|Photo Credit: Boston Herald (Christopher Evans)|
Yankees Take Sole Possession of First Place…
The Yankees had the day off on Monday and captured sole possession of first place in the American League East while they are resting. Sweet. Credit to Oakland’s Sean Manaea, sporting Sonny Gray’s old number, for keeping the Red Sox offense in check.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Maddie Meyer)|
Rafael Devers got a seventh inning home run off Manaea and J.D. Martinez took the A’s bullpen deep, but after nine innings of play, Boston had one less run than Oakland. Too bad, so sad. Sucks to be Boston. Greatest start in Red Sox history and all they have to show for it is second place. Get used to it, RSN.
Now, the Yankees have to hold their thin ½ game AL East lead while playing one of the best teams in the National League. I know, the Washington Nationals currently trail both the Atlanta Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies, but there’s no doubt the Nats (24-18) will be firmly entrenched on top of the NL East by the time October rolls around. Atlanta is a nice story and of course no one is going to root against former Yankees bench coach (now Phillies bench coach) Rob Thomson but it is inevitable the Braves and Phillies will fall hard at some point.
With the Yankees in the Nation’s Capital to face the Nationals, it brings the topic of Bryce Harper to the forefront. I like Giancarlo Stanton, don’t get me wrong, but realistically, given a choice, I’d prefer Harper. At the moment, there’s not a great difference in their stats.
Harper: .236/.400/.543, .943 OPS, 13 HR, 30 RBI
Stanton: .252/.339/.516, .855 OPS, 10 HR, 26 RBI
I feel that the best AL pitchers in October will expose the flaws in Stanton’s swing, whereas Harper seems to have the “it” quality for playoff superstardom. There are no stats to back up those assumptions on my part (total gut feelings) and honestly I am fine moving forward with Stanton for the long-term. I am just saying that if I had my chance, I’d take the 25 year old Harper over the 28 year old Stanton and age has nothing to do with it.
I am not really trying to rip Stanton and I have not been dissatisfied with his short time in Pinstripes despite some struggles. I suppose it’s not outside of the realm of possibility the Yankees could feature an outfield of Aaron Judge, Harper and Stanton, but that would have been more likely under George Steinbrenner than Hal Steinbrenner.
The way the season is going for the Los Angeles Dodgers (16-24), they’ll be looking to make some impactful moves in the off-season. I am sure they’ll be big game hunting for Harper themselves, but if I was GM Brian Cashman, I’d find a way to move LA-native Stanton to Chavez Ravine and bring Harper to New York.
While I would want Harper on my team, the realist in me knows the off-season money will be better spent on the pitching staff. I think Patrick Corbin would make for a very nice lefty replacement for CC Sabathia. CC’s been a great Yankee, but the end of the line is near. The downside to spending big on pitching is the fragile overall health of top pitchers (case in point, Clayton Kershaw, who seems to enjoy the DL as much as Jacoby Ellsbury). The Yankees will face an ace that could have been theirs tomorrow evening when Max Scherzer takes the hill for the Nats against Sabathia. When Scherzer signed his free agent deal with the Nationals in January 2015, the Yankees had been one of the early favorites to sign the former Tiger ace. If George Steinbrenner was still alive, I am convinced Scherzer would have been a Yankee today.
Perhaps the Yankees make a big pitching move in July. After a couple of promising starts, Sonny Gray Sucks! returned after his dismal performance against his former team last Friday night. I keep hoping that Gray can recapture the elite pitcher status he held while wearing green and gold but so far, he has seemed like just another guy that couldn’t handle New York. My feelings about Gray are starting to turn Javier Vazquez-like. I loved what Vazquez did as a member of the Montreal Expos, but his time in Pinstripes (both times) was very pedestrian. Every start, I keep hoping Gray will prove me wrong. But we’re just a couple months shy of a year since his acquisition and I’ve not been impressed. During the recent A’s series, it was weird listening to veteran A’s beat reporter Susan Slusser talk about how great Gray pitched for Oakland. We haven’t seen that guy.
I am not really trying to bash the Yankees today but it seems kind of like I have. Please accept my apology. They hold the best record in Major League Baseball and have a cohesive team that simply refuses to lose. Things haven’t gone perfectly but the same can be said for all other MLB teams. Some teams with playoff aspirations (like the Dodgers) probably wish they could take a mulligan and start the season over. The Yankees have no such thoughts. 28-12, .700 winning percentage, first place in the AL East, and of course the best record in MLB. They overcame the blistering 17-2 start by the Boston Red Sox. I think Yankees fans will gladly take the current state of MLB’s greatest franchise. So, don’t mind me while I dream of what Bryce Harper might look like in Pinstripes. It’s just a dream that will never come to fruition.
That’s fine. Let’s go win a World Series.
Photo Credit: New York Post (Charles Wenzelberg)
Despite team win, another dismal performance by Gray…
The Yankees are winning and I am mad.
Deeply disappointed might be a better description. Sonny Gray was supposed to be an upper rotation arm capable of delivering ace-like starts. To borrow an overused line from Brendan Kuty of NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, “Sonny was not Gray-t”. Sadly, we’re saying that after every not-so-Sonny start.
Based on five starts this season, he averages barely more than four innings per start, and has given up 18 runs in 21 innings. Sure, he lowered his ERA with yesterday’s start if you want to call 8.27 to 7.71 an improvement. He has walked 16 batters including five more last night.
