The highs and lows of the Hot Stove League, thus far…
For Yankees fans, the off-season started nicely. After early speculation that manager Joe Girardi might jump to the Chicago Cubs, he re-signed a long-term deal with the Yankees and expressed it was his desire to remain in New York. All good.
Then, Derek Jeter quickly signed a one year deal with negotiations that where smooth, quick and efficient (unlike the prior Jeter negotiations). It remains to be seen if we’ll get the Jeter of 2012 or the injured, aging 2013 model, but there’s no question that Jeter must finish his career in pinstripes. I don’t think Derek would want to go anywhere else at this point anyway, but still, he is the face of the franchise and he’ll forever be remembered as one of its legends. In the distant future, when the old greats from the 50’s Dynasty era are gone (Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford, among others), it will be guys like Jeter that maintain the honor and tradition in baseball’s most storied franchise.
The Yankees struck fast in signing free agent catcher Brian McCann after last year’s parade of backups in the starting role. It gives the team its first legitimate starter at the position since Russell Martin left, and the best offensive bat at the position since Jorge Posada retired. This is a move that places backup catchers Francisco Cervelli, J.R. Murphy, and Austin Romine in a better position to succeed. At first pass, I expect Cervelli to take the backup job in spring training but the other two are capable. On the days that McCann slides to DH, the catching position will be capable hands.
Next came a big surprise. I honestly did not see the Yankees signing centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury. While I have been a fan of Ellsbury’s work, it didn’t seem to be a great need for the team. Brett Gardner has been an effective centerfielder, and has the speed to burn. Still, Ellsbury’s signing upgrades the position and allows the Yankees to slide Gardner to left where he a defensive upgrade over Alfonso Soriano. The concern here is that by making Soriano the full-time DH, it does limit the DH opportunities for Derek Jeter and Brian McCann. Soriano’s bat is still very valuable, and it’s much needed in the lineup.
Then came the bittersweet day of Friday, December 6th. The night before, there had been reports that second baseman Robinson Cano had flown to Seattle, but in the morning, the early reports indicated that talks had stalled or perhaps even ended. It gave a brief ray of hope that he’d come back to the Yankees, but those hopes were soon dissolved when it was reported Cano had agreed to a 10-year $240 million deal with the Mariners. While it’s tough to lose a great player, perhaps the team’s best, it is simply too hard to justify those numbers. I have enjoyed the early 30’s version of Cano at second, but in his late 30’s and early 40’s, the prospect doesn’t look too promising at $24 million per year. That’s a huge chunk of any team’s overall payroll. I think of when Chase Utley was the premier second baseman, but now, with injuries, he has become a shell of what he once was. What happens if Cano does not age well? I guess I am not a gambling man and would prefer that the M’s take that bet. $240 million can be better spent by spreading it over multiple positions rather than locking it into only one.
This is where I find Robinson Cano to be extremely selfish. You can’t begrudge anyone from wanting as much money as they can get, but this is a team game and every team has a budget…even the Yankees. If it were me, I would have taken the Yankees offer of 7 years at $175 million because the average annual salary was stronger and I’d know that the team would be more flexible in other areas by not being locked into so many years. For those additional three years, it would be up to me to perform and if so, there would be a reward. It also would have kept the Yankee legacy intact and ensured a potential place among the team’s legends. But now, Cano is just another player who took the money and ran. He proved that money is more valuable than wins, and money is more important than helping build a strong supporting cast of quality players. That doesn’t mean Seattle doesn’t have quality players, they do, but they are a long way from contending. It is very possible that when they are ready to contend, Cano has started his career regression due to age that’s inevitable for everyone.
Cano has carried the “lazy” rap for years. While he is an exciting player at times, it was frustrating when he didn’t hustle. I think of someone like Dustin Pedroia, whose motor is always running. He creates opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t be there because he is alert and proactive. He seizes the opportunities and takes advantage of them. That’s what winning ball players do. Cano is not that guy. I have never thought of him as a team player, and I didn’t view him as a player who helped raise the performance level of those around him. Rest assured the Yankees will miss his offensive production at the position. At this point, I have no idea who will be the second baseman in 2014. Kelly Johnson seems better suited to help replace Alex Rodriguez at third base, in a platoon situation. Omar Infante signed a four year deal with the Kansas City Royals, and Brandon Phillips is starting the downward slide that comes with age. David Adams, a young player who had the talent but couldn’t show it at the major league level during brief auditions, was non-tendered and is now a Cleveland Indian. It looks as though the Yankees will fill second base with a bargain basement fill-in, much like they did last year with first and third bases. I wish the organization was better stocked with up and coming second base talent, but that does not appear to be the case. I personally thought Infante would have been the best short-term option, but the Yankees allowed them to get beat by the Royals in signing the player. You know it’s an odd year when the Yankees get beat in free agency by both the Royals and the Mariners.
But enough about Cano, he is gone and so is his Yankees legacy.
Around the same time as the news had broken about the former second baseman signing with Seattle, it was reported that starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda had signed a new one year deal with the team. This was very good news to hear. Kuroda is much needed, and I am grateful that he chose to delay his return to Japan by a year or head back to his home in Southern California. So, Cashman has filled 200 of the 400 innings he previously stated were needed this off-season.
After the tumultuous events of the day, news broke on the evening of December 6th that the Yankees had signed outfielder Carlos Beltran. At 36, he is no longer the player he once was, but he is a “gamer” or as George Steinbrenner would say, a warrior. Even an aging Beltran is an upgrade over an even older Ichiro Suzuki or the outfielder still primarily funded by the Los Angeles Angels, Vernon Wells.
