Tagged: Andy Pettitte

CC and the Backdoor Slider…

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

Yankees 8, Red Sox 0…

Much better!


When CC Sabathia was named the #2 starter at the beginning of the year, I thought it was comical.  Now, he’s probably the ace.  This vintage run of excellent starts by Sabathia has been tremendous and much needed.  I know that he has benefited from his talks with Andy Pettitte about transitioning to an older pitcher but after a few starts to forget earlier this year, I had given him up for dead.  Then, suddenly he has re-emerged as a dominant pitcher.  I am not sure how long this will last, but I’m lovin’ the ride.

Credit:  Randy Miller-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

A night after a disappointing loss, Sabathia (7-2) shut the Red Sox down with eight solid innings.  He held the Sox to 5 hits and struck out 5 in the shutout.  He did not walk anyone.  When he wasn’t pitching great, he was making excellent bare-handed defensive plays, like stopping the Jackie Bradley, Jr chopper in the fifth and throwing the runner out at first with a runner at third.  It was a critical play as Josh Rutledge had opened the inning with a triple.  The runner was eventually left stranded, thanks in very large part to CC’s great play on JBJ.


All of CC’s pitches were working, but it was the deadly slider that left the Sox batters shaking their heads.  It’s an interesting stat that it was the first time CC has shutout an opponent with at least eight innings pitched since September 2012.  


I expected Sabathia to tire in the later innings but he was still cruising in the eighth (retiring the final 12 batters he faced).  Manager Joe Girardi made the right decision to pull CC after eight innings and 95 pitches.  Jonathan Holder finished up in relief.  


I wonder if we can get Pettitte to come to New York to talk to Masahiro Tanaka.  I don’t know but it’s cool to write Pettitte’s name in a blog post again.  He would make a good replacement for pitching coach Larry Rothschild one day.  


As for the offense, it came from a very unlikely source.  The forgotten man and the guy on almost everybody’s list for roster reduction when Greg Bird returns delivered in a big way.  Chris Carter, who entered the game with a .183 batting average, blasted a three-run homer to left-center in the Yankees’ four-run fourth inning that gave the Yankees some breathing room in a game, which up to that point, had been a pitcher’s duel.  The Yankees tacked on three more runs late, including a RBI single from Carter in the eighth.  Carter was 3-for-4 on the night, with 4 RBI’s.  He raised his batting average by 19 points to .202.  

Credit:  Randy Miller-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Carter should have had two home runs, but Mookie Betts was aided by a Yankees fan to make a leaping catch to rob Carter in the sixth.  The ball seemingly was over the wall but landed in the fan’s hands and rolled back into Betts’ glove.  Girardi tried to challenge but the umps ruled that he was outside of the 30-second window to appeal.  I’m glad that play didn’t factor into the outcome of the game.


Didi Gregorius got the scoring started in the third with a solo shot off Red Sox starter and AL Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello.  Porcello has not been the same pitcher he was last year (he is now 3-8) but when he started the game strong, I had been concerned that he was finding the success he had enjoyed last year.  Thankfully, it was not meant to be as Carter and Company gave CC an abundance of runs, one night after they fell one short.


With the win, the Yankees (33-23) moved back up to two games ahead of the Red Sox.  The Baltimore Orioles came up with another extra inning win over the Pittsburgh Pirates to remain 2 1/2 games back.

Odds & Ends…

It is being reported that Masahiro Tanaka will make his next start as scheduled.  I think this is a mistake.  Something is clearly wrong and to allow the pitcher to work out his issues in-game is not a smart move in my opinion.  This seems to be psychological as best I can tell.  I think Tanaka needs to get his head straight first, then work on the pitches.  That’s why I would give him time away from the rotation.  If I owned the Yankees, I’d send Tanaka back home to Japan for a week or two.  Let him regroup, and then have him try to find what he had during spring training.  Chad Green is capable of a spot start or even Adam Warren.  Luis Cessa and Bryan Mitchell are also available for call-up.  Any of the four are capable of doing better than the recent Tanaka performances.  I’d love a spot start by Chance Adams but I agree that he’s not ready and then there’s the small issue of finding room on the 40-man roster.  

