Yes, Brian, I want to believe…
“I am excited about the opportunities we have.”
I wish that I could say that was my quote, but unfortunately, I am not feeling as optimistic as GM Brian Cashman who spoke those words.
With the imminent departure of Nick Swisher, Rafael Soriano, and Hiroki Kuroda, combined with another year of age on Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter, the future is not looking so rosy at the moment. For a team that needs to upgrade its rotation, losing Kuroda would clearly be a setback. I remain hopeful that the team will re-sign him to a one year deal since he appears willing to accept a short-term contract and all signs indicated he enjoyed his time in New York. I really do not expect the Yankees to re-sign either Swisher or Soriano. It’s unfortunate as I’ve appreciated the positive impact that Swisher’s personality had on the Yankees’ “corporate” clubhouse culture. As Soriano, the excessively fat contract for a set up guy paid dividends when Mariano Rivera was lost for the season and he superbly stepped in to give the Yankees a top closer as a brief trial with David Robertson.
If the Yankees could sign Joaquim Soria to a set up role, I do think it would help neutralize the loss of Soriano. There is also the possibility that reliever David Aardsma could move into the role, along with Robertson, if he successfully makes it back from his injury.
Replacing Swisher’s bat will be the tougher challenge. No offense against Torii Hunter, but signing him to be the new right fielder does not make me excited. I do like the talk of moving Brett Gardner to center and Curtis Granderson to left. Hopefully, the Yankees can bring Ichiro Suzuki back for another year. I am not sure what the best answer is for right. The best options are only available through trade.
I read this morning that the Boston Red Sox had signed Atlanta Braves’ backup catcher David Ross, whom the Yankees liked. I am surprised Atlanta let him get away given the health of starter Brian McCann, but it’s disappointing to see the Red Sox snatch away a player that could have helped the Yankees.
With a team that is trying so hard to reduce payroll by 2014 and one that devotes so much salary space to decreasingly productive guys like Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, I just don’t see Brian Cashman being successful playing “Moneyball”. When you consider how many dollars the Yanks have committed to A-Rod and his drain on the roster, it would appear to me that the team has less dollars to play with than any of their big city rivals if the end game is to avoid luxury tax and penalties in 2014.
Don’t get me wrong, I have been so appreciative of players like Jeter, Rivera and Andy Pettitte. But the fact remains that they will be another year older in 2013 and at some point, they will begin to break down. There doesn’t seem to be any high level prospects ready to step into their shoes. I wish there was a way the team could move A-Rod and his albatross contract but that’s unlikely to happen.
I remain hopeful that Brian Cashman is able to make a move this winter to improve the team. If the team stays status quo or struggles to replace those they will lose, I do not see the Yankees finishing any higher than third in the AL East next season. But, of course, if Hal Steinbrenner lets Cash make the moves necessary to position the team for 2013, then they’ll be in the thick of the pack at the top of the division.
Tino, Tino, Tino!…
I am happy to see Tino Martinez become hitting coach for the Miami Marlins. It is bittersweet to see him leave the Yankees organization, but much easier to see him go to his home state as opposed to being the hitting coach for the Boston Red Sox. The latter was a real possibility as the Sox had gotten permission to talk to Martinez, but fortunately, he opted to go help Mike Redmond turn around the Marlins. The Los Angeles Dodgers have been my favorite NL team in recent years due to manager Don Mattingly. I enjoy seeing my favorites do well, even if they can’t do it in the Yankees organization. Another example would be San Francisco Giants’ pitching coach Dave Righetti, fresh off his second World Series championship in three years. Tino is certainly in the same class with those guys, and will always be someone that I will root for. That’s why watching him go to Boston would have been so difficult.
Speaking of hitting coaches, I am hopeful that manager “wannabe” Jason Giambi decides to take the hitting coach position with the Colorado Rockies. Maybe he is not ready to hang up his bat just yet, but I think he would be a very positive addition to Walt Weiss’s staff and it would put him on the path of eventually reaching his goal to be a manager. While I was surprised to see the Rockies go with Weiss as manager over Matt Williams, I recognize that Weiss knows the Rockies organization and they know him. If he surrounds himself with the right coaching staff, I think Weiss can be highly successful in Colorado.
