I am not quite sure what was reaction was when I heard that San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera had been suspended for 50 games due to substance abuse. As a former Yankee, I watched his career as it went through Atlanta and Kansas City before his arrival in the City by the Bay. The year in Atlanta was forgettable, but Melky rebounded in Kansas City and continued his renaissance in San Francisco. The highlight of the year for him was capped with the MVP Award for the All-Star Game.
When Melky was a Yankee, he was often in the mix for game-winning hits and the recipient of one of A.J. Burnett’s pies. It was tough to see him go to Atlanta in the ill-fated trade for Javier Vazquez but I had hoped that he would have a chance to thrive outside of Yankee Stadium and the platoon situation he found himself in. Even with his recent success, I still feel that Brett Gardner, when healthy, is a better fit for the Yankees. Nevertheless, I was glad to see that Melky had found major league success as a regular.
Well, until the day it was announced that he had been suspended. I lost most if not all respect that day. Melky’s quick acceptance of his suspension only rubbed salt in the wound, and now there’s a report that he staged a bogus website in a botched attempt to mask his guilt. I can gladly say that I am glad that Melky is not a Yankee today. I would not want him on my team and if I was the Giants’ GM Brian Sabean, I’d cut my losses and move on. The last thing the Giants need is a player with the aura of substance abuse, particularly on the heels of former Giants outfielder Barry Bonds. Character should be the first criteria when determining if a player is a good fit for any organization. Yes, athletic ability and talent rank very highly but it means nothing if the player is one of poor character.
News of the totally irrelevant…
Speaking of substance abuse, it’s ironic that another former Yankee is again in the news. There were reports that Roger Clemens has signed with an independent team. Seriously? A 50-year-old pitcher trying to make a comeback? The only guy who could make Jamie Moyer look like a teenager? I don’t care if Clemens was acquitted in June. He is one guy that I never want to see wear pinstripes again or ever set foot on Yankee Stadium soil.
I have been supportive of current Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte. There was something very honest about Pettitte’s admission of substance abuse a few years back. Maybe he has all of us fooled. Maybe not. I tend to believe the latter. On the other hand, I don’t believe anything Roger Clemens has to say. Nor do I believe Alex Rodriguez for that matter. I tolerate Rodriguez because he is on the Yankees but I am not a fan of his.
I’d like to put Melky in the category of guys that should be forgiven, but he just strikes me as another Clemens or A-Rod at this point. It is incredible that a guy, at this point in time, would risk millions by doing something that is so closely watched. He was on the fast track for failure. I doubt we’ve seen the last of Melky but I hope that he learns something from the time off.
I was a Yankee for two months…
I know that the Ichiro in Pinstripes Era is very short-lived and will be expiring at the end of the season, but it was a joy to see him hit two home runs off Josh Beckett in the weekend series against the Red Sox. Although the Yankees only took two of three from the Sox, this is not the same Red Sox squad of years passed. Although Bobby Valentine has gotten a vote of confidence from the Front Office, I don’t see how he makes it past just one season in Boston. It is no secret the Sox covet Toronto Blue Jays manager John Farrell so if there’s a way to pry him from Canada, I am sure that he will be immediately named the next manager of the Sox.
How did I go from Ichiro to John Farrell? I am not quite sure about that one myself…
Where did all these former Dodgers come from?…
It’s only a brief sample, but I really wouldn’t mind seeing Derek Lowe return as the long man in the pen next season. I’ve always admired Lowe’s competitiveness and determination. It’s still a bit weird watching him in pinstripes, but he is a welcome addition. There’s no doubt that I want to see the return of pitcher Hiroki Kuroda. He’s been even better than I had anticipated. I always wondered why Dodger fans were so endeared to him as I had viewed him as a middle of the road starter. But, wow, I was wrong! I totally get why he meant so much to Dodger fans. The team would be lost without Kuroda, particularly after the DL stints of most notably CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte.
It’s hard to believe that September is right around the corner. I guess we will soon be inundated with magic numbers. There is only one number I am concerned about…#28. Let’s go, Yankees!
Okay, who will it be?…
Rumors allegedly have the New York Yankees actively pursuing another pitcher for the starting rotation. Apparently, it is a position that the team intends to fill by the end of the year. Will the spot be filled by a free agent signing or via trade? Given the lack of top shelf talent on the free agent market, it would appear that a trade is forthcoming.
Of the free agents, I like Ben Sheets but he’s probably the riskiest of all from an injury standpoint. With Sheets, you’d have to have a very clear Plan B in the event there are any setbacks in spring training. But I do like his upside and on his best day, he can pitch toe-to-toe with the likes of Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and John Lackey.
