All my rowdy friends are coming over tonight, but I’ll just listen to Beethoven…
The Miami Marlins make a big splash to create perhaps the best Marlins squad since 2003 in signing Heath Bell, Mark Buehrle, and Jose Reyes. The Los Angeles Angels rock the largest Hispanic community in the United States by nabbing #1 Baseball Superstar Albert Pujols. Oh yeah, they also picked up former Ranger ace C.J. Wilson along the way. Even the Boston Red Sox, in a season of chaos with the prolonged managerial search, managed to do SOMETHING with the acquisition of former Yankees reliever Mark Melancon from the Houston Astros for shortstop Jed Lowrie and minor league pitcher Kyle Weiland. Meanwhile, at Yankee Stadium, nothing…
I know, how do you improve upon a 97-win team? Baseball is a game of constantly trying to improve. A little here, a little there…a big splash here, a big splash there. This off-season the Yankees haven’t fallen into any of those categories. They haven’t even moved to re-sign outfielder Andruw Jones or third baseman Eric Chavez which, in my mind, are important cogs for the 2012 team.
The team with the most money is…
Tonight’s wait is to hear whether the Toronto Blue Jays or the Texas Rangers have won the bidding for Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish. In the days of George Steinbrenner, the Yankees would have been the highest bidder and there would have been no speculation about who placed the highest bid (through a few “unnamed sources” within the Yankees organization). I am not saying that it is prudent to spend $50 million plus just to have the right to talk to Darvish, nor do I feel the Yankees made a bad decision by not going after him harder. But this is definitely a different Yankees ownership and one that is not particularly fond of footing the bill for the other owners through luxury tax payments. It’s too bad the Yankees have so much wrapped up in Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter. A-Rod, in particular, is not the player he once was and no longer worthy of his behemoth contract. I’ll give Jeter the benefit of the doubt since he did finish 2011 strongly.
If the Yankees are gauging what they need to do by the Boston Red Sox or the Tampa Bay Rays, they’re severely underestimating the Toronto Blue Jays. The Yankees had trouble with that team last year, and the 2012 Jays will only be stronger (with or without Darvish).
If you’re not winning, you’re losing…
This has been a tough sports year for me. The Yankees felt like a team with shortcomings entering October and it revealed itself in the play-offs against the Detroit Tigers. They are still essentially the same team, minus a few players. There’s nothing to lead me to believe that the World Series is in their immediate future. Meanwhile, my pro football team, the Minnesota Vikings, continues their march to become the worst team in professional football (only one game separates them from the Indianapolis Colts and the right to draft future NFL superstar QB Andrew Luck). I am sure that even Peyton Manning is a Vikings fan these days. It really stinks when you hope your team loses so that they can place higher in the draft.
I am not a Minnesota Twins fan, but I do live within view of Target Field so it’s been tough watching local favorites Michael Cuddyer (Rockies) and Jason Kubel (D-Backs) sign elsewhere.
Clearly, I am someone that needs a ‘pick me up’ in sports. I want to see a player acquisition that I am excited about. Someone that brings energy, drive and commitment to the team, and helps them reach just a little bit further…
I will say that the Yankees should not trade Jesus Montero regardless of whether it could bring Gio Gonzalez to the Bronx. I’d love to see Gio in pinstripes, but I think that Montero has a chance to be a special talent. You just don’t let guys like him get away, even if it means no acquisitions this off-season.
Is that too much to ask? Sometimes I wish Hank Steinbrenner’s impulsiveness would prevail over Hal Steinbrenner’s calculated intellect. Fiscal responsibility, with a dash of insanity. C’mon, we were “raised” by George Steinbrenner. Weren’t you too, Hal?…
At least somebody is doing something…
Recently, I changed my NBA allegiance from the Los Angeles Lakers to the New York Knicks. I’ve been thinking about this move for several years, but adding Carmelo Anthony to Amare Stoudemire was the clincher. The latest news has the Knicks signing Baron Davis. As a former Bay Area resident, I was saddened when Davis left the Golden State Warriors to join the Los Angeles Clippers. He was perhaps the most popular basketball player in the area. I have a great deal of respect for him, and it’s tremendous that he and I have come together on the same team. I know Baron is hurt so his Knicks debut will be delayed, but I really like the off-season moves the Knicks have made. I’d be foolish to think that they are suddenly a NBA finals team, but they are definitely getting better.
