Tagged: Andruw Jones

Not your Daddy’s Yankees…

 

All my rowdy friends are coming over tonight, but I’ll just listen to Beethoven…

The Miami Marlins make a big splash to create perhaps the best Marlins squad since 2003 in signing Heath Bell, Mark Buehrle, and Jose Reyes.  The Los Angeles Angels rock the largest Hispanic community in the United States by nabbing #1 Baseball Superstar Albert Pujols.  Oh yeah, they also picked up former Ranger ace C.J. Wilson along the way.  Even the Boston Red Sox, in a season of chaos with the prolonged managerial search, managed to do SOMETHING with the acquisition of former Yankees reliever Mark Melancon from the Houston Astros for shortstop Jed Lowrie and minor league pitcher Kyle Weiland.  Meanwhile, at Yankee Stadium, nothing…

I know, how do you improve upon a 97-win team?  Baseball is a game of constantly trying to improve.  A little here, a little there…a big splash here, a big splash there.  This off-season the Yankees haven’t fallen into any of those categories.  They haven’t even moved to re-sign outfielder Andruw Jones or third baseman Eric Chavez which, in my mind, are important cogs for the 2012 team.

The team with the most money is…

Tonight’s wait is to hear whether the Toronto Blue Jays or the Texas Rangers have won the bidding for Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish.  In the days of George Steinbrenner, the Yankees would have been the highest bidder and there would have been no speculation about who placed the highest bid (through a few “unnamed sources” within the Yankees organization).  I am not saying that it is prudent to spend $50 million plus just to have the right to talk to Darvish, nor do I feel the Yankees made a bad decision by not going after him harder.  But this is definitely a different Yankees ownership and one that is not particularly fond of footing the bill for the other owners through luxury tax payments.  It’s too bad the Yankees have so much wrapped up in Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter.  A-Rod, in particular, is not the player he once was and no longer worthy of his behemoth contract.  I’ll give Jeter the benefit of the doubt since he did finish 2011 strongly.

If the Yankees are gauging what they need to do by the Boston Red Sox or the Tampa Bay Rays, they’re severely underestimating the Toronto Blue Jays.  The Yankees had trouble with that team last year, and the 2012 Jays will only be stronger (with or without Darvish).

If you’re not winning, you’re losing…

This has been a tough sports year for me.  The Yankees felt like a team with shortcomings entering October and it revealed itself in the play-offs against the Detroit Tigers.  They are still essentially the same team, minus a few players.  There’s nothing to lead me to believe that the World Series is in their immediate future.  Meanwhile, my pro football team, the Minnesota Vikings, continues their march to become the worst team in professional football (only one game separates them from the Indianapolis Colts and the right to draft future NFL superstar QB Andrew Luck).  I am sure that even Peyton Manning is a Vikings fan these days.  It really stinks when you hope your team loses so that they can place higher in the draft.

I am not a Minnesota Twins fan, but I do live within view of Target Field so it’s been tough watching local favorites Michael Cuddyer (Rockies) and Jason Kubel (D-Backs) sign elsewhere.

Clearly, I am someone that needs a ‘pick me up’ in sports.  I want to see a player acquisition that I am excited about.  Someone that brings energy, drive and commitment to the team, and helps them reach just a little bit further…

I will say that the Yankees should not trade Jesus Montero regardless of whether it could bring Gio Gonzalez to the Bronx.  I’d love to see Gio in pinstripes, but I think that Montero has a chance to be a special talent.  You just don’t let guys like him get away, even if it means no acquisitions this off-season.

Is that too much to ask?  Sometimes I wish Hank Steinbrenner’s impulsiveness would prevail over Hal Steinbrenner’s calculated intellect.  Fiscal responsibility, with a dash of insanity.  C’mon, we were “raised” by George Steinbrenner.  Weren’t you too, Hal?…

At least somebody is doing something…

Recently, I changed my NBA allegiance from the Los Angeles Lakers to the New York Knicks.  I’ve been thinking about this move for several years, but adding Carmelo Anthony to Amare Stoudemire was the clincher.  The latest news has the Knicks signing Baron Davis.  As a former Bay Area resident, I was saddened when Davis left the Golden State Warriors to join the Los Angeles Clippers.  He was perhaps the most popular basketball player in the area.  I have a great deal of respect for him, and it’s tremendous that he and I have come together on the same team.  I know Baron is hurt so his Knicks debut will be delayed, but I really like the off-season moves the Knicks have made.  I’d be foolish to think that they are suddenly a NBA finals team, but they are definitely getting better.

