Where is Lyle Overbay when you need him? I know, he’s enjoying the early season winning in Milwaukee, but the Yankees are clearly in need of someone who can play first base better than just a fill-in. I am still not convinced that Mark Teixeira will be a reliable force anytime soon even though his DL stint ends on Sunday. He hasn’t been hitting and he never hits in the early stages of a season. It’s made worse this year given that he is coming off a year lost to injury. Maybe we’ll experience a renaissance at first with Tex but put me in the “I’ll believe it when I see it” category.
Poor Kelly Johnson. Signed to play second base, he became the starting third baseman when he who shall remain nameless was banned for the season. Johnson subsequently had to move across the diamond to play the other corner when Teixeira went on the DL. What’s next? Catcher? Or maybe he’ll be the team #5 starter should anything happen to a member of the rotation. He’s versatile, but seriously, I’d rather see Johnson stick to the left side of the infield. It’s too bad that someone with talent like Stephen Drew remains unsigned when he could help the Yankees in so many ways. I know, the cost is too great and we’re spoiled Yankee fans. But seriously, the team needs to protect its investment. The starting rotation has been solid and is capable of taking the team further than expected. But the bats and defense have to perform.
With the placement of backup catcher Francisco Cervelli on the DL, I was wondering what moves the Yankees would make. They have subsequently called up catcher John Ryan Murphy and signed Scott Sizemore to the major league roster after sending pitcher Shane Greene down to AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre. I’ve never been excited about Sizemore’s bat so the move doesn’t exactly resolve my infield concerns but to his defense, he had gotten off to a good start at AAA.
Interesting that the Yankees called upon Murphy rather than catcher Austin Romine. Brian Cashman made the comment that Murphy was the “better player”. When a GM talks, you always have to wonder if it is the truth or simply posturing for potential future trades. I fully expect the Yankees to move one of their minor league catchers in the days leading up to the trading deadline. Could be Murphy, Romine or even Gary Sanchez. But at some point, someone has to go to upgrade other areas in need.
Shawn Kelley has allayed my early concerns about his ability to close games. After blowing a game shortly after he became the interim closer, he’s been fairly solid the last few games. While it is good to see him gain closing experience, I’ll be glad to see David Robertson return.
Even with the help of some liquid brown dirt (yeah right), Michael Pineda has been everything I’ve expected since 2011. When people were calling the trade a bust, I stayed patient as I wanted to see Pineda perform when healthy. Yes, he could turn out to be another Carl Pavano but I don’t really expect that to happen. It’s great to have someone with his ability as the fifth starter. In many ways, he is better than the so-called “ace” of the staff. Speaking of the latter, I really hope CC Sabathia can successfully return to his status as a frontline starter if he can make the necessary transition and changes to his pitching style with the loss in velocity.
So far, I’ve been pleased with the performance of the Yankees. They’re holding their own and they just came off a series victory over arch-rival Boston. It’s still a long season and the team will have to do something about the holes in the infield but at least they are not in a dire situation at the start.
The nice thing about the Yankees…they’ll always give me something to complain about. Well, 1998 excluded.
The highs and lows of the Hot Stove League, thus far…
For Yankees fans, the off-season started nicely. After early speculation that manager Joe Girardi might jump to the Chicago Cubs, he re-signed a long-term deal with the Yankees and expressed it was his desire to remain in New York. All good.
Then, Derek Jeter quickly signed a one year deal with negotiations that where smooth, quick and efficient (unlike the prior Jeter negotiations). It remains to be seen if we’ll get the Jeter of 2012 or the injured, aging 2013 model, but there’s no question that Jeter must finish his career in pinstripes. I don’t think Derek would want to go anywhere else at this point anyway, but still, he is the face of the franchise and he’ll forever be remembered as one of its legends. In the distant future, when the old greats from the 50’s Dynasty era are gone (Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford, among others), it will be guys like Jeter that maintain the honor and tradition in baseball’s most storied franchise.
The Yankees struck fast in signing free agent catcher Brian McCann after last year’s parade of backups in the starting role. It gives the team its first legitimate starter at the position since Russell Martin left, and the best offensive bat at the position since Jorge Posada retired. This is a move that places backup catchers Francisco Cervelli, J.R. Murphy, and Austin Romine in a better position to succeed. At first pass, I expect Cervelli to take the backup job in spring training but the other two are capable. On the days that McCann slides to DH, the catching position will be capable hands.
