Life beyond 3,000 hits…
I hate to make any anti-Derek Jeter comments but I was fearful that the Yankees’ recent winning roll would get derailed by DJ’s return to the lineup. Sure, the recent losses are not his fault, but for whatever reason, the team fared better when he was out of the lineup. I didn’t like the errors made by Eduardo Nunez or Ramiro Pena, but Nunez in particular seemed to have a fresher bat.
Art by Scott Dalgleish, http://scottydal.deviantart.com/
I would like to see more batting orders in the second half of the season with Brett Gardner leading off. I suspect that will happen anyway, but Jeter is clearly the focal point of baseball right now as he approaches 3,000 hits.
Will he get those 2 hits that he needs today against the Tampa Bay Rays? He could, but I think it’s more likely that the 3,000th hit will come tomorrow. Of course, I could be completely wrong and DJ might go 0-4 both days.
Don’t get me wrong…I like Jeter and what he has meant to the organization. I will enjoy the day that they retire #2 and make the speeches at Yankee Stadium to induct a commemorative stone into Monument Park on his behalf. But as great as it is to see a player spend his entire career with one organization, I can definitely see the downside which is the deterioration of the player’s skills and ability.
Don Mattingly was in a fast decline when he retired after the 1995 season, however, I don’t think that I was mentally ready for his departure. Perhaps it was because I really wanted to see him win a championship. But with DJ, he has the championships and will soon be the only player in Yankee history with 3,000 hits. He has done everything you could ask for in pinstripes. My only request is that he steps away from the field when he realizes that his skills have eroded to the point that he is a liability. It’s not there yet, but the day is rapidly approaching. As the saying goes, time stops for no one.
A tear in the team’s hopes…
I just read that Alex Rodriguez might have a meniscus tear in his right knee which could require surgery. If Alex and the team decide now is the time for the surgery, it is speculated that he would miss a month. That’s definitely not good news as the Yankees have fallen behind the Boston Red Sox in the standings. I’d feel better if there was a healthy Eric Chavez on the roster but as it stands, it would be necessary for Eduardo Nunez to fill in at third. A-Rod’s loss definitely weakens the Yankees and it puts some pressure on GM Brian Cashman to find a replacement third baseman (in addition to his search for pitching).
I do not know the ramifications of A-Rod playing through the injury, but I hope that he takes the path that leads to good health by September. Of course, if the Yankees fall too far out, there won’t be an extended playing season this year.
What can we find at Nordy’s Rack?….
As far as moves the Yankees are looking at, it appears that there is a dearth of quality starting pitching available on the trade front. The Yankees are apparently looking at relief pitching, like many other teams. Reports have the Yankees interested in, among others, Sean Burnett of the Washington Nationals and Randy Choate of the Florida Marlins. I have liked what Choate has done since he left the Yankees as he became a very solid lefty option for the Tampa Bay Rays and now the Marlins. Burnett probably has the better potential at this point although I am not enamored by his 5.76 ERA. But ERA can be deceiving and I don’t know the reasons behind Burnett’s number as I don’t follow the Nats.
These are the times that I am appreciative that Brian Cashman is the team’s general manager. It is his job to find what ails the team and hopefully bring in the necessary chips to ensure that the team is playing meaningful baseball in October. I am full confidence in his abilities and I’d never underestimate the power of his network throughout baseball.
This month should get very interesting as the days go by…
A sad day in baseball…
I would be remiss if I did not mention the tragedy in Arlington, Texas where the fan reaching for a ball thrown into the stands by Josh Hamilton fell to his death. I have never caught a ball at a game, and I can remember as a kid how much I wanted to catch one during every visit to the old Busch Stadium in St. Louis. I can see how the ball would become your prime focus. The loss of the fan, Shannon Stone, was horrible by itself but it was made worse by the presence of his 6-year-old son. I lost my father as a child but I wasn’t there when he died. I simply cannot imagine how difficult it will be for Shannon’s son in the days and years ahead. I definitely hope that he and his family are taken care of by the Texas Rangers organization and Major League Baseball.
Now there’s talk the players could be barred from throwing baseballs into the stands (they’d have to hand the ball to a fan or hand it to an usher who, in turn, would hand it to the fan). While I am in favor of additional safety measures to prevent future unnecessary deaths like Shannon, I would hate to see the players lose the ability to toss a ball into the stands.
Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers (AP Photo)
No, really, I don’t want to go to Phoenix…
When the All-Star Team was announced, I was excited about the number of Yankees making the team. But it appears that many of them won’t be making the trip to Phoenix. First, Mariano Rivera pulled out, and now, both Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez have withdrawn from the game. I am still surprised that CC Sabathia did not make the team, but then again, I am okay avoiding the added wear and tear on his arm. So, as it is, I will be cheering for Robinson Cano and Russell Martin. As for A-Rod, it is a bit ironic that his All-Star replacement would be Boston’s Kevin Youkilis. Former Red Sox third baseman Adrian Beltre (Texas) moves up to the starting position.
