Tagged: Adrian Gonzalez

Once Again, Brian Cashman is Right…

Photo Credit:  Brad Penner, USA TODAY Sports

And Thus Endeth the Cole Rumors…

The trade rumor that wouldn’t go away…did. The Pittsburgh Pirates finally traded their so-called ace to the Houston Astros for a package that included reliever Joe Musgrove (a speculated middle-of-the-rotation starter type), third baseman Colin Moran, reliever Michael Feliz, and minor league outfielder Jason Martin. Moran, former Major Leaguer B.J. Surhoff’s nephew, was the Astros’ seventh-rated prospect according to MLB.com.

If the Yankees did, in fact, offer Clint Frazier, Chance Adams, and Miguel Andujar to the Pirates, Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington didn’t stop until he could find a much worse package for Steel Town. In reality, the trade shows that GM Brian Cashman never offered the much talked about packages for Cole. It’s been said that he may have only offered Clint Frazier OR Chance Adams. The Yankees were clearly not as high on Cole as the Astros were.

I’m glad the page can finally be turned. I am in favor of adding a starting pitcher only if it upgrades the current starting rotation. After completion of the one-year contracts for all the arbitration-eligible players, the Yankees have approximately $22 million left before they hit the luxury tax threshold (which is, of course, a hard “salary cap” in the Hal Steinbrenner Universe) of $197 million. The Yankees will not use all of that money so to say that they have $22 million left to spend is a bit of a misnomer. They need to set aside $2 million in case CC Sabathia hits his bonus milestones and there’s no way that Team Hal will bring payroll (AAV) tightly against the threshold. He’ll want a buffer and of course there needs to be enough room to play at the trading deadline. Only the Yankees truly know how much money they have left to spend.

If the Yankees did sign a free agent pitcher like Yu Darvish or Alex Cobb, it is a certainty that the contract of Brett Gardner or David Robertson would be moved to make room. With the money the Yankees would have to include with Jacoby Ellsbury if they could entice him to waive his no-trade clause, I don’t think moving him would provide enough salary space for a big ticket purchase. They’d have to find a team willing to take at least half of his current salary and honestly I don’t think that team exists.

Chris Archer, we’re coming for you. With Cole out of the picture, the pitcher most likely to draw top speculation as the guy targeted for the Yankees, it is the talented 29-year-old righthander of the Tampa Bay Rays. Of course, it’s possible that we could start hearing Michael Fulmer’s name again but both men continue to carry high price tags. If he doesn’t get a viable role for the 2018 Yankees (i.e., trade of Gardner or Ellsbury to make way), Frazier would look very good in Detroit’s outfield.

Even despite the current stagnant free agent market, I don’t think either Mike Moustakas or Todd Frazier will accept a one-year “pillow” contract regardless of what happens between now and training camp. I like the left-handed bat of Moustakas but I think he’ll eventually end up with the St Louis Cardinals.

At this point, there is not really much left to do for the Yankees except make preparations to to start training camp in a month. Now that long-time coach Rob Thomson (annual organizer of training camp) is in Philadelphia, third base coach Phil Nevin and others will have to step up and deliver for new manager Aaron Boone. I am looking forward to the results of their preparation and organization as they host the members and challengers for the 2018 New York Yankees.

Go ahead, underestimate Didi Gregorius…

The MLB Network has been reviewing their top ten lists at each position, but they blew it for shortstops. The omission of Didi Gregorius is wrong. There’s no way that I’d trade Didi for half of the guys on this list:

Tim Beckham over Didi is a joke. Trevor Story was struggling to hold his job last season and it’s only a matter of time until Rockies top prospect Brendan Rodgers pushes him out of the way.

That’s fine. Pitch to Didi like you think he’s an afterthought in the Yankees lineup and let’s see what happens.

Congratulations to Tyler Austin…

Tyler Austin proposed to his long-time girlfriend, Stephanie Dana, over the weekend and she said yes. Hopefully this is a sign that 2018 is shaping up to be a fantastic year for the young Yankees first baseman/outfielder. Congrats to Tyler and Stephanie!

The New York Mess…

The Mets are really going to sign free agent first baseman Adrian Gonzalez? It makes me appreciate every day that I am a Yankees fan. Nothing like pushing a young, promising first baseman (Dominic Smith) out of the way for an aged ‘has-been’. Jon Heyman’s argument is that A-Gon only costs the minimum and there are questions about Smith’s conditioning.  Viable arguments but I am glad that A-Gon is on their team and not mine.

Photo Credit: Orange County Register

Go Vikings…

Life as a Minnesota Vikings fan has not been as rewarding as life as a Yankees fan, but the best Vikings team in years takes the field today against the New Orleans Saints in the NFC playoffs. The winner moves on to the NFC Championship to play the Eagles in Philadelphia. I am hopeful and optimistic that the Vikings will be the ones traveling to the City of Brotherly Love.

The Vikings will feature three active QB’s behind starter Case Keenum. Sam Bradford, who missed the majority of the season with a knee injury, was activated for today’s game. He’ll be joined by fellow QB’s Teddy Bridgewater and Kyle Sloter. With Keenum, Bradford, and Bridgewater all potential free agents after the season, I was very glad to see the Vikings waive backup TE Kyle Carter rather than Sloter to free up a spot for Bradford. Bradford was the starting QB in the season opener when the Vikings beat the Saints. My hope is that all three backups need to do no more than hold clipboards while Keenum continues his season of rejuvenation.

Go Vikings!

And as always, Go Yankees!

Returning for a Championship Run…

Credit:  Andrew Theodorakis, New York Daily News

CC’s back!…

The reunion seemed inevitable but the longer time passed, I was fearful that another team would entice CC Sabathia to trade in his pinstripes. He spoke with the Los Angeles Angels (a team desperate for starting pitching) and the Toronto Blue Jays. He never expressed an interest in the Oakland Athletics or the San Francisco Giants but I always felt that if they reached out to Sabathia, the appeal to return to his native Northern California would have been very strong. In the end, Sabathia opted to return “home” for some unfinished business.

