There has been no Yankees news this week as it appears
the team’s focus is on Thursday’s Pinstripe Bowl between Kansas State and
It always concerns me when I hear that the team cannot
focus on pressing matters when there is a specific focus in another area. Haven’t the Yankees heard of
multi-tasking? Instead of worrying about
whether the Wildcats or the Orangemen will win the inaugural New Era Pinstripe
Bowl, I really wish resources were dedicated to finding a pitching staff that
can compete with the Boston Red Sox.
As it stands, the Boston Red Sox have to be the clear
favorite to win the AL East so that leaves the Wild Card up for grabs. There will be no shortage of AL East
competition, without even getting into the other divisions. Baltimore and Toronto both figure to be
improved, plus there’s no way that you can count out the Tampa Bay Rays. Maybe in years past, you could pencil in the
Yanks for at least a Wild Card slot, but that’s certainly not going to be the
case in 2011.
I was reading MLB Trade Rumors and saw their column about
“Unfinished Business: AL East” and have to admit that the Yankees entry
Yankees: starter, right-handed outfielder. The rest of the Yankees’
offseason centers on Andy Pettitte‘s decision, since that will determine whether Brian Cashman has to
pursue a Jeff Francis/Freddy Garcia type or rely on Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre. The team will likely add a fourth outfielder who bats right handed
and consider utility infielders and relievers.
At this point, it sounds more and more like Andy Pettitte
will be staying home in Deer Park, Texas for the season. If that’s the case, any of the above options
spell doom for the Yanks. I am not
convinced that A.J. Burnett will have a bounce back season so we are potentially
looking at a rotation that features only two (out of five) solid starters in CC
Sabathia and Phil Hughes. Sorry, but
that’s just not going to get it done against the likes of the Red Sox, Rays,
Tigers, Twins, Rangers, Angels, A’s or even the Orioles.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
If, somehow, the Yankees managed to get by all of the AL
teams to advance to the World Series, they’d be ousted by the Philadelphia
Phillies, San Francisco Giants, or Milwaukee Brewers.
I hate to be so doom and gloom when spring training is
still several months away but it is discouraging to see the other strong teams
get stronger while the Yankees wither away.
Unless you are 23 or 24, time is not your friend. Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez are not going
to magically have their best seasons ever.
Those days have come and gone.
I do still think that Andy Pettitte will return although
the odds against it increase with each passing day. If I was part of the organization for as long
and successful as Andy, it would be very hard to turn down the team’s appeals
for my return. If they needed me, I’d be
there regardless of the personal sacrifices involved as long as I knew that I
could perform at a high level.
Therefore, I’d be very surprised to see Andy turn his back on the
organization. That’s why I think he’ll
give it one more year and then close the book.
Even if Andy comes back, GM Brian Cashman has to do
more. The setup combo of David Robertson
and Joba Chamberlain does not instill a great sense of confidence based on
their performance last year. Plus, the
day will come when Mariano Rivera simply doesn’t have it anymore and the team
needs to be prepared.
How do you talk the Florida Marlins into trading Josh
Johnson or the Seattle Mariners out of Felix Hernandez? I don’t know but that’s what Brian Cashman is
It took a few times for the formula to work…
Finally, the pitching combination of Javier Vazquez-Joba Chamberlain-Mariano Rivera proved to be an effective…and winning…one in the Bronx as the Yankees defeated the Baltimore Orioles, 3-1. It was a great performance by Vazquez who picked up his 4th win in 9 decisions. The defining moment came in the 7th inning when the O’s had the bases loaded with only one out. Vazquez struck out Adam Jones, and induced a Julio Lugo ground out to end the threat.
I did find it interesting when Yankees radio commentator Suzyn Waldman made the comment that Lugo wasn’t the player he was a few years ago when he was with the Boston Red Sox. If memory serves correctly, Julia of Julia’s Rants was simply saying that Lugo wasn’t a player let alone the player he was. At any rate, he proved his current ineffectiveness which is either a testament to the great start by Vazquez or his own ineptitude. I’d like to think it was the former. I’ve been down on Vazquez, but I am thrilled to see him have some success. Granted, as Julia was quick to point out, it’s only the Orioles, but still, you have to start somewhere. Hopefully, Javy is able to parlay this start and the few other good ones he’s had in the past month into something closer to his 2009 form with the Atlanta Braves.