Meanwhile, at Yankee Stadium, just crickets…

 

–Scott

The best of a bad situation for the Red Sox Nation…

 

Bobby Valentine’s hire…

I am still surprised that the Boston Red Sox ownership and management team did not have a clear plan of succession when they failed to back former manager Terry Francona at the end of the season.  Sure, Francona left on his terms but the lack of support had as much to do with the decision as anything.  So, if ownership felt that they wanted a change, they should have had a short list of potential replacements in mind.  Theo Epstein moved more quickly in Chicago when they named Sox candidate Dale Sveum as their manager.  The Sox search just felt “messy” to an outsider like me.

Still, they probably did as well as they could with the hiring of Bobby Valentine.  There is no question that he is a superior tactician.  He is very passionate, which is an attribute that I have always admired.  I cannot say that I’ve been a Bobby V fan in my life.  I lived in Dallas during his years as the manager of the Texas Rangers.  But I respect his knowledge, skills and high desire to win.  At different points during the last few years, there have been times he has been mentioned as a possible Yankees manager.  You don’t have to like the guy personally if he can get the job done.  I think one of my friends referred to Bobby as “swarmy” and it’s a good description.  Nevertheless, I am sure that Bobby will prove himself worthy of the Red Sox Nation and they’ll love him.  Meanwhile, we’ll just continue our loathing of him which fits since he is now with a bitter rival.

I would like to see if Bobby can have a positive impact on pitcher Jon Lester.  Lester has been one of my favorite players, despite his uniform.  He is an ace, and capable of carrying the high expectations that go with it.  2011 was a regression year for Lester so hopefully he’ll get back on track in 2012 and clearly establish himself as the leader of the Red Sox rotation.

…and Terry Francona’s ire…

In recent years, I admittedly lessened my dislike for the Boston Red Sox and it was primarily because of my respect for manager Terry Francona.  In my mind, Joe Torre had been the model of a superior manager, and the Francona mold was in the same class.  I do not know the inner workings of the Red Sox organization, but I am still surprised that they didn’t support Francona based on comments Tito has made during interviews.  I was even more surprised to hear that he had to defend himself against questions about painkillers during his interview with the St. Louis Cardinals.  Here is a manager that won two World Series for an organization that had not won since 1918, or when Babe Ruth was still on the roster.  It’s incredible to think of how many Red Sox managers failed where Tito succeeded.  I think teams missed the boat in not aggressively pursuing Tito this off-season.  Hopefully, teams won’t make the same mistake next year.

All quiet on the Western front…

The days leading up to the Baseball Winter Meetings in Dallas seem so incredibly quiet compared to life under the Boss.  While I recognize that part of it is posturing by the Yankees to avoid overpaying for players, there is the realization that this is a different ownership group even if it is still “in the family”.  The Yankees did not really make any notable moves last season outside of signing catcher Russell Martin and bringing in pitchers Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon.  To fail to upgrade the team this year is a mistake in my opinion.  Last year’s roster was easily defeated by the Detroit Tigers in the play-offs.  While I realize that anything can happen in a short series, I didn’t have the sense or “feel” that the Yankees were going to prevail.  It almost seemed as though it was inevitable the Yankees would lose.  That’s a bad feeling.  The team needs bench or role players that can come through like Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui used to, and they need help at the top of the starting rotation behind CC Sabathia.

I hopeful that the team can re-sign Eric Chavez, Andrew Jones and Luis Ayala.  Chavez is a perfect fit behind Alex Rodriguez, assuming that he can stay healthy, and Jones was a great fourth outfielder if he is content with resuming that type of role for the upcoming season. Ayala seems to be garnering much attention with at least six teams interested.

