Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…
I have tried. Honestly. I tried to give Alex Rodriguez the benefit of the doubt and I tried to be positive that he was on my favorite team. But with the latest swirling of PED use rumors, I’m done. A-Rod’s contract is the albatross of all albatrosses. He will single-handedly keep the Yankees from winning the World Series over the next couple of years because of how many salary dollars have to be steered his way. If he was still producing, it would be one thing. But he’s not. He is clearly a player in decline who will miss the entire 2013 season. He’ll be yet another year older in 2014, and it is highly unlikely that he’ll ever be a consistent threat at the plate.
For me, character is a very important component to building a successful team. When it comes to class and character, A-Rod has none. He is clearly a narcissistic player who prioritizes personal goals above team goals. Perhaps I am judging him too harshly, but the cons far outweigh the pros when considering his place on the Yankees roster. I am happier with an elder veteran, injury-risk third baseman like Kevin Youkilis than seeing A-Rod take the field.
As it sounds like A-Rod intends to keep playing after he recovers from his hip surgery, I am hopeful the Yankees can find a way to free themselves of the #13 baggage.
What, was Darryl Strawberry unavailable?…
With today’s announcement that the Yankees are nearing an agreement with former Cleveland Indians star Travis Hafner, it is hard to be enthused. This post certainly has a negative spin to it, huh? Well, anyway, Hafner has seen his better days and is no longer the feared hitter he once was. It would have been great to have had Hafner, Youkilis and Ichiro Suzuki in 2004 or 2005, but they just don’t look quite as good in 2013. Hafner can no longer play the field so the Yanks could easily have a glut of DH, no field type players if Youk or other older veterans become slowed by injury or for whatever reason. In spots, Hafner can probably look good but I am just not confident in the starting lineup’s ability to stay healthy.
I know the Yankees still have a very good offensive lineup and an effective starting rotation, but has the rest of the league passed them by? That’s a question that will have to be answered when the games begin, but the potential is certainly there.
This has been a long off-season without much to be excited about if you are a Yankees fan. I am hopeful that someone like catcher Austin Romine will step forward in spring training and prove that he’s ready for major league fastballs. I am anxiously looking forward to the arrival of outfielder Slade Heathcott but he’s still a year or two away.
The right way to kick off the season…
As a Yankees fan, it’s hard to like the Boston Red Sox. But I really like the excitement and energy that goes into their annual Truck Day when the equipment truck loads up and heads for Florida. It’s a great signal for the start of the upcoming season and it certainly helps get one into a baseball frame of mind after a winter of football and basketball. I’d say hockey but they decided to take most of the season off until the recent return. My Red Sox friends always get so jazzed this time of year and to a degree, I am envious.
End of the season celebration…
I am happy for Andy Pettitte that he will be able to end what will most likely be his final season with a series in Houston. It does seem strange that the Yankees would be playing the Astros at the end of September as opposed to the Red Sox or Rays, but this should be a fun season for Andy. I am also braced for what could be the final year for legendary closer Mariano Rivera. So if both Andy and Mo depart, it will be special to watch them this year. Those are two guys I hope are annual fixtures on Old Timer’s Day.
I think I’ll go with Harbaugh…
I live in the Bay Area so I should be supportive of the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday’s Super Bowl, but I am really undecided. As a Minnesota Vikings fan, I do not have any attachments to the 49ers other than geographical location. As I study the teams, they seem evenly matched and both have exciting young quarterbacks. The Ravens have the added emotional incentive of the final game for future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis (yes, Denver, a team is finally throwing Lewis a retirement party). To me, it comes down to the coaches. I think Jim Harbaugh is a good coach, but coach-to-coach, brother-to-brother, I think John Harbaugh is the better coach. Jim may have had the more successful playing career, but there are not many guys that understand the game like John. I won’t be disappointed regardless of the result. Both teams are deserving of victory. There’s no one that I love to hate associated with this game, so it will be a good one to just watch and enjoy. But I give the edge to the Ravens because of John…
By the way, congratulations to Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph for being named MVP of the Pro Bowl. He can be a very effective weapon for QB Christian Ponder going forward. I always loved the relationship between former Dallas Cowboys QB Troy Aikman and TE Jay Novacek (or even the Patriots’ QB Tom Brady and TE Rob Gronkowski). Rudolph can be that type of guy for Ponder. If they are successful, maybe I can watch the Vikings in the Super Bowl for the first time since I was a kid…
As it stands today, and I realize that it is still early
January, the Boston Red Sox are clearly the class of the AL. The Yankees inability to snag a frontline
pitcher will haunt the team, and the missed opportunities to upgrade in other
areas will cost the team valuable victories in the highly competitive AL East.