The Dodgers quest to overtake the Giants…
Regressing back to the Dodgers but staying on the theme of hitting coaches, I was mildly surprised by Mark McGwire’s decision to move from the Cardinals to the Dodgers. I know that McGwire is a Southern CA guy, but still, the Cardinals were his organization. Maybe that’s why it is best to move to another organization so that your legacy as a player is the primary association. Granted, McGwire does not have the untarnished reputation like Mattingly had in New York, but hopefully it works out for Big Mac. Performance-enhancing drugs or not, the guy knows how to hit.
It’s funny, particularly given my long history of being a Yankees fan, but I am a little put off by the free spending ways of the new Dodgers ownership group. While I believe that you have to spend to put a quality team on the field, spending frivolously seems excessive. For the Yankees, I only need to use A-Rod as the example. Over $30 million in one season devoted to a player whose skills are rapidly eroding. $30 million would go a long way toward bringing in multiple quality…and productive…players. The Dodgers should no qualms about picking up the contracts of Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford when it remains to be seen if they can rise to the current level of their contracts. It looks like high stakes poker to me with much potential for disaster.
In a couple of weeks, the Hot Stove League should start heating up and it will be interesting to see what form this off-season takes. I am cautiously optimistic, but understand that it’s very possible the Yanks go into next season hoping some young guys from the farm system are ready to take it to the next level. I guess I now know what it’s like to be a fan of the Minnesota Twins or Kansas City Royals…
Are you mocking me?…
The final series of the season has begun and the Yankees find themselves a game up on the Baltimore Orioles with two games to go in the battle for AL East supremacy. It’s been a dogfight since the O’s caught the Yankees earlier in the month, and the two teams have pretty much matched each other stride for stride since that time. Sunday, when the Yankees were trailing the Toronto Blue Jays 5-1 after the O’s had won was the first time that I legitimately felt the Yankees could end the day in second place for the first time since early in the season. Fortunately for me…and the Yankees, they fought back to emerge with a 9-6 victory.
A season of surprises…
After years of Yankees-Red Sox and most recently, Yankees-Red Sox-Rays, I never expected this to be the year that the Baltimore Orioles would emerge as the Yankees’ primary nemesis. Still, the Tampa Bay Rays are the team that scares me the most. With their pitching, they have the potential to go all the way if they make it. Granted, it’s clearly an uphill battle for them, but they are perhaps the hottest team in baseball right now with 11 wins in 12 games. Hopefully, the Oakland A’s will end the Rays’ quest but I’d like to see the Rays with an opportunity for at least one more night so they’ll play at the top of their game against the O’s again tomorrow night. If the A’s win against the Texas Rangers tonight, then it’s over for the Rays. I am thankful that the Rays’ run got started so late in the season. If it had occurred earlier, there’s little doubt they’d be bumping shoulders with the Yankees and O’s.
While I am surprised about the successful O’s season, I am flabbergasted by the dismal failure of the Boston Red Sox. This is a team that could have and should have won the AL East in 2011, but after tonight’s game, the team stands at 91 losses. It is the highest loss total since 1965 when they lost 100 games. There’s no threat of 100 losses, but this is clearly an inferior Red Sox team. I think they’ll be much improved in 2013 but the team has much to do in order to re-tool the once championship squad. In my opinion, Bobby Valentine has to go. He has contributed to the dysfunction of the 2012 season and while the losses may not be his fault, he is not the right man for the job. I do not necessarily think that John Farrell is, or that last year’s runner-up, Gene Lamont, should get the job. If I were the Red Sox GM, I’d probably go with a guy who has a great deal of minor league managerial experience but has never gotten the opportunity at the major league level, Ryne Sandberg. He’d be respected by the players and he has the ability to effectively communicate with the younger prospects.
I thought this would be the year the Toronto Blue Jays would take a step forward. If I would have had to choose between the O’s and the Jays at the start of the season, I probably would have taken the Jays. But I felt they regressed this year. Well, actually they did. Who knows how this plays out for John Farrell. It could be ownership is more willing to let him go to Boston, but of course, does Boston want him and is he truly the right fit? This remains to be seen. Nothing like some good old fashioned drama as we head toward the off-season.