I know that TGP’s Daniel Burch is a huge Sonny Gray fan but I can say…right now…I am not. He has yet to deliver a start that has made me say “Wow!”. Yet, every other member in the starting rotation has. Even the Yankees’ nearly 38 year old over-weight veteran with bad knees who has already lost time on the 10-day DL has delivered impressively.
Gray should have gotten the win in last night’s 7-4 victory over the Minnesota Twins after the Yankees had staked him to a 5-3 lead but he couldn’t get out of the fifth inning so the victory went to his replacement (Chad Green). For 14 outs, Gray threw 104 pitches with only 60 for strikes. You can’t blame this one on Gary Sanchez since it was Austin Romine behind the plate.
For his Yankees career, Gray is 5-8 with 4.69 ERA. He has given up 84 hits and 49 runs in 86 1/3 innings. His WHIP is an unsightly 1.471. He has been nowhere near the pitcher for the Yankees that he was with the Oakland Athletics. He is starting to feel a little too Javier Vazquez-ish for my comfort. A guy who pitches great in a low pressurized environment but has the ‘deer in the headlights’ look with the bright lights of the big city. Gray would probably be an ace for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Until he can prove otherwise, he is “Sonny Gray Sucks” to me.
Meanwhile, the two pitchers connected to the Yankees in rumors during the off-season have gotten off to tremendous starts. Patrick Corbin, a lifetime Yankees fan, is currently 4-0 with a 1.89 ERA and a miniscule 0.66 WHIP (6 walks to 48 strikeouts in 33 1/3 innings). Daniel Burch did a great piece on Corbin yesterday and the Arizona Diamondbacks lefty should be on the Yankees radar when he becomes a free agent after the season. He’s a terrific potential replacement for CC Sabathia in the rotation. Gerrit Cole, whom I would have loved to have seen as a Yankee while many scoffed, is 2-1 with 1.29 ERA. His WHIP is slightly higher than Corbin’s at 0.771 but it is still very good. Cole has only walked 8 batters while striking out 49 in 35 innings.
Photo Credit: Associated Press (Mike Stone)
I want Gray to succeed as a Yankee. I really do. But I am getting tired of these pedestrian starts and his inability to throw strikes. His next start will be in Houston against the World Series Champions. He really needs to “man-up” and deliver like we know he can.
Okay, I’ll let it go for now.
As for the Yankees, I am very pleased with the overall performance of the team in recent days. With Didi Gregorius playing at All-World level, the Yankees have won five consecutive games to improve their season mark to 14-9. The Boston Red Sox won yesterday to stop their three-game losing skid, but the win dropped the Toronto Blue Jays into a second place tie with the Yankees in the AL East. Both are teams trail the Red Sox by four games. The standings certainly look much better today than they did a week ago.
I hate to see the current series with the Minnesota Twins end later today. Even if the Yankees lose, they will have won three of four before jumping a plane bound for Orange County, California. I’d prefer to keep the winning streak alive as the Yankees invade So-Cal. My love for ten-game winning streaks is only five games from fruition. Of course, if the Yankees win the next four games, it will pit Sonny Gray against Charlie Morton for the tenth win. Dammit.
Before I go, I do have to say that I think Logan Morrison really, really sucks. For him, I’ll borrow Derek Jeter’s words from his recent interview with Bryant Gumbel on HBO’s Real Sports. But unlike DJ, my use of the words is not light-hearted. Morrison is “mentally weak”. I know that the off-season was tough for all free agents, but there’s a reason it was hard for Morrison to find a job. The Tampa Bay Rays made no attempt to bring back a bat that slugged 38 home runs last year. Sure, money played into it but if Morrison was ‘all that and a bag of chips’, the Rays would have found a way to bring him back like the Kansas City Royals did in re-signing their 38 home run slugger, Mike Moustakas. Morrison’s comment about Yankees fans that “you can’t fix stupid” was actually a self-analysis on his own part. The guy’s a jerk. The Minnesota Twins are a classy organization and having such a degenerate on their roster is out of character for them.
I have no desire to see Morrison walk off the Yankee Stadium field a winner today. So, hopefully, Jordan Montgomery and company keep the winning streak alive. As long as Didi Gregorius is in the lineup, life is good.
Next week (the Baseball Winter Meetings) is my favorite
time of the off-season. Like the trading
deadline in July, each day of the meetings bring anticipation and the hope that
your team can improve themselves in some way.
For this year’s Yankees, it will hopefully bring pitcher Cliff Lee to
the Bronx and perhaps bring an end to the impasse between the team and star
shortstop Derek Jeter.
Today was an interesting day with reports that the Texas
Rangers had approached free agent pitcher Andy Pettitte. Subsequently, the Rangers were denying those
reports. However, I wonder if the “rumor”
had been strategically placed in the media by the Rangers or an alliance to
tweak the Yankees. Pettitte is already
on record saying that if he plays, it will be with the Yankees or no one. If his only attraction was to play in Texas
to be closer to home, then maybe I could be convinced that the Rangers rumor
has legs. However, at this stage of Andy’s
career, it is simply whether or not he wants to stay home with his family with
no baseball distractions or play one more year with the Yankees to build upon
his legacy. The three years in Houston
already cost him the status of the greatest lefthander in Yankees history. At this point, he is playing for the way he
wants to be remembered (if he decides to play).