But after the three free agent signings, the news has mostly been about departures. Phil Hughes was the first to depart, signing a three year deal with the Minnesota Twins. It was probably a good move for Hughes. Minnesota will be less pressurized and he should have the opportunity to flourish, much like Carl Pavano was able to resurrect his career in Minneapolis after leaving New York. I certainly did not expect the Yankees to re-sign Hughes after the season he had last year, but I thought he’d go to Southern California and saw the San Diego Padres as a good fit. Nevertheless, Minneapolis is a fun city and it’s a good ballpark.
A couple of other notable defections occurred in the bullpen, where Joba Chamberlain signed a one year deal with the Detroit Tigers and Boone Logan went for three years with the Colorado Rockies. Of the two, it is Logan that I really hated to see leave. He was a trusted left-handed reliever, but it really didn’t seem like the team made much of an effort to retain his services. They obviously had other priorities, but I suppose the Yankees are hopeful that a less expensive options like Cesar Cabral will step up to fill Boone’s role. It was a foregone conclusion that Joba had thrown his last pitch for the Yankees. But admittedly, I was surprised he went to Detroit. There are worse things to do than to go to a team that is probably the best one in the American League right now, but I thought that Joba would go to the Kansas City Royals since it is closer to his hometown roots. The one year deal does give him an opportunity to try and restore the promise he once had with the Yankees. Plus, if he wins a World Series, it will help give his career a further boost.
The Yankees also lost last year’s starting catcher when they traded Chris Stewart to the Pittsburgh Pirates. This move was a given after the McCann signing combined with the surplus of backup catchers.
For as crazy as December started for the Yankees, the week of the baseball winter meetings was extremely quiet. The Yankees still have much work to do. On paper, after consideration of all plusses and minuses, they are not noticeably better than last year’s 85 win team. They still need a quality starting pitcher, a second baseman, and bullpen help. Brian Cashman has his work cut out for him between now and spring training.
I honestly do not know where the Yankees will go from here. I’d like to see the free agent signing of a pitcher like Matt Garza, but so far, the Yankees have not been one of the team’s linked to the pitcher. Same with Bronson Arroyo, who is certainly capable of eating a large number of innings as a #4 starter. For second base, the latest reports have the Yankees interested in Darwin Barney of the Chicago Cubs but I have no idea what he would cost in terms of talent in a trade. I will feel much better about the 2014 Yankees once the additional starting pitcher and second baseman are in the fold, but at least it is reassuring to know that Hal Steinbrenner wants to win as much as the rest of us do.
Sleeping with the Enemy…
News that the Yankees have signed veteran third baseman Kevin Youkilis have not been well received in the Yankees Universe…obviously. Sure, there have been a few ex-Boston Red Sox players make their way to the Bronx but certainly none who have been as despised as Youk. His crime? Playing with passion and all-out perseverance to find ways to beat the Yankees. He is one of those tough, gritty players that are relentless and when they smell blood, it’s over. Youk has struggled with injuries in recent years and he had a falling out with former Sox manager Bobby Valentine, who has historically taken to gritty players. I know, there is the stat line that he only got one hit in his final 59 at-bats with the Chicago White Sox last season. Nevertheless, I am willing to give Youk a chance.
Admittedly, I am not an Alex Rodriguez fan and I am still bent the Yankees didn’t let him walk away when he opted out of his first mega contract. But with third base possibilities such as Eric Chavez and Jeff Keppinger signing elsewhere, the Yankees had to do something given that A-Rod will be lost for most of the season due to his upcoming hip surgery. Going to camp with Eduardo Nunez as the starting third baseman, given the team doesn’t have a starting catcher or right fielder, was not appealing in any way. No one really knows how A-Rod will play next season when or if he returns, so odds are they need a solid third baseman for the entire season. With Youk on board, the Yanks still need to get insurance at third in case Youk goes down. But I think as long as he gets sufficient rest, he’ll stay healthy and be an effective part of the Yankees lineup.
When Youk homers for the first time against the Red Sox, I am sure that the Yankee cheers will come around. Yankee fans love players who play with passion so long as the player is on their team. It will always be hard to look at Youk and not think of the 2004 World Champion Red Sox, but he is not the same player he was then and this is a new chapter in his life. When he walks away from the game, he will be remembered as part of the Red Sox organization but for a year or two, he can certainly make an effective contribution for the home team.
There are guys on the current Red Sox roster that I have great respect for, like Jon Lester and Dustin Pedroia. Youk was one of those guys. Sure, I hated the guy in difficult games between the Yankees and Red Sox, but I always had a quiet respect for him. Of course, this could all be premature as Youk still has to pass a physical but I look forward to seeing what he can do in the Bronx sans the famed goatee. It will also be interesting to see if the Yankees continue to hold #20 in reserve out of respect for Jorge Posada or if they assign it to Youk given it was his number in Boston and Chicago. I suspect he’ll end up with something other than #20, but until it happens, you never know.
I saw a quote in George King’s column in The New York Post from Mariano Rivera that I agree with completely: “Yankee (fans) didn’t like him but he was wearing a Red Sox uniform. I can’t decide for them but he will be my teammate and I have to respect him for that.” Youk is a Yankee, and like Mo, I respect him for that.
Ichiro, Part II…
All indications are the Yankees will be coming to terms with Ichiro Suzuki on a new deal to keep him in the Bronx. The question is whether it will be one or two years. At 39, I’d probably prefer a one year deal so that the team can reassess its options at the end of the year. Every move has been made with the intent to get the payroll under $189 million by 2014 for luxury tax purposes and a second year for Ichiro would erode into the dollars available for any talent upgrades next off-season.