Next came a big surprise. I honestly did not see the Yankees signing centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury. While I have been a fan of Ellsbury’s work, it didn’t seem to be a great need for the team. Brett Gardner has been an effective centerfielder, and has the speed to burn. Still, Ellsbury’s signing upgrades the position and allows the Yankees to slide Gardner to left where he a defensive upgrade over Alfonso Soriano. The concern here is that by making Soriano the full-time DH, it does limit the DH opportunities for Derek Jeter and Brian McCann. Soriano’s bat is still very valuable, and it’s much needed in the lineup.
Then came the bittersweet day of Friday, December 6th. The night before, there had been reports that second baseman Robinson Cano had flown to Seattle, but in the morning, the early reports indicated that talks had stalled or perhaps even ended. It gave a brief ray of hope that he’d come back to the Yankees, but those hopes were soon dissolved when it was reported Cano had agreed to a 10-year $240 million deal with the Mariners. While it’s tough to lose a great player, perhaps the team’s best, it is simply too hard to justify those numbers. I have enjoyed the early 30’s version of Cano at second, but in his late 30’s and early 40’s, the prospect doesn’t look too promising at $24 million per year. That’s a huge chunk of any team’s overall payroll. I think of when Chase Utley was the premier second baseman, but now, with injuries, he has become a shell of what he once was. What happens if Cano does not age well? I guess I am not a gambling man and would prefer that the M’s take that bet. $240 million can be better spent by spreading it over multiple positions rather than locking it into only one.
This is where I find Robinson Cano to be extremely selfish. You can’t begrudge anyone from wanting as much money as they can get, but this is a team game and every team has a budget…even the Yankees. If it were me, I would have taken the Yankees offer of 7 years at $175 million because the average annual salary was stronger and I’d know that the team would be more flexible in other areas by not being locked into so many years. For those additional three years, it would be up to me to perform and if so, there would be a reward. It also would have kept the Yankee legacy intact and ensured a potential place among the team’s legends. But now, Cano is just another player who took the money and ran. He proved that money is more valuable than wins, and money is more important than helping build a strong supporting cast of quality players. That doesn’t mean Seattle doesn’t have quality players, they do, but they are a long way from contending. It is very possible that when they are ready to contend, Cano has started his career regression due to age that’s inevitable for everyone.
Cano has carried the “lazy” rap for years. While he is an exciting player at times, it was frustrating when he didn’t hustle. I think of someone like Dustin Pedroia, whose motor is always running. He creates opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t be there because he is alert and proactive. He seizes the opportunities and takes advantage of them. That’s what winning ball players do. Cano is not that guy. I have never thought of him as a team player, and I didn’t view him as a player who helped raise the performance level of those around him. Rest assured the Yankees will miss his offensive production at the position. At this point, I have no idea who will be the second baseman in 2014. Kelly Johnson seems better suited to help replace Alex Rodriguez at third base, in a platoon situation. Omar Infante signed a four year deal with the Kansas City Royals, and Brandon Phillips is starting the downward slide that comes with age. David Adams, a young player who had the talent but couldn’t show it at the major league level during brief auditions, was non-tendered and is now a Cleveland Indian. It looks as though the Yankees will fill second base with a bargain basement fill-in, much like they did last year with first and third bases. I wish the organization was better stocked with up and coming second base talent, but that does not appear to be the case. I personally thought Infante would have been the best short-term option, but the Yankees allowed them to get beat by the Royals in signing the player. You know it’s an odd year when the Yankees get beat in free agency by both the Royals and the Mariners.
But enough about Cano, he is gone and so is his Yankees legacy.
Around the same time as the news had broken about the former second baseman signing with Seattle, it was reported that starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda had signed a new one year deal with the team. This was very good news to hear. Kuroda is much needed, and I am grateful that he chose to delay his return to Japan by a year or head back to his home in Southern California. So, Cashman has filled 200 of the 400 innings he previously stated were needed this off-season.
After the tumultuous events of the day, news broke on the evening of December 6th that the Yankees had signed outfielder Carlos Beltran. At 36, he is no longer the player he once was, but he is a “gamer” or as George Steinbrenner would say, a warrior. Even an aging Beltran is an upgrade over an even older Ichiro Suzuki or the outfielder still primarily funded by the Los Angeles Angels, Vernon Wells.
