Going up or going down?…
About 20 games into the season and the Yankees are barely closer to first place than they are last place. Only two games separate the Yankees from the dismal start by the Boston Red Sox but of course the Sox are playing better as of late. It’s only April so at this point, the standings don’t really mean too much as the superior AL East teams will begin to separate themselves from the pretenders over the course of the next couple of months.
It was nice to see the Yankees pull off a walk-off win at Yankee Stadium last night against the team that seems to terrorize them in the play-offs in recent years, the Detroit Tigers. I am really surprised that Justin Verlander holds an 0-2 mark with 4.50 ERA for his career at the new Yankee Stadium. When he is on the mound, it is hard not to expect bad things for the home team. So, regardless of Verlander’s struggles at Yankee Stadium, it is still a great feeling to pick up a win on a night when he took the mound.
Cashman made the right decision…
Lately, there have been numerous columns and articles written about how disastrous the Yankees trade for Michael Pineda has become. I realize that he’s lost for the season due to his shoulder injury, but he is still a young and talented pitcher. I know there’s always a risk that he isn’t quite the pitcher was projected to be when he comes back, but I think it’s way too early to criticize the trade which sent talented hitter Jesus Montero to Seattle. Pineda’s injury was suffered on the Yankees’ watch and not while he was in Seattle, and there is still a good chance that he’s a strong, contributing part of next year’s rotation.
Phil Hughes is probably the beneficiary of Pineda’s injury as I feel that Freddy Garcia will be the odd man out when Andy Pettitte returns to the Bronx. Hughes hasn’t exactly pitched like he wants to stay, but I am not ready to see the Yankees banish him to Pittsburgh or someplace like that. Maybe I am an eternal optimist but I still believe that Hughes can prosper in New York.
I am a bit concerned by the uneven starts provided by new Yankee Hiroki Kuroda, but I think he’ll settle in and deliver consistent performances in the coming weeks and months. Yes, I do thank the lucky stars every day for CC Sabathia.
A sad day in the Yankees Universe…
I was saddened to hear the passing of Yankees great Bill “Moose” Skowron yesterday. He was part of the 1961 Yankees which will always be a special team in Yankees history for the famed M&M Boys (the year Mickey Mantle hit 54 home runs, and Roger Maris hit the then record 61 homers). But there’s no way either Mickey or Roger could have reached those heights without guys like Skowron on the roster.
Next stop, Superstardom…
Well, the Bryce Harper Show begins its maiden tour in Washington with the scheduled first start today for the ultra-hyped, super prospect National. Given that he was called up to take the roster spot of injured 3B Ryan Zimmerman, there’s always the chance that Harper goes back down when Zimmerman returns from the DL. But if Harper starts to hit like we know he will, it will be hard for the Nats to remove him from the roster. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. America loves superstars and Harper certainly has as much of a chance to be the best as anyone in the game today.
When Christian Ponder and Adrian Peterson are happy, so am I…
It’s only been three rounds, but I am pleased with the NFL draft selections made by the Minnesota Vikings. Prior to the draft, my preference for the Vikings #3 pick in the first round was USC OT Matt Kalil. There was talk that the Vikings were undecided among Kalil, CB Morris Claiborne, and WR Justin Blackmon, but in the end, it proved to be a smokescreen. I was a bit anxious when I first heard the Vikings had traded down with the Cleveland Browns, but it was clear that the Browns were going after RB Trent Richardson so there was no risk of losing Kalil off the board. At first, I didn’t understand the logic of the move, but clearly the Vikings (and GM Rick Spielman) had made the Browns fearful they’d trade down with another team which could potentially cost the Browns a shot at the premier running back in the draft. The move brought three late round picks to the Vikings and it didn’t cost them anything as they were focused on Kalil from the start.
I also like the Vikings’ subsequent picks (late first round selection of S Harrison Smith and early third round choice of speedy CB Josh Robinson). For a team that was desperate of upgrades in the secondary, they fared well. It would have been nice if Robinson were a bit taller, but his 4.33 speed at the Combines was unmatched. I think he’s good material for the coaching staff to mold for playing at this level. The Vikings have a plethora of selections today as Rounds 4-7 are completed, and I am sure that the defense will continue to get attention. I also expect the Vikings to choose a wide receiver, but I have no idea who they might target. Nevertheless, with Spielman’s decisions so far, I have no doubt that he’ll continue to bring talented playmakers to Minnesota.