As it stands, I do not like an outfield of Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson and Ichiro, but I will be interested to see who they bring in as the fourth outfielder. Perhaps that individual will solidify this outfield corps into a strong and powerful unit. I am not opposed to trading Granderson and moving Gardner to center, but the Yankees would need to replace his offensive production elsewhere in the lineup. All signs so far this winter indicate the Yankees will not do anything to the extreme. Yes, they could still swoop in with a blockbuster trade, but I highly doubt it. The sad part is the current Yankees roster is not as strong as last year’s squad, while the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox have clearly improved. Tampa Bay may have traded a top starting pitcher in James Shields, but they picked up one of the best prospects in baseball in Wil Myers. Tampa also seems to be able to pull aces out of their farm system every year so there’s no doubt they’ll find a capable replacement for Shields. Baltimore hasn’t made any major moves but they still have the team to over-achieve. I do not know what next year will bring. The Yankees still have December and January to improve, but the likelihood diminishes with each passing day. If the Yankees falter in 2013, what does 2014 look like? I can’t see the team suddenly reversing course and going into “Dodger” mode to sign free agents. I think the Yankees will remain competitive, but I am not convinced they have the horses to win the World Series.
Maybe the All-Star Game should be the Dodgers against everyone else…
My favorite National League team is the Los Angeles Dodgers, but I am struggling with the thought of cheering for the two highest payrolls in baseball. My affection for the Dodgers is primarily because of my long-time hero, Don Mattingly, but the huge salary outlay by the Dodgers will create unrealistic expectations in Dodgerland and it will be tough for Donnie Baseball if the Dodgers struggle. I remain hopeful that he’ll one day find his way back to the Bronx to manage, but I am not pulling for him to get fired next year. I am not sure who I would pull for in the NL if not the Dodgers. I live in the Bay Area so there’s always the San Francisco Giants, but they’ve won the World Series in two of the last three years and I don’t want to jump on the bandwagon. My fallback has always been the St Louis Cardinals because that’s where I experienced attending my first major league baseball game as a teenager so many years ago. I suppose that I’ll stick with the Dodgers as long as Mattingly is there, but Magic Johnson and company have certainly made it more challenging by their willingness to spend excessively.
Why does February 12th (when pitchers and catchers report) seem so close yet so far away?…
Isn’t this kind of like pulling my finger- and toe-nails?…
One thing I’ve learned with these extended A.J. Burnett trade talks, patience is not my middle name and it’s not one of my virtues! While the Michael Pineda-for-Jesus Montero came very fast and furiously, the potential Burnett trade has been dragging for an eternity. There’s no question the Yankees have identified the Pittsburgh Pirates as the prime target. It’s been reported that the Yankees and Los Angeles Angels were willing to make a trade that would have brought the return of Bobby Abreu to the Bronx, but it was nixed by A.J. as the Angels were one of the ten teams on his no-trade list. This actually blows my mind to think that he’d turn down the Angels, arguably one of the best teams in the major leagues with Jered Weaver and Albert Pujols, but he’d be willing to go to Pittsburgh. To me, and maybe I am off-base, baseball is about winning and championships. Nothing against the Pirates, but the Angels, as currently built, will see deep October sooner than the men from the Steel City.
Granted, Burnett would be the #2 starter on the Pirates staff and no better than #5 on the Angels. But, c’mon, how much pressure can there be pitching behind Weaver, Dan Haren, C.J. Wilson, and Ervin Santana? With Burnett in a low-risk situation, the Angels would have an absolutely ridiculous starting rotation and one that would clearly put the Philadelphia Phillies in an inferior position as baseball’s best rotation. But Mrs. Burnett apparently has issues with flying, so the perfect situation for Burnett won’t happen.
What will it take to consummate the deal with the Pirates? I’ve read the Yankees have proposed a sliding scale…the more money the Pirates take in salary, the less the Yankees will seek in terms of prospects. I do think that Burnett could excel in Pittsburgh. There’s pressure but it is certainly nothing like playing in New York. A.J.’s problems tend to be mental as there is no questioning the value of his great arm. I think A.J. can relax and trust his stuff better in a lower-pressured situation.
For the Yankees, I think the #5 slot is Phil Hughes’ to lose regardless of the contract the Yanks gave to Freddy Garcia. Garcia will be the long man and spot starter. That leaves no room for Burnett, and of course, that would only bring a bad attitude if he reports to camp with the Yankees. So, hopefully, GM Brian Cashman can put the distractions of his poor sleeping partner decisions to rest long enough to hammer out the deal with the Pirates within the next 24-48 hours. With the recent promotions of Assistant GM Jean Afterman to SVP and Angels GM Candidate #2 Billy Eppler to Assistant GM, maybe the second string is working this one. I don’t care if George Steinbrenner’s widow, Joan, is working this one, let’s just get it done…
Sorry, A.J., I love your arm, but I haven’t wanted to see a player leave New York this bad since Ed Whitson was a Yankee.
Welcome to New York…err, Tampa!..
I really enjoyed reading some of the early reports about new pitcher Michael Pineda. He reported to camp early and talked about how excited he was to be a Yankee. He gave glowing reports of his interactions with Robinson Cano, and it is easy to see that he’ll mesh very nicely with “King of the Hill” CC Sabathia. Passion and intensity are two qualities that I’ve always respected, and Pineda seems to have “it”.