Mark Feinsand of MLB.com broke the story first yesterday that Sabathia had signed a one-year, $10 million deal with the Yankees subject to a physical. Jack Curry of the YES Network reported later in the day that Sabathia had taken and passed the physical yesterday afternoon, thereby making the deal official. Welcome back, CC! We’re very glad to have you.

The move presumably does not alter the Yankees plans to add another quality starting pitcher although they now have five starters on staff. Realistically, I do not expect Sabathia to match his 2017 season when he went 14-5 with 3.69 ERA. He’ll turn 38 in July. But the veteran knows how to win and is a team leader. With an inexperienced manager and bench coach, the value of Sabathia’s leadership cannot be understated.

It’s very interesting that the 2005 Cleveland Indians roster featured the Yankees manager (Aaron Boone), the Yankees Bench Coach (Josh Bard), the Red Sox manager (Alex Cora), and  a very young Sabathia. Boone was there for the early years (CC was only 24 during that 2005 season) and now he’s back for what may very well be Sabathia’s final year. If the Yankees win the 2018 World Series, I have no doubt that Sabathia will ride off into the sunset.  I cannot imagine a better Yankees career than starting and ending with World Series championships.

Competition for the 2018-19 Free Agent Market…

Yesterday, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ front office showed their brilliance when they unloaded the bloated contracts of Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy, and Adrian Gonzalez plus infielder Charlie Culberson on the Atlanta Braves. It is the same trio that the Dodgers tried to pawn off on the Miami Marlins for Giancarlo Stanton. Sure, they had to take back former Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, but the deal effectively reduced Dodgers payroll for the coming season by approximately $23 million which helps the team get under the $197 million threshold to reset luxury tax penalties. Gonzalez will never wear an Atlanta uniform. As part of the negotiation to waive his no-trade clause, Atlanta will release Gonzalez tomorrow, making him a free agent. It is also very questionable if Kemp will ever wear the Dodgers uniform again.

The move helps to ensure that the Dodgers will be prime players next off-season when Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Andrew Miller, Craig Kimbrel, Clayton Kershaw, Dallas Keuchel, Josh Donaldson and others hit the open market. Everybody had presumed the Yankees would sign Harper but the Dodgers have emerged as the leader for Harper’s services. Fortunately for the Yankees, they were able to acquire Giancarlo Stanton which gives them reason to pass on Harper and the $400-$500 million that it will take to sign the Las Vegas native.

Credit:  USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi can thank Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos, who served in the Dodgers front office last season. From the Braves perspective, they are free of the two-year obligation for Kemp, and the heavy contracts they acquired expire at the end of the upcoming season (making Kazmir and McCarthy desirable “rentals” at the trade deadline next summer).

While I don’t believe that the Dodgers sudden emergence as a major player in the 2018-19 free agent market will adversely impact the Yankees desire to add Manny Machado (the Dodgers have great players at third and short, Justin Turner and Corey Seager), it will add significant competition for other players. I’d really love to see the return of Andrew Miller to the Bronx but the Dodgers almost certainly will be aggressive in their pursuit of quality bullpen arms.

If at Third…

With no offense to Miguel Andujar and his questionable defensive skills, I remain hopeful the Yankees can find a way to bring back third baseman Todd Frazier. Andujar would benefit from another year at Triple A. Frazier was signing autographs in Toms River, New Jersey yesterday. Every time I see off-season pics of Frazier, it reinforces to me how much I’d like to see him back in Pinstripes.

Hey Cash, make it happen!

Finally…

The MLB Network has been replaying past Home Run Derbys and I have to say…man, I love watching Giancarlo Stanton hit home runs.

Credit:  Denis Poroy, Getty Images

Go Yankees!

It’s 613 miles to Detroit. We’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark, and we’re wearing sunglasses…hit it!…

 

Are you mocking me?…

The final series of the season has begun and the Yankees find themselves a game up on the Baltimore Orioles with two games to go in the battle for AL East supremacy.  It’s been a dogfight since the O’s caught the Yankees earlier in the month, and the two teams have pretty much matched each other stride for stride since that time.  Sunday, when the Yankees were trailing the Toronto Blue Jays 5-1 after the O’s had won was the first time that I legitimately felt the Yankees could end the day in second place for the first time since early in the season.  Fortunately for me…and the Yankees, they fought back to emerge with a 9-6 victory.

A season of surprises…

After years of Yankees-Red Sox and most recently, Yankees-Red Sox-Rays, I never expected this to be the year that the Baltimore Orioles would emerge as the Yankees’ primary nemesis.  Still, the Tampa Bay Rays are the team that scares me the most.  With their pitching, they have the potential to go all the way if they make it.  Granted, it’s clearly an uphill battle for them, but they are perhaps the hottest team in baseball right now with 11 wins in 12 games.  Hopefully, the Oakland A’s will end the Rays’ quest but I’d like to see the Rays with an opportunity for at least one more night so they’ll play at the top of their game against the O’s again tomorrow night.  If the A’s win against the Texas Rangers tonight, then it’s over for the Rays.  I am thankful that the Rays’ run got started so late in the season.  If it had occurred earlier, there’s little doubt they’d be bumping shoulders with the Yankees and O’s.

While I am surprised about the successful O’s season, I am flabbergasted by the dismal failure of the Boston Red Sox.  This is a team that could have and should have won the AL East in 2011, but after tonight’s game, the team stands at 91 losses.  It is the highest loss total since 1965 when they lost 100 games.  There’s no threat of 100 losses, but this is clearly an inferior Red Sox team.  I think they’ll be much improved in 2013 but the team has much to do in order to re-tool the once championship squad.  In my opinion, Bobby Valentine has to go.  He has contributed to the dysfunction of the 2012 season and while the losses may not be his fault, he is not the right man for the job.  I do not necessarily think that John Farrell is, or that last year’s runner-up, Gene Lamont, should get the job.  If I were the Red Sox GM, I’d probably go with a guy who has a great deal of minor league managerial experience but has never gotten the opportunity at the major league level, Ryne Sandberg.  He’d be respected by the players and he has the ability to effectively communicate with the younger prospects.