As for the other races, I was disappointed to see the Chicago White Sox fade. I felt they had their division, but the talent of the Detroit Tigers persevered and thrust the team into the lead with a few games left. Out west, there’s no doubt the Texas Rangers were going to be the champion, but to put the A’s into the play-offs over the Los Angeles Angels was a surprise. Oakland’s pursuit of Yoenis Cespedes doesn’t look so far fetched now.
In the National League, I never would have predicted a division championship for the Washington Nationals. They earned and deserved it, but I didn’t foresee it. The awful season the Philadelphia Phillies experienced was a surprise. Hey, Cliff Lee, how does that decision to rebuke the Yankees feel now? I know, one season does not a mega-million contract make, but hey, this is baseball and it’s all about ‘what have you done for me lately?’. Congratulations to the Atlanta Braves for at least nailing the Wild Card slot.
The Cincinnati Reds were not a surprise, even playing in the same division as the St Louis Cardinals. This was destined to be a challenging year for the Cards with a new manager and first baseman. The Cardinals should still make the play-offs, but this division played out as expected.
The NL West is where I am perplexed. Although I currently reside in the Bay Area, my NL team is the Los Angeles Dodgers. This is primarily because of the manager (Don Mattingly). But after the expensive acquisitions late in the season (Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Brandon League and others), I really thought the Dodgers would be well poised to surge to the division championship. Of course, I fully underestimated the San Francisco Giants and their pitching staff. Tim Lincecum may have had his struggles this year, but I’d still hate to face him in October with all the chips on the table.
Welcome to the 2012 World Series…
As for my prediction of World Series participants, I am going to go with the Cincinnati Reds versus the Texas Rangers. The Reds, in my opinion, have a slight advantage over the Washington Nationals. Of course, I’ve underestimated the San Francisco Giants all season long so why should I change now? I know this is a Yankees blog and I should be ‘all in’ on another Yankees participation in the World Series. But I am just not convinced the team has the clutch hitting to succeed. Hey, I hope they prove me wrong, but I don’t really see anyone else emerging from the AL than the Rangers. I do not like the Rangers but I recognize that their hunger for a World Series championship remains and they have the talent to succeed. Best case scenario? The Yankees go to the World Series to face the San Francisco Giants and see how their hitters perform against former closer Dave Righetti’s aces.
It seems like the season just started but now just two games separate us from the 2012 post-season. The race to the World Series begins…
It seems weird that the Yankees season is over with
the World Series set to begin tonight.
When I was a kid growing up in Iowa, there was a cartoonist who worked
for The Des Moines Register that used to say it wasn’t an official World Series
unless the Yankees were in it. I have
always believed those words! 😉
Seriously, it is interesting that we finally have a
World Series with two teams that do not have a history of World Series success. For the Texas Rangers, they’ve never been to
the World Series, and for the Giants, they’ve never won a World Series since
they moved to San Francisco although they have made a couple of trips. Given that I live in the Bay Area and the
Giants have generally been my preferred NL team over the years, I’ll be pulling
for them tonight as they embark on Game 1 against the Rangers.
There are no active Giants players with ties to the Yankees
organization, however, the Yankees do have a presence through the coaching
staff and back office. The two most
notable individuals are GM Brian Sabean who started in the
Yankees front office working for George Steinbrenner and pitching coach Dave Righetti. I always chuckle when I think of Rags as a
pitching coach. Please don’t get me
wrong. I think he’s a terrific coach and
he was a great player, however, when he was young…before he “made it” to the
big leagues for good, he used to struggle with his control. So, he was the guy who needed such intensive
coaching and now he is the master. I
lived in Dallas for 14 years and during many of those years, Rags was the
Yankees closer. So, I have so many
memories of Rags closing out games in Arlington, Texas. So, in many ways, he’ll be returning to an
area that he is well familiar with and has enjoyed success. Hopefully, he’ll be able to pass on that
success to Tim Lincecum and company.
Some of the other names in the Giants organization
who have past connections to the Yankees:
Roberto Kelly, First Base
I remember being upset when the Yankees traded
Kelly to the Cincinnati Reds for Paul O’Neill.
Ha! I think that trade worked out
well for the Yanks. Sorry Roberto…
Hensley Meulens, Batting Coach
I remember when “Bam Bam” was a much-hyped
youngster with so much promise. He never
achieved success with the Yanks and was eventually sold to a team in Japan.