If Ken Griffey, Jr and Gary Matthews, Jr can do it, so can Donnie Baseball, Jr…
I realize that minor league OF prospect Preston Mattingly is getting a bit long in tooth after two failed tries with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Cleveland Indians, but he is still only 24 years old. I know that he’s getting “old” for a prospect, but it would be a wonderful story for Mattingly to seize the opportunity with the Yankees and prove that he can be the talent that he was once projected to be with the Dodgers. So far, I’ve liked what he has had to say. He certainly has his father’s positive attitude and realistic perspective, even if he isn’t the player his father was. I’d like nothing more than to see Preston eventually earn a spot on the Yankees roster. I am biased because his father was my favorite player and is the reason that the Los Angeles Dodgers are my favorite NL team. Let’s hope that good things happen for a deserving son of a great legend…
Scratching nails on a chalkboard…
It rubs me wrong every time the Yankees sign a former Boston Red Sox player. Well, I might be okay if the Yankees picked up Jon Lester, Jacoby Ellsbury or Dustin Pedroia. But otherwise, I really have no desire to see former Red Sox players pull on the pinstripes. Conversely, it is even harder to watch former Yankees sign with the Red Sox. When the Yankees cut ties with Alfredo Aceves due to his injury history, my immediate thought was a potentially huge mistake. At that point, I was hoping someone like the San Diego Padres would sign Aceves, but unfortunately, the Red Sox swooped in and captured Aceves. He went on to have a brilliant season with the Sox in the bullpen, and is a valued member of their pitching staff heading into 2012. So, it pained me today when I saw that the Red Sox had signed former Yankee pitcher Ross Ohlendorf. I realize that Ohlendorf had a miserable 2011 season with the Pirates, but I’ve always liked the guy who the Yanks acquired when they dealt Randy Johnson back to the Arizona Diamondbacks a few years ago. I am really hoping that Ohlendorf doesn’t become the next Tim Wakefield for the Sox.
Clearly our loss…
Baseball-speaking, today was a very sad day. I had heard that Gary Carter was battling cancer, but it was still hard to hear the news that he had passed. I think back to when I first became aware of baseball and a Yankees fan. It was in the mid-1970’s. In those early years, I was focused primarily on the Yankees. I was aware of other teams and players, but I can’t say that I know too much about them. Thurman Munson was the catcher and he quickly became my favorite player. I could never fully appreciate the greatness of Johnny Bench because of my admiration for Thurman. Same holds true for Carlton Fisk, who I always saw as a Red Sock even after his trade to the Chicago White Sox. My world changed on August 2, 1979, and it caused me to step back and look at the bigger picture. Only then did I begin to truly appreciate the value of great players on other teams. At that point, the catcher of the Montreal Expos quickly rose to the surface, for me, as one of the premier players at his position. There was something very clutch and special about Gary Carter. He went on to drive the New York Mets to a World Series championship in 1986, and proved that he was the catcher of my era. I am glad that he saw his entry into the Hall of Fame and there’s no question that he packed more into 57 years than I’ll ever experience regardless of how old I live to be. A good man, a proud father, a legendary baseball player. Gary, we will never forget you.
Maybe Phil Jackson would like to have one more shot…
I had fun on Saturday night when the New York Knicks came to Minneapolis to play the Minnesota Timberwolves. As a Knicks fan (my first year!), I was excited to see what Lin-mania was all about. He was a little off that night, but at the end, it was Jeremy Lin’s basket that proved to be the game-winner. The T-Wolves, or the Muskies as they were referred to that night in tribute to a former Minneapolis basketball team from the 60’s or 70’s, had led the game from the start. The Knicks had caught the T-Wolves a couple of times, but then Minnesota seemed to drop a few consecutive buckets to pull ahead again. But at the end, Lin was not to be denied, and “Lin-sanity” continues. It’s funny because I bought the tickets to the game hoping to see Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, and neither player dressed for the game. But all things considered, Lin was the perfect substitute.
Yes, it was exciting to see the opening of Fantasy Baseball…
It’s fun to see the return of fantasy baseball. I’ve already set a few teams with ESPN and I think my first draft is this weekend. I am looking forward to when they open the live drafting functionality. I like fantasy baseball if for no other reason than it helps you know and understand players on other teams than just your favorite team. If Jon Lester heads my starting rotation or if Jacoby Ellsbury is roving my outfield, I am okay with that. Granted, when Lester and Ellsbury come to Yankee Stadium, I’ll be pulling for L’s and O-fer’s but when Lester shuts down the Rays or Ellsbury slams a homer to beat the O’s, there might be a smile on my face.
Baseball, let’s get started…
No Hablo Red Sox…
I know that it was a “no-risk, why-not-take-shot minor league with a major league camp invitation” signing but something just struck me wrong with the addition of former Red Sox reliever Manny Delcarmen. Over the past few years, I have admittedly built up some respect for the good Red Sox players. I’d count Red Sox ace Jon Lester as one of my favorite pitchers, and I appreciate players like Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury. I think Adrian Gonzalez is one of the premier sluggers in baseball and all things considered, the Red Sox got the better end of the deal when they lost out on Mark Teixeira to the Yanks and had to “settle” for Gonzalez in a trade with the San Diego Padres. There are those Sox players that I dislike but know they are ‘gamers’ like Josh Beckett, but conversely, there are those guys that I just thought were bad baseball players. I’d put Delcarmen in the latter category.
