Glass is starting to look half empty…
I remember back at the start of the year when there was about one dominant cycle through the starting rotation of CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda and Masahiro Tanaka. At the time, I was very optimistic about the team’s chances, particularly if the new acquisitions like Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran hit like they always had. But fast forward to July, the team is playing .500 baseball and as Michael Kay said on a recent YES network broadcast, Hiroki Kuroda is “the last man standing”. One moment, Masahiro Tanaka was the pride of the Yankees…most wins for an AL starter, an All-Star selection, league leader in ERA, front-runner for Rookie of the Year, but then the next moment, after a couple of non-quality starts, it’s learned that he has a slight tear an elbow ligament that will sideline him for six weeks. While it is encouraging that surgery is not recommended at this time, the threat of potential Tommy John surgery is real if the rehab is not successful.
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With Kuroda standing as the lone original starter, the rest of the spots are starting to feel like last year’s attempts to fill first base with journeymen to replace Mark Teixeira. Of the replacement starters, David Phelps has had the most consistency. Others like Chase Whitley may have had greater success at times but they’ve also had the more horrific starts. The pressure the patchwork rotation has placed on the bullpen has been immense.
The trade for Arizona Diamondbacks starter Brandon McCarthy, on the fast track for 20 losses, doesn’t improve the starting rotation but he does give them much needed innings. The only spots in the rotation right now that provide any source of confidence are Kuroda and Phelps. Shane Greene is the latest minor league hopeful. Maybe he will prosper at the major league level, maybe he won’t. It’s a tough situation when there are so many holes in the rotation. The latest acquisition, Jeff Francis from the Oakland A’s, has not been a quality starter since his days in Colorado many years ago. Francis appears earmarked for long relief so it is still anybody’s guess who fills the fifth spot in the rotation. Today is Saturday and I do not know who will start for the Yankees on Sunday. Perhaps Chase Whitley gets plugged in or they recall Bruce Billings, but neither option is overly appealing on a day, the last day before the All-Star break, that should have featured Tanaka.
I would have liked to have seen the Yankees acquire Jeff Samardzija from the Chicago Cubs before the Oakland A’s did but it’s obvious the Yankees do not have the upper level prospect and major league ready talent to make that type of deal.
I have mixed feelings about whether the Yankees should be buyers or sellers at the trading deadline. If I felt they had a great chance for October success, then I’d be all in for sacrificing some promising talent for a run. But I am not sure there is a move that can be made which would propel the Yankees past the Toronto Blue Jays and/or Baltimore Orioles. Perhaps it would be better for the team to sell and pick up some younger talent for a recharge next year.
There are not any available starters in the Yankees’ price range (in terms of trade-able talent, not dollars) which make sense. I keep hearing Cliff Lee’s name mentioned but the stars have never aligned to bring him to New York in the past and he openly spurned the Yankees when he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies. Even if he did finally come to New York, he would not be a long-term solution. Ian Kennedy, a former Yankee, is another name bounced around but his stuff just isn’t tailored for Yankee Stadium. A return of A.J. Burnett? No, thank you.
The cost of a lackluster season…
I am starting to get the sense that this will be Brian Cashman’s last year as general manager. Maybe it is time for a change. I’ve been watching the San Diego situation with interest as I am hopeful that Billy Eppler does not become the Padres’ new general manager. For in-house talent to replace Cashman, Eppler is at the top of the list. I would prefer replacing Cashman with someone who knows the inner workings of the Yankees organization and not someone from the outside who would have to go through a transition period.
The All-Star break comes at a good time. The.500 Yankees need some time to reassess where they are and regroup. It also wouldn’t hurt to capture some good luck before they embark on the second half of the season.
The prodigal son returns home…
I am not a Cleveland Cavaliers or Miami Heat fan, but I have to say that I was pleased with LeBron James’ decision to return to his home. The way that he rejected Cleveland with “The Decision” in 2010 to sign with the Heat was awful and he deserved the backlash that came with it. But he has shown that he’s a better man today with his words for why he wants to return to his Northern Ohio roots. Of today’s NBA superstars, LeBron has always been one of my favorites and I wish him the best in bringing a championship to the City by the Lake. The Cavs should be a fun team to watch next season, particularly if they can acquire Kevin Love from the Minnesota Timberwolves. Kyrie Irving must think that he won the jackpot with his new contract and the addition of the best player in the NBA.