There was also a report that the San Francisco Giants, on
a day that saw shortstop Juan Uribe sign with the division rival Los Angeles
Dodgers, had reached out to the agent of Derek Jeter. Financially-speaking, there is no way the
Giants can compete with the Yankees offer.
Yes, they have the money, thanks to the World Series championship, but
it would be foolish on their part to invest that kind of money in an aging
shortstop when the money could be better spent in other areas to improve the
team in its 2011 title defense.
For as loud as the Jeter negotiations have been, there
has hardly been a peep about the Yankees negotiation with closer Mariano
Rivera. Tonight, the Toronto Sun is
reporting the parties are close to an agreement that will pay Mo $17 million
next year. There is still a question
about whether it will be for one or two years.
Every time I hear those kind of dollars, it always makes me remember
when George Steinbrenner said that he’d never pay a pitcher a million dollars a
year. I think that was the year Ron
Guidry had to settle for $900,000.
One Yankees is gone.
The Florida Marlins signed former Yankees pitcher Javier Vazquez. I saw one headline that said the Marlins
stole Vazquez from the Yankees, but of course, the team made no effort to
re-sign Javy after the very disappointing 2010 campaign. Early last season, one writer called Javy a
National League pitcher and I have to agree.
I wanted him to succeed in New York, but I am just not convinced that
would ever happen. It’s too bad. I like Javy and I wish him the best in the
National League East. He certainly knows
the division from his days with the Atlanta Braves. The competition is steep but you have to like
the Marlins starting rotation. I am not
going to anoint them as the next World Series champion and they still have to successfully
replace the production of former second baseman Dan Uggla, but the Giants
proved that as long as you have pitching, nothing else really matters. I say that in jest but there is a certain
degree of truth assuming that you have the players capable of scoring runs and
playing defense. The Yankees pick up a
supplementary draft pick due the free agent loss since they offered Vazquez
arbitration (which he had agreed to decline).
I liked the Texas Rangers signing of catcher Yorvit
Torrealba. The Yankees will be in the
market for a strong backup catcher in light of the decision to permanently move
Jorge Posada to DH and make minor leaguer Jesus Montero the starter. At some point, Austin Romine will be in the
Bronx and perhaps the starting catcher, but I don’t think the Yanks can afford
to go into the season with both Romine and Montero on the roster. I like Francisco Cervelli but I don’t think
he’s the answer either. The Yankees need
to find a solid, veteran backup for Montero.
John Buck, who has since signed with the Marlins, and Torrealba are
certainly guys who could have fit the bill.
Now, the team will need to look at guys like Bengie Molina if they
decide to go externally for a backup.
Congratulations to all the former Yankees on the Hall of
Fame ballot. Of course, I’ll always pull
for my favorite living former Yankee, Don Mattingly, but I agree that his back
problems robbed him of the additional years he really needed for
induction. The other former Yanks
include Tino Martinez, Kevin Brown, Al Leiter, Fred McGriff (why did we trade
him again?), Raul Mondesi, John Olerud, Tim Raines, and Lee Smith. Of the group, Martinez was really the only
one who defined himself in pinstripes but I don’t see him making the Hall of
Fame. Sorry Tino, but I can assure you
that I was a huge fan every game you played for the Yankees.
Barton Silverman/The New York Times
I was very saddened today to hear the news of the passing
of former Yankees infielder Gil McDougald.
Growing up as a kid, I’d read about the great Yankees of the 1950’s
dynasty and they always included mention of McDougald. He only played for 10 years but they were
perhaps the greatest 10 years of Yankees history as he teamed with Mickey
Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, and Billy Martin to dominate the 50’s with 5
World Series championships. I remember
thinking as a kid how cool his name was.
I wish I could have seen those 50’s teams playing for Casey
Stengel. It would have been a great time
to be a Yankees fan.
Thus endeth the season…
Antonelli/NY Daily News
The Yankees were outplayed and outpitched by an
inferior Texas Rangers squad and it was very disappointing to watch. The truth is these Yankees have looked very
subpar since August. Their ALDS victory
over the Minnesota Twins was most likely a fluke given their dominance of the
Twins in recent years. The Yankee bats
were silent during the ALCS with the most visible being Alex Rodriguez. But I really think, as many do, the primary
problem was the lack of consistent and quality pitching.
Antonelli/NY Daily News
CC Sabathia had a few starts where he looked like
an ace, but he had more starts that looked very average. Unlike last year, there wasn’t a sense of
invincibility when CC took the mound…at least not like when Cliff Lee takes the
hill for the Rangers or Tim Lincecum for the San Francisco Giants or Roy
Halladay for the Philadelphia Phillies.
A.J. Burnett was an absolute disaster this
year. I am not sure what happened. He pitched so great for the Yankees in 2009
and for the Toronto Blue Jays the year before.
But this year, he was clearly gasoline on the fire. He needs to re-dedicate himself to his craft
this off-season to see if he can dig deep to re-find his talent.
I thought Andy Pettitte did a very good job this
year, but there was obviously much down time with the injury that put him on
the DL. At his age, there is no doubt
that we’ve seen the best of Andy. If
Andy doesn’t decide to retire in the off-season and returns to the Yankees next
year, I’d prefer they make him the #4 or #5 starter and accept whatever you can
get from him.