Delcarmen is the bullpen answer to A.J. Burnett. In other words, the guy most likely to implode. The Red Sox proved they held a similar opinion when they dumped Delcarmen on the Colorado Rockies in 2010. Delcarmen failed to stick in the Mile High City, and bounced in the minor leagues last season with the Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners, accumulating a less than inspiring 5.59 ERA. Odds are that he’ll never see the light of day at Yankee Stadium, but I think my tolerance quota for ex-Red Sox players in Yankees camp has been exceeded with Hideki Okajima, Delcarmen, and the possible signing of former Sox infielder Bill Hall. I guess the Yankees brass wants to counteract the strong performance that Alfredo Aceves gave the Sox last year after being cut by the Yankees with a rejuvenated former Sox player in pinstripes. If this was the objective (I know it wasn’t), then the Yankees should have signed DH David Ortiz before he accepted arbitration with the Sox.
Good luck to Delcarmen, but I still hope that he finds success elsewhere.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Hendry…
I was surprised to hear that the Yankees had signed former Chicago Cubs GM Jim Hendry as a special assignment scout. For one, the Yankees have a stable of up-and-comers in Billy Eppler and Damon Oppenheimer. Eppler almost landed the GM job with the Los Angeles Angels before Jerry DiPoto was hired so he’s certainly a sought-after commodity. I saw today that the Yankees added the title of Senior Vice President to Assistant GM Jean Afterman, while naming Eppler as an assistant GM. I know that Afterman doesn’t have the authority of Brian Cashman but it’s weird that they are both SVP’s. All things considered, Cash should be in line for a promotion to Executive Vice President since he is clearly above the other SVP’s.
Admittedly, I am leery about bringing in strong GM types like Hendry. Sure, he has a wealth of knowledge, but this position allows him to learn the inner-workings of the Yankees organization. I am sure that Arizona Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers used his brief time with the Yankees to identify pitcher Ian Kennedy as a trade target. I realize that Kennedy brought Curtis Granderson to New York, but had the Yankees been able to include a different pitcher with qualifications below Dellin Betances or Manny Banuelos in the trade, how good would Kennedy have looked at the back end of the rotation instead of Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon?
Snow: To be or not to be…
It’s hard to believe that tomorrow is February and the month that players report to training camp. My first winter in Minnesota has been so incredibly mild. I think there have only been two days of challenging driving conditions but even on those days, I still managed to travel without too many obstacles. Of course, we could be engulfed in a blizzard while Robinson Cano is punching one over the Steinbrenner Field wall, but I am definitely excited for the return of the primary major sport. No offense to the New England Patriots or the New York Giants, but pro football ranks second to America’s favorite pastime (in my opinion). I’ll be more excited to see CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda standing side-by-side in camp than watching QB Tom Brady tell me via TV that he’s headed for Disney World.
Let it snow in Minnesota and let those Michael Pineda fastballs start popping Russell Martin’s mitt. Life is good. Now, about that DH position for the Yankees…
Have Gun (partially loaded), Will Travel…
Headed to Boston with minus a few bullets…
With the injuries to Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter, the Yankees are certainly in a precarious situation as they head for Boston after wrapping up the O’s series in Baltimore tonight. A-Rod was sent to New York have a MRI on his thumb, and he’ll re-join his teammates at Fenway Park. The results were negative, however, it doesn’t sound like he’ll play in the Sox series so the focus will definitely be on Eric Chavez and Eduardo Nunez.
Jeter fouled a pitch off his right kneecap in the first game of Sunday’s double header, so he should be back on the field when the team arrives in Beantown.
The Red Sox have their own challenges, with Kevin Youkilis on the DL. But even without Youk, the Red Sox boast three legitimate AL MVP Candidates in Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Adrian Gonzalez. If the Yankees are to stop Boston’s run of success against them, the guys from the bench will need to be the difference makers. Plus, some good pitching always helps. I haven’t seen the starting rotation for the series yet, although I know that CC Sabathia is starting on Tuesday. I suppose that means the other starters will be A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes, neither of whom instill great confidence, particularly when the opposing match-up’s will be Josh Beckett and Jon Lester (John Lackey faces the Yanks on Tuesday night so that’s probably the only matchup that favors the Yanks in the series).
Where are those darned reinforcements? Signed, General Custer…
The August trading deadline has been very quiet, and of course, I am not expecting any moves by the Yankees. I still wish the team would move to get a clutch bat for the bench (someone like Hideki Matsui or Johnny Damon) but all indications are the Yankees will stand pat like they did at the July trading deadline.
Love means never having to say you’re Sori…
So, David Robertson is arbitration eligible at the end of the season? The Yanks would be wise to lock him up to a deal before arbitration hearings. He always seems to be in the most precarious situations yet, time and again, he comes through in big spots. The way he struck out three batters in the 8th inning on Sunday night with the bases loaded was vintage D-Rob. His 8th inning success definitely has me wondering what the Yanks will do with Rafael Soriano for the next couple of years…
He makes the world taste good…
I remember a few years ago when there were predictions that Curtis Granderson could hit 40 home runs playing at Yankee Stadium. I thought those were aggressive remarks, but here he is on the verge of hitting that plateau. Every one points to the adjustment he made with input from batting coach Kevin Long last August, but it’s clear he has become a complete hitter since that time. It is ironic that one of the trading pieces, pitcher Ian Kennedy of the Arizona Diamondbacks, is leading the NL in wins. Kind of makes one wish that the Yankees had traded Phil Hughes instead of Kennedy. Still, the trade has worked out for all three teams involved (Arizona, Detroit, and the Yankees). What? Curtis Granderson just struck out in the game against the Orioles with Brett Gardner in scoring position? The bum! 😉 Just kidding…
They’re just games…
This is a big week for the Yankees with the Boston series so they’ll definitely be challenged. It doesn’t get any easier after Boston because the Toronto Blue Jays will be coming to the Bronx for a weekend series, and the Jays have definitely played the Yanks tough this year. Do we really have to pin our hopes on A.J. Burnett? Really?… L
Have a safe and enjoyable week!
