After a season of ‘will he’ or ‘won’t he’ opt-out, CC Sabathia accepted the Yankees offer and I couldn’t be more pleased. I am a bit concerned that CC’s weight will eventually prove to be a problem if he doesn’t get control of it, but clearly he is the Yankees best pitcher and the best hope for the next few years.
Since avoiding the opt-out only cost the Yankees $30 million (potentially $50 million if he is still at the top of his game at the end of the contract), it was clearly a bargain since they would have paid more to retain him had he hit the open market or perhaps they risked losing him altogether. I know that CC’s decision to stay was not solely on his love for the city and organization, but I am glad that he’s a permanent Yankee with no opt-out looming on the horizon.
I was driving home from work on Monday evening when I heard the news of the signing on MLB Radio. I had feared the worst so the news of his announcement on his website that he was staying was such an incredible relief. I have felt that the key to a successful off-season is getting both Sabathia and GM Brian Cashman locked up before the start of the free agency period. Mission accomplished. I am not sure there’s much on the free agent market that can help the Yanks, but hopefully, the team will be able to make a trade or two to improve the quality of the rotation.
As good as Cash…
Speaking of Cashman, his re-signing was essential for organizational continuity. I am not sure how long it takes a new GM to get acclimated to the job, but it would seem making your way in the Yankees Universe would take longer than usual. I am sure that the Yanks would have looked in-house for candidates (such as Billy Eppler or Damon Oppenheimer) but the man for the job continues to be Cashman. I am sure that he’s thought of what life would be with in a less stressful environment, but nobody is as suited for the Bronx as Cash is. I thought it was an interesting stat that he’s been the Yankees general manager longer than anyone since Ed Barrow (1920-45).
The start of a new era…
After standing pat for the most part with last year’s roster, it will be interesting to see what the Yankees do this year. I don’t expect them to go hog wild but they definitely need to get CC some help and they need a few clutch bats off the bench. At some point, the Yankees will have to say goodbye to Jorge Posada who few people expect to be on the 2012 roster. It is time for Jesus Montero to take up residence at Yankee Stadium and sadly that means there is no room for Jorge. He will go down as a great Yankee, and he’ll be heavily cheered at future Old Timer’s Days. My preference is for him to retire as a Yankee rather than to try and hang on for another year or so with another team.
Despite the Yankees decision to pick up his option, the odds of Nick Swisher still have to be mixed at best. If the Yankees can pick up a better player for right, I am sure that they’d do it. Swish’s personality would be missed but if he could be used, in part, to bring a frontline pitcher to New York, I’d be in favor of it.
Rafael Soriano decided against exercising his opt-out? Big surprise… L
You win some, you lose some…
I was disappointed to see the failure of Project Andrew Brackman. When Brackman was drafted, it was clear the Yankees had been able to get him at the spot they drafted because Brackman needed Tommy John surgery. I had really hoped that the pick would pay off and that Brackman would eventually be the top pitcher his potential screamed. Sadly, it was never meant to be…at least in New York…as the Yankees declined his option, making the 25-year-old a free agent.
There are other teams besides the Yankees?…
I was shocked when I heard that the St. Louis Cardinals might have interest in Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon as a replacement for Tony LaRussa. There’s no doubt that he’d be a great fit, but I just cannot see Tampa allowing Maddon to leave. He has been great for the city and the team…much to my chagrin and to the dismay of my friends in Boston. But I wouldn’t lose any sleep if Maddon does manage to get out of Tampa to take the Cardinals job.
I would really hate to see the Boston Red Sox get Michael Cuddyer…
The 2011 AL East Division Champions…
Most importantly, congratulations to the New York Yankees for their AL East Division Championship. They should have been AL East Champions last season but stumbled in the final days of the season to allow them to be eclipsed by the Tampa Bay Rays. So, fortunately, the Yankees have returned to their rightful throne! Well, at least for September. Come October, nothing less than a World Series Championship is acceptable!
