I am not quite sure what was reaction was when I heard that San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera had been suspended for 50 games due to substance abuse. As a former Yankee, I watched his career as it went through Atlanta and Kansas City before his arrival in the City by the Bay. The year in Atlanta was forgettable, but Melky rebounded in Kansas City and continued his renaissance in San Francisco. The highlight of the year for him was capped with the MVP Award for the All-Star Game.
When Melky was a Yankee, he was often in the mix for game-winning hits and the recipient of one of A.J. Burnett’s pies. It was tough to see him go to Atlanta in the ill-fated trade for Javier Vazquez but I had hoped that he would have a chance to thrive outside of Yankee Stadium and the platoon situation he found himself in. Even with his recent success, I still feel that Brett Gardner, when healthy, is a better fit for the Yankees. Nevertheless, I was glad to see that Melky had found major league success as a regular.
Well, until the day it was announced that he had been suspended. I lost most if not all respect that day. Melky’s quick acceptance of his suspension only rubbed salt in the wound, and now there’s a report that he staged a bogus website in a botched attempt to mask his guilt. I can gladly say that I am glad that Melky is not a Yankee today. I would not want him on my team and if I was the Giants’ GM Brian Sabean, I’d cut my losses and move on. The last thing the Giants need is a player with the aura of substance abuse, particularly on the heels of former Giants outfielder Barry Bonds. Character should be the first criteria when determining if a player is a good fit for any organization. Yes, athletic ability and talent rank very highly but it means nothing if the player is one of poor character.
News of the totally irrelevant…
Speaking of substance abuse, it’s ironic that another former Yankee is again in the news. There were reports that Roger Clemens has signed with an independent team. Seriously? A 50-year-old pitcher trying to make a comeback? The only guy who could make Jamie Moyer look like a teenager? I don’t care if Clemens was acquitted in June. He is one guy that I never want to see wear pinstripes again or ever set foot on Yankee Stadium soil.
I have been supportive of current Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte. There was something very honest about Pettitte’s admission of substance abuse a few years back. Maybe he has all of us fooled. Maybe not. I tend to believe the latter. On the other hand, I don’t believe anything Roger Clemens has to say. Nor do I believe Alex Rodriguez for that matter. I tolerate Rodriguez because he is on the Yankees but I am not a fan of his.
I’d like to put Melky in the category of guys that should be forgiven, but he just strikes me as another Clemens or A-Rod at this point. It is incredible that a guy, at this point in time, would risk millions by doing something that is so closely watched. He was on the fast track for failure. I doubt we’ve seen the last of Melky but I hope that he learns something from the time off.
I was a Yankee for two months…
I know that the Ichiro in Pinstripes Era is very short-lived and will be expiring at the end of the season, but it was a joy to see him hit two home runs off Josh Beckett in the weekend series against the Red Sox. Although the Yankees only took two of three from the Sox, this is not the same Red Sox squad of years passed. Although Bobby Valentine has gotten a vote of confidence from the Front Office, I don’t see how he makes it past just one season in Boston. It is no secret the Sox covet Toronto Blue Jays manager John Farrell so if there’s a way to pry him from Canada, I am sure that he will be immediately named the next manager of the Sox.
How did I go from Ichiro to John Farrell? I am not quite sure about that one myself…
Where did all these former Dodgers come from?…
It’s only a brief sample, but I really wouldn’t mind seeing Derek Lowe return as the long man in the pen next season. I’ve always admired Lowe’s competitiveness and determination. It’s still a bit weird watching him in pinstripes, but he is a welcome addition. There’s no doubt that I want to see the return of pitcher Hiroki Kuroda. He’s been even better than I had anticipated. I always wondered why Dodger fans were so endeared to him as I had viewed him as a middle of the road starter. But, wow, I was wrong! I totally get why he meant so much to Dodger fans. The team would be lost without Kuroda, particularly after the DL stints of most notably CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte.
It’s hard to believe that September is right around the corner. I guess we will soon be inundated with magic numbers. There is only one number I am concerned about…#28. Let’s go, Yankees!
