What’s the plan?…
Well, it’s January 2015. The Yankees roster is slowly evolving. The latest addition/return was the surprise re-signing of Stephen Drew which certainly makes sense. While I still prefer to see Rob Refsnyder win the second base job outright, Drew certainly provides great insurance at both second base and shortstop. It’s no sure thing that Didi Gregorius will be successful and I’d prefer not to see Brendan Ryan as the only other choice, even if he is a slick fielder.
I am still concerned about the starting rotation. Reading CC Sabathia say the knee is fine is hardly a ringing endorsement that he’ll be the CC of old. I think best case he is a strong #3 in the rotation if he is able to come back healthy. His days as the team’s ace are over…in my opinion. The hope of the rotation lies with Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda. Obviously, there are health concerns with both pitchers. Even though Ivan Nova will return later in the year, I do not expect him to be back up to par until 2016. Nathan Eovaldi is the project. The Yankees apparently think they can turn him around and perhaps they can. It would be good to get him to the point that he is as reliable and consistent as Hiroki Kuroda was.
While I get why the Yankees will not pay $200 million for Max Scherzer, I wish they would make a play for James Shields. With a rotation containing so much uncertainty, the Yankees really need a dependable starter without question marks.
I have heard some rumblings that the Yankees now have the prospects to make a trade for Cole Hamels, but I am not sure that’s one I would pursue. I like prospects such as Aaron Judge and Luis Severino and want to see them succeed in pinstripes. It was tough when I was a kid and the Yankees were always trading youth for veterans. Doug Drabek, Jay Buhner, Fred McGriff, Al Leiter, J.T. Snow, Brad Ausmus. I know the list is much longer than this, but it was tough watching guys like that succeed elsewhere.
I don’t think that Cole Hamels would be the missing ingredient to suddenly make the Yankees the World Series favorites. So, if he is not the difference maker, then the Yankees shouldn’t raid the cupboards to bring him aboard. I’d rather see Hamels go to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The fear of course is that he’ll be calling Fenway Park home next season.
At this point, I still do not see the 2015 Yankees making the play-offs. I think the Baltimore Orioles will still be the team to beat. They suffered off-season losses, yes, but they’ll also be getting back Manny Machado, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters. The Toronto Blue Jays look to be the most improved team and they’ve been a team of potential for a few years. Boston will be stronger, and it’s best to never underestimate the Tampa Bay Rays even if Joe Maddon and Andrew Friedman are no longer calling the shots.
There’s still time for GM Brian Cashman to make the moves to propel the Yankees into contention but so much is riding on better seasons from Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, and Mark Teixeira. Of the group, McCann is the only one I feel is capable for turning it around. Beltran and Teixeira are in their decline years, and that slippery slope is steeper for some guys.
Hear the voice of the Bard!…
There’s a nice piece in Nick Cafardo’s column today (Sunday Baseball Notes in The Boston Globe) about the comeback of Daniel Bard. It would be good to see Bard successfully return to his position of bullpen relevance after years of struggle. Perhaps that’s a buy low signing the Yankees should pursue. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. There was a time when Bard was a Yankees draft pick although he never signed. Even if he goes back to Boston or another team, I truly hope that Bard is successful.
Short walk to the Hall…
Congratulations to the Hall of Fame inductees: John Smoltz, Randy Johnson, Craig Biggio, and Pedro Martinez. I think all of the selections were justified. It was sad that it was the final ballot appearance for Don Mattingly, but it was a given that he was not going to make it. Maybe he can take the Joe Torre route…great managerial success to go with a strong playing career…to gain access to the Hall.
25 years is long enough…
Put me in the group of people who want to see Pete Rose allowed to enter the Hall of Fame. He remains one of the best players I’ve been privileged to see play in my lifetime. This is not an endorsement of Pete the man and I feel what he did was wrong, however, Pete the player was one of the best players of all-time.
I am glad that this is the last full month without any baseball activity. Looking forward to the opening of spring training camps next month.
I thought I was supposed to wear the white uniform!…
In recent years, it has seemed as though no Yankee trade sneaks up on you. Even with Curtis Granderson, there were rumors swirling around before the deal was finally consummated. It has seemed like the press has been tapped into GM Brian Cashman’s inner thoughts. But admittedly, the Ichiro Suzuki trade surprised me.
