Tagged: Bartolo Colon

Out with the Old and In with the New, or Vice Versa?…

Credit:  Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune

Yankees 6, Twins 3…

On Tuesday, the Yankees faced baseball’s oldest player and a former Yank.  With a 2-8 record and 8.14 ERA for the Atlanta Braves, Bartolo Colon looked to be a feast for the young Baby Bombers.  But after he shut down the Yankees in the first inning like a young ace, I had fears that Colon was going to be  a master, for one night, against the Yankees.  Fortunately, he wore down quickly and the Yankees got to him in the fifth inning to rally for the victory over the Minnesota Twins.

Credit:  Jesse Johnson/USA TODAY Sports

Admittedly, it was a little hard to focus on the game as rumors were swirling about the Yankees potential acquisition of Todd Frazier, David Robertson, and Tommy Kahnle from the Chicago White Sox.  The trade became official after the game but more on that later.

I like Yankees starter Luis Cessa and he’s done well at Triple A.  But for whatever reason, it just has not translated at the Major League level for him…yet.  It felt like it was going to be a long night when Colon breezed through the top of the Yankees batting order in the first inning including a strike out of Aaron Judge.  Cessa, on the other hand, struggled out of the gate.  He walked the first two batters and hit Miguel Sano with a pitch to load the bases with only one out.  After getting Max Kepler to pop out, Cessa walked Robbie Grossman to give the Twins the early 1-0 lead.  Fortunately, Cessa struck out Eddie Rosario to prevent any further damage.  One run on no hits…not exactly how you want to start a game.

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

Cessa walked the first batter of the second inning but settled down to retire the next three batters.  With the Yankee offense still unable to get anything going against Colon, the Twins added to their lead in the third when Miguel Sano homered to center (a solo shot into the bullpen).

The Yankees finally got on the board in the top of the 4th.  Aaron Judge opened the inning with a single to left.  Didi Gregorius hit an infield grounder to third that was deflected off Colon for a single.  Clint Frazier hit into a force out that erased Gregorius at second but Judge advanced to third.  Chase Headley singled to center, past a diving Brian Dozier, to bring home Judge and it was 2-1 Twins.  

The Twins got the run right back in the bottom of the inning.  Jason Castro hit a one-out double to the right field wall and Brian Dozier hit a fly ball that nearly went out of the park, bouncing off the upper part of the scoreboard area on the right field fence, as the Twins regained the two-run advantage, 3-1.  Cessa was able to retire Zack Granite on a ground out, but the Yankees brought in Chasen Shreve to secure the final out, a ground out by Joe Mauer.  

The 4th inning had showed the Yankees were finally starting to make progress against the ancient Colon but the 5th inning showed why Colon is no longer an Atlanta Brave.  Ronald Torreyes singled to left center and moved to third on a ground rule double by Brett Gardner, a fly ball that bounced just inside of the left foul line before falling into the left field stands on the foul side. Gary Sanchez then doubled to left, scoring both Torreyes and Gardner.  The game was tied at 3.  Twins manager Paul Molitor had seen enough and pulled Colon in favor of reliever Ryan Pressly.  But the results were no different.  Aaron Judge singled to center to score Sanchez and after Matt Holliday struck out, Didi Gregorius blasted a two-run homer to right. The Yankees had their first lead of the series, 6-3.

Credit:  Jesse Johnson/USA TODAY Sports

The Twins came right back in the bottom of the 5th and it looked like they might get some runs back.  Miguel Sano doubled to left and Max Kepler singled to right, moving Sano to third.  Fortunately, Chasen Shreve struck out the next two batters and induced Jorge Polanco into an infield popout to leave Sano stranded at third.

The Yankees loaded the bases again in the 6th inning but Matt Holliday hit a grounder for the final out leaving the bases full.  From there it was up to the Yankees bullpen.  Adam Warren was great.  He pitched two innings of hitless ball in the 6th and 7th, striking out 2.  From there, it was a high wire act with Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman.  Robbie Grossman doubled off Betances to open the bottom of the 8th.  After striking out Eddie Rosario, Betances hit pinch-hitter Eduardo Escobar with a pitch.  He struck out Jason Castro but walked the dangerous Brian Dozier to load the bases.  Zack Granite hit a hard fly ball to right looked to be trouble for a second but it fell short of the wall into Aaron Judge’s glove for the final out.  A few groans from the Target Field crowd…

Aroldis Chapman took over in the 9th but it was not easy.  He walked Joe Mauer on a full count to start the inning.  A wild pitch moved Mauer to second and eliminated the possibility of a double play.  Miguel Sano grounded out, Ronald Torreyes to Garrett Cooper, moving Mauer to third.  Fortunately, Chapman retired the next two batters for his 10th save as the Yankees evened the series at a game apiece.  