But after the three free agent signings, the news has mostly been about departures. Phil Hughes was the first to depart, signing a three year deal with the Minnesota Twins. It was probably a good move for Hughes. Minnesota will be less pressurized and he should have the opportunity to flourish, much like Carl Pavano was able to resurrect his career in Minneapolis after leaving New York. I certainly did not expect the Yankees to re-sign Hughes after the season he had last year, but I thought he’d go to Southern California and saw the San Diego Padres as a good fit. Nevertheless, Minneapolis is a fun city and it’s a good ballpark.
A couple of other notable defections occurred in the bullpen, where Joba Chamberlain signed a one year deal with the Detroit Tigers and Boone Logan went for three years with the Colorado Rockies. Of the two, it is Logan that I really hated to see leave. He was a trusted left-handed reliever, but it really didn’t seem like the team made much of an effort to retain his services. They obviously had other priorities, but I suppose the Yankees are hopeful that a less expensive options like Cesar Cabral will step up to fill Boone’s role. It was a foregone conclusion that Joba had thrown his last pitch for the Yankees. But admittedly, I was surprised he went to Detroit. There are worse things to do than to go to a team that is probably the best one in the American League right now, but I thought that Joba would go to the Kansas City Royals since it is closer to his hometown roots. The one year deal does give him an opportunity to try and restore the promise he once had with the Yankees. Plus, if he wins a World Series, it will help give his career a further boost.
The Yankees also lost last year’s starting catcher when they traded Chris Stewart to the Pittsburgh Pirates. This move was a given after the McCann signing combined with the surplus of backup catchers.
For as crazy as December started for the Yankees, the week of the baseball winter meetings was extremely quiet. The Yankees still have much work to do. On paper, after consideration of all plusses and minuses, they are not noticeably better than last year’s 85 win team. They still need a quality starting pitcher, a second baseman, and bullpen help. Brian Cashman has his work cut out for him between now and spring training.
I honestly do not know where the Yankees will go from here. I’d like to see the free agent signing of a pitcher like Matt Garza, but so far, the Yankees have not been one of the team’s linked to the pitcher. Same with Bronson Arroyo, who is certainly capable of eating a large number of innings as a #4 starter. For second base, the latest reports have the Yankees interested in Darwin Barney of the Chicago Cubs but I have no idea what he would cost in terms of talent in a trade. I will feel much better about the 2014 Yankees once the additional starting pitcher and second baseman are in the fold, but at least it is reassuring to know that Hal Steinbrenner wants to win as much as the rest of us do.
He has been and always will be my hero…
It has been that long since the great Lou Gehrig departed this universe. Yet, his legacy still burns brightly and strongly throughout the world. He made a difference on and off the field and his model has continued to set the example for others to live their lives.
June 2, 1941. I will always remember it as well as August 2, 1979 even if I was only alive for one of those tragic days. 1941 was not a good year for the country nor was it a particularly good year for my family. My dad’s brother, then 21, died while moving out of his mother’s house after she had “evicted” him when she learned that he had secretly married. My uncle didn’t carve a life or legacy that others outside of the immediate family will remember, but he strived to be the man that Lou Gehrig. But like so many, we fail miserably.
Gehrig continues to be my all-time favorite Yankee. Mariano Rivera has long been my favorite current Yankee, but even he will have to take the bench when compared to Gehrig. Sorry Mo, I know you are the man that Gehrig was but there is only room for one at the top.
I’ve been a baseball fan since I was about 5 or 6 and read a book about Lou Gehrig. It was his story that propelled my interest in baseball. I didn’t become a Yankees fan because of him (I owe that to Catfish Hunter) but I would have never been a Catfish Hunter fan if not for Gehrig. So, I fully understand that the core root of my love of baseball and the Yankees lies solely with the Iron Horse.
Lou, I miss you even if I didn’t have the opportunity to meet you. My world is better because you were in it, and I thank you for simply being you.
The Ice Man Cometh…
I have to admit that I was/am a bit concerned about Mark Teixeira’s late start to the season. Granted, he hit a grand slam in tonight’s win over the Cleveland Indians, but he is a notoriously slow starter. To start slow at the beginning of June is not good. Tex needs to hit the ground running. I can only hope that the grand slam will propel him forward and bypass the usual ice freeze that starts any Teixeira season. I feel bad for Lyle Overbay. He’s done everything asked of him, and he has won a few games with his bat. Now, he takes the back seat to Teixeira which, given the aforementioned history of slow starts, might not be a move for the better…at least in the short run.
