After some thought, I’ve come around…
Now that I’ve had time to digest the Friday night whirlwind that brought pitchers Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda to the Bronx, my initial disappointment was evaporated. Don’t get me wrong, I love the power potential of Jesus Montero, and I know full well that he’ll be as devastating against the Yankees as Jay Buhner was if not more. But I recognize that from a position of need, a top of the rotation starter is better than a player without a position.
Ever since I first heard Jesus Montero’s name, it always included a statement that he’d eventually have to find a new position because he would outgrow catcher. The obvious moves would be to either first base or left field, but last time I checked, both of those positions were occupied by long-term tenants. Putting an offensive juggernaut at DH is great for offense but it does nothing to help with the defensive aspects of catching or learning a new position. With Russell Martin in the fold for the foreseeable future, there was no way that Montero would gain the starting position at catcher. Martin’s ability to handle the pitching staff is simply too important to the team even if his bat is nothing remotely close to Montero.
With Montero, I was always worried about the other young Yankee catchers. Of course, there’s Francisco Cervelli on the active roster. If Montero were to take the backup catching job, where would that leave Cervelli? Most likely playing for the Twins, backing up oft-injured Joe Mauer or someone like that. I like the defensive reports that I’ve heard about both Austin Romine and Gary Sanchez, but if their path was clogged by Martin and Montero, where did that leave them? Sanchez needs more time in the minors, but Romine is nearing major league ready status. With an injury or two, I fully expect him to get his chance to make an impression at Yankee Stadium in 2012. The trade of Montero ensures that Romine will get his major league opportunity with the Yankees so that’s a good thing. He doesn’t have Montero’s bat (who does?) but good defense is essential for championships.
Maybe just tell us who the Yankees haven’t talked to…
As for the DH slot, it seems like the Yankees have expressed interest in about everyone. There have been reports they’ve spoken to the agents for Carlos Pena, Johnny Damon, and Hideki Matsui. There are pros and cons with all three players, but whoever the Yankees bring on board will have to share time at DH with Alex Rodriguez, Andruw Jones, and Derek Jeter so I’d be okay with any of the three. I’ve always liked the clutch bats of Damon and Matsui, and the swing for the fences power of Pena is nice even if the average is hovering slightly above the Mendoza line. With all the reports that the Yankees only have a $1 million or two to spend on a DH, I half expect a report that they’ve talked to Reggie Jackson! Okay, that might be a stretch, but I’d consider letting ‘all or nothing’ slugger Jorge Vazquez. He does deserve a shot. If not, the Yanks should cut him loose and let him pursue a team that will.
If Jorge Posada had embraced the DH role last year, he’d be on his way back to the Bronx for an encore performance…
Upon second thought…
As for the pitching staff, my initial prediction about the rotation order was flawed. I recognize that Micheal Pineda is the clear #2 in the rotation. I’ve seen Ivan Nova slotted at #4, but I’d still keep him at #3 at least until he gives reason to drop him in the order. I think Kuroda is a great addition, but he has to adjust to the American League in the most difficult division, while moving from a pitcher’s ballpark to a park that is less forgiving. So, I’d give Nova time for pinstripes served and put him ahead of Kuroda. After the former Dodger, it’s anybody’s guess who will win out…Phil Hughes, my personal favorite; Freddy Garcia, probably the better choice among the pitchers in terms of consistency; and A.J. Burnett, the candidate for most likely to depart the Bronx if the Yanks can find a willing trade partner that wants Burnett…and a boatload of cash to pay that ridiculous salary. What happens if either Manny Banuelos or Dellin Betances pitches “lights out” in training camp? This is going to be an interesting battle.