Meanwhile, at Yankee Stadium, just crickets…
With the Boss, we OWNED November…
Life under Hal Steinbrenner is certainly different than it was under the Boss. In the old days, the Yankees would already be dominating the news in November. At the very least, their name would be attached as a strong possibility for every elite free agent. These days, the Miami Marlins, Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers and even the Houston Astros have garnered more press time.
As for the obvious options, I do think the Yankees would be foolish to join the chase for free agent pitcher C.J. Wilson. I like Wilson as a starter, but he’s not worth the cost. I still prefer Mark Buehrle because it wouldn’t take as much money and even if he’s not flashy, Buehrle gives you innings and is very consistent. After life on the A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes Roller Coasters, I’d gladly accept some consistency in the middle of the rotation. As for trade targets, I’d love to get Matt Cain but I don’t think the San Francisco Giants will trade him.
Now that Eric Chavez has indicated he wants to play in 2012, I hope the Yankees can find a way to bring him back for a second year in pinstripes. It’s interesting that the team has acknowledged they may have been better off playing Chavez at third in the play-offs instead of the less-than-100% Alex Rodriguez. A healthy A-Rod is critical for next season and someone like Chavez, assuming he can also stay healthy, is the perfect backup because he can be a very effective starter in spots. At some point, A-Rod will probably see more time at DH than third, but that’s not going to happen next year. Chavez is a good bridge to the point the Yanks need a new full-time third baseman.
Sleep deprived Houstonians…
I think the announced move of the Houston Astros to the American League in 2013 makes sense. I understand the negatives….they’ll lose the Central Time Zone rivalries with the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs and will play more games on the West Coast…but I think they’ll develop good rivalries with the AL CST teams. As for the time zone differences, they still have it better than the three hour time zone differences the AL East teams face on their West Coast trips. I realize that those are not in-division games, but all things considered, having balanced leagues for scheduling purposes is important. Plus, it didn’t seem fair that the AL West had only four teams while the other divisions had five. I never fully understood why Milwaukee was moved from the AL to NL and I did think they probably should have been the team to move back to the AL, but clearly the MLB team owners used the sale of the Astros as leverage to force the move.
New meaning to ‘one and done’…
Of the other changes, I am not sure what I think about the addition of a second wild card team, and moving to a one game wild card play-off. I didn’t like the current system that did not differentiate between winning the division or getting into the play-offs as the Wild Card (except for home field advantage). But a one game play-off? That doesn’t really seem fair either. I know that the argument is to win the division and not put yourself in the wild card, but it doesn’t seem fair that one wild card team could finish 5 or 6 games ahead of the second team, but then lose out by virtue of a single off night. I know, ‘don’t put yourself in that position’ but still… Nevertheless, I am sure that this change will motivate teams to continue striving for the division championship and not mail it in once the wild card is secured.
I thought they put their pants on just like I do…
I think the right choices were made for the AL and NL Cy Young Awards…Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw, respectively. How scary is it that Kershaw’s only 23? Donnie Baseball has to be very happy with the top of his rotation. I am looking forward to the announcement of the MVP Awards, and I am in the category of those who believe that pitchers should not be considered for the award. Obviously, I am pulling for Curtis Granderson in the AL, but even if a Yankee wasn’t up for consideration, I’d feel the same way about no pitchers for the award. The Cy Young is a pitcher’s MVP award.
Trading Beer for Wind…
I was surprised to see Dale Sveum get the managing job with the Chicago Cubs. It’s not that I don’t think he’ll make a good manager, but rather I thought he’d be a good fit for the Boston Red Sox. I had been hoping that Terry Francona would get the Cubs job, and when he withdrew his name, I thought that Mike Maddux would be the next call. I know that name withdrawals are usually prompted by behind-the-scenes conversations (Francona probably realizing that he wouldn’t get the job), but I think it’s a travesty that Tito won’t be managing in the big leagues in 2012…unless that was truly his choice. If I owned a major league team, Tito would be at the top of my short list for managers. He may have been the manager of my team’s most bitter rival but I have a great deal of respect for him. It would have been great to see him manage the Cubs to a World Series Championship after ending Boston’s drought.
Joe Mauer, come back!…
I am still missing the lights of Target Field from my condo. I can see the lighted field name sign, but there is just something about those stadium lights that give a magical feeling to the skyline of downtown Minneapolis. I am looking forward to April when Jamey Carroll and the Minnesota Twins turn on the lights. As for how the Twins do, they can lose 99 games again…
I have to admit that I am embarrassed almost every time Hank
Steinbrenner opens his mouth. The latest
comments that seemingly were aimed at Derek Jeter although Hank denied it were
very inappropriate. 2010 was a
disappointing year with the way it ended, but it’s done. There is nothing more that can be learned or
derived from the loss to the Texas Rangers.
