Time to head North for the Bronx!…
As the Texas Rangers open the American League for business tonight against new AL tenant, the Houston Astros, everybody knows that baseball doesn’t really start until the Yankees play the Red Sox! But the wait wont’ be long as the Yankees open Yankee Stadium tomorrow against their long-time AL East rival, the Boston Red Sox. Granted, this is probably going to be a down year for both the Yanks and Sox, but still, it is an exciting rival and one that I look forward to every year.
This time of year, there’s always painful cuts so this year’s unfortunate parting of the ways is with lefty specialist Clay Rapada. Rapada had been a great find last season as one of those scrap heap signings that worked. He did his job and he did it well. There’s no doubt that the Yankees will be able to move Rapada to another team that will appreciate his talents. The Yankees certainly appreciated what he could do, but in the end, it was a game of numbers, options, and flexibility. For every player that did make the 2013 Yankees, you can certainly rationalize why each should be a part of the team.
But with Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, Phil Hughes, and Alex Rodriguez on the disabled list, there will be other notable moves as the Yankees clear space for the ones who return to health this season. But for now, this the 2013 Yankees:
Mariano Rivera (for the final time…sniff…sniff…)
I was a little surprised that Vernon Wells took number 12 to open the season. While he had stated that he’d get a lower number after taking #56 upon his arrival, 12 seems to be an odd choice. But then again, with so many retired numbers (and numbers on hold), there aren’t too many options. Conversely, Lyle Overbay took Hideki Matsui’s old number, #55, which seems better suited for an outfielder.
Everyone has to start somewhere…
Congratulations to Boston rookie Jackie Bradley, Jr. for making the Red Sox opening day roster and his starting assignment in left field tomorrow in the Bronx. What a great way to kick off one’s career! Of course, I am hoping that his career firsts (home run, RBI, etc.) occur during Boston’s second series of the season, but it’s exciting to see young, talented players embark on what could be a great career.
While others prepare to exit, with a brief delay or two…
I saw that Jason Bay has made the Seattle Mariners as their fifth outfielder behind former Yank Raul Ibanez. I am glad for him. It’s hard not to feel bad for a guy who clearly made the wrong decision to go to the Mets when he left Boston a few years back. Nothing against the Mets, but it was the wrong park for Bay. It’s doubtful he’ll ever be anything close to what he was in Boston, but hopefully he can put together a few solid years in the Great Northwest before calling it a career.
He wore the pinstripes proudly…
I saw that Bullet Bob Turley died over the weekend. It was very sad to hear the news of his passing from liver cancer. He won 21 games in 1958, and lifted the Yankees in a come from behind World Series championship over the Milwaukee Braves. Another great Yankee passes but forever remains intertwined into the fabric of Yankee Stadium.
Locked and not loaded?…
Worst case scenario seems to be playing out with news that Michael Pineda’s shoulder is cause for concern. Everybody has wondered who would be the odd man out of the rotation, given the strong spring performances by Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes. There’s been talk of moving either of those two or Ivan Nova to the bullpen, but all things considered, that’s not an ideal spot for any of the three. I was hopeful that Yankees could find some trade value in Garcia to move him and make room for the others, given that Andy Pettitte looms on the not-so-distant future. Yesterday, there were indications that Michael Pineda needed to have a strong performance to nail down his much anticipated spot in the rotation. I didn’t watch the game, but I checked the box score in later innings with the score tied 7-7 only to see that Pineda had given up 6 runs in the first two innings. Not exactly a strong performance. Then, this morning, there were reports about Pineda’s shoulder. He’ll be going for a MRI, but this could get worse, much worse.
Hopefully, the problems with the shoulder are minor and Pineda can recuperate with some rest.
Even though the Yankees ultimately won the exhibition match-up with the Phillies, it was a very costly game with the possible injury to Pineda, as well as reliever Cesar Cabral (elbow). Both injuries make Joe Girardi’s decisions for the starting rotation and second lefty in the pen much easier. At this point, it would appear that the rotation will be CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes, and Freddy Garcia. There could be some shuffling of the last three, dependent upon who’s ready when based on how they’re currently lined up with their respective pitching schedules. If Cabral is out, it opens the door for Clay Rapada to take the second lefty role behind top lefty Boone Logan.