Credit:  Getty Images

The Yankees (48-44) remained in third place in the AL East with the win as both the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays won.  The Red Sox defeated the Toronto Blue Jays, 5-4, in 15 innings and the Rays beat the Oakland A’s, 4-3.  The Yankees are 3 1/2 games behind the Red Sox and a 1 1/2 games behind the Rays.

Throughout the game, I was keeping an eye on the Los Angeles Dodgers game in Chicago against White Sox.  Todd Frazier had been held out of the game, and neither David Robertson nor Tommy Kahnle pitched despite Chicago’s use of multiple pitchers in the 1-0 loss to Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers.  The White Sox game ended before Aroldis Chapman shut down the Twins.  Interestingly, Tyler Clippard, one of the rumored players going to the White Sox (which turned out to be true), was warming with Aroldis Chapman in the top of the 9th inning and might have come into the game had the Yankees been able to add to their lead.

The Yankees conclude the series in Minneapolis this afternoon.  

The Yankees Are Officially Buyers…

What is old is new again!  The question whether the Yankees would be buyers or sellers or hold pat was answered after the game when the rumored deal with the White Sox became official.  In exchange for New Jersey native Todd Frazier and former Yankees David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle, the Yankees sent their #4 prospect, outfielder Blake Rutherford, LHP Ian Clarkin, OF Tito Polo and reliever Tyler Clippard to Chicago.  

Credit:  Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

I am sad to see Rutherford go but all things considered, it is a position of depth and there is still a possibility the Yankees could make a run at Bryce Harper when he becomes a free agent so Rutherford was a bit redundant (particularly given the breakout performance of Double-A outfielder Estevan Florial).  I’ve always liked Ian Clarkin and had hoped that he would eventually find his way to the Bronx after injuries prevented the lefty pitcher from advancing more quickly.  Polo is an unranked prospect that the Yankees acquired from the Pirates in the trade that sent Ivan Nova to Pittsburgh.  I am obviously not disappointed to see Clippard go, especially since Robertson and Kahnle represent significant bullpen upgrades.  

I remember being so disappointed when the Yankees lost Tommy Kahnle to the Colorado Rockies in the 2013 Rule 5 Draft and he stuck with the Rockies for the entire year.  I was very aware of him when the Rockies traded him to the White Sox last November.  He was a good reliever in Denver and has been even better for the White Sox.  

Credit:  Paul Sancya/AP

I hated to see David Robertson leave via free agency.  I remember when there was the potential that the Yankees could sign both Andrew Miller and David Robertson but inevitably they chose to sign Miller and take the compensation pick (SS Kyle Holder) to let the highly regarded Robertson sign elsewhere.  During his first year with the White Sox, he was placed on waivers after the trading deadline and the Yankees put in the winning claim.  There was no activity in trade talks but I remember the momentary excitement about Robertson’s possible return.  

Todd Frazier has the ability to play first base in addition to third but time will tell whether Manager Joe Girardi uses Frazier or Chase Headley at first.  Given that Frazier is clearly a rental, I suspect that he’ll be the regular first baseman but that is Girardi’s decision to make.  

With Clippard off the roster, the Yankees still have to make two moves today.  My immediate thought would be the demotions of Ji-Man Choi and Luis Cessa to Triple A.  But Garrett Cooper could be the odd man out if the Yankees feel he would be better served by starting every day for the RailRiders.  

Also, it will be interesting to see if Clint Frazier gives up #30 to Robertson.  I personally think he should.  He had no prior attachments to the number.  As for Todd Frazier, he wears Paul O’Neill’s number which has not been retired.  I wonder if he is forced to choose a new number or if the Yankees finally allow the number to be worn again.  All things considered, it is just a two month rental so it probably makes more sense to keep #21 in moth balls.

Welcome (or welcome back) to the Yankees, Todd, David and Tommy!

Odds & Ends…

To make room on the active roster for RHP Luis Cessa who started Tuesday’s game, the Yankees optioned RHP Bryan Mitchell, Monday’s starter, to Triple A.  Poor Mitchell, he’s probably getting tired of the Bronx-to-Scranton Shuttle.  