Henry Cotto, Coordinator,
Cotto was a bench player for the Yankees during the
lean years (1985 to 1987). I think of
him more as a Chicago Cub although he only played one year for them
(1984). He had an undistinguished career
but he definitely could run.
Lee Smith, Coordinator,
Lee is obviously better known for his great years
with the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals, but he was with the Yankees in
1993 toward the end of his career. He
was a late season pickup and did well during his short stint even though the
Yankees did not that year.
J.T. Snow, Special Assistant
Snow, the son of former Los Angeles Rams great Jack
Snow, was originally drafted by the Yankees.
But he was traded in the deal that brought Jim Abbott to New York. He had some productive years for the Angels
but he achieved his greatest success with the Giants.
Dick Tidrow, Vice President,
Tidrow is definitely one of the more notable
Yankees as he played a very prominent role in the Yankees bullpen during their
two championships in the late 70’s. As a
kid growing up, he and Sparky Lyle were the faces of the bullpen.
Fred Stanley, Director, Player
Another player from those World Championship clubs
of 1977 and 1978, “Chicken” backed up shortstop Bucky Dent and was a valued
reserve during those years.
Joe Lefebvre, Senior Adviser,
Drafted by the Yankees, he only played for the team
one year (1980) before moving on to the San Diego Padres and Philadelphia
Phillies. However, he did play a part in
helping the Yankees win the AL East Division that year. I remember 1980 as the year the Yankees won
103 games but lost to the Kansas City Royals in the play-offs resulting in the
firing of late manager Dick Howser (back when George had a very itchy trigger
finger when it came to managers).
This “prayer” was making its rounds on email
yesterday. I do not know who the author
ors, as we forgive those who home run against us. Lead us not into defeat, but help us beat the
Rangers…with the help of the Beard, the Buster and
the Dirty Dozen.
Here’s hoping the former Yankees enjoy a World
Series championship in 2010!
As for the Yankees, they are apparently negotiating
a new 3-year deal with manager Joe Girardi.
I am glad to see that they are working to resolve Girardi’s situation
quickly so they can focus on the critical needs of the team. GM Brian Cashman acted very swiftly in
announcing that pitching coach Dave Eiland would not return. I have no issues with the decision. The Yankees starting pitching underperformed
this year, and A.J. Burnett and Javier Vazquez were the biggest reasons
why. I also think that Phil Hughes was
capable of more than he showed down the stretch. I am not sure who’d be the best candidate to
replace Eiland. Hey, I’d love to see
Dave Righetti back in New York but unfortunately he’s not going anywhere. Hopefully, Cashman and Girardi will be very
selective about who they chose for the very important role.
I saw this morning that CC Sabathia will be having
minor knee surgery. While this procedure
does not sound serious, I hope it is not indicative of the start of future
problems associated with CC’s weight.
This does show how critical it is for the Yankees to secure another ace
for the staff. Like everyone else, I am
strongly in favor of signing free agent to be Cliff Lee, however, I am very
dismayed at the reports of the poor treatment his wife received from the
Yankees fans during the ALCS at Yankee Stadium.
That type of abuse is completely unacceptable and it is an embarrassment
to be associated with those types of Yankee “fans”. I use the term “fans” very loosely because
those idiots are very poor representation of “fans”.
Hopefully, this does not keep the Lee’s from
considering an offer to join the Yankees.
I know it will be a tough, uphill battle to sign Lee as it is, and they
certainly did not need ill-treatment by the fans to give Mrs. Lee a strong
reason for not wanting to come to New York.
I want the core Yankees to return (Derek Jeter,
Mariano Rivera, and Andy Pettitte).