Phil Hughes is a primary key for future
success. He is another guy that needs to
find a way to take his talent to the next level. He has the stuff so he needs to find a way to
become the pitcher he is capable of becoming.
An 18-game winner, it’s been said that he was probably a 12-13 game
winner on any other team. That’s
probably true. As the pitcher who took
the loss that sent the Yankees home for the season, I hope that he is able to
harness the frustration into a desire to come back stronger than ever next
The trade for Javier Vazquez was clearly a
mistake. As much as I wanted Javy to
succeed in the Bronx, I was fearful when I first heard the Yankees had
re-acquired him. Those fears turned out
to be justified. A free agent, there is
no way the Yankees will attempt to bring him back.
I am not quite sure what the future holds, but the
Yankees need to find a way to improve the pitching staff. The obvious target is Rangers ace Cliff Lee,
a free agent at the end of the season.
However, the Rangers will be making a very hard run at him after the
World Series and of course he will have a sentimental attachment to being part
of a World Series club. So, I’d have to
believe, at this point, that the Rangers have the advantage over the Yankees in
Antonelli/NY Daily News
Another potential target is Kansas City Royals
starter Zach Greinke, who the Royals intend to move. Any way you slice it, GM Brian Cashman has his
work cut out for him this off-season if he intends to bring the Yankees back to
a championship-caliber club. Age is not
the Yankees friend and they cannot win again if they remain status quo.
As for the World Series, I still think the
Philadelphia Phillies are the favorite.
I realize they are down 3 games to 2 to the San Francisco Giants, a
situation the Yankees failed to overcome.
But the difference is the Phillies pitching staff and the fact that the
remaining games are in Philly. Don’t get
me wrong, I’d love to see the San Francisco Giants close out the series and
advance. I live in the Bay Area and many
of my friends are Giants fans. I am also
a fan of Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti and would like to see him working
with the Giants pitching staff in the World Series. So, I’ll be cheering for the Giants but I am
fully aware the NLCS is far from over.
Lea Suzuki/The Chronicle
Congratulations to the Texas Rangers for reaching
their first World Series. I lived in
Dallas for 14 years and it was clearly a town dominated by the Cowboys. The Rangers were never successful during my
years there and the fans didn’t have the passion for the team that I saw
watching the ALCS this year. So, it is
clear that the baseball fans in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex are starving
for a winner and now they have their chance.
I never became fond of the Rangers while living there, perhaps because I
always went to the games when the Yankees were in town so I was constantly
rooting against them. However, my son is
a Rangers fan so he’s excited. When he
was about 2 or 3 years old, we were in a restaurant near the ballpark in
Arlington, Texas after a Rangers game.
Nolan Ryan was pitching for the Rangers at the time, and he happened to
be in the same restaurant with his family.
There weren’t too many people in the restaurant and my son was wearing a
Rangers cap we had bought at the game. My
son walked over to Nolan and asked for his autograph. Nolan took my son’s hat and signed his name
on the bill. He still has that hat today
and it has been a prized possession. It
solidified the Rangers as my son’s team of choice despite my numerous attempts
to make him a Yankees fan.
Antonelli/NY Daily News
Well, now that baseball is over for me, I’ll have
to look to my other teams for hope.
However, the prospects do not look good at this point. The Minnesota Vikings are struggling at 2-3
and have to play the Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots in the next two
weeks. Brett Favre has not been healthy
and is starting to look like a 41-year-old quarterback, not to mention the
recent text messages that have been a distraction. As for the San Jose Sharks, the season is
early but they just won their first game in the United States after a few
consecutive losses following the opening game victory in Stockholm. I think they’ll be there at the end but the
competition in the West is tough this year.
I always have the Los Angeles Lakers but they’ll have their share of
challenges this year too.
So, when do the baseball winter meetings start?…
I don’t get it…
On Monday, the Yankees are totally befuddled by Max
Scherzer, but on Tuesday, they defeat annual Cy Young contender Justin
Verlander. Monday’s game was so
disappointing. After a lethargic
performance the previous day against Bryan Bullington and the Kansas City
Royals, they continued the lackluster offensive ways against Scherzer
and the Detroit Tigers in losing 3-1.
The losing pitcher was Javier Vazquez. While only giving up 2 runs, he threw a
startling 106 pitches in just four innings.
At this point, the Yankees cannot depend upon Vazquez for the duration
of the season. The inability to acquire
Cliff Lee is even more magnified today than it was the day Lee was dealt to
Texas. The Yankees don’t have a Jeremy
Hellickson in the farm system (at least not one that’s ready to make the impact
Hellickson can for the Tampa Bay Rays).
So, Monday’s loss, which allowed the Rays to tie the Yanks in the AL
East standings was definitely ‘advantage-Rays’.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Tuesday, CC Sabathia was on the hill but things
started poorly when former Yank Austin Jackson hit a lead-off homer. After that, CC settled in and earned his 16th
win despite another home run in the 7th (a solo dinger by Brandon
Inge) as the Yanks won, 6-2. They merely
kept pace with the Rays, who also won, along with the charging Boston Red Sox
who also emerged victorious.
Sipkin/NY Daily News
This game was about how much Brett Gardner means to
the Yankees offense when he is hitting.
As long as he can get on base, things happen. He scored a run in the bottom of the first on
Nick Swisher’s single, and he doubled in the 6th when any other
Yankee would not have made it past first base.
