The 2011 AL East Division Champions…
Most importantly, congratulations to the New York Yankees for their AL East Division Championship. They should have been AL East Champions last season but stumbled in the final days of the season to allow them to be eclipsed by the Tampa Bay Rays. So, fortunately, the Yankees have returned to their rightful throne! Well, at least for September. Come October, nothing less than a World Series Championship is acceptable!
So, I was only half right…
Admittedly, I am surprised the way this season has played out. At the beginning of the season, I had picked the Boston Red Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies as the World Series participants. The Phillies still look like the odds-on favorite at this point given their stellar starting pitching, but the Red Sox have faded oh so quickly. I remember listening to Sox fans who were predicting at least 114 wins or more for their revamped Red Sox, and while I openly scoffed at the notion, there was a part of me that was concerned that the Red Sox did have the necessary personnel to pull off a magical season. The chances for the magical season faded quickly when pitcher Clay Buchholz was lost for the season, but the Red Sox had charged back after a sluggish start and were in the thick of things at the end of August. Up to that point, the Red Sox had played the Yankees very aggressively with a significant advantage in the season series. They showed they had the offense to destroy virtually any pitcher on any given night, and there is no doubt that Adrian Gonzalez is perfectly suited for Fenway Park. But sadly for the Sox, the calendar turned to September and the deteriorated pitching staff started to show the stress and strain of the long season. Still, I didn’t expect the free fall that has currently left the Sox tied with the Tampa Bay Rays for the Wild Card slot, while the Yankees have wrapped up the division championship and best record in the AL. I never dreamed that the Yankees would be in position to walk to the finish line.
Pitching, pitching, pitching…
My lack of faith in the Yankees at the beginning of the season was due primarily to the pitching staff. I was concerned about A.J. Burnett and his ability to bounce back from a disastrous season (and rightfully so). I did not think the Yankees could replace Andy Pettitte with two scrapheap pitchers in Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon. Plus, the Yankees were placing much emphasis on Phil Hughes who, despite his 18-win season, had not proven that he was a reliable and dependable starter. Rounding out the rotation was a rookie pitcher (Ivan Nova), who had not even been mentioned in the same breath with Yankees prospects Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances. With CC Sabathia followed by a cast of characters, I did not see how the Yankees could compete with the Red Sox and felt that the Wild Card was the team’s best hope. Now, I am very delighted that I was wrong. While Burnett and Hughes have been disappointments, Ivan Nova has been huge and is now the second best pitcher in the rotation. Garcia and Colon have been terrific even if Colon seems to be wearing down at this point in the season. Garcia is definitely a play-off caliber starting pitcher. If the Yanks go with a four man rotation, then the 4th man should be Burnett. But he’ll have a very short leash with Colon and Hughes potentially in the bullpen.
Don’t play Poker with Brian Cashman…
If I had been the GM, I am sure that I would have made some impulsive and regrettable move at the trading deadline. GM Brian Cashman, on the other hand, stood pat and played with the hand he was dealt. In retrospect, he looks like a hero (which includes his anti-Rafael Soriano stance in the spring). I hope the Yankees do whatever it takes to ensure Cash’s return to the Bronx. I am sure that there would be significantly less stress in Chicago with the Cubs or some other major league team, but nobody understands New York better than Cash. I definitely think the Steinbrenners need Cashman more than he needs them. Hopefully, they’ll recognize it and make sure that Cashman is re-signed.
Passing of the Guard…
If the Yankees have learned anything in September (aside from the importance of quality starting pitching in watching the Sox freefall), it’s that Jesus Montero is ready for The Show. This does not bode well for Jorge Posada who is most likely playing his final year in Yankee pinstripes. If he continues his career season, it will be tough to see him play in different team colors. My only request would be for him not to go to Boston or Tampa. It’s always tough to see players cross those lines, and if it were me, I’d retain the respect for the Yankees and walk away from the AL East.
