Tagged: Buck Showalter

Monty & The Power of Three…

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-NY Post

Yankees 9, Orioles 3…

Jordan Montgomery turned in one of his best performances of the season with six shutout innings to lead the Yankees over Buck Showalter’s Orioles. He was backed by three home runs in the third game of the four-game series with the O’s. Chasen Shreve was unable to get three outs in the ninth, but the Yankees emerged with their third consecutive victory over the Orioles.

The Orioles started a fly ball pitcher, Jeremy Hellickson, which is probably not the best of ideas at Yankee Stadium. To his credit, he held the Yankees at bay for 2 2/3 innings.  But then, with two outs in the 3rd inning, he walked both Chase Headley and Aaron Judge. Didi Gregorius made him pay for it with a three-run homer to the right field porch.

Credit:  Julie Jacobson-Associated Press

While Jordan Montgomery was cruising, the Yankees struck again in the 4th inning. Jacoby Ellsbury got it started when he ripped a double to the right field wall. After Todd Frazier walked, Greg Bird hit a home run into the second deck in right (“See ya!”) to make it a 6-0 game. It was the second consecutive game with a homer for Bird. Buck Showalter decided he’d seen enough of Hellickson and brought in Chris Tillman who got the O’s out of the inning.

The Yankees added a run in the 5th inning. Didi Gregorius reached base on a one-out single to second that was deflected by Tillman.  Starlin Castro was hit by a pitch on his right knee (Ouch!) which moved Gregorius into scoring position at second.  Jacoby Ellsbury’s single, through the fielders at third and shortstop into left field, brought Gregorius home and it was 7-0 Yankees.  

Tommy Kahnle took over for Jordan Montgomery in the top of the 7th inning.  It started well when Kahnle struck out the first two batters, but then JJ Hardy reached base on an infield single to third, a soft roller.  A wild pitch that got past Austin Romine moved Hardy to second.  Kahnle had Austin Hays down to two strikes (2-2 count) but lost him with two successive balls to put runners at first and second.  Fortunately, Kahnle struck out Joey Rickard to end the inning.

In the bottom of the 7th, the Yankees added to their lead.  Donnie Hart took over Chris Tillman on the mound.  Didi Gregorius hit an infield single to third, beating the throw to first, to lead off the inning for the Yanks.  Then, with two outs, Todd Frazier homered on a high fly to center, just to the left of Monument Park.  The Yankees had a commanding 9-0 lead.

Credit:  Jim McIsaac-Getty Images

From there, it was up to the second tier bullpen.  Ben Heller replaced Kahnle for the eighth.  I was a bit concerned when he walked the first two batters, but then he settled down and retired the next three batters.  Chasen Shreve took over in the 9th and was dreadful.  JJ Hardy took a one-out walk and Austin Hays followed with a homer to right in front of the Modell’s sign to spoil the shutout.  Shreve struck out Joey Rickard but then proceeded to walk the next three batters to load the bases.  Joe Girardi finally made the move to replace Shreve and brought in Giovanny Gallegos.  With Anthony Santander batting, Gallegos balked which brought Tim Beckham home from third to score.  I can’t say that I saw the balk but Joe Girardi didn’t argue the call. Aroldis Chapman was up in the bullpen but Gallegos was able to end the game when he struck out Santander.  The Yankees win!

The Yankees (82-66) won their fourth consecutive game but remain three games behind the Red Sox.  Boston beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 3-1, as both the O’s and Rays fade to oblivion.  The Minnesota Twins lost to the Toronto Blue Jays, 7-2, so the Yankees’ lead in the Wild Card Standings has increased to five games.  They remain six games up on the third place WC team, the Los Angeles Angels.  

Excellent job by Jordan Montgomery (8-7) in picking up his first win since July.  Pitching six scoreless innings, he only allowed 4 scattered hits and 1 walk while striking out six.  

Credit:  Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

What can you say about Didi Gregorius?  He’s been incredible and continued his dominance with a 3-for-4 day, scoring three runs and driving in 3 RBI’s.  At the beginning of the season, I would have laughed at the thought of Didi batting in the cleanup position.  I am not laughing anymore. He needs one more home run to match Derek Jeter for most HR’s in a season by a Yankees shortstop.  Jacoby Ellsbury, continuing his resurgence as a force in the lineup, also had a 3-for-4 day, with one run scored and an RBI.  Greg Bird, the Toddfather…it was yet another great team win.

With yesterday’s win, the Yankees assured themselves of their 25th consecutive winning season.  It is the longest streak in Yankees history since the Yankees won for 39 consecutive seasons between 1926 and 1964.