So, I was only half right…
Admittedly, I am surprised the way this season has played out. At the beginning of the season, I had picked the Boston Red Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies as the World Series participants. The Phillies still look like the odds-on favorite at this point given their stellar starting pitching, but the Red Sox have faded oh so quickly. I remember listening to Sox fans who were predicting at least 114 wins or more for their revamped Red Sox, and while I openly scoffed at the notion, there was a part of me that was concerned that the Red Sox did have the necessary personnel to pull off a magical season. The chances for the magical season faded quickly when pitcher Clay Buchholz was lost for the season, but the Red Sox had charged back after a sluggish start and were in the thick of things at the end of August. Up to that point, the Red Sox had played the Yankees very aggressively with a significant advantage in the season series. They showed they had the offense to destroy virtually any pitcher on any given night, and there is no doubt that Adrian Gonzalez is perfectly suited for Fenway Park. But sadly for the Sox, the calendar turned to September and the deteriorated pitching staff started to show the stress and strain of the long season. Still, I didn’t expect the free fall that has currently left the Sox tied with the Tampa Bay Rays for the Wild Card slot, while the Yankees have wrapped up the division championship and best record in the AL. I never dreamed that the Yankees would be in position to walk to the finish line.
Pitching, pitching, pitching…
My lack of faith in the Yankees at the beginning of the season was due primarily to the pitching staff. I was concerned about A.J. Burnett and his ability to bounce back from a disastrous season (and rightfully so). I did not think the Yankees could replace Andy Pettitte with two scrapheap pitchers in Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon. Plus, the Yankees were placing much emphasis on Phil Hughes who, despite his 18-win season, had not proven that he was a reliable and dependable starter. Rounding out the rotation was a rookie pitcher (Ivan Nova), who had not even been mentioned in the same breath with Yankees prospects Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances. With CC Sabathia followed by a cast of characters, I did not see how the Yankees could compete with the Red Sox and felt that the Wild Card was the team’s best hope. Now, I am very delighted that I was wrong. While Burnett and Hughes have been disappointments, Ivan Nova has been huge and is now the second best pitcher in the rotation. Garcia and Colon have been terrific even if Colon seems to be wearing down at this point in the season. Garcia is definitely a play-off caliber starting pitcher. If the Yanks go with a four man rotation, then the 4th man should be Burnett. But he’ll have a very short leash with Colon and Hughes potentially in the bullpen.
Don’t play Poker with Brian Cashman…
If I had been the GM, I am sure that I would have made some impulsive and regrettable move at the trading deadline. GM Brian Cashman, on the other hand, stood pat and played with the hand he was dealt. In retrospect, he looks like a hero (which includes his anti-Rafael Soriano stance in the spring). I hope the Yankees do whatever it takes to ensure Cash’s return to the Bronx. I am sure that there would be significantly less stress in Chicago with the Cubs or some other major league team, but nobody understands New York better than Cash. I definitely think the Steinbrenners need Cashman more than he needs them. Hopefully, they’ll recognize it and make sure that Cashman is re-signed.
Passing of the Guard…
If the Yankees have learned anything in September (aside from the importance of quality starting pitching in watching the Sox freefall), it’s that Jesus Montero is ready for The Show. This does not bode well for Jorge Posada who is most likely playing his final year in Yankee pinstripes. If he continues his career season, it will be tough to see him play in different team colors. My only request would be for him not to go to Boston or Tampa. It’s always tough to see players cross those lines, and if it were me, I’d retain the respect for the Yankees and walk away from the AL East.