He surprised me yet again…
Count me as one of the skeptics in Ozzie Guillen’s decision to orchestrate his departure from the Chicago White Sox so that he could join the Florida Marlins. While I realize that Guillen will sell tickets in Miami, I don’t see it as a good fit with ownership. I am still not quite sure how someone could have issues with Joe Girardi, but fortunately, Miami did and he’s the highly successful manager of the Yankees. But Joe is far less out-spoken than Guillen, so if Joe’s comments got him into trouble, what’s going to happen with Guillen who always openly and freely speaks whatever is on his mind. I had always heard that White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf loved Ozzie like a son, so there’s no way the relationship in Miami will be anything comparable. His on the field performance had better outweigh the baggage that comes with Ozzie as your manager. He may regret taking the money and running…
Two game sabbatical from ‘Red Sox Suck!’…
With the Red Sox and Rays tied for the Wild Card tonight, I’ll have to go with the Red Sox as my preferred team to advance. I don’t think the Sox will be the easier opponent in the play-offs but that doesn’t concern me. I’ve always believed that you have to ‘beat the best to be the best’. This comes down to respect and I simply respect the Red Sox more…
Pitching, pitching, pitching…
The Yankees were very fortunate in the first half to get the mileage they did out of Bartolo Colon (even with his stay on the DL) and Freddy Garcia. But two games into the second half, their performances have been very dismal as the Yanks have been crushed by the Toronto Blue Jays on successive days.
I think that both Colon and Garcia are capable to having respectable finishes to the season but all things considered, I’d rather go in a different direction. I am sure that there is a good reason for why 8-game winner Ivan Nova is pitching for Scranton/Wilkes Barre. I’d never claim to the talent evaluator that Joe Girardi and Larry Rothschild are, but it would make more sense to me to let the younger pitcher grow and develop in the major league rotation.
Yankee scouts are out in full force scouring other major league ballparks. I am sure that Brian Cashman has a short list of guys that he’d like to acquire even if he’d never publicly admit it. I fully recognize that the trading deadline is not going to result in Felix Hernandez wearing pinstripes, but I am sure that there are a few arms out there capable of being major upgrades over Colon and Garcia.
The losses by Colon and Garcia aren’t just their faults. This is a team game and the other guys simply did not pick up the veteran pitchers when they got hit hard. For whatever reason, the Blue Jays seem to have the Yankees number or at least they have for the last few years. If the Yankees intend to win the division, they need to figure out how to beat Toronto and Boston since they haven’t really shown they are capable of beating either team.
I was surprised to see Derek Jeter crucified for not attending the All-Star Game in Phoenix. While I think that he should have made an appearance at the game, I can understand and appreciate his reasons for not playing. He had just finished a stint on the DL and he is vital to his team’s chances in the second half. The ASG break was a good opportunity for DJ to ensure that he got good rest before resuming the rigors of every day play. It’s not just Derek, I think any of the players who were voted as starters but withdrew for whatever reason should have made the trip to Phoenix to at least acknowledge the fans.
Still, nobody received criticism for pulling out of the game like DJ did. I know, that’s just life with the New York Yankees.
Give the young guy a shot…
I’d like to see the Yankees bring up Brandon Laird to give him a taste of third base at the major league level while Alex Rodriguez is on the DL. It would be interesting to see what he could do in a platoon situation with Eduardo Nunez. I would rather go that route than pursue an aging and high priced vet like Aramis Ramirez or someone like that. Laird’s batting average leaves a little to be desired (.266) but he is driving in runs (47 RBI’s).
One if by land, two if by sea…
I was watching the Minnesota Twins play the Kansas City Royals on TV last night and I have to say that I am impressed with Minnesota’s Ben Revere. The speedster lined a shot to right, and after he rounded second base, he started to fall and went into a somersault. Yet, with his speed, he was still able to arrive at third ahead of the ball. It was one of the most interesting triples that I’ve seen.
Jeff Wheeler/Star Tribune
The night didn’t fare very well for the Twins as their closer, Matt Capps, gave up a two-run homer to Eric Hosmer in the top of the 9th in the 2-1 loss to the Royals. Hosmer, by the way, is another young player that I am very impressed with. As for Matt Capps, I wonder how much longer until Joe Nathan takes back his old job. I know it all depends upon Nathan’s health, but Capps has been brutal.
Oh yeah, this is a pinstripe blog…
Back to the Yankees, they definitely need to find a way to salvage the series in Toronto today and tomorrow. They have a tough four-game set against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg next week and they need to build some momentum going into the series. There isn’t anyone better to have on the mound today than the great CC Sabathia. Hopefully he’ll get his 14th win today…
Have a great weekend!
The Ace of Scranton/Wilkes Barre…
I kept hoping that the Yankees would be able to find a way to keep Ivan Nova in the rotation, but inevitably, the team made the only decision it could by sending him down to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. I agree that it is in Nova’s best interests to keep him on rotation, and not stunt his development by moving him to the pen.