I was going to rip NESN’s Jerry Remy for his comments that Tanaka should not be allowed to have a translator during mound visits, but then he owned up to his mistake and apologized.  

Joe Giglio of NJ Advance Media for NJ.com reported yesterday that an anonymous GM has indicated he would give 2018 free agent-to-be Bryce Harper a 15-year deal for $600 million. If that’s the price tag, I have no problem with an outfield of Aaron Judge, Dustin Fowler, Clint Frazier and Aaron Hicks.  

Oddly, the Yankees and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders have identical win-loss records at 33-23.  The RailRiders won their 33rd game with a 5-1 win over the Rochester Red Wings.  Gleyber Torres had the go-ahead two-run double in the 7th inning and scored on a wild pitch in the 9th.  Torres was 2-for-4.  Tyler Austin also had a run-scoring double in the 9th.  

Credit:  MiLB.com

I love Yankees prospects but I saw that the St Louis Cardinals have assigned a young outfielder by the name of Matt Fiedler to the State College Spikes (High A).  A 9th round pick in the 2016 Draft, the 22 year old right-handed leftfielder hit .325 with 4 homers and 31 RBI’s last year for Johnson City Cardinals (the 2016 Appalachian League Champions).  I hope the Eagan, MN native continues his upward climb in the Cardinals organization.  I’d buy his jersey if he makes it to the Show.  I haven’t been this excited since, well, Jay Fiedler was a Miami Dolphin although Vernon Fiddler in the Stanley Cup Finals for the Nashville Predators is kinda neat…

Credit:  University of Minnesota

Have a great Thursday!  I don’t want much today…just a Yankees win!

Past Performance Does Not Equal Future Results…

Credit:  Associated Press

CC Sabathia.  What to do…

There’s no doubt we would not have celebrated a World Series championship in 2009 if not for the efforts of one Carsten Charles Sabathia, Jr.  For the first three years of his contract with the Yankees, he was the epitome of an Ace.  I would never want to dismiss the contributions he has made to the Yankees organization or the value he has held as a leading voice in the clubhouse.

The times they are a-changin (with a hat tip to Bob Dylan).  Sabathia is now 36 and is clearly no longer the pitcher he once was.  He’ll be 37 in a couple of months, and despite his long talks with Andy Pettitte, he has not successfully made the transition to an older pitcher.  I was fooled for the first couple of starts this year, but we’ve seen the real Sabathia over the last few starts…and it hasn’t been pretty.  

At age 32 and before, CC could be counted on for double-digit wins every year.  From age 33 forward, last year’s 9 wins has been the season high.  Betting whether or not Sabathia passes last season’s win total is not a bet I would make even if I was using your money.  Pro Sports can be illogical at times when certain players start because of high contracts or past performance even though there are younger, more talented players waiting in the wings.  Years ago, a friend told me that baseball players should be paid a flat base salary and then commissions for production.  Applying that to different positions and players is much easier said than done, but the core logic that players should be paid for today’s production (not yesterday) makes so much sense to me.  We’re in the final year of Sabathia’s contract with $25 million remaining.  Does Sabathia deserve a spot in the rotation simply because he is the team’s highest paid player?  If he is not producing, then no.  Why pay money to lose when you can win?

In looking at the Yankees rotation, if they made a trade for a frontline starting pitcher, who do you pull?  At this point, Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, and Luis Severino are locked in.  The latter two have shown signs of being a part of the next championship run.  Jordan Montgomery has been a very pleasant surprise who will continue to get better.  So, realistically, the loser would have to be Sabathia.  I don’t know that I’d pull Sabathia for Chad Green or Luis Cessa, but Chance Adams is charging fast for the Major Leagues.  He may not be ready now, but his time is rapidly approaching.  If the Yankees go out and trade for someone like Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole, I’d gladly part with Clint Frazier, Justus Sheffield and others to bring the talented young pitcher to the Bronx.  For Sabathia, I’d pull out a Michael Kay line, “See ya!”.  