He’s really a cousin of Alcides and Kelvim Escobar?…
Back to Friday night’s trade, I was a bit dismayed when I saw that pitcher Hector Noesi had been included in the trade. I kept hearing that his ceiling was the back end of the rotation but there was something that I liked about the pitcher. At first, I didn’t know anything about the “other” Mariner included in the deal, Jose Campos. But since the initial report of the trade, I’ve come to realize that he has great potential. At 19, he’s 6’4” and throws in the mid 90’s. He’ll more than make up for Noesi and fits a better timeline in terms of being major league ready given the high level pitching prospects already in the organization (Banuelos and Betances, for example). The Curtis Granderson trade has been labeled as a ‘win-win-win’ for all concerned. Hopefully, this M’s-Yankees trade will meet a similar fate.
What would I expect Bobby V to say?…
Contrary to what Bobby Valentine may think, the Yankees are a better team today than they were last Thursday. But, I recognize the Boston Red Sox are not done yet. They signed former Dodger pitcher Vicente Padilla today (a guy I loathe personally) and there’s rumors they could go after Roy Oswalt if they can move payroll. I still think Boston could be a player for Cubs starter Matt Garza given Theo Epstein’s knowledge of the Red Sox minor league prospects. Whether Ben Cherington or rather Larry Lucchino would trade with Epstein is another matter. Still, I think there are changes to be made on both the Yankees and Red Sox between now and training camp. Last year, I saw a Red Sox friend predict 118 or 119 wins for Boston. Teams look great on paper, but as they say, the ‘proof is in the pudding’!
Moneyball II, starring Jorge Garcia…
It’s hard to think of the Oakland A’s signing former Yankees starter Bartolo Colon as a low-cost, high reward “Moneyball” kind of move. At 39, I don’t think there’s really any upside to Colon at this point and in my opinion, he’s not capable of sustaining a full season of starts. I’d rather have Gio Gonzalez or Trevor Cahill in the rotation, but I guess since those are no longer options, they have to look at the scrap heap that served the Yankees so well last season.
Yes, I know the way to San Jose!…
Speaking of Oakland, I do hope they are successful in their desire to move to San Jose. As a former San Jose resident, I think it’s very exciting for the city and its metro area to be on the verge of landing both the A’s and the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, to go with the NHL’s Sharks. I saw that A’s owner bought the famed Hotel Sainte Claire in downtown San Jose. He already owns one hotel in San Jose so I guess you can’t read too much into it, but he’s definitely positioning himself for the growth and excitement that San Jose could see in the coming years. I’d be happy with a Stanley Cup Championship this year, but that’s a little off-topic…
I really don’t forsee another 99 losses when you place character first…
I was a little surprised to see the Minnesota Twins sign former Detroit Tigers flamethrower Joel Zumaya. He suffered his devastating arm injury at Target Field in 2010. So, in terms of Karma, you’d think that he’d avoid Target Field like the plague. But I read comments in this morning’s paper about how he was touched by the reception he received from the Twins fans as he left the field that fateful day. Stories like that certainly make me feel honored to be a Minneapolis resident, but I was still surprised by Zumaya’s decision. I wish him the best as he begins the Comeback Trail. Hopefully he can get back to the level he was before. For the Twins, with Joe Nathan in Texas and Matt Capps scheduled to close games, they need Zumaya as the pitcher he once was and hopefully will be again.
When it’s tough being the son of Donnie Baseball, come home to the Bronx!…
Before I go, I want to say that I am really hopeful that the Yankees organization proves to be a blessing for former Dodgers prospect Preston Mattingly. I’ve always heard what a great athlete he is/was when he was younger. I don’t know what happened through his time in the Dodgers and Indians organizations and I realize that he is getting a bit long in tooth for a prospect, but I really hope that he can find some level of success with the Yankees. It would be very cool to see Mattingly make a debut at Yankee Stadium at some point in the future. Who knows if it is in the cards, but being a late bloomer is not outside of the realm of possibility when it comes to someone with his bloodline.
It’s hard to believe that we are just a month away from training camp. I’m excited and looking forward to a great season.