I prefer striking out the opposing team…
I didn’t fully understand the move with Russell Branyan. He was released from his minor league deal, and then re-signed to a new minor league deal at a savings of $100,000 to the Yankees. The money would seem inconsequential, so I wonder if there had been an opt-out clause or something else in the contract that would have been triggered causing the need for the re-negotiation. It’s not exactly like I’m expecting much from Branyan at this point of his career. It’s hard to get expected about high strikeout guys like Branyan, but of course, the Yankees added to the fodder with the signing of Jack Cust. I do not see either as a viable alternative to what the Yankees already have.
Is bashing the Yankees the only way to be beloved in New England…
Enough about the recent tie between the Yankees and Red Sox recently. I don’t blame Joe Girardi for his decision not to play extra innings in their game with the Red Sox, resulting in a tie. After the game, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine ripped the Yankees, saying that it cost a minor league pitcher, Clayton Mortensen, his opportunity to impress in an effort to make the team. Subsequently, Mortensen has been making disparaging remarks about Girardi and the Yankees. Seriously? The guy’s career is going to be determined by one inning of pitching in a meaningless exhibition game? Yeah, it was the Yankees, but guys don’t make major league rosters just because they play the Yankees well. I think the other teams in the league have something to say about it. If Valentine felt that Mortensen had a legitimate shot to make the roster, then he would create the opportunity in the spring schedule to showcase Mortensen. His only opportunity to impress the Red Sox wasn’t that meaningless game with the Yankees. For so much ink to be devoted to the unhappiness of Valentine and Mortensen is absolutely ridiculous.
There’s room in the Bronx for Maxwell…
I am hopeful the Yankees find room on the roster for outfielder Justin Maxwell. Hopefully, with fourth outfielder Andruw Jones slated to share some DU time with Raul Ibanez, there will be the need to carry a fifth outfielder. I like Maxwell’s athleticism in the outfield, and he is a good role player.
Have Bat, Will Travel…
Speaking of Ibanez, he is finally starting to hit, but I still can’t get his slow start with the Phillies last year out of mind. I know that he had decent numbers by the end of the year, but I don’t like streaky players and at 40, Ibanez is not going to improve with age. It’s too bad that Jorge Posada was not able to more fully embrace the DH role. If he had, he probably would not have been put in the position of having to retire in the off-season. But that’s water under the bridge, so I hope the Yankees find a suitable and consistent bat at DH as early in the season as possible. If Ibanez surprises me, and is the guy, so be it. Just be prepared to bring the bat every day, that’s all I ask.
Good luck to Joba Chamberlain on his recovery. I do hope that he is able to achieve his goal of pitching this season. Who knows if he’ll ever be the pitcher we thought he would be, but we surely won’t know if he’s not pitching…
Well, the new baseball season is upon us. Best of luck to everyone and their respective teams. At this moment, we all have the chance for October glory. Well, not really, but the standing don’t know any differently. May the best team win!
The Return of an old Friend…
When I first heard the news, I kept looking for the tag that it was a joke. I did have to think about what day it was, wondering if we had somehow fast forwarded to April Fool’s Day. But alas, the reports of Andy Pettitte coming out of retirement were accurate.
I am happy to see Andy back in Pinstripes, but it was still very surprising news. Of course, those close to Andy realized how much he missed the game when he was at camp for a few days earlier this month, but from the distant view of a fan, it just looked like he was enjoying spending time with the team. It sounded as though he was busy with his children’s activities in Texas, and could only spend a short amount of time in Florida as a result. But of course, I didn’t realize the soul-searching he was going through.
I do not believe that the one year lay-off will adversely impact Andy. I felt he left the game prematurely when he did, and this is no different than a pitcher out with injury for an extended period. The only difference is that Andy continued to pitch throughout the duration of the time away, aside from a short break he apparently took when it appeared there was no opportunity with the Yanks.
For Jorge Posada, I felt it was time for him to retire. But I didn’t have that feeling about Andy. I think he can still be a very productive pitcher at this stage of his career. Granted, he is not a front of the rotation starter anymore, but he definitely strengthens the back end. The downside is the impact on the other pitchers fighting for the 5th spot in the rotation…Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes. It also impacts the young pitchers who may have opportunities to pitch in the majors this year…Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, D.J. Mitchell, Adam Warren and others. Of this group, I am most concerned about Hughes. He has appeared to be in excellent mental and physical shape this year, and seemed to be primed to have a season reminiscent of his 18-win season a couple of years ago. Barring injury, does Pettitte’s readiness in May or June mean that Hughes will be moved to the pen? More than likely. The odd man out appears to be Freddy Garcia. He could move into the role of long man, but paying Garcia $4 million to be the long reliever seems excessive for a team trying to cut costs as the role could easily be filled by a number of less expensive options with similar results.
