The Year of the Disabled List…
Just as we start to get some of the regulars back to reinforce the over-achieving bargain bin replacements, Curtis Granderson is headed back to the bench for a month due to a broken pinkie suffered in Friday night’s Tampa Bay Rays game. This season seems to prove the old adage that if it can go wrong, it will. In Granderson’s case, each return to the DL almost solidifies that he is playing his final year in pinstripes.
Yesterday morning, I was reading an article about how the Yankees were trying to figure out how to rotate four outfielders into three spots. The article seemed to imply that among Vernon Wells, Brett Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki and Granderson, Ichiro would be the odd man out given how strong Wells has played so far this year. I guess Granderson’s pinkie came to the defense of Ichiro as it will keep him on the field for the foreseeable future.
I hope that Granderson’s return to the DL results in the return of Brennan Boesch who has been spending a few weeks at Scranton/Wilkes Barre.
I saw the Yankees have activated Ivan Nova. I suppose that Nova now knows what it must have felt like to be Wally Pipp. Granted, David Phelps is no Lou Gehrig but Phelps is clearly the better starting pitcher than Nova. The battle for a spot in the starting rotation is no doubt between Nova and Phil Hughes. I have watched enough of The Phil Hughes Show. I am ready to change the channel even if that means putting Nova in his spot. Of course, Hughes will probably go to another city and win a Cy Young but some guys just aren’t cut out for New York and I think Hughes is one of those guys. Or it could be that he’s just not a good or consistent pitcher…
David Adams has been a pleasant surprise at third since his call-up from the minors. When the Yankees placed him on waivers earlier in the season in order to remove him from the 40 man roster and return him to the minor leagues, I was surprised that he wasn’t claimed by another team. He has always had potential and it is good to see him finally enjoy a cup of coffee in the big leagues. I wonder how this bodes for Kevin Youkilis when he returns. As well as Adams is playing, he does not deserve to be sent back down. I like the idea of Adams and Youk at third so I am sure that Joe Girardi will find time for both. My only disappointment will be when Alex Rodriguez returns. I have truly enjoyed the time away and frankly I’d love it if A-Rod never returned.
Can Sox Blood Succeed in the Bronx?…
I would really like to see Austin Romine start to hit. All of the reports indicate that his defense will ensure a career as a backup catcher and the difference in the ability to start is his offensive game which has been feeble thus far. Everyone knows that Chris Stewart, Francisco Cervelli and Romine are just keeping the plate warm for the next couple of years until highly touted prospect Gary Sanchez arrives. Still, I’d like to see ex-Red Sock Kevin Romine’s son succeed in the Bronx.
#23 deserves so much better than this…
I feel really bad for Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. Going into the season with ridiculously high expectations, it was clear that this would be a very challenging season for Donnie Baseball. His recent comments about the ill-construction of the team were on mark and were said in a very professional Donnie-like manner. I see that the Dodgers executive team is giving Mattingly a vote of confidence, however, that’s never a good sign. I still hope to see the day where Mattingly takes the field as Yankees manager, but I do not want to see him unceremoniously dumped in LA. He is playing with the hand he was dealt. I do not blame Mattingly for the Dodgers’ early season struggles as I feel that he is doing the best he can. The blame should be placed on the GM and the ownership group.
Put a great manager in a good organization and see what happens…
It’s fun to see Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona having fun again. He is another one of my favorite managers, even during his time in Boston. He is 1-1 in the first two games of a four game set in Boston, but winning the first game had to be a thrill. Here’s to hoping for more success for Tito on Saturday and Sunday.
I guess Larry Platt (aka “Pants on the Ground”) is unavailable…
I didn’t watch American Idol this past season (apparently I wasn’t alone), but I find the show’s choice of Jennifer Hudson to be a curious one. I heard that they are also looking at Kelly Clark and Adam Lambert or Clay Aiken for the other two judge seats. Interesting that they are only looking at their own homegrown talent. I am not sure if it will be enough to bring the viewers back. I am watching The Voice (and have from the start). I like the chemistry among the show’s judges and their format is much more positive with a better focus on quality talent. The show didn’t lose anything in judge chemistry with the substitutions of Shakira and Usher for Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green. I think it is time to sunset American Idol and let the younger shows take the main stage. Well, on the latter point, they already have…
Sleeping with the Enemy…
News that the Yankees have signed veteran third baseman Kevin Youkilis have not been well received in the Yankees Universe…obviously. Sure, there have been a few ex-Boston Red Sox players make their way to the Bronx but certainly none who have been as despised as Youk. His crime? Playing with passion and all-out perseverance to find ways to beat the Yankees. He is one of those tough, gritty players that are relentless and when they smell blood, it’s over. Youk has struggled with injuries in recent years and he had a falling out with former Sox manager Bobby Valentine, who has historically taken to gritty players. I know, there is the stat line that he only got one hit in his final 59 at-bats with the Chicago White Sox last season. Nevertheless, I am willing to give Youk a chance.