I thought this would be the year the Toronto Blue Jays would take a step forward.  If I would have had to choose between the O’s and the Jays at the start of the season, I probably would have taken the Jays. But I felt they regressed this year.  Well, actually they did.  Who knows how this plays out for John Farrell.  It could be ownership is more willing to let him go to Boston, but of course, does Boston want him and is he truly the right fit?  This remains to be seen.  Nothing like some good old fashioned drama as we head toward the off-season.

As for the other races, I was disappointed to see the Chicago White Sox fade.  I felt they had their division, but the talent of the Detroit Tigers persevered and thrust the team into the lead with a few games left.  Out west, there’s no doubt the Texas Rangers were going to be the champion, but to put the A’s into the play-offs over the Los Angeles Angels was a surprise.  Oakland’s pursuit of Yoenis Cespedes doesn’t look so far fetched now.

In the National League, I never would have predicted a division championship for the Washington Nationals.  They earned and deserved it, but I didn’t foresee it.  The awful season the Philadelphia Phillies experienced was a surprise.  Hey, Cliff Lee, how does that decision to rebuke the Yankees feel now?  I know, one season does not a mega-million contract make, but hey, this is baseball and it’s all about ‘what have you done for me lately?’.  Congratulations to the Atlanta Braves for at least nailing the Wild Card slot.

The Cincinnati Reds were not a surprise, even playing in the same division as the St Louis Cardinals.  This was destined to be a challenging year for the Cards with a new manager and first baseman.  The Cardinals should still make the play-offs, but this division played out as expected.

The NL West is where I am perplexed.  Although I currently reside in the Bay Area, my NL team is the Los Angeles Dodgers.  This is primarily because of the manager (Don Mattingly).  But after the expensive acquisitions late in the season (Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Brandon League and others), I really thought the Dodgers would be well poised to surge to the division championship.  Of course, I fully underestimated the San Francisco Giants and their pitching staff.  Tim Lincecum may have had his struggles this year, but I’d still hate to face him in October with all the chips on the table.

Welcome to the 2012 World Series…

As for my prediction of World Series participants, I am going to go with the Cincinnati Reds versus the Texas Rangers.  The Reds, in my opinion, have a slight advantage over the Washington Nationals.  Of course, I’ve underestimated the San Francisco Giants all season long so why should I change now?  I know this is a Yankees blog and I should be ‘all in’ on another Yankees participation in the World Series.  But I am just not convinced the team has the clutch hitting to succeed.  Hey, I hope they prove me wrong, but I don’t really see anyone else emerging from the AL than the Rangers.  I do not like the Rangers but I recognize that their hunger for a World Series championship remains and they have the talent to succeed.  Best case scenario?  The Yankees go to the World Series to face the San Francisco Giants and see how their hitters perform against former closer Dave Righetti’s aces.

It seems like the season just started but now just two games separate us from the 2012 post-season.  The race to the World Series begins…

—Scott

 

Why waste the paper for the signing?…

 

No Hablo Red Sox…

I know that it was a “no-risk, why-not-take-shot minor league with a major league camp invitation” signing but something just struck me wrong with the addition of former Red Sox reliever Manny Delcarmen.  Over the past few years, I have admittedly built up some respect for the good Red Sox players.  I’d count Red Sox ace Jon Lester as one of my favorite pitchers, and I appreciate players like Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury.  I think Adrian Gonzalez is one of the premier sluggers in baseball and all things considered, the Red Sox got the better end of the deal when they lost out on Mark Teixeira to the Yanks and had to “settle” for Gonzalez in a trade with the San Diego Padres.  There are those Sox players that I dislike but know they are ‘gamers’ like Josh Beckett, but conversely, there are those guys that I just thought were bad baseball players.  I’d put Delcarmen in the latter category.

Delcarmen is the bullpen answer to A.J. Burnett.  In other words, the guy most likely to implode.  The Red Sox proved they held a similar opinion when they dumped Delcarmen on the Colorado Rockies in 2010.  Delcarmen failed to stick in the Mile High City, and bounced in the minor leagues last season with the Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners, accumulating a less than inspiring 5.59 ERA.  Odds are that he’ll never see the light of day at Yankee Stadium, but I think my tolerance quota for ex-Red Sox players in Yankees camp has been exceeded with Hideki Okajima, Delcarmen, and the possible signing of former Sox infielder Bill Hall.  I guess the Yankees brass wants to counteract the strong performance that Alfredo Aceves gave the Sox last year after being cut by the Yankees with a rejuvenated former Sox player in pinstripes.  If this was the objective (I know it wasn’t), then the Yankees should have signed DH David Ortiz before he accepted arbitration with the Sox.

Good luck to Delcarmen, but I still hope that he finds success elsewhere.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Hendry…

I was surprised to hear that the Yankees had signed former Chicago Cubs GM Jim Hendry as a special assignment scout.  For one, the Yankees have a stable of up-and-comers in Billy Eppler and Damon Oppenheimer.  Eppler almost landed the GM job with the Los Angeles Angels before Jerry DiPoto was hired so he’s certainly a sought-after commodity.  I saw today that the Yankees added the title of Senior Vice President to Assistant GM Jean Afterman, while naming Eppler as an assistant GM.  I know that Afterman doesn’t have the authority of Brian Cashman but it’s weird that they are both SVP’s.  All things considered, Cash should be in line for a promotion to Executive Vice President since he is clearly above the other SVP’s.

Admittedly, I am leery about bringing in strong GM types like Hendry.  Sure, he has a wealth of knowledge, but this position allows him to learn the inner-workings of the Yankees organization.  I am sure that Arizona Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers used his brief time with the Yankees to identify pitcher Ian Kennedy as a trade target.  I realize that Kennedy brought Curtis Granderson to New York, but had the Yankees been able to include a different pitcher with qualifications below Dellin Betances or Manny Banuelos in the trade, how good would Kennedy have looked at the back end of the rotation instead of Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon?