Credit:  Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday, the Minnesota Twins placed former Yankees pitcher Phil Hughes on the 60-day disabled list.  I guess I really haven’t been following Hughes’ career in the Twin Cities, but I did not realize that he’s been battling Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS).  As defined by Wikipedia, TOS is a condition in which there is a compression of the nerves, arteries or veins in the passageway from the lower neck to the armpit.  He had part of a rib removed through surgery last year and is experiencing recurring symptoms which could lead to the removal of the remainder of the rib to alleviate pressure.  I sincerely hope that Hughes is able to get medical treatment he needs and is able to make a complete recovery.  

Have a great Wednesday!  A wonderful day to grab a victory and hop a plane for the Great Northwest!  Let’s Go Yankees!

Wanted:  Clutch Hitter – Only the experienced need to apply!…

Although there have not been any official explanations for the DH plans this upcoming season, there’s been reports that the Yankees are content with a rotation to include Alex Rodriguez, Andruw Jones and Derek Jeter, with Eduardo Nunez sliding around the infield filling the holes.  My concern last season and it gave me a bad feeling heading into the play-offs that the Yankees had missed the clutch bats they enjoyed when Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui were on the roster.  Damon’s home run in the 2004 ALCS helped propel the Boston Red Sox to a comeback victory over the Yankees, and propelled the Sox to their first World Championship since the days of Babe Ruth.  I’ve heard minor league slugger Jorge Vazquez mentioned as a possibility, but I am with those who believe that he skills do not translate to the major league level.

In my opinion, the Yankees need to do something.  I am not looking for a $10 million slugger who would command 90% to 95% of the DH at-bats.  I am content with someone who could take the majority of the at-bats, allowing for the A-Rod/Jeter rotation, and would know and accept their role.  That’s why I feel that either Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui would make complete sense.  I know the Yankees want to limit their payroll at this point and I get that.  But if the difference in making the World Series or not was an additional $5 million, would it not be worth it?  Yeah, yeah, it’s not my money and $5 million is a lot of money.  But when you are spending $210 million, what’s $215 million?  Wouldn’t the return on a championship more than replenish the difference?  The Yankees have options and I know that’s why they are not in a rush.  I’ve even heard Raul Ibanez’ name mentioned and would agree that he would be a viable option.  I guess I have greater affection for guys who have proven they can win in pinstripes.

It’s funny but the Philadelphia Phillies look like geniuses for signing Jim Thome early in the off-season.  At the time, it looked like a bad fit.  Maybe he stays with the Phillies, but they could actually move him for something at this point given the DH desperation that exists for a number of teams besides the Yankees (like the Detroit Tigers, for example).  If GM Ruben Amaro could somehow swing Thome for a decent prospect, he’d build upon his legacy as a great general manager.

It will be interesting to see how the coming weeks play out, but the Yankees clearly need a guy who can come through in the clutch.  Now more than ever…

If he is older than dirt, what does that make me?…

Congratulations to Jamie Moyer for his minor league contract with an invitation to spring training with the Colorado Rockies.  I was really surprised when I heard that Moyer intended to make a comeback following his recovery.  At 49, the odds are probably against him, but you have to love his no-quit mentality.

Sometimes good fans are the difference…

Similar congratulations go to reliever Joel Zumaya, who signed with a quality organization (the Minnesota Twins).  Ironically, it was at Target Field where Zumaya’s elbow exploded a couple of years ago.  I remember when he was hailed as THE flamethrower in the league, and was a huge part of the Detroit Tigers bullpen.  It’s anybody’s guess what kind of pitcher he will be going forward, but it would be good to see him recapture success for an organization that deserves better than last year’s 99 losses.  With the departure of Joe Nathan and the inconsistency of Matt Capps, there’s certainly going to be opportunity with the closing and set up roles for the Twins.