He surprised me yet again…
Count me as one of the skeptics in Ozzie Guillen’s decision to orchestrate his departure from the Chicago White Sox so that he could join the Florida Marlins. While I realize that Guillen will sell tickets in Miami, I don’t see it as a good fit with ownership. I am still not quite sure how someone could have issues with Joe Girardi, but fortunately, Miami did and he’s the highly successful manager of the Yankees. But Joe is far less out-spoken than Guillen, so if Joe’s comments got him into trouble, what’s going to happen with Guillen who always openly and freely speaks whatever is on his mind. I had always heard that White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf loved Ozzie like a son, so there’s no way the relationship in Miami will be anything comparable. His on the field performance had better outweigh the baggage that comes with Ozzie as your manager. He may regret taking the money and running…
Two game sabbatical from ‘Red Sox Suck!’…
With the Red Sox and Rays tied for the Wild Card tonight, I’ll have to go with the Red Sox as my preferred team to advance. I don’t think the Sox will be the easier opponent in the play-offs but that doesn’t concern me. I’ve always believed that you have to ‘beat the best to be the best’. This comes down to respect and I simply respect the Red Sox more…
I don’t have a beret to throw in the air…
I am finally living in an American League city once again. Today is my first day as a resident of the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Somehow, recent years have found me in National League cities, which is tough as an American League fan. Nevertheless, I persevered and now reside in a city that houses good baseball tradition. In fact, from my living room window, I can see the lights of Target Field. Sweet! Of course, I will never be able to admit that I am a Yankees fan in public given the bad blood between the Yankees and Twins. I’d probably have better luck wearing a Sox cap…
I am looking forward to learning about my new city, and I am excited about the opportunity and potential the area provides. Yes, I’ll have to get used to winters again, but after living in areas where winter meant a 20 or 30 degree dip in average temps, I am looking forward to true changes of seasons. Growing up in the Midwest, I never complained about snowfall and it was always one of my favorite enjoyments. The only issue I have with winter is ice. Outside of that, I can deal with the cold temps and the white, frosty surroundings.
Oddly, as a lifelong Minnesota Vikings fan, this will be the first time that I’ve been surrounded by Vikings fans. Admittedly, that’s going to be very strange. Growing up in southeast Iowa, Vikings fans were mixed among fans of the Bears, Packers, Chiefs, and the then St. Louis football Cardinals with the Bears as perhaps the predominate favorite. I’ve seen the Vikings play in person over the years, but they’ve always been road games. I never made it to the old Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington nor have I been to the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis. That’s obviously going to change, but admittedly, it will be strange seeing everyone around me wearing purple and gold.
I am glad to be in Minnesota, and I am looking forward to a very long stay. And, no, I am not suddenly going to become a fan of Carl Pavano…
Fundamentals, is it really that hard?…
I was very disappointed to see the Yankees lose a close game to the Tampa Bay Rays last night due to errors. When you are playing one of your key rivals, anything less than your best is unacceptable. The Yankees had a chance to bury the Rays and couldn’t do it. While the Boston Red Sox are running away with the AL East, the Yankees need to make sure that they put distance between themselves and the other wild card challengers like the Rays. Losing a game because you are outplayed is one thing, but to lose a game because of your own incompetence is wrong. The Rays had encountered a tough stretch of games with the 16 inning loss to the Red Sox, followed by the baseloaded walk loss to the Yankees. Another loss last night could have started driving a stake in the heart of the Rays. But the Yankees allowed the Rays to resume their Wild Card drive, and last year those types of games allowed the Rays to best the Yanks in the East.
The Rays clearly have the superior pitching rotation, but the Yankees are the offensive club…even with Alex Rodriguez on the DL. With the series tied after two games with two to play, the Yankees have to ensure that they leave St. Petersburg with no less than a split.