Now that LeBron has decided where he’ll play next season, Carmelo Anthony should follow suit fairly soon. Still hoping for a return to the New York Knicks…
With nothing to talk about, the speculation continues
about what free agents the Yankees are looking at. The latest has pitcher Justin Duchscherer and
outfielder Andruw Jones within the team’s sights…
UPI/David Richard via Newscom
I like Duchscherer, although he has been beset with
injuries and depression in recent years.
I recognize that he is considered an “average” pitcher, but he does know
how to win. He’ll never be the second
coming of Chris Carpenter, but when the alternative at the 5th spot
in the rotation is Sergio Mitre, he’d be worth the shot. I have quietly been hoping the Yankees would
sign former Rockies pitcher Jeff Francis but there has been no activity on that
front. It wasn’t that long ago
(pre-Ubaldo Jimenez) that Francis was considered the ace of the Rockies
staff. If the signing of Francis is not
meant to be, then I like Duchscherer over other options like Jeremy
Bonderman. I like the addition of either
Francis or Duchscherer even if somehow and magically Andy Pettitte decides to
return for one last season.
The other rumor has the Yankees considering outfielder
Andruw Jones. I actually wanted the
Yankees to sign Jones last off-season.
He ended up with the Chicago White Sox and hit 19 home runs. I realize that he will never be the Atlanta
Braves’ version of Jones, but in the right role, he can excel. I lived in the Los Angeles during his final
year with the Dodgers and it was pathetic to see Jones as a shell of what he
used to be. Still, I think he’d be a
good fit as a role player for the Yankees.
Jones could also step into left if either Brett Gardner or Curtis
Granderson missed any time due to injury.
What can Larry Rothschild do to restore Joba Chamberlain’s
confidence? With A.J. Burnett and Joba
at the top of his to-do list, I wonder if Larry fully understood what he was
getting himself into. If he can somehow
turn both of these guys around, he will be a legend in Yankees history.
Speaking of Rothschild, the Yankees announced their 2011
coaching staff and the only change was Larry in for former pitching coach Dave
Eiland. All things considered (and
nothing against Eiland), but I feel very good about the pitching being in the
hands of the long-time Cubs pitching coach.
It’s also good to know that Tony Pena will return to his role as bench
coach for manager Joe Girardi. I think
that’s a good pairing, even if Pena will have to coach against his son, Tony
Pena Jr., who is currently a member of the dreaded Boston Red Sox.
There has been so much talk lately about the impending
free agency of St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols. Personally, I do not want to see Albert in
anything other than a Cardinals uniform.
Hopefully, the first ballot to be Hall of Famer and the Cardinals can
find a way to ensure that Albert stays in St. Louis for the duration of his
Scott Rovak/Getty Images
There are going to be some really great pitching
performances in the National League this season. Granted, the class of the rotations is the
Philadelphia Phillies, but so many teams have improved (like the Brewers, Cubs,
and Marlins to name a few). Plus, let’s
not forget the solid starting five of the World Champion San Francisco
Giants. Give me the #5 starter, Madison
Bumgarner, for the Yankees rotation…please!
I have to admit that I was pleased to see future Hall of
Fame closer Trevor Hoffman retire today.
It fixes his save total at 601, and certainly makes it within reach for
also future Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera.
With a two year contract and standing at 559 saves, there’s no reason in
the foreseeable future that Mo can’t erase the difference. I think both Trevor and Mo should be first
ballot elections, although I’d admit that Lee Smith should go in before either
one. With Mo, I have definitely been
grateful in recent years that I’ve been able to watch one of the all-time great
New York Yankees. It’s a lengthy list
but Mo will exit at the head of the class for his position. I am envious of anyone who actually saw my
idol, Lou Gehrig, play, but I’d also say that I’ve been very fortunate to see
Mo pitch. It’s nice to know that when
#42 is retired at Yankee Stadium for Jackie Robinson, it will be shared by
Mo. Nevertheless, I wish the very best
for Trevor Hoffman, who I hear is headed back to the San Diego Padres for their
Finally, I wanted to say how much I miss former Yankees
beat writer/blogger, Peter Abraham. I
keep up with him with Boston.com, and his latest post shows why he is simply
one of the best…if not the best.
Okay, one more thing.
The loss of Dallas Green’s 9-year-old granddaughter, Christina Taylor
green, to the shooting in Arizona is devastating. I can’t help but think of the great things
that she could have and most likely would have accomplished in her
lifetime. It was a senseless tragedy and
we are clearly the worse for it.
Somehow, the world is a lesser place today because of her loss. I am also saddened for the others that lost
their lives, and I wish for a full and speedy recovery by Rep. Gabrielle
Giffords. The restoration of her life
and career is so important to the balance of life…