Photo Credit: Greg Fiume/Getty Images
A Rare and Odd Day-Off for the Pinstripers…
I can’t really say that I like Fridays with no Yankees baseball. I guess, ultimately, it’s no different than if heavy rain had hit Inner Harbor, forcing the postponement of a game but regardless, yesterday felt a little empty when everybody else was playing. I’ve grown accustomed to Mondays and/or Thursdays as days off over the years, but weekend games, starting Friday night, are the best for the working stiffs of the World like me. Nothing quite like watching the Yankees after a long, hard week at work. I am glad they are back in action today even if we have to wait until this evening.
Putting the Yankees aside for a moment, Friday was made much sadder with the announcement by Mike Axisa that he is shutting down the famed River Ave Blues blog.
Photo Credit: CBSSports.com
With no offense to our blog site, River Ave Blues has been the standard every blog site hopes to achieve. It was the best Yankees Blog in my opinion, and Mike Axisa has been tireless in his quest to provide quality content every day. Ultimately, it was probably his relentless, unyielding drive that led to his decision to shutter the Blog (it would be tough to keep up his pace for a season, let alone twelve years) and while I fully understand his reasons, it is a huge loss for Yankee fans. In his announcement, Axisa said April 29th will be the final day for his nationally recognized Blog. Mike mentioned the possibility of a weekly newsletter/mailing list with his “thoughts”. I really hope he follows through with this brilliant idea. Mike, I’ll pay a few dollars a month to get your continued thoughts about MLB’s best team. I have appreciated Mike’s honest assessments of the Yankees over the years, along with those of the other great RAB writers. There are many good writers but Axisa is one of the very few with a brilliant writing style and an amazing and very objective perspective. I can probably count on one hand the baseball writers I hold in such high regard as Axisa. You can include the late Red Sox writer Nick Cafardo in that group, but clearly, it is not a crowded room. Thanks to Mike Axisa and the entire RAB staff for making our lives a little better each and every day. We appreciate you, @RiverAveBlues. Thank you for the incredible twelve years you have given us. To say you will be missed is an understatement.
I could feel many Yankee fans starting to grip about the team’s slow start and the buildup of so many injuries, but it’s funny how Thursday’s win in Baltimore calmed down so many fears. I wish I had a dime for every time a Yankee fan replayed video of Gleyber’s homers. I was a little worried when the Yankees fell into an early hole, but I know those Yankees-Mariners games last year when James Paxton gave up early runs to the Yankees, he held strong and pitched effectively for five or six more innings. I didn’t doubt his perseverance on Thursday and he rewarded us with a much-needed win, thanks in large part to the two home runs by Gleyber Torres and the insurance provided by the three-run bomb from Luke Voit in the ninth inning. Unlike pitchers like Sonny Gray, where a few early runs meant the opening of the floodgates, Paxton battled and was ultimately reward with his first Pinstriped (Road Gray?) victory. I am glad he is a Yankee.
Photo Credit: Nick Wass/AP
The Yankees resume their series at Camden Yards in Baltimore today at 7:05 pm ET. J.A. Happ, looking to overcome his horrendous first start of the season, takes the mound for the Yankees. He’ll be opposed by Baltimore’s Dylan Bundy. With a win, the Yankees can tie the Orioles for second place in the AL East with matching 4-4 records. The Yankees trail the Tampa Bay Rays by two and a half games. Granted, the Orioles will soon be in the rearview mirror but the Rays aren’t going away. I think the Boston Red Sox will right the ship even if Yankee fans are loving their 2-7 start. Soon it will be the Yankees-Rays-Red Sox battling for the top. With a trip to Houston around the corner, the Yankees need to continue building momentum in Maryland before catching a Texas-bound flight.
The Yankees made several minor moves this week, primarily for depth purposes. First, they claimed right-handed reliever Jake Barrett off waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates and assigned him to Triple A. Then, they signed 34-year-old infielder Cliff Pennington, who was recently released by the Oakland A’s after signing a minor league deal in February. At least Pennington was able to see Japan with the A’s in late March but I doubt he sees any time with the Yankees unless things go horribly wrong (worse than they already have). The defensive-minded Pennington was assigned to Triple A. Both the Trenton Thunder and the Scranton-Wilkes Barre RailRiders have been depleted by the promotions of Tyler Wade, Thairo Estrada and Clint Frazier, and the resulting chain reaction it caused to fill the holes. Welcome to the Yankees Family, Jake and Cliff, but honestly, I hope we do not see you in the Bronx. Sorry, but we have higher expectations and hope the recently promoted guys prosper with the opportunities they’ve been given.