Sayonara, old friends…
This was a sad week for former Yankees stars as Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon were designated for assignment by their respective teams (Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Indians). Matsui has subsequently been released and Damon’s release is imminent. I doubt that either player will be picked up at this point in the season so it is most likely the sunset of both careers.
For Matsui, I think his original plan was to only play in the United States for three years but I am grateful that he extended his stay. He may not have been the “monster” player that he was in Japan (a/k/a Godzilla), but he knew and understood the power of the timely hit. Time and again, Matsui had a key hit to propel the Yanks to victory. He always seemed to rise to the occasion in the intense Boston-New York wars. In terms of character, he could easily stand in the same room with guys like Derek Jeter.
It hasn’t been fun watching Matsui wear Angels, A’s, and Rays jerseys, but he will always be Yankee.
As for Damon, it is ironic that a player who played such a key role in the Red Sox breaking ‘The Curse of the Bambino’, plus the entire Caveman image, could become a valued Yankee. Unlike Matsui, I won’t view Damon as a “Yankee” given his long tenure and success with other teams, but for his time in New York, he showed nothing but class and dignity. Like Matsui, he was a clutch player who seemed to excel in the bright lights.
Introducing Billy Beane’s latest star pitcher…
With the apparent end of two great careers this week, I saw the opposite on a plane trip from Portland, OR to Oakland on Thursday. The guy I was sitting next to was excited to be flying to Oakland to see his son, Dan Straily, make his major league pitching debut for the A’s on Friday night. He was proud to say that his son led all of baseball in strikeouts, and talked about the hard work his son had accomplished to get to this point. For the game, Straily didn’t figure in the decision, but his performance was a success:
The A’s won the game, 5-4, in 15 innings. I am sure that we’ve not seen the last of Mr. Straily. Here’s hoping this is the start of a long and memorable career for Straily, his father and the rest of their family.
When in doubt, pick up a Pirate…
While the trading deadline was very active compared to recent years, it was another quiet period for the Yankees. As the now fiscally conservative Yankees had been preaching, they did not make any moves for expensive, short-term rentals. They picked up a need (third baseman Casey McGehee) to ensure that backup third baseman Eric Chavez is not over exposed to playing time while starter Alex Rodriguez is on the DL. It’s a shame that Chavez is such an injury risk at this stage of his career, but I agree that it is best to limit his playing time for the good of his long-term health.
I thought the Yanks might try to make a move for a pitcher (someone like Ryan Dempster or Matt Garza) but it was clear that they would not overpay. Time will tell if they made the right decisions, but I still have concerns about the team’s offense in the play-offs when every pitcher they face will be a #1 or #2 starter. But September should see the return of top pitcher Andy Pettitte and a fresh Alex Rodriguez so perhaps those will be the team’s noteworthy “acquisitions” that boost team momentum.
Magic seems to be enjoying his new hobby…
The Los Angeles Dodgers have clearly re-emerged as a force in baseball with the new ownership group as they were the most active team in acquiring upgrades over the past couple of weeks (Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino and Joe Blanton). I guess they’ve gotten over the reign of Frank McCourt and have shown that they are back in the game. The San Francisco Giants are a strong team, but I think the Dodgers’ moves will help propel them past the Giants to the NL West pennant. Good for Dodgers manager Don Mattingly who remains one of my favorite guys in Major League Baseball.
Nothing but crickets…
I was surprised the Boston Red Sox didn’t make any moves. If there was a team that I had expected to make noise at the trading deadline, it was the Sox. I don’t think they should give up quality guys like Jacoby Ellsbury or Jon Lester, but there were moves they could have made to give the team a jolt. I may not be a fan of the Red Sox so I might be biased in making this comment, but I hope that this is a ‘one and done’ season for Boston manager Bobby Valentine.
We’ve moved into August and the Yankees hold a 6 ½ game advantage at the moment, but admittedly, it’s hard to get comfortable when that team in the rear view mirror is the Tampa Bay Rays. The next couple of months should be interesting. Let’s win this thing!…
Uneven start to the 2012 season…
I guess the season opening series sweep by the Tampa Bay Rays set the tone, but this has been a hot and cold season thus far. The New York Yankees followed the Rays series with their own sweep of the Baltimore Orioles, but they’ve struggled against the Minnesota Twins in the Bronx. Given how the Yankees have owned the Twins in recent years and the fact the Twins were a 99 loss team last year with no notable improvements, it seems odd that the Yankees are fighting to salvage the fourth game of the series with the Twins and at least earn a split.