As much as I want the return of the other injured players, I still do not want the return of Alex Rodriguez. I have never dreaded seeing a player put on pinstripes as much as I do him. Well, maybe Ed Whitson or Carl Pavano, but as for as $30 million a year players go, I’d rather see A-Rod elsewhere.
If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all…
I am still making bets with Julia of the former MLBlog’s Julia Rants. The latest bet, thanks to the Yankees series failure, has me sporting a picture of Carl Yastrzemski as my profile pic on FaceBook for a week. Sometimes, I just wish the Yankees would come through for me on these bets! I am getting tired of getting the short straw…
Oh well, it’s June and we’ve moved past the start of the season. The Yanks need to shake off the doldrums of getting swept by the New York Mets and the series loss to the Red Sox to propel themselves to a 10-game win streak to regain some momentum…
Let’s go, Guys, we can do this!
Once you’ve failed Boston, come to New York…
Okay, I admit it. I am not overjoyed to see the Red Sox reunion on the Yankees roster. First, there was former Red Sox reliever Hideki Okajima, then reliever Manny Delcarmen, and now utility infielder Bill Hall. Of the three, Okajima is actually the only who’s last team was the Red Sox but still, the three have served their time in Beantown and are now “enemies” in a friendly camp.
If Okajima can win a job, that’s fine but I don’t really see him beating out Cesar Cabral unless the latter is a complete washout in camp. Delcarmen, in my mind, is simply fodder for the spring with no hope of seeing the major league roster come Opening Day. Hall is an interesting pickup. I am concerned because I want to see the return of backup third baseman Eric Chavez, who is the perfect as a substitute for Alex Rodriguez when A-Rod takes his usual spot on the DL. Indications are that the Yankees are still interested in Chavez despite the Hall signing and I hope so. Reports have also indicated that the Yankees are in deep conversation with Raul Ibanez. If both Hall and Ibanez are signed, is there room for Chavez? I really hope that Chavez is independent of the other decisions.
Nevertheless, even if the Yankees break camp with Okajima, Delcarmen and Hall, they are still inferior to what the Yankees could have had with long reliever/spot starter Alfredo Aceves. At the time the Yankees cut bait with Aceves, I thought it was a mistake. I realize that he had been hurt and subsequently suffered a setback that cost more time. But never once did I consider him to be the second coming of Carl Pavano. I thought that once he was healthy, he’d return to being the effective reliever he was prior to the injuries. Of course, that’s exactly what he did…only in a Red Sox uniform. That’s why I always hate to see ex-Yankees go to Boston. Sure, it would be fun to see Okajima, Delcarmen or Hall thrive in the Bronx, but I just don’t see it happening. I’d have to score this one as ‘Advantage, Red Sox’.
Swisher deserves compensation!…
I enjoyed seeing pitcher Jeremy Guthrie’s quote after being traded from the Baltimore Orioles to the Colorado Rockies. He said the loser in the trade was Nick Swisher’s batting average. Hopefully, Swish can find a replacement pitcher to pick on!
$19 Million? Put it on the tab…
Good move by the Los Angeles Dodgers to lock up arbitration-eligible starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw for two years. It helps buy some time for the new ownership group to take control and do what’s right by ensuring Kershaw is a long-term fixture in Chavez Ravine. I am sure these are tenuous times for Donnie Baseball given the uncertainty regarding the ownership picture and the current financial constraints. But the Dodgers have done well in securing Matt Kemp and now setting up Kershaw for discussions on a longer-term deal under a time frame that will suit the new owners.
RBI, or IBRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR….
It’s hard to believe that we are just a few weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting to camp. The temps in Minnesota have dipped back into the 20’s with some sub-zero temperatures looming on the horizon. Target Field is looking a bit frigid to think the lights will once again be illuminated in two short months. Nevertheless, I am glad to see the return of the America’s Favorite Pastime. No offense to Eli Manning, but I’ll be glad when the “star of New York” is someone like CC Sabathia, Robinson Cano, or Curtis Granderson rather than Peyton’s little bro.