At this point, it doesn’t matter what happened leading up to that
series. There are a variety of reasons
for why the Yankees lost, but in the end, they were outplayed by a better
Hank justified his ‘mansions’ comment by indicating he was simply using
it as a euphemism. Personally, I think
Hal Steinbrenner is a euphemism for Hank but that’s another matter.
Back in the days of George Steinbrenner and particularly during the
losing years of the late 1980’s, the Boss used to infuriate fans with his
remarks. He seemed as though he was
always giving fodder to the press. As
mad as everyone used to get, I always found an honest truth in George’s
words. I could never condemn him even
when his popularity at Yankee Stadium was non-existent. However, I have trouble finding the honest
truth in Hank’s words. He comes across
as just an arrogant blow-hard. No
wonder that the family felt that the role of managing general partner was
better suited for the younger Hal.
To Hank’s defense, I do always believe that ownership has the right to
say whatever they’d like. It’s their
money and their team. But when it has
the potential to create a distraction for the team, then I get concerned. That’s probably where I am right now with
Hank’s words. There is no question that
the Boston Red Sox have the best team on paper.
Hank doesn’t need to add to the adversity; he needs to help reduce or
eliminate the talent gap between the two teams.
From the sounds of it, Freddy Garcia is leading the pack for a spot in
the rotation. I’ve been concerned about Garcia’s
history of poor springs as I’ve felt he had the most to offer in terms of the
competition for the two rotation spots.
He won 12 games with the Chicago White Sox last year and if he can
duplicate the season again this year, I think the Yankees would be very
pleased. No offense to Bartolo Colon,
but I really don’t want to see the team break camp with him in the rotation or
the final roster for that matter. I was
always very pleased to hear that prospect Andrew Brackman has been turning
heads. He is a top flight talent that
slid in the 2007 draft to the Yankees because of his injury history. He may not be ready for the major leagues
straight out of spring training but odds are that he’ll experience his Yankees
debut at some point this season.
Finally, I was saddened to hear that the St. Louis Cardinals have lost
ace Adam Wainwright for the season due to an elbow injury that will require
Tommy John surgery. I’ve always had a
soft spot for the Cardinals since I saw my first major league baseball game at
the old Busch Stadium in St. Louis when I was a kid. They are a classy organization with quality
fans. Losing Wainwright severely
downgrades the Cards’ chances this season and that’s unfortunate. Hopefully, there is someone in the
organization that is ready to step up their game to help provide a solid bridge
until Wainwright can return in 2012.
I am ready for some baseball…
The Yankees won, but I am growing tired of Joba
The Yankees defeated the Kansas City Royals
tonight, 10-4. The game was actually
much closer than the score might indicate.
With the Yanks ahead 6-4 in the 8th inning, Joba started the
inning in relief of David Robertson.
Robertson had entered the game an inning earlier in place of CC Sabathia
with two men on base and one out. He got
both batters out that the faced, and I would have stayed with the hot hand, at
least for one more inning. Nevertheless,
Joe Girardi remained committed to Chamberlain.
After getting the first batter out, the next two hitters reached on
infield singles. He struck out the rusty
Rick Ankiel (who had been activated off the DL earlier in the day), but walked
Billy Butler to load the bases.
Fortunately, Jose Guillen hit into a fielder’s choice, but had he gotten
a hit, the game would have taken a completely different turn. Joba should be thankful he was facing the
Royals and not the Angels, Rangers, or Rays.
Is this what it was like when former Orioles manager Earl Weaver
referred to his closer as “Fullpack”? I
always get so uneasy when Joba enters the game.
I am not sure how much long I will be in support of him remaining with
the team. At some point, a change of
scenery might do him wonders.
The Royals broke out to an early 2-0 lead against
CC Sabathia, who was making his first start as a 30-something pitcher (he
turned 30 yesterday). The Yankees
quickly answered with two runs of their own in the bottom of the frame. The Royals added a run in the 2nd
inning to move in front again, and it remained that way until the bottom of the
3rd when Derek Jeter hit a shot to center. David DeJesus, one of those all-out kind of
players, went for the ball and actually had it momentarily when he crashed into
the wall but lost it in the collision.
DJ, running at full steam, motored around for his first inside-the-park
home run since 1996, which tied the game at 3.
