I wonder if Mike Mussina can still pitch…
It’s still early in May but the Yankees have only two remaining starters in the pitching rotation from the Opening Day roster. With the placement of CC Sabathia (knee) on the DL, the two Japanese starters, Hiroki Kuroda and Masahiro Tanaka, are the only remaining starters with Ivan Nova (elbow/Tommy John surgery) and Michael Pineda (back) already on the DL. This means the remainder of the rotation after Kuroda and Tanaka, are David Phelps, Vidal Nuno and perhaps Chase Whitley or Alfredo Aceves. That’s not exactly a rotation that strikes fear in the heart of opposing batters.
The Yankees are so very fortunate that they won the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes in the off-season. I’d hate to think where this rotation would be without Tanaka. Or the team for that matter.
The Yankees will need to do something to address the starting rotation. Nova is gone for the year, and Sabathia is still showing difficulty in adjusting to the latter stages of his pitching career. I am really not sure what to expect when Pineda comes back and Kuroda has not shown consistent dominance since early last year.
But with the July trading deadline still over two months away, there are simply no quality options available. Well, at least not at more reasonable prices. Hopefully, someone among the Phelps, Nuno, Whitley et al group step up to show that they belong in The Show. The Yankees need a new starter next year to replace Kuroda, who, more than likely, will retire or return to play in Japan. Rather than vastly overpay for an upcoming free agent, it would be preferable for a young starter in the organization to step up and take his spot (obviously).
Passing the torch…
With Stephen Drew still available and the June draft upcoming, the rumors are picking up again that Drew would be a great fit for the Yankees. I do not disagree. No disrespect for Derek Jeter but he simply is not the player he was once. He will not ride to the sunset like Mariano Rivera at the top of his game. It’s unfortunate, but age has a funny way of doing that to the best of us. I have felt that Drew would be a very solid addition since spring training and better than adding Brian Roberts or Kelly Johnson. I know it would cost a draft pick, but the Yankees should pull the trigger now and sign Drew rather than wait until the competition is much stronger once Drew no longer has compensation tied to his signing following the player draft.
Brendan Ryan is a great fielder at shortstop but this team needs quality, clutch bats and Drew would be perhaps the best option for production among the middle infielders if signed.
The quarterback who wears gloves picked the right city…
As a Minnesota Vikings fan, I bought into the hype of Johnny Manziel. After experiencing life as a fan of Donnie Baseball, it was appealing to think of my favorite football team being led by Johnny Football. When the Vikings were on the clock at #8 and Manziel was still available, I was hopeful, along with many other Vikings fans apparently, that the team would call his team. But instead, the Vikings swapped places with the Cleveland Browns at #9, and took a defensive player (Anthony Barr). While I recognize the team needed defensive help, particularly the linebackers and defensive backfield, but the team needs a true leader. I had been hopeful Christian Ponder would be the guy but it has never worked out. Perhaps offensive coordinator Norv Turner can pull something out of Ponder but in many ways it is too late. Matt Cassell will be the starter in 2014 barring injury, so it was a given the Vikings would take a QB in the draft.
After failing to trade up to #22 (the Philadelphia Eagles accepted a better offer from the Cleveland Browns who then took Johnny Football), the Vikings traded back up into the first round (last pick at #32) with the Seattle Seahawks and grabbed the guy who was number one on many top QB lists, Teddy Bridgewater. So, while I was disappointed the Vikings didn’t get Manziel, it is certainly not difficult to be excited about the potential of Bridgewater. He’ll have great weapons with Adrian Peterson, Cordarelle Patterson, Kyle Rudolph, Greg Jennings and others. Ponder now becomes an afterthought, unless he is somehow able to find his way back into the starter’s role before Bridgewater takes the position for good.
Happy Mother’s Day!
The Boston Massacre or the Bronx Massacre?…
Since the games are being held in the Bronx, I suppose the Boston Red Sox kill of any Yankee play-off aspirations should be called the Bronx Massacre. Unfortunately, the high hopes coming off the sweep of the Chicago White Sox were dashed as the Sox are definitely now on the other foot.