The series finale is set for this afternoon at 1:05 pm.  The Yankees have made a pitching change for the game.  Sonny Gray (9-10, 3.17 ERA) gets the start while the originally scheduled starter, CC Sabathia, has been moved to Tuesday to pitch against the Minnesota Twins.  Jaime Garcia gets the start on Monday versus his former team of six days in July.  The moves allow CC to avoid the series in Toronto and the artificial turf of Rogers Centre.  The Yanks also avoid sending Luis Severino out to face the Twins, their likely Wild Card opponent if the current standing remain unchanged.  Gray will be opposed by Ubaldo Jimenez (5-10, 6.75 ERA).

Odds & Ends…

Prior to yesterday’s game, the Yankees recalled 3B Miguel Andujar and RHP Jonathan Holder from Triple A.  Andujar made it into the game as a pinch-hitter but he grounded out in the 8th inning.  The Yankees also placed LHP Caleb Smith on the 10-day DL with a viral infection.

Have a great Sunday!  Let’s make it a sweeping success.  Go Yankees!

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Aaron Judge — Walking to History…

Yankees 7, Orioles 4…


I’d prefer to see Aaron Judge, the Monster Home Run Hitter, but there’s no mistaking that the young slugger knows how to take his walks.  By walking four more times yesterday, Judge now has 103 walks on the season.  The great Ted Williams holds the modern record for most walks by a rookie with 107 in 1939.  Granted, he’s far off the pace set by all-time record holder Barry Bonds (232 in 2004) and well down the overall list (tied for 432nd place) but his rookie year has been a record-setter. He is the first rookie with 100 walks since Jim Gilliam did it for the Brooklyn Dodgers back in 1953.


Oh, there was a game played too as the Yankees took down the Baltimore Orioles hours after their arrival in Maryland following Sunday night’s win over the Boston Red Sox.  I think I heard the team got in at 3 am on Monday morning and they were back at it by 2:05 pm.  Apparently no sleep is needed this time of year.  The Yankees spotted the O’s a 3-0 lead and then mounted their comeback.


Jordan Montgomery got the start over Jaime Garcia, but he was rudely welcomed by O’s lead-off hitter, Tim Beckham, who homered to right in the bottom of the first.  With Dylan Bundy, arguably the O’s best pitcher this year, on the mound, it looked like it might be a long afternoon.

Credit:  Nick Wass-Associated Press

While Bundy was easily dispatching the Yankees (he held the Yanks hitless for the first three innings), the O’s scored more runs in the bottom of the 2nd.  Mark Trumbo opened the inning by reaching base on a fielding error by Didi Gregorius when he couldn’t make a backhanded stop.  Chris Davis may not hit for average but when he gets a hold of a pitch with the barrel of his bat, it’s gone. His shot to left center put the O’s up, 3-0.  To Brett Gardner’s defense, he almost came up with a spectacular catch but the ball was just over his glove.


The Yankees finally got to Bundy in the 4th.  Starlin Castro led off with a single to left.  Didi Gregorius followed with a line drive home run to right, bouncing off the railing, and it was a one-run game.  Walks to Aaron Judge and Todd Frazier set the table for Jacoby Ellsbury.  His chopper through the hole into right field scored Judge and the game was tied at 3.


Baltimore came right back in the bottom of the 4th when the first two batters reached on singles, but Chris Davis grounded into a double play and Wellington Castillo struck out to end the threat without scoring.


The Yankees didn’t miss their chance in the top of the 5th inning.  Chase Headley looped a single to center and scored when Starlin Castro jumped on Bundy’s first pitch with a two-run shot to left.  It was the end of the day for Bundy and a 5-3 lead for the Yankees.

Credit:  Associated Press

Two insurance runs were added in the top of the 6th.  Todd Frazier and Jacoby Ellsbury walked against O’s reliever Miguel Castro to start the inning. A sacrifice bunt rolling down the first base line by Austin Romine moved the runners to second and third.  O’s Manager Buck Showalter pulled Castro and replaced him with Donnie Hart.  Brett Gardner hit a grounder to short and was thrown out at first but Frazier scored on the play. After Chase Headley walked, Showalter made another pitching change and brought in Richard Rodriguez.  Starlin Castro greeted Rodriguez with a single lined to center, scoring Ellsbury.  The Yankees had increased their lead to 7-3.


The Yankees had a couple of hits in the top of the 7th, including a double by Todd Frazier, but were unable to capitalize, thanks to a double play on Greg Bird and a ground out by Austin Romine.  Meanwhile, Yankees reliever Chad Green was mowing the Orioles down.  He had taken over for Jordan Montgomery with two outs in the 5th inning, and pitched through the 7th (striking out the final three batters he faced).  

Credit:  Ron Sachs

Manager Joe Girardi turned the game over to David Robertson to start the 8th.  It didn’t start well when D-Rob walked the first two batters.  But he responded by striking out Jonathan Schoop and Adam Jones for the first two outs.  Trey Mancini came up with a chance to make it a close game but his grounder to second ended the inning.  ‘Bend but not break’ continues to be the theme lately with D-Rob.


