Bobby Valentine’s hire…
I am still surprised that the Boston Red Sox ownership and management team did not have a clear plan of succession when they failed to back former manager Terry Francona at the end of the season. Sure, Francona left on his terms but the lack of support had as much to do with the decision as anything. So, if ownership felt that they wanted a change, they should have had a short list of potential replacements in mind. Theo Epstein moved more quickly in Chicago when they named Sox candidate Dale Sveum as their manager. The Sox search just felt “messy” to an outsider like me.
Still, they probably did as well as they could with the hiring of Bobby Valentine. There is no question that he is a superior tactician. He is very passionate, which is an attribute that I have always admired. I cannot say that I’ve been a Bobby V fan in my life. I lived in Dallas during his years as the manager of the Texas Rangers. But I respect his knowledge, skills and high desire to win. At different points during the last few years, there have been times he has been mentioned as a possible Yankees manager. You don’t have to like the guy personally if he can get the job done. I think one of my friends referred to Bobby as “swarmy” and it’s a good description. Nevertheless, I am sure that Bobby will prove himself worthy of the Red Sox Nation and they’ll love him. Meanwhile, we’ll just continue our loathing of him which fits since he is now with a bitter rival.
I would like to see if Bobby can have a positive impact on pitcher Jon Lester. Lester has been one of my favorite players, despite his uniform. He is an ace, and capable of carrying the high expectations that go with it. 2011 was a regression year for Lester so hopefully he’ll get back on track in 2012 and clearly establish himself as the leader of the Red Sox rotation.
…and Terry Francona’s ire…
In recent years, I admittedly lessened my dislike for the Boston Red Sox and it was primarily because of my respect for manager Terry Francona. In my mind, Joe Torre had been the model of a superior manager, and the Francona mold was in the same class. I do not know the inner workings of the Red Sox organization, but I am still surprised that they didn’t support Francona based on comments Tito has made during interviews. I was even more surprised to hear that he had to defend himself against questions about painkillers during his interview with the St. Louis Cardinals. Here is a manager that won two World Series for an organization that had not won since 1918, or when Babe Ruth was still on the roster. It’s incredible to think of how many Red Sox managers failed where Tito succeeded. I think teams missed the boat in not aggressively pursuing Tito this off-season. Hopefully, teams won’t make the same mistake next year.
All quiet on the Western front…
The days leading up to the Baseball Winter Meetings in Dallas seem so incredibly quiet compared to life under the Boss. While I recognize that part of it is posturing by the Yankees to avoid overpaying for players, there is the realization that this is a different ownership group even if it is still “in the family”. The Yankees did not really make any notable moves last season outside of signing catcher Russell Martin and bringing in pitchers Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon. To fail to upgrade the team this year is a mistake in my opinion. Last year’s roster was easily defeated by the Detroit Tigers in the play-offs. While I realize that anything can happen in a short series, I didn’t have the sense or “feel” that the Yankees were going to prevail. It almost seemed as though it was inevitable the Yankees would lose. That’s a bad feeling. The team needs bench or role players that can come through like Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui used to, and they need help at the top of the starting rotation behind CC Sabathia.
I hopeful that the team can re-sign Eric Chavez, Andrew Jones and Luis Ayala. Chavez is a perfect fit behind Alex Rodriguez, assuming that he can stay healthy, and Jones was a great fourth outfielder if he is content with resuming that type of role for the upcoming season. Ayala seems to be garnering much attention with at least six teams interested.
I like the one rumor that I heard about the Yankees possibly being interested in Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Kyle Drabek. He would definitely be a pitcher that I’d target if I were the GM. As a fan, the trade of Doug Drabek hurt at the time and it hurt even more when Drabek went on to achieve great success with the Pittsburgh Pirates. While acquiring Kyle Drabek has nothing to do with his father as he has great potential on his own right, it would be nice to have the son of Doug Drabek in the organization. Interestingly, the Yankees had obtained Doug Drabek in a trade with the Chicago White Sox for shortstop Roy Smalley. If they had held onto him that trade would have been remembered as one of the Yankees better trades. As it was, the Yankees traded him to the Pirates for Rick Rhoden, who was serviceable but not great.