But the positives of Pettitte’s return outweigh the negatives. He is a champion and his competitiveness rivals guys like former Yankees pitcher David Cone. He won’t be winning 20 games, but he’ll win or at least put his team in the best position to win when he is called upon. I heard an interview show that talked about ‘what if’ Pettitte cannot return to being the pitcher he was before, and I trust those who say that Andy would stop the comeback before the Yankees would if he felt he wasn’t effective. As the saying goes, ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained’. I wish Andy the very best on the comeback trail and I am looking forward to seeing #46 on the mound at Yankee Stadium.
The road to the Bronx is not paved with .065 hitters…
Like others, I am growing a bit concerned about the inability of Raul Ibanez to hit this spring. The phrase, “don’t worry, he’ll hit” just doesn’t hold any water for a player the fans have no emotional attachment to. I didn’t follow Ibanez closely during his Phillies career, but it seemed like he started slowly last year but still ended up with decent numbers by the end of the year. But every year is different, and at age 40, Ibanez is going to continue to regress. I am not sure if the best path is to wait to see if Ibanez comes around and supplement his at-bats in a DH rotation with Eric Chavez, Andruw Jones, and Alex Rodriguez, or if the Yankees should pursue another alternative via trade. Anything that is available on the market will have flaws so there are no easy answers. For whatever reason, the Yankees seem to be opposed to the idea of either Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui returning. I’d probably bring them in for an open competition with Ibanez at this point. Then, at the end of spring training, may the best bat move north.
If I had been a fan of Ibanez for a number of years, then I’d feel differently. But since there is no history, I similarly have no patience. If Ibanez continues to hit less than .100 in spring training, then it’s time to move on and find another option. If he can’t hit in March, how is he going to be able to catch up to that Justin Verlander four-seam fastball in October?…
What did you say your name was again?…
I am glad to see that Clay Rapada is making the most of his opportunity to emerge as the second lefty option for the pen. When Rapada was released by the Baltimore Orioles earlier this year, I didn’t think much about it. He quietly signed with the Yankees, and then another key left-handed option, Hideki Okajima, failed his physical. It seems like the Yankees are always looking for that second lefty and maybe Rapada can finally find his moment to shine. The Tampa Bay Rays seem to have very good luck in building strong bullpens from the scrap heap, so it would be nice if Rapada turned out to be an “Andrew Friedman” like move.
It is interesting following the Peyton Manning story, but I haven’t seen any teams emerge as a great fit for him. He’s already passed on the Miami Dolphins, and he is apparently throwing for the Tennessee Titans, but I don’t see the Titans, or the Denver Broncos, as an immediate threat to win the Super Bowl…with or without Manning. Perhaps the best fit might be the San Francisco 49ers. It would be great to see Manning in New Orleans given his family’s history there, but Drew Brees isn’t going anywhere so that’s not a possibility. My team, the Minnesota Vikings, have so many problems beyond QB that they are not an option. Regardless of where Peyton lands, it will be weird to see him in a different uniform. I never could quite get used to seeing Joe Montana with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Keeping Ponder off his back…
With the NFL Draft just a month away, I am hopeful the Vikings retain their #3 pick (there’s been talk of trading down to pick up additional picks). With QB Andrew Luck (Colts) and QB Robert Griffin III (Redskins) off the board, that leaves powerhouse offensive tackle Matt Kalil ready and able to join the Vikings to protect QB Christian Ponder for years to come. For a team that struggled with its offensive line last season following the ouster of longtime tackle Bryant McKinnie, Kalil seems to be exactly what the doctor ordered.
Courtesy of a friend:
Senior Citizen Texting Codes:
ATD: At The Doctors
BFF: Best Friend Fell
BTW: Bring the Wheelchair
BYOT: Bring Your Own Teeth
FWIW: Forgot Where I Was
GGPBL: Gotta Go Pacemaker Battery Low
GHA: Got Heartburn Again
IMHO: Is My Hearing-Aid On
LMDO: Laughing My Dentures Out
OMMR: On My Massage Recliner
OMSG: Oh My! Sorry, Gas
ROFLACGU: Rolling On Floor Laughing And Can’t Get Up
TTYL: Talk To You Louder
FWIW! Have a great day!