There’s no way that Sabathia is pulling on the pinstripes in 2018.  We are approaching the point where every start could be his last in the Bronx.  If he continues to thwart winning streaks, then it is time to cut our losses.  Swallow the remainder of the $25 mil and move on.  

Thanks for the memories, CC.  We’ll save you a place for Old Timer’s Day…

Credit:  Andrew Theodorakis/New York Daily News

I have mixed feelings about Aaron Judge’s appearance on the May 15th cover of Sports Illustrated.  I grew up at a time where it was a curse to appear on the cover.  So, I still have those thoughts in the back of my head even if bad things never happen.  I have been quite pleased with Judge’s season so far and he gives New York a potential superstar.  But admittedly, I liked it better when Judge was able to out-produce expectations.  With heightened expectations, can he sustain the production?  That will be one of the keys for the rest of the season.  We’ll inevitably hit a stretch where he can’t (hit).  The ebbs and flows of Baseball ensures that everyone stays humble.  So, for now, congrats Aaron, but please hit a  homer on May 16th (Yankees are off on the 15th) so that I know the SI Cover is not a jinx.

I’d like to send out thoughts and prayers to Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Jameson Taillon, whom the Yankees faced on April 22nd in an 11-5 victory over the Pirates.  He underwent surgery for suspected testicular cancer earlier this week.  Hopefully it was caught early and he’ll make a full and complete recovery.  Taillon is one of the game’s promising young talents and I look for many future years of his participation.  All the best to Jameson on his road to a winning recovery.  Here is a tweet that he sent out after the surgery:

I think all Baseball fans support Taillon.  Well written words by the tall young right-hander.  Here’s looking forward to the day that he is able to take the mound at PNC Park again.

Have a great Thursday!  Let’s hose the ‘Stros!  

O Say Can You CC…

I have to admit that I wasn’t a believer.  I did not think that CC Sabathia could make the transformation from a young dominant power pitcher to a crafty veteran at the top end of a starting rotation.  Weight issues, age, injuries, alcoholism…whatever the cause…I didn’t think he could do it.  He has proved me wrong.  

After Saturday’s 3-2 win over the St Louis Cardinals, Sabathia leads the team with a 2-0 mark, compiling a 1.47 ERA in 18 1/3 innings with 11 strikeouts.  While the most dominant single game belongs to Michael Pineda, Sabathia has been the most dominant overall.  

I had gotten to the point where I thought of Sabathia as a five inning starter.  Yet, here he was on the mound on April 15, 2017 at 36 years of age, throwing 7 1/3 innings, allowing only three hits and one run with just one walk.  He punched out six.  THAT was not the Sabathia that we had come to expect in recent years.  

I am so glad that he has been able to make the transformation.  I don’t know if it is the time he has spent with Yankees legend Andy Pettitte but we tend to hear Pettitte’s name come up a lot in interviews with not only Sabathia but other pitchers when they talk about success.  Pettitte’s annual visits to training camp for a few days always seem to have such a tremendous impact.  I think Pettitte is an assistant on a high school coaching staff these days, but I would love for his return to New York as an eventual successor to Larry Rothschild.  

At the beginning of the year, I felt it was obvious this would be Sabathia’s final year in Pinstripes.  With the youth movement in full bloom, I didn’t see a future for Sabathia or a veteran’s salary in Team Hal’s budget for 2018.  If Sabathia expects to make his 2017 salary ($25 million) next year, I still think it’s unlikely he returns.  He’ll have to take a pay cut to stay and perhaps he will.  But for now, I am just enjoying the ride.  I love watching Sabathia’s accomplishments this year, and I know that he is a huge influence on the younger pitchers.  If Sabathia, Pineda and Severino can continue pitching like their most recent starts, this is definitely a team that can outperform expectations in 2017.  Of course, Greg Bird does need to start mixing in a hit or two.