Of the free agent pitchers, I am still most interested in Mark Buehrle. I think he’d fit perfectly into the middle of the Yankees rotation. I like C.J. Wilson but I can understand the team’s apprehension given the dollars that have been mentioned to sign him. If Yu Darvish is posted later this off-season, I really would like to see the Yankees be aggressive in pursuing him. I am convinced that he’ll have greater major league success than Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka. The negative is obviously the cost of the posting fee that it will take to get the job done. The Red Sox paid over $51 million for the rights to negotiate with Dice-K, and apparently, it will take a similar if not higher number to land Darvish.
If the Yankees were to include outfielder Nick Swisher in a trade for a starting pitcher, they’d need to find a replacement. As a fan, I am always on the lookout for the next Paul O’Neill type of trade to fill the void…acquiring a talented young outfielder with much promise who has yet fulfilled those expectations. It’s a high risk move, but as in the case of O’Neill, high reward. Curtis Granderson has thrived in a Yankees uniform despite the sluggish start, and it’s better to catch a player before he hits the upward arc of his career in terms of cost. If the Yankees tried to acquire Granderson from the Tigers today, there’s no way that they could get it done with Ian Kennedy, Austin Jackson and Phil Coke (and that’s with Kennedy being mentioned in the NL Cy Young race this year).
Brace yourself, here comes Roller-Coaster Week!…
The upcoming week is always my favorite week of the off-season. The Hot Stove League is at its pinnacle. Even if the Yankees do not do anything, it is still a thrilling ride. It’s fun to talk and think about all the potential possibilities, even as far-reaching as some may sound. My primary wish is for the Cardinals to get their long-anticipated deal with Albert Pujols done so that we can move on to other storylines. There’s no way that he is going to Chicago or Miami, and at the end of the day, he is and always will be a Cardinal.
My preferred landing spot for Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, if he decides to continue playing, is the Miami Marlins. I do not want to see him go to the Mets, Red Sox, or any other AL East rival including the Tampa Bay Rays.
Good move, Bad move…
The Los Angeles Dodgers are my favorite National League team, although I do not have the passion for the team or the sense of loyalty that I hold for the Yankees. My affection for them began when Joe Torre was named manager (previously I had considered the San Francisco Giants as my NL team) and it has continued with one of my all-time favorite players as the current Dodgers manager, Don Mattingly. I am dismayed with the ownership situation and do not have any respect for Frank McCourt, but I am optimistic that the sale of the team will restore the luster of the storied franchise.
While it was good for the Dodgers to lock up outfielder Matt Kemp long-term, I do question the move to sign free agent pitcher Chris Capuano. The cost was too great ($10 million for two years) for a journeyman pitcher who is average to average-minus with no upside. If this move prevents free agent pitcher Hiroki Kuroda from returning, then it’s an even greater mistake. I don’t know how much it will cost to sign Kuroda and I realize that he is 37, but he’s still a better pitcher than Capuano.
Don’t let the door hit you on the way out…
I was not excited when the Minnesota Vikings trade a 6th round draft pick to the Washington Redskins for QB Donovan McNabb before the season started, but I did realize the team needed a veteran presence. McNabb was a failure for the Vikings, and I was glad to see the team finally cut bait with his release this past week. I am not convinced he can thrive in any environment, contrary to what head coach Leslie Frazier may say. I think the Vikings simply found out what the Philadelphia Eagles knew and what the Redskins found out last season. He’s done. I was pleasantly surprised to see QB Sage Rosenfels return as the third string QB after his release from the Miami Dolphins. It’s not that I expect Rosenfels to take any regular season snaps this time around, but he’s a good insurance policy and allows the Vikings to continue to use second string QB Joe Webb in a variety of roles.
It’s tough when your favorite football team is playing so bad that you actually hope for losses to ensure a high draft pick. The Vikings are only two games behind the Indianapolis Colts in the sweepstakes for Stanford QB Andrew Luck. I am a fan of Vikings QB Christian Ponder, but even I would gladly take Luck over Ponder. So, with the Denver Broncos playing the Vikings today, all I can say is ‘Go Tim Tebow!’ as a way to bring good “Luck”!…
I am glad that I quit holding my breath…
Finally, the Yankees emerged from a series with the Boston Red Sox as the victor. It was the first time it has happened this season. In past years, it seemed the Yankees and Red Sox always split the season series, give or take. But this year, the Sox have the decided advantage. For whatever reason (well, Josh Beckett and his 4-0 mark is one), the Red Sox have owned the Yankees. However, I am hopeful that the latest series will give the Yankees the confidence they need heading into the final season series later this month and again in the play-offs should the teams meet again.