Living in Denver, I probably should have gone to the Colorado Rockies home opener yesterday. I had thought about it but the weather in Colorado is so unpredictable. Last year’s Rockies home opener saw temps dip into the 20’s. Unfortunately for me, the weather was beautiful yesterday with sunny skies and temps reaching the 70’s and the Rockies were playing my favorite NL team, the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers won, 10-6, so that would have made it even better for me. I settled for watching the game on TV. In watching the opening roll call, there was a part of me that didn’t like Daniel Murphy wearing D.J. LeMahieu’s former number (9). Not that the Rockies have reason to retire D.J.’s number or set it aside but after watching LeMahieu wear the number for so many years, it just seemed wrong to see Murphy wearing it. Don’t get me wrong, I am so glad LeMahieu wears #26 for the Yankees these days. He’s been invaluable with this rash of injuries. But it’s hard to deny that LeMahieu was a great Rockie during his time in the Mile High City. I couldn’t help but wonder if both LeMahieu and Adam Ottavino were watching the Rockies-Dodgers game since they had the day off. It would be hard to play so many years in one city and not have continued emotional ties to their former team.
I am not a New York Jets fan but I don’t get the hate the new uniforms have gotten from their fan base. I personally never cared for the Jets’ old uniform and feel the new colors are very stylish. I like the new helmet and the overall look. If I had grown up in New York City, I’d probably be a Jets fan over the Giants (sorry to those of you who are Giants fans). I grew up in Iowa so I’ve been a lifelong (and long-suffering) Minnesota Vikings fan. I am a little bitter the Jets stole the Vikings’ backup QB (Trevor Siemian) and almost signed away linebacker Anthony Barr until he had a change of heart but I still prefer the Jets over the Giants. As for Siemian, I do have high confidence in third-string QB Kyle Sloter for the Vikings and feel that he is ready to ascend to the backup spot behind starter Kirk Cousins. But while Siemian may never been a great quarterback in the NFL, he is tried and true vet that can help in pinch. He’ll provide good support and mentorship for Sam Darnold. Siemian and the Jets will look very good when they take the field this Fall, in my opinion. Hopefully for Jets fans, the play matches the look. It’s really time for somebody to do something about the reign of the New England Patriots. I’ve grown so tired of Tom Brady, Bill Belechick and Boston area fans.
Today seems like a very good day for an Aaron Judge home run.
As always, Go Yankees!
We took a mulligan on the first 21 rounds…
It amazes me when I look down this list of names…
Carl Everett, OF
Robert Eenhoorn, SS
Tate Seefried, 1B
Kirt Ojala, LHP
Richard Lantrip, INF
Sam Militello, RHP
Jalal Leach, OF
Tim Rumer, LHP
Matthew Terrell, OF
Darren Hodges, RHP
Richard Hines, RHP
Ron Frazier, RHP
Jeff Motuzas, C
Bo Siberz, RHP
Michael Smith, RHP
Ricky Ledee, OF
Bryan Faw, RHP
Bob Deller, OF
Brent Gilbert, RHP
Kevin Jordan, 2B
Keith Seiler, LHP
These are the players that the Yankees selected prior to Andy Pettitte in the 1990 MLB June Amateur Draft. Of course, Carl Everett’s name stands out but he achieved major league success elsewhere. I always had high hopes for Ricky Ledee, but he didn’t live up to the hype. I also liked Sam Militello, but if memory serves correctly, his career was ultimately derailed by injuries. But still, none of these players came close to matching Pettitte’s career. It is startling how many pitchers the Yankess took in front of Andy, including three left-handed pitchers. It’s also amazing to think that when this group was drafted, my now 22 year old son was only 6 months old.
I realize that Andy is nearly 40 years old, but all things considered, physically, he looks much younger. Took away the strands of gray in his hair and he’d still look 30. I am not trying to say that he is going to throw like a 30 year old, but I don’t feel the drop-off from 2010 is going to be as severe as some suspect. I remember when pitchers like David Cone and Roger Clemens were getting older. They were great pitchers but it felt like they were getting old. Somehow, Andy doesn’t project that same feeling. Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine may have his doubts about Andy’s comeback but I’d rather have Andy at the back end of the rotation than what Valentine will be putting out there. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. As the saying goes, “nothing ventured, nothing gained”.