Jason Marquis was another option but he signed a two-year deal with the Washington Nationals earlier today. A native New Yorker, he would have made a smooth transition to the Bronx but the jump from the NL to the AL would have been more difficult.
Jeff Zelevansky, Icon SMI
Pedro Martinez? Fuggetaboutit!
There have been some reports of talks between the Yankees and the Braves. I do not know the topic of the discussions but I don’t really think that Derek Lowe is the answer at this stage of his career.
Nor am I ready to get excited about a return of Javier Vazquez regardless of how will he performed in Atlanta.
I’d be more willing to see the return of the Chicago Cubs’ Ted Lilly…
There’s always the potential that the Yankees could convince the Florida Marlins to part with Josh Johnson. However, I am not sure the Marlins are ready to do anything with Johnson and there’s always the problem with the NL-to-AL transition.
So where does that leave us? According to the latest reports, a strong possibility could be Aaron Harang of the Cincinnati Reds. Earlier, I was convinced that Harang was headed to the Los Angeles Dodgers. However, that organization seems paralyzed by the McCourt divorce proceedings.
I am not sure what I think about Harang, but he does have some AL experience from his early days with the Oakland A’s. He would clearly be an upgrade over Chad Gaudin or Sergio Mitre. How I really feel about him will be determined by how much the Yanks have to give up to get him. Last season, he was an uninspiring 6-14 with the Reds and posted a 4.21 ERA. His 142 strikeouts, with only 43 walks, looked good, but this is a guy who led the majors with the most home runs allowed in 2008 (19). That’s not exactly the guy you’d want to be pitching at the Batting Practice known as Yankee Stadium.
Maybe Brian Cashman can convince the Seattle Mariners that they don’t really need Cliff Lee…
We’ll see how this turns out. Hopefully, Cashman will make the smart, prudent choice and ensure the Yankees have the middle of the order protected.
It’s not official yet but it sounds like the Yankees have signed Nick Johnson as their full-time DH. If it is confirmed, I am glad to see Nick return to the Bronx. I had feared that he’d sign with Boston and had quietly hoped that he’d go with the San Francisco Giants. I didn’t really expect him to sign with the Yankees, but I am supportive of the move. All signs indicate Johnson’s arrival spells the end of Johnny Damon’s Yankees career. I do not necessarily agree. I think the Yanks could still find a way to allow Johnny to return under a deal that makes sense for both parties. They are a good fit for each other so hopefully egos can be set aside for the good of all.
After resolution of pitching and left field, I think the Yanks will move either Melky Cabrera or Brett Gardner. Cabrera would seem to have the greatest trade value. The Yanks still need a few more arms for bullpen competition in the spring.
I would give the backup catching spot to Francisco Cervelli although I recognize that it is only a matter of time until Jesus Montero arrives as Jorge Posada’s eventual successor.
Ah, the life and times of the Yankees general manager. No stress for the holidays…
P.S. Major League Baseball would like to thank the Yankees for their generous $26 million “donation”. Who says the Yanks aren’t good for baseball…
Derek Lowe versus Andy Pettitte…
It was a match-up that reminded me of some great Red Sox battles of the past. Unfortunately, this one was not memorable as neither pitcher was around very long. The Yankees had built an 8-1 lead by the 4th inning against Lowe. It should have been an easy win for Andy Pettitte, but he struggled too. In the bottom of the 4th inning, he gave up 5 runs, thanks in part to an error by center fielder Brett Gardner, and was lifted for Alfredo Aceves. Aceves was the eventual winner in the 11-7 Yankees victory over the Atlanta Braves.
I am concerned about Pettitte. He pitched great during his last start, but otherwise, his starts have been very spotty. He is definitely no longer the pitcher he once was, or at least I do not recall him being so consistently “hittable”.
But the one player we do not need to be concerned about is Alex Rodriguez. After a month long slump that saw his batting average slide to .207, A-Rod was back last night. He had a key hit on Wednesday, and followed that up with his 563rd home run (tying Mr. October, Reggie Jackson on the all-time list). He was 3-for-5, with two runs scored, a walk, and 4 RBI’s (pushing his BA to .223).
The key hit for this game, in my opinion, was delivered by Johnny Damon. With the bases loaded in the top of the 3rd inning, Damon came to bat against his former Red Sox teammate and delivered a triple to clear the bases. The hit increased the Yankees’ lead to 6-1 at the time. Even though the Braves scratched and clawed to get back in the game, they could never recover from the huge hole created by Damon.