For the 9th, it was time to turn the game over to the arm of Dellin Betances.  Betances got the first two hitters out, but Wellington Castillo, in the midst of a career year with Baltimore, punched his 19th home run over the center field wall.  The O’s had closed the gap to 7-4.  Seth Smith was then inserted as a pinch-hitter for Joey Rickard but he went down swinging for the final out.  Game over.  Yankees win!


The Yankees (74-63) find themselves a mere 2 1/2 games behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East Standings this morning.  The Red Sox fell to the Toronto Blue Jays, 10-4.  The win pushed the Orioles 4 1/2 games behind the Yankees.  The Yankees also gained ground in the Wild Card Standings, moving 3 games ahead of the Minnesota Twins.  The Twins lost, 11-4, to the Tampa Bay Rays.  


The pitching star, no doubt, was Chad Green (3-0).  He pitched 2 1/3 innings and didn’t give up any hits or runs.  He struck out a total of four batters in picking up the win.  It wasn’t a great effort by Jordan Montgomery but credit to him for not letting the dam burst when the Orioles scored their early runs.  

Credit:  Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

The hitting star was Starlin Castro who was 3-for-5 with the two-run homer.  Didi Gregorius deserves honorable mention for his two-run shot.  


Orioles manager Buck Showalter sounded a little bitter about the expanded September rosters after the game. “There’s so many things that happen this time of the year,’’ said Showalter in his post-game comments. “They don’t make the moves they made in July and June. They’ve got all those bullets down there. They’ve got 12 people down there if you count Garcia. You’re able to do that. We couldn’t today because I had like three or four guys I wasn’t going use today. We had to do that to win the previous game. Everything is effect-counter-effect.”  That’s fine, I’ll take the counter-effect…the Judge walks and the Castro/Gregorius homers…for the win.  

Odds & Ends…

It’s tough when you are playing a team nipping at your heels, but Gary Sanchez began serving his three-game suspension (reduced from four games).  So, El Gary will miss the Baltimore series and will resume play on Friday night in Arlington, Texas.  Austin Romine becomes the starting catcher against the Orioles, backed by Erik Kratz.  Romine’s suspension was reduced from three games to two, and he’ll begin serving his time when Sanchez returns.  Then, sadly, the storied Yankees career of Erik Kratz will come to an end.


Prior to Monday’s game, Sanchez posted the following message on his FaceBook page:

The Yankees have recalled 2B/SS Tyler Wade.  Wade could potentially see some time in the outfield with Aaron Hicks on the DL, but he also brings speed to the basepaths with 26 steals at Triple A.  Wade won the International League batting title (.310) with the conclusion of the IL regular season yesterday.

Congratulations to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders for their 86-55 finish in the International League!  They begin the play-offs against the Wild Card Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Phillies) tomorrow.  The RailRiders finished 6 1/2 games better than the IronPigs in the IL North Division.  

Have a great Tuesday!  It’s back to work for many of us who enjoyed the long Labor Day Weekend but hopefully the Yankees keep putting in the hours for another victory.  Go Yankees!

Who Was That Masked Man?…

On Saturday, the Yankees were led by slugging outfielder Brett Gardner and the Hit Machine, Austin “So Fine” Romine.  Wait a minute!  Say what?  You’re friggin’ kidding me, right?  Gardner entered the game hitting .188 with no home runs or RBI’s.  Romine, a seemingly career minor leaguer until he finally became a Major League back up last year at age 27, came into the game with a more respectable .277, but only a single homer and five RBI’s.  On Saturday, the two went off for combined nine RBI’s as the Yankees throttled the Baltimore Orioles, 12-4.  The Yankees, in scoring 26 runs in two victories, have ensured that they’ll leave April, pending the outcome of today’s game, no worse than tied for the American League East lead.

Gardner hit not one but two home runs in doing his best impersonation of Aaron Judge, albeit a short one, and drove in four Yankees runs.  His 2-for-4 performance raised his batting average above .200 (to .206).  With a 2-for-3 day (which also included a home run), Romine boosted his average to .300 and bested Gardner’s RBI total by one.  I really didn’t expect Romine to start on Saturday after catching Friday night’s game, but I am glad Manager Joe Girardi penciled his name in.  By the way, Aaron Judge sent one out but that’s getting to be old news.  The big news anymore is the days he doesn’t send a ball screaming out of Yankee Stadium at record speed.  Seriously, Judge is locked in right now and is tied with Khris Davis of the Oakland A’s for the most home runs in the American League with ten.  Things are going so well for Judge, he even stole a base against the O’s, with footsteps that must have reverberated throughout the Stadium as the big man ran toward third.  

Credit:  Al Bello/Getty Images

Michael Pineda was the winning pitcher with 5 1/3 innings of work.  He got into some trouble in the sixth inning when Manny Machado doubled and subsequently scored on a Chase Headley throwing error.  Girardi had a quick hook and pulled Pineda despite the 7-1 lead to avoid a potential return to “Bad Mike”.  Big Mike’s day finished with five hits, two runs (although none earned), one walk, and eight strikeouts.  He picked up his third win (3-1) of the year.  