Zach Ornitz/The Star Ledger
DeJesus was removed from the game and it was later announced that he had
sprained his thumb.
The Yanks picked up a couple of runs in the 5th
and gave up a run on a Jorge Posada throwing error in the 6th,
but the hit of the night occurred in the bottom of the 7th when Alex
Rodriguez homered for the 599th time in his career to put the Yanks
Zach Ornitz/The Star Ledger
The Yankees scored four runs in the bottom of the 8th
after Joba had escaped the bases loaded jam to put the game out of reach. It was a huge night for A-Rod, who went
3-for-5 with 4 RBI’s. Mark Teixeira also
went 3-for-5, with a RBI, to continue showing that his slump is definitely
over. Nick Swisher had another great
night with 2 RBI’s. Defensively, it was
a great night for Brett Gardner, who threw out two runners including one at the
plate to end the top of the 5th.
With the win, the Yankees lead on the Tampa Bay
Rays in the AL East has been restored at 3 games.
On Tuesday, Sean O’Sullivan had just been called up
by the Los Angeles Angels from Triple A Salt Lake City and found out that he’d
be starting against the Yankees when he arrived at Yankee Stadium. Despite a rocky first inning, O’Sullivan was
the winner in the 10-2 romp over the Yanks.
Today, he is a member of the Kansas City Royals. Earlier in the day, he was traded by the
Angels to the Royals, along with a minor league pitcher Will Smith, for third
baseman Alberto Callaspo. So, within
days of making the trip to New York City, he is on his way back to join the
The tributes for owner George Steinbrenner continue
as the Yankees unveiled a 40 foot banner above the home bullpen (just
underneath the Hess and Budweiser billboards) honoring the Boss. He is the man responsible for the new
ballpark so it is only fitting that his name be prominently displayed.
Speaking of tributes, the Yankees will wear black
sleeve bands (directly beneath the patch honoring Bob Sheppard) in memory of
former manager Ralph Houk who died yesterday.
With any more patches, the Yankees jersey would look like a Nascar race
car. Hopefully, there will be no more
deaths in the Yankees family for the duration of the year. This has definitely been a very difficult
Have arm. Will travel…
Well, not me, but the Yankees will be looking for some arms after this weekend’s injuries to A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte. Burnett should not miss any time after his boneheaded stunt on Saturday. He was frustrated about giving up three runs after two innings, and proceeded to take his frustration out on double doors in the clubhouse. The doors won as Burnett cut both hands on plexiglass lineup holders affixed to the doors. On Sunday, Andy Pettitte went the more honorable injury route as he was actually hurt while playing the game. He strained his left groin throwing a pitch to Kelly Shoppach in the 3rd inning after giving up back to back singles.
Zach Ornitz/The Star Ledger
There were no long man in the bullpen on Sunday thanks to Burnett’s episode on Saturday which required extended use of both Dustin Moseley and Chad Gaudin. So, the first guy out of the pen on Sunday was potential 8th inning set up man David Robertson. The pieced-together pitching staff worked well as the Yankees overcame an early 3-0 deficit against American League All-Star starting pitcher David Price to win 9-5.
Zach Ornitz/The Star Ledger
The win gave the Yankees the series win against the Tampa Bay Rays, who had won Saturday’s game against Burnett, 10-5.
Zach Ornitz/The Star Ledger
After the Yankees had won on Friday night in a thrilling 5-4 victory against the Rays on a night the team gave tribute to public address announcer Bob Sheppard and owner George Steinbrenner, I knew the Yankes would have a tough time on Saturday and Sunday facing Jeff Niemann and David Price. But if I had expected a pitcher to falter, it would have been Niemann and not Price so clearly the Yankees were fortunate that Price chose Sunday to have his worst start of the season.
Sergio Mitre, who is nearing return from the Disabled List, will slide into Pettitte’s spot in the rotation for the foreseeable future. It is anticipated that Pettitte will be out for 4-5 weeks. Even though Burnett should be able to make his next start, the Yankees need to be prepared for the worst-case scenario so I am sure that Joe Girardi will have Dustin Moseley and Chad Gaudin again waiting in the wings. I remember Moseley most as one of the guys that the Los Angeles Angels turned to after the death of Nick Adenhart last season. It would be good to see him excel in his opportunity with the Pinstripers.