The price of an ace…
The trade rumors involving the Colorado Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez are great, but I am hesitant given the high cost that would be involved. I get that Jimenez is young (27) and has a very affordable contract for the next few years, but giving up Manny Banuelos and Jesus Montero (and others) seems like such a high price to pay. I like Jimenez and his road splits away from Coors Field are ridiculous, but I simply cannot condone giving away the farm to bring him to the Bronx. That’s tough because who really knows if Banuelos and Montero will be genuine stars. The cool demeanor of Banuelos seems like a perfect play in Yankee Stadium, and I do really believe that he is destined for greatness. I also recognize that if CC Sabathia opts out of his contract and signs elsewhere this off-season, the Yankees will be lacking an ace. Nevertheless, I do not think the Yankees should make the Jimenez trade unless the price is right. Given the completion for the pitcher, I just don’t think that will happen. The best deal for the Yankees would be one that no one is talking about. Once the talk goes public, there is too much potential for other teams, like the Red Sox, to muck things up for no other reason than to drive up the price it would cost the Yankees.
When the Red Sox acquired Josh Beckett from the Florida Marlins, there was not much speculation ahead of the trade. The Yankees need that same stealth like approach to their next major acquisition.
And the young respond…
I am glad to see some of the guys from the Yankees farm system get their opportunity. Guys like Brandon Laird, who was called up when Ramiro Pena went on the DL, and pitcher Steve Garrison. I’ve really wanted to see what Laird could do in a platoon situation with Eduardo Nunez at third so now is his chance.
Yes, I thank my lucky stars every night for David Robertson…
Charles Wenzelberg/NY Daily News
I was listening to MLB Radio this week and I heard a Red Sox fan give kudos to Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. I was glad to hear those types of comments because I hold a similar high respect for certain Red Sox players like Dustin Pedroia and Jon Lester. It seems so un-Yankee like to respect a Sox player, but Pedey and Lester play the game the way it is supposed to be played. There’s no way that I could ever root against those guys. If I was a team owner, they would be among the first players that I would want to acquire for my team.
You have to go back to the 1920’s? Really?
The Cleveland Indians and Pittsburgh Pirates in first place? I can’t believe how much media attention that has gotten. I do not expect either team to be a factor come October, but it’s nice to see their fans having reason to cheer this late in the season. I enjoyed the early 1990’s when the Pirates were a factor in the play-offs every year. After years of trading stars for prospects, it is nice to see the team thriving on those prospects. But much of the credit has to go to first year manager Clint Hurdle. Similarly, the Tribe’s success has to be attributed to Manny Acta. Both men know how to get the most out of their guys. It is very refreshing to see. Nevertheless, I still do not see anything that’s going to derail a Boston Red Sox-Philadelphia Phillies World Series.
Yes, I am finally home…
“…You can have a town, why don’t you take it. You’re gonna make it after all.” I finally get what Mary Tyler Moore was saying after all these years…
This weekend’s abbreviated
two-game series against the Baltimore Orioles was a positive despite the
postponement of one game that will cause its share of challenges later in the
Saturday featured a great performance
by CC Sabathia, along with a
plethora of hits and home runs for the Yanks, while Sunday saw the Yanks pull
out a game that they could have lost when Mariano
Rivera blew his second straight save opportunity. I am not concerned about Mo, as he has had
short stretches like this during the season in recent years.
Sunday saw a great hitting
performance by the ‘written off for dead’ Derek
Jeter, who went 4-for-6 with a run scored and a RBI to raise his batting
average to .257. I agree that it’s too
soon to write Jeter’s obituary, just like it is too soon to start questioning
if Mo is losing it. But still, I have
the right to ask. Is it time for Jorge Posada to call it a career? I know it’s still early, but a .153 batting
average is abysmal. Let’s hope that he
turns it around like David Ortiz
always seems to do for the Red Sox…
Congratulations to Freddy Garcia for another six inning
shut-out! Also, after wondering if the
Yankees made a huge mistake in unloading Ian
Kennedy, Phil Coke and Austin Jackson to acquire Curtis Granderson for most of last
season, I am a fan of the Grandy Man! He
hit his 7th home run of this young season, and could be on track for
30+. He has definitely gained a comfort
zone in pinstripes.