It was a bit hard to imagine Zumaya throwing from the mound at Target Field this morning as the temperature reading in my car read -10 degrees in downtown Minneapolis.  The weathermen were reporting that with the wind chill factor, it felt like -38.  In weather like that, it’s hard to imagine that the lights of Target Field will be back on in just a couple of months.  While I admit that the 16 degrees I experienced in Winnipeg, Manitoba a few weeks back felt much colder, there’s no question that in temps like this you just want to go from your heated house to your heated car to your heated work.  This past summer, I was in Phoenix when it was in the 120’s.  All things considered, I’ll gladly take -38 in Minneapolis as opposed to 122 degrees in Phoenix.  I don’t care that it’s paradise in Arizona right now…

Deux Sorianos?…

Back to the Yankees, I’ve wondered if some kind of deal involving the Chicago Cubs would work.  The Yankees want to unload A.J. Burnett, and he’d clearly benefit from a change of scenery.  He’d also be more effective in the National League at this point.  I wouldn’t say that the pressure would be less in Chicago, but I think A.J. could more himself.  Conversely, the Cubs have an albatross with Alfonso Soriano.  Soriano could still be a fairly productive DH at this point in his career.  Not that I want to give two rosters spots to over-paid, under-productive Sorianos but it would be a potential solution.  I think I can speak for most Yankees fan when I say that we’ve rode the Burnett train about as far as we care to.  Now that Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda have all but pushed Burnett out of the rotation, a win-win trade with the Cubs would certainly make sense.

Yeah, you and what bank?…

If I’m Cole Hamels, I am going for free agency in the fall of 2012.  Don’t even talk to me about an extension!  If the Texas Rangers will lay out $110 million for an unproven, albeit very highly talented, pitcher, there’s no question what a championship performer like Hamels can command on the open market.

I choose you, no, maybe you…

I am glad that Bartolo Colon was able to find a home with the Oakland A’s, but admittedly, I am glad that he is not returning for an encore performance in the Bronx.  I am not quite sure with what happened between Colon and the Arizona Diamondbacks (he apparently agreed with them and then reneged, ala David Wells a few years ago), but I am sure he had his reasons for why Oakland was a better fit.  But I guess those reasons didn’t include W’s…

Those pesky Nats!…

As for the ongoing Prince Fielder sweepstakes, I just wish the Washington Nationals would put one of those ridiculous Jayson Werth type contracts in front of him and get him signed.  I’d be surprised if the Texas Rangers were financially able to sign both Yu Darvish and Fielder but stranger things have happened.  I really don’t want to see Fielder in for Mitch Moreland on the defending AL Champions.  I still think the Los Angeles Angels, thanks to Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, are a better team in the AL West, with or without Fielder on the Rangers, but I certainly do not want the potential roadblocks to a Yankees World Series getting stronger.

First base at Yankee Stadium will forever mean Lou Gehrig to me until the day I die, even if I didn’t personally get to see him play.  For what I have seen, Don Mattingly is the epitome of greatness.  I was a bit skeptical when Tino Martinez took over for Mattingly, but he played the position as well as anyone could have following the footprints of #23.  I loved the signing of Mark Teixeira and he was a prime reason for the Yankees success in 2009, but after a couple of disappointing seasons with the usual stone cold starts, something has to give.  Defense alone at first base is not enough.  Not that I want to go back to the days of Giambi (great bat, not-so-great glove), but Tex needs to dedicate himself to an improved performance in 2012.  I know that we’ll have to deal with the usual sluggish start, but he needs to show that he can be more like the 2009 Teixeira than the 2011 version.

Well, I am at this end of this post, but I see that GM Brian Cashman still has much work ahead of him before we start talking about games at Legends Field…

–Scott

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Disappointment replaced by Optimism…

 

After some thought, I’ve come around…

Now that I’ve had time to digest the Friday night whirlwind that brought pitchers Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda to the Bronx, my initial disappointment was evaporated.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the power potential of Jesus Montero, and I know full well that he’ll be as devastating against the Yankees as Jay Buhner was if not more.  But I recognize that from a position of need, a top of the rotation starter is better than a player without a position.

Ever since I first heard Jesus Montero’s name, it always included a statement that he’d eventually have to find a new position because he would outgrow catcher.  The obvious moves would be to either first base or left field, but last time I checked, both of those positions were occupied by long-term tenants.  Putting an offensive juggernaut at DH is great for offense but it does nothing to help with the defensive aspects of catching or learning a new position.  With Russell Martin in the fold for the foreseeable future, there was no way that Montero would gain the starting position at catcher.  Martin’s ability to handle the pitching staff is simply too important to the team even if his bat is nothing remotely close to Montero.