Now you see him, now you don’t…
I was excited last week when Hiroki Kuroda pitched a gem, but after getting pounded by the Twins yesterday , he’s had more bad starts than good. It’s only three starts in, and I am sure that Kuroda will not be A.J. Burnett Revisited, but I’d prefer the ratio of good starts to bad to be reversed. I can’t imagine what it would be like to change leagues, especially for a foreign player. There is a difference in pitching in the AL versus the NL, and it would seem, to a novice like me, that it would be more enjoyable to pitch in the National League given the lack of a DH.
Odd men out…
As it stands right now, I think that both Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia are pitching their way out of the rotation to make way for the eventual returns of Andy Pettitte and Michael Pineda. I expect Hughes to be moved to the bullpen, but I am not sure what will happen with Garcia. I don’t really see him going to the pen if Hughes goes there, and of course, he’s not going to the minor leagues. Best case scenario is a trade to bring in a player with potential. It obviously wouldn’t be a high ranked prospect, but rather something of a gamble with upside.
What have you done for me lately…
I feel bad for Francisco Cervelli sitting in AAA simply because he had options, but I have to say that I was impressed when no-hit back up catcher Chris Stewart had 3 RBI’s the other night. Stewart is clearly on the roster because of his defense but his bat has never scared anybody. It still won’t, but it’s always good to mix in a hit or two.
I didn’t watch the game but the match-up of Cliff Lee and Matt Cain last night in San Francisco was stellar. I was going to say that the game featured two of my favorite pitchers, but I am still a bit miffed at Cliff Lee for his rejection of the Yankees a couple of seasons back. Tim Lincecum gets the press in San Francisco, but I’ve always appreciated Matt Cain. If I owned a baseball team, he would be one of the guys that I’d target for acquisition. I’ve always admired his competitiveness. The marquee match-up didn’t disappoint as Cain went 9 innings, allowing no runs, and Lee went an almost unheard of 10 innings. Neither pitcher gave up a run. A more startling statistic is that Lee only threw 102 pitches and Cain 91. Neither pitcher figured in the outcome as the San Francisco Giants defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 1-0 in 11 innings. But there is no doubt that was the season’s prime pitching duel so far. Kind of makes me wish that I had been sitting in AT&T Park last night.
The Grandy Man can…
As I am sitting here typing this blog, Curtis Granderson has hit three home runs in the first four innings of tonight’s game against the Twins. Yes, I think Grandy has settled into the Bronx. As the song goes, with a slight variation, the Grandy Man can ‘cuz he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good. Yes, he does. I remember being disappointed that the Yankees gave up Austin Jackson, Ian Kennedy and Phil Coke for Granderson, but even though Kennedy has prospered in the Sonoran Desert, I am glad the trade was made. Grandy is a class act and probably the closest to Derek Jeter in terms of quality of character.
Will Los Angeles continue to take the best of Minnesota?…
As a resident of Minneapolis and a lifelong fan of the Minnesota Vikings, I am very disappointed in the recent chain of events in the Vikings’ efforts to secure a new stadium. A state legislative committee nixed the Vikings’ plan and it is looking like the subject will be tabled until 2013. The Minnesota legislature goes on break in a week so they are running out of time to take action with the stadium issue. There hasn’t been any threats of relocation but they are starting to rumble to the surface. The Vikings have passed the lease expiration of the Metrodome, so relocation is a genuine threat. Based on reports, the Vikings will not tolerate delay until 2013 so this situation is critical. I heard today that the NFL is coming to Minnesota in an effort to break the impasse. But the odds of the Los Angeles Vikings becoming a reality have to be increasing. This is very disappointing. For me, I am not a native Minnesotan, so I’ll stay with the Vikings regardless of what happens, but they belong in Minnesota. You would think that the city of Minneapolis would have learned something with the Lakers…
Well, what would we do if sports weren’t available to frustrate us?…
Something wicked this way comes…
The stage was set for a masterful start to what could be the final season for Hall of Famer-to-be Mariano Rivera, but it was not meant to be. Called on to protect a 6-5 Yankees lead in the bottom of the 9th at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, the Rays rallied against Mo to win the game, 7-6. Control was the main culprit, but Mo will just shake this one off, and will be prepared to take the mound again tomorrow if called upon.