I’d be foolish to think that the Yankees will overpower the Red Sox to win the division. On paper, the Sox still have the better team, but in the play-offs, it is all about who gets hot. So, even as the Wild Card, I think the Yankees have as good a shot as anyone.
It is concerning that the Red Sox have figured out Mariano Rivera. Last night, they were able to load the bases and probably could have/should have scored a run or two in the 9th inning but Mo was the beneficiary of a questionable call that gave the Yankees the win. It is important to get back to decisive wins and saves, and not hope that an umpire’s call is the deciding factor. Mo has been and continues to be my favorite Yankee. I don’t think he has lost it yet, and I agree with those who say that Mo will walk away from the game when his skills deteriorate. Lou Gehrig is my all-time favorite Yankee and baseball player, but Mo is certainly a legend in his own right and I am proud to have lived during his era. I think Mo will be able to solve the Red Sox dilemma. The Yankees may not win the World Series, but it won’t be because of Mo.
Does one game a season prove? I am hopeful that the adjustments Larry Rothschild made with A.J. Burnett will prove successful for the remainder of the season. He was extremely solid against Boston on Thursday night and it was more the Blue Jays version of Burnett against the Sox than the horrific Yankees version. I really believe that the Yankees chances to go deep in the play-offs are solely dependent upon Burnett.
What, was your phone broken?…
I really wish that GM Brian Cashman would have made a move to pick up a bat for the bench. I still think that Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui would have been ideal as someone to plug into the DH spot and for spot pinch-hitting roles. Boston was active, even if to a minor degree, at both the July and August deadlines, while the Yankees did nothing. Hopefully, Cashman’s call was the correct one (he knows better than I). But it will be disappointing if the season is lost on a single bad at-bat from the DH.
The blog, Scott Proctor’s Arm, has to be pleased…
It’s kind of weird to think that Scott Proctor is back in the Yankees bullpen after his September 1st call-up from the minor leagues. Joe Torre is always blamed for ruining Proctor, but it would be nice to see him enjoy some success again. I’d really like to see what Brandon Laird can do. I hate to put so much emphasis on Eric Chavez given how fragile he is in light of Alex Rodriguez’s health. I’d rather use Chavez in spot roles.
I know, go ahead and laugh about the winters…
I’ve been in Minneapolis for a month now, and I really like this town. It’s clean and the people are friendly. I know that the winters get a bad rep, and perhaps I’ll be crying wolf when April rolls around. But this is a good city and the baseball fans are knowledgeable and passionate. I’ll never be a Twins fan, but I can appreciate the organization and the pride that the fans have. As a Vikings fan, I am loving the focused attention on MY team. I’ve never lived in Minnesota so this is a completely foreign concept. I am a fan of Christian Ponder so it’s exciting that I am here for Season #1 even if he has to wait for his turn behind the guy the Philly fans used to love to hate, Donovan McNabb. I think if McNabb shows any signs that his horrible season in Washington last year wasn’t a fluke, we’ll see Ponder sooner rather than later. Oops, how did I go from the Twins to the Vikings? Back to downtown Minneapolis, it is a great city and I’ve definitely enjoyed my short time here. I am looking forward to the future as a “Minn-a-soat’n”.
A Yankee Fan Succeeds…
This is not baseball related, but I have to congratulate Fang Wong on being named as the National Commander for The American Legion. The American Legion is a huge organization for American veterans (I am one), and they make a difference each and every day. What kid growing up playing baseball hasn’t been a part of American Legion baseball? They are committed for a better America for all of us. I mention Fang because 1) I know him personally and he is one of the best and most honorable guys that I’ve ever met, and 2) he is a Yankees fan. Fang has been a longstanding member of the New York American Legion, and he is, in my mind, the commander the organization needs to move forward to greater heights. If I could be half the man Fang is, I’d be proud…
Is it really September already?…
Have a safe and enjoyable Labor Day Weekend!