Snow:  To be or not to be…

It’s hard to believe that tomorrow is February and the month that players report to training camp.  My first winter in Minnesota has been so incredibly mild.  I think there have only been two days of challenging driving conditions but even on those days, I still managed to travel without too many obstacles.  Of course, we could be engulfed in a blizzard while Robinson Cano is punching one over the Steinbrenner Field wall, but I am definitely excited for the return of the primary major sport.  No offense to the New England Patriots or the New York Giants, but pro football ranks second to America’s favorite pastime (in my opinion).  I’ll be more excited to see CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda standing side-by-side in camp than watching QB Tom Brady tell me via TV that he’s headed for Disney World.

Let it snow in Minnesota and let those Michael Pineda fastballs start popping Russell Martin’s mitt.  Life is good.  Now, about that DH position for the Yankees…

–Scott

 

Bad Day for Baseball…

 

The Pride of the Red Sox…

I am sure that there are Yankee fans rejoicing tonight at the news the Boston Red Sox and manager Terry “Tito” Francona have mutually decided to part way.  There is no rejoicing on this Blog.  I have a great deal of respect for Tito and he was/is arguably one of the best managers in baseball.

When Joe Girardi was named manager of the Yankees, I was a bit disappointed.  Of course, I’ve been a huge fan of Don Mattingly since he came up through the Yankees farm system and he was my favorite choice for manager despite his lack of managerial experience.  I liked Girardi the player, but he was never one that I was able to fully embrace.  I was concerned about the red flags that he exhibited during his year of managing the Florida Marlins and didn’t think that he’d be able to make the transition to the ‘Bright Lights, Big City’.  I was envious of the Red Sox and their manager because he was the standard that I wanted Girardi to achieve.  To Joe’s defense, he has but he is still not quite on the same level as Tito.

When the Red Sox first hired Tito, I simply viewed him as a Philadelphia Phillies reject.  To me, he hadn’t proven himself as a manager and it was hard for me to take him seriously (kind of reminds me what I felt when the Yankees named Joe Torre as their manager).  For years, the Red Sox had brought in guys that I just viewed as the manager of THAT team.  None were able to capture my respect and admiration, and that includes Don Zimmer who I didn’t develop respect for until years later as a Yankees coach.  But Tito was different.  In 2003, the Red Sox lost a heartbreaker in the ALCS, thanks to Aaron Boone’s home run.  Yet, the following year, the Sox were back.  Even though his team fell down 3 games to none, they stayed calm and persevered toward the AL Championship, and the first World Series Championship since 1918.  He was responsible for the end of the phrase “Curse of the Bambino”.  He followed up with another World Series Championship in 2007, making him the most successful manager in the modern history of the Red Sox.

When I look at the 2011 Red Sox, it is a team that should have prevailed.  They had a superior pitching staff, and the additions of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford made it a much better team than the 2010 version.  But the injuries, most notably, starting with starting pitcher Clay Buchholz and later Kevin Youkilis, were devastating.  That’s really beyond the control of the manager.  He has to play with the hand he has been dealt.  The Red Sox recognized the flaws in the starting rotation, yet the best they could do was former Seattle pitcher Erik Bedard.  Nothing against Bedard, but it has been years since he was considered a stopper due to injuries.  So, if there is any blame, it has to reside with GM Theo Epstein for failing to make the right move.  While Epstein made the unsuccessful Bedard deal, the Detroit Tigers made a deal with the same Mariners team to bring them a starting pitcher (Doug Fister) that is as responsible as any for the Tigers’ late season success.  Epstein was clearly outdone by Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski, and had he made the right move, the Red Sox would be playing Game 1 of the AL play-offs tonight and Tito would still be manager.

If I am Jerry Reinsdorf, I am already on the phone calling Tito’s agent.  He is the perfect choice to follow the highly volatile Ozzie Guillen for the Chicago White Sox.  Chicago has a sound and supportive ownership group and the team is willing to make the necessary moves for success.  I think it would be a great fit, although it would probably be better as a Yankees fan to see Tito in the National League.  Another option would be the Los Angeles Dodgers.  It’s not that I want to see Don Mattingly fired, but I think any change in ownership will also result in a change at the managerial level.  Regardless of where Tito goes, some team is going to  benefit greatly.  If he doesn’t take a managerial job and becomes an ESPN analyst, we still win because we’ll get a first-hand view of his wisdom and insight.

Tito, you were a worthy opponent and a great champion.  I wish you nothing but the absolute best in whatever the future holds for you.  We look forward to your next adventure!

–Scott

Time to look to October…

The 2011 AL East Division Champions…

 

Most importantly, congratulations to the New York Yankees for their AL East Division Championship.  They should have been AL East Champions last season but stumbled in the final days of the season to allow them to be eclipsed by the Tampa Bay Rays.  So, fortunately, the Yankees have returned to their rightful throne!  Well, at least for September.  Come October, nothing less than a World Series Championship is acceptable!

 

So, I was only half right…

 

Admittedly, I am surprised the way this season has played out.  At the beginning of the season, I had picked the Boston Red Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies as the World Series participants.  The Phillies still look like the odds-on favorite at this point given their stellar starting pitching, but the Red Sox have faded oh so quickly.  I remember listening to Sox fans who were predicting at least 114 wins or more for their revamped Red Sox, and while I openly scoffed at the notion, there was a part of me that was concerned that the Red Sox did have the necessary personnel to pull off a magical season.  The chances for the magical season faded quickly when pitcher Clay Buchholz was lost for the season, but the Red Sox had charged back after a sluggish start and were in the thick of things at the end of August.  Up to that point, the Red Sox had played the Yankees very aggressively with a significant advantage in the season series.  They showed they had the offense to destroy virtually any pitcher on any given night, and there is no doubt that Adrian Gonzalez is perfectly suited for Fenway Park.  But sadly for the Sox, the calendar turned to September and the deteriorated pitching staff started to show the stress and strain of the long season.  Still, I didn’t expect the free fall that has currently left the Sox tied with the Tampa Bay Rays for the Wild Card slot, while the Yankees have wrapped up the division championship and best record in the AL.  I never dreamed that the Yankees would be in position to walk to the finish line.