He subsequently scored on Derek Jeter’s single.
The Yankees have their share of injury woes, with
Alex Rodriguez and Lance Berkman in the dreaded DTD status. Despite the recent offensive woes, hopefully,
the team can build upon today’s win to put together a nice winning streak.
I would be remiss for not acknowledging the passing
of legend Bobby Thomson. What baseball
fan who appreciates the history of the game hasn’t heard the famed “Shot Heard ‘Round
the World”? His home run in the decisive
1951 play-off game with the Brooklyn Dodgers gave the New York Giants the NL
Pennant (“The Giants win the Pennant!
The Giants win the Pennant!”). The
team would go on to lose to the Yankees in the World Series, but there is no
doubt that Thomson’s home run was one of the greatest in major league
In my usual off-topic comment, it appears that
Brett Favre will be quarterbacking the Minnesota Vikings in 2010. He flew to Minnesota today, and an
announcement regarding his decision is forthcoming. However, close friend, kicker Ryan Longwell, is
saying that Favre has decided to return (surprise, surprise). The only person that’s probably disappointed
is Tavaris Jackson, but T-Jack should be ready if Favre falters. If I were the Vikings GM, I’d be on the phone
trying to deal QB Sage Rosenfels. I’d
like to see the Vikings give the third QB slot to rookie Joe Webb. Is it really time for football again? Wow, this has been an incredibly fast
off-season. It seems like just yesterday
that Favre should have just ran instead of trying to throw in the loss to the
New Orleans Saints…
AP Photo/The Star Tribune, David Joles
Mo showed why he is great…
A day after losing a game in walk-off fashion to
the Texas Rangers, Mariano Rivera bounced back to save the Yankees’ 7-6 comeback
victory over the Rangers. So many
relievers have a tough time “forgetting yesterday”, but not Mo. After allowing a lead-off triple to Elvis
Andrus, he retired the next three batters to strand Andrus at third with what
would have been the tying run.
When Austin Kearns bounced into a double play with
the bases loaded to end the top half of the 8th inning with the
score 6-5 Texas, I thought the Yankees may have exhausted their chances for
victory. However, or rather , fortunately,
Marcus Thames proved me wrong. He
homered in the 8th, and drove in the eventual winning run in the 9th. Not bad for a guy who gets mentioned as an
afterthought when you name off Yankee players.
I am a bit disappointed with Kearns, who has failed to hit in key
situations since his arrival in the Bronx.
But to his credit, he did make a great shoestring catch in the 9th
in helping Mo to the save.
The other two recent acquisitions, Kerry Wood and
Lance Berkman, both played roles in Wednesday’s win. Wood pitched the 7th and 8th
innings in scoreless relief to pick up his first win as a Yankee. Berkman drove in a run in the 7th
on a ground rule double as the Yankees chipped away at what once had been a 6-1
Texas lead. Berkman, it should be noted,
was the only Yankees starter who did not strike out on a night when 17 Yankees
did, tying the dubious franchise record.
Nick Swisher, in particular, was an awful 0-for-5, with 4 SO’s.
Javier Vazquez, who had recently been diagnosed
with a “dead arm”, was very ineffective in the match-up against the almost
Yankee, Cliff Lee. Javy was out after 4 1/3
innings after he gave up 6 runs. I am
not quite sure what it will take to get Javy back to the level of pitching he
was at last month, but he needs to improve if the Yankees intend to hold off
the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox.
Matthew Emmons/US Presswire
Meanwhile, Cliff Lee was solid in striking out 11 Yankees although the Yankees were able to score against him late as he gave up a total of 4 runs through 6 1/3 innings. I remain hopeful that Lee will be the Yankees prime target in the free agent market after the season.
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
The Yankees were fortunate to get a win out of a
two game series that looked like it would be a sweep for Texas. The Rays lost to the Detroit Tigers, but the
Boston Red Sox steamrolled over the team that gave the Yankees and Rays so much
trouble, the Toronto Blue Jays. For all
of the key injuries Boston has suffered this year, they are within striking
distance at just 5 games back.
The series in Texas was tough. It started with news that hot-hitting Mark
Teixeira would remain in New York with his wife, who gave birth to their third
child, William Charles. I hated to see
the removal of Teixeira’s bat from the lineup, and it was compounded when
Robinson Cano couldn’t start the first game of the series due to illness
(although he did later pinch hit and entered the game as a replacement at 2nd
late in the game despite his weakened condition). Jorge Posada also missed the game, so those
were three huge voids in the lineup.
The Yankees now head for Kansas City for a
four-game set against the Royals.
Teixeira will rejoin the team, and should be in the lineup tonight. On paper, tonight’s game looks like a
mismatch (CC Sabathia versus Bruce Chen), however, the Yankees have not been
playing great ball lately. They missed a
great opportunity to bury both the Rays the Red Sox and couldn’t do it. Hopefully, the team can catch fire soon and
put the pressure on the other teams instead of carrying the weight on their own
On the bright side, the Yankees are still in first place…
Despite the loss to the Boston Red Sox on Friday night, the Yankees remain in first place, ½ game ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays who also lost (2-1 to the Toronto Blue Jays). The team needs to relax, re-group and come back on Saturday with a vengeance.