As the Fonz said, I am ‘wrrrro…, I am wwwrrroo..’…
I was a pessimist in spring training…a non-believer. I didn’t think the Yankees could compete with the Boston Red Sox with their current roster after the off-season spurning by pitcher Cliff Lee. At the time, the Yankees were trying to piece together a rotation that was void of both Lee and Andy Pettitte, who opted to retire.
At the trading deadline, the Yankees were silent while the Red Sox were busy acquiring infielder Mike Aviles from the Kansas City Royals and pitcher Erik Bedard from the Seattle Mariners.
Yet, on the morning of August 16th, the Yankees found themselves in a first place tie with the Boston Red Sox. Not bad for a team that has been rated as inferior to the Red Sox by so many, including me. It is no secret that the Red Sox have owned the Yankees in their head-to-head match-up’s but of course that doesn’t mean a thing in October. Still, if the Yankees had been able to at least play .500 ball against the Sox, they’d have a fairly comfortable lead in the division. That’s probably where Lee and Pettitte would have made a difference, but who knows, perhaps they could have been even worse.
Despite the team’s success, I still do not like the prospects for October against the Red Sox and the Texas Rangers. Like the Red Sox, the Rangers were able to add some quality arms to the bullpen when they picked up Mike Adams from the San Diego Padres and Koji Uehara from the Baltimore Orioles. I do not like moves for the sake of simply making a move so perhaps the Yankees did the best thing by standing pat. But the team still has too many shortcomings that can be exposed in a short series. Part of me pulls for a Bronx return by Hideki Matsui who has cleared waivers for the Oakland A’s. Matsui has shown there is still ‘clutch’ in his bat and used in the right spots, he could be a valuable weapon. The team is counting very heavily on the return of Alex Rodriguez, but they need a contingency plan. The DH spot has been weak, for the most part, with Jorge Posada and Eric Chavez. Granted, Posada had a recent 6 RBI game that that’s clearly an aberration at this point of his career. I haven’t seen too many timely hits off his bat this season.
GM Brian Cashman is making the usual comments that he does not envision any trading activity this month, but of course, you never really know what is up his sleeve. So much of it has to do with posturing and trying to make the opposition believe that you aren’t desperate.
What have you done for me lately…
As for Posada, I am ready to cut ties. He has been a long and faithful Yankee, and certainly a very passionate one. However, I do not see a role on the 2012 Yankees for him. At this point, he has become a liability, and if he wishes to extend his career, I am okay with it being in another uniform. Hopefully, he doesn’t decide to go someplace like Boston, but I’d hope that he would make a respectful decision for the Yankees fans. All things considered, I wish that he’d simply hang up the catcher’s mitt at the end of the season and call it a career but I don’t think that’s going to happen. If I have to pick between Posada and Jesus Montero on the roster next year, Montero wins hands down. Sorry, Jorge, but I am looking forward to your participation on Old Timer’s Day.
A quiet major milestone even if it was a booming blast…
Congratulations to Jim Thome for slugging his 600th home run against the Detroit Tigers last night. It was an interesting stat that he was the first player to hit both his 599th and 600th home runs in the same game, and no one had ever hit his 600th in the next at-bat after 599. Babe Ruth was the closest, needing two at-bat’s. Thome’s march to 600 was one of the quietest milestone marches that I’ve experienced, and I even call Minneapolis home these days. I’ve never thought of him as a superstar, but he has consistently been a home run producer for many years. In my mind, he was never top shelf talent but he was always in the next tier and his career has spanned longer than many top shelf players. Does that qualify for entry to the Hall of Fame? It will be an interesting debate. He is certainly not a first ballot shoo-in, but he’ll probably find his way eventually.
Time to see my guys…
The Yankees will be coming to the Twin Cities this week, so I’ll be at one of the games this weekend. During my short time in Minneapolis, I have come to appreciate Target Field. I am a fan of many of the newer ballparks, and I like some better than others. But Target Field has a good feel to it, and I like its downtown location. I intend to wear my Yankees cap, which might not be the best idea when walking downtown, but I am sure that I won’t be alone…
Waiting for the opportunity…
As a lifelong fan of the Minnesota Vikings, it was tough a few years ago when I had to adjust to the sight of longtime enemy Brett Favre in purple. I actually did enjoy his first year, although the second one was a disappointment. But it is probably harder for me to accept the sight of Donovan McNabb in purple. Okay, I wasn’t one of those guys who booed when the Philadelphia Eagles selected McNabb in the draft over RB Ricky Williams, but I was never overly impressed with McNabb in his Philly days. I even lived in the area during his final years with the Eagles, and perhaps my impression of McNabb is tainted by the bitterness that Eagles fans held toward him. Yes, he won, but he never won the games that truly counted. It’s a team sport so you can’t hang total blame on him, but he is just not someone that I’ve ever been able to embrace as one of the game’s best QB’s. Maybe he will change my opinion of him. I definitely think that he has something to prove after his disastrous year in Washington, and I won’t be surprised if he rises to the challenge.