Saturday’s hero, aside from
the great job by CC Sabathia, was
catcher Russell Martin. We are not out of April and he already has
one more home run than last season, and needs just one more to tie his total for
2009. Combined with good health, the
change of scenery has been very good for Martin. I am looking forward to Francisco Cervelli‘s return so that he can start spelling Martin on
occasion, but I am glad that GM Brian
Cashman had the foresight to sign Martin rather than go with the untested Jesus Montero. Montero’s time will come but it was obvious
that his time is not now. Martin has
been very instrumental in the Yankees’ strong start, especially when you
consider how sluggish the team has performed the last few Aprils. I don’t want to criticize Posada, but I like
the way Martin has meshed with the pitching rotation.
I hope everyone had a very
Happy Easter today. Easter time with the
family definitely brings back great memories…
CC Sabathia versus Justin
Larry W. Smith/EPA
Finally, Opening Day is upon
us! It has been a long and at times
disappointing off-season. Optimism
returned in Spring Training as there were a few success stories and
surprises. The pitching match-up for the
Yankees against the Detroit Tigers is perfect as I expect banner years by both
pitchers. They both will most likely be
finalists for the Cy Young Award at the end of the year if all goes right.
For Opening Day, here are the 2011 New York
Kevin Long, Batting Coach
Larry Rothschild, Pitching Coach
Mick Kelleher, First Base Coach
Rob Thomson, Third Base Coach
Tony Pena, Bench Coach
Mike Harkey, Bullpen Coach
Roman Rodriguez, Bullpen Catcher
1B – Mark Teixeira
2B – Robinson Cano
SS – Derek Jeter
3B – Alex Rodriguez
C – Russell Martin
RF – Nick Swisher
CF – Curtis Granderson
LF – Brett Gardner
DH – Jorge Posada
Bench – 1B/3B – Eric Chavez
Bench – 2B/SS/3B – Eduardo Nunez
Bench – OF – Andruw Jones
Bench – C – Gustavo Molina
1SP – CC Sabathia
2SP – A.J. Burnett
3SP – Phil Hughes
4SP – Ivan Nova
5SP – Freddy Garcia
Closer – Mariano Rivera
Setup – Rafael Soriano
RP – Joba Chamberlain
RP – David Robertson
RP – Boone Logan
RP – Bartolo Colon
RP – Luis Ayala
Several of the spots are held by injury replacements
(Molina for backup catcher Francisco Cervelli, and Ayala for reliever Pedro
Feliciano) so they’ll go down to the minors when the regulars return. I am sure that Freddy Garcia and Bartolo
Colon will be on short leashes, and it’s very possible that one of their spots
could be taken by Kevin Millwood should either one falter.
I am very pleased to see Eric Chavez on the
roster. It was a foregone conclusion
that he’d make the team after the spring he had, but going into camp, there
were certainly plenty of questions about his health and durability. I am sure that Jason Giambi has probably been
on the phone to his good buddy to let him know the inner workings of the
Yankees organization and the city of New York.
Congratulations to Manny Banuelos for winning the
James P. Dawson Award as the team’s outstanding rookie in camp. I am definitely looking forward to his
arrival in the Bronx, even if it is still a few years down the road.
Even though there were no major additions in the
off-season, I do like this year’s team.
The hiring of pitching coach Larry Rothschild was huge, and I think he’ll
be able to get into A.J. Burnett‘s head and rebuild the pitcher’s
confidence. I expect continued
progression from Phil Hughes, and if Ivan Nova continues to build upon his
outstanding spring, I think the Yankees rotation will be quite strong.
What can you say about the bullpen? They will definitely shorten games for the
As for the regulars, I expect Derek Jeter to
rebound from last year and put up his usual DJ-like numbers. Robinson Cano will continue his progression
of one of the game’s elite, and Alex Rodriguez looks charged and ready for a
fantastic season. I am expecting more
consistency and better timely hitting from Curtis Granderson this year, and if
Brett Gardner stays healthy, the outfield should be significantly
The health of Russell Martin is a concern,
particularly since neither Jesus Montero nor Austin Romine was able to prove
they are ready for the major leagues. If
the Yankees have to start Posada at catcher, it will definitely be a sign of
In my mind, the positives will outweigh the
negatives, and the Yankees will be in the hunt at the end.