In tonight’s 6-3 loss, the Red Sox scored three runs, thanks in large part to an error by Francisco Cervelli (he dropped a pop-up that he should have handled). Thanks to the extra out, the Red Sox were able to push across three runs before the last out of the inning. It turned a 2-1 lead into a 4-2 deficit and with Clay Buchholz on the mound, the Yankees were never able to recover.
Saed Hindash/The Star Ledger
If there is one thing that stood out to me about Friday night’s game, it is the 12-pitch at-bat by Derek Jeter with two outs in the bottom of the 9th. He battled and battled hard before eventually drawing a walk. THAT exhibited the heart of a Lion. It went for naught when Nick Swisher flied out to end the game, but it was a tremendous at-bat by the Captain.
Somehow, the Yankees need to get Lance Berkman untracked. Lance went 0-for-4 and is now batting .105 since his arrival in the Bronx. Hopefully, he’ll have that defining moment with the Yankees and it will come sooner rather than later. He can play a huge part in the stretch run for the Yankees despite the overall down year for him.
It was good to hear that Andy Pettitte threw in the bullpen and is planning a late August return. He threw 35 to 40 pitches and felt good. He is planning to throw again on Sunday. That’s good news, and he’ll be a welcome sight for the rotation when he is able to return.
After Season 1 of Curtis Granderson (so far), I’d have to say that I would be a proponent for the Yankees to move Granderson in the off-season and pursue Tampa Bay free agent-to-be Carl Crawford and slide Brett Gardner back to center. Hopefully, Grandy can change opinions between now and the end of the season but he’s running out of time.
As for Derek Jeter, put me in the column that feels there is no way that the Yankees would let him leave. Using Cal Ripken as an example (or Carl Yastrzemski), it is great that those guys were able to go an entire career in one uniform. Watching the NFL’s Hall of Fame inductees, I still hate to think of Emmitt Smith, the Arizona Cardinal. It’s great that if you think of Troy Aikman or Michael Irvin, you can only associate them with one team. It’s bad enough when a great player puts on another uniform at the tail end of his career, but when they go to a bitter rival it’s worse. Case in point is long-time hockey star Mike Modano of the Dallas Stars who recently signed with the Detroit Red Wings. I realize that Detroit is home for Mike, but, still, the Red Wings are a bitter rival for the Stars. Mike has been one of my favorite players for so many years, yet for his final season, I won’t be a fan. I feel strongly that the Yankees will do whatever it takes to bring Jeter back for his final years. Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and Yogi Berra are a few of the great franchise names and they wore only the pinstripes. DJ deserves the same…
Lance Berkman, an all-time great for the Houston Astros, won’t get the chance to wear an Astros uniform from beginning to end, but I’d hate to see him bounce around with several teams at the end of his career. I am pulling for him to hit well enough for the Yankees to re-negotiate his deal to ensure a return in 2011.
Now, if Cliff Lee wants to change uniforms this off-season and put on pinstripes, I am okay with that…
P.S. Hey Julia, tomorrow is a new day! Go Yankees!
8th inning relief…
I was so relieved (no pun intended) when the
Yankees went with David Robertson and Boone Logan in the 8th inning
as a bridge between Javier Vazquez and Mariano Rivera in New York’s 3-2 win
over the Cleveland Indians. Both Robertson
and Logan did their respective jobs with no drama (unlike recent escapades with
This game was about redemption. Javier Vazquez continued to show that he has
moved well past his early season struggles and has perhaps shaken, for the now,
the tag that he is purely a NL pitcher.
Of course, he hasn’t pitched a big game yet, but he continues to pitch
very solidly while the other starters have taken their turns with issues. Hopefully, this is the Javy that we’ll see
now through October.
Theodorakis/NY Daily News
As recent as this weekend, Curtis Granderson was
viewed as a failure in New York.
Everyone has waited for Curtis the Tiger to show up, and finally, in the
last couple of games, he has. On Sunday,
in the Yankees’ 12-6 romp over the Kansas City Royals, Grandy had two home
runs. Tonight against the Indians, and
unlike Alex Rodriguez, he hit another one.
With the homer, Grandy finally broke into double digits with his 10th
of the season. It is a far cry from the
guy who was predicted to hit 40 home runs in New York but still, it is great to
finally see Granderson as an offensive force in the lineup. As with Vazquez, Grandy is a key to the
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Nick Swisher hit another home run. I regret ever having preferred Xavier Nady
over Swish in right. Swisher has been
terrific this season and with his 18th home run of the season
tonight, he is just a mere two homers beyond team leader Mark Teixeira. Hey Swish, maybe you could give hitting
lessons to A-Rod! 😉
I will also put both Robertson and Logan into the
redemption category. Logan has seen his
share of the Bronx-Scranton/Wilkes Barre Shuttle, while Robertson has struggled
at times to match the success of last season.
Tonight, they were perfect in the 8th when anything less
could have been disastrous given the one run margin.
It was nice that on a night when the big guys
(Jeter, Teixeira, A-Rod, and Cano) went a combined 0-for-14 with 3 strikeouts,
the Yankees could still emerge with the victory. Some
great pitching, a few key hits, and Mariano Rivera are the perfect formula for
Apparently, the Yankees made a big, but
unsuccessful, push for Royals closer Joakim Soria. Soria would have made a great bridge to
Mariano Rivera, but it doesn’t appear that the two teams match up
trade-wise. The Yankees were rumored to
be the frontrunners for Cliff Lee and Dan Haren, yet they lost out on both
pitchers. I was more disappointed about
Lee, who I am still hopeful the Yankees will pursue in the off-season.