I am a fan of QB Christian Ponder. There’s no doubt that I wanted the team to draft Jake Locker, but it was not meant to be so Ponder is certainly the next best thing. Intellectually speaking, I think Ponder is at the head of the class and I look forward to seeing how he grasps the Vikings playbook. But, there’s no way that I think he is ready to start this year, particularly with the lockout shortened off-season. I think that Aaron Rodgers benefited greatly by sitting on the bench for those first few years, and the same holds true with Ponder. McNabb gives the Vikings the flexibility to allow Ponder to grow into the position…unless McNabb shows that Washington wasn’t a fluke. I am sure that we’ll see #7 line up behind center at some point in the regular season, but until then, I’ll be content with McNabb. Well, until he proves otherwise…
There were two Vikings that I really hated to see leave as free agents. WR Sidney Rice was one of my favorites, and he is now in Seattle with former Vikings QB Tavaris Jackson. I am not sure that Michael Jenkins or Bernard Berrian can be anything close to what Rice was, but I will say that WR Percy Harvin has been one of my favorite Vikings, if not the favorite. Now that his migraines appear to be behind him, I am looking forward to seeing if he can take it to the next level. The guy clearly has the talent and the heart to succeed. The other loss was LB Ben Leber who signed with the St. Louis Rams. But with Leber’s loss, it does create an opportunity for Erin Henderson to step into his shoes. I really like what I’ve seen from Erin, and it is a great story if he starts next to his brother, middle linebacker E.J. Henderson. But regardless of what the final roster looks like, I feel very confident in the decisions being made by head coach Leslie Frazier. I don’t want to diss former head coach Brad Childress, but this is the most confident that I’ve felt about a Vikings head coach in a very long time. I can never recall a time where I was content with the heads of both the Yankees and the Vikings but I am very comfortable with both Joe Girardi and Frazier. Now, let’s see if it equates to a few championships…
This has not been a good
year for Yankees pitchers (or potential pitchers). First, prime free agent target Cliff Lee signed with the Philadelphia
Phillies. Then, Andy Pettitte decided it was time to stay home in Deer Park, Texas
to spend time with his family. And now, Phil Hughes is on the DL and it doesn’t
sound like he’ll be coming off any time soon.
Fortunately, the Yankees
have gotten very solid pitching from Ivan
Nova, Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon (much better than almost
anyone had expected). But from the ‘glass
is half empty’ approach, can they keep it up?
Most likely, there will be a few hiccups along the way. Considering the Yankees have to decide by
Sunday whether to call up Kevin Millwood
or release, my guess is that they’ll bring him up as the long man in the pen
and send Buddy Carlyle back to
Scranton-Wilkes Barre. Millwood would be
the first to start should Nova, Garcia or Colon suffer any setbacks. At this point, I don’t think the Yankees can
afford to let Millwood slip away.
As I write this post, I am
watching the 2011 NFL Draft. I am
waiting to see who the Minnesota Vikings select with the #12 pick. As it stands right now, the Buffalo Bills
just selected Marcell Dareus, DT
from Alabama with the #3 pick. I want
the Vikings to pick a QB of the future, so I am okay if they reach with their
pick or trade down to get their man. My
personal favorite for selection is QB Jake
Locker from the University of Washington.
We’ll see how the choice goes down later in this post. If the Vikings don’t get Locker, I’d like to
see them find a way to get Christian
Ponder or Andy Dalton. As a fan of the University of Iowa, I’d love
to see Ricky Stanzi get a shot but I
recognize his talent and potential is below the other name QB’s.