Stuart Cahill/Boston Herald
The bullpen did a good job with Aceves, Phil Coke, and the great Mariano Rivera. The only questionable performance was by David Robertson who gave up a 9th inning home run to Brian McCann, and had runners at the corners, before Mo came in to get the final out. Robertson did have two strikeouts in the frame. Hopefully, he was just upset by the Mets’ recent release of his brother Connor, and he’ll perform the next time he is placed in a key situation.
The Yankees now head to Queens for a weekend Subway Series against the Mets. I am concerned about the health of CC Sabathia, but it appears that he is a ‘go’ and should be fine this evening. A.J. Burnett will return from his suspension tomorrow so it should be a fun weekend in Flushing Meadow. With A-Rod coming around, I am sure that the biggest beneficiary will be Mark Teixeira. The team responded to Brian Cashman’s call to arms, and hopefully that will continue. The Toronto Blue Jays lost last night, so the Yankees once again have sole possession of 2nd place and are now 4 games behind Boston. Meanwhile, those pesky Rays keep winning…
Chris Urso/Tampa Tribune
Happy 35th Birthday to the Captain, Derek Jeter!
Xavier Nady had a major setback during his minor league rehab with Triple A-Scranton/Wilkes Barre. Brian Cashman is calling it a possible worst case scenario as Nady felt pain while throwing. Not a good sign. At some point, you have to wonder if surgery is the only option. Best wishes to the X-Man for a “best case” scenario outcome…
Finally, Thursday was a very sad day in the Entertainment World with the loss of two icons… Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett.
Say what you will about MJ in recent years, but he was truly the King of Pop during the early 80’s. His music was everywhere, and I can still so vividly remember waiting to watch the MTV world premiere of the video for Thriller in late 1983. Like Elvis, Michael has left us way too soon.
Farrah’s passing was more expected but no less difficult. I had the Farrah poster on my wall as a teenager (like every other guy my age).
Goodbye to both…they will be missed…
No A-Rod in the line-up? No problem, just call Andy…
Andy had a run-scoring double in the 2nd inning to put New York on top of the Florida Marlins, 3-0. It was a lead that the Yankees never relinquished. They won the game, 5-1, behind Pettitte’s other skills….a solid pitching performance that saw only three hits in 7 innings, with 7 strikeouts. He had good control as he did not issue any walks, and became the first Yankees pitcher to reach 7 wins. He was, of course, quite winded after the long run to second base! Hahaha! The lone Marlin run was a homer by outfielder Cody Ross. Pettitte did say after the game that several other fly balls would have been home runs in Yankee Stadium. Nevertheless, they were in Miami and the Yankees easily won, snapping a two game losing streak.
The Yankees also got great production from their bullpen with two innings of hitless relief provided by Brian Bruney and Brett Tomko. I can’t say that I was excited to see Tomko enter the game, but he did his job.
The Yankees only had one home run, a solo shot by Melky Cabrera in the 3rd.
Before the game, it was announced that Alex Rodriguez would sit the first two games of the series in Miami against the Marlins. Alex has been struggling lately, and his batting average has plummeted to .212. Kevin Long tracks swings that are considered reaches, and indicated that since early June, A-Rod has extended his arms from his body in his swings nearly 85% of the time. He wants to work with A-Rod to bring his arms back in for a tighter, more compact swing. Hopefully, the rest will do A-Rod some good, although I am sure it’s frustrating for him to sit while the team is in his hometown. Angel Berroa filled in for A-Rod at third, while Jorge Posada batted clean-up.
It was a good game for the Yankees, beginning to end. I had some concerns that they were facing a pitcher they had never seen before (Sean West), but they easily figured him out and scored all 5 runs against West in his four innings of work.
Derek Jeter was back in the lineup Friday night, but you could tell that the ankle is still bothering him.
It was a reunion of sorts for manager Joe Girardi, who got his first managerial job with the Marlins in 2006. He was named NL Manager of the Year, and was subsequently fired by owner Jeffrey Loria. Girardi and Loria chatted briefly outside of the Yankees clubhouse prior to the game. Per Girardi, it was a pleasant conversation with Loria and they have a good relationship. Still, you just know that Girardi took satisfaction in taking the first game of the series with the Marlins…
The Yankees picked up a game on both first place Boston and third place Toronto as both of those teams lost on Friday night. The Yanks are two games behind the Red Sox and two games ahead of the Blue Jays. I wonder if the Red Sox could start Dice-K again tonight? I kinda like it when he pitches… 😉 Seriously, I have faith in the Braves’ Derek Lowe even though he is facing Josh Beckett. Vindication is always a sweet feeling, and Lowe is a gamer. Good luck to him as he faces his former teammates!