With Montero, I was always worried about the other young Yankee catchers.  Of course, there’s Francisco Cervelli on the active roster.  If Montero were to take the backup catching job, where would that leave Cervelli?  Most likely playing for the Twins, backing up oft-injured Joe Mauer or someone like that.  I like the defensive reports that I’ve heard about both Austin Romine and Gary Sanchez, but if their path was clogged by Martin and Montero, where did that leave them?  Sanchez needs more time in the minors, but Romine is nearing major league ready status.  With an injury or two, I fully expect him to get his chance to make an impression at Yankee Stadium in 2012.  The trade of Montero ensures that Romine will get his major league opportunity with the Yankees so that’s a good thing.  He doesn’t have Montero’s bat (who does?) but good defense is essential for championships.

Maybe just tell us who the Yankees haven’t talked to…

As for the DH slot, it seems like the Yankees have expressed interest in about everyone.  There have been reports they’ve spoken to the agents for Carlos Pena, Johnny Damon, and Hideki Matsui.  There are pros and cons with all three players, but whoever the Yankees bring on board will have to share time at DH with Alex Rodriguez, Andruw Jones, and Derek Jeter so I’d be okay with any of the three.  I’ve always liked the clutch bats of Damon and Matsui, and the swing for the fences power of Pena is nice even if the average is hovering slightly above the Mendoza line.  With all the reports that the Yankees only have a $1 million or two to spend on a DH, I half expect a report that they’ve talked to Reggie Jackson!  Okay, that might be a stretch, but I’d consider letting ‘all or nothing’ slugger Jorge Vazquez.  He does deserve a shot.  If not, the Yanks should cut him loose and let him pursue a team that will.

If Jorge Posada had embraced the DH role last year, he’d be on his way back to the Bronx for an encore performance…

Upon second thought…

As for the pitching staff, my initial prediction about the rotation order was flawed.  I recognize that Micheal Pineda is the clear #2 in the rotation.  I’ve seen Ivan Nova slotted at #4, but I’d still keep him at #3 at least until he gives reason to drop him in the order.  I think Kuroda is a great addition, but he has to adjust to the American League in the most difficult division, while moving from a pitcher’s ballpark to a park that is less forgiving.  So, I’d give Nova time for pinstripes served and put him ahead of Kuroda.  After the former Dodger, it’s anybody’s guess who will win out…Phil Hughes, my personal favorite; Freddy Garcia, probably the better choice among the pitchers in terms of consistency; and A.J. Burnett, the candidate for most likely to depart the Bronx if the Yanks can find a willing trade partner that wants Burnett…and a boatload of cash to pay that ridiculous salary.  What happens if either Manny Banuelos or Dellin Betances pitches “lights out” in training camp?  This is going to be an interesting battle.

He’s really a cousin of Alcides and Kelvim Escobar?…

Back to Friday night’s trade, I was a bit dismayed when I saw that pitcher Hector Noesi had been included in the trade.  I kept hearing that his ceiling was the back end of the rotation but there was something that I liked about the pitcher.  At first, I didn’t know anything about the “other” Mariner included in the deal, Jose Campos.  But since the initial report of the trade, I’ve come to realize that he has great potential.  At 19, he’s 6’4” and throws in the mid 90’s.  He’ll more than make up for Noesi and fits a better timeline in terms of being major league ready given the high level pitching prospects already in the organization (Banuelos and Betances, for example).  The Curtis Granderson trade has been labeled as a ‘win-win-win’ for all concerned.  Hopefully, this M’s-Yankees trade will meet a similar fate.

What would I expect Bobby V to say?…

Contrary to what Bobby Valentine may think, the Yankees are a better team today than they were last Thursday.  But, I recognize the Boston Red Sox are not done yet.  They signed former Dodger pitcher Vicente Padilla today (a guy I loathe personally) and there’s rumors they could go after Roy Oswalt if they can move payroll.  I still think Boston could be a player for Cubs starter Matt Garza given Theo Epstein’s knowledge of the Red Sox minor league prospects.  Whether Ben Cherington or rather Larry Lucchino would trade with Epstein is another matter.  Still, I think there are changes to be made on both the Yankees and Red Sox between now and training camp.  Last year, I saw a Red Sox friend predict 118 or 119 wins for Boston.  Teams look great on paper, but as they say, the ‘proof is in the pudding’!

Moneyball II, starring Jorge Garcia…

It’s hard to think of the Oakland A’s signing former Yankees starter Bartolo Colon as a low-cost, high reward “Moneyball” kind of move.  At 39, I don’t think there’s really any upside to Colon at this point and in my opinion, he’s not capable of sustaining a full season of starts.  I’d rather have Gio Gonzalez or Trevor Cahill in the rotation, but I guess since those are no longer options, they have to look at the scrap heap that served the Yankees so well last season.