I like the one rumor that I heard about the Yankees possibly being interested in Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Kyle Drabek.  He would definitely be a pitcher that I’d target if I were the GM.  As a fan, the trade of Doug Drabek hurt at the time and it hurt even more when Drabek went on to achieve great success with the Pittsburgh Pirates.  While acquiring Kyle Drabek has nothing to do with his father as he has great potential on his own right, it would be nice to have the son of Doug Drabek in the organization.  Interestingly, the Yankees had obtained Doug Drabek in a trade with the Chicago White Sox for shortstop Roy Smalley.  If they had held onto him that trade would have been remembered as one of the Yankees better trades.  As it was, the Yankees traded him to the Pirates for Rick Rhoden, who was serviceable but not great.

Of the free agent pitchers, I am still most interested in Mark Buehrle.  I think he’d fit perfectly into the middle of the Yankees rotation.  I like C.J. Wilson but I can understand the team’s apprehension given the dollars that have been mentioned to sign him.  If Yu Darvish is posted later this off-season, I really would like to see the Yankees be aggressive in pursuing him.  I am convinced that he’ll have greater major league success than Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka.  The negative is obviously the cost of the posting fee that it will take to get the job done.  The Red Sox paid over $51 million for the rights to negotiate with Dice-K, and apparently, it will take a similar if not higher number to land Darvish.

If the Yankees were to include outfielder Nick Swisher in a trade for a starting pitcher, they’d need to find a replacement.  As a fan, I am always on the lookout for the next Paul O’Neill type of trade to fill the void…acquiring a talented young outfielder with much promise who has yet fulfilled those expectations.  It’s a high risk move, but as in the case of O’Neill, high reward.  Curtis Granderson has thrived in a Yankees uniform despite the sluggish start, and it’s better to catch a player before he hits the upward arc of his career in terms of cost.  If the Yankees tried to acquire Granderson from the Tigers today, there’s no way that they could get it done with Ian Kennedy, Austin Jackson and Phil Coke (and that’s with Kennedy being mentioned in the NL Cy Young race this year).

Brace yourself, here comes Roller-Coaster Week!…

The upcoming week is always my favorite week of the off-season.  The Hot Stove League is at its pinnacle.  Even if the Yankees do not do anything, it is still a thrilling ride.  It’s fun to talk and think about all the potential possibilities, even as far-reaching as some may sound.  My primary wish is for the Cardinals to get their long-anticipated deal with Albert Pujols done so that we can move on to other storylines.  There’s no way that he is going to Chicago or Miami, and at the end of the day, he is and always will be a Cardinal.

My preferred landing spot for Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, if he decides to continue playing, is the Miami Marlins.  I do not want to see him go to the Mets, Red Sox, or any other AL East rival including the Tampa Bay Rays.

Good move, Bad move…

The Los Angeles Dodgers are my favorite National League team, although I do not have the passion for the team or the sense of loyalty that I hold for the Yankees.  My affection for them began when Joe Torre was named manager (previously I had considered the San Francisco Giants as my NL team) and it has continued with one of my all-time favorite players as the current Dodgers manager, Don Mattingly.  I am dismayed with the ownership situation and do not have any respect for Frank McCourt, but I am optimistic that the sale of the team will restore the luster of the storied franchise.

While it was good for the Dodgers to lock up outfielder Matt Kemp long-term, I do question the move to sign free agent pitcher Chris Capuano.  The cost was too great ($10 million for two years) for a journeyman pitcher who is average to average-minus with no upside.  If this move prevents free agent pitcher Hiroki Kuroda from returning, then it’s an even greater mistake.  I don’t know how much it will cost to sign Kuroda and I realize that he is 37, but he’s still a better pitcher than Capuano.

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out…

I was not excited when the Minnesota Vikings trade a 6th round draft pick to the Washington Redskins for QB Donovan McNabb before the season started, but I did realize the team needed a veteran presence.  McNabb was a failure for the Vikings, and I was glad to see the team finally cut bait with his release this past week.  I am not convinced he can thrive in any environment, contrary to what head coach Leslie Frazier may say.  I think the Vikings simply found out what the Philadelphia Eagles knew and what the Redskins found out last season.  He’s done.  I was pleasantly surprised to see QB Sage Rosenfels return as the third string QB after his release from the Miami Dolphins.  It’s not that I expect Rosenfels to take any regular season snaps this time around, but he’s a good insurance policy and allows the Vikings to continue to use second string QB Joe Webb in a variety of roles.