I was reading an interview with Jordan Montgomery this morning.  Or should I call him “Gumby”?  I had to laugh when I saw him refer to the famous Serendipity 3 on 60th Street as “some dessert place”.  Give him time.  He’ll figure the City out.   If he keeps pitching like we know he can, he’ll be here for a very long time.  

With the inability of Matt Holliday to play on Saturday due to lower back stiffness, I hope this is not a sign of things to come.  His final years with the Cardinals, while he was still playing in the field, came with significant DL stints. I had hoped the ‘DH-only’ role would help preserve his health.  Hopefully, this is just an aberration and he’ll back with bat in hand shortly.  The loss of Holliday did show the significance of having Chris Carter on the roster as Carter provided what proved to be the winning run in Saturday’s game with a run-scoring single in the sixth inning.  

As for Greg Bird, he needs to figure this out soon.  His 1-for-26 start is dreadful.  I remain hopeful that he’ll work through the challenge and will start to hit like he did in Spring Training.  He is too much of a professional hitter for the current sample to be representative of his ability going forward. No offense to Chris Carter, but I strongly prefer Bird at first in any scenario.  I wish that Tyler Austin was closer to returning but he’s not an option for now and there’s no one else in the organization that would be superior to the current duo of Bird and Carter.  Rob Refsnyder is only hitting .192 in AAA and Ji-Man Choi is not on the 40-man roster.  Choi is batting .280 but he has only 2 RBI’s and no home runs.  

I hate to be politically-incorrect, but the words of former Arizona Diamondback Mark Grace resonate in my ears when I think of Bird’s slump.  “A slumpbuster is if a team’s in a slump, or if you personally are in a slump, you gotta find the fatest, gnarliest, grossest chick and you just gotta lay the wood to her. And when you do that, you’re just gonna have instant success. And it could also be called jumping on a grenade for the team.”  Bird, just do it…take one for the team.

Have a great Sunday!  Hopefully, it will be a sweeping success for the Yankees!

So Much For Your Promises…

As Jordan Blackmon Montgomery prepares for his first Major League start later today, the Shattered Dreams Award must reside with reliever Tyler Webb.  Webb had been selected in the Rule 5 Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates last December.  As a lefty, he stood a decent chance of making the Pirates roster.   His Spring numbers for the Pirates were legit.  In 13 innings pitched over the course of 8 games, he did allow 13 hits and 4 runs (2.77 ERA), but he walked only one and struck out 11.  However, he lost the roster battle to former Yankee (and fellow left-hander) Wade LeBlanc and was returned to the Yankees organization. 

Back with the Yankees and not on the 40-man roster, Webb was assigned to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

On Sunday, in the second game of a double header with the Buffalo Bisons, Webb replaced starter Joe Mantiply for the RailRiders with two outs and two on in the bottom of third inning.  He struck out Rowdy Tellez to end the threat.  So far, so good.  The next inning started nicely, with the RailRiders nursing a 3-0 lead, as Webb struck out the first batter.  Then, unfortunately, the wheels came off.  When Webb was pulled from the game after two outs in the bottom of the fourth, he had allowed six singles and a double.  The Rail Riders had scored 6 runs to take the lead.  Webb did strike out the last batter he faced (Rudy Tellez for a second time).  So, for one inning of work, recording all outs by strikeout, the 6 runs left Webb with an ERA of 54.00.  Oddly enough, he wasn’t the loser as the RailRiders tied the game in the top of the fifth.  His replacement, Tyler Jones, took the loss by allowing three Bison runs over the next couple of innings.  It must be a horrible feeling to stand on the cusp of making a Major League roster, only to see your dream die and then you subsequently get shellacked in the minor leagues. At 26 going on 27, Webb is not going to get too many more opportunities.  Performances like Sunday will not exactly open any doors, except for the one leading out of baseball.  Hopefully, he’ll be more effective next time around and will be ready the next time he gets the call to The Show.  Otherwise, it’s nothing but shattered dreams, shattered dreams…