Yes, I know the way to San Jose!…

Speaking of Oakland, I do hope they are successful in their desire to move to San Jose.  As a former San Jose resident, I think it’s very exciting for the city and its metro area to be on the verge of landing both the A’s and the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, to go with the NHL’s Sharks.  I saw that A’s owner bought the famed Hotel Sainte Claire in downtown San Jose.  He already owns one hotel in San Jose so I guess you can’t read too much into it, but he’s definitely positioning himself for the growth and excitement that San Jose could see in the coming years.  I’d be happy with a Stanley Cup Championship this year, but that’s a little off-topic…

I really don’t forsee another 99 losses when you place character first…

I was a little surprised to see the Minnesota Twins sign former Detroit Tigers flamethrower Joel Zumaya.  He suffered his devastating arm injury at Target Field in 2010.  So, in terms of Karma, you’d think that he’d avoid Target Field like the plague.   But I read comments in this morning’s paper about how he was touched by the reception he received from the Twins fans as he left the field that fateful day.  Stories like that certainly make me feel honored to be a Minneapolis resident, but I was still surprised by Zumaya’s decision.  I wish him the best as he begins the Comeback Trail.  Hopefully he can get back to the level he was before.  For the Twins, with Joe Nathan in Texas and Matt Capps scheduled to close games, they need Zumaya as the pitcher he once was and hopefully will be again.

When it’s tough being the son of Donnie Baseball, come home to the Bronx!…

Before I go, I want to say that I am really hopeful that the Yankees organization proves to be a blessing for former Dodgers prospect Preston Mattingly.  I’ve always heard what a great athlete he is/was when he was younger.  I don’t know what happened through his time in the Dodgers and Indians organizations and I realize that he is getting a bit long in tooth for a prospect, but I really hope that he can find some level of success with the Yankees.  It would be very cool to see Mattingly make a debut at Yankee Stadium at some point in the future.  Who knows if it is in the cards, but being a late bloomer is not outside of the realm of possibility when it comes to someone with his bloodline.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s hard to believe that we are just a month away from training camp.  I’m excited and looking forward to a great season.

 

–Scott

Did Santa skip Yankee Stadium this year?…

 

The Bear is sleeping…

With the Yankees in hibernation for the winter, there’s not much for us Yankee fans to talk about.  The latest speculation centers on catcher Jorge Posada and where he might end up.  Of the three teams mentioned (Rays, Phillies, and Orioles), I don’t see Jorge as a good fit.

In Tampa, he’d back up his former back up, Jose Molina.  I suppose that he could earn additional starting time by the virtue of his superior bat, but why tarnish a great Yankees legacy by playing for a key divisional rival.  Same goes for the Orioles.  I think there’s a strong chance for Jorge to get pushed aside in either organization for younger, cheaper talent.  Neither the O’s or the Rays would be beholden to Posada as he didn’t carve out a borderline Hall of Fame career in their uniforms.  As for the Phillies, it would probably be a good way for one last shot at the World Series, but the Phillies have emerged as a chief rival for the Yankees.  He wouldn’t start for the Phillies, and his pinch-hitting opportunities and DH duty in interleague play would be limited with Jim Thome on the roster.

I would still like to see Jorge go to the Miami Marlins as a best-case scenario if he decides to continue playing.  He lives in Miami, and the team is in the opposing league.  They are not a natural rival by geography, and he wouldn’t tarnish his Yankees legacy.  But as Nick Cafardo said in his Boston Globe column yesterday, “Hope Jorge Posada retires as a Yankee”.

Short-term rental looks better every day…

With the list of prospective pitchers dwindling, I am in favor of a short term signing (such as Roy Oswalt or Edwin Jackson).  The recent trades of Mat Latos to the Reds and Gio Gonzalez to the Nationals has shown that the price is sky high for young, talented pitchers.  Giving up Jesus Montero and Manuel Banuelos in any trade would be a mistake.  I am not sure if this is akin to 1995 when Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera may have been considered potential prospect trade bait, but still, I’d rather see what the future holds with Montero and Banuelos than without.  I think that either Oswalt or Jackson would be a better option than either Bartolo Colon or Freddy Garcia, and would allow the Yankees more time to work on a more equitable trade or seek potential help in the 2012 free agent market.