The Canadian Press
I had mixed feelings about Haren, and I felt that
his salary would have been problematic in the Yanks’ chances to pursue Lee
during free agency. So, all things
considered, I am glad to see him go to the Los Angeles Angels. I don’t think the Angels will catch the Texas
Rangers so it will be an uphill battle for the Angels to make the
play-offs. Of the remaining pitchers on
the market, I’d probably rather go after someone like Ted Lilly than Roy
Oswalt. Lilly is a good pitcher and
knows how to pitch in New York.
This week should be interesting with all the trade
speculation and actual trade results as we move toward the end of the
week. Of course, this is probably another
case of ‘all bark, no bite’ as the speculation will exceed the actual
results. With so many teams unwilling to
add to payroll, there should still be decent trading activity in August as
players clear waivers. Still, I am
anxious to see what player will get the tag of being the first post-George Steinbrenner
In a note of good news, manager Joe Girardi has
announced that Dustin Moseley will start Thursday’s game in place of Sergio
Mitre. I am anxious to see what Moseley
can do in his first start for the Bronx Bombers. Anything has to be an upgrade over Meat Tray…
Mike Stobe/Getty Images
I know that everyone is entitled to their opinion,
but I’d like to say that Bill “The Spaceman” Lee is a jerk. According to the USA Today Sports Weekly, Lee
told WMUR-TV (New Hampshire) “As far as Steinbrenner’s passing…good”. He went on to say, “If hell freezes over, he’ll
be skating”. Hey Lee, how did you enjoy
that World Series Championship? Oh yeah,
you never won one!
I’ll take a split…
Fortunately for the Yankees, they emerged victorious today against the Los Angeles Angels to split the two game series. The mediocre pitching line continued, albeit with no injuries, but the Yankee bats were active enough to ensure sufficient runs by the time the Angels recorded their last out in the top of the 9th inning.
William Perlman/The Star Ledger
Javier Vazquez gave up 9 hits and 5 runs in 5 innings, but it was enough to earn his 8th victory (against 7 losses). The key hit was a pinch hit three-run homer in the 7th by Colin Curtis. Robinson Cano and Juan Miranda also homered in the game, but Alex Rodriguez did not so he remains at 598 home runs. Curtis was an interesting story as he entered the game after Brett Gardner was thrown out of the game while batting. So, the strike count stood at two before Curtis even got warmed up.
Vazquez, with the victory, has defeated all 30 major league teams.
Playing against the Yankees definitely helped Hideki Matsui break out of his slump. He had only hit only one home run since June 7th before playing the Yankees. In the two game series, he homered in each game. I am okay with Godzilla getting his hits so long as they aren’t the game winners. Fortunately, they weren’t either day.
Paul Rodriguez/The Orange County Register
The Yankees split the season series with the Angels, 4-4, and won’t see them again unless they meet in the play-offs. The Yankees now await the arrival of the Kansas City Royals.
Happy Birthday to CC Sabathia, who celebrated his 30th birthday today!
Joel Sherman ran a piece in his New York Post column this morning where he speculated that Yankees manager Joe Girardi could be a potential target for managerial vacancy created with the Chicago Cubs when Lou Piniella announced that he would be retiring at the end of the season. I completely agree with his analysis. I’ve always considered Girardi to be a “Chicago” guy. He was born and raised in the area, as was his wife, and he started professional baseball with the Cubs and played there again after he left the Yankees.
It started me to think who the Yankees would turn to if the worst case scenario played out (Girardi leaving at the end of the season, which is, by the way, the expiration of his current contract). The first guy I thought about for the position was Don Mattingly. Mattingly is the assumed replacement for current Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre. However, Torre still hasn’t decided if he’ll manage next year, and of course, the whole situation with the Dodgers ownership (the McCourt divorce situation) could create the right circumstances to woo Mattingly back to New York.
But when I turned on ESPN this morning, they were showing the highlights of last night’s Dodgers-Giants game where Mattingly had assumed management of the team after both Joe Torre and bench coach Bob Schaefer had been ejected. In the 9th inning, with closer Jonathan Broxton on the mound, Mattingly went out to pay a visit. As he started to walk away, he decided that he wanted to say something else to Broxton and turned back around. He realized that he had made a mistake when the umpires were saying “no” but by then, it was too late. When he made the about face, it counted as a second trip to the mound so he had no choice but to pull Broxton. George Sherrill was brought in and the Dodgers let a 5-4 lead slip away as they ultimately lost the game 7-5. Now, I agree, the faux paux would not be reason to avoid hiring Mattingly but the timing couldn’t have been worse (at least for me).
It’s tough. As much as I like Mattingly, I am not sure that I am a proponent for a rookie manager. I think the year in Florida as the Marlins manager was invaluable for Joe Girardi. He is a better manager today for the experience. Same with Terry Francona in Boston. He is one of the best managers in baseball, and I think it can be directly attributed to his learning opportunity with the Phillies. For the Cubs, I still think Ryne Sandberg is the best fit for the organization. But if you were the owner of the Cubs, would you want a Triple A manager who has never managed in the bigs or a highly prepared and accomplished major league manager with a World Series resume? There are just not that many attractive managerial candidates in my opinion. I am sure that Bobby Valentine will re-surface at some point, as well Buck Showalter, but neither of those guys excite me. If the Steinbrenner Family is smart, they’ll take care of Girardi and never let him have the chance to consider the Cubs.