 

Pitching, pitching, pitching…

 

My lack of faith in the Yankees at the beginning of the season was due primarily to the pitching staff.  I was concerned about A.J. Burnett and his ability to bounce back from a disastrous season (and rightfully so).  I did not think the Yankees could replace Andy Pettitte with two scrapheap pitchers in Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon.  Plus, the Yankees were placing much emphasis on Phil Hughes who, despite his 18-win season, had not proven that he was a reliable and dependable starter.  Rounding out the rotation was a rookie pitcher (Ivan Nova), who had not even been mentioned in the same breath with Yankees prospects Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances.   With CC Sabathia followed by a cast of characters, I did not see how the Yankees could compete with the Red Sox and felt that the Wild Card was the team’s best hope.  Now, I am very delighted that I was wrong.  While Burnett and Hughes have been disappointments, Ivan Nova has been huge and is now the second best pitcher in the rotation.  Garcia and Colon have been terrific even if Colon seems to be wearing down at this point in the season.  Garcia is definitely a play-off caliber starting pitcher.  If the Yanks go with a four man rotation, then the 4th man should be Burnett.  But he’ll have a very short leash with Colon and Hughes potentially in the bullpen.

 

Don’t play Poker with Brian Cashman…

 

If I had been the GM, I am sure that I would have made some impulsive and regrettable move at the trading deadline.  GM Brian Cashman, on the other hand, stood pat and played with the hand he was dealt.  In retrospect, he looks like a hero (which includes his anti-Rafael Soriano stance in the spring).  I hope the Yankees do whatever it takes to ensure Cash’s return to the Bronx.  I am sure that there would be significantly less stress in Chicago with the Cubs or some other major league team, but nobody understands New York better than Cash.  I definitely think the Steinbrenners need Cashman more than he needs them.  Hopefully, they’ll recognize it and make sure that Cashman is re-signed.

 

Passing of the Guard…

 

If the Yankees have learned anything in September (aside from the importance of quality starting pitching in watching the Sox freefall), it’s that Jesus Montero is ready for The Show.  This does not bode well for Jorge Posada who is most likely playing his final year in Yankee pinstripes.  If he continues his career season, it will be tough to see him play in different team colors.  My only request would be for him not to go to Boston or Tampa.  It’s always tough to see players cross those lines, and if it were me, I’d retain the respect for the Yankees and walk away from the AL East.

 

He surprised me yet again…

 

Count me as one of the skeptics in Ozzie Guillen’s decision to orchestrate his departure from the Chicago White Sox so that he could join the Florida Marlins.  While I realize that Guillen will sell tickets in Miami, I don’t see it as a good fit with ownership.  I am still not quite sure how someone could have issues with Joe Girardi, but fortunately, Miami did and he’s the highly successful manager of the Yankees.  But Joe is far less out-spoken than Guillen, so if Joe’s comments got him into trouble, what’s going to happen with Guillen who always openly and freely speaks whatever is on his mind.  I had always heard that White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf loved Ozzie like a son, so there’s no way the relationship in Miami will be anything comparable.  His on the field performance had better outweigh the baggage that comes with Ozzie as your manager.  He may regret taking the money and running…

 

Two game sabbatical from ‘Red Sox Suck!’…

 

With the Red Sox and Rays tied for the Wild Card tonight, I’ll have to go with the Red Sox as my preferred team to advance.  I don’t think the Sox will be the easier opponent in the play-offs but that doesn’t concern me.  I’ve always believed that you have to ‘beat the best to be the best’.  This comes down to respect and I simply respect the Red Sox more…

 

–Scott

A couple of wins in Boston would be nice for the road team…

  

Have Gun (partially loaded), Will Travel…

Headed to Boston with minus a few bullets…

With the injuries to Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter, the Yankees are certainly in a precarious situation as they head for Boston after wrapping up the O’s series in Baltimore tonight.  A-Rod was sent to New York have a MRI on his thumb, and he’ll re-join his teammates at Fenway Park.  The results were negative, however, it doesn’t sound like he’ll play in the Sox series so the focus will definitely be on Eric Chavez and Eduardo Nunez.

Jeter fouled a pitch off his right kneecap in the first game of Sunday’s double header, so he should be back on the field when the team arrives in Beantown.

The Red Sox have their own challenges, with Kevin Youkilis on the DL.  But even without Youk, the Red Sox boast three legitimate AL MVP Candidates in Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Adrian Gonzalez.  If the Yankees are to stop Boston’s run of success against them, the guys from the bench will need to be the difference makers.  Plus, some good pitching always helps.  I haven’t seen the starting rotation for the series yet, although I know that CC Sabathia is starting on Tuesday.  I suppose that means the other starters will be A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes, neither of whom instill great confidence, particularly when the opposing match-up’s will be Josh Beckett and Jon Lester (John Lackey faces the Yanks on Tuesday night so that’s probably the only matchup that favors the Yanks in the series).

Where are those darned reinforcements? Signed, General Custer…

The August trading deadline has been very quiet, and of course, I am not expecting any moves by the Yankees.  I still wish the team would move to get a clutch bat for the bench (someone like Hideki Matsui or Johnny Damon) but all indications are the Yankees will stand pat like they did at the July trading deadline.

Love means never having to say you’re Sori…

So, David Robertson is arbitration eligible at the end of the season?  The Yanks would be wise to lock him up to a deal before arbitration hearings.  He always seems to be in the most precarious situations yet, time and again, he comes through in big spots.  The way he struck out three batters in the 8th inning on Sunday night with the bases loaded was vintage D-Rob.  His 8th inning success definitely has me wondering what the Yanks will do with Rafael Soriano for the next couple of years…

He makes the world taste good…

I remember a few years ago when there were predictions that Curtis Granderson could hit 40 home runs playing at Yankee Stadium.  I thought those were aggressive remarks, but here he is on the verge of hitting that plateau.  Every one points to the adjustment he made with input from batting coach Kevin Long last August, but it’s clear he has become a complete hitter since that time.  It is ironic that one of the trading pieces, pitcher Ian Kennedy of the Arizona Diamondbacks, is leading the NL in wins.  Kind of makes one wish that the Yankees had traded Phil Hughes instead of Kennedy.  Still, the trade has worked out for all three teams involved (Arizona, Detroit, and the Yankees).  What?  Curtis Granderson just struck out in the game against the Orioles with Brett Gardner in scoring position?  The bum!  😉  Just kidding…

They’re just games…

This is a big week for the Yankees with the Boston series so they’ll definitely be challenged.  It doesn’t get any easier after Boston because the Toronto Blue Jays will be coming to the Bronx for a weekend series, and the Jays have definitely played the Yanks tough this year.  Do we really have to pin our hopes on A.J. Burnett?  Really?…  L

Have a safe and enjoyable week!