For as great as the Yankees
bullpen is supposed to be, it’s disturbing to see the breakdowns of Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera. It would
seem that pitching the 9th is more difficult than pitching the 8th,
but Soriano is making the 8th look the hardest. Mo recently went through a stretch of two
blown saves although he did right the ship against the Chicago White Sox on
Wednesday night. Hopefully, the guys in
the pen grow accustomed to their roles and manager Joe Girardi is able to resist the temptation to bring Mo in for
anything other than the 9th.
Although Mo leads the AL in saves with 8, it’s strange to see former
Yankees gasoline artist Kyle Farnsworth,
now Tampa Bay Rays closer, in the top 5.
Why do I cringe when I see Eric Chavez playing first base? I know that he can handle the position, but
after watching him with the Oakland A’s the last few years, it’s hard not to
think that the next play could be the one that puts Chavez on the DL…
We are through the first 5
picks of the NFL Draft and Blaine
Gabbert is still on the board. Why
is that important? Because as long as
Gabbert is on the board, Jake Locker
is only the 2nd best QB still available. Here’s to still hoping for Jake Locker in purple, but I can’t see
Gabbert getting by the San Francisco 49ers at #7.
It was strange to see the
Yankees score their first two runs of tonight’s game against the Chicago White
Sox without recording a hit against Sox starter Edwin Jackson (courtesy of four walks in the inning). With CC
Sabathia on the mound, I feel fairly confident that the Yankees will be
able to exit the four game series with a split.
Well, so long as Soriano and Rivera don’t implode in their respective
Surprise, the 49ers didn’t
go for Gabbert so perhaps it helps improve the chances for Locker in the Land
of 10,000 Lakes…
Ugh, the Tennessee Titans
just took Locker!
Wow, I don’t know what I
want the Vikings to do now. There’s no
way that Gabbert will still be available if the Vikings don’t try to move
up. It would be way too early to go
after Ponder so it would appear that the Vikes pick will most likely be a
defensive selection. Bummer for me…
This is how I felt many
years ago when the Titans took Steve
McNair when I was hoping that he’d fall to the Vikings. Drats, those Titans!
Meanwhile, on the Yankees
front, they seem to be having a good night as it is now 5-0 in the bottom of
the 5th inning. The sole
Yankees home run was by Brett Gardner
so maybe his bat is starting to come around.
It’s not that I’d expect Gardy to hit homers since that isn’t his forte,
but still, it’s nice to see him in the offensive mix.
The Yankees game is up to
7-0, and the only players without either a run scored or a RBI are Eric Chavez (two walks) and Jorge Posada. Speaking of Posada, I am not certain how long
the Yankees give Posada to start hitting.
His batting average stands at .134.
If I were the Yankees GM, it would be hard to resist the urge to recall Jorge Vazquez and insert him as a
part-time DH. Of course, I’d have
absolutely no idea who to send down to the farm so that’s why Brian Cashman has the job and I don’t.
Well, give Posada a RBI on a
walk. 8-0 Yanks in a 6-run 5th
(so far). So I guess that makes Chavez
the only one who hasn’t produced a run in this game.
It looks like the
Jacksonville Jaguars will take Blaine
Gabbert with their trade up with the Washington Redskins. So much for the QB for the future for
Minnesota… Does this mean that the Vikings QB will be
someone like Carson Palmer, Vince Young, or Donovan McNabb? Very
disappointing when you play in a division with Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler, and Matthew
My guess is that the Vikings
will make a play for Ponder or Dalton later in the draft. Man, I really wish that QB Joe Webb wouldn’t have engineered that
upset of the Philadelphia Eagles last year.
With the 12th
pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings take…QB Christian Ponder, Florida State.
Wow, as much as I wanted a QB and I thought that Ponder was the next
best option, #12 is probably a bit early.
But still, with the likes of Joe
Webb and Rhett Bomar as the only
QB options in Minnesota, I do like the upside of Ponder at the position. I just never expected Ponder to go that
early, especially with defensive greats like Nick Fairley and Da’quan
Bowers just sitting there for the taking.
Oh well, Go Seminoles!