Years ago, this would have been a headline deal but it’s now obviously the acquisition of a former great player in the twilight of his career.
In recent weeks, I had seen other owners in fantasy leagues start to drop Ichiro from their rosters. I had not been keeping up with his stats but I knew he was no longer the player he once was. But if anything, Derek Jeter has shown what goes down does not necessarily have to stay down. Some are suggested that Ichiro will be revitalized in the midst of a pennant race and the spotlight of New York. Maybe so, maybe not. But if you asked me if I prefer Ichiro in the outfield over DeWayne Wise or exposing Andruw Jones or Raul Ibanez to too much play, the answer would be, without hesitation, yes. I was a bit disappointed when I first heard the news of the trade as visions of Shane Victorino or Denard Span were dancing in my head. Yet, the realist in me knows that the cost to acquire either of those players would have exceeded the reward. On the other hand, Ichiro is simply a rental for the remainder of the season. He’ll be a free agent in the off-season so he’ll hand left field back to Brett Gardner when he departs the Stadium in October.
I remember the thrill of seeing my first game at Safeco Field. The player I was most interested in seeing was Ichiro and he did not disappoint. He came through with a few clutch hits and showed why he has been one of the better players over the past decade. The Yankees have missed a clutch bat so hopefully a revitalized Ichiro means that they’ll have the “pest” they need at the plate and on the base paths.
I know that the pitchers the Yankees gave up were not top shelf talent (D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquahar) but they have the chance to be good major league pitchers. I always hate to see good talent leave, especially if Ichiro’s days in pinstripes do not go beyond the next couple of months. I always remember how much I hated watching Jay Buhner punish the Yankees while wearing a Mariners uniform and wondering what could have been if the Yanks had held on to him. Now, with former top prospect Jesus Montero in Seattle, there are multiple players in the Great Northwest who could haunt their former team. The Mariners go for 20-something former Yankees while the Yankees go for almost 40-something ex-Mariners. I think the M’s have the better business formula even if it isn’t showing up in wins quite yet.
Now that I’ve gotten over the shock of the trade, I will admit that it is nice to see Ichiro in a Yankees uniform. It will be even better if he can get on base with consistency and make crossing home plate a common occurrence.
If there’s one thing about the trade that struck me as unusual, it is the consummation of the deal prior to the start of the Yankees-Mariners series in Seattle. The trade guaranteed the Mariners fans would be subjected to watching the first three games of Ichiro’s post-Seattle career in an opposing uniform. Not any uniform but the most hated and despised uniform in most parts of the country outside of NYC. The Yankees apparently had conditions Ichiro had to agree to (batting in the bottom of the order, moving to left, and accepting an outfield rotation to get the bats of Jones and Ibanez into the lineup). So, perhaps the Yankees had the upper hand in this deal and argued that it had to happen sooner rather the later. For the Mariners, the motivation is clearly to move on and to further develop their further stars.
After the Cliff Lee debacle when he went to the Texas Rangers for Justin Smoak after the Yankees thought they had acquired him, I really didn’t think the Yankees would forgive the Mariners and their general manager. But after the Michael Pineda and Ichiro deals, there is no evidence of hard feelings. Cliff Lee just wasn’t meant to be a Yankee. He proved that with his own decision to rebuke the team to re-sign with the Philadelphia Phillies. Lee is a good pitcher but some guys weren’t meant for Broadway.
The question now is if the Yankees are done dealing before the trading deadline. With the returns of Joba Chamberlain and Andy Pettitte looming on the horizon, perhaps they are the moves that can catapult the Yankees to the World Series. I can’t really think of another move the Yankees need to make other than further enhancing an already good bullpen. Sure, if the Philadelphia Phillies called to say that they’d trade Roy Halladay for Ivan Nova, you’d pull the trigger, but seriously, that’s not going to happen.
For the lack of better words, Ouch!…
After moving back to the Bay Area and living in what is described as A’s territory, it was really tough to see the Yankees swept in four games against the upstart A’s. While the Yankees hold a 7 game lead, the race is far from over. I still expect the Tampa Bay Rays to make a run, and of course, I am always fearful the Boston Red Sox make some major moves that propel them back into contention. I’d be foolish to underestimate Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles. So, every day, Brian Cashman needs to be trying to find ways to improve the team. The nice thing is that I know he is.