Yeah, but at what price?…
I am bummed…
After years of trade rumors involving Yankees prospect Jesus Montero, I thought he was finally home free and slated to be a member of the 2012 Yankees unless a trade for the seemingly untouchable Felix Hernandez were to materialize. So, to hear tonight’s news that the Yankees have traded Montero to the Seattle Mariners is a shock since it did not involve the aforementioned King Felix.
I was perusing the MLB Trade Rumors tonight when I saw the blurb that the Mariners were close to acquiring an “young impact hitter”. Of course, there aren’t too many guys that fit that description and Montero is near or at the top of the list. I didn’t suspect a King Felix trade since there have been no signals that the Mariners are interested in trading him, so my immediate reaction was the fear of trading Montero for something else. My fear has been justified as the word has come the Yankees traded Montero and pitcher Hector Noesi, a potential candidate for the starting rotation, to Seattle for pitcher Michael Pineda and minor league pitcher Jose Campos. I know nothing about Campos (whether he is a high or mid level prospect or just fodder for the lower leagues). So, this trade was clearly about Pineda, 22, who made the All-Star Team as a fill-in for Justin Verlander last year during his rookie season. I recognized that Pineda was a quality pitcher, and I had him on a few of my fantasy baseball teams.
But still, I bought into the hype that Montero was going to be an offensive force. I recognized that he was a liability at catcher, and that Russell Martin and Francisco Cervelli represent the best catching tandem at the moment until Austin Romine and Gary Sanchez are ready to advance. To ask a young player to start at DH does seem to be a poor major league decision, but I was looking forward to seeing Montero star in pinstripes. His bat would have found a good spot in the starting lineup. Maybe a few years down the road, this trade will look great for the Yankees if Pineda wins the Cy Young or becomes the ace of the staff. But right now, I am just shocked. It’s not the type of move that one can embrace or create excitement among the fan base. I truly would have preferred a short term deal to Edwin Jackson or Roy Oswalt as opposed to giving up young, quality talent. I also liked Noesi, and knew that he was a viable candidate for the starting rotation.
At the moment, and this could change in time, I think the advantage goes to the Seattle Mariners. I am assuming that they have the young pitching talent, to go with Noesi, to find a suitable replacement for Pineda in the rotation. Meanwhile, they get one of the best young bats in the game today. This takes a little heat off first baseman Justin Smoak so perhaps now he can thrive. Right now, I rate the Yankees rotation as CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, Phil Hughes, and A.J. Burnett. This means that Freddy Garcia is the pitcher most likely to be cut unless the Yankees can find a home for Burnett.
Maybe he missed pitching to #55…
Okay, after an off-season of solitude, Friday the 13th has just become Yankees Night. The latest word is the Yankees have signed former Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda. Based on recent reports, I had expected Kuroda to sign with the Boston Red Sox. Bobby Valentine’s experience with Japanese players, in my mind, gave the Sox the clear advantage. Regardless of what transpired and why he decided to come to New York (Russell Martin?), he’s an innings-eater and fits nicely in the back of the rotation. So, if the news of Kuroda’s signing is accurate, I need to update my starting rotation…CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, Phil Hughes, and Kuroda (although an argument could be made for why Hughes should be at the back end of the rotation). The wild card is Hughes, so do the Yankees keep Burnett for long relief and a potential return to the starting rotation if Hughes falters or do they simply cut their losses? I suspect that it will be the latter with Freddy Garcia held in reserve. I also think this virtually confirms that we’ll see Dellin Betances and/or Manny Banuelos in the starting rotation at some point during the season.
My second favorite team is my National League favorite, the Los Angeles Dodgers, so I have to say that I enjoyed the starts I saw from Kuroda in his Dodger days. He may be older, but he’s a quality pitcher. He’s not going to shut down the opposition but he’s going to keep you in the game. I would have preferred Edwin Jackson if no other reason than age (and Jackson’s ability to occasionally be a very dominating pitcher). But still, it’s hard to find fault with the Kuroda signing. I’d rather go with Kuroda over Roy Oswalt. I’ve got to believe that the Yankees figured out the game plan for A.J. Burnett before the events of today unfolded so it’s likely that another deal is forthcoming before pitchers and catchers head for Tampa next month.