I don’t have a beret to throw in the air…
I am finally living in an American League city once again. Today is my first day as a resident of the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Somehow, recent years have found me in National League cities, which is tough as an American League fan. Nevertheless, I persevered and now reside in a city that houses good baseball tradition. In fact, from my living room window, I can see the lights of Target Field. Sweet! Of course, I will never be able to admit that I am a Yankees fan in public given the bad blood between the Yankees and Twins. I’d probably have better luck wearing a Sox cap…
I am looking forward to learning about my new city, and I am excited about the opportunity and potential the area provides. Yes, I’ll have to get used to winters again, but after living in areas where winter meant a 20 or 30 degree dip in average temps, I am looking forward to true changes of seasons. Growing up in the Midwest, I never complained about snowfall and it was always one of my favorite enjoyments. The only issue I have with winter is ice. Outside of that, I can deal with the cold temps and the white, frosty surroundings.
Oddly, as a lifelong Minnesota Vikings fan, this will be the first time that I’ve been surrounded by Vikings fans. Admittedly, that’s going to be very strange. Growing up in southeast Iowa, Vikings fans were mixed among fans of the Bears, Packers, Chiefs, and the then St. Louis football Cardinals with the Bears as perhaps the predominate favorite. I’ve seen the Vikings play in person over the years, but they’ve always been road games. I never made it to the old Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington nor have I been to the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis. That’s obviously going to change, but admittedly, it will be strange seeing everyone around me wearing purple and gold.
I am glad to be in Minnesota, and I am looking forward to a very long stay. And, no, I am not suddenly going to become a fan of Carl Pavano…
Fundamentals, is it really that hard?…
I was very disappointed to see the Yankees lose a close game to the Tampa Bay Rays last night due to errors. When you are playing one of your key rivals, anything less than your best is unacceptable. The Yankees had a chance to bury the Rays and couldn’t do it. While the Boston Red Sox are running away with the AL East, the Yankees need to make sure that they put distance between themselves and the other wild card challengers like the Rays. Losing a game because you are outplayed is one thing, but to lose a game because of your own incompetence is wrong. The Rays had encountered a tough stretch of games with the 16 inning loss to the Red Sox, followed by the baseloaded walk loss to the Yankees. Another loss last night could have started driving a stake in the heart of the Rays. But the Yankees allowed the Rays to resume their Wild Card drive, and last year those types of games allowed the Rays to best the Yanks in the East.
The Rays clearly have the superior pitching rotation, but the Yankees are the offensive club…even with Alex Rodriguez on the DL. With the series tied after two games with two to play, the Yankees have to ensure that they leave St. Petersburg with no less than a split.
The price of an ace…
The trade rumors involving the Colorado Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez are great, but I am hesitant given the high cost that would be involved. I get that Jimenez is young (27) and has a very affordable contract for the next few years, but giving up Manny Banuelos and Jesus Montero (and others) seems like such a high price to pay. I like Jimenez and his road splits away from Coors Field are ridiculous, but I simply cannot condone giving away the farm to bring him to the Bronx. That’s tough because who really knows if Banuelos and Montero will be genuine stars. The cool demeanor of Banuelos seems like a perfect play in Yankee Stadium, and I do really believe that he is destined for greatness. I also recognize that if CC Sabathia opts out of his contract and signs elsewhere this off-season, the Yankees will be lacking an ace. Nevertheless, I do not think the Yankees should make the Jimenez trade unless the price is right. Given the completion for the pitcher, I just don’t think that will happen. The best deal for the Yankees would be one that no one is talking about. Once the talk goes public, there is too much potential for other teams, like the Red Sox, to muck things up for no other reason than to drive up the price it would cost the Yankees.
When the Red Sox acquired Josh Beckett from the Florida Marlins, there was not much speculation ahead of the trade. The Yankees need that same stealth like approach to their next major acquisition.
And the young respond…
I am glad to see some of the guys from the Yankees farm system get their opportunity. Guys like Brandon Laird, who was called up when Ramiro Pena went on the DL, and pitcher Steve Garrison. I’ve really wanted to see what Laird could do in a platoon situation with Eduardo Nunez at third so now is his chance.
Yes, I thank my lucky stars every night for David Robertson…
Charles Wenzelberg/NY Daily News
I was listening to MLB Radio this week and I heard a Red Sox fan give kudos to Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. I was glad to hear those types of comments because I hold a similar high respect for certain Red Sox players like Dustin Pedroia and Jon Lester. It seems so un-Yankee like to respect a Sox player, but Pedey and Lester play the game the way it is supposed to be played. There’s no way that I could ever root against those guys. If I was a team owner, they would be among the first players that I would want to acquire for my team.