Credit:  Pete G. Wilcox, Times Leader

So far, the only quality starts thrown by Yankees pitchers are pitchers who stand tall on the mound (6’6” or greater).  We’re on a roll with two consecutive quality  “tall” starts.  Sunday belonged to CC Sabathia (6’6”) with 6 innings of work and two earned runs (three total) even if he didn’t get the decision, and Monday featured the near perfect game by Michael Pineda (6’7”).  He went 7 2/3 innings, allowing only one run.  Jordan Montgomery (6’6”) looks to continue the “basketball pitcher” streak today.  If Montgomery struggles, perhaps Dellin Betances (6’8”) steps in to assist.  I have to admit that I kinda feel like Ronald Torreyes trying to high five Aaron Judge with this pitching staff.  When Aroldis Chapman is brought in behind these guys, it must seem like Tyrion Lannister following Jamie Lannister.  Or me chasing after Aroldis.

I am all for whatever edge the “downward angle” brings for Montgomery.  This is an exciting start and it is one that I am hopeful is very successful.  I don’t think I’ve been this excited about a Yankee-born pitcher since Andy Pettitte. 

According to Forbes Magazine, the New York Yankees are the most valuable MLB franchise, worth an estimated $3.7 billion.  The Los Angeles Dodgers are second, trailing the Yankees by nearly a billion dollars ($2.75 billion).  The others in the “billion dollars behind” category are the Boston Red Sox ($2.7 billion), Chicago Cubs ($2.675 billion), and the San Francisco Giants ($2.65 billion).  I have no problem thinking of a billion reasons why the Yankees are better than the rest of Baseball.  Now the proof is in the pudding.  But as much as I love the Yankees, I would seriously have to consider selling the team if my name was Steinbrenner.  

Happy Retirement to former Yankees outfielder Brennan Boesch.  Boesch was a decent platoon outfielder for a few seasons with the Detroit Tigers at the start of his career.  He played in 23 games with the Yankees during the 2013 season until his release in July of that year.  During his brief Yankees career, he batted .275 (14-for-51) with 3 HR’s and 8 RBI’s.  After his release by the Yankees, he subsequently played for the Los Angeles Angels and Cincinnati Reds.  Last year, he was in the Boston Red Sox organization at the AAA Level, but missed the majority of the season with a broken wrist.  He was unable to get a spring invite from a Major League team this year.  Boesch is a player I liked and hoped would succeed but it wasn’t meant to be.  I wish him the very best in his post-playing career.  

Credit:  David Richard, USA TODAY Sports

Happy Wednesday!  Let’s get a win today!

The Man said he was sorry…

You had me at…, um, no, you didn’t…

We are supposed to simply accept a handwritten apology?  Right.  Sorry, I don’t buy it and I don’t think it would matter if A-Rod spoke before a packed house at Yankee Stadium.  Alex Rodriguez is sorry for only one thing.  He got caught.  He could care less about you or me.  Honestly, at this point, the only thing that I’d accept out of A-Rod’s words would be a retirement announcement.

I saw a few New York sportswriters commenting that home runs will bring the fans back.  Are we so shallow that we could forgive Alex for his behavior by simply forgetting all with the first ball that clears the fence?  I know that I will not be a fan of Alex Rodriguez today nor would I be one if by September he has hit 40 home runs.  My days cheering him are over.   I am still a Yankees fan, and of course, I want the team to win.  I would not wish for A-Rod to do anything detrimental to the team (well beyond the damage that he’s already done) but I will only accept his contributions as team contributions, not individual accomplishments.

I admit that I hope Alex plays so poorly in the spring, the Yankees bite the $60 million bullet and release him.  But that’s too far fetched to be possible.  He won’t need to do much to hold his own on the roster.  Rob Refsnyder could play twice as well in spring training and end up in Scranton/Wilkes Barre while A-Rod is the team’s full time DH.  But still, the thought of an outright release would be the best possible outcome in my mind.