Admittedly, I am not an Alex Rodriguez fan and I am still bent the Yankees didn’t let him walk away when he opted out of his first mega contract. But with third base possibilities such as Eric Chavez and Jeff Keppinger signing elsewhere, the Yankees had to do something given that A-Rod will be lost for most of the season due to his upcoming hip surgery. Going to camp with Eduardo Nunez as the starting third baseman, given the team doesn’t have a starting catcher or right fielder, was not appealing in any way. No one really knows how A-Rod will play next season when or if he returns, so odds are they need a solid third baseman for the entire season. With Youk on board, the Yanks still need to get insurance at third in case Youk goes down. But I think as long as he gets sufficient rest, he’ll stay healthy and be an effective part of the Yankees lineup.
When Youk homers for the first time against the Red Sox, I am sure that the Yankee cheers will come around. Yankee fans love players who play with passion so long as the player is on their team. It will always be hard to look at Youk and not think of the 2004 World Champion Red Sox, but he is not the same player he was then and this is a new chapter in his life. When he walks away from the game, he will be remembered as part of the Red Sox organization but for a year or two, he can certainly make an effective contribution for the home team.
There are guys on the current Red Sox roster that I have great respect for, like Jon Lester and Dustin Pedroia. Youk was one of those guys. Sure, I hated the guy in difficult games between the Yankees and Red Sox, but I always had a quiet respect for him. Of course, this could all be premature as Youk still has to pass a physical but I look forward to seeing what he can do in the Bronx sans the famed goatee. It will also be interesting to see if the Yankees continue to hold #20 in reserve out of respect for Jorge Posada or if they assign it to Youk given it was his number in Boston and Chicago. I suspect he’ll end up with something other than #20, but until it happens, you never know.
I saw a quote in George King’s column in The New York Post from Mariano Rivera that I agree with completely: “Yankee (fans) didn’t like him but he was wearing a Red Sox uniform. I can’t decide for them but he will be my teammate and I have to respect him for that.” Youk is a Yankee, and like Mo, I respect him for that.
Ichiro, Part II…
All indications are the Yankees will be coming to terms with Ichiro Suzuki on a new deal to keep him in the Bronx. The question is whether it will be one or two years. At 39, I’d probably prefer a one year deal so that the team can reassess its options at the end of the year. Every move has been made with the intent to get the payroll under $189 million by 2014 for luxury tax purposes and a second year for Ichiro would erode into the dollars available for any talent upgrades next off-season.
As it stands, I do not like an outfield of Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson and Ichiro, but I will be interested to see who they bring in as the fourth outfielder. Perhaps that individual will solidify this outfield corps into a strong and powerful unit. I am not opposed to trading Granderson and moving Gardner to center, but the Yankees would need to replace his offensive production elsewhere in the lineup. All signs so far this winter indicate the Yankees will not do anything to the extreme. Yes, they could still swoop in with a blockbuster trade, but I highly doubt it. The sad part is the current Yankees roster is not as strong as last year’s squad, while the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox have clearly improved. Tampa Bay may have traded a top starting pitcher in James Shields, but they picked up one of the best prospects in baseball in Wil Myers. Tampa also seems to be able to pull aces out of their farm system every year so there’s no doubt they’ll find a capable replacement for Shields. Baltimore hasn’t made any major moves but they still have the team to over-achieve. I do not know what next year will bring. The Yankees still have December and January to improve, but the likelihood diminishes with each passing day. If the Yankees falter in 2013, what does 2014 look like? I can’t see the team suddenly reversing course and going into “Dodger” mode to sign free agents. I think the Yankees will remain competitive, but I am not convinced they have the horses to win the World Series.