I had an uneasy feeling with the slim lead heading into the latter stages of the game. David Robertson successfully navigated out of a self-created jam in the 8th inning and it did feel as though momentum was on the Yankees’ side. But after the teams combined for 11 runs in the first three innings, the Yankee bats went silent and the crucial hits, when needed, later in the game never came.
It’s interesting that both the Yankees and Red Sox lost their season openers due to bullpen failures. But at least the Red Sox can say that they had an unproven closer (Alfredo Aceves) in the game. Aceves has a bit of catching up to do to accumulate as many saves as Mo has. Still, it’s just one game, and last time I checked, there were still 161 more to go. I am anxious to see what new Yankee pitcher Hiroki Kuroda can do tomorrow.
Just not quite enough room…
I knew that there was no room for outfielder Justin Maxwell, but it was still disappointing when he was designated for assignment. Maxwell had a good spring, but he has the misfortune of playing for a team that boasts the likes of Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez in reserve outfield roles.
Now you see him, now you don’t…
The biggest surprise of the final roster breaking spring training was the demotion of backup catcher Francisco Cervelli, who was optioned to AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre. In a trade that sent reliever George Kontos to the San Francisco Giants, the Yankees re-acquired defensive catcher Chris Stewart. Stewart will never make anybody forget Cervelli’s bat, but Francisco was a victim of circumstance. Of the two catchers, he was the only one who still had options. The need for Stewart was created by the injured Austin Romine. I understand Cervelli’s frustration and disappointment with the move, but hopefully, he’ll get his head right and take advantage of starting in the minors until the inevitable call comes to bring him back to the Bronx.
Ah, the first time!…
Congratulations to pitcher David Phelps for being named the team’s long reliever. It’s always great to see young players excited when they make a major league roster for the first time. Hopefully it is the start of a long and productive career for Phelps.
Well, today’s loss was no fun, but time to move on. Let’s go Yankees, let’s go Kuroda! Game 2, bring it on!
Joe says it so it must be true!…
So now even manager Joe Girardi is expressing interest in a left-handed bat! Joe’s joined the club of us overly intelligent, know-more-than-Brian Cashman fans! LOL! Just kidding. But it is interesting to see a key Yankee figure express the need for additional help. With free agents Raul Ibanez (wow, I almost typed Mondesi!), Hideki Matsui, and Johnny Damon lurking on the sidelines, GM Brian Cashman recently indicated the Yankees would pursue help via trade.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Obviously, the Yankees need to unload a pitcher. With three starters vying for the #5 spot in the rotation (Freddy Garcia, A.J. Burnett, and Phil Hughes), it’s clear that this is going to end badly for one or two pitchers. All things considered, I think you have to put Phil Hughes in the rotation. The Yankees HAVE to prove that 2010 was not a fluke (or not). Plus, Hiroki Kuroda, at 37, is not destined to be a long-term Yankee. Sure, the Yanks could go hard after Cole Hamels or Matt Cain as a replacement following the 2012 season but I still subscribe to the ‘dance with the one who brung ya’ theory. Well, at least until he proves us wrong. I know, the leash is overly long, but Hughes is still young, and he can still be a force in the rotation. He’d certainly be cheaper than either Hamels or Cain in the foreseeable future.
So, where does that leave Burnett and Garcia? I think Garcia is the best option to plant in the bullpen as the long man and #6 starter in the event of injury in the rotation…at least until Dellin Betances and/or Manny Banuelos are ready later in the year. This means shipping Burnett and lots of money to another team is probably best case scenario. Trading Hughes would be foolish since the return, following his poor 2011 season, would be under market value. Plus, Hughes has more long-term value to the team than Burnett. There’s no way the Yankees re-sign Burnett at the expiration of his contract. He’ll see the same door as Jason Giambi with a slight push from behind.
