The return of Larry Bowa’s nephew…
Although they never wore the pinstripes at the same time, former coach Larry Bowa’s nephew, Nick Johnson, is coming home. Traded to Montreal in 2003 for pitcher Javier Vazquez, Nick has signed a one-year deal for $5.5 million, with a mutual option for 2011, to return to the Bronx.
During Nick’s “exile”, winning baseball was not necessarily a common theme among his teams with the Montreal Expos, Washington Nationals, and Florida Marlins. Nick is eager to return to a team with a “win at all costs” attitude. Nick could have signed with the San Francisco Giants as their first baseman, however, his first love remained the Yankees. So, once the Yankees expressed interest, no other team really had a chance with Johnson.
Hector Gabino/Miami Herald
Nick slots in nicely at the top of the batting order behind leadoff hitter Derek Jeter. Nick has a knack (no pun intended) for getting on base. His career on-base percentage is .402.
Welcome home, Nick! We’re glad you’re back!
Given that the Yankees have now reacquired the two primary players in the December 2003 deal that sent Nick to Montreal and brought Javier Vazquez to the Yankees (the first time), they should consider calling the Los Angeles Angels and the Tampa Bay Rays about the availability of outfielder Juan Rivera and reliever Randy Choate, respectively.
Gary A. Vasquez/US Presswire
Although those are positions of need, I do not really want to see the return of either Rivera or Choate, but the Yankees do need to get creative about filling the hole in left field. It bothers me that the team hasn’t figured out a way to unload pitcher Kei Igawa, particularly when his salary could go a long way toward bringing in a solid left fielder. The Yankees say they’ll go with Brett Gardner and Jamie Hoffmann. While I don’t feel you need an All-Star in left, I don’t think that Gardner and Hoffman, individually or collectively, are the answer. I have genuine concerns about Nick Swisher’s encore performance and the Yankees do not need simultaneous struggles at both outfield corners. I’d rather pay for a sound and dependable solution for left and then be prepared for Plan B in right.
Best case scenario is the return of Johnny Damon. It could still happen but Damon’s price tag will have to come down. The other solid option (Mark DeRosa) appears to be dissipating as DeRosa is apparently favoring an agreement with the San Francisco Giants. Hey, as a Bay Area guy, I can’t find fault with someone who wants to call the area home. San Francisco’s a great town with a terrific ballpark.
Reed Johnson’s name has been mentioned but I am less than enthused. Johnson missed 49 games in 2009 for the Chicago Cubs after fouling a pitch off his left foot which caused a fracture. A career .282 hitter, Reed only batted .255 in 65 games last season with 4 home runs and 22 RBI’s.
His scouting report¹ says that “Hustle is his strongest suit. Makes consistent contact and hits well with runners in scoring position – especially against lefties. Is a good outfielder.” The report goes on to say “he struggles against finesse pitchers and righties. A quality platoon or 4th outfielder.” It sounds like he would be more capable as a back-up for Curtis Granderson in center than a starter in left.
¹Source: Sportsnet.ca Ontario
Lobbying for the Cubs to re-sign Johnson in September, pitcher (and former Yankee) Ted Lilly was seen wearing a t-shirt that read “With Reed, we will succeed”. Maybe for Lilly and the Cubs, but not for the World Champions. Pass…
So now Jason Bay and his agent are calling the Boston Red Sox? Maybe Jason has started to send Theo fruit baskets like Julia did every day last season! Ha! I bet the Red Sox offer of 4 years and $60 million is looking very appealing these days. But of course, after Boston’s signing of John Lackey and Mike Cameron, the money offered to Bay is probably no longer available. Bay has a 4 year, $65 million offer from the New York Mets. However, $5 million extra over 4 years is not worth the mess known as the Mets. Bay’s best option is to remain in Boston but it is questionable whether the Red Sox have room in the 2010 budget at this point. Bay, at this point in time, appears to have overestimated his worth in the current free agent market. Financial constraint being shown by both the Yankees and the Red Sox…what is the world coming to? 😉
Finally, I’d like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! May this be a season of joy for you and your family, and here’s hoping that 2010 fulfills your every dream! Well, except for a World Series championship…I reserve that one for Yankees fans! J
A great day for a birthday…
Sipkin/NY Daily News
Today is my birthday, and it couldn’t have had a happier ending than a Yankees win combined with a Red Sox loss. All week, a certain blogger from Boston kept telling me that I couldn’t have a Red Sox loss for my birthday since she would be in attendance at Fenway Park. Hey Julia, how did that work out for ya? 😉
This is my first blog in a week so I don’t really plan to delve into breakdowns of the games that have been played since my last blog. I recently took a job with a new company that allowed me to return home to Silicon Valley, California. I had been in Wilmington, Delaware for the past year. For the past week, I packed my belongings and drove across the country (3,000 miles in 3 ½ days). Since the focus of the week was the move, I did not take my laptop with me and as a result, I have been silent on this blog for a week.