Open the Cooperstown doors now…
I think I read recently that Mariano Rivera would like to make his return in September rather than next spring. While I doubt he’ll be able to do it, I wouldn’t be surprised if he did. He is clearly one of the most gifted athletes of our time. He is my favorite current Yankee and he’ll be on the fast track to Cooperstown when he retires. I am sure that his spot in Memorial Park has already been reserved, along with Derek Jeter’s. It would have been great to watch guys like Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle play, but I am glad that I lived in the Rivera/Jeter era. I look forward to telling my grandchildren that I saw the game’s greatest closer play. As a kid, I thought Rich “Goose” Gossage was the greatest closer. I never realizvbbbbb
But are they Yankees fans?…
I am the proud owner of two rescue kittens named Nathalia and Sophie. They are sisters and at times, they are the synchronized twins. Two American Shorthairs, both black and one with with a white undercoat, they have proven their love of baseball. During the recent Yankees-Red Sox series in Boston, the sisters were engrossed in watching the game, just like their roommate (me). I love this pic…
And the winner is…
The next week should be fun as teams race against the trading deadline. Maybe it will be quiet, maybe not. I fully expect the Red Sox and in particular, GM Ben Cherington, to make a bold move. I respect Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster for preferring to pitch for the Los Angeles Dodgers over the Atlanta Braves (I should qualify that by saying my favorite NL team is the Dodgers). The Tigers have been active as evidenced by their recent acquisitions of Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante. I saw tonight that the Pittsburgh Pirates were close to acquiring Wandy Rodriguez, who has long been on the radar for both the Yanks and Red Sox. I almost missed the trade of Astros closer Brett Myers to the Chicago White Sox. I think the Sox have the market cornered on goatees.
I am still missing Minneapolis but I am enjoying this baseball season. Life is good.
P.S. Looking for some great photos? Check out Erik van den Ham’s website, http://www.panoramio.com/user/62613. Excellent!
Playing better while waiting for an old friend…
With news that Andy Pettitte will be starting on Sunday against the Seattle Mariners, it’s good to see the Yankees starting to play with more consistency. It’s no coincidence that the Yankees better play of late comes during a month when Robinson Cano’s bat has started to heat up. He is essential to the team’s success given an inability to consistently depend upon Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez.
CC Sabathia was in prime form against David Price and the Tampa Bay Rays as the Yanks took the final game of the series this week, and 2 of 3 from the Rays after getting swept in the season opening series in St. Petersburg. I realize that David Robertson was not available to pitch on Friday night after his previous workload, but Rafael Soriano’s performance in saving the game does help illustrate the Yankees might be better served by having Soriano close and returning Robertson to his highly successful setup role.
I am not ready to condemn Robertson for the failed save that gave the Rays their only win of the series, but Soriano simply has much more experience closing games. Robertson is great in the 7th and 8th innings, and perhaps he’ll be a future All-Star closer. But for now, I’d rather go with experience at the end of the game and ensure that the 7th and 8th innings are covered. It’s tough because I think very highly of Robertson, but his ability to weave in and out of trouble plays better in the earlier innings than it does the 9th. Soriano is being paid like a closer, and it would be easier to fill his setup role than it is Robertson’s.
When I first heard Friday’s pitching match-up was Seattle’s King Felix against Hiroki Kuroda, I wasn’t sure what to think. Felix Hernandez is among the best pitchers in baseball and Kuroda has been inconsistent since his arrival in the AL. But it turned out to be one of Kuroda’s better performances as the Yankees defeated the Mariners, 6-2. The game did see a home run from former Yankees prospect Jesus Montero. I hope this is not a sign of things to come. It was never fun watching Jay Buhner taunt the Yankees after they traded him to Seattle, and I was glad when Buhner finally retired. But now, with Montero in Seattle, it is Buhner revisited as I am sure he’ll become the latest Yankee killer.
I was relieved to see the Yankees option Eduardo Nunez to minor leagues after his continued errors. I am not sure what he can do to improve his fielding but I’d rather see him work on it in the minors rather than at Yankee Stadium. Nunez’s exit meant the return of Eric Chavez from the DL, which is good for Alex Rodriguez.