The fingerprints of Cash or Hal?…
I always wonder on these types of days if these moves were effected by GM Brian Cashman or if Hank and Hal Steinbrenner got bored and decided to take matters into their own hands. I am not sure that there’s a move out there that could excite me at this point, but there’s no question the Yankees have a better rotation. My primary concern still remains a quality backup third baseman for those inevitable A-Rod absences (i.e., trips to the DL). But now, with Montero in Seattle and Posada on the beach waiting for Old Timer’s Day, who is going to be the DH? At the moment, it’s a DH by committee with a rotation of A-Rod, Andruw Jones, and others. It does make one believe that there is a potential acquisition for a veteran hitter in the making. Bring back Johnny Damon? It’s certainly within the realm of possibility.
The sleeping giant has awakened…
I know the Yankees objective is to get under $189 million in salary by 2014, but the team is always a sleeping giant. If the Texas Rangers can come up with $51 million just to talk to Yu Darvish, you know the Yankees are capable of so much more. It will be interesting to see how the next few weeks unfold. After a season of inactivity, the Hot Stove League just got warmed up for the Yankees…
What’s on TV?…
With the Yankees at home for the year and an AL team that I don’t care for still playing, I have to admit that I have not been watching the World Series this year. Of course, that cost me the chance to watch history last night as Albert Pujols showed why he is a living legend with three home runs, ala Reggie Jackson. Somehow that huge contract that he’ll get in the off-season just got a little bigger. I am not saying that the Yankees should try to sign Albert (I’m satisfied with Mark Teixeira at first and feel that the money is better served for weaker areas like starting pitching), but the Yankees do need someone like that who is capable to singlehandedly taking over a game. I have no doubt that Robby Cano is that type of player, but with the deteriorating skills of Alex Rodriguez, it puts so much pressure on the rest of the lineup to pick up the slack.
Back to Albert, I do hope that he continues his drive and helps deliver another world championship to the city of St. Louis. As much as I would like Albert on my team, I really hope that the Cardinals do what it takes to keep him in the organization for the duration of his career. To this day, Stan “The Man” Musial is still a huge part of the Cardinals and their history, and Albert would have that same impact for years to come. If he departed and played a few years for, say, the Chicago Cubs, it would definitely taint his Cardinals legacy.
If there are no concerns, why am I concerned?…
I keep hearing that there are no concerns about getting a new contract in place for GM Brian Cashman, but as each day passes and we draw closer to the end of the month, I do grow a bit more concerned. Given how difficult the Derek Jeter negotiations were last year, what if the team tries to short pennies on Cash? What is Plan B if Cashman opts to leave? With Damon Oppenheimer and Billy Eppler talking to other teams, the best in-house talent could be gone. I doubt if both of those guys leave and from the sounds of it, neither one is the leading candidate for the Angels GM job. Still, a team could turn to one of them. I’d really prefer to go to Oppenheimer or Eppler should Cashman leave in order to maintain the continuity within the organization. That’s very similar to what the Red Sox will be doing by promoting Ben Cherington to GM to replace Theo Epstein.
Can he replicate the success of Larry Lucchino?…
I do wish Theo Epstein and soon-to-be GM Jed Hoyer the best of luck in Chicago as they try to end the World Series drought for the Cubs. I know that the road is much more difficult than it was when Epstein became the Red Sox GM, but I’ve certainly learned to never under-estimate Theo. He has made his share of poor decisions (such as signing John Lackey), but that only means that he is not afraid of making difficult decisions. Some will pan out, some will not. I am sure that there are a few moves that Brian Cashman would like to undo. But I’d rather see a GM make the bold moves and potentially uncover great talent and chemistry for the betterment of the team. Given that Theo will be bringing a few of his guys to Chicago, I wonder when manager Mike Quade gets the ax. It would be interesting to see if Theo and Jed would go for a top managerial candidate with Red Sox connections like DeMarlo Hale or go to a Cubs legend like Ryne Sandberg. I think either move would be sound should they decide to part ways with Quade.