Maybe the All-Star Game should be the Dodgers against everyone else…
My favorite National League team is the Los Angeles Dodgers, but I am struggling with the thought of cheering for the two highest payrolls in baseball. My affection for the Dodgers is primarily because of my long-time hero, Don Mattingly, but the huge salary outlay by the Dodgers will create unrealistic expectations in Dodgerland and it will be tough for Donnie Baseball if the Dodgers struggle. I remain hopeful that he’ll one day find his way back to the Bronx to manage, but I am not pulling for him to get fired next year. I am not sure who I would pull for in the NL if not the Dodgers. I live in the Bay Area so there’s always the San Francisco Giants, but they’ve won the World Series in two of the last three years and I don’t want to jump on the bandwagon. My fallback has always been the St Louis Cardinals because that’s where I experienced attending my first major league baseball game as a teenager so many years ago. I suppose that I’ll stick with the Dodgers as long as Mattingly is there, but Magic Johnson and company have certainly made it more challenging by their willingness to spend excessively.
Why does February 12th (when pitchers and catchers report) seem so close yet so far away?…
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!
A bitter taste…
Finally, A.J. Burnett was pitching like the guy that the Yankees expected when they signed him as a free agent in the off-season. After a series of poor starts, he had dominating stuff last night and was in position for a win. He went 7 innings, and gave up only 1 run on 7 hits. He struck out 6, and walked only 3. He was leading 2-1 at the time of his exit, and the Yankees seemed to be in control despite the close score.
Ted S. Warren/AP
The 8th saw a business-as-usual performance from Phil Hughes, with 3 up and 3 down.
Mariano Rivera appeared very loose in the bullpen prior to his entrance in the 9th. The stage was set for another save on his way to Cooperstown. Even the Seattle-based announcers made a comment that they should just waive the 5 year waiting period for Mo when he retires. Mo easily set down the first two batters (getting the second, Mike Carp, out on his 1,000th career strikeout), but then pinch hitter Mike Sweeney stroked a double to right. Okay, there were two outs, the Yanks were still in good shape. Only Ichiro stood in the way of their 95th victory. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. Mo tried to go inside on a cutter but left the pitch out too much, and Ichiro got a hold of it and sent it into the outfield bleachers for the game-winning home run. The Mariners walked off with a 3-2 victory…
Ted S. Warren/AP
Mo saw his string of 36 consecutive saves snapped. The only other time he has failed to convert a save this season was in April on a Jason Bay home run.
Sipkin/New York Daily News
Ichiro may have been picked off twice in the game, but he clearly got the last laugh…
Ted S. Warren/AP
With the loss, the Yankees’ lead over the Red Sox shrank to 6 games. This is definitely a tough stretch. The Yankees are on a difficult road trip against winning teams and in cities they historically have troubles with. Meanwhile, the Red Sox are playing the lifeless Orioles, and then move on to Kansas City for face the punchless Royals for four games. Both the O’s and Royals stand at 87 losses prior to today’s games. So, the Yankees’ three-game series against the Red Sox next weekend looms as the big AL East showdown. It is very possible that the Red Sox may be in position to determine who enters the play-offs as the AL East champion and who backdoors it as the Wild Card entrant. The Yankees’ magic number remains at 10, but their magic number for making the play-offs dropped to 3 with the Rangers’ loss to the Angels. That one was a double-edged sword as the Angels gained a game on the Yanks for best record. So, needless to say, Ichiro’s hit made for a very difficult night on many fronts.
Hopefully, the Yanks will show their mettle and rebound today with CC Sabathia taking the hill in search of his 18th victory. Let’s hope it’s the Yanks’ 95th…
I still can’t believe that the great Peter Abraham (who has been referred to as the “blogfather”) is leaving the LoHud Yankees Blog to go to work for the Boston Globe and write about the dreaded Red Sox… L
The oldest living Yankee has passed away, Lonny Frey, who played with the Yankees in the 1947 World Series, was a three-time All-Star with the Cincinnati Reds in the 30’s and 40’s. Frey died on Sunday in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho at the age of 99. He was the last surviving player to play for the Yankees, the New York Giants, and the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Courtesy Richard Hirschman
Frey’s passing leaves Tommy Henrich, 96, as the oldest living Yankee. Henrich played his entire career with the Yankees from 1937 to 1950. He is the last surviving member of the World Champion 1938 Yankees.
Courtesy Bill Burgess
Andy Pettitte is scheduled to pitch on Monday against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim. Andy missed his last start due to a “fatigued” shoulder, and hopefully, the rest has helped him. Andy will be a huge part of what the Yanks will try to accomplish in October. It was good to hear that he has reached most of his incentives to allow him to nearly double his $5 million salary for the year. He has certainly earned his pay (relatively speaking of course, because $5 mil is a heck of a lot of money any way you slice it!).