Fragile: Handle with care…
I am not quite sure what to think about the news of Joba Chamberlain’s latest injury. Apparently, he suffered an ankle injury playing with his son that required surgery today. Expected to be back by June, this will obviously delay his return. It seems like the Yankees gave up too early on former pitcher Alfredo Aceves after he suffered two successive injuries that kept him off the field. I don’t know the exact details but the release of Aceves surprised me at the time and of course he found success in Boston. I hope the Yankees do not prematurely lose confidence in Chamberlain. I am not comparing Chamberlain’s situation to Aceves other than to emphasize that I hope the organization takes a tolerant and patient approach to see if Chamberlain can still become the pitcher we thought he would be.
Not only are you out, you’re outta here!…
Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi keep preaching patience with DH Raul Ibanez, but when it comes to that topic, my patience has worn incredibly thin. His lack of hits is troubling under any situation. Given the lineup also has a notoriously slow starting slugger at first base (Mark Teixeira), the Yankees can ill-afford multiple ice bats in April. The Yankees have the talent to acquire a younger, more productive hitter, and that’s definitely a road that I’d be exploring if I was the Yankees general manager. Of course, Brian Cashman is a better general manager that I’d ever be even in my own mind so I am sure this will play out exactly as Cash anticipates. Or at least I hope…
Peyton drinking the Orange Crush? At least he stayed with the horses…
Peyton Manning, the Denver Bronco. I am a bit surprised by his choice. Of course, it ended Tebow-mania in the Mile High City as the Broncos shipped #15 to the New York Jets. The Jets trade also surprised me given they already have Mark Sanchez. I had expected Tebow to go to Florida although I do recognize that the Jacksonville Jaguars are grooming Blaine Gabbert. It will be interesting to see how the Sanchez-Tebow situation plays out in New York. Maybe they can co-exist, but all things considered, this would be yet another surprise for me.
I thought it was a class gesture for former Broncos QB Frank Tripucka to relinquish his retired number 18 for Peyton to wear. Obviously, when Peyton retires, Tripucka will have to share the retired status with Manning. I’d like to see more retired players make those types of moves for certain players.
Think Ron Yary…
I am really worried the Minnesota Vikings are going to use the #3 pick on CB Mo Claiborne rather than stellar OT Matt Kalil. I know that Claiborne is a potential top 5 pick and the Vikings have a lousy secondary, but I just don’t see how you can pass up a franchise tackle who can protect Christian Ponder for years to come.
And then there was light…
Although we’ve been having summer like weather in Minnesota, it’s still hard to believe that the lights of Target Field will soon be illuminating downtown Minneapolis. As a downtown resident, I love the lights of the park which have been dark since last October. It will be fun to see them return in the near future. I only hope the Twins aren’t greeted with a heap of snow (which could happen in this part of the country). I am planning to attend my first 2012 game at Target Field in late April when the Boston Red Sox come to town. For three nights, I will be a Twins fan!
Is Robby Cano ready for the spotlight?…
Antonelli/NY Daily News
There has been much talk in recent days about Manager Joe Girardi’s expressed belief that Robinson Cano may be ready to move up to fifth in the batting order behind Alex Rodriguez. I agree with those who feel that 2010 will be a breakout season for Cano. So, I am in favor of the move. I do feel that Curtis Granderson will see marked improvement against lefties thanks to the tutelage of batting coach Kevin Long, however, it is now time for Cano to shine. I think Robby will prosper in the middle of the order, and A-Rod, Tex and others will be very appreciative…
Well, it appears that Alfredo Aceves has become the frontrunner for the back end of the starting rotation. I like Aceves and there is no question that he’s pitched marvelously this spring. He would be fine as the #5 starter, however, I still think the Yankees should give the job to Phil Hughes. If Hughes fails during the season, then switch to Aceves. Nothing against Ace, but I feel that Hughes has ‘front of the rotation’ stuff. He might not be the ace, but he can certainly be a solid #2 or #3 if he realizes his potential. Regardless of how this plays out, it appears that Joba Chamberlain is headed back to the pen and I think that’s a huge plus for the Yankees. As Julia Roberts would say, “HUGE!”…
The Yankees have experimented a couple of times with Curtis Granderson in left, and Brett Gardner in center. Assuming that Gardner can hit well enough to hold the position, that’s the alignment I like most (with Nick Swisher in right). But if Gardner fails, the next best thing would be Randy Winn in left, Grandy in center, and Swish in right. I like Gardner’s speed and how disruptive he can be on base, so hopefully, his bat catches up with the rest of his game this year.