I find it highly unlikely that either Bartolo Colon and/or Freddy Garcia will make it through the remainder of the season without any health issues. So, almost assuredly, Nova will be back and he’ll prove why he is a long-term option for the starting rotation.
Larry knows best…
Nothing against former pitching coach Dave Eiland, but his replacement, Larry Rothschild, has certainly shown why he was a great hire in the off-season. The Yankees struck gold with both Colon and Garcia when they were hopeful that they’d be able to get something out of at least one of the pitchers. I thought the Colon signing was a joke, and didn’t really begin to take the former Cy Young Award winner seriously until after the regular season began.
Thomas A. Ferrara/Newsday
Rothschild has also overseen the return of A.J. Burnett as a viable force in the rotation, which, after last season, was no small task.
In the bullpen, the Yankees have overcome the loss of set up man Rafael Soriano and Joba Chamberlain with the superb play of David Robertson. Robertson has shown that he is not only a great bridge to Mariano Rivera, but is perhaps a very viable alternative as Mo’s eventual replacement. GM Brian Cashman was right to be against the Soriano signing, and now the Yanks will have Soriano for two more years since there’s no way that he’ll opt out of his lucrative contract. It will be interesting to see how the Yankees handle this situation when Soriano returns.
As great as Larry Rothschild is, there are still going to be those moments when all goes wrong like today’s loss to the New York Mets. Mariano Rivera blew a save opportunity in the 9th, and the Yanks subsequently lost in 10 innings. But the nice thing about the Yankees bullpen is that they have a very short memory, and I’m sure that they’ll be back in stellar form tomorrow.
Congratulations, you’re an All-Star! As your reward, here is a ticket to the face of the Sun…
Congratulations to the players that will represent the Yankees during next week’s All-Star Game in Phoenix. Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, and Curtis Granderson will be in the starting lineup, while Mariano Rivera and Russell Martin were also added to the squad. Count me as one of those who hope that a spot opens for David Robertson. The All-Star Yankees will need to get used to the heat as it has been blistering hot in the Valley of the Sun. Yesterday, the official high was 117 degrees in Chandler, AZ, however, I saw temperature readings over 120 degrees. It may be a dry heat, but it’s just plain hot. Fortunately, Chase Field will be covered and the indoor temps should be very mild.
Nearing the end of the first half…
I am quite please with the way the Yankees have played the first half of the season. I still feel that the Boston Red Sox have the superior team on paper, but the Yankees have held their own and currently lead the Sox by 1 ½ games. I don’t think the Yanks can stay ahead of the Sox without any changes to the roster, but the team has definitely gotten more out of less.
Have a very happy, safe and enjoyable 4th of July, everyone!
This weekend’s abbreviated
two-game series against the Baltimore Orioles was a positive despite the
postponement of one game that will cause its share of challenges later in the
Saturday featured a great performance
by CC Sabathia, along with a
plethora of hits and home runs for the Yanks, while Sunday saw the Yanks pull
out a game that they could have lost when Mariano
Rivera blew his second straight save opportunity. I am not concerned about Mo, as he has had
short stretches like this during the season in recent years.
Sunday saw a great hitting
performance by the ‘written off for dead’ Derek
Jeter, who went 4-for-6 with a run scored and a RBI to raise his batting
average to .257. I agree that it’s too
soon to write Jeter’s obituary, just like it is too soon to start questioning
if Mo is losing it. But still, I have
the right to ask. Is it time for Jorge Posada to call it a career? I know it’s still early, but a .153 batting
average is abysmal. Let’s hope that he
turns it around like David Ortiz
always seems to do for the Red Sox…
Congratulations to Freddy Garcia for another six inning
shut-out! Also, after wondering if the
Yankees made a huge mistake in unloading Ian
Kennedy, Phil Coke and Austin Jackson to acquire Curtis Granderson for most of last
season, I am a fan of the Grandy Man! He
hit his 7th home run of this young season, and could be on track for
30+. He has definitely gained a comfort
zone in pinstripes.
Saturday’s hero, aside from
the great job by CC Sabathia, was
catcher Russell Martin. We are not out of April and he already has
one more home run than last season, and needs just one more to tie his total for
2009. Combined with good health, the
change of scenery has been very good for Martin. I am looking forward to Francisco Cervelli‘s return so that he can start spelling Martin on
occasion, but I am glad that GM Brian
Cashman had the foresight to sign Martin rather than go with the untested Jesus Montero. Montero’s time will come but it was obvious
that his time is not now. Martin has
been very instrumental in the Yankees’ strong start, especially when you
consider how sluggish the team has performed the last few Aprils. I don’t want to criticize Posada, but I like
the way Martin has meshed with the pitching rotation.