As Luck would have it…
Like everyone else, I think that QB Andrew Luck has the potential to be one of the greats in the game but how much more difficult can it be to be replacing one of the greatest QB’s to play the game with added pressure of being the number one selection in the NFL Draft (along with the expectations that go with it)? If Luck succeeds, and I do not doubt that he will, he will prove, without a doubt, that he was the right choice to replace Manning. Luck, with a horseshoe on his helmet, seems like it was destiny. Meanwhile, I continue to “ponder” things in Minnesota…
Today, with Yankees-Tigers on tap and the conclusion of the NFL Draft, will be a fun day. Enjoy!
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!
All my rowdy friends are coming over tonight, but I’ll just listen to Beethoven…
The Miami Marlins make a big splash to create perhaps the best Marlins squad since 2003 in signing Heath Bell, Mark Buehrle, and Jose Reyes. The Los Angeles Angels rock the largest Hispanic community in the United States by nabbing #1 Baseball Superstar Albert Pujols. Oh yeah, they also picked up former Ranger ace C.J. Wilson along the way. Even the Boston Red Sox, in a season of chaos with the prolonged managerial search, managed to do SOMETHING with the acquisition of former Yankees reliever Mark Melancon from the Houston Astros for shortstop Jed Lowrie and minor league pitcher Kyle Weiland. Meanwhile, at Yankee Stadium, nothing…
I know, how do you improve upon a 97-win team? Baseball is a game of constantly trying to improve. A little here, a little there…a big splash here, a big splash there. This off-season the Yankees haven’t fallen into any of those categories. They haven’t even moved to re-sign outfielder Andruw Jones or third baseman Eric Chavez which, in my mind, are important cogs for the 2012 team.
The team with the most money is…
Tonight’s wait is to hear whether the Toronto Blue Jays or the Texas Rangers have won the bidding for Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish. In the days of George Steinbrenner, the Yankees would have been the highest bidder and there would have been no speculation about who placed the highest bid (through a few “unnamed sources” within the Yankees organization). I am not saying that it is prudent to spend $50 million plus just to have the right to talk to Darvish, nor do I feel the Yankees made a bad decision by not going after him harder. But this is definitely a different Yankees ownership and one that is not particularly fond of footing the bill for the other owners through luxury tax payments. It’s too bad the Yankees have so much wrapped up in Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter. A-Rod, in particular, is not the player he once was and no longer worthy of his behemoth contract. I’ll give Jeter the benefit of the doubt since he did finish 2011 strongly.
If the Yankees are gauging what they need to do by the Boston Red Sox or the Tampa Bay Rays, they’re severely underestimating the Toronto Blue Jays. The Yankees had trouble with that team last year, and the 2012 Jays will only be stronger (with or without Darvish).
If you’re not winning, you’re losing…
This has been a tough sports year for me. The Yankees felt like a team with shortcomings entering October and it revealed itself in the play-offs against the Detroit Tigers. They are still essentially the same team, minus a few players. There’s nothing to lead me to believe that the World Series is in their immediate future. Meanwhile, my pro football team, the Minnesota Vikings, continues their march to become the worst team in professional football (only one game separates them from the Indianapolis Colts and the right to draft future NFL superstar QB Andrew Luck). I am sure that even Peyton Manning is a Vikings fan these days. It really stinks when you hope your team loses so that they can place higher in the draft.
I am not a Minnesota Twins fan, but I do live within view of Target Field so it’s been tough watching local favorites Michael Cuddyer (Rockies) and Jason Kubel (D-Backs) sign elsewhere.
Clearly, I am someone that needs a ‘pick me up’ in sports. I want to see a player acquisition that I am excited about. Someone that brings energy, drive and commitment to the team, and helps them reach just a little bit further…
I will say that the Yankees should not trade Jesus Montero regardless of whether it could bring Gio Gonzalez to the Bronx. I’d love to see Gio in pinstripes, but I think that Montero has a chance to be a special talent. You just don’t let guys like him get away, even if it means no acquisitions this off-season.
Is that too much to ask? Sometimes I wish Hank Steinbrenner’s impulsiveness would prevail over Hal Steinbrenner’s calculated intellect. Fiscal responsibility, with a dash of insanity. C’mon, we were “raised” by George Steinbrenner. Weren’t you too, Hal?…
At least somebody is doing something…
Recently, I changed my NBA allegiance from the Los Angeles Lakers to the New York Knicks. I’ve been thinking about this move for several years, but adding Carmelo Anthony to Amare Stoudemire was the clincher. The latest news has the Knicks signing Baron Davis. As a former Bay Area resident, I was saddened when Davis left the Golden State Warriors to join the Los Angeles Clippers. He was perhaps the most popular basketball player in the area. I have a great deal of respect for him, and it’s tremendous that he and I have come together on the same team. I know Baron is hurt so his Knicks debut will be delayed, but I really like the off-season moves the Knicks have made. I’d be foolish to think that they are suddenly a NBA finals team, but they are definitely getting better.