You have to go back to the 1920’s? Really?
The Cleveland Indians and Pittsburgh Pirates in first place? I can’t believe how much media attention that has gotten. I do not expect either team to be a factor come October, but it’s nice to see their fans having reason to cheer this late in the season. I enjoyed the early 1990’s when the Pirates were a factor in the play-offs every year. After years of trading stars for prospects, it is nice to see the team thriving on those prospects. But much of the credit has to go to first year manager Clint Hurdle. Similarly, the Tribe’s success has to be attributed to Manny Acta. Both men know how to get the most out of their guys. It is very refreshing to see. Nevertheless, I still do not see anything that’s going to derail a Boston Red Sox-Philadelphia Phillies World Series.
Yes, I am finally home…
“…You can have a town, why don’t you take it. You’re gonna make it after all.” I finally get what Mary Tyler Moore was saying after all these years…
Barton Silverman/The New York Times
As the saying goes, “All’s well that ends well”! Friday night certainly proved the point as the Yankees defeated the Minnesota Twins 4-3 in Game 2 of the ALDS.
The game featured a pitching duel between A.J. Burnett and Nick Blackburn. It was scoreless until the 6th inning. The Twins broke out first in the top of the frame on a run-scoring triple by Brendan Harris.
The Yankees countered in the bottom of the inning when Alex Rodriguez singled to score Derek Jeter from second.
At that point, the Yankees went to the pen. Joba Chamberlain retired the first two batters in the top of the 7th, but surrendered a single to Joe Mauer. He was relieved by Phil Coke who struck out Jason Kubel to end the inning.
After a ‘3-up, 3-down’ bottom of the 7th, Phil Hughes was on the mound to start the 8th. Like Chamberlain, he retired the first two batters but then got into trouble. After walking Carlos Gomez, Brendan Harris singled to move Gomez to third. Nick Punto followed with a single that scored Gomez, and Hughes headed for the showers at Joe Girardi’s “suggestion”.
Mariano Rivera entered the game but he promptly gave up a single to Denard Span that scored Harris. Mo struck out the next batter, Orlando Cabrera, to end the inning but the damage had been done as the Twins had taken a 3-1 lead.
The Yankees were retired easily in the 8th, and Mo had no difficulty with the Twins in the top of the 9th despite a Michael Cuddyer single. So, the stage was set for the bottom of the 9th inning. Enter Twins closer Joe Nathan…
Mark Teixeira was up first and he lined a solid single to right. That brought the much criticized post-season “underperformer” to the plate. A-Rod silenced his critics by coming up big. His home run off Nathan tied the game, and the Yanks were back in business.
Nathan retired the next 3 batters so the game moved to extra innings. The Twins had a chance in the top of the 10th against Alfredo Aceves but they left runners stranded at the corners.
The Yankees followed with what I thought was going to be the victorious moment. After Melky Cabrera grounded out, Jorge Posada singled. Of course, that brought Mr. “Make It Happen” (Brett Gardner) into the game as a pinch runner. When you talk about certainties in life, Brett getting his jersey dirty when he is on the base paths is a given. As expected, he stole second with a huge burst of speed. An errant pick off throw by Nathan sent Gardner to third although he did stumble to make it close. So, with just one out, the speedy Gardner stood at third. It wouldn’t take much to bring him home. With Gardner on third, the Twins opted to intentionally walk Derek Jeter. Nathan was relieved by Jose Mijares. The stage was set for Johnny Damon to be the hero. If he couldn’t get the job done, Mark Teixeira was on deck. Much to my chagrin, Damon hit a smash right at Orlando Cabrera. Brett Gardner had already broken for home, so the Twins were able to easily record the double play to end the threat.
The next inning would prove to be very memorable. Joe Mauer opened with a double to left off Damaso Marte except there was a small problem. The umpire (Phil Cuzzi) ruled the ball foul, however, replays clearly showed that the ball landed a foot inside of the foul line.
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Nevertheless, Joe Mauer was still able to reach base with a single. But his placement at first instead of second would prove to be very significant. Jason Kubel singled to move Mauer to second (he should have been on third if the double had stood). David Robertson, boyish face and all, entered the game in relief of Marte but gave up a single to Michael Cuddyer which loaded the bases. Had Mauer been on third, the Twins would have taken a 4-3 lead. Robertson proved to be a magician with the next 3 batters. Delmon Young lined out. Carlos Gomez hit a fielder’s choice to Mark Teixeira who threw Mauer out at home. Brendan Harris, with several key hits earlier in the game, came up with a chance to save the day for the Twins. But his weak fly ball was caught by Nick Swisher and the Twins had failed to score despite loading the bases with no outs.