I hope everyone had a very
Happy Easter today. Easter time with the
family definitely brings back great memories…
It was a great win by Freddy
Garcia on Saturday (six innings, two hits and no runs) in the Yankees’ 5-2
victory over the Texas Rangers. The
superlatives about Garcia poured in after the game including one comment that
compared Garcia to David Cone in terms of the latter pitcher’s ability to find
ways to win when he didn’t have his best stuff.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
I do not doubt Garcia’s
ability. I can recall many times over
the years when Garcia completely shut down the Yankees. It didn’t matter if he had been struggling at
the time or was fighting some ailment.
He always seemed to shine in the most difficult moments. My concern with Garcia is his ability to
sustain the effectiveness he showed yesterday.
There’s no doubt, in my mind, that we’ll see Kevin Millwood and/or
Carlos Silva in the rotation at some point.
I am not trying to be
pessimistic, but rather just a realist.
With Phil Hughes on the DL, it is not an automatic that he’ll regain his
velocity by simply receiving rest and treatment. A.J. Burnett showed that he is still
vulnerable after giving up two home runs in one inning against the Baltimore
Orioles last week after pitching so well in the prior six innings. We’ll have the opportunity to see what
Bartolo Colon can do, but my concern about him is not with his arm. His weight and ability to stay healthy are
the key issues.
It was disappointing to hear
that reliever Pedro Feliciano will need season-ending surgery. Given that lefty Damaso Marte is also on the
shelf, the Yankees will need to find another lefty to complement Boone
Logan. Unfortunately, the rest of the
league knows that and they’ll be looking for a King’s ransom in any potential
At this point in the season,
it’s nice to see the Yankees in first place with an 8-5 mark, while the Boston
Red Sox sit in last place at 3-10.
However, with just under 150 games still remaining, I would be very
foolish to think that the current standings will stay unchanged. The Red Sox will figure it out and they’ll be
an offensive force through the summer. I
am concerned that the key reason the Yankees have been winning is their home
run production (24 homers in 13 games).
Hopefully, they’ll begin to find other ways to win as the season
It bothers me that the
Boston Red Sox will avoid a luxury tax penalty by delaying the announcement of
Adrian Gonzalez‘s extension until this week.
Perhaps they did the same thing with Clay Buchholz, but the Gonzalez
signing was a foregone conclusion. It
was obvious that the Sox had reached an agreement with Gonzalez before the
start of the season. It was clear they
simply circumvented the system to avoid paying the additional tax.
To go a bit off topic, I am
excited about the upcoming NFL Draft despite the current lockout. I remain hopeful that the owners and players
will reach an agreement before the loss of any games. With the draft, I really hope the Minnesota
Vikings can find a quarterback. However,
their draft position at #12 is not ideal for their search for a franchise QB. The top tier QB’s, like Blaine Gabbert and
Cam Newton, will be gone and it will be too early to take somebody like Jake
Locker. It will be interesting to see
what the Vikings can do. The Vikings
chief rival, the Green Bay Packers, seem to have a knack for finding QB’s. They coaxed one great season out of Don
Majkowski. They traded for Brett Favre after
they missed out on the opportunity to draft Troy Aikman. They drafted Aaron Rodgers despite having
Favre and a few other highly touted former college QB’s on the roster. Hopefully, the Vikings can replicate the
Packers blue print to find their next great QB…
With the selections of Ivan
Nova and Freddy Garcia as the #4 and #5 starters in the Yankees rotation, I
think that manager Joe Girardi made the right choices (even if those were
really the only viable options).
J. Meric/Getty Images
I agree with those who
speculate that Bartolo Colon is better suited to be the long man in the
pen. Given his physical conditioning,
there are clearly concerns about his stamina.
His arm may be alright but that wouldn’t get him through long
innings. The trade of Sergio Mitre to
the Milwaukee Brewers opens the way for Colon to make the Yankees roster.