However, I do not feel that the Yankees should overpay to convince them
to stay. So, if it is time to sever
ties, I am prepared as I feel the money would be better served to help bring
younger, more talented (at this stage of their careers) to New York to help
pursue a championship in 2011. Of the
core, I think re-signing Mariano Rivera is the most vital. He is still performing at a top level,
although the Yankees would be well served to re-sign Kerry Wood if
possible. I don’t want Derek Jeter to
leave but at some point, he is going to start becoming a liability at
short. I’d rather see the team cut ties
before rather than after that happens. I
want Andy Pettitte to return, but I would not want to see high expectations
placed on him. Put him in the #4 or #5
spot in the rotation and be satisfied with the results if he decides to
return. I didn’t mention the last core
member, Jorge Posada, since he is still under contract. However, I am ready for a change at
catcher. Just like the Boston Red Sox
moved Jason Varitek to a reserve role, the Yankees should do the same with
Jorge. At 39, he is past his prime at
the catching position and now is the time for the highly heralded Jesus Montero
if he can show in spring training that he is ready for the job. If the Yankees do sign Cliff Lee, it would be
great to see Lee pitching to Montero since Montero would have been the cost of
a trade with Seattle to get Lee before they reneged and moved him to Texas.
As for the Hot Stove League rumors, I have to admit
that I am somewhat intrigued by the potential of bringing Jayson Werth to New
York to play right field. As much as I
like Nick Swisher, he is a streaky hitter and hasn’t shown the clutch bat in
October like Werth has. Of course, I
would love to have Carl Crawford in left, but I think right is a greater
need. I fully expect Brett Gardner to
continue to improve. Granted, he is no
Carl Crawford, but his speed is very disruptive on the bases and he showed a
much better ability to get on base this year.
Brian Cashman definitely has his work cut out for
him this off-season. It should be
A Post-Red Sox Hangover…
Fresh off a four game series sweep of the Boston Red Sox, the Yankees stumbled tonight against the Toronto Blue Jays, losing 5-4. Of course, the deck was stacked against the Yanks with Sergio Mitre on the mound. Mitre went five innings, giving up five runs (three of which were earned). He also had six strikeouts. It wasn’t a great performance, but it wasn’t awful…somewhere in middle which seems to be typical-Mitre…not bad but not quite good enough. I am ready for a change. Give Chad Gaudin a chance or, gasp!, reach down and pluck Kei Igawa from AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre. I wish now that the Yankees had made a play for Pedro Martinez who is scheduled to start for the Phillies on Wednesday. Heck, even Luis Tiant was looking good the other night on ESPN! Anybody but Mitre. I know, he pitched better tonight than his previous outings and it was a miscue (his, by the way) that was his downfall. But I am just not convinced that he is the answer…
The Yankees’ seven game winning streak was halted with the loss, and they lost a game in the standings to the Red Sox, who defeated the Detroit Tigers, 6-5. Their lead in the AL East is now 5 ½ games. Of course, I’ve already read that the largest lead the Yankees have ever blown was 6 games in 1933. Julia is probably already writing about it on her blog…
Cody Ransom cleared waivers, and now heads back to AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre.
Today was a sad day with news of the death of Mickey Mantle’s widow, Merlyn Mantle. She had been suffering from Alzheimer’s, and made her last public appearance during a dinner before a memorial for Bobby Murcer. I lived in Dallas during Mickey’s final years. I never saw the Mantles, but I attended Mickey’s funeral in 1995 and used to drive by their condominium building on a regular basis. Just this morning, unaware of Merlyn’s health, I put up an autographed picture of Mickey in my office.
On a brighter note, I heard that Aaron Boone is already playing baseball again for the Houston Astros’ AA team, the Corpus Christi Hooks. He played third base and was hitless in two at-bats before departing. Less than five months ago, Boone was undergoing open heart surgery to correct a congenital defect in his aortic valve. That’s incredible news. I suffered a stress fracture of my left tibia several months ago, and I am still trying to make a comeback. Boone is sliced open so the world can see his heart, and he is swinging at 90 mph fastballs. I’m a wimp. I thought that Boone’s career was finished, and he proved me wrong. I wish him the very best as he attempts to make a comeback. I hope that the road leads to Houston. Good luck, Aaron, old friend…
Tomorrow night, I’ll get my first taste of the San Francisco Giants rivalry with the Los Angeles Dodgers when I travel to AT&T Park. It will be my first time to personally attend a game in opposition to Joe Torre and one of my all-time heroes, Don Mattingly. On the bright side, I’ll be wearing the same hat as my favorite closer of the 80’s, Dave Righetti.
It just wasn’t that long ago when I was cheering for Rags to close out games…
Hopefully, Tuesday will bring a new Yankees winning streak…
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