Strengthening your team with ex-Yankees…

I really do not want to see the Boston Red Sox weaken the Yankees’ bench by signing Andruw Jones.  The Yankees had a great fourth outfielder in 2011, and they need to make his return a priority.  This is an area that I’ve been greatly disappointed by the continued silence.  I really do not feel that Justin Maxwell, Chris Dickerson or Melky Mesa can fill Andruw’s shoes.

Just like the Los Angeles Angels crept up and became the star of the Winter Meetings (overtaking the Miami Marlins), I keep expecting the Red Sox, who have been very dormant this winter despite their acquisition of former Yankees reliever Mark Melancon, to make a big splash to improve their 2012 team for new manager Bobby Valentine.  It could be the signing of Hiroki Kuroda (whom the Yankees are also interested in) or a trade for the Cubs’ Matt Garza, but if they do improve, it will be difficult for the Yankees to adjust.

The Winter of (Y)our Discontent…

I never thought I’d feel bad for the New York Mets, but it has to be tough for their fans to watch their team move into rebuilding mode when every other team in the division has gotten better.  The Mets would appear to have a stranglehold on fifth place in their division, with no competition.  There is no great joy in watching the Mets as a defeated organization.

Don’t wake the Beast…

It’s hard to believe that pitchers and catchers report in less than two months.  Of course, I am in Minnesota and it’s sunny with an expected high today of nearly 50 degrees.  Nothing is what you expect, or I suppose you could say what it seems.  There’s a winter beast that will soon be awakened in Minnesota.  Does the same hold true for The Bronx?…

 

–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

Let’s pass on reclamation projects…

 

Pitching, pitching, pitching… 

The Yankees were very fortunate in the first half to get the mileage they did out of Bartolo Colon (even with his stay on the DL) and Freddy Garcia.  But two games into the second half, their performances have been very dismal as the Yanks have been crushed by the Toronto Blue Jays on successive days.

 

Yankees' starter Bartolo Colon is pulled in the first inning of a 16-7 loss to the Blue Jays.

Frank Gunn/AP

I think that both Colon and Garcia are capable to having respectable finishes to the season but all things considered, I’d rather go in a different direction.  I am sure that there is a good reason for why 8-game winner Ivan Nova is pitching for Scranton/Wilkes Barre.  I’d never claim to the talent evaluator that Joe Girardi and Larry Rothschild are, but it would make more sense to me to let the younger pitcher grow and develop in the major league rotation.

Yankee scouts are out in full force scouring other major league ballparks.  I am sure that Brian Cashman has a short list of guys that he’d like to acquire even if he’d never publicly admit it.  I fully recognize that the trading deadline is not going to result in Felix Hernandez wearing pinstripes, but I am sure that there are a few arms out there capable of being major upgrades over Colon and Garcia.

The losses by Colon and Garcia aren’t just their faults.  This is a team game and the other guys simply did not pick up the veteran pitchers when they got hit hard. For whatever reason, the Blue Jays seem to have the Yankees number or at least they have for the last few years.  If the Yankees intend to win the division, they need to figure out how to beat Toronto and Boston since they haven’t really shown they are capable of beating either team.

 

The Villain…

I was surprised to see Derek Jeter crucified for not attending the All-Star Game in Phoenix.  While I think that he should have made an appearance at the game, I can understand and appreciate his reasons for not playing.  He had just finished a stint on the DL and he is vital to his team’s chances in the second half.  The ASG break was a good opportunity for DJ to ensure that he got good rest before resuming the rigors of every day play.  It’s not just Derek, I think any of the players who were voted as starters but withdrew for whatever reason should have made the trip to Phoenix to at least acknowledge the fans.

 

New York Yankees' Derek Jeter walks away after having words with home plate umpire Greg Gibson after striking out during the fifth inning of the Yankees' 7-1 loss in Toronto.

Frank Gunn/AP

Still, nobody received criticism for pulling out of the game like DJ did.  I know, that’s just life with the New York Yankees.

 

Give the young guy a shot…

I’d like to see the Yankees bring up Brandon Laird to give him a taste of third base at the major league level while Alex Rodriguez is on the DL.  It would be interesting to see what he could do in a platoon situation with Eduardo Nunez.  I would rather go that route than pursue an aging and high priced vet like Aramis Ramirez or someone like that.  Laird’s batting average leaves a little to be desired (.266) but he is driving in runs (47 RBI’s).