I am anxious to see what Andy Pettitte is able to do on Sunday. Based on his late start in the minors, he didn’t appear ready. But then again, with a professional like Pettitte, you can’t really judge his performance in a minor league game. Andy knows when he is ready and he would not have accepted the advancement back to the Bronx if he didn’t feel that he was ready for major league hitters. I was listening to John Smoltz on ESPN Radio today and he said that it would probably take 3-5 starts for Pettitte to get back up to speed. I am sure that Joe Girardi will have David Phelps on call during Pettitte’s starts in case he needs long relief, but I am hopeful that Andy can keep his team in games while he works his way back. At any rate, best of luck to Andy on Sunday!
Billy Beane’s working the bargain bin once again…
What’s Brandon Inge good for? All he does is hit grand slams! Seriously, it is good to see Inge start off his Oakland A’s career in grand fashion. I haven’t followed the Detroit Tigers closely this season but admittedly I was very surprised when Inge received his release from the Tigers. He had been such a mainstay in Detroit over the years, and was always there to fill a need. From afar, he seemed to be the consummate professional. After he was cut by the Tigers, I didn’t expect him to be unemployed for long and of course the A’s signed him shortly thereafter.
When I first heard this morning that Inge had hit a grand slam, I thought they were referring to the one a few days ago. But he had hit his second slam in three days on Friday. If getting hits had been a problem in Detroit this year, Inge doesn’t seem to have the same affliction in the Bay Area.
Hopefully, this is a start of good things for Inge in Oakland….
Role model for not how to act…
I have never been a fan of Josh Beckett. I may be a Yankees fan, but there are players on the Red Sox roster that I respect. Beckett just isn’t one of them. Beckett played a key role in the September swoon that cost the Red Sox a play-off spot last season and he showed no remorse for his actions. So, it should come as no surprise that Beckett was dismissive of the public’s negative perception of his decision to play golf after missing a start due to a lat muscle. Regardless of whether he was physically able to play golf is not the issue, it is the negative perception that it created in the minds of the Red Sox Nation as well as the rest of the country.
I agree with the backlash against Beckett. His comments after getting pummeled by the Cleveland Indians last night came across as very smug. His comment that he only gets 18 days off a year was ridiculous. If baseball isn’t important to him, then he should return his $17 million annual salary to the Red Sox. I just don’t understand why he couldn’t say something like he was physically feeling well enough to play golf and the golf swing had no impact on the muscle soreness that he had been experiencing, and he was sorry for putting himself ahead of the team. I know that’s just not Beckett’s personality, but these types of incidents are creating a wedge between Beckett and the RSN. I’ve heard some say that the next time Beckett racks up 13 strikeouts or throws a shutout, all will be forgiven. Perhaps there’s some truth to it, but I don’t see Beckett ever fully repairing the damage he’s done.
I am surprised that Bobby Valentine is not saying much, but then again, he probably learned his lesson after he made negative remarks about Kevin Youkilis. Or maybe Bobby doesn’t want to completely alienate his pitcher, given how critical he had been of Beckett when he was part of the media.
Beckett deserves much credit for the success the Boston Red Sox have enjoyed in recent years, but he is doing his best to put a sour note on his legacy.
After being sacked on third down, Vikes toss a Hail Mary…
Congratulations to the Minnesota Vikings and the city of Minneapolis, as well as Vikings fans everywhere, for the passage of the $975 stadium deal through the Minnesota House and Senate. This has been an incredible roller coaster ride for years. Just a couple of weeks ago, it looked as though all might be lost. Then , NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell came to Minnesota, and helped to reignite talks. The bill still has to be signed off by the governor, but that’s a foregone conclusion as he’s been in support of a new stadium. I am glad to see that the Vikings will be staying in Minnesota and won’t be a flight risk to Los Angeles.
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.
The first win of the season
goes to my friend Julia, of Julia’s Rants.
Despite an 0-6 start to the season, the Boston Red Sox were able to
capture their first two wins of the season in this past weekend’s series
against the New York Yankees.