With Jose Mijares still pitching for the Twins, Mark Teixeira came to the plate. As great as Teixeira has been this year, it is hard to believe that he didn’t have any walk-off hits during the course of the season…well, at least until Friday night. He connected on what appeared to be an extremely hard liner but the ball never dropped until it reached the left field stands. After the game, Teixeira called the ball a “wall scraper”. Whatever it was, it gave the Yankees the 4-3 victory and a 2-0 lead in the series.
Have a pie, Mr. Teixeira! You deserve it…
I have to admit that I do empathize with Twins fans. During football season, the majority of those fans share my passion for all things purple and gold. We cheer together when Adrian Peterson breaks a long run for a TD, Percy Harvin makes a key catch, Brett Favre zips a pass for a game winning touchdown or Jared Allen getting up from sacking yet another quarterback. The Twins had every opportunity to win Game 2, but the ghosts of Yankee Stadium ensured that it didn’t happen.
Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger
The series now moves to Minnesota for Game 3 at the Metrodome on Sunday. Andy Pettitte and the Yankees will face former teammate Carl Pavano. I remember the comparisons of Pavano to Pettitte when he joined the Yankees, as they are both similar physically. But clearly Pavano does not have Pettitte’s heart. The Yanks have a chance to close out the series and it wouldn’t get any better than a victory against the former American Idle.
A funny thing happened last night watching the Angels-Red Sox game. I have been giving Julia (of Julia’s Rants) a hard time and repeatedly telling her “Go Angels!”. But truth be told, I really do not like the Angels. I have never cared for the team. It’s not to say that I have found new love for the Red Sox, but I found myself cheering for Boston and rooting for a late inning comeback. It was not meant to be as the Angels emerged with a 4-1 victory against Josh Beckett and the Red Sox to take a 2-0 advantage in the series. I will pull for the Red Sox when the series resumes in Boston. I really want to see the Red Sox and Yankees in the American League Championship Series. I have no desire to see a team that couldn’t win 90 games in the World Series, so I wouldn’t pull for the Twins if they are able to successfully overcome the Yankees in the ALDS. My dislike for the Angels would prevent me from cheering for them, so the only two choices in my mind are Yankees and Red Sox. As a member of the AL Eastern Division, the Red Sox would be my second choice for AL representatives in the World Series if the Yankees cannot be there. I hope that doesn’t happen, believe me, as I am hoping to see the 27th World Championship for the Yankees…and nothing would be better than beating the Red Sox to advance. So, Julia, I’ll say this for you, Go Red Sox! (statement expires at the conclusion of the Angels-Red Sox series).
Mark J. Terrill/AP
Speaking of the Minnesota Vikings, I’d like to say Happy Birthday to quarterback Brett Favre! The graybeard is now 40 years old. For your birthday, we’d like to give you a Super Bowl Championship! J
Courtesy Star Tribune
It was a masterpiece by A.J. Burnett…
Frank Franklin II/AP
Unfortunately, it was an equal masterpiece by Boston’s Josh Beckett, as the Yankees and Red Sox ended regulation play deadlocked at 0-0.
A.J. went 7 2/3 innings and gave up only one hit. He had 6 strikeouts, but also had 6 walks. I guess he was watching Joba Chamberlain too closely last night. Nevertheless, he did what he was paid to do. He put his team in position to win, so there’s not more that you can ask.
Beckett went 7 innings, and gave up 4 hits and 2 walks, with 7 strikeouts.
But it became a game where neither team seemed to want to win. Both teams left double-digit runners on base (Red Sox 10, Yankees 12). As the game advanced into extra innings, neither team seriously threatened. The Yankees would get a few runners, but then they’d be left stranded.
The Red Sox, meanwhile, had some difficulty getting base runners but when they did, they failed to advance them like the Yankees.
The game seemed to drag on for hours (5 hours, 33 minutes to be exact). My favorite comment of the night was by Peter Abraham of the LoHud Yankees Blog:
UPDATE, 12:06 p.m.: This just in: Bill Clinton flying to the Bronx to negotiate the release of 48,262 people held hostage by this game.