Meanwhile, it is still 8-0
in New York in the bottom of the 6th. Oops, 9-0. Nice…
We’re off to the races…
It was Game 1 of 162 tonight as the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox kicked off the 2010 season on a warm night at Fenway Park. After a cold and rainy day in Northern California, I turned on the TV to ESPN and was surprised to see it was 67 degrees at game time. I had not checked out the weather forecast, and had expected to see a game played in the 30’s or 40’s. It sounds like the warm weather will stay through the duration of the three game series. Hopefully, the Yankees can keep things hot at Fenway (well, maybe not tonight but there’s still two games to play)…
The night got off to a great start for new Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson. In the bottom half of the first inning, he recorded the first out of the Yankees season by catching a fly out by Boston’s Jacoby Ellsbury. Then, in the top of the 2nd inning, after Jorge Posada had hit a liner off the foul pole in right for a home run, Curtis hit the first ‘no doubt about it’ home run of the season to put New York up 2-0, his first official at-bat as a Yankee.
Speaking of impressive beginnings, not-so-new Yankee but new left fielder Brett Gardner showed why the team has shown faith in him. After reaching base in the fourth, Gardner advanced to third and later scored on a double steal. His speed on base is a difference maker so if he can continue to hit, this could be the beginning of a great season. Not bad for the shortest guy on the team. Long live short guys! 😉
On the downside, the short guy didn’t look so good in the 5th inning when his throw home was way off line, allowing two rather than just one runner to advance into scoring position. Fortunately, no damage was done aside from the run that scored during the errant throw. Still, Gardner is going to have to work on his play in left and adjust to the angles.
Neither starting pitcher figured into the outcome of the game. Josh Beckett was chased early (in the 5th), but CC Sabathia met the same fate the next inning. Clearly, neither has the stamina they will have in August. But bullpen to bullpen, I like the Yankees chances. Last year at this time, there were few reliable arms in the pen outside of the great Mariano Rivera. It took several months until Joe Girardi was able to make some moves that gelled. This year, the pen is a strength from top to bottom. Boston’s pen does scare me if Daniel Bard realizes his potential, but until then, the Yankees have a chance against the Boston relievers.
Tonight was not meant to be for the Yankees bullpen as the Red Sox rallied for the 9-7 victory. The primary culprits were Chan Ho Park and David Robertson, although Jorge Posada figured into the equation with what should have been a passed ball. Still, I think the Yankees bullpen will be a strength over the course of the season. Joba Chamberlain gave up a run, but I fully expect him to thrive in the 8th inning role and grab it permanently over the course of the next month or so. As the ESPN announcers related, Joba throws with a sense of urgency in a relief role, and that was missing during his time as a starter. Chamberlain-to-Rivera should be a good combo in later games. I loved Rivera-to-Wettleland, so hopefully, Chamberlain-to-Rivera can become equally as good if not better.
I know, Julia is ahead 1-0 with the advantage in our latest wager. Congratulations to her for the Game 1 victory. On the bright side, we still have 161 more games before anything is decided.
Hats off to Dustin Pedroia for his play in tonight’s Red Sox victory. I admit that he has the heart of a lion, and Boston is very fortunate to have such a great second baseman.
Boone Logan found out it’s not good to be the 25th man, when he was optioned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre prior to today’s game to make room for outfielder Marcus Thames.
Leading up to the Opener, I heard constant reminders of Aaron Boone’s home run to win the 2003 American League Championship Series against the Red Sox. Boston got its revenge a year later, but Boone will forever be defined by that home run. Actually that’s rather silly in mind given that he spent over six years in Cincinnati as a Red, compared to a couple of months in 2003 as a Yankee. He also played with the Cleveland Indians, Florida Marlins, Washington Nationals and Houston Astros. Given that Boston did win the following year, I don’t think Boone’s home run will stand the test of time like Bucky Dent’s 1978 home run. Nevertheless, it continues to be the hit people talk about when his name comes up.
In a trade that surprised me, the Washington Redskins acquired quarterback Donovan McNabb from the Philadelphia Eagles. You never expect a team to trade with a bitter division rival and that’s exactly what transpired today. Now, the Eagles will face McNabb twice a year. The Eagles did not get the first round pick they were seeking, but did secure a second round pick in this year’s draft and either a third or fourth round pick next year. I thought that McNabb would have fit well with the Minnesota Vikings since they play a similar scheme to the Eagles, but perhaps the Vikings’ lack of interest is a sign that Brett Favre will return this summer.
I hope everyone had a very happy and enjoyable Easter!