doug Benc/Getty Images
I want to send out my best wishes for former
Yankees pitcher Ross Ohlendorf who was hit in the face on a ball hit by
Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki. The line
drive hit which struck the right side of Ohlendorf’s face occurred in the first
inning of tonight’s game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Colorado
Rockies. Ohlendorf remained upright and
never lost consciousness. He underwent
further tests after the incident, but hopefully, all is well and he’ll be back
in the Pirates rotation soon.
The word is that the Yankees want to incorporate confidentiality agreements into their player and management contracts to include a “non-disparagement clause” and prevent future books like The Yankee Years, or those written by Jim Bouton, Graig Nettles, David Wells, et al. From my perspective, they should. If you pay CC Sabathia $181 million, you should not have to be subject to a potentially harmful book at the end of the contract if there is player dissatisfaction. Joe Torre was paid very well during his years as Yankees manager. By the end of his tenure, I believe (although I have not confirmed it) that he was in the upper echelon of the pay scale for MLB managers. Maybe he hasn’t said anything in the book that he hasn’t said before or there are quotes that are improperly attributed to him, but the fact remains that he wrote a book that has caused controversy and does not help team chemistry or morale.
The Yankees have the right to protect the confidentiality and the sanctity of the clubhouse. No one is going to write a ‘behind closed doors’ book about the Kansas City Royals clubhouse, but because the Yankees are the big market, high-profile team that is committed to winning, they will always draw more scrutiny than other teams, including Boston. Well, unless you live in Boston, of course. As such, the Yankees deserve the added measure to ensure “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”.
Speaking of The Yankee Years, I have ordered my copy through Amazon. In the way of “Good Cop, Bad Cop” with the Torre book representing the bad cop, I also purchased Confessions of a She-Fan by Jane Heller. Yankees fans should be familiar with the great works of Jane Heller through her outstanding blogs, and judging by the reviews I’ve read, we will be even greater fans after reading her latest book.
If you pull up the book through Amazon, there is an excellent editorial review and description of the book. I am looking forward to reading the book, and I get more jazzed about it with each review I read. Personally, I think this book is a must-read for any baseball fan…
DID YOU SEE THOSE PHOTOS?
The photos on the WCBS Newsradio 880 website showing the different colors of Yankee Stadium are tremendous. The blue lights as shown below are fascinating, but the website also has photos of the stadium in red, pink, and green.
Photo: Tom Kaminski/WCBS 880
April can’t get here fast enough!
With free agent prices continuing to drop, would the Yankees try to make a counter move should the Red Sox sign Adam Dunn to bring his 40 home runs to Fenway? I know, I can’t let go of the fascination with having Manny Ramirez in the lineup. I know the baggage that comes with the player, but I lived in Los Angeles last year and the city was electrified by what Manny brought to the team. I have admired Manny since his days in Cleveland and he was always a favorite even when he played in Boston. He’s a great clutch hitter (obviously) and he has that extra “something-something” that Reggie Jackson possessed. Plus, as a side benefit, you’d take the player away from, as Derek Jeter would say, Mr. T. Okay, $75 million for retribution is a high price to pay. But even a Yankees fan can dream, right?
Another free agent that I think still makes great sense is pitcher Juan Cruz. Working out of the Arizona Diamondbacks bullpen in 2008, he was 4-0 in 57 games with 2.61 ERA and 71 strikeouts. He is a 30 year old right-hander. Granted, Damaso Marte could close if necessary, but having Cruz late in the game would give Joe Girardi another very valuable weapon. Mariano Rivera has been great, arguably the greatest closer the Yankees have ever had. But time takes its toll and he is more vulnerable to injury at this point in his career than ever before. Like with Jorge Posada and the catching position, I feel very strongly that the Yankees need a strong contingency plan in place behind Mo.
I guess this is Super Bowl week, so here’s my prediction…Steelers 31, Cardinals 17. My kids live in Arizona and are Cardinals fans, but I just can’t bring myself to pick them to win. They surprised me by making it this far, but I think the bubble bursts on Sunday. As a long-suffering Vikings fan, I hate seeing ex-Vikings always winning Super Bowls, but Mewelde Moore and coach Mike Tomlin should add their names to the list…
All quiet on the Yankee front…
I have to give Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner credit, they do a good job of avoiding leaks to the press (unlike George in years past).
I keep trying to reconcile my mind to accept Phil Hughes as the #5 starter, but when I think of worst-case scenario (both A.J. Burnett and Joba Chamberlain down with injuries), I know that they need more if they are to compete against a Red Sox pitching staff that has 2006/07 16-game winner Brad Penny at the end of the rotation (without even getting to John Smoltz or the beefed up bullpen).
I saw that Nick Cafardo suggested that the Red Sox trade for Prince Fielder. If the Red Sox were successful in acquiring Fielder, I wonder if the Yankees would stand pat. That’s hard to imagine, but at this point, the Red Sox do have the opportunity to have the better offseason despite the huge cash outlay by the Yankees. I saw that Ken Rosenthal suggested that the Brewers trade Fielder for pitching prospects and sign Adam Dunn as his replacement. Which, of course, makes me wonder why don’t the Red Sox consider Dunn? Granted, he is a defensive liability but he is a proven power hitter with good on base percentage. He is a patient hitter (maybe too patient it has been suggested), but he’d provide solid protection for Papi. Plus, Clay Buchholz would stay on the Red Sox roster…
I have a tough time picturing Derek Lowe in a Braves uniform. I think he is a much better fit with the Mets or Phillies…assuming that he wants to win. He’d be a great fit on the Yankees, but of course, that’s cost prohibitive (you don’t pay those kind of dollars to your fifth starter..are you listening Andy?).
Whatever happened to Oscar Gamble?…