The Yankees are 15-7, and a game up on the Orioles for the AL East lead.  Aaron Judge is on pace for 74 home runs (I know, it’s not sustainable) and this is an absolutely fun team to watch.  What a difference a year makes!  Last year on April 29th, the Yankees fell to the Boston Red Sox 4-2 to drop their season record to 8-13.  Last April, the 2016 club felt lethargic and old. This year’s team is enthusiastic, supportive and energetic.  I am not saying this is the 1998 Yankees but this is the best team chemistry I have seen since the golden years of the late 90’s.  

Credit:  Noah K Murray/USA TODAY Sports

Today, the Yankees will send Jordan Montgomery to the mound to face the O’s Wade Miley in the finale of the three game series.  The Yankees stay at home to begin a three-game set with the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday.

Yankees pitching prospect Chance Adams is soon going to be making noise for Big League consideration.  So far this season, he is dominating Double-A for the Trenton Thunder.  Through four starts, the 22-year-old is 3-0 with 0.82 ERA (13 hits and 2 earned runs in 22 innings).  Although he has walked 10 batters, he was struck out 22.  He’ll no doubt get the call to make the trip to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre soon and is positioning himself for a possible late-season call-up to the Bronx.  If the Yankees need an emergency starter, I am sure that it would be Chad Green or Luis Cessa.  But Adams is ensuring that his name will soon be in the conversation.  Good problems to have.

News around Baseball the last few days has shown the risk of making big trades.  On December 9, 2015, the Arizona Diamondbacks packaged promising young shortstop Dansby Swanson, pesky outfielder Ender Inciarte, and pitcher Aaron Blair in a deal to acquire starting pitcher Shelby Miller and a minor leaguer.  Miller has struggled in Arizona and this week it was announced that he’ll undergo Tommy John surgery.  Like James Kaprielian, he won’t be back until late 2018 at the earliest.  Last year on December 7th, the Washington Nationals traded top young pitchers Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning to the Chicago White for outfielder Adam Eaton after their failed attempt to acquire Andrew McCutheon from the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Yesterday it was announced that Eaton will miss the remainder of the 2017 season with a torn ACL in his left knee.  Ouch!  These were very high prices to pay for nothing.  I hope that both Miller and Eaton are successful in their respective recoveries and return one day stronger than ever, but it doesn’t help either the D-Backs or the Nationals today.  The Nationals have a World Series contending club and now they need outfield help in addition to the desperate need for a proven closer.  

Have a great Sunday!  I have no desire to see former Yankees manager Buck Showalter gain a victory today…let’s sweep this series!

Feeling better than last year, but…

 

With the current state of the Yankees’ infield, I remain worried if Plan A does not come to fruition.  I still have not been able to wrap my head around Kelly Johnson being the everyday third baseman.  I feel that he is so much more useful in a utility role.  It would be great If Eduardo Nunez, Yangervis Solarte or Dean Anna could step it up to the next level, but that’s not something I am counting on.  Maybe the source of my discomfort with the infield is that Stephen Drew is still available.  I know, he costs money and maybe it’s too much for the Yankees given their huge off-season investments.  However, Drew would secure third base (with a little help from his “friends”, i.e., Nunez, Johnson et al).

With questions about Mark Teixeira’s wrist and how that will impact his power, whether or not Brian Roberts can prove he is still the player of yesteryear, and Derek Jeter’s ability to bounce back from a severe ankle injury at an advanced age, we do not need third base to be a question too.

Catching is set.  This is the best I’ve felt about the position since Jorge Posada was in his prime.  I like Francisco Cervelli as the back-up, but if his trade value could help other areas of the team like the infield or the bullpen, then I’d be in favor of a trade.  I feel that Austin Romine or John Ryan Murphy are capable of supporting Brian McCann.

For a change, the outfield is not a question mark.  It’s great to know that the outfield is so good that Alfonso Soriano is the fourth outfielder and Ichiro Suzuki, a sure-fire Hall of Famer, is essentially a man without a position.  Of course, that could change quickly if injuries were to impact Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner and/or Carlos Beltran.  I am hopeful that this is a major move forward in the developmental progress of prospect Mason Williams so that he, along with Slade Heathcott, can be serious contenders for Soriano’s spot next year.

Nothing against David Phelps, but I am pulling for Michael Pineda to secure the fifth spot in the pitching rotation.  I really like Phelps as the long man.  He provides the consistency, support and flexibility that Ramiro Mendoza brought to the team years ago.

I am cautiously optimistic that the duo of Shawn Kelley and Dellin Betances will provide the level of set up support for David Robertson that Robertson provided for Mariano Rivera.  That will go a long way toward determining how successful the 2014 Yankees can be.