Thursday’s game was disappointing as the Yankees launched a valiant rally only to lose a game they were within one strike of winning. The defeat came with none other than the legendary Mariano Rivera on the mound. Friday night, it was the Yankees who built the large early lead, but the Red Sox stormed back and thrashed the Yankees. Although Boone Logan gave up the key grand slam, I blame Phil Hughes for changing the momentum of the game. Today’s game (Saturday) is still underway but the team is getting royally throttled at the moment (12-3 in the 5th inning). The Yankee pitching staff has not shown the ability to get Red Sox hitters out during this series so I have no reason to expect the team to rally from the latest hole (either today’s game or the season). If they lose today’s game as expected, they’ll be 11 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East standings. The races for the Wild Card spots are still within reach but the Yankees aren’t playing like a team that wants to win. They still have one more series against the Red Sox (in Boston) and if they can’t beat the Sox in the Bronx, they certainly are not going to win in Beantown.
This has been a very weird season as a Yankees fan. The team did nothing to improve upon last year’s squad and simply filled key roles with bargain basement replacements. Alfonso Soriano is the only quality acquisition, but he is an aging player with a large salary. It’s not exactly like it was a brilliant acquisition for GM Brian Cashman. The Chicago Cubs were glad to part with Soriano even if they are still picking up a large part of his compensation. I’ve been reading many articles that talk about the great managing job Joe Girardi has done this season, but no one is saying the same about Cashman. The unknown variable is that we do not know the restraints he is under from Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner. If you are under standing orders that you cannot increase salary, it’s not exactly like you are going to go out and land a Giancarlo Stanton or Cliff Lee. But it’s odd watching the Pittsburgh Pirates being more aggressive in the addition of reinforcements (i.e., Justin Morneau, Marlon Byrd and John Buck) than the Yankees. A few key “stronger” players here or there could have meant the difference in the current Wild Card standings and the Yankees wouldn’t be on the outside looking in.
The only guarantee is that there will be changes in the off-season. At this point, I have to believe that the departure of Cashman is a possibility. I do not expect Joe Girardi to be going anywhere but this team will look radically different, particularly if the Yankees do not re-sign impending free agent Robinson Cano. I am not sure what to expect with the 2014 Yankees. I don’t know if optimism will be part of the equation and if we will be looking at another “patched-together” squad of expensive, deteriorating older players and cheap free agent acquisitions of players released from their current clubs. The Yankees need to get younger but is this going to take a season or two, or years. The decisions being made by Hal Steinbrenner will impact the Yankees for years to come. Time will tell if he is making very astute and winning decisions to set up future success, or if he is ensuring that this time period will be the 1980’s re-visited.
If somehow the Yankees manage to salvage the 2013 season and grabbed a Wild Card spot, I seriously doubt they’d be able to do anything with it. Hopefully, the Steinbrenner family is able to do something to return optimism to the Bronx in the not-so-distant future.
Pondering the Quarterback situation…
As a long-suffering Minnesota Vikings fan, the hope is that this is the year QB Christian Ponder “figures it out”. He is a talented and intelligent guy, and there’s no reason for him not to become the answer for the Vikings if he chooses to be. How many guys would like to have Adrian Peterson in the backfield, Greg Jennings out wide, and Kyle Rudolph at tight end? Ponder has the weapons and he has the physical tools to succeed. It is all up to him. If the Vikings have to make the move to replace Ponder with backup Matt Cassel, then the team is sunk.
Last year was a pleasant surprise but it will be more challenging this year with the more difficult schedule. I do wish that Adrian Peterson would let go of the dream to reach 2,500 rushing yards in a season. I would not want to see him at such risk for injury nor would I want an individual goal to become superior to the team’s goals.
The Vikings start the season against the Detroit Lions, a team that knows a thing or two about having huge offensive weapons. The young Vikings secondary will have to show that they are ready for the big time as it doesn’t get any easier in the coming weeks. It’s too bad that, so far, the team hasn’t been able to get former starter Antoine Winfield to come out of retirement. Josh Robinson is fast, but we’ll see if he can keep up with Megatron…
Hockey’s around the corner…
Soon, the San Jose Sharks will join the Minnesota Vikings as “distractions” for me during this disappointing MLB campaign. I am looking forward to a full season of NHL Hockey rather than last year’s strike-shortened version. I am still having a tough time thinking of the HP Pavilion or “Shark Tank” as the SAP Center. While it is called S-A-P and not the word “sap”, how long before the latter becomes the norm if the team fails to succeed?