It’s tough when your favorite football team is playing so bad that you actually hope for losses to ensure a high draft pick.  The Vikings are only two games behind the Indianapolis Colts in the sweepstakes for Stanford QB Andrew Luck.  I am a fan of Vikings QB Christian Ponder, but even I would gladly take Luck over Ponder.  So, with the Denver Broncos playing the Vikings today, all I can say is ‘Go Tim Tebow!’ as a way to bring good “Luck”!…

–Scott

Nova builds upon great Spring…


It was a nice win by the “kid”
of the pitching staff.  With 24-year-old
Ivan Nova on the mound, the Yankees bolted to a 4-0 lead behind Alex Rodriguez
and Jorge Posada and then held off the Minnesota Twins for the 4-3
victory. 


Ivan Nova surrenders three runs in six innings Monday night and gets the win after the bullpen preserves a 4-3 lead built on two-run homers hit by Jorge Posada and A-Rod (below).

Antonelli/NY Daily News


I’ll admit that I had the
fears from last year when Nova had men on first and third and Jim Thome at the
plate after recording two outs with the bases empty.  Thome sliced a double to score two runs, and
I was worried the floodgates were about to open.  Fortunately, he escaped the inning without
further damage.  Despite giving up a run
the next inning, Nova went six innings before turning the game over to the
bullpen combo of Chamberlain-Soriano-Rivera. 

Nova is definitely the wild
card of the pitching staff.  Stuff-wise,
I am not really expecting much from him. 
It’s not like he has the talent of a David Price or a Jeremy Hellickson,
but he does have a chance of being a solid contributor on an outstanding club.

Okay, I know that I am a
die-hard Yankees fan, but I have to admit that I was a bit embarrassed listening
to MLB Radio this morning when a guy claiming to be a Yankees fan was gloating
about the Red Sox Opening Series loss.  3
games out of 162 mean nothing.  The Red
Sox are a sleeping Giant and when they wake up, they are going to be very
powerful.  I know when the Yankees travel
to Boston, records won’t mean anything. 
The series will be the first intense test of the season and I’m sure
that we’ll see the real Red Sox in prime form. 
I am not disappointed to see the Red Sox lose (naturally), but there’s
no way I’d gloat about the situation. 
The Yankees will have their own bumps in the road along the way…

Like everyone else, I am
concerned about the drop in Phil Hughes‘ velocity, but we need a greater body of
work before deciding if this is a trend. 
I think he’ll be okay after a few more starts. 

I keep reading about how
Jorge Posada needs to fill the time between his at-bats as he adjusts to the DH
role, but with 3 home runs, he must be doing something right. 

So Andruw Jones hasn’t
appeared in a single game yet?  Geesh, I’d
like to collect his salary for doing nothing! 
😉

 

–Scott

A Rotation Decided…


With the selections of Ivan
Nova
and Freddy Garcia as the #4 and #5 starters in the Yankees rotation, I
think that manager Joe Girardi made the right choices (even if those were
really the only viable options). 


0915nova.JPG

J. Meric/Getty Images


I agree with those who
speculate that Bartolo Colon is better suited to be the long man in the
pen.  Given his physical conditioning,
there are clearly concerns about his stamina. 
His arm may be alright but that wouldn’t get him through long
innings.  The trade of Sergio Mitre to
the Milwaukee Brewers opens the way for Colon to make the Yankees roster. 

I am not sure what I think
about the Yankees signing pitcher Kevin Millwood to a minor league deal.  I realize that he is strictly an insurance
policy, but I’d really like to see one of the younger guys, like Andrew
Brackman, Hector Noesi,
or Dellin Betances, get the opportunity should Nova or
Garcia falter.  Millwood is probably just
coverage for the next month, while the prospects will be options later in the
season. 