There are not too many Plan B’s available on the current roster.  As current set, the Yankees will need the cards to fall right for them to contend in October.  This could be a 90-win team if all goes right, but conversely, it could just as easily be an 80-win team if it does not.

In my opinion, the Boston Red Sox remain the team to beat.  They are the champions until proven otherwise.  The AL East, perhaps baseball’s most competitive division, has improved.  Tampa Bay, Toronto and Baltimore have all made solid off-season moves.  The O’s were quiet for most of the off-season but their late signings of Ubaldo Jimenez, Nelson Cruz, and Johan Santana could pay dividends.  Never underestimate a team managed by Buck Showalter.  Tampa Bay has arguably baseball’s best manager so it’s a certainly that he’ll have his team in the race at the end.

This is my first prediction for the final season standings in the AL East:

  1. 1.       Boston Red Sox
  2. 2.       Tampa Bay Rays
  3. 3.       New York Yankees
  4. 4.       Toronto Blue Jays
  5. 5.       Baltimore Orioles

But you could probably throw these team names into a hat and pull them out in random order and it could be the potential finish.  I doubt Boston or Tampa finish anything worse than third, but the other three, including the Yankees, have the potential of finishing anywhere in the standings.

This should be a very fun and exciting year…

 

–Scott

 

If you wear #51 for the Mariners, you are a future Yankee!…

 

I thought I was supposed to wear the white uniform!…

In recent years, it has seemed as though no Yankee trade sneaks up on you.  Even with Curtis Granderson, there were rumors swirling around before the deal was finally consummated.  It has seemed like the press has been tapped into GM Brian Cashman’s inner thoughts.  But admittedly, the Ichiro Suzuki trade surprised me.

Years ago, this would have been a headline deal but it’s now obviously the acquisition of a former great player in the twilight of his career.

In recent weeks, I had seen other owners in fantasy leagues start to drop Ichiro from their rosters.  I had not been keeping up with his stats but I knew he was no longer the player he once was.  But if anything, Derek Jeter has shown what goes down does not necessarily have to stay down.  Some are suggested that Ichiro will be revitalized in the midst of a pennant race and the spotlight of New York.  Maybe so, maybe not.  But if you asked me if I prefer Ichiro in the outfield over DeWayne Wise or exposing Andruw Jones or Raul Ibanez to too much play, the answer would be, without hesitation, yes.  I was a bit disappointed when I first heard the news of the trade as visions of Shane Victorino or Denard Span were dancing in my head.  Yet, the realist in me knows that the cost to acquire either of those players would have exceeded the reward.  On the other hand, Ichiro is simply a rental for the remainder of the season.  He’ll be a free agent in the off-season so he’ll hand left field back to Brett Gardner when he departs the Stadium in October.

I remember the thrill of seeing my first game at Safeco Field.  The player I was most interested in seeing was Ichiro and he did not disappoint.  He came through with a few clutch hits and showed why he has been one of the better players over the past decade.  The Yankees have missed a clutch bat so hopefully a revitalized Ichiro means that they’ll have the “pest” they need at the plate and on the base paths.

I know that the pitchers the Yankees gave up were not top shelf talent (D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquahar) but they have the chance to be good major league pitchers.  I always hate to see good talent leave, especially if Ichiro’s days in pinstripes do not go beyond the next couple of months.  I always remember how much I hated watching Jay Buhner punish the Yankees while wearing a Mariners uniform and wondering what could have been if the Yanks had held on to him.  Now, with former top prospect Jesus Montero in Seattle, there are multiple players in the Great Northwest who could haunt their former team.  The Mariners go for 20-something former Yankees while the Yankees go for almost 40-something ex-Mariners.  I think the M’s have the better business formula even if it isn’t showing up in wins quite yet.

Now that I’ve gotten over the shock of the trade, I will admit that it is nice to see Ichiro in a Yankees uniform.  It will be even better if he can get on base with consistency and make crossing home plate a common occurrence.

If there’s one thing about the trade that struck me as unusual, it is the consummation of the deal prior to the start of the Yankees-Mariners series in Seattle.  The trade guaranteed the Mariners fans would be subjected to watching the first three games of Ichiro’s post-Seattle career in an opposing uniform.  Not any uniform but the most hated and despised uniform in most parts of the country outside of NYC.  The Yankees apparently had conditions Ichiro had to agree to (batting in the bottom of the order, moving to left, and accepting an outfield rotation to get the bats of Jones and Ibanez into the lineup).  So, perhaps the Yankees had the upper hand in this deal and argued that it had to happen sooner rather the later.  For the Mariners, the motivation is clearly to move on and to further develop their further stars.

After the Cliff Lee debacle when he went to the Texas Rangers for Justin Smoak after the Yankees thought they had acquired him, I really didn’t think the Yankees would forgive the Mariners and their general manager.  But after the Michael Pineda and Ichiro deals, there is no evidence of hard feelings.  Cliff Lee just wasn’t meant to be a Yankee.  He proved that with his own decision to rebuke the team to re-sign with the Philadelphia Phillies.  Lee is a good pitcher but some guys weren’t meant for Broadway.