Finally, in the bottom of the 15th inning, Derek Jeter singled to start the inning. After Johnny Damon popped out on the foul side of first base and Mark Teixeira struck out, Alex Rodriguez came to the plate. Much as been talked about A-Rod’s homerless streak, but with one swing of the bat, the streak, like the Yankees losing streak to the Sox a day earlier, became a distant memory. A two-run homer to left gave the Yankees a walk-off win. Yes, Julia, I was right about the walk-off…I just had the wrong inning!
So, the Yankees have guaranteed that they will not lose this series. So, it is now a question whether the Red Sox can win the final two games of the series to invoke the tie-breakers. The Sox are certainly a capable team, but right now, this minute, I’d say ‘Advantage Scott!’.
John Munson/The Star Ledger
Here are the revised totals of the series so far:
RUNNING TOTALS (8/06 – 8/09) FOR TIE-BREAKER:
Red Sox 6
Red Sox 2
Red Sox 0
The Yankees, at 66-42, now lead the American League East by 4 ½ games over the Red Sox and 6 games over the Tampa Bay Rays.
Life is good for a Yankees fan…
Boston.com (Yankees fan Steve Macary)
A Very Busy Day…
It was a blood bath today in Major League Baseball. A friend indicated that it felt like the Trading Deadline, but I’d have to say that I was quite surprised by the moves that were made. Granted, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to know that John Smoltz’s time in the Red Sox starting rotation was nearing its end. However, I did not expect that he’d be DFA’d. I really thought that he would move into a long relief role, or perhaps help set up Jonathan Papelbon. If this is truly it for Smoltz, I am saddened that his final appearance was a loss to the Yankees. Well, the Yankees victory was nice, don’t get me wrong, but for Smoltz the man, he deserved better. I always thought that he’d be the one to know when to exit the game. Maybe he gets another chance, but then again, maybe not. Either way, he is a class guy and I am honored that I had the privilege to watch him play.
Paul Bereswill/Getty Images
Boston also DFA’d pitcher Billy Traber, a former Yankee or Oriole, who relieved Smoltz in yesterday’s game and, in Julia‘s words, took a bullet for the team to save the bullpen. Of course, his thanks was a one-way ticket out of a Red Sox uniform.
Another cut that caught me by surprise was the release of Jason Giambi by the Oakland A’s. I had bought tickets for the Yankees visit to Oakland to play the A’s later this month, and I had been hopeful that Giambi would be off the DL and in the game. But unfortunately, it was not meant to be. Oakland released Giambi from the DL, due primarily to his .193 batting average. I didn’t expect the A’s to pick up Giambi’s option this fall, but I never expected he’d be cut before the season was over. He’s not a fit for the current Yankees roster, so coming back to New York will not be in the cards. But hopefully, he’ll catch on somewhere so that he can go out his way.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
The American Idle, a/k/a Carl Pavano, was traded by the Cleveland Indians to the Minnesota Twins. I guess it was an admission by the Twins that they aren’t really interested in making the play-offs since they just acquired a guy who thrives in losing environments. From Cleveland’s perspective, the deal makes sense since it opens a slot in the rotation for Justin Masterson who was recently acquired from Boston in the Victor Martinez trade.
The Toronto Blue Jays attempted to push RF Alex Rios through waivers, but he was claimed by another team. They now have to decide whether they’ll trade Rios to the other team if they can work out a trade or perhaps they just hang on to him. It’s unlikely that they’d simply let Rios go to the other team for nothing.
Pitcher Vicente Padilla was also DFA’d by the Texas Rangers. Ah, I feel so bad for the headhunter. Um, not really…
On the bright side, the Yankees didn’t acquire another pitcher with a losing record and a plus 5.00 ERA to go with Chad Gaudin and Russ Ortiz so the day wasn’t a total loss…
He Didn’t Mean To Do It…
Mark Melancon insists that he did not intentionally hit Boston’s Dustin Pedroia in Thursday’s game. Personally, I liked Manager Joe Girardi’s explanation. “Some pitchers are much more capable of throwing the ball exactly where they want to on a consistent basis. Those guys are called Hall of Famers.”
I do believe that it was unintentional. Melancon is trying hard to earn a roster spot, and it would be foolish for him to risk his opportunity by purposely allowing a Boston base runner in a critical game regardless of the circumstances.
Hey Julia, don’t look now but here comes Carsten Charles Sabathia… J
Nick Laham/Getty Images