–Scott

 

 

 

 

 

One month down, check!…


Usually, April has not been
kind to the Yankees.  So to finish the
month with a winning record and in first place is clearly an accomplishment.  After the Yankees were ripped in the
off-season for their failure to sign Cliff Lee while the Boston Red Sox were
signing Carl Crawford and trading for Adrian Gonzalez, the expectations were
greater in Beantown. As a result, there is a bit of satisfaction in the respective teams’ starts.  Perhaps it was a good
thing as the Yankees finally shook the April curse and controlled the month of
April instead of letting the month control them. 


Cano.JPG

John Munson/The Star Ledger


Boston, meanwhile, has
gotten off to a sluggish start, with a 13-15 mark entering play tonight.  I’d be a fool to think the Sox will continue
to underperform.  I have no doubt that
they will start clicking on all cylinders at some point, and I can only hope
the Yanks have built a sufficient cushion to withstand any Sox charge. 
Roster to roster (today), I’d still give the edge of the Sox over the
course of the full 162 game schedule.

I think the keys for the
Yankees to hold off the inevitable Sox charge will rest primarily with
pitching.  I’ve been pleased by what the
Yanks have gotten from Ivan Nova, Freddy Garcia, and Bartolo Colon, but I still
do not think that all three have the sustainability for the duration of the
season.

The health of Phil Hughes
will be a key determinant.  The recent
tests have been positive, but the fact remains that the Yankees are no closer
to getting Hughes on the mound than they were before.  What if he isn’t able to come back this
year?  What’s Plan B?  The Yankees already needed a #3 starter or
better when Hughes was in the rotation.  For
now, the Yanks have to hope that Nova, Garcia and Colon continue to perform
above expectations.

Count me as one of those who
believe that it is time to drop Derek Jeter down in the order.  His days as a lead-off hitter are over, and
it’s time to get Brett Gardner at the top of the order.  I realize that Gardner isn’t hitting, but I think
that leading off would revitalize his bat and of course his speed on the bases
with the guns coming to bat would be huge.

The Yanks could definitely
use timely hitting, but I fully expect the bats to come around.  I saw the highlights of last night’s game
showing Hideki Matsui hitting a game-winning home run for the Oakland A’s, and
thought to myself, yeah, we could use that…

With the 2011 NFL Draft
behind us, I am still pondering the Minnesota Vikings first round selection of
QB Christian Ponder.  There’s no doubt
that I would have loved to have DT Nick Fairley who went to the Detroit Lions
with the next pick.  However, the Vikings
had to emerge from this draft with a franchise QB.  Andy Dalton may turn out to be a great
quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals and Colin Kaepernick may do wonderful
things in the Golden Gate City, but all things considered, I am glad that
Ponder is in Minnesota.  There’s no doubt
that I would have preferred Jake Locker but the Tennessee Titans made that an
impossibility.  I had mixed feelings
about Blaine Gabbert, so short of Cam Newton and Jake Locker, I am satisfied
with Ponder. 


Minnesota Vikings


I’d be surprised if the
Vikings go to the training camp (assuming the lockout is lifted) with Ponder,
Joe Webb, and Rhett Bomar as the only QB’s. 
I fully expect them to pursue a veteran. 
I don’t think that Kevin Kolb would be worth the price since Ponder
should be ready to take over the position within a couple of years.  So, I guess it depends how cheaply the
Vikings can get someone like Carson Palmer, Donovan McNabb, or Vince
Young
.  It definitely makes me wish that
Sage Rosenfels was still on the roster. 

When the lockout is finally
resolved, I definitely hope the Vikings find a way to retain WR Sidney
Rice
.  I don’t want to lose free agent DE
Ray Edwards
, but I think that Rice would be much harder to replace.

I was glad to see the Tampa
Bay Rays activate 3B Evan Longoria for tonight’s game.  I may not be a Rays fan, but Longoria is
arguably the best third baseman in the league. 
Win or lose, I’d rather see Longoria in the Rays lineup than not. 

Congratulations to the Los
Angeles Dodgers’ Andre Ethier who has hit safely in 28 games entering play
tonight.  I am sure that this is a trip
down memory lane for manager Don Mattingly, who once had a consecutive home run
streak going.  I am sure that Donnie
Baseball has shared his insight into how to handle the pressure from the press
in these situations.  Ethier’s a great
guy and I’d definitely like to see him continue this streak.

The San Jose Sharks are up
2-0 in their series with the Detroit Red Wings, but who in the world can
possibly be comfortable with playing Game 3 in Joe Louis Arena?…

The Los Angeles Lakers lost
Game 1 to the Dallas Mavericks?  Really?  What are they trying to do?  Give a happy ending to the LeBron James
Championship Show?…


–Scott

 

Take two aspirin and call me in the morning…


It was a great win by Freddy
Garcia
on Saturday (six innings, two hits and no runs) in the Yankees’ 5-2
victory over the Texas Rangers.  The
superlatives about Garcia poured in after the game including one comment that
compared Garcia to David Cone in terms of the latter pitcher’s ability to find
ways to win when he didn’t have his best stuff. 


Freddy Garcia gets a pat on the back from Yankees captain Derek Jeter for a job well done.

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images


I do not doubt Garcia’s
ability.  I can recall many times over
the years when Garcia completely shut down the Yankees.  It didn’t matter if he had been struggling at
the time or was fighting some ailment. 
He always seemed to shine in the most difficult moments.  My concern with Garcia is his ability to
sustain the effectiveness he showed yesterday. 
There’s no doubt, in my mind, that we’ll see Kevin Millwood and/or
Carlos Silva in the rotation at some point. 