The question now is if the Yankees are done dealing before the trading deadline.  With the returns of Joba Chamberlain and Andy Pettitte looming on the horizon, perhaps they are the moves that can catapult the Yankees to the World Series.  I can’t really think of another move the Yankees need to make other than further enhancing an already good bullpen.  Sure, if the Philadelphia Phillies called to say that they’d trade Roy Halladay for Ivan Nova, you’d pull the trigger, but seriously, that’s not going to happen.

For the lack of better words, Ouch!…

After moving back to the Bay Area and living in what is described as A’s territory, it was really tough to see the Yankees swept in four games against the upstart A’s.  While the Yankees hold a 7 game lead, the race is far from over.  I still expect the Tampa Bay Rays to make a run, and of course, I am always fearful the Boston Red Sox make some major moves that propel them back into contention.  I’d be foolish to underestimate Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles.  So, every day, Brian Cashman needs to be trying to find ways to improve the team.  The nice thing is that I know he is.

Open the Cooperstown doors now…

I think I read recently that Mariano Rivera would like to make his return in September rather than next spring.  While I doubt he’ll be able to do it, I wouldn’t be surprised if he did.  He is clearly one of the most gifted athletes of our time.  He is my favorite current Yankee and he’ll be on the fast track to Cooperstown when he retires.  I am sure that his spot in Memorial Park has already been reserved, along with Derek Jeter’s.  It would have been great to watch guys like Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle play, but I am glad that I lived in the Rivera/Jeter era.  I look forward to telling my grandchildren that I saw the game’s greatest closer play.  As a kid, I thought Rich “Goose” Gossage was the greatest closer. I never realizvbbbbb

But are they Yankees fans?…

I am the proud owner of two rescue kittens named Nathalia and Sophie.  They are sisters and at times, they are the synchronized twins.  Two American Shorthairs, both black and one with with a white undercoat, they have proven their love of baseball.  During the recent Yankees-Red Sox series in Boston, the sisters were engrossed in watching the game, just like their roommate (me).  I love this pic…

 

 

And the winner is…

The next week should be fun as teams race against the trading deadline.  Maybe it will be quiet, maybe not.  I fully expect the Red Sox and in particular, GM Ben Cherington, to make a bold move.  I respect Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster for preferring to pitch for the Los Angeles Dodgers over the Atlanta Braves (I should qualify that by saying my favorite NL team is the Dodgers).  The Tigers have been active as evidenced by their recent acquisitions of Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante.  I saw tonight that the Pittsburgh Pirates were close to acquiring Wandy Rodriguez, who has long been on the radar for both the Yanks and Red Sox.  I almost missed the trade of Astros closer Brett Myers to the Chicago White Sox.  I think the Sox have the market cornered on goatees.

I am still missing Minneapolis but I am enjoying this baseball season.  Life is good.

–Scott

P.S.  Looking for some great photos?  Check out Erik van den Ham’s website, http://www.panoramio.com/user/62613.  Excellent!

 

 

 

 

Wanted: Big Production, Little Paycheck…

 

Joe says it so it must be true!…

So now even manager Joe Girardi is expressing interest in a left-handed bat!  Joe’s joined the club of us overly intelligent, know-more-than-Brian Cashman fans!  LOL!  Just kidding.  But it is interesting to see a key Yankee figure express the need for additional help.  With free agents Raul Ibanez (wow, I almost typed Mondesi!), Hideki Matsui, and Johnny Damon lurking on the sidelines, GM Brian Cashman recently indicated the Yankees would pursue help via trade.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.  Obviously, the Yankees need to unload a pitcher.  With three starters vying for the #5 spot in the rotation (Freddy Garcia, A.J. Burnett, and Phil Hughes), it’s clear that this is going to end badly for one or two pitchers.  All things considered, I think you have to put Phil Hughes in the rotation.  The Yankees HAVE to prove that 2010 was not a fluke (or not).  Plus, Hiroki Kuroda, at 37, is not destined to be a long-term Yankee.  Sure, the Yanks could go hard after Cole Hamels or Matt Cain as a replacement following the 2012 season but I still subscribe to the ‘dance with the one who brung ya’ theory.  Well, at least until he proves us wrong.  I know, the leash is overly long, but Hughes is still young, and he can still be a force in the rotation.  He’d certainly be cheaper than either Hamels or Cain in the foreseeable future.

So, where does that leave Burnett and Garcia?  I think Garcia is the best option to plant in the bullpen as the long man and #6 starter in the event of injury in the rotation…at least until Dellin Betances and/or Manny Banuelos are ready later in the year.  This means shipping Burnett and lots of money to another team is probably best case scenario.  Trading Hughes would be foolish since the return, following his poor 2011 season, would be under market value.  Plus, Hughes has more long-term value to the team than Burnett.  There’s no way the Yankees re-sign Burnett at the expiration of his contract.  He’ll see the same door as Jason Giambi with a slight push from behind.