With the loss, I have to
write about what’s right with the Red Sox and what’s wrong with the Yankees. So, here it goes…
Why the Boston Red Sox will win…
Pitching, pitching, pitching. Say what you
will about Dice-K, but the Red Sox have, arguably, the best starting rotation
in the American League. Jon Lester has
been one of my favorite pitchers and will be a Cy Young candidate when the
season is over. Despite some early
season struggles, I definitely feel that Clay Buchholz is one of the up and
coming stars and will be solid over the course of the long season. I know that the third starter, John Lackey,
has also struggled, but I feel very strongly that he’ll find his niche in
Boston and will consistently put the Sox in a position to win. Josh Beckett, if he continues to pitch like
he did on Sunday, is back. The Yankees
have a rookie in the 4th spot…the Sox have a former ace and one who
is capable of pitching like the elite pitcher he once was.
You can say that the Yankees
have the better bullpen, but if Jonathan Papelbon falters, the Sox have several
fallback options in former Chicago White Sox closer Bobby Jenks and future
closer Daniel Bard. They have reliable
arms in the pen, and have a proven long man in a guy the Yankees are well
familiar with (Alfredo Aceves). The gap
between the Sox and Yankee pens won’t be as big as experts may believe,
especially since the Sox will be able to be more selective in relief with a
superior rotation that is able to go much deeper into games.
Adrian Gonzalez. Count me as one of those who
believe that Gonzalez will be a monster at Fenway Park. He counteracts anything the Yankees have with
Mark Teixeira plus he has the intangibles.
A few years back, I was constantly looking up to see the highlights of
David Ortiz with another walk-off home run.
I fully expect Gonzalez to be that guy for the Sox, and he is going to
win games with both his bat and his glove.
Disruption. Once Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury get
going (it’s a question of when, not if), the Sox are going to be very
disruptive for opposing pitchers.
Singlehandedly, they have the ability to change the complexion and
momentum of games.
The forgotten hitter. For all the
headlines the newest additions have gotten and the return of players who were
injured last year (like Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia), it is easy to forget that
this lineup still features third baseman Kevin Youkilis. Youk is one of the best clutch hitters in
baseball, and teams will be so focused on stopping Crawford and Gonzalez that
they’ll lose sight of Youk…and will pay a high price for it.
The dead will rise. It is easy
for people to write off David Ortiz and Jason Varitek given their respective
ages, however, they are both consummate professionals who can still perform at
a high level. Like the Toby Keith song
goes, ‘I may not be a good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was’. There’s no doubt that these two will figure
prominently in Sox wins over the summer.
The bench. If there is anything I’ve learned about the
Sox, it is to never underestimate the power of Theo. Time and again, names come out of nowhere to
lead the Sox to victory. They had a
chance to catch the Yankees last September despite fielding a roster of
unknowns. Even on Tuesday night’s game,
the first run of the game came courtesy of a home run by Darnell McDonald. It wasn’t that long ago the Yankees wanted
Mike Cameron as their centerfielder, and here he is backing up the Sox
regulars. I don’t care if the player’s name
is Dork Fumblefingers. If he puts on a
Sox uniform, he is most likely going to hit game winning home runs and make
highlight reel catches in the outfield.
Terry Francona. When the Sox lose, Francona
detractors seem to come out of the woodwork, but he is, in my opinion, the best
manager in baseball. The only place with
greater expectations than New York might just be Boston, yet Terry is always a
show of class and his decision making skills show a deft understanding of now
and the future (i.e., the season). He
garners the most of his roster, and I have no doubt that he’ll right the ship
despite the slow start to the 2011 season.
With the Sox standing at 2-8 entering play tonight, people are quick to
say how poorly comparable teams have finished.
I will argue that when the season is done, the Sox will be the model of
the franchise that was able to successfully overcome such a poor start. In future years, when a team goes on a losing
streak to start the season, the media will be saying ‘but the 2011 Red Sox were
able to overcome…’.
Theo Epstein, Larry Lucchino, and John Henry. These
gentlemen took a franchise that was “cursed” from the 1923 trade that sent Babe
Ruth to the Yankees, and eradicated the word “curse” from the Red Sox
vocabulary. I also have not heard any
mention of Bucky Friggin’ Dent in several years. These guys have successfully brought two
world championships to Boston, and there is no doubt that they’ll have a third
one in the not-so-distant future (much to my chagrin).
The RSN. The fan base for the Sox is the most
passionate and fervent of any that I’ve experienced. I am not saying that Yankees fans aren’t
passionate, but Sox fans are like no other.