Jim Davis/Boston Globe
At the moment, Ivan Nova represents the #4 starter behind
CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett.
I’d argue that Burnett should be considered no more than a #4 if he can’t
turn it around. Meanwhile, other teams
are getting stronger. The latest AL team
to improve was the Texas Rangers with the addition of former Boston third
baseman Adrian Beltre. I know that the
Rangers, like the Yankees, still need more starting pitching, but they’ve
clearly improved the offensive and defensive makeup of the team.
It appears that the Chicago Cubs have acquired pitcher
Matt Garza from the Tampa Bay Rays. At
face value, it would appear the move weakens the Rays for the short term,
particularly in light of the previous losses (namely Carl Crawford, Rafael Soriano,
and Carlos Pena). However, the Rays have
a rich farm system and of course they needed a spot in the rotation for high
end prospect Jeremy Hellickson. Everyone
seems to be writing off the Rays, but I fully expect them to be in the thick of
the race. Somehow, they are the New
England Patriots of baseball…they may suffer huge personnel loss but there’s
always someone ready to step up their play as a replacement.
Jim Davis/Boston Globe
The rest of the division has gotten better, while the
Yankees have simply gotten older.
Last year, when the Rays trotted out Joaquin Benoit and
Rafael Soriano, it was game over. As it
stands, the Yankees set up crew consists of David Robertson and Joba
Chamberlain…a combo that was not consistent last year and forced the deadline
trade for Kerry Wood who solidified the position. I would have really liked to have seen the
Yanks pursue Soriano for the set up role, especially after his agent expressed
his willingness to set up for Mariano Rivera.
I was disappointed when GM Brian Cashman came out today to say there was
no chance of a Soriano signing since it would cost a first round pick. I get it.
The farm system is important and it has taken years for the Yankees to
rebuild the system after the cupboards were left bare. But still, it is hard not to think about how
effective a bullpen duo of Soriano-Rivera would be. It would probably be the best one-two punch
since the days of Rivera-Wetteland in the mid 90’s.
It definitely sounds as though Andy Pettitte won’t be
making the trip to Florida next month. I
want Andy to come back but I am okay if he decides to stay home. If he came and his heart wasn’t in it, he
just wouldn’t be the same pitcher we’ve come to rely upon. I wanted Minnesota Vikings QB Brett Favre to
come back this year and he did after much coaxing by his teammates, but the
results were horrific. Andy either has
to be “all in” or he should go ahead and hang up the glove. I would hate to see Andy leave with a Javier
Vazquez type of season.
The Yankees have made minor moves this off-season that I’ve
liked. The latest is the pick-up of
former Chicago Cubs reliever Brian Schlitter.
While he was not effective in his brief time with the major league club
last season, I have to believe this signing had much input from former Cubs,
and now Yankees, pitching coach Larry Rothschild. If Larry felt the Yanks should move on
Schlitter, then I feel he showed Larry enough to prove that he could be a
valuable and effective arm in the pen.
There’s still time for the Yankees to make the necessary
moves to improve the roster and certainly if an “all in” Andy Pettitte signs up
for a final season, the team will look much better than it does today.
If they maintain the status quo, I can’t help but wonder
how intense the pressure will be on manager Joe Girardi. Can he survive a season where he finishes
third (or worse) in the division? I am
not so sure. His best friend is his new
three year contract. Managing General
Partner Hal Steinbrenner is a numbers guy, and unlike his father, might not be
so willing to “eat” a contract. As much
as I would dislike the move, I can’t help but think that the Yankees failure to
land a quality frontline starter has enhanced the chances that we will see
Bobby Valentine in the Yankees dugout.
Ugh, I hope it doesn’t come to that…
Sadly, today brought the loss of another former Yankee
(Ryne Duren). Duren was a reliever for
the Yanks in the late 50’s and early 60’s, and was known for his coke bottle
glasses and 100 mph fastball. I liked
Yogi Berra’s quote about Duren: “Ryne could throw the heck out of the ball. He threw
fear in some hitters. I remember he had several pair of glasses but it didn’t
seem like he saw good in any of them.” Duren
passed away in Florida on Thursday at the age of 81.
Diamond Images/Getty Images
Congratulations to Jim Harbaugh, the new head coach of
the San Francisco 49ers. My favorite
Harbaugh moment still has to be in 1992 when the Chicago Bears were leading the
Minnesota Vikings 20-0 in the fourth quarter and the Vikings came back to win,
21-20. I can still remember the
frustrated Harbaugh wondering what hit him.
Nevertheless, I do wish him much success as he attempts to revitalize
the 49ers. It should be fun next season
when the Niners play the Baltimore Ravens, coached by Harbaugh’s brother
Well, I guess I’ll go back to waiting for the Yankees to
make a move…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…