But, and that’s a big but, what does Burnett bring in trade?  He is not going to bring a young slugger, that’s for sure.  More than likely, it would only be someone else’s albatross, ala Alfonso Soriano.  I still think one of the available free agents is the best option for the left-handed bat, but I am sure whatever move Cashman makes will be the best one for the organization.

Wanted:  Someone who’s butt can withstand splinters…

As for the additional infield bench support to accompany Eduardo Nunez, I still would really like to see the return of Eric Chavez even though Bill Hall’s name has been mentioned more frequently as of late.

“Buck, we really need to be the focus of the tabloids”…

I have to admit that I am surprised to see the teams mentioned as possibilities for Manny Ramirez.  No, I don’t want Man-Ram calling 161st and River home, but the teams mentioned…Oakland A’s, Baltimore Orioles, and Toronto Blue Jays…seem like odd fits for a guy that has to spend 50 games on the suspended list.  With the emphasis on youth in Oakland and Baltimore, I’d question whether having Manny on the team is worth it in terms of the negative impact he can have.  Younger players are far more impressionable, and no team, even the Blue Jays, need a distraction.  Maybe Manny can still swing it.  I acknowledge that he was once the most feared hitter in the AL, but I don’t think he’ll ever be close to the hitter he once was.  Age sucks, but it happens to us all…

A funny thing happened to the Phillies on their way to the World Series…

Edwin Jackson to the Washington Nationals on a one-year deal was a good move for the Nats.  Outside of the New York Mets, the NL East is a scary division.  Yeah, the Philadelphia Phillies have the Big 3 (Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels), but there are too many other question marks to make them the clear favorite.  I don’t think the Miami Marlins will win the division but they’ll make noise.  The Braves, the Nats.  That’s a tough division.  Then, there’s the Mets…

Go, boston?…

With a New York-Boston Super Bowl upon us, it’s weird that I, as a Yankees fan, find myself on the Boston side of the battle.  That seems so wrong on so many levels.  But it is what it is…go Patriots!

 

–Scott

First Place, but hardly reason to gloat…

 

I am an Iowa Hawkeyes fan, I am used to build up then disappointment…

It’s ironic that the Yankees currently hold the lead in the American League East since it has seemed as though the Boston Red Sox and their fans have had more reason to gloat this year.  Every time I get excited about the Yankees, they do something to temper the excitement.  Headed in September, the team was playing at an incredibly high level, with solid pitching from the entire rotation including A.J. Burnett (well, one start).  During the first two games of a four game set with the Baltimore Orioles and the manager I love to hate, Buck Showalter, the Yankees looked like they could hang with the Philadelphia Phillies in a 7-game play-off series.

But alas, all good things must end, and the Yankees promptly lost two consecutive extra-inning affairs with the O’s.  Fortunately, the Red Sox were struggling with the Toronto Blue Jays, losing 2 of 3, so the Yanks didn’t lose any ground (they currently lead the Sox by 2 ½ games).

For the record, I don’t take any joy in the health issues surrounding Josh Beckett and Kevin Youkilis.  I’d rather beat a Red Sox team at full strength than one depleted by critical injuries.

Many Yankees fans are probably already counting on the AL East Flag, but like last year, I know how easy it can slip away and of course a 2 ½ game lead is nothing on September 9th.  The Sox have plenty of time to make up the difference and they are certainly a team capable of getting on a roll.  That’s why I consider those two O’s losses as lost opportunities.  It doesn’t get any easier for the Yanks as they are now in Anaheim to face the Los Angeles Angels.  Tonight, they are pitted against Jered Weaver who is arguably the best pitcher in the American League not named Justin Verlander.  Plus, the Yankees generally do not fare well on those West Coast swings.  So, the Red Sox certainly have a golden opportunity to re-take the AL East.

Hip-hip, Jorge!…

While I am one that feels this should be the last year in the Bronx for Jorge Posada (almost a virtual certainty given how well Jesus Montero has performed), I do hope that he gets his moment in Yankee Stadium like Paul O’Neill did when the fans started chanting his name.  Posada can leave knowing that his name will rank up there with Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey, Elston Howard, and Thurman Munson.  It will be odd seeing Posada in a different uniform if he chooses to play next year, and I definitely hope that he is not one of those who travel north to Boston.  I’d rather see him play for the Tampa Bay Rays.  Best case scenario would be the National League, but I doubt he’d switch leagues at this late juncture in his career.  Of course, his catching days are behind him so a team with a DH is where he is best suited.  I am sure that he’ll be more prepared for DH next season.