But, and that’s a big but, what does Burnett bring in trade? He is not going to bring a young slugger, that’s for sure. More than likely, it would only be someone else’s albatross, ala Alfonso Soriano. I still think one of the available free agents is the best option for the left-handed bat, but I am sure whatever move Cashman makes will be the best one for the organization.
Wanted: Someone who’s butt can withstand splinters…
As for the additional infield bench support to accompany Eduardo Nunez, I still would really like to see the return of Eric Chavez even though Bill Hall’s name has been mentioned more frequently as of late.
“Buck, we really need to be the focus of the tabloids”…
I have to admit that I am surprised to see the teams mentioned as possibilities for Manny Ramirez. No, I don’t want Man-Ram calling 161st and River home, but the teams mentioned…Oakland A’s, Baltimore Orioles, and Toronto Blue Jays…seem like odd fits for a guy that has to spend 50 games on the suspended list. With the emphasis on youth in Oakland and Baltimore, I’d question whether having Manny on the team is worth it in terms of the negative impact he can have. Younger players are far more impressionable, and no team, even the Blue Jays, need a distraction. Maybe Manny can still swing it. I acknowledge that he was once the most feared hitter in the AL, but I don’t think he’ll ever be close to the hitter he once was. Age sucks, but it happens to us all…
A funny thing happened to the Phillies on their way to the World Series…
Edwin Jackson to the Washington Nationals on a one-year deal was a good move for the Nats. Outside of the New York Mets, the NL East is a scary division. Yeah, the Philadelphia Phillies have the Big 3 (Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels), but there are too many other question marks to make them the clear favorite. I don’t think the Miami Marlins will win the division but they’ll make noise. The Braves, the Nats. That’s a tough division. Then, there’s the Mets…
With a New York-Boston Super Bowl upon us, it’s weird that I, as a Yankees fan, find myself on the Boston side of the battle. That seems so wrong on so many levels. But it is what it is…go Patriots!
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…
It was great to see Mark Sipkin/NY Daily News So far, I really like what I Speaking of A.J., he goes What a great game for Curtis So, Cliff Lee pitches Although I am pulling for –Scott
Teixeira homer in the Yankees’ Opening Day win against the Detroit Tigers. Hopefully, it is a sign that we won’t see the
April freeze this year with Tex. He has
worked hard to try and overcome his history of slow starts.
have seen of catcher Russell Martin. He
seems to have captured the respect of the pitching staff in a very short period
of time. For as much as I feel pitching
coach Larry Rothschild will have a positive impact on A.J. Burnett, I cannot
underestimate what Martin will do for him also.
I don’t know why the relationship between Burnett and Posada was never
an easy one, but it would be a terrific boon for the team should Burnett and
Martin click together.
today against the Tigers so we’ll soon see…
Granderson on Thursday! He homered and
came up with a few defensive gems that made the highlight reels. Last year, I had started to regret the trade
that sent Austin Jackson and Phil Coke to Detroit for Granderson, with Ian
Kennedy going to Arizona. But late in
the season, with a few adjustments, Curtis started to show us the player he
could be. Some players take time to
adjust to New York, while others can slide right in (like Nick Swisher). Granderson is probably more in the former
category, especially given the high expectations of the multi-player
tonight in Philadelphia against Wandy Rodriguez and the Houston Astros. If he had joined the Yankees, he’d be
starting today against the Tigers. It’ll
be hard not to wonder ‘what could have been’ this year when Lee starts. That feeling will probably be present until
the Yankees can make a move to acquire another top flight pitcher. I do know that I’ll be cheering for the
Don Mattingly and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League, it was
horrible to hear about the Dodger fans that beat up the Giants fan in the
parking lot of Dodger Stadium after the season opener. Obviously, the violence is not condoned by
the Dodgers, and Mattingly said it was crossing the line. I know that I am always cautious about
wearing a Yankees hat in certain cities.
For example, if I went to Fenway Park, I would not take any Yankees gear. But that is a sad statement that you cannot openly
support your team without concern for your health and safety.
It was great to see Mark
Sipkin/NY Daily News
So far, I really like what I
Speaking of A.J., he goes
What a great game for Curtis
So, Cliff Lee pitches
Although I am pulling for