They stuck by their team when championships were only something their
grandparents or great-grandparents had ever experienced. Yankees fans get spoiled by championships in
almost every decade. The Sox fans have a
greater understanding and appreciation of what it means to be a true
champion. I am not one of them, but I
Why the Yankees won’t win…
Pitching, pitching, pitching. As great as
CC Sabathia is, he is still not a sure thing.
He has his moments where he struggles.
I know, like all pitchers, but there is something special when a pitcher
like Roy Halladay takes the mound. Win
or lose, you expect the team to win. I
expect the Yankees to win when CC is on the mound, but it is not with the
confidence that I’d have if Halladay were a Yankee. After CC, there is nothing but question
marks. A.J. Burnett has pitched well to
start the season, but he always starts good.
It is how he finishes. If he
reverts to 2010 A.J., the Yankees are toast.
Phil Hughes and the decreased velocity are a concern. He finished poorly last season, and he has
yet to pitch lights out this year. At
this point, I am really not sure what Hughes lies ahead. After Hughes is a rookie, Ivan Nova, who has
pitched well, but how will he perform the second time around when opposing
lineups get used to him? Can he make the
necessary adjustments? As it stood, the
ceiling for Nova was much lower than it is for guys like Brian Matusz or Jeremy
Hellickson (or even Michael Pineda). Is
he in the rotation because he has the potential to be great or is it because
none of the other prospects are ready. I
remain fearful that it’s the latter. I’ve
heard that Nova’s future is in the pen, and that doesn’t bode well for the
rotation. In the fifth spot, who
knows. Freddy Garcia has yet to pitch
due to rain delays. Bartolo Colon is
waiting in the wings if Garcia stumbles, as are Kevin Millwood and Carlos
Silva. None of the options instill
The bullpen looks great on
paper, but already this season, there have been failures by Rafael Soriano and
Joba Chamberlain. Pedro Feliciano is on
the DL and I heard that he had a setback today.
Luis Ayala is headed for the DL so the Yankees are already looking to
Scranton-Wilkes Barre for replacements.
One of these years, Mariano Rivera is actually going to show his
age. Will this be the year?
Aging lineup. Mark Teixeira is already
31? Seriously, we are already in the
midst of another April chill for Tex. He
started strong this year (thanks to Opening Day in March), but he went 0-fer
against the Sox. He was as much responsible
for me writing this post as anyone.
Derek Jeter has continued to show his age and is providing evidence that
his down season in 2010 may be a sign of things to come. Jorge Posada feels like a fish out of water
at DH. He’s done at catcher so where’s
his long-term potential with this team?
Alex Rodriguez looked great during spring training, but he is getting
older. Question marks continue to dog
Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner. The
Yankees are a great offensive club, but their hitters just don’t put fear in
you. If they don’t hit, they can be beat
as Josh Beckett proved on Sunday night.
In October, you’re facing the best pitchers in baseball. If the Yankees can’t hit the best, they can’t
be the best.
The bench. Don’t get me wrong…I love Eric Chavez and I
am glad that he’s a Yankee. But I am
concerned that injuries may force the Yankees to play Chavez more than they
should, exposing him to potential injury.
What if Derek Jeter is done? Is
Nunez ready to take over at short? I really
don’t expect this to be the year that Jeter goes south, but you have to
recognize that it could happen. It
eventually happens to all superstars.
Hank Steinbrenner. Eventually,
Hank is going to make an impulsive move that he’ll regret. I am sure that he has a Jay Buhner like trade
that he’ll force causing the Yankees to relinquish a prime prospect for an
aging past-his-prime veteran in an effort to shake things up.
The off-season. As difficult as last season was,
there is the potential that this off-season will be even more difficult. CC Sabathia can opt out of his contract, as
can Rafael Soriano. If the Yankees lose
Sabathia, they won’t be able to recover.
As the season progresses, the Sabathia opt-out is going to get more and
more ink. Hopefully, it doesn’t become a
Who knows that the 2011
season holds in store for the Yankees and the Red Sox, but I can assure you,
that both teams will be in the thick of things come September. I will never be fooled by Boston’s slow start. This is a very dangerous team and one that
can never be underestimated.
Clearly, I want the Yankees
to win, and I am hopeful they will, but Boston, even at 2-9, is still the best
team in the American League from top to bottom.
That may change by the trading deadline, but as it stands today, the Sox
are still a team capable of 100 wins.
Julia, I’m out…