I don’t have a beret to throw in the air…
I am finally living in an American League city once again. Today is my first day as a resident of the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Somehow, recent years have found me in National League cities, which is tough as an American League fan. Nevertheless, I persevered and now reside in a city that houses good baseball tradition. In fact, from my living room window, I can see the lights of Target Field. Sweet! Of course, I will never be able to admit that I am a Yankees fan in public given the bad blood between the Yankees and Twins. I’d probably have better luck wearing a Sox cap…
I am looking forward to learning about my new city, and I am excited about the opportunity and potential the area provides. Yes, I’ll have to get used to winters again, but after living in areas where winter meant a 20 or 30 degree dip in average temps, I am looking forward to true changes of seasons. Growing up in the Midwest, I never complained about snowfall and it was always one of my favorite enjoyments. The only issue I have with winter is ice. Outside of that, I can deal with the cold temps and the white, frosty surroundings.
Oddly, as a lifelong Minnesota Vikings fan, this will be the first time that I’ve been surrounded by Vikings fans. Admittedly, that’s going to be very strange. Growing up in southeast Iowa, Vikings fans were mixed among fans of the Bears, Packers, Chiefs, and the then St. Louis football Cardinals with the Bears as perhaps the predominate favorite. I’ve seen the Vikings play in person over the years, but they’ve always been road games. I never made it to the old Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington nor have I been to the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis. That’s obviously going to change, but admittedly, it will be strange seeing everyone around me wearing purple and gold.
I am glad to be in Minnesota, and I am looking forward to a very long stay. And, no, I am not suddenly going to become a fan of Carl Pavano…
Fundamentals, is it really that hard?…
I was very disappointed to see the Yankees lose a close game to the Tampa Bay Rays last night due to errors. When you are playing one of your key rivals, anything less than your best is unacceptable. The Yankees had a chance to bury the Rays and couldn’t do it. While the Boston Red Sox are running away with the AL East, the Yankees need to make sure that they put distance between themselves and the other wild card challengers like the Rays. Losing a game because you are outplayed is one thing, but to lose a game because of your own incompetence is wrong. The Rays had encountered a tough stretch of games with the 16 inning loss to the Red Sox, followed by the baseloaded walk loss to the Yankees. Another loss last night could have started driving a stake in the heart of the Rays. But the Yankees allowed the Rays to resume their Wild Card drive, and last year those types of games allowed the Rays to best the Yanks in the East.
The Rays clearly have the superior pitching rotation, but the Yankees are the offensive club…even with Alex Rodriguez on the DL. With the series tied after two games with two to play, the Yankees have to ensure that they leave St. Petersburg with no less than a split.
The price of an ace…
The trade rumors involving the Colorado Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez are great, but I am hesitant given the high cost that would be involved. I get that Jimenez is young (27) and has a very affordable contract for the next few years, but giving up Manny Banuelos and Jesus Montero (and others) seems like such a high price to pay. I like Jimenez and his road splits away from Coors Field are ridiculous, but I simply cannot condone giving away the farm to bring him to the Bronx. That’s tough because who really knows if Banuelos and Montero will be genuine stars. The cool demeanor of Banuelos seems like a perfect play in Yankee Stadium, and I do really believe that he is destined for greatness. I also recognize that if CC Sabathia opts out of his contract and signs elsewhere this off-season, the Yankees will be lacking an ace. Nevertheless, I do not think the Yankees should make the Jimenez trade unless the price is right. Given the completion for the pitcher, I just don’t think that will happen. The best deal for the Yankees would be one that no one is talking about. Once the talk goes public, there is too much potential for other teams, like the Red Sox, to muck things up for no other reason than to drive up the price it would cost the Yankees.
When the Red Sox acquired Josh Beckett from the Florida Marlins, there was not much speculation ahead of the trade. The Yankees need that same stealth like approach to their next major acquisition.
And the young respond…
I am glad to see some of the guys from the Yankees farm system get their opportunity. Guys like Brandon Laird, who was called up when Ramiro Pena went on the DL, and pitcher Steve Garrison. I’ve really wanted to see what Laird could do in a platoon situation with Eduardo Nunez at third so now is his chance.
Yes, I thank my lucky stars every night for David Robertson…
Charles Wenzelberg/NY Daily News
I was listening to MLB Radio this week and I heard a Red Sox fan give kudos to Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. I was glad to hear those types of comments because I hold a similar high respect for certain Red Sox players like Dustin Pedroia and Jon Lester. It seems so un-Yankee like to respect a Sox player, but Pedey and Lester play the game the way it is supposed to be played. There’s no way that I could ever root against those guys. If I was a team owner, they would be among the first players that I would want to acquire for my team.
You have to go back to the 1920’s? Really?
The Cleveland Indians and Pittsburgh Pirates in first place? I can’t believe how much media attention that has gotten. I do not expect either team to be a factor come October, but it’s nice to see their fans having reason to cheer this late in the season. I enjoyed the early 1990’s when the Pirates were a factor in the play-offs every year. After years of trading stars for prospects, it is nice to see the team thriving on those prospects. But much of the credit has to go to first year manager Clint Hurdle. Similarly, the Tribe’s success has to be attributed to Manny Acta. Both men know how to get the most out of their guys. It is very refreshing to see. Nevertheless, I still do not see anything that’s going to derail a Boston Red Sox-Philadelphia Phillies World Series.
Yes, I am finally home…
“…You can have a town, why don’t you take it. You’re gonna make it after all.” I finally get what Mary Tyler Moore was saying after all these years…
Nineteen and counting…
After a season of overusing words like stellar and
incredible when trying to describe CC Sabathia, he continued with more of the
same in one of his best pitching performances of the year in defeating the
Oakland A’s 5-0 this afternoon in the Bronx.