In seven days while I’ve been gone, the Yankees lost only one game. The Oakland A’s snapped the Yankees’ winning streak on Saturday, when Alfred Aceves failed to bail out Andy Pettitte. It was the end of the Yankees eight game winning streak, as well as an eight game streak against the A’s dating back to 2008 (they had taken the first four games of the series this year).
Mitsu Yasukawa/The Star Ledger
Beating up the Tigers, Twins, and A’s has allowed the Yankees to extend their lead in the AL East to 2 ½ games over the Boston Red Sox. The Yankees do have a challenging schedule for the remainder of the season, and it won’t get any easier with a 9-game road trip that begins in St. Petersburg, Florida against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday. The Rays are currently in third place, 6 ½ games back.
Jason Behnken/Tampa Bay Tribune
I have been pleasantly surprised about the Yankees’ success so far in the second half of the season. Admittedly, I was down after the Yankees had been swept by the Los Angeles Angels to close out the first half. Prior to that series, the Yankees had tied Boston for the AL East lead. While the Yanks were getting swept, Boston was doing their own sweeping so the first half closed with a three game Boston lead. But as quickly as the Yanks went from a first place tie to three games back, they surged back to overtake Boston with only one loss since the All-Star Game. I suspect that the lead will change hands a few more times before this is all said and done, but it is nice to see the Yankees reach 60 wins faster than any other AL team at this point in the season.
Christopher Pasatieri/US Presswire
The news regarding Chien-Ming Wang has not been good. He will meet with Dr. James Andrews on Tuesday. Wang had a second MRI last week, according to Peter Abraham of the LoHud Yankees Blog, and it revealed a possible rotator cuff tear. If it is not a scar from Wang’s prior surgery in 2000, and has rotator cuff surgery, he will be lost for most, if not all, of next season.
I do not think that Sergio Mitre is the answer in the rotation, and apparently neither do the Yankees. According to Jenifer Logosch at MLB.com, the Yankees had scouts in attendance to watch Ian Snell pitch. Snell struggled for the Pittsburgh Pirates earlier this season, going 2-8 in 15 starts, with 5.36 ERA. He was demoted to AAA Indianapolis and has pitched lights out. In four starts for Indy, Snell has pitched 26 1/3 innings with a 0.34 ERA and 34 strikeouts. Snell apparently has no interest in rejoining the Pirates, and feels that he was made a scapegoat for their early season problems. I am not sure if Snell is the answer or if his AAA success can equate to Major League success after past difficulties, but, for the right price, he is probably worth trying. I’d rather go there before taking a chance with Kei Igawa. I read that the Seattle Mariners wanted both Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner for Jarrod Washburn, so there’s no way that deal is happening unless the Mariners drop their asking price. The Yankees won’t be contenders for either Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee, so they’ll continue to rummage through the bargain bins over the next couple of days as they continue to seek possible replacements for Chien-Ming Wang in the rotation.
Speaking of Brett Gardner, he landed on the DL after suffering a fractured thumb in the first inning of Saturday’s game. Of course, in that game, he had a run-scoring triple and played excellent defensively AFTER the thumb injury. He is a huge loss for the team, but hopefully he’ll be out no more than three weeks or so. I hope that Melky Cabrera maintains a high level of play during Gardner’s absence, and doesn’t lose any motivation or ambition without Gardner competing with him every day. Hopefully, Gardner’s recovery will be as speedy as he is on the base paths…
Frank Franklin II/AP
Boston has a chance to make up ground on the Yankees during the upcoming 9-game road trip, but I have to admit that I am very shocked that John Smoltz is 1-4 with a 7.04 ERA. I liked Boston’s pick up of Adam LaRoche (well, not as a Yankees fan, but looking at the trade objectively and knowing what it means for the Red Sox). Of course, with Theo Epstein, you know that the next few days will be very interesting as Boston continues to seek upgrades.
Jim Davis/Boston Globe
I am sure that most people have become familiar with Batting Stance Guy but I wasn’t. I saw him on David Letterman this week and he was hilarious (his impression of Kevin Youkilis is priceless). You can check him out at www.battingstanceguy.com. His posts can also be found on YouTube. Here is his impression of the 2009 Yankees:
As much as I will miss the close proximity to Yankee Stadium, I am looking forward to my first visit to AT&T Park this year when I attend next Sunday’s match-up between the San Francisco Giants and Philadelphia Phillies. After a year in Phillies country, I am excited about the opportunity to watch Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, J-Ro, and the other Phillies without being surrounded by those “calm and quiet” Philadelphia fans! Seriously, there aren’t many things better than watching baseball near the Bay…
Have a great week!