Javy was the gracious beneficiary of an error by Miguel Tejada that led to two runs in the bottom of the 7th inning. With the game tied at 1 after Vazquez escaped the bases loaded jam, his night was most likely done as Joba Chamberlain was warming up in the bullpen during the bottom of the frame. So, the timely runs gave Javy the well deserved victory. He struck out 7 batters, while allowing only 4 hits. All-in-all, it was a great night for Vazquez.
Fresh off Saturday’s disaster against Cleveland (when he allowed the Cleveland Indians to overcome a 6-run deficit), Joba Chamberlain was perfect in the 8th inning with three up, three down. The final act, of course, was played by Mariano Rivera. He did allow a single, but the runner never advanced beyond first base, and Mo left with his 11th save of the season.
Injury-wise, it was, once again, a costly win for the Yanks. Despite Derek Jeter’s return after getting hit in the hamstring against Cleveland on Monday, Mark Teixeira left the game after three innings after he took a foul ball off his foot in the first inning. Hopefully, he’ll only a miss a game or less.
Curtis Granderson may not be able to hit lefties, but that didn’t stop him from hitting a homer off lefty Brian Matusz in the second inning. Very nice!
It was a good win by the Yankees, and they should be in good shape with Phil Hughes on the mound tomorrow against the O’s Brad Bergesen. Failure is not an option. At least not in the Yankees Universe! J
Who’s the frontrunner?
Suddenly, Sergio Mitre is gaining the backing of the New York Press in his attempt to win the fifth spot in the starting pitching rotation. I still think the winner will ultimately be Phil Hughes, but he needs to show he belongs in the rotation now and forevermore.
Cataffo/NY Daily News
What happens if Mitre doesn’t win a starting role? With the many arms competing for spots in the pen, several with long relief experience, the best case scenario might be to showcase Mitre for other teams for a possible late spring training trade. Prospects are fine, but the Yankees need to parlay Mitre into potential for the future.
Keivom/NY Daily News
It was scary to hear the news that catcher Francisco Cervelli had been plunked in the head. I was in Arizona on a business trip and somewhat removed from sports news. I received an email from my good friend Julia, who expressed legitimate concern for a Yankee even though she dislikes anything Bronx-oriented. Thanks Julia! Cervelli may be ready to play by Friday and I am hopeful for a smooth and healthy return. Cervelli, and his attitude, are definitely why I am proud to be a Yankees fan. He’s a genuinely good guy and the team is placing great faith in his ability to backup Jorge Posada. At his advancing age, Posada will need more days off so the defensive-minded Cervelli will play a huge role for the 2010 Yankees.
I gotta admit that it was nice to see Nick Johnson in the lineup again. ..
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Today was a good day. Two wins. 7-5 over the World Series rival Philadelphia Phillies, and 6-0 against Team ex-Yankees, the Pittsburgh Pirates. Considering the recent string of losses, today was a day to enjoy. I still can’t figure out why the Red Sox aren’t on the spring schedule but two wins are two wins. Well, at least until Opening Day when we pick up our first official win!
I really hope the Minnesota Twins closer Joe Nathan is not seriously hurt. I am not a Twins fan but there is something right about baseball when the Twins are competing. The loss of Nathan would be huge so hopefully the news in the coming days will be positive for Nathan and the Twins.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Count me among those who think the Baltimore Orioles will be much improved this year. If the Orioles were a stock on the NYSE, I’d definitely rate them as a buy. Kevin Millwood is formidable at the top of the rotation, but Brian Matusz flat out scares me. The O’s are quietly assembling a championship club.
I thought the Hank Blalock signing was a solid move by the Tampa Bay Rays. The AL East is going to be a battleground this year. No team can afford to let up for any stretch of the schedule. I am very thankful that Doc Halladay is no longer pitching in Toronto. Here’s my first pass at a 2010 prediction for the AL East:
1. Yankees (of course!)
3. Red Sox (a disappointing year for the newcomers! :D)
5. Blue Jays
For some reason, I don’t think Julia will agree…