Nevertheless, with all things considered, I do
think the league champions, as it stands right now, will be the Boston Red Sox
and the San Francisco Giants. A World
Series matchup would put the Sox over the Giants for the championship. This is not what I want, but rather, on
paper, it is the most logical conclusion.
Much can happen between now and October, and I certainly expect the
Yankees to acquire a #3 starter (or better) for the starting rotation by the
July trading deadline. I did like the
Philadelphia Phillies, but I think the loss of Chase Utley to injury and Jayson
Werth to free agency will be too much to overcome. Pitching staff to pitching staff, I like the
Giants rotation better than the Phillies.
Win or lose, this should be a tremendous baseball
season for all of us! Go ahead, throw
the first pitch…
With the selections of Ivan
Nova and Freddy Garcia as the #4 and #5 starters in the Yankees rotation, I
think that manager Joe Girardi made the right choices (even if those were
really the only viable options).
J. Meric/Getty Images
I agree with those who
speculate that Bartolo Colon is better suited to be the long man in the
pen. Given his physical conditioning,
there are clearly concerns about his stamina.
His arm may be alright but that wouldn’t get him through long
innings. The trade of Sergio Mitre to
the Milwaukee Brewers opens the way for Colon to make the Yankees roster.
I am not sure what I think
about the Yankees signing pitcher Kevin Millwood to a minor league deal. I realize that he is strictly an insurance
policy, but I’d really like to see one of the younger guys, like Andrew
Brackman, Hector Noesi, or Dellin Betances, get the opportunity should Nova or
Garcia falter. Millwood is probably just
coverage for the next month, while the prospects will be options later in the
The Yankees gave Chris
Dickerson, the outfielder they acquired in the Mitre trade, Darryl Strawberry‘s
old jersey number (39). Those are big
shoes to fill. I love great home run
swings and for as many sluggers that have come through the Bronx, few can
compare to the swing that Straw had.
Dickerson is not a home run guy, so we won’t be seeing #39 swinging for
the fences. But the number did bring
back some great memories of Strawberry at the plate. Dickerson was the player the Reds sent to the
Brewers last summer in the deal that brought Jim Edmonds to Cincinnati. He turns 29 on April 10th so he is
no longer really considered a prospect, but I’d like to see him carve out a
role on the team. With Curtis Granderson
hurting, the Yankees will definitely need help in the outfield and Andruw Jones
can’t do it all by himself.
With all the talk about
catchers Francisco Cervelli, Jesus Montero, and Austin Romine, it’s strange
that Gustavo Molina has emerged as the frontrunner to capture the backup
catching position behind starter Russell Martin. I suspect that Cervelli will take the
position once he is healthy but I am disappointed that neither Montero or
Romine could hit well enough to stay on the major league roster. I know that it just means their arrivals are
simply delayed. Hopefully, they can draw
positives from the heavy focus this spring and use it to power forward when
their next opportunity comes.
I was surprised that Baltimore
Orioles manager Buck Showalter took potshots at Derek Jeter and the Boston Red
Sox. I would have expected better from
Showalter, but I can honestly say that I have never missed him from the day he
left the Yankees.
It’s hard to believe that
Opening Day is next week! I am so glad
that the season is finally upon us. Win
or lose, it should be a great year!
Well, new year but same old battles. With the first Yankees-Red Sox match-up scheduled for Friday, it’s time to begin my annual grudge match with Julia of Julia’s Rants. For the latest wager, the loser of Friday’s spring training game has to post a blog about the opposing team’s manager. For me, if the Yankees lose, I have to write a post about Boston manager Terry Francona. Conversely, if the Red Sox lose, Julia will be writing about Yankees manager Joe Girardi.