DEREK JETER, THE VILLAIN…
It will be very strange when Derek Jeter comes to Steinbrenner Field on March 3rd as the starting shortstop for the WBC Team USA to face the mighty Yankees. I found DJ’s comment to be very humorous: “Hopefully, I won’t see any pitches inside”.
Hopefully, this will not be an experience (DJ as a visiting player) that will be soon repeated!
WHEW, GLAD WE DIDN’T SIGN SHEETS…
I heard the news that Ben Sheets will have elbow surgery and his agent is anticipating a July or August return (which, most likely, means that he is lost for the year). Granted, any team that potentially could have signed him would have had a full physical evaluation before signing the dotted line. But still, there was a lot of ink wasted with words that the Yankees should consider and sign Sheets instead of waiting for Andy Pettitte.
Still, it makes sense for a team, such as Texas, to take a flyer on Sheets after June when no compensation to the Milwaukee Brewers would be necessary due to Sheet’s status as a Type A free agent.
GOOD LUCK TO CHASE WRIGHT…
I definitely had mixed feelings seeing pitcher Chase Wright go, but hopefully, he’ll get the opportunity in Milwaukee that he didn’t have with the Yankees. All things considered, I think the Yankees did fairly well in acquiring C/OF Eric Fryer. I don’t know how Fryer projects as a major leaguer, but his minor league numbers last year looked good. He hit .335, with 10 homers and 63 RBI’s in 104 games for Class A West Virginia. He led the South Atlantic League in batting average and on base percentage (.407) and was third in slugging percentage (.506). I will be anxious to find out more about Fryer and to see how he performs in 2009.
Nevertheless, best of luck to Chase Wright, and I hope he gets the opportunity to return to Fenway Park one day to settle his score with the Red Sox (2007’s four consecutive home runs allowed).
MATT CASSEL, INSTANT MILLIONAIRE…
Matt Cassel has definitely hit the lottery jackpot. In this economy, how many people can go from $520,000 to $14.65 million in one year? I am going to go out on a limb and say that’s probably the greatest pay increase ever given to a guy who never started a game in college.
Counting Tom Brady’s cap charge of $14.62 million for 2009, the New England Patriots will have 25% of their $123 million 2009 salary cap tied up in two quarterbacks.
Considering that Brady’s actual 2009 salary will only be $5 million with bonus of $3 million for making the roster, I wonder how Tom will feel about being paid less than his backup. Forget about those past Super Bowls, Tom! This league is all about ‘what have you done for me lately?’. Too funny. It will be interesting to see how this plays out…
Julia of Julia’s Rants will vehemently disagree, but I remain hopeful that Cassel finds his way to Minnesota in the form of a sign and trade. C’mon, if I can’t have Manny Ramirez on the Yankees, I at least deserve to have Matt Cassel at QB for the Vikings!
Source: The Boston Globe
7 days until Pitchers and Catchers report to Tampa…
The title quote by General George S. Patton could be applied to the 2009 New York Yankees…
The pressure for Joe Girardi to succeed will be very intense this year given the Yankees’ significant offseason additions. As Johnny Damon put it in a recent interview with Peter Kerasotis of Florida Today:
“We better win this year,” he said, “or else a few of us will need to find new jobs.”
I think that Girardi will rise to the challenge, and will show continued growth and development as a manager as he enters his second year at the Yankee helm. Tony Pena will play an invaluable role in helping Girardi define himself, and this might be the year that Joe can begin to break out of Joe Torre’s shadow. In his first year, Girardi was consistently compared with Torre in his inferior ability to handle the media and bring a “sense of calm” to the clubhouse. But as Girardi improves in those areas, his superior ability as a statistician and strategist will become more transparent. When it’s game time, there aren’t many managers who are better prepared than Girardi.
The Yankees recent trend of slow starts is a concern, and of course Mark Teixeira has a similar history so that won’t help. Nevertheless, the key to the season is patience, and the Yankees’ dominant pitching staff will begin to exert its promise as the season progresses.
As the quotes continue to circulate about Joe Torre’s new book, The Yankee Years, and how George Steinbrenner was a tyrant, I can’t help but think how much different Hal Steinbrenner is from his father. By all appearances, he shares his father’s passion for winning and is concerned about the Steinbrenner family’s Yankee legacy, but he seems more patient and methodical in his approach. It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the course of a long season with the high expectations and the inevitable bumps in the road.
For what it’s worth, Damon is okay with Torre’s book. He mentioned that when he wrote his book, the only negatives were about himself and not others. Although supportive of Torre, he did discuss the sanctity of the clubhouse in his interview with Peter Kerasotis:
“What happens in the clubhouse should always stay in the clubhouse, unless it’s funny or goofy. You know, harmless stuff.”
Unlike David Wells and others, Damon always has a way of putting things in the proper perspective. I felt that way even when he played with the Red Sox.
I am a little disappointed that Larry King didn’t ask any tough questions of Joe Torre on Friday night, but then again, it was Larry King so it was a given that the questions would be “Nerf” balls. While I wasn’t totally convinced by Torre’s explanations, I still believe that the book must be read before any final judgments are made.
It should be a season to remember as the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays slug it out for AL East superiority, and hopefully a trip to the World Series for the victor…
ODDS AND ENDS…
I am curious to see if something happens with Xavier Nady or Nick Swisher this week. Later in the week, it will have been ten days since pitcher Chase Wright was designated for assignment. Wright is too talented to pass through waivers, so I could easily see him being part of a trade involving Nady or Swisher as the Yanks attempt to recoup some prospects. Granted, they could just deal Wright in a stand-alone trade, but I think the greater value is a package deal. With pitchers and catchers scheduled to report in less than two weeks, I really believe that something will happen sooner rather than later. I still have mixed feelings about trading Nady and/or Swisher, but it appears that it will most likely happen so hopefully the “return” will be worth it in the long run.