The win moved CC’s record to 19-5, and put him in outstanding position
to win 20 games in his second year with the Yanks.
Over the years, the Yankees have had some great
free agent signings and some not so great.
CC has clearly put himself in the Top 5 best signings in just under two
years in New York. Then there’s A.J.
Burnett. Oh well, nobody’s perfect…except
maybe CC! 😉
Sipkin/NY Daily News
CC’s game today was a one-hit shutout. Fortunately, the hit occurred early in the
game on a legitimate hit (single in the second inning). It would have been much worse had the hit
happened late in the game. September 1st
call-up, Jonathan Albaladejo pitched the 9th to secure the win and
shutout for CC.
The game also featured two home runs by the
recently rejuvenated Curtis Granderson.
He has definitely found his sea legs in New York, and is starting to
play like the player the Yanks thought they were getting when they acquired him
from the Tigers. I am sure that New York
City is starting to look much better through Grandy’s eyes now that his bat is
starting to catch up with his reputation.
With the win, the Yanks moved to 1 ½ games up on
the Tampa Bay Rays, who had the day off.
They remained 8 games ahead of the Boston Red Sox, who defeated Buck
Showalter and Baltimore Orioles 6-4. I
would never count the Red Sox out, but on September 2nd, I certainly
feel much better about an 8 game lead than I would if it were only 2 or 3 games
(okay, that’s a statement of the obvious…sorry). This has been a tough year for the Sox, and I
would never seek to found glory in their injuries. The latest word has Dustin Pedroia seeking
season-ending foot surgery in an attempt to avoid any setbacks that would cause
him to miss time in 2011. Pedey is a
gamer so I am sure that whatever decision he makes will be in the best
interests of both he and the Red Sox organization.
Jim Davis/Boston Globe
It’s hard to believe the NFL season is upon us once
again. My team, the Minnesota Vikings,
will once again be quarterbacked by 20-year vet Brett Favre. I have my doubts if Favre will be able to
last the entire season so hopefully Tavaris Jackson has grown during his time
as a backup to Favre. The team may not
have needed T-Jack in 2009, but he’ll see plenty of the pigskin in 2010.
My hockey team, the San Jose Sharks, now have the
reigning Stanley Cup goalie in the fold.
Antti Niemi won salary arbitration against the Chicago Blackhawks and as
a result forced himself out of Chicago’s budget. They subsequently severed ties with Niemi and
signed former Dallas Stars goalie Marty Turco.
The Sharks signed Niemi on a one-year, $2 million deal. He’ll join another free-agent signee and
fellow countryman Antero Niittymaki plus Thomas Greiss in net. Former goalie Evgeni Nabakov, who the team
cut ties with earlier in the off-season, signed to play in Russia. Will this be the year the Sharks finally make
the Stanley Cup? Well, I certainly hope
Roger Clemens deserves jail time…
Aroldis Chapman is the real deal. The Cincinnati Reds are having a terrific
season and they’ve just added an ace arm to the bullpen for the stretch
run. There must have been collective
groans in St. Louis when the Reds called Chapman up from the minors. Here’s hoping that he has a much better run
than fellow rookie pitcher Stephen Strasburg who is now on the shelf for 12-18
months due to Tommy John surgery. I
still wonder why the Yankees never entered into the bidding for Chapman. I hope they don’t make the same mistake
when/if Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish comes available.
I was really surprised to see Andy Roddick make
such an early exit from the US Open in Flushing Meadow, NY (second round). I’ve been to the US Open a number of times,
and Roddick has always been a fixture in the later rounds. This year, he’ll be watching from the stands
like the rest of us.
Manny Ramirez looks pathetic in a White Sox
uniform. It wasn’t that long ago that I
admired Manny the Hitter, but I have to admit that I’ve been turned off by his
ugly departures from both Boston and Los Angeles. Chicago may be excited for now, but it is
inevitable that they’ll be glad to see Manny leave town.
Is it really September?…
I guess that A-Rod should have held one of those
homers in reserve for Sunday…
The Yankees couldn’t muster any offense against
Bryan Bullington and the Kansas City Royals as the former number
one Pittsburgh Pirates draft pick but still a no-name 29-year-old journeyman earned his first major league victory in beating the Yankees
Bridget Wentworth/The Star Ledger
On the other side was loser A.J.
Burnett, who was magnificent if you throw out the first inning.
John Rieger/US Presswire
On Saturday night, Alex Rodriguez homered three
times (the first time he has accomplished the feat since 2005). However, the last homer merely padded the
score as the Yankees coasted to the 8-3 win.
It’s too bad that he couldn’t have waited until Sunday to homer. Any offense at all would have probably won
the game. But like Derek Jeter said, the
way Bullington was pitching, there was no way they were going to beat him.
The Yankees have been very pedestrian thus far in
August. They are 6-8, and have been
underperforming in every series. They
have the occasional outbursts like Saturday night, but they have not been able
to sustain any success. If the Tampa Bay
Rays didn’t encounter their own struggles, they most likely would be in first
place today. As it is, they are just one
game behind the Yankees after another solid performance by Jeremy Hellickson, a
native Iowan like myself. If the Yankees
don’t kick it into gear soon, they’ll be left to fight for Wild Card
scraps. The team is certainly capable of
getting on a roll and reeling off 10 straight victories, so the sooner the
I was afraid that today was going to feature a
sluggish Yankee performance. I was
reading the LoHud Yankees blog before the game, and they posted a report that
it was a lazy Sunday morning in the clubhouse with absolutely nothing going on. To me, that translated to a lack of energy
and the team was just ready to board the plane to return home. Unfortunately, it showed up in how they
played today against the Royals. Nothing
against Bullington, he pitched a great game, but then again, he had a receptive
Now, the Yankees head home to face former teammates
Johnny Damon and Austin Jackson, and the Detroit Tigers. If they play like they played in Kansas City,
the results won’t be favorable.