I am not trying to be
pessimistic, but rather just a realist. 
With Phil Hughes on the DL, it is not an automatic that he’ll regain his
velocity by simply receiving rest and treatment.  A.J. Burnett showed that he is still
vulnerable after giving up two home runs in one inning against the Baltimore
Orioles last week after pitching so well in the prior six innings.  We’ll have the opportunity to see what
Bartolo Colon can do, but my concern about him is not with his arm.  His weight and ability to stay healthy are
the key issues.

It was disappointing to hear
that reliever Pedro Feliciano will need season-ending surgery.  Given that lefty Damaso Marte is also on the
shelf, the Yankees will need to find another lefty to complement Boone
Logan. 
Unfortunately, the rest of the
league knows that and they’ll be looking for a King’s ransom in any potential
trade.

At this point in the season,
it’s nice to see the Yankees in first place with an 8-5 mark, while the Boston
Red Sox sit in last place at 3-10. 
However, with just under 150 games still remaining, I would be very
foolish to think that the current standings will stay unchanged.  The Red Sox will figure it out and they’ll be
an offensive force through the summer.  I
am concerned that the key reason the Yankees have been winning is their home
run production (24 homers in 13 games). 
Hopefully, they’ll begin to find other ways to win as the season
progresses. 

It bothers me that the
Boston Red Sox will avoid a luxury tax penalty by delaying the announcement of
Adrian Gonzalez‘s extension until this week. 
Perhaps they did the same thing with Clay Buchholz, but the Gonzalez
signing was a foregone conclusion.  It
was obvious that the Sox had reached an agreement with Gonzalez before the
start of the season.  It was clear they
simply circumvented the system to avoid paying the additional tax.

To go a bit off topic, I am
excited about the upcoming NFL Draft despite the current lockout.  I remain hopeful that the owners and players
will reach an agreement before the loss of any games.  With the draft, I really hope the Minnesota
Vikings can find a quarterback.  However,
their draft position at #12 is not ideal for their search for a franchise QB.  The top tier QB’s, like Blaine Gabbert and
Cam Newton, will be gone and it will be too early to take somebody like Jake
Locker
.  It will be interesting to see
what the Vikings can do.  The Vikings
chief rival, the Green Bay Packers, seem to have a knack for finding QB’s.  They coaxed one great season out of Don
Majkowski
.  They traded for Brett Favre after
they missed out on the opportunity to draft Troy Aikman.  They drafted Aaron Rodgers despite having
Favre and a few other highly touted former college QB’s on the roster.  Hopefully, the Vikings can replicate the
Packers blue print to find their next great QB…

–Scott

 

 

All Hail the Red Sox Nation…


The first win of the season
goes to my friend Julia, of Julia’s Rants
Despite an 0-6 start to the season, the Boston Red Sox were able to
capture their first two wins of the season in this past weekend’s series
against the New York Yankees.


Red Sox.JPG


With the loss, I have to
write about what’s right with the Red Sox and what’s wrong with the Yankees.  So, here it goes…


Why the Boston Red Sox will win…

Pitching, pitching, pitching.  Say what you
will about Dice-K, but the Red Sox have, arguably, the best starting rotation
in the American League.  Jon Lester has
been one of my favorite pitchers and will be a Cy Young candidate when the
season is over.  Despite some early
season struggles, I definitely feel that Clay Buchholz is one of the up and
coming stars and will be solid over the course of the long season.  I know that the third starter, John Lackey,
has also struggled, but I feel very strongly that he’ll find his niche in
Boston and will consistently put the Sox in a position to win.  Josh Beckett, if he continues to pitch like
he did on Sunday, is back.  The Yankees
have a rookie in the 4th spot…the Sox have a former ace and one who
is capable of pitching like the elite pitcher he once was. 

You can say that the Yankees
have the better bullpen, but if Jonathan Papelbon falters, the Sox have several
fallback options in former Chicago White Sox closer Bobby Jenks and future
closer Daniel Bard.  They have reliable
arms in the pen, and have a proven long man in a guy the Yankees are well
familiar with (Alfredo Aceves).  The gap
between the Sox and Yankee pens won’t be as big as experts may believe,
especially since the Sox will be able to be more selective in relief with a
superior rotation that is able to go much deeper into games. 

Adrian Gonzalez.  Count me as one of those who
believe that Gonzalez will be a monster at Fenway Park.  He counteracts anything the Yankees have with
Mark Teixeira plus he has the intangibles.  
A few years back, I was constantly looking up to see the highlights of
David Ortiz with another walk-off home run. 
I fully expect Gonzalez to be that guy for the Sox, and he is going to
win games with both his bat and his glove. 

Disruption.  Once Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury get
going (it’s a question of when, not if), the Sox are going to be very
disruptive for opposing pitchers. 
Singlehandedly, they have the ability to change the complexion and
momentum of games. 

The forgotten hitter.  For all the
headlines the newest additions have gotten and the return of players who were
injured last year (like Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia), it is easy to forget that
this lineup still features third baseman Kevin Youkilis.  Youk is one of the best clutch hitters in
baseball, and teams will be so focused on stopping Crawford and Gonzalez that
they’ll lose sight of Youk…and will pay a high price for it. 

The dead will rise.  It is easy
for people to write off David Ortiz and Jason Varitek given their respective
ages, however, they are both consummate professionals who can still perform at
a high level.  Like the Toby Keith song
goes, ‘I may not be a good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was’.  There’s no doubt that these two will figure
prominently in Sox wins over the summer. 

The bench.  If there is anything I’ve learned about the
Sox, it is to never underestimate the power of Theo.  Time and again, names come out of nowhere to
lead the Sox to victory.  They had a
chance to catch the Yankees last September despite fielding a roster of
unknowns.  Even on Tuesday night’s game,
the first run of the game came courtesy of a home run by Darnell McDonald.  It wasn’t that long ago the Yankees wanted
Mike Cameron as their centerfielder, and here he is backing up the Sox
regulars.  I don’t care if the player’s name
is Dork Fumblefingers.  If he puts on a
Sox uniform, he is most likely going to hit game winning home runs and make
highlight reel catches in the outfield.