 

 

One if by land, two if by sea…

I was watching the Minnesota Twins play the Kansas City Royals on TV last night and I have to say that I am impressed with Minnesota’s Ben Revere.  The speedster lined a shot to right, and after he rounded second base, he started to fall and went into a somersault.  Yet, with his speed, he was still able to arrive at third ahead of the ball.  It was one of the most interesting triples that I’ve seen.

 

Jeff Wheeler/Star Tribune

The night didn’t fare very well for the Twins as their closer, Matt Capps, gave up a two-run homer to Eric Hosmer in the top of the 9th in the 2-1 loss to the Royals.  Hosmer, by the way, is another young player that I am very impressed with.  As for Matt Capps, I wonder how much longer until Joe Nathan takes back his old job.  I know it all depends upon Nathan’s health, but Capps has been brutal.

 

Oh yeah, this is a pinstripe blog…

Back to the Yankees, they definitely need to find a way to salvage the series in Toronto today and tomorrow.  They have a tough four-game set against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg next week and they need to build some momentum going into the series.  There isn’t anyone better to have on the mound today than the great CC Sabathia.  Hopefully he’ll get his 14th win today…

Have a great weekend!

–Scott

 

The difficult life of Yankee decision-makers…

 

The Ace of Scranton/Wilkes Barre…

I kept hoping that the Yankees would be able to find a way to keep Ivan Nova in the rotation, but inevitably, the team made the only decision it could by sending him down to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  I agree that it is in Nova’s best interests to keep him on rotation, and not stunt his development by moving him to the pen.

I find it highly unlikely that either Bartolo Colon and/or Freddy Garcia will make it through the remainder of the season without any health issues.  So, almost assuredly, Nova will be back and he’ll prove why he is a long-term option for the starting rotation.

 

0909nova.JPG

Christopher Pasatieri/Newsday/MCT

 

Larry knows best…

Nothing against former pitching coach Dave Eiland, but his replacement, Larry Rothschild, has certainly shown why he was a great hire in the off-season.  The Yankees struck gold with both Colon and Garcia when they were hopeful that they’d be able to get something out of at least one of the pitchers.  I thought the Colon signing was a joke, and didn’t really begin to take the former Cy Young Award winner seriously until after the regular season began.

 

New York Yankees pitching coach LArry Rothschild speaks

Thomas A. Ferrara/Newsday

 

Rothschild has also overseen the return of A.J. Burnett as a viable force in the rotation, which, after last season, was no small task.

In the bullpen, the Yankees have overcome the loss of set up man Rafael Soriano and Joba Chamberlain with the superb play of David Robertson.  Robertson has shown that he is not only a great bridge to Mariano Rivera, but is perhaps a very viable alternative as Mo’s eventual replacement.  GM Brian Cashman was right to be against the Soriano signing, and now the Yanks will have Soriano for two more years since there’s no way that he’ll opt out of his lucrative contract.  It will be interesting to see how the Yankees handle this situation when Soriano returns.

As great as Larry Rothschild is, there are still going to be those moments when all goes wrong like today’s loss to the New York Mets.  Mariano Rivera blew a save opportunity in the 9th, and the Yanks subsequently lost in 10 innings.  But the nice thing about the Yankees bullpen is that they have a very short memory, and I’m sure that they’ll be back in stellar form tomorrow.

Congratulations, you’re an All-Star!  As your reward, here is a ticket to the face of the Sun…

Congratulations to the players that will represent the Yankees during next week’s All-Star Game in Phoenix.  Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, and Curtis Granderson will be in the starting lineup, while Mariano Rivera and Russell Martin were also added to the squad.  Count me as one of those who hope that a spot opens for David Robertson.  The All-Star Yankees will need to get used to the heat as it has been blistering hot in the Valley of the Sun.  Yesterday, the official high was 117 degrees in Chandler, AZ, however, I saw temperature readings over 120 degrees.  It may be a dry heat, but it’s just plain hot.  Fortunately, Chase Field will be covered and the indoor temps should be very mild.

 

 

Nearing the end of the first half…

I am quite please with the way the Yankees have played the first half of the season.  I still feel that the Boston Red Sox have the superior team on paper, but the Yankees have held their own and currently lead the Sox by 1 ½ games.  I don’t think the Yanks can stay ahead of the Sox without any changes to the roster, but the team has definitely gotten more out of less.

 

Have fun!…

Have a very happy, safe and enjoyable 4th of July, everyone!

 

 

–Scott