The deaths in the Yankees family have, unfortunately, continued into this week. The latest is the Yankees manager from the great 1961 season of Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris (the year that Roger hit 61 home runs and the Yankees won the World Series), Ralph Houk. His World Series championships (he also won in 1962) were the last before the demise of the team under the ownership of CBS and before George Steinbrenner purchased the team. He had taken over as the Yankees manager replacing Casey Stengel in 1960 after the Yankees had lost the World Series to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Houk would manage until 1963, when he stepped into the front office. He returned to managing the Yankees in 1966 and stayed through 1973, Steinbrenner’s first year. I primarily remember Houk as the manager for the Detroit Tigers, although he did manage the Boston Red Sox at the end of his managerial career. Houk apparently died today at his home in Winter Haven, FL of natural causes. He was 90.
No drama; just quiet efficiency from Javier Vazquez and the Yankees…
During the last road trip, the Yankees struggled in the games following their cross-country jaunts…both to and from. Sunday at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees defeated the Toronto Blue Jays on a 10th inning walk-off run-scoring single by Marcus Thames before heading to California. With no off-day, they played the Oakland A’s on Monday night and picked up another win, 3-1. This time, they led from beginning to end, and everyone did exactly what they were supposed to.
Javier Vazquez has definitely rebounded from his disastrous start and has quietly been the Yankees most effective starter for the past month. He pitched 7 innings, and only gave up 3 hits and 1 run (he walked 2 and struck out 2). Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera retired all three batters they faced in the 8th and 9th innings, respectively. No runners in scoring position. No wild pitches. No balks. No hit batters. No bloop singles. It was exactly what you would want from a pitching staff. It was nice seeing a pitcher other than a Yankee with a hand to the face for a change (I like to call this the CC Sabathia pose…okay, “like” might not be the right word)…
The Yankees had scored early with two runs in the 2nd innings thanks to a run-scoring triple by Curtis Granderson and a run-scoring single by Francisco Cervelli. The A’s answered with a run in the 3rd when Coco Crisp hit a sacrifice fly to score Cliff Pennington, who had tripled. It would be the final time in the game for the A’s to get a runner past second base. Mark Teixeira added an insurance run with a homer in the 6th inning. Only two batters in the Yankees lineup were hitless (Brett Gardner and Alex Rodriguez).
Monica M. Davey/EPA
Game time was only 2 hours, 35 minutes. Very un-Yankee like!
For all the wins this year, I’d say that this one had the least amount of stress that I’ve experienced and that includes any blowouts. On one hand, I have very excited that Javier Vazquez has turned it around. I was starting to buy into the talk that he wasn’t anything more than a National League pitcher. Of course, I do have the fear that he could revert to the awful early season form. The downside, if that happens, is that the timing of his improvement probably nixes any chance that the Yankees would pursue Seattle’s Cliff Lee. The team has greater needs, but Lee would be a nice addition given the strong potential for Andy Pettitte’s off-season retirement and Vazquez’s impending free agency.
Speaking of Pettitte, congratulations to him for making the American League All-Star Team as a replacement for Boston’s injured starter Clay Buchholz. The AL All-Stars are definitely taking a very Yankee-like appearance, however, I do feel that the starter in the All-Star Game should be Boston’s Jon Lester.
Since I’ve made the segue to the Red Sox, it’s time for another installment of my “forced” spotlight on a member of the Boston Red Sox (thanks to a wager loss to my friend Julia of Julia’s Rants). For today’s profile, I’ll go with the closer…
#58 Jonathan Papelbon
One of the few Red Sox stars not actually on the Disabled List, Pap has been with the Sox since 2005 (becoming the closer in 2006). Originally, he was projected to be a starter, but a shoulder injury caused the Red Sox to re-think their strategy and as a result, Papelbon has become one of the AL’s premier closers.
He was born in Baton Rouge, LA on November 23, 1980. After a highly successful high school career in Jacksonville, FL, he went to Mississippi State where he was the team’s closer for three years. He was drafted by the Oakland A’s in 2003 but did not sign in order to stay in college for one more year in a subsequently failed attempt to reach the College World Series. The next year, he was drafted by the Boston Red Sox.
Despite the relief appearances when he was called up in 2005, the team’s plan, as previously mentioned, was to put Papelbon into the rotation in 2006. The closer at the time, Keith Foulke, was unable to capture his pre-injury form, and Pap took over as the guy at the back end of the pitching staff.
Pap’s accomplishments include throwing the game-ending strikeout to win the 2007 World Series against the Colorado Rockies. Since 2006, he has had at least 35 saves each season with a high of 41 in 2008. He has 170 saves for his career. In 301 games, he sports an ERA of 2.03 in 332 innings pitched with 376 strikeouts. He is the franchise leader in saves, and as hard as it is to believe, the first Red Sox closer to record two 30-save seasons.
He holds several records:
· Most consecutive scoreless innings to start a post-season career (26 innings).
· Most saves by a rookie closer (35 saves).
Papelbon has two younger twin brothers in baseball. Josh is in the Red Sox organization (AA Portland), while Jeremy is with the Cubs (AA Tennessee).
Hey Julia, how many more of these do I have to go? Geesh! 😉