It has been rumored for weeks but it was good to see Kevin Towers join the Evil Empire as a special assignment scout. I held Towers in high regard when he was GM of the San Diego Padres. There is no doubt he’ll get another GM opportunity but until then, the Yankees can leverage his talent, knowledge and expertise. It’s a win-win situation for both sides. Welcome to New York, Kevin! We’re glad to have you on our side!
Larry Goren/Icon SMI
My friend Julia alerted me to a sad story. Good for her; bad for me. I have always had much respect for Irish tenor Ronan Tynan. There was nothing like hearing his rendition of ‘God Bless America’ at Yankee Stadium. Dismissed by the Yankees in the post-season after he allegedly made anti-Semitic remarks, Ronan relocated to Boston earlier this month. At a gathering of Boston politicians on Sunday, Tynan pulled on a Red Sox jersey. I was dismayed at the news but I do hope that Ronan finds happiness and respect in Beantown. He’ll be missed…
Speaking of Julia, it seems that our first wager might involve a book assignment. If I were to lose…which of course won’t happen…I would have to read a Red Sox-themed book chosen by Julia. After reading the book within a preset time period, I would have to devote a blog to writing a review of the book. We’ll work out the details in the coming weeks but it should be a fun year in the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry. Well, at least until the Tampa Bay Rays kick both of our teams’ “arses”! 😉
I was a bit disappointed when LaDainian Tomlinson spurned the Minnesota Vikings to sign with the New York Jets. However, how can I argue with LT’s logic when he says that he wants to live and win in New York City. That sounds like a terrific combination to me!
I went to see the Ides of March taping of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in Burbank, CA. It was a fun experience. I went to see The Late Show with David Letterman last May, and I’d have to say that The Tonight Show feels less like a cattle call than The Late Show. Also, Jay is much more personable than Dave, and more willing to laugh at himself. The Tonight Show set is also more intimate than The Ed Sullivan Theater. The wait was long (three hours) but it was worth it. The guests were Terry Bradshaw (so energetic and entertaining, as usual); Kara DioGuardi (much more beautiful and engaging than she appears to be on American Idol); and Ziggy Marley (he does his father proud!). The only thing that would be better? Why a repeat Yankees World Championship, of course!
William Perlman/The Star Ledger
Meaningful Yankee talk has definitely been a rarity in recent weeks…
We are rapidly approaching the start of training camp, so hopefully, we’ll have more to talk about than we’ve experienced in the past month and a half. Of course, I don’t really want a repeat of last spring’s A-Rod saga with the steroids admission and hip surgery.
As we head to camp, many positions are locked up. However, there are questions about left and center fields. I know that Curtis Granderson is a centerfielder, but there’s obviously been talk about his possible move to left so we’ll put center in the ? mark column. Otherwise, all positions are set. If the season started today, the lineup would look like this:
Brett Gardner/Randy Winn-lf
With this configuration, I am with the majority that still want the Yanks to find a way to bring Rocco Baldelli to camp.
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
I read the article about how excited Hank Steinbrenner was about the Yankees’ off-season additions. However, I have to admit that I remain a bit skeptical. The off-season losses were huge. The Yankees will definitely miss Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon. I think the team will regret not bringing back at least one of those players. Also, in Buster Olney’s blog post yesterday, he stated that as the dust has settled on the AZ-Det-NY trade, all of the players were flawed. From a character-standpoint, Curtis Granderson is a first class addition…no argument from me. However, he has trouble with lefties and he strikes out too much. He’ll need to improve in these areas for long-term success in the Bronx. Javier Vazquez is a quality pitcher and he strengthens the rotation, however, the fact remains that he struggled in the Bronx during his last go-around so he still has to prove himself regardless of his subsequent success in Chicago and Atlanta. Meanwhile, the Boston Red Sox have clearly improved themselves so the gap between these two teams has probably faded… but don’t tell Julia that I said that!