Despite watching Pedro Martinez pitch in the Dominican Republic, the Yankees expressed no interest in signing the 37 year old pitcher. Whew!
Brett Gardner is still feeling the effects of the collision with the outfield wall on Thursday, but is improving.
It has nothing to do with the game, but Miami always reminds me of one of my favorite singers, the late great Keith Whitley. This is one of my favorite Whitley songs…
Posted on YouTube by Victorcoral
Have a great Saturday!
According to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, the Dodgers are more interested in Jon Garland, Braden Looper and Randy Wolf than they are in Andy Pettitte. With the Astros already saying that Andy most likely doesn’t fit within their budget, it would appear that all roads lead back to Yankee Stadium…
I am still anxious to see if Scott Boras can save face on his recommendation for Jason Varitek to decline arbitration in December. This situation has played out badly, and clearly no one has been hurt more than Jason himself…
As promising as catching prospects Jesus Montero and Austin Romine are, I sure do wish their ETA to the major leagues was 2009 rather than 2010 or beyond (particularly considering the rumors of Jorge Posada’s desire to play for Puerto Rico in the WBC and questionable health which remains in doubt until he is able to prove he’s healthy).
Given the intensity of the start of the season schedule for the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays (the Yankees play 10 of their first 30 games against the Red Sox and Rays, the Red Sox play 14 of their first 32 games against the Yankees and Rays, and the Rays play 15 of their 33 games against the other two), it will be interesting to see how the Yankees fare out of the blocks given the Yanks recent history of slow starts…not to mention that of Mark Teixeira individually.
I am not surprised that Michael Young relented and has accepted the move to third base for the Rangers (withdrawing his trade request). Ultimately, it was conversations with team president Nolan Ryan that persuaded Young to reconsider his stance. But the entire situation could have been avoided had Ryan held those talks with Young before the holidays…not after.
Less than a month before pitchers and catchers report to Tampa…sweet!
I saw the quote where Derek Lowe said that he was going to love playing in Atlanta. Of course, I had to wonder, what else is he going to say? “Ya know, all things considered, I’d really rather be in Boston. Why didn’t you guys try harder to sign Smoltz?” Geez…
I saw the idea in another blog, but I like the suggestion to pry Lastings Milledge from the Nats in a trade involving either Xavier Nady or Nick Swisher (Nady being the preference at this point). Then, put Milledge in competition with Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera in center (assuming one of them aren’t involved in the trade). I like that line of thinking as the Yanks need to upgrade either the bottom end of the starting rotation or center field with any trade. Milledge hit 14 home runs with 61 RBI’s to go with a .268 batting average and 24 steals in 2008. His OBP, SLG and OPS were .329/.407/.735. At only 24 years old, his upside is still tremendous and the leadership on the Yankee roster would help his attitude. Of course, the cost to acquire him may be too great, but that’s the type of talent that would be great for the new Yankee Stadium center field.
All quiet on the Yankee front…
I have to give Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner credit, they do a good job of avoiding leaks to the press (unlike George in years past).
I keep trying to reconcile my mind to accept Phil Hughes as the #5 starter, but when I think of worst-case scenario (both A.J. Burnett and Joba Chamberlain down with injuries), I know that they need more if they are to compete against a Red Sox pitching staff that has 2006/07 16-game winner Brad Penny at the end of the rotation (without even getting to John Smoltz or the beefed up bullpen).
I saw that Nick Cafardo suggested that the Red Sox trade for Prince Fielder. If the Red Sox were successful in acquiring Fielder, I wonder if the Yankees would stand pat. That’s hard to imagine, but at this point, the Red Sox do have the opportunity to have the better offseason despite the huge cash outlay by the Yankees. I saw that Ken Rosenthal suggested that the Brewers trade Fielder for pitching prospects and sign Adam Dunn as his replacement. Which, of course, makes me wonder why don’t the Red Sox consider Dunn? Granted, he is a defensive liability but he is a proven power hitter with good on base percentage. He is a patient hitter (maybe too patient it has been suggested), but he’d provide solid protection for Papi. Plus, Clay Buchholz would stay on the Red Sox roster…
I have a tough time picturing Derek Lowe in a Braves uniform. I think he is a much better fit with the Mets or Phillies…assuming that he wants to win. He’d be a great fit on the Yankees, but of course, that’s cost prohibitive (you don’t pay those kind of dollars to your fifth starter..are you listening Andy?).
Whatever happened to Oscar Gamble?…