Where are you, Optimism? I miss you… 😉
Wells, that was not quite the answer I was looking for…
I have never been a big fan of Los Angeles Angels outfielder Vernon Wells, and was one of many who quietly laughed when the Angels took his financial albatross of a contract off the hands of the Toronto Blue Jays. But I guess it is apparently better to have the last laugh and that would not be me. The move allowed the Blue Jays to re-group to the point that they now have arguably the best team in the American League East. And, as health would have it (or lack there of), the Yankees find they have the need to take what’s left of Wells off the Angels hand so that they can pay those hefty contracts belonging to Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. Granted, the Angels will be paying most of the freight to bring Wells to the Bronx (assuming the deal goes through as expected), but he has been the Crown Prince of Disappointment for so many years. Yes, he’s had a good spring, but so have a lot of guys who didn’t amount to a hill of beans in the big leagues.
At first I heard that the Yankees would be paying less than $10 million on the Wells contract which has $42 million more to go until it expires following the 2014. But the latest word has the Yankees paying up to $13 million which means it will probably be more like $15 million or more when the deal is finally announced.
With the opening day absences of Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark Teixeira, the Yankees need proven production in the lineup. Robinson Cano is only one man. There’s question marks at every turn, but the likelihood of Curtis Granderson’s return is far better than Mark Teixeira (who some say could miss the season). This means I would have preferred to see the Yankees allocate resources toward an alternative first baseman. The prospect of outfielder Juan Rivera playing first on a full or part-time basis is just not very satisfying for me.
But speaking of first base, the only talk I hear is the potential acquisition of first baseman Lyle Overbay from the Boston Red Sox. Overbay can opt out of his deal this week and that would put him at the forefront of Yankees’ attention.
None of these acquisitions will give anyone illusions of a championship.
At some point, the Yankees are going to have to just blow it up and start over…
This is the time of hard cuts. I saw today that the Cleveland Indians cut Daisuke Matsuzaka. Okay, I don’t consider that a hard cut, but there will be notable names mentioned in the coming days. It is hard to believe that the Yankees will be powering up Yankee Stadium just one short week from tomorrow. As for the Yankees, I remain hopeful that both Ben Francisco and Brennan Boesch will travel north with the club despite the apparent acquisition of Vernon Wells. While I’ve been pulling for Boesch, I have to say that Francisco has played well enough to start at least as part of a platoon. I seriously doubt that Travis Hafner and Kevin Youkilis will make it through the season injury-free so at some point, Wells will probably start to take the majority of the at-bats at DH.
I guess there should be plenty of drama this week as MLB teams shape up their opening day rosters.
It’s just a number…
As a Minnesota Vikings fan, I am still trying to wrap my head around Greg Jennings playing for the Vikings. After Darren Sharper, Ryan Longwell, and Brett Favre, I should be used to this. Jennings may not have the athleticism of departed slot receiver Percy Harvin, but if healthy, he is a weapon. It’s interesting that he selected #15. I can’t say that I can remember another Viking who wore the number although I am sure a few have. Of course, #15 for me is always going to be Thurman Munson but that’s a different sport. Greg Childs currently holds Jennings’ Packer number, #85. After missing his first season due to injury, I can’t say that his grasp on #85 is very strong. Perhaps Jennings is just biding his time until he can retrieve #85. Childs’ childhood friend and lifelong teammate, Jarius Wright, is clearly the favorite to fill Harvin’s role.
Part of me wants the Vikings to sign former Chicago Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, but of course, the sensible part of me only wants guys that can be part of the future as the door is starting to open for the Vikings again as a play-off contender. I would like to see the Vikings to find a way to bring Antoine Winfield back to purple and gold. I have faith in the younger guys and GM Rick Spielman has shown that he knows a thing or two about the NFL Draft so I am sure the secondary will be addressed next month. I am anxious to see what Josh Robinson is capable of, but it would be nice to have Winfield to help the transition.
I like the job that Leslie Frazier has done with the Vikings and I am hopeful that it will lead to a long-term contract.
Next month is a big sports month. Opening day in Major League Baseball and the NFL Draft. It should be a very fun time. And for my friends in the East and Midwest, it should mean a little less snow…