One week, everything can be coming up roses, and the next it is doom and gloom. I guess that’s just life as a Yankees fan…
New Year, same problems in left…
Okay, I didn’t really want to start the new year with any mention of left field, but unfortunately, there hasn’t been much more to talk about. 2010 begins where 2009 left off…the Yankees are still in search of the right combination for left field. Perhaps the answer is already on the roster in the form of Brett Gardner and Jamie Hoffmann, or maybe the Yanks should move Curtis Granderson to left and install Gardner back in center. Ultimately, I don’t think either of those options will be viable ones when training camp opens in Tampa. But they do underscore the lack of urgency on the Yankees’ part.
I am a big proponent of finding a low-cost option with high upside. When Paul O’Neill was acquired from the Cincinnati Reds, he wasn’t a “big” name and he only cost the Yankees the long-forgotten Roberto Kelly. At the time, I was miffed that the Yanks would give up on Kelly, but history clearly showed that it was one of the most astute moves in Yankee history.
I read a blog that speculated David DeJesus of the Kansas City Royals would be a good fit. I do not disagree. Today, Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues suggested Travis Buck of the Oakland A’s. Regardless of the latter’s health history, I am okay with either player. Ideally, there’s no question that I’d prefer Johnny Damon first and foremost. But I just don’t think it will happen for whatever reason. So, short of Damon, I like the idea of inserting a player with potential. It is a given that the Yankees will aggressively pursue Plan B if Plan A doesn’t work out. I don’t think the Mets would give him up at this point, but I have liked Jeff Francoeur. I still think that he’ll turn it around and live up to his early career promise. The Indians signed free agent and former Yankee Shelley Duncan today. In retrospect, it is too bad that the Yankees never gave him a chance.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
At the end of the day, I think that GM Brian Cashman won’t leave the Yanks short-changed in left. I have faith in the man with the plan…
John Munson/The Star Ledger
Allegedly, 15 teams have expressed interest in pitcher Chien-Ming Wang (with the Yankees included). I hope that the team can find a way to bring Wang back home. If Wang is right, how awesome would the Yanks bullpen be with both Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes?
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
So, the Boston Red Sox finally solved their third base woes with the signing of free agent Adrian Beltre. I do not dispute that he is masterful with the glove, but anybody who has owned him in fantasy baseball knows that he is brutal offensively. He is clearly not the slugger he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers a few years ago. So, if you ask me if I am disappointed the Red Sox signed Beltre? No, if it means that the team can no longer pursue San Diego Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez (financially speaking). Gonzalez is a difference-maker; Beltre is not. The sad part of the Beltre signing is that it will relegate Casey Kotchman to the bench or at the most, DH. At DH, he has potential, but of course, it means the end of David Ortiz. Also, this almost certainly ensures that Mike Lowell will be dealt. The latest rumor has him going to the Mets for Luis Castillo, which is kind of funny considering that the Mets haven’t been able to unload Castillo on anybody. So, the Beltre signing is “nice”, but it doesn’t improve the Sox in the long run, in my opinion.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Did the Vikings’ total domination of the New York Giants and capture of the NFC second seed restore my faith in the Minnesota Vikings? Not really. The New York Giants gave up last week, so they pretty much rolled over for the Vikings on Sunday. It is hard for me to believe that the Vikings are truly a team capable of laying a 44-7 whuppin’ on a play-off foe. It’s funny that the Vikings were rooting for the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday considering that the Cowboys have long been my “second” favorite team dating back to the Roger Staubach days. I admit that I was a bit miffed with the Cowboys beat the Vikings on the Hail Mary pass, but I did enjoy the Cowboys’ success under Jimmy Johnson and Troy Aikman in the 90’s. Of course, I did live in Dallas at the time, so it was a bit more enjoyable. Nevertheless, I still remain on the Purple side, so I’ll await the outcome of the NFC wild card games to see if the Vikings can legitimately move the closest to the Super Bowl that they’ve been since 1998. I am not a great fan of the current Dallas Cowboys so I don’t know who I’ll root for should my Vikings stub their toe. Perhaps I’ll root for Julia’s New England Patriots, but admittedly, they’ll have a tough road sans Wes Welker.
I am not surprised that the Washington Redskins sacked head coach Jim Zorn. I know they are wining and dining Mike Shanahan, and that would probably be a very good move for them. I think Shanahan is a better fit than Steve Spurrier ever was. He knows owner Daniel Snyder so I think the two could co-exist so long as Shanahan can produce. Yeah, I wish the Vikings could be in play for a good coach…
I hope everyone had a great holiday season, and a very happy New Year! Just think, baseball training camps open next month. I can’t wait. I am anxious to resume my battles with a certain friend in Boston…