Baseball’s not a slow game but the off-season is…
It’s Thanksgiving, and the Yankees’ big moves this week were to sign journeyman utility infielder Jayson Nix and last year’s Andy Pettitte stand-in, Freddy Garcia. While I recognize that the Yankees needed to bring Garcia back, I hope that it does not deter them in their search for a legitimate #2 or #3 starter to go behind CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova. I have not seen any updates on how potential talks are going with backup third baseman Eric Chavez, but hopefully, he’ll return to New York for one more season. At this point, I view Nix as spring training fodder that will be discarded by the time the team heads for the Bronx.
In recent weeks, I’ve heard the Yankees linked to potential trades for Jair Jurrjens of the Atlanta Braves and Gio Gonzalez of the Oakland A’s. My preference of the two is Gonzalez because of Jurrjens’ history of knee trouble. Gonzalez, ironically, has been involved in separate trades involving current Yankees players during his career (Nick Swisher, when he was traded from the A’s to the White Sox, and Freddy Garcia, when he was traded from the White Sox to the Phillies).
I am anxious for the Baseball Winter Meetings so that free agent and trade activity will begin to heat up. So far, the early winner of the Hot Stove League has to be the Philadelphia Phillies for no other reason than they’ve been aggressive while other teams have been idle. Jonathan Papelbon was a good choice for closer, especially when you have as much invested in the rotation as the Phillies do. Ryan Madson did a good job last year, but it’s really anybody’s guess if he would have enjoyed the same level of success this year since he simply does not have the history to support it…yet. I am not quite sure how Jim Thome fits in, but as a pinch-hitter off the bench, there’s certainly worse bats you could have.
The Texas Rangers also did a good job in picking up former Minnesota Twins closer Joe Nathan, even if it does come with significant risk. As long as they have a solid Plan B in place, Nathan could be a very pleasant surprise if he shows that he can still pitch at a very high level.
Who will be the Astros’ DH?…
It will probably be strange for the Houston Astros next season as they make their farewell from the National League. Andy Pettitte is probably wishing that this had happened during his playing days so that he could have been ensured of playing at home every season. I think Brad Mills is a good manager but it will be interesting to see if he is retained by new owner Jim Crane when the Astros enter the AL West in 2013. He certainly deserves the opportunity, but you have to wonder if he’ll be given sufficient time to succeed.
Happy north of the border or wishing that Yawkey Way was a daily routine…
It’s no secret that the Boston Red Sox would love John Farrell as their manager, but the Toronto Blue Jays were obviously unwilling to allow that to happen. Nevertheless, I wonder how Farrell feels. Is he happy and delighted to be in Toronto, or does he have an unfulfilled desire for the Sox? Speaking of the Sox, I just don’t see how Bobby Valentine and the city of Boston are a good fit. I don’t dispute that he’s a good manager, but eventually he wears out his welcome and the pressure of Boston is greater than Arlington, Texas or even Flushing Meadows, New York. I don’t really know anything about Torey Lovullo’s managing background and Gene Lamont seems like an uninspired choice so I can’t say who I think would be a great fit for the job. Admittedly, I am a fan of former manager Terry Francona, so it does seem that whoever takes his place is going to an inferior choice. If it were my decision, I’d probably go with someone who has strong ties to the organization already, like bench coach DeMarlo Hale. But Boston’s late season collapse effectively removed any September participants from consideration and perhaps wrongfully so. It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the course of the next few weeks.
My first year in Minnesota coincides with the Vikings’ worst year in their 50 year history…
With the Minnesota Vikings standing at 2-8 heading into this weekend’s play, the baseball off-season has already seemed so incredibly long and it hasn’t even really started yet…
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!
Friend or Foe?…
Unfortunately, when Cliff Lee faces CC Sabathia on Wednesday night, they’ll have to put their close friendship aside and wage a battle of Champions. Lee and Sabathia were teammates in Cleveland and are very close.
When the new Yankee Stadium opened on April 16th, the winning pitcher was Lee in a matchup against Sabathia. On that day, Sabathia struggled with his command and was gone long before the bullpen imploded by allowing 9 runs in the 7th inning. Lee wiggled in and out of trouble but avoided any damage in the 9-2 victory by the Cleveland Indians. Jose Veras (remember him?) was the loser, so there are no chances of a repeat performance by the same guys. But note to Joe Girardi, stay away from Damaso Marte…far away!
So, Cliff Lee gets the honor of being the starting pitcher for the opposing team in the new Yankee Stadium for both the first regular season and first World Series. This will definitely be a future trivia question on Julia‘s website!
This will be a very tough World Series. The Philadelphia Phillies have a very strong rotation, led by mid-season acquisition Lee. The staff also features former Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez, last year’s ace performer Cole Hamels, and former A’s pitcher Joe Blanton. And, oh yeah, there’s a young guy in the pen who’s not too bad, J.A. Happ. So, clearly, the Phillies are loaded with starting pitching and long relief. Fortunately, the bullpen is vulnerable so they do have an Achilles heel.
The bats, up and down the lineup, are strong. I like the way you can mention Jimmy Rollins as an after-thought…um, not really. That’s scary to think that if you managed to get by Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, you still have guys like Rollins, Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth, Raul Ibanez, and others ready to do damage. There aren’t really any weaknesses in the lineup, and if the Yankees had trouble trying to get the Angels’ Jeff Mathis out…
The Yankees will see former adversary Pedro Martinez in Game 2. The decision apparently came about given the history that Martinez has in New York against the Yankees, whereas Cole Hamels, the Game 3 starter, has been better at home this year. Still, at the beginning of the year, I never dreamed that Pedro would be starting the second game of the World Series…of course, I sure that he didn’t either. Nevertheless, this is no longer Pedro in his prime, but the question will be which A.J. Burnett shows up. Hopefully, we’ll have a classic pitcher’s duel, with the game decided in late inning, walk-off, pie-in-your-face fashion!
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
I am glad that the Yankees have home field advantage for this one. I guess I’ve never been so glad that the American League won the All-Star Game as I have this year. I never dreamed when I moved from Wilmington, DE to the Bay Area in California in July that the Yankees would be facing the “local” team in the World Series. It would be a very exciting time in Wilmington at the local sports bars. I was there last year when the Phillies won the World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays, and it was a very exciting time for the Philly fans. But this is a new year and it’s time for the Yankees’ 27th World Championship!
Why was former Washington Nationals manager Manny Acta in such demand? Granted, I don’t know much about Acta, however, his record in Washington wasn’t exactly stellar and of course, he lost his job for a reason. However, that didn’t stop the Houston Astros and Cleveland Indians from actively pursuing his services. The winner, ultimately, was the Cleveland Indians. The Astros, in turn, went with their second choice, Boston Red Sox bench coach Brad Mills. No offense but I think the Astros got the better end of the deal. Plus, it’s always a good thing to see Red Sox losses! J
Brett Comer/Houston Chronicle
If 2010 is truly the final year for Dodgers manager Joe Torre (the end of his contract), I wonder if he’ll move hitting coach Don Mattingly to the bench or at least third base if he is the likely successor.
Well, how many hours until the first pitch?… 😉
Go YANKEES! 🙂