I am very anxious to see what Mark Melancon and Phil Coke can do in training camp this year…
I maintain my belief that the Steelers will be victorious later today. If I am wrong, so be it. I am not going to lose any sleep if the Cardinals successfully end their 61-year drought. I grew up about 60 miles away from Kurt Warner, so it is good to see a fellow Iowan enjoy success. Bill Bidwell has taken so many hits over the years, and he remains a villain in St. Louis, but his influence is a key reason for why the Cardinals are in Tampa today. Over the years, the team always talked about building a team based on character. It’s refreshing that the Super Bowl doesn’t have the likes of Terrell Owens, Adam “Pac Man” Jones, or Jeremy Shockey. I know that Anquan Boldin made some comments this year, as has Edgerrin James, but neither is what I would consider a “bad” guy. I am looking forward to seeing if this year’s commercials show new originality and innovation. Last year was a disappointment…
I liked the quote in a SNL skit where the woman said that she thought the Super Bowl was a battle of Budweiser bottles (hopefully, the game itself will remain the most interesting part of the event).
I am impressed with this year’s selections for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. All of the selections were tremendous choices: Bruce Smith, Derrick Thomas, Rod Woodson, Randall McDaniel, Bullet Bob Hayes, and Ralph Wilson. It will be a very memorable day in Canton, Ohio this summer.
THE DAY AFTER THE RETURN OF THE MAN FROM TEXAS
The Yankees designed pitcher Chase Wright, 26, for assignment today to make room on the 40-man roster for Andy Pettitte. Wright is best known for giving up consecutive home runs to Manny Ramirez, J.D. Drew, Mike Lowell, and Jason Varitek on April 22, 2007. If that’s not enough to get DFA’d, nothing is! Seriously, I was surprised that the Yanks cut Chase Wright over Dan Giese. Granted, Giese did carve a nice niche out of the pen last year, but I think Wright has better long term potential as age is certainly a factor. I can see it now…the Yanks cut Wright after 10 days; he is quickly picked up by Boston, and returns to Yankee Stadium to throw a no-hitter for the Red Sox.
Hopefully, the Yankees will be able to get something in return for Wright, which I think they most likely will. Perhaps he will be part of a trade that involves Xavier Nady or Nick Swisher.
As we get closer to spring training, I am becoming more and more reluctant to part with either Nady or Swisher. I’d rather see them compete for the right field, and let the best Nick, errr I mean, man win.
Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner , when asked about Manny Ramirez, responded “We’re out of it”. Of course, you always have to take what Hank says with a grain of salt. I’d find the statement to be more credible if it were coming from Hal Steinbrenner. But, to Hank’s defense, he was the one in the organization who wanted Ramirez. Nevertheless, you never know if the comments are continued posturing or a statement of fact. Given the payroll and economical concerns, I do think the Yankees won’t pursue Ramirez. But then again, they are the Yankees and they play in a completely different universe.
MORE ON JOE TORRE
It is interesting to see the retractions and backpedaling by Tom Verducci and Joe Torre regarding their book, The Yankee Years. Don’t get me wrong, I still believe that the book needs to be read in its full context before decisions and judgments are made. But, Torre read and re-read the book, and was comfortable with its contents. Based on David Wells book alone, you know that little snippets get leaked in advance of the book’s release so Torre had to know that anything potentially controversial would hit the streets prematurely. Verducci said that Torre was a third person author who is being treated as the first person author by the New York media. Torre allowed his name to be put on the book so he has to take full responsibility for its contents, regardless of who said what.
I think this will die down after the book’s release, but Joe has created the very media circus that he always tried to avoid. This will be a distraction in the Yankees camp, and I suspect that Joe will be asked more Yankee-related questions than Dodger ones when he reports to camp. Good timing, Joe. Hopefully, Brian Cashman is right about this incident pulling the team together, standing united with A-Rod.
Joe Girardi has probably written a note to self, “Remember to trash only the Florida Marlins and Jeffrey Loria”. Of course, the Marlins are not necessarily a guaranteed hook when writing a book so if you’re going for the dollars, aim high.
JASON VARITEK BELONGS IN BOSTON
I think Jason Varitek should accept Boston’s two year offer which includes $5 million for the first year with a second year player option of $3 million, as opposed to the one year $5 million deal. The fact is that Varitek’s offensive production is not going to improve at this point in his career, and could very well continue to erode. But, the intangibles that Varitek brings to the team justify his roster spot. As captain of the team, his leadership has been strongly evident to the players and fans, which includes opponents.
I read an interview with new Yankees catcher Kevin Cash, and his quotes are very telling.
“I’m not pro-Red Sox or pro-Jason,” Cash said. “I’m not picking sides. I just know the value of what he does in the clubhouse. That pitching staff is unbelievable. The guys they sign and the guys they develop in that organization are all talented players. I think it works both ways. I think Jason has benefited from playing with the Red Sox and having the opportunity to work with those pitchers.
“At the same time, every pitcher on that staff will tell you how vital a role he plays in their career and during each season.”
(Courtesy The Providence Journal)
Cash also mentioned how Jason goes out of his way to communicate with his pitchers, particularly when there are language barriers with someone like Daisuke Matsuzaka or Hideki Okajima. Boston will need to lean on catchers Josh Bard or George Kottaras, or perhaps still pursue a trade for someone like Miguel Montero, but Varitek needs to be there. To win, you want to beat the best, and Varitek makes the Red Sox better.
Catchers always make the best managers, so I see a future successful managerial career for Varitek if he so chooses…