Meanwhile, at Yankee Stadium, just crickets…
The left field conundrum continues…
Maybe GM Brian Cashman has the perfect solution already set in motion, but then again, maybe not. I am not quite sure how you could spend $200 million on salaries and then suddenly become very frugal over $3 or $4 million as an insurance policy to protect your investment. From the sounds of it, the Yankees are willing to go to camp with Brett Gardner and Jamie Hoffmann as a projected platoon in left. I know that it’s a bluff, designed to await the lowered salary expectations of free agent options in January.
But if you have a left fielder who has proven that he can handle New York, thrive atop the Yankees’ batting order and carries the intangibles necessary to bring a championship to New York, why can’t you work out a deal for a few pennies more? It just doesn’t make any sense. I agree with the logic that the Yankees don’t need a superstar in left, but they need something better than a fourth outfielder looking for his fifteen minutes of fame.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
If the Yankees successfully cause Johnny Damon to sign elsewhere, and are left to be scrounging through the bargain bin, they’ll regret it in July when they attempt to make a trade for an upgrade at the high cost of key prospects. Again, I’d rather pay more now and protect the farm system now and later.
John M. Setzler, Jr.
I was disappointed to see the San Francisco Giants successfully sign one solid option in Mark DeRosa. With DeRosa, the Giants get a very versatile player who will fit well into their lineup. His ability to play third base allows them to slide Pablo Sandoval to first which fills a big need. Had the Yankees been successful in luring DeRosa to the Bronx, he could have been the primary option for left field with the potential to back up Alex Rodriguez from time to time. Isn’t that worth a few dollars more? Congrats to Giants GM Brian Sabean…he scored one over his former team.
If Johnny Damon is my first choice, Xavier Nady would be the remaining option in my eyes. Another guy who has proven he can handle New York albeit not the injury bug. If healthy, Nady would be a great fit for the Yankees. Prior to his injury last season, he was slated to be the starter in right field.
Cataffo/New York Daily News
Outside of the organization, there just isn’t much to be excited about on the free agent market. I really don’t want a ‘past his prime’ player like Brian Giles or Garret Anderson. I’d rather take a chance on a sleeper like Cleveland’s Shin Soo Choo or Atlanta’s Matt Diaz, although I doubt either team would be willing to let either player go cheaply. In a blast from the past, the Angels’ Juan Rivera is another attractive option. But I seriously doubt that Cashman would be able to pry any of these options from their respective teams.
Los Angeles Times
Hopefully, the left field question is answered sooner rather than later. The Yankees still need to replenish their bullpen options for 2010 after several key departures this off-season. Plus, bench strength is another area that needs attention before the Yankees head for Tampa.
Meanwhile, somewhere in the Greater Boston Area, a Red Sox fan is gleefully enjoying the Yankees’ indecision and financial constraint…and listening to Toby Keith singing “Whiskey Girl”…
In a departure from baseball, I’d like to weigh in on the decision by Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell to rest his key starters like Peyton Manning in the second half. Everyone knows that the result was a New York Jets’ 29-15 victory over the Colts to end their pursuit of perfection. Of course, the company line is the decision was made to protect the health of their key performers and ensure going deeper into the play-offs with the Super Bowl as the key objective.
I’ve heard both sides of the argument, but I am inclined to believe that Caldwell blew it. He had a chance to do something that no team has done before (19-0, capped by a championship). The 1972 Miami Dolphins were 17-0 since the regular season consisted of only 14 games. Had they accomplished what the New England Patriots could not, the Colts would have gone down in history as one of the greatest teams ever. Now, they’ll just be another Super Bowl champion if they happen to win it all. Sure, a championship is great, but to be among legends is immortal. The Colts missed a great opportunity…
All things considered, I am glad that University of Florida coach Urban Meyer made the decision to take a leave of absence rather than step down as the Gators coach. College football needs guys like Meyer, but he needs time to repair his health. If a year from now, Meyer decides that it’s time to hang it up, so be it. But I’d rather see Florida go a year with an interim coach to make sure that Meyer makes a decision that he’ll never regret. I am not a Gators fan, but Meyer has been great for college football and the Florida job is clearly one of the best. It’ll be strange seeing new coaches patrolling the sidelines at both Florida and Florida State next season.
One final thought…if the Chicago Cubs can successfully trade Milton Bradley, why can’t the Yankees unload Kei Igawa? I still think the guy could thrive in a low-pressure environment like San Diego or Pittsburgh…
I hope everyone has a great new year! I have enjoyed your friendship and support in 2009 and I look forward to be being a part of the great MLB Bloggers in 2010. It’s a very talented and impressive group of writers, and the sum total of all makes MLB.com the best blogging environment on the internet! Keep up the great work everyone!