I am not a fan of the Boston Red Sox (obviously),
however, I am glad to see that Dustin Pedroia will return to second base for
the Sox on Tuesday night. He will also
be celebrating his 27th birthday, so birthday wishes are in order
for the Sox warrior. I certainly do not
want to see the Sox get on a roll, but it will be good to see Pedey back at
second for “those” guys.
Jim Davis/Boston Globe
Somewhere my friend Julia is on vacation and loving
every minute of today’s Yankees loss…
Enjoy Pedey’s birthday, Julia…
Joe Torre and Derek Jeter together again…
Gina Ferazzi/LA Times
Share the love! Seriously, it was bittersweet to see Joe Torre wearing enemy colors while standing next to the likes of Joe Girardi, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada. Much has been written in recent days about the rift that exists between Torre and the Yankees hierarchy. One article speculated that if the Yankees wanted to have a special honor for Torre, he would most likely turn it down. Former Yankees pitcher and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre thought that Torre would eventually be more forgiving than the Yankee brass. Joe’s rift is how his relationship with the Yankees ended (lowball, token contract offer that represented a steep pay cut). There is no way that the Yankees could have expected Torre to take the contract offer so it was obviously a ploy designed to show Torre the door while trying to show the Yankees Universe that they tried. The Yankees problem is relative to Torre’s book and how he unveiled many thoughts that should have been left behind closed doors.
Regardless of how it ended and despite how much I have always respected Joe Torre, it was time for a change. The Yankees had not won a World Series since 2000 (losing in both 2001 and 2003) while the dreaded Boston Red Sox were winning two (2004, which included the ALCS meltdown by the Yankees; and 2007). Torre is “old-school”, and it was time for a more current manager. Joe Girardi was the right guy at the right time. As a player, he was clearly a leader. When I think of the death of Darryl Kile, I will always think of how Joe Girardi stepped up as the voice of the team. He is always prepared and he clearly wants to win. He is young enough to hold the position for many years, and I think he has shown improvement as a manager every year. Joe Torre has moved on, the Yankees have moved on, and so have the fans. It’s time for the media to let go…
I was reading today that the reason the Yankees are in Los Angeles to play the Dodgers as opposed to Yankee Stadium was based on a decision by FOX television. They wanted Manny Ramirez to return to Boston for a reunion against the Red Sox. I think it was a missed opportunity for FOX. Manny was not gracious to the Boston fans or media, and he didn’t really do anything in the series that was swept by the Red Sox. On the other hand, it would have been tremendous to see Joe Torre set foot on the grounds of the new Yankee Stadium given that he’s never managed there before.
The first game of the Dodgers-Yankees series went to the visitors behind CC Sabathia who is beginning to pitch like “Second Half CC” when he becomes so utterly dominant. It was ironic that the game-winning home run was hit by Alex Rodriguez, who has yet to speak to Joe Torre.
CC went 8 innings in the 2-1 victory, giving up 4 hits and striking out 7. Mariano Rivera, an old friend of Torre’s, closed out the game with three strike outs.
There were lots of photos with Torre and the core Yankees, but none with Don Mattingly that I found. It would have been interesting to see Donnie Baseball in the reunion photos too. He will most likely be the next Dodgers manager, and based on recent reports, it could happen as soon as next year. It’s hard to see one of my favorite all-time Yankees becoming so engrained with another organization, but he does deserve the opportunity to manage and it wasn’t going to happen with the Yankees. Given that managers are hired to be fired, it’s probably best that Donnie manages elsewhere. That proved to be a better route for Lou Piniella. If Derek Jeter decides to stay in baseball after his playing days, I am sure that the day will come when he dons something other than Yankee pinstripes. So long as there isn’t on “B” on the cap, I’m cool with it.
Gene J. Puskar/AP
Friday night was a good night as not only did the Yankees win but the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox both lost. The Red Sox are in San Francisco (where I will be on Sunday), and lost to the Giants, 5-4. They also lost one of their warriors in Dustin Pedroia who fouled a pitch off his left foot. X-rays were negative but the foot is still sore and further tests are scheduled for today. I may not be a Red Sox fan, but I am a fan of Pedey’s so hopefully he’ll be back on the field soon. The Rays, meanwhile, were no-hit for the second time this season. This time at the hands of former Ray and current Arizona Diamondback Edwin Jackson. Frankly, I am not sure that I agree with the managerial decision to keep Jackson in the game despite the no-hitter. He walked 8 batters, and he threw 149 pitches. That sounds like something that Billy Martin would have done to the Oakland A’s pitching staff back in the 80’s when the pitchers later developed arm troubles. No good can come from it. The no-hitter is nice but at what cost?
Speaking of Sunday’s game between the Giants and Red Sox (which of course includes a wager with Julia of Julia’s Rants), the pitching match-up could not better. Jon Lester, one of my personal favorite pitchers and clearly one of the AL’s best, against Tim Lincecum, arguably one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. I’ll be pulling for Lincecum and the Giants, but it should be a classic pitching duel. I am looking forward to it!
By the way, the last wager didn’t go so well for Julia…
Courtesy of an unhappy Celtics fan!
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!