As good as the Boston Red Sox’ front office has become, it’s too bad they weren’t better back in 2003 when they failed to acquire A-Rod from the Texas Rangers.  How differently things might have been had A-Rod gone to Beantown.

Ifs and buts, I know…

It’s a numbers game…

There was a time when it seemed odd that Phil Hughes wore #65 or that Joba Chamberlain wore #62.  Now, with the announcement plans to retire numbers 20, 46 and 51, the lower numbers are slowly going away.  Of course #2 will soon be retired for Derek Jeter and I’ve always wondered if some day #21 will be taken down for Paul O’Neill.  Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and Bernie Williams were all great Yankees and they deserve becoming legends of Monument Park.  It was also very classy of the Yankees to announce plans for a plaque for former second baseman Willie Randolph.

It thought it was cool when Manny Ramirez wore #99 for the Los Angeles Dodgers a few years ago.  Now, we’re probably just a few seasons away from someone donning the same number with the Yankees.  Hopefully, I won’t live to see the days when players are wearing triple digits.

Make or break a farm system…

Based on all reports, I would love nothing more than to see the Yankees sign Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada.  However, based on what I’ve read, I do expect the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the bidding.  I hope the Yankees emerge victorious.  Given they’ll be limited in the international market for the next few years, Moncada would be icing on the cake for the fantastic international draft they had this year.  I know that there are no certainties but Moncada does sound like the real deal.  I guess if the Dodgers win the bidding, I shouldn’t fret too much since I live just a few miles away from Dodger Stadium.  But after an off-season of largely inactivity, signing Moncada would make this winter well worth the wait.  I guess we’ll find out in the next couple of weeks.

NESN.com

Open the door…

Count me among those who hope that new MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred re-opens the Pete Rose case.  It’s time to let Pete the Ballplayer take his rightful place in Baseball’s Hall of Fame.  I will never defend Pete the Man, but I saw the ballplayer play, and he remains one of the greatest that I’ve ever seen.  He has served his sentence and deserves to stand among the game’s greats.

*      *     *

It’s hard to believe that it is time for pitchers and catchers to report.  With this off-season’s inactivity and losses, it is hard to envision October baseball in the Bronx.  Yeah, yeah, if all things go right and everyone stays healthy, I know they have a chance.  But realistically, this is a third place team at best with the potential for the cellar if things go horribly wrong.  As always, I will throw in the caveat that I hope I am wrong.  But if anything, I do think the Yankees are laying the groundwork for future success.

Let’s play ball…

–Scott

We asked and he delivered…

Budget, Smudget…

What more could we have asked of the Steinbrenner family?  Seriously, the Steinbrenners opened their purse strings this off-season even if the infield is in a state of flux.  Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Kelly Johnson, Brian Roberts, Matt Thornton, Andrew Bailey, and last but not least Masahiro Tanaka.  For a team that stood pat the previous off-season, the Yankees over-compensated this year.

It would have been nice to Robinson Cano’s bat mixed in with the new offense, but if he had stayed, it’s likely that Tanaka would be in Chicago or Los Angeles, and Beltran would be with the Red Sox or another team that expressed interest.  Time will tell if it was the right move, but I think the Yanks were wise not to throw a quarter of a billion dollars at Cano.

When Brett Gardner re-signed with the Yankees this week, he mentioned that it didn’t matter if he got what he did or twice as much, it wasn’t going to change his lifestyle and he wanted to be a Yankee.  It’s the last part of the previous sentence that Cano didn’t feel.  That only reinforces the Yankees decision to move on.  I do not realistically expect Brian Roberts to recapture his glory days.  I would have preferred Kelly Johnson at second with the Yankees bringing in another third base solution, but when you spend as much as the Yankees did in the last few months, something has to give.  With the Yankees, you know that a spring trade or a July deadline deal is not out of the question.

Sure, the team is banking on another stellar managerial performance by Joe Girardi, but I feel much better going into this season than I did last year.  Last year, it literally felt like a team that wouldn’t make it the distance.  This year, I feel the team has a legitimate shot.  A few guys need to step it up a level but that’s within the realm of possibility.  It’s not exactly like we are asking Brendan Ryan to be the second coming of Derek Jeter.