After the missed opportunity for Cliff Lee, I did not expect the Yankees to pursue a starting pitcher prior to the trading deadline. However, I do wonder if that will change now that Pettitte is out for a month and Phil Hughes will be nearing his innings ceiling later in the year. The names on the market do not excite me (not like Cliff Lee did). Perhaps someone like Ted Lilly would be a good short term option, but he is hardly the front of the rotation starter that Lee would have been. The only guy I’d love to see in Pinstripes, outside of Lee of course, would be Florida’s Josh Johnson but I really doubt the Marlins would trade him.
Alex Rodriguez hit his 598th home run on Sunday (off Andy Sonnanstine on Sunday in the 7th inning).
Zach Ornitz/The Star Ledger
The Yankees have a much-needed day off on Monday to recover from the events of the past week and the weekend tributes to two legendary men. They’ll face the Los Angeles Angels beginning Tuesday in the Bronx as Hideki Matsui comes home to face his ex-teammates.
In a game that George Steinbrenner had wanted to attend, the Yankees held their Annual Old-Timers Game on Saturday. I have heard so many ex-player quotes about how well the Yankees and George in particular had treated the former Yankee players. I hope the Steinbrenner Family keeps up the tradition with the same conviction and passion that George did. I was saddened to hear that in addition to Steinbrenner, the Old-Timers Game was missing Yogi Berra who was hurt in a fall at his home. The game is definitely not the same without #8 on the field so I look forward to his return next year. For this year’s game, the Yankees celebrated the 1950 World Champions. Like last year’s champions, the 1950 club defeated the Philadelphia Phillies to claim the championship.
Zach Ornitz/The Star Ledger
It is tough to see George Steinbrenner go, but it is time to move on. I look forward to the leadership of Hal Steinbrenner, and the rest of the Steinbrenner children, and I hope they share their father’s passion and commitment to the success of the New York Yankees.
The New York Times
It simply could not have been better scripted…
On a night when the Yankees paid tribute to owner George Steinbrenner and long-time public address announcer Bob Sheppard, Aura and Mystique were on full display as the Yankees rallied for a thrilling 5-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.
Uli Seit/The New York Times
There is no doubt that somewhere high above, the Boss was smiling. This game had it all…drama, intensity, great pitching and clutch hitting. It was complete with one of A.J. Burnett’s pies at the end as Nick Swisher’s single drove home the winning run in the bottom of the 9th inning.
Sipkin/NY Daily News
Swish, who just missed a home run in the bottom of the 5th, had tied the game in the 8th with his 16th home run of the season. He also had a run-scoring single in the 3rd and is my easy choice for player of the game.
Tampa Bay starter James Shields was very effective early. Aside from Swisher’s RBI single, the Yankees could not mount an offensive threat against Shields until later in the game. When B.J. Upton caught Swisher’s fly ball at the top of the fence in the 5th, Shields was still in the 80’s in his pitch count. It looked like he’d be able to coast through the 7th before turning over the game to the duo of Joaquin Benoit and Rafael Soriano. Fortunately, Swisher’s near home run was a sign of things to come as Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada had back-to-back homers the next inning.
The Rays temporarily recaptured the lead in the 7th, 5-4, before Swisher’s tying home run.
In the 9th inning, after Mariano Rivera had retired the Rays in the top of the frame, leadoff batter Curtis Granderson reached on a line-drive single. He was followed by Brett Gardner, who walked after a lengthy at bat. It brought Derek Jeter to the plate, and I really hoped that it would be DJ to deliver the game-winning hit after his pre-game tribute. Unfortunately, he struck out. With one out and two on, Swisher came to the plate and promptly delivered his game-winning hit. I immediately envisioned George Steinbrenner standing to applaud the thrilling win. The day simply could not have had a better beginning, middle and end. This one was clearly for the Boss…
John Munson/The Star Ledger
It was hard not to think back to August 6, 1979 when the Yankees faced the Baltimore Orioles after attending Thurman Munson’s funeral earlier in the day. The game was highlighted by a dramatic three-run, bottom of the 9th, home run by the late Bobby Murcer, as the Yankees won by the same score as tonight, 5-4. I can’t say that tonight’s game had the same numbness I felt after Thurman’s death, but the impact was just the same.
I realize that Hal Steinbrenner has been running the Yankees for several years, however, the Hal Steinbrenner Era is officially underway, and he is off to an undefeated start. His father would be very proud…
This was George Steinbrenner’s Night, and it was Bob Sheppard’s Night. They will be forever engrained into the fabric of Yankee Stadium, and are now part of the Aura and Mystique. Goodnight, Gentleman, we will miss you…
John Munson/The Star Ledger