Antonelli/New York Daily News
If you missed Harold Reynolds interview with Derek Jeter on MLB.com, I encourage you to listen to it. Hat tip to Jane Heller, Confessions of a She-Fan for the heads-up about the interview. DJ shows why he is a legend in our midst. He has a quality that clearly sets him apart from others. Sure, there are other players like him (Chase Utley immediately comes to mind), but I am glad to have witnessed the entire career of a great player. I hope the Yankees find a way to ensure that DJ ends his career in pinstripes. During the interview with Harold Reynolds, DJ mentioned how strange it was to see Don Mattingly in a Dodgers uniform. I don’t really want to experience seeing DJ, as a player, in another uniform. After he retires, if he decides to stay in baseball, he’ll most likely wear different colors but I can deal with that. Don Mattingly remains my favorite living Yankee, and his presence in Dodger gear doesn’t diminish that respect. I hope that Donnie Baseball is the next Dodgers manager.
Speaking of the Dodgers, the Yankees travel to Chavez Ravine this year to face Joe Torre and company. I definitely want to make the trip to see at least one game of the series. It should be very exciting times.
What else is there to talk about? Despite my beloved Minnesota Vikings losing to the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship, I am pulling for the Saints in the Super Bowl. I think the Vikings could have and should have beat the Saints, but that’s water under the bridge at this point. While I want the Saints to win, do I think they’ll beat the Colts? Not really. Peyton and Crew are simply too superior to allow for an upset. So, while I want the Saints, I am prepared for a Colts victory. This is one time that I hope I am wrong…
I have tickets to see Daughtry and Lifehouse in concert in early May. I am very excited to see Daughtry perform. I still can’t understand how Taylor Hicks beat Chris Daughtry on American Idol, but Chris has his revenge. He has clearly had the best career of any of his AI opponents, and stands among the other AI greats like Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson.
Pardon me for saying this, but if I were New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan, I would have thrown the finger too!…
The oldest Yankee legend has passed away…
Tommy Henrich, 96, a Yankees outfielder in the 30’s and 40’s, died yesterday in Dayton, Ohio. Henrich was part of a tremendous outfield trio in the late 40’s that included Charlie Keller and Joe DiMaggio.
In Game 1 of the 1949 World Series, Henrich hit the first game-winning home run in Series history in a 1-0 victory over Don Newcombe and the Brooklyn Dodgers. Henrich, like many of the players from his era, missed three years due to military service during World War II.
Henrich, a five time All-Star, played 11 seasons and hit 183 home runs. His career batting average was .282. He retired following the 1950 season. During his career, Henrich was part of seven World Series Championships.
He was nicknamed “Old Reliable” by the great Yankee broadcaster Mel Allen due to his knack for coming up with clutch hits in big games. On a sad note, Henrich was the final surviving teammate of the legendary Lou Gehrig and the last member of the 1938 World Champions.
An autographed picture of Henrich has long been one of my prized possessions. In Yankees history, he ranks as one of my personal favorites. I never got to meet Henrich, but he will be missed.
The Yankees did not offer arbitration to any of their free agents. So, Andy Pettitte, Johnny Damon, and Hideki Matsui are free to sign with any team without compensation to the Yanks. I understand the reasons (they couldn’t take the chance that any of the players accept arbitration), but it does feel that the bonds to the players have lessened considerably. I still think that Andy Pettitte will come back on a one year deal, but I am getting pessimistic that Damon will return. It was a given that Matsui most likely will not be back.
With the talk of Boston’s interest in Matt Holliday, it will be interesting to see if that sparks any Yankee interest in Jason Bay. If both Damon and Matsui leave, the Yankees will lose a tremendous amount of production that needs to be replaced.
Antonelli/New York Daily News
Derek Jeter was named Sport Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year. Surprisingly, he is the first Yankee to win the award in its 56 year history. It was a great year for the Yankee captain, and of course, just another noted achievement, in what is becoming a long list of achievements, for the future plaque that will be placed in Monument Park when DJ retires. Congratulations to Derek for the well-deserved honor and recognition!
The New York Jets brought in Yankees manager Joe Girardi to teach QB Mark Sanchez how to slide? Seriously?…
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