The wild card is obviously Michael Pineda.  If he continues to pitch like he is capable of, he will bring so much to the end of the rotation.  A healthy and productive Pineda is far superior to the inconsistency that Phil Hughes provided.  With Jesus Montero 40 lbs overweight in Seattle, this could be the year that Pineda makes “the trade” pro-New York.

Masahiro Tanaka may be billed as Andy Pettitte’s replacement but next year, he’ll most likely be current teammate Hiroki Kuroda’s replacement.  But for now, I am very glad that Kuroda is there to serve as mentor for his countryman.  I’ve wondered if Kuroda’s presence, along with the Yankees money, brought Tanaka to New York.  If I was coming to a foreign country, the idea of another American would be very appealing to me.

With the Yankees extending Brett Gardner, and the Cincinnati Reds doing the same with Homer Bailey, there should be no more Gardner for Bailey rumors.  As a hopeful optimist for Michael Pineda and his spot in the rotation, this is a best case scenario.  I am a bit concerned with two speed-first guys in the outfield (why do I keep thinking about Dave Collins?) but Alfonso Soriano brings the bat along with Carlos Beltran.  I am anxious to see how Jacoby Ellsbury’s bat plays in Yankee Stadium for 81 games rather than just the usual 9 or 10.

Andrew Bailey.  I am not quite sure why the Yankees signed Bailey but he’s a hedge against a David Robertson meltdown.  Of course, Bailey won’t be available until late season so if Robertson fails miserably, they’ll need another solution.  While Robertson has proven to be a great set up guy, the 9th inning is a different story.  He failed in his brief audition before getting hurt the year Mariano Rivera was lost for the season with the knee injury suffered in Kansas City.  Rafael Soriano stepped in and provided super relief following Robertson’s unsuccessful stint.  With Soriano now entrenched as the closer for the Washington Nationals, there’s no safety net.  Bailey offers the only proven closing experience yet he’s not going to be an option until July or later.  My hope is that Robertson seizes the role.  I was skeptical when Mariano Rivera replaced John Wetteland and that one turned out okay.  Alright, a little better than okay…

Sorry that my posts have been infrequent but I’ve been in the midst of a move from the West to East Coast.  I am not in a major league city but I can get to New York for a weekend so that’s all that matters.  This should be a good year for making home games at Yankee Stadium after a few years of only away games while living in the Golden State.

I am so ready for the regular season to begin and yet the spring games are still a day or two away.  Oh well, that’s more time for the Yankees to strengthen the infield…

–Scott

To the Victor goes the spoils…

 

Congratulations to the Boston Red Sox…

I know, I never expected to see the words appear on my blog.  But you have to give credit where credit is due and the 2013 Boston Red Sox proved that they were the best team in baseball.  This is a team that hit the bottom with the 2011 collapse in September that cost beloved manager Terry Francona his job, followed up by a year of Bobby Valentine that ranks as one of the worst teams in recent memory.

Proving that he is nobody’s fool, GM Ben Cherington deserves much of the credit.  I am not sure how much the decisions can be attributed to Cherington or to Larry Lucchino, but the deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers last year to unload salary-draining dead wood was genius.  The malcontents were shipped to the West Coast, while the recaptured dollars were re-invested to good clubhouse types like Mike Napoli, Jonny Gomes, Shane Victorino and Koji Uehara among others.  The pieces made for good chemistry and the team, beards and all, became a very cohesive unit.  

This may have been the first time that I ever pulled for the Red Sox in the post-season but they gained my respect and I thought they were the team to beat. 

Naturally, I hope this is the end of the Sox championship run that started in 2004, but for this off-season, they are the champions of Baseball.  Again, congratulations to the Red Sox, the city of Boston, and the Red Sox Nation.