John Munson/The Star Ledger
Speaking of rest, reliever David Robertson, who was shut down for elbow stiffness, appears to be on track for a return by the final week of the season. He is another arm that will be crucial to October success. I am glad that his visit to Dr. Andrews did not reveal more serious problems and that rest was the prescribed treatment. Robertson has been great in the pen this year.
Tim Farrell/The Star Ledger
Today is a new day. Let’s get back to winning…
You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me?
Julia (of Julia’s Rants, or who I like to refer to as the one who will soon be wearing a pink Yankees hat) has called me out!
One week from today, the Yankees will begin a three-day weekend series against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
This represents the Great Showdown III between Julia and me. We are 1-1 counting the two games in spring training (Showdowns I and II).
It is her birthday weekend so I suppose she can have a victory on Saturday sandwiched by Yankee victories on Friday and Sunday. The perfect solution! It works for me!
Courtesy New York Post
Julia detailed the stakes of our latest wager on her Friday morning blog entitled “One Week“. Here is an excerpt:
In 1923, the Yankees opened the original Yankee Stadium, the House that Ruth Built, with a four game series against the Red Sox. What was the result? A four game sweep by the Bronx Bombers! It is now 2009 and the year of a new Stadium. Can history repeat itself? Absolutely! Julia, I am sorry that you’ll be so disappointed on your birthday weekend but you’ll look great in a pink Yankees hat! J
THE SWEET TASTE OF VICTORY
Speaking of being victorious, the Yankees provided the first home win at the new Yankee Stadium today with a 6-5 win over the Cleveland Indians.
One of these years, Derek Jeter is going to begin showing his age. This is not the year. DJ provided the winning margin with a solo home run in the 8th inning, breaking a 5-5 tie. It was a day of Yankee solo home runs as Johnny Damon, Mark Teixeira, Melky Cabrera and Robinson Cano each connected with no men on base.
John O’Boyle/The Star-Ledger
Joba Chamberlain struggled and only made it into the 5th inning, surrendering 5 runs, with 5 walks. He struck out four. One of the hits was a home run by Mark DeRosa. I am sure that all hearts in New York stopped when Joe Girardi opted to reach into the bullpen. Fortunately, Phi Coke and Jonathan Albaladejo did their jobs before turning it over to the stellar duo of Brian Bruney (the winner, 2-0) and the great Mariano Rivera (3rd save). The Indians did have a man in scoring position in the 9th, but Mo struck out DeRosa to end the game.
Ah, the sweet sound of Frank Sinatra…
“Start spreadin’ the news, I’m leaving today
I want to be part of it: New York, New York
These vagabond shoes, are longing to stray
Right through the very heart of it: New York, New York…”
SPEAKING OF NEW YORK
I have purchased the ticket for my first game at the new Yankee Stadium. I will be attending a game during the early May series versus the Los Angeles Angels. Fortunately, the cost was only of the double digit variety. Of course, that probably means the view won’t be great, but this trip will be all about experiencing the sights and sounds of the entire stadium.
I am excited and looking forward to the trip. I have seen a number of the newer Stadiums so I am anxious to see how the new Stadium makes me feel when I first see it, breathe it, smell it, and touch it. I distinctly remember my first trip to the old Stadium in 1987, and the chills I got as I realized I was on hallowed ground.
I am also headed to Manhattan next week for a few days, and have successfully scored tickets to the Late Show with David Letterman.
It should be a lot of fun! This will be my first visit to his show (or any talk show for that matter). Other priorities include pizza in Greenwich Village and dessert at Serendipity 3!
Outside of Letterman, as you can tell, this trip will be about the food! Mmmm…
- The Yankees returned reliever David Robertson to AAA Scranton and recalled first baseman Juan Miranda as insurance for Mark Teixeira and Hideki Matsui (who has been limited to pinch-hitting due to pain in his knee). What? Did Joe Girardi forget how to spell Veras or Marte when he was trying to decide who to ship out?
- Congratulations to the Seattle Mariners’ Ichiro Suzuki for breaking the record for most hits by a Japanese player. He broke Isao Harimoto’s record of 3,085 hits. I attended a game in Seattle the year Ichiro set the single season Major League record for hits, and he was amazing to watch (you can see it on TV, but it’s more magical in person).
- The San Jose Sharks lost Game 1 of their NHL Western Conference play-off series against the Anaheim Ducks, 2-0. The Ducks successfully shut down the Sharks’ power play. When Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau get only one shot, you know you’re in trouble. It was the first time that the Sharks had been shut out at home this season. Game 2 is Sunday. Hopefully the Sharks will get back on track. Don’t they know I have a showdown waiting against Julia and the Bruins?…
Have a great weekend!