The Yankees gave Chris
Dickerson
, the outfielder they acquired in the Mitre trade, Darryl Strawberry‘s
old jersey number (39).  Those are big
shoes to fill.  I love great home run
swings and for as many sluggers that have come through the Bronx, few can
compare to the swing that Straw had. 
Dickerson is not a home run guy, so we won’t be seeing #39 swinging for
the fences.  But the number did bring
back some great memories of Strawberry at the plate.  Dickerson was the player the Reds sent to the
Brewers last summer in the deal that brought Jim Edmonds to Cincinnati.  He turns 29 on April 10th so he is
no longer really considered a prospect, but I’d like to see him carve out a
role on the team.  With Curtis Granderson
hurting, the Yankees will definitely need help in the outfield and Andruw Jones
can’t do it all by himself.

With all the talk about
catchers Francisco Cervelli, Jesus Montero, and Austin Romine, it’s strange
that Gustavo Molina has emerged as the frontrunner to capture the backup
catching position behind starter Russell Martin.  I suspect that Cervelli will take the
position once he is healthy but I am disappointed that neither Montero or
Romine could hit well enough to stay on the major league roster.  I know that it just means their arrivals are
simply delayed.  Hopefully, they can draw
positives from the heavy focus this spring and use it to power forward when
their next opportunity comes.

I was surprised that Baltimore
Orioles manager Buck Showalter took potshots at Derek Jeter and the Boston Red
Sox.  I would have expected better from
Showalter, but I can honestly say that I have never missed him from the day he
left the Yankees. 

It’s hard to believe that
Opening Day is next week!  I am so glad
that the season is finally upon us.  Win
or lose, it should be a great year!

 

–Scott

Welcome 2011 New York Yankees!…

It’s been a combination of both a long and a short winter and now “spring” is officially upon us as Yankees pitchers and catchers report to Tampa on Monday…

George M. Steinbrenner Field
There are many questions to be answered in training camp, and it remains to be seen who will fill the last two spots in the starting rotation.  The bench will look different with Andruw Jones in for Marcus Thames who signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and a potential role for former Oakland A’s great Eric Chavez.  
With Jorge Posada now the full-time DH, the catching position be headed up by Russell Martin but it’s anybody’s guess who will back him up (Francisco Cervelli, Jesus Montero, or Austin Romine?).  I do think now is the time for Montero but if the Yankees decide to break camp with him on the major league roster, what does that mean for Cervelli?
I am intrigued by the Yankees potential interest in pitcher Kevin Millwood.  I keep hearing stories that he’s about ready to sign with the Cleveland Indians, then stories surface about the Yankees interest.  As a player in the latter stages of his career, I’d think that winning starts to become an overwhelming factor so I’d have to believe that if all things are equal, the Yankees would be more attractive to Millwood than the Indians.  Nothing against the Indians, but I do not see them contending for the World Series this year.  
The Boston Red Sox still have the best team on paper and a signing of someone like Millwood is not going to change that fact.  But I am still not going to concede the AL East or the World Series to the Red Sox just yet.  I want to see what the Yankees roster looks like on July 31, 2011, and where they are in the AL East standings.  This season is going to be a battle, but I wouldn’t want it any other way…
–Scott

Adding more fodder to the fire…

The crowd begins to gather…

Of course, the crowd is the wrong-side of 30 pitching club led by Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia.  I had been hoping for a younger pitcher with the potential for a breakout but rather we’ll see pitchers who were great…5-10 years ago.  Of the two, I liked Garcia better than Colon.  He won 12 games last year after a few unproductive years due to injury.  I am not convinced that Colon has anything left.  Fortunately, both contracts are minor league deals so there wasn’t a substantial commitment by the Yankees.  If it works, wonderful.  If it doesn’t, time to look for the next option.
I’d still like to see the Yankees pursue another starting pitcher with “promise”.  I recognize that they cannot acquire a frontline starter or a high end youthful starter at this point in the season but they should be able to uncover a diamond in the rough.  I wish that Dellin Betances or Manny Banuelos were closer to the majors, but I still think the Yankees could find a guy with the potential to make a difference.  
I wonder what’s taking the Yankees so long to announce the signing of outfielder Andruw Jones?  Word had leaked that the Yankees had signed Jones before the surprise announcement came out that the Tampa Bay Rays had signed the duo of Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez.  Both were introduced in Tampa today as the newest Rays but there has been nothing about Jones.  I know that one problem is the full 40 man roster and Jones addition means that someone has to be removed.  That move might be the reason for the delay, but it would be nice to put this one to bed.  I’d hate to see the Jones signing fall apart at this late hour when other prior options like Damon are off the board.
I’ve said it before but I really wish the St. Louis Cardinals would sign Albert Pujols…
But probably a greater concern, I wish Andy Pettitte would hurry up and make those flight reservations for Tampa…
–Scott

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!…


Understandably, the signing was met with mixed reaction by Yankees fans, but personally, I liked the move to sign Andruw Jones as the team’s fourth outfielder.