Turns up like a bad penny…

I am so tired of Alex Rodriguez and anything A-Rod.  His battle against the MLB is extending the inevitable suspension and is likely throwing a monkey wrench into the Yankees off-season plans.  For a team that appears bent on getting under the $189 million salary cap, A-Rod’s salary is substantial.  Will they be freed of it, for a season, or will they be responsible for some portion thereof, or does A-Rod win to bring his salary back in full?  I think the latter is very remote if impossible.  I, for one, would accept a year of no A-Rod even if it means the entire salary counts against the cap.  The guy is poison and I don’t think the team will win again with him on the roster.  Yes, they won in 2009, but teams generally do not win with such narcissistic players. 

Rest assured that no decision Alex Rodriguez makes will be in the best interests of the Yankees and Major League Baseball.  MLB needs the authority to end this foolish A-Rod farce and banish him for his sustained PEDS use and lies.  I’d love a lifetime ban but I doubt that happens so I want nothing less than the original 214 game suspension. 

Introducing the 2014 Yankees…

Check back with me in a few months.

There will be changes, but I am not sure that they will be the moves necessary to return the Yankees to AL East and American League prominence.  I saw one New York paper running an article this morning that indicated the Yankees may go after the Detroit Tigers’ Omar Infante should free agent Robinson Cano.  No offense to Infante, but what a drop off.  I don’t think it is smart to pay Cano $300 million, but hopefully the Yankees and Cano can find common ground that is mutually rewarding for both. 

I have seen the Yankees linked to free agents Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, Ervin Santana, and A.J. Pierzynski.  Yes, Beltran is a good post-season performer but you need to get there first.  As a McCann fantasy owner this past season, I was frustrated with how much time he spent on the DL.  I’ve always thought Santana was a decent pitcher, but he’s not a frontliner.  Then again, when you’ve lost Andy Pettitte, Phil Hughes and possibly Hiroki Kuroda, you just need arms.  The Yankees will most likely lose Curtis Granderson so the Yankees will spend most of the winter just trying to fill holes rather than being able to focus on adding significant upgrades. 

It would be nice if some members of the farm system were ready to take the major league stage but that does not appear to be the case.  We may see Dellin Betances in the bullpen as the Yankees look to find a quality setup specialist for new closer David Robertson. 

I do not want to lose Robinson Cano but then again, I do not want the Yankees to give him an A-Rod like contract that will become a financial albatross in future years.  I may be the only one who feels this way, but I am not excited about a 40 year old Derek Jeter at shortstop with bad ankles.  The Yankees really need to find a younger shortstop who can spell Jeter and perhaps push #2 to DH more times than not. 

Mark Teixeira, cold starts and a bad wrist.  Second base…currently there are nothing but crickets.  Shortstop…see aforementioned comment about DJ.  Third base is really anybody’s guess.  Catcher needs more than a backup catcher who can’t hit and a proven PEDS user.  Right field is even older than shortstop.  Left field, at the moment, only shows the largely unreliable Vernon Wells.  Centerfield is truly the only position that I feel comfortable with, and even that carries some injury risk.  On the pitching staff, CC Sabathia is starting to show that he’s on the downward slide, and Hiroki Kuroda could very well be pitching in Japan next season.  The enigma, more commonly referred to as Ivan Nova, will be in the rotation but who really knows what we’ll get.  Adam Warren, David Phelps, Manny Banuelos (if he can make it back), Michael Pineda and others form the pool that Joe Girardi will be picking from.

In the bullpen, it is no sure thing that David Robertson will succeed as a closer.  In 2011, when the great Mariano Rivera went down for the season, Robertson had first crack at the job and failed.  He gave way to Rafael Soriano who proved very capable in the role.  Going into 2014, at the moment, there is no safety net for Robertson.  This is truly an off-season of uncertainty and it doesn’t help that A-Rod is doing his part to ensure greater uncertainty. 

The Red Sox, the Rays, the Jays, and the O’s must be loving this.  I can only hope that GM Brian Cashman and the Steinbrenner Boys prove that they can check Ben Cherington’s move and bring championship baseball back to the Bronx where it belongs.

–Scott