It’s only money…
Put me in the category of those who would like to see the Yankees pursue Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish. I know that the past success of Japanese pitchers has been mixed, but I really feel that Darvish is a special talent. He would like great in the middle of the rotation. I am also anxious to see what pitcher Hector Noesi can do in winter ball. As much as I thought Freddy Garcia did everything asked of him, I’d really rather see the Yankees develop a younger arm in the rotation. Just like last year, A.J. Burnett will come to camp as a question mark. Plus, there’s the potential that CC Sabathia opts out and takes an offer from another city despite how well he has adapted to New York. I have come to not rely upon Phil Hughes, so that means the only certain reliable starter at the moment is Ivan Nova. I would aggressively go after Rangers starter C.J. Wilson regardless of whether CC stays or goes. I wish the Yankees could find a way to unload Burnett, but it’s probably not going to happen. The Red Sox will probably have better luck getting rid of John Lackey.
You have the right to remain silent…
As a lifelong Minnesota Vikings fan, I’ve faced my share of disappointment over the years. I have never had to deal with losing Super Bowls like I did as a kid, but that’s only because the team has never been back. I think character is a quality component to building team chemistry and unity, and the Vikings have had more than their fair share of poor off the field decisions. Now we have the latest news that starting cornerback Chris Cook is in jail for the weekend on domestic assault charges. This is very disappointing news.
The Vikings certainly have their hands full this weekend as they will be facing the undefeated Green Bay Packers with a rookie QB (Christian Ponder) making his first NFL start. It looks to me as if the deck has been stacked against Ponder, but hopefully, he’ll show why he was a surprise, but great, early selection in the first round of the last NFL Draft.
All hail the Sultan of $$$$$$$$$$$$…
Unfortunately, the Yankees are going to be seeing super agent Scott
Boras more than they’d like given his newest clients are Robinson Cano and Nick
Swisher. I have to admit that I was
dismayed to see the two Yankees sign on with Boras because it will mean the
potential for contentious negotiations in the not-so-distant future. It also felt like the chances the players
stay in the Bronx behind their current deals lessened substantially when I
heard the news.
From the players’ standpoint, Boras makes complete sense. He has shown an uncanny knack for getting the
most for his clients (sometimes in seemingly impossible situations). While I may not like Boras personally, he is
clearly on a different level than most agents.
I can only hope that it does not eventually lead to Cano’s departure.
I have to admit that it looks strange to see former Oakland A’s third
baseman Eric Chavez in Yankees gear.
Chavez was always an Athletic that I held high regard for, but as with
former Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra, injuries have taken their toll on a
once outstanding career. I am really
pulling Chavez and I hope that he earns a bench role for the Yankees (even at
the expense of Ramiro Pena). I’d like to
see Chavez backing up the corner positions, with Eduardo Nunez covering the
middle infield positions.
Of the other players in camp on minor league deals, I’d say that I am
most supportive of former Chicago White Sox pitcher Freddy Garcia. If the Yankees don’t trade for a starting
pitcher or sign someone like Kevin Millwood, I’d like to see Garcia earn a spot
in the rotation ahead of Sergio Mitre and the other cast of characters. While I recognize that the other spot will
most likely go to Ivan Nova, I am very intrigued by Hector Noesi and I am
looking forward to seeing what he can do in camp. Of the younger guys, I most excited about lefty
Manny Banuelos but he is still a few years away from the majors.
It was tough to see Alfredo Aceves sign with the Boston Red Sox. I know the Yankees were interested in
bringing Aceves back, but Boston’s willingness to extend a major league
contract was the difference maker.
It’s hard to believe that pitchers and catchers report on Monday but I’m
ready for the new season. I still think
that the Boston Red Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies have the best teams on
paper but there’s still a lot that can happen between now and October. And, oh yeah, they still have to play the