I am not sure what I think
about the Yankees signing pitcher Kevin Millwood to a minor league deal. I realize that he is strictly an insurance
policy, but I’d really like to see one of the younger guys, like Andrew
Brackman, Hector Noesi, or Dellin Betances, get the opportunity should Nova or
Garcia falter. Millwood is probably just
coverage for the next month, while the prospects will be options later in the
The Yankees gave Chris
Dickerson, the outfielder they acquired in the Mitre trade, Darryl Strawberry‘s
old jersey number (39). Those are big
shoes to fill. I love great home run
swings and for as many sluggers that have come through the Bronx, few can
compare to the swing that Straw had.
Dickerson is not a home run guy, so we won’t be seeing #39 swinging for
the fences. But the number did bring
back some great memories of Strawberry at the plate. Dickerson was the player the Reds sent to the
Brewers last summer in the deal that brought Jim Edmonds to Cincinnati. He turns 29 on April 10th so he is
no longer really considered a prospect, but I’d like to see him carve out a
role on the team. With Curtis Granderson
hurting, the Yankees will definitely need help in the outfield and Andruw Jones
can’t do it all by himself.
With all the talk about
catchers Francisco Cervelli, Jesus Montero, and Austin Romine, it’s strange
that Gustavo Molina has emerged as the frontrunner to capture the backup
catching position behind starter Russell Martin. I suspect that Cervelli will take the
position once he is healthy but I am disappointed that neither Montero or
Romine could hit well enough to stay on the major league roster. I know that it just means their arrivals are
simply delayed. Hopefully, they can draw
positives from the heavy focus this spring and use it to power forward when
their next opportunity comes.
I was surprised that Baltimore
Orioles manager Buck Showalter took potshots at Derek Jeter and the Boston Red
Sox. I would have expected better from
Showalter, but I can honestly say that I have never missed him from the day he
left the Yankees.
It’s hard to believe that
Opening Day is next week! I am so glad
that the season is finally upon us. Win
or lose, it should be a great year!
When I was a kid, the
overweight, aging dude with the beer belly was the starting pitcher on the
local softball team. Suddenly, I am
faced with the reality that the same guy may be starting for the New York
Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post
I know that Bartolo Colon
has pitched well this spring, but c’mon.
I’d rather see him resurrect his career in Kansas City, Seattle, or
Florida. Heck, maybe even the Mets could
use the arm. I know that Freddy Garcia
has been rather disappointing the last couple of starts, but I still think that
he’d be the most effective starter over the course of the season. If the Yankees are concerned about Garcia,
then pull the trigger and sign Kevin Millwood to a major league deal.
My preference for the
rotation is clearly CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova and
Freddy Garcia, with the potential mid-season call-ups of Andrew Brackman or
Dellin Betances. I’d love to have Manny
Banuelos but he needs to spend a few more years in the minors before he’s ready
to hit the show.
I know the Yankees will be
players for a starting pitcher at the trading deadline but that’s too difficult
to predict at this point in time. It
will really depend upon who has given up on the season by July.
It’s really weird that
Gustavo Molina has emerged as the front-runner for the backup catching
position. I had fully expected the Yanks
to break camp with Jesus Montero regardless of his offensive struggles this
spring. Granted, Molina is a temporary
solution but it definitely shows the Yankees were right about signing Russell
Martin to be their catcher, rather than entrusting the starting role to
Montero. I found it humorous that one
website described Molina as “not an authentic Catching Molina Brother”. I do have to say that the question did cross
my mind! LOL!
For as frustrated as Luis
Castillo may be about being dumped by the Mets, how can he be unhappy with the
gift horse that has potentially put him on the NL World Series team? Also, speaking of the Mets, I am so glad the
Yankees chose not to pursue Oliver Perez.
I didn’t think the Yankees would be foolish enough to go down that road,
but early speculation through the media indicated Yankee interest. Fortunately, it was just a fictional
tale. Good luck to the Nationals as they
look to resurrect Perez’s career.
As much as I don’t want to
see the Phillies win the World Series (call it anti-Cliff Lee bias), I hate to
see Chase Utley start the season on the DL.
I do wish him a speedy recovery and hope that he is back at Citizens
Bank Park sooner rather than later.
William Shatner is really 80
years old? Wow. Captain Kirk turned 80 on March 22nd. A belated happy birthday! He was such a huge
part of my childhood but of course I was watching Star Trek through syndication
and not through the first run shows. Although,
I admit, I could have watched the first run shows. As a kid, I was always Kirk when we played
Star Trek in the neighborhood so I definitely have an appreciation and fondness
for William Shatner.
–Signed, a Yankees fan
wondering who our #5 starter will be…