Terry Francona.  When the Sox lose, Francona
detractors seem to come out of the woodwork, but he is, in my opinion, the best
manager in baseball.  The only place with
greater expectations than New York might just be Boston, yet Terry is always a
show of class and his decision making skills show a deft understanding of now
and the future (i.e., the season).  He
garners the most of his roster, and I have no doubt that he’ll right the ship
despite the slow start to the 2011 season. 
With the Sox standing at 2-8 entering play tonight, people are quick to
say how poorly comparable teams have finished. 
I will argue that when the season is done, the Sox will be the model of
the franchise that was able to successfully overcome such a poor start.  In future years, when a team goes on a losing
streak to start the season, the media will be saying ‘but the 2011 Red Sox were
able to overcome…’. 

Theo Epstein, Larry Lucchino, and John Henry.  These
gentlemen took a franchise that was “cursed” from the 1923 trade that sent Babe
Ruth
to the Yankees, and eradicated the word “curse” from the Red Sox
vocabulary.  I also have not heard any
mention of Bucky Friggin’ Dent in several years.  These guys have successfully brought two
world championships to Boston, and there is no doubt that they’ll have a third
one in the not-so-distant future (much to my chagrin). 

The RSN.  The fan base for the Sox is the most
passionate and fervent of any that I’ve experienced.  I am not saying that Yankees fans aren’t
passionate, but Sox fans are like no other. 
They stuck by their team when championships were only something their
grandparents or great-grandparents had ever experienced.  Yankees fans get spoiled by championships in
almost every decade.  The Sox fans have a
greater understanding and appreciation of what it means to be a true
champion.  I am not one of them, but I
respect them. 


Why the Yankees won’t win…

Pitching, pitching, pitching.  As great as
CC Sabathia is, he is still not a sure thing. 
He has his moments where he struggles. 
I know, like all pitchers, but there is something special when a pitcher
like Roy Halladay takes the mound.  Win
or lose, you expect the team to win.  I
expect the Yankees to win when CC is on the mound, but it is not with the
confidence that I’d have if Halladay were a Yankee.  After CC, there is nothing but question
marks.  A.J. Burnett has pitched well to
start the season, but he always starts good. 
It is how he finishes.  If he
reverts to 2010 A.J., the Yankees are toast. 
Phil Hughes and the decreased velocity are a concern.  He finished poorly last season, and he has
yet to pitch lights out this year.  At
this point, I am really not sure what Hughes lies ahead.  After Hughes is a rookie, Ivan Nova, who has
pitched well, but how will he perform the second time around when opposing
lineups get used to him?  Can he make the
necessary adjustments?  As it stood, the
ceiling for Nova was much lower than it is for guys like Brian Matusz or Jeremy
Hellickson
(or even Michael Pineda).  Is
he in the rotation because he has the potential to be great or is it because
none of the other prospects are ready.  I
remain fearful that it’s the latter.  I’ve
heard that Nova’s future is in the pen, and that doesn’t bode well for the
rotation.  In the fifth spot, who
knows.  Freddy Garcia has yet to pitch
due to rain delays.  Bartolo Colon is
waiting in the wings if Garcia stumbles, as are Kevin Millwood and Carlos
Silva
None of the options instill
confidence.

The bullpen looks great on
paper, but already this season, there have been failures by Rafael Soriano and
Joba ChamberlainPedro Feliciano is on
the DL and I heard that he had a setback today. 
Luis Ayala is headed for the DL so the Yankees are already looking to
Scranton-Wilkes Barre for replacements. 
One of these years, Mariano Rivera is actually going to show his
age.  Will this be the year?

Aging lineup.  Mark Teixeira is already
31?  Seriously, we are already in the
midst of another April chill for Tex.  He
started strong this year (thanks to Opening Day in March), but he went 0-fer
against the Sox.  He was as much responsible
for me writing this post as anyone. 
Derek Jeter has continued to show his age and is providing evidence that
his down season in 2010 may be a sign of things to come.  Jorge Posada feels like a fish out of water
at DH.  He’s done at catcher so where’s
his long-term potential with this team? 
Alex Rodriguez looked great during spring training, but he is getting
older.  Question marks continue to dog
Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner.  The
Yankees are a great offensive club, but their hitters just don’t put fear in
you.  If they don’t hit, they can be beat
as Josh Beckett proved on Sunday night. 
In October, you’re facing the best pitchers in baseball.  If the Yankees can’t hit the best, they can’t
be the best.

The bench.  Don’t get me wrong…I love Eric Chavez and I
am glad that he’s a Yankee.  But I am
concerned that injuries may force the Yankees to play Chavez more than they
should, exposing him to potential injury. 
What if Derek Jeter is done?  Is
Nunez ready to take over at short?  I really
don’t expect this to be the year that Jeter goes south, but you have to
recognize that it could happen.  It
eventually happens to all superstars

Hank Steinbrenner.  Eventually,
Hank is going to make an impulsive move that he’ll regret.  I am sure that he has a Jay Buhner like trade
that he’ll force causing the Yankees to relinquish a prime prospect for an
aging past-his-prime veteran in an effort to shake things up.
 

The off-season.  As difficult as last season was,
there is the potential that this off-season will be even more difficult.  CC Sabathia can opt out of his contract, as
can Rafael Soriano.  If the Yankees lose
Sabathia, they won’t be able to recover. 
As the season progresses, the Sabathia opt-out is going to get more and
more ink.  Hopefully, it doesn’t become a
distraction.

Who knows that the 2011
season holds in store for the Yankees and the Red Sox, but I can assure you,
that both teams will be in the thick of things come September.  I will never be fooled by Boston’s slow start.  This is a very dangerous team and one that
can never be underestimated. 

Clearly, I want the Yankees
to win, and I am hopeful they will, but Boston, even at 2-9, is still the best
team in the American League from top to bottom. 
That may change by the trading deadline, but as it stands today, the Sox
are still a team capable of 100 wins.

Julia, I’m out…

–Scott