Random thoughts…

I am ready for the Scott Proctor reunion to end…

So, how can we convince some team to offer Rafael Soriano a ridiculous amount of money to walk away from his contract with the Yankees after the season?  Sadly, I think he’ll be a Yankee for all three years…

Tell me again why we kept Phil Hughes and traded 19-game winner Ian Kennedy?  Okay, I can’t fault the Yankees on this one as I was ready for Kennedy to leave and he probably would not have achieved the same level of success in the pressure cooker known as New York…

Funny how Derek Jeter drop-kicked Minka Kelly on the eve of her becoming a national sex symbol with the new Charlie’s Angels TV series.  When you are DJ and you can have any girl in the world, why settle for one?  I am sure that he has no shortage of friends, and he can certainly buy a few if he needs them…

When I saw the photo of Cameron Diaz “pregnant” (costuming for a movie), my first thought, thinking it was real, was definitely about Alex Rodriguez and additional future child support payments.  But fortunately, A-Rod has been able to afford “protection” and he doesn’t have to worry about any unexpected A-Rod, Jr’s in the world…

Are you ready for some football?…

Getting a little off-topic, it was disappointing to see that Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning had to undergo a second surgery on his neck that will keep him out of action for 2-3 months, if not all season.  Some are saying that he should just retire rather than risk further injury, and I’d certainly agree that he doesn’t have any more to prove.  He’ll definitely go down in history as one of the great ones.  Kerry Collins has a good knack for being in the right place at the right time…

Two years ago, as a Vikings fan, I had to learn to root for a former hated quarterback (Brett Favre).  Now, as a former resident of the Philly area who witnessed the fan apathy toward Donovan McNabb, I have to pull for him as the QB of my team.  I am a fan of Christian Ponder, and I suspect that he’ll get his opportunity to take a few snaps at some point in the season.  Actually, I hope McNabb proves me wrong and leads the Vikings to the promised land.  But I see this as just another attempt to capture glory from a faded star…

I keep hearing how great it is that LB Erin Henderson has landed a starting role with the Vikings (alongside his brother, E.J.) as an undrafted free agent.  But in the year of his draft, I was somewhat surprised that he did go undrafted.  It was evident that he was a quality player at Maryland, and I would have thought some team would have taken a shot in the later rounds.  Just as I liked Erin that year, I like RB Caleb King this year.  He didn’t make the final cut when the team pared its roster to 53 players, but he was retained on the practice squad.  Hopefully, a position on the roster will materialize before some other team realizes the diamond in the rough…

If I am Mike Shanahan, and my choices for starting QB are Rex Grossman and John Beck, I am retiring to see what NBC Sports has to offer…

As a resident of Minnesota and the city of Minneapolis, I am really hopeful that the city will find a way to step forward to retain the Vikings.  Presently, the proposal is for a new stadium in Arden Hills, and I know the ownership group is highly in favor of the area.  I’d really like to see the Vikings stay in Minneapolis with the Twins and the Timberwolves.  The options are either the existing Metrodome/Mall of America Field area or the Farmer’s Market.  I’d prefer the latter.  But all things considered, I would accept Arden Hills over Los Angeles.   Whatever it takes, I hope Minnesota does the right thing to retain the Vikings.  It would be horrific for the Land of 10,000 Lakes to lose a second professional team to the city of Los Angeles…

I saw that Buddy Ryan was delaying surgery (he has been diagnosed with cancer…again) so that he could witness the Week 1 match-up between Rex Ryan and the New York Jets and Rob Ryan and the Dallas Cowboys.  I am hopeful that he’ll see a Jets victory, but then again, the Cowboys have always been my second favorite team so I won’t be disappointed if Tony Romo and company pull out the victory.  Buddy apparently has a history of beating cancer so hopefully this is just another one of those dominating Ryan situations…

I know that I kept jumping back to the Vikings (hey, I am a Vikings fan!), but I have to say that I really like what I’ve seen from new head coach Leslie Frazier.  I have not always been a big fan of the team’s coach.  When you grow up with Bud Grant as the man, it’s hard to see others in the role.  The worst, of course, was Les Steckel, but there have been varying degrees over the years.  I did like Mike Tice but recognize that he was limited from a coaching perspective.  Leslie Frazier is the first coach since Grant that I’ve been able to fully embrace.  I hated to see the Vikings lose former defensive coach Mike Tomlin when he was named coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and I felt the Vikings were facing the same situation with Frazier (just like they had with Tomlin and Tony Dungy in previous years).  Fortunately, the Vikings canned Brad Childress (sorry Brad!) and promoted Frazier to the top job.  I was slow to accept Joe Girardi as the Yankees manager (I was a Don Mattingly supporter), but today, there’s not really anyone that I’d rather see as manager of the Yankees.  I feel the same way about Leslie Frazier.

We are now in the midst of perhaps one of the best sports months of the year.  It is the pennant race in baseball, and the opening of the NFL Season.  Granted, my focus is on baseball, but it will still be fun to watch some football this Sunday.  Down, set, 247, 247, hutt, hutt…

–Scott