98486113, Sports Illustrated/Getty Images /Sports Illustrated
Brad Mangin/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

Marcus Thames came up with a few clutch hits last season but it was fearful to watch him play the outfield.  With Jones, the Yankees have someone that can spell all three outfield positions and can be counted on to provide adequate defense.  With the bat, when hitting in his spots, he can still perform as evidenced by his 19 home runs with the Chicago White Sox last season.  

I realize that Andruw is a shell of the superstar that he used to be despite being only 33, however, he is still young enough to turn it around for a few seasons if he can make a commitment to conditioning and the other factors that make older players like Alex Rodriguez or Derek Jeter successful.  I know, he’ll never hit 51 home runs again or even 30 or 40, but so long as he can hit a few clutch shots, I’ll be satisfied.  The Yankees are only paying him $2 million for one year…a far cry from the $18 million per season the Los Angeles Dodgers were paying him only a couple of seasons ago.  

The sad part of the season is that it meant the Yankees would not be pursuing Johnny Damon.  Jones had the advantage of being the better defensive player (at this stage of their respective careers) and that ensured him of the Yankees primary focus.  Damon, meanwhile, has signed with the Tampa Bay Rays where he’ll see greater playing time than he would have with the Yankees.  Aside from all the love and positive statements that Johnny will be professing about Tampa and the Rays, I wish him all the best.  


Johnny Damon Tigers Alex Rodriguez Derek Jeter Yankees
John Dunn/Newsday/MCT

Speaking of the Rays, they also signed Manny Ramirez as their DH.  I was a bit surprised by that move considering that the Rays have been so selective about bringing on quality, team-first guys.  Perhaps they feel that Damon will be able to keep Manny in check.  Or perhaps it really was just a move to help drive up attendance.  Either way, it is going to be hard to take the Rays as seriously as I have in the past.  It could be a long season in Florida or maybe the joke’s on us.  Time will tell…

Chicago White Sox DH Manny Ramirez talks with former Boston Red Sox teammate David Ortiz Saturday at Fenway Park.
Townson/AP

Back to the Yankees, they’ve made all the necessary moves…except the final one or two pieces…namely the #4 and #5 spots in the starting rotation.  When I heard that the Detroit Tigers had designated pitcher Armando Galarraga for assignment after signing free agent pitcher Brad Penny, I was a bit skeptical and leery of Armando.  However, after additional thought, he might be someone the Yankees should pursue.  So long as they don’t have to relinquish any top shelf talent, the gamble would be worth the risk.  He might blossom under the tutelage of pitching coach Larry Rothschild.  He is the type of pitcher that I’ve wanted the Yankees to acquire.  Someone who hasn’t quite fulfilled his promise or potential but who is still young enough to have that breakout season.  Maybe Armando is that guy…


Umpire Jim Joyce, pitcher Armando Galarraga, wire
Kirthmon F. Dozier/Detroit Free Press/MCT

If the Rafael Soriano signing was Hal Steinbrenner’s idea, hats off to him.  It was a bold move and I have been concerned that Hal, as an educated bean counter, would not make those seemingly crazy moves to improve the team.  I should qualify that by saying that I do not want to see another Ed Whitson or Steve Kemp signing, but you want an owner who sometimes sets aside rationale and conservative thought to go with a gut instinct.  When I first heard that the Yankees had signed Soriano, my immediate thought was that Hank Steinbrenner was behind the move.  Perhaps it was and he sold his brother on the idea, but if it was Hal’s idea, that’s even better.  As a fan, I do not view GM Brian Cashman any less than I did before.  Ownership always has the right to have the final say and of course it’s their money.  Brian does what is right for the organization.  The Steinbrenner family is responsible for ensuring a marketable and performing asset for the YES Network and their Yankee Stadium season ticket holders.  




–Scott