Wanted: Clutch Hitter – Only the experienced need to apply!…
Although there have not been any official explanations for the DH plans this upcoming season, there’s been reports that the Yankees are content with a rotation to include Alex Rodriguez, Andruw Jones and Derek Jeter, with Eduardo Nunez sliding around the infield filling the holes. My concern last season and it gave me a bad feeling heading into the play-offs that the Yankees had missed the clutch bats they enjoyed when Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui were on the roster. Damon’s home run in the 2004 ALCS helped propel the Boston Red Sox to a comeback victory over the Yankees, and propelled the Sox to their first World Championship since the days of Babe Ruth. I’ve heard minor league slugger Jorge Vazquez mentioned as a possibility, but I am with those who believe that he skills do not translate to the major league level.
In my opinion, the Yankees need to do something. I am not looking for a $10 million slugger who would command 90% to 95% of the DH at-bats. I am content with someone who could take the majority of the at-bats, allowing for the A-Rod/Jeter rotation, and would know and accept their role. That’s why I feel that either Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui would make complete sense. I know the Yankees want to limit their payroll at this point and I get that. But if the difference in making the World Series or not was an additional $5 million, would it not be worth it? Yeah, yeah, it’s not my money and $5 million is a lot of money. But when you are spending $210 million, what’s $215 million? Wouldn’t the return on a championship more than replenish the difference? The Yankees have options and I know that’s why they are not in a rush. I’ve even heard Raul Ibanez’ name mentioned and would agree that he would be a viable option. I guess I have greater affection for guys who have proven they can win in pinstripes.
It’s funny but the Philadelphia Phillies look like geniuses for signing Jim Thome early in the off-season. At the time, it looked like a bad fit. Maybe he stays with the Phillies, but they could actually move him for something at this point given the DH desperation that exists for a number of teams besides the Yankees (like the Detroit Tigers, for example). If GM Ruben Amaro could somehow swing Thome for a decent prospect, he’d build upon his legacy as a great general manager.
It will be interesting to see how the coming weeks play out, but the Yankees clearly need a guy who can come through in the clutch. Now more than ever…
If he is older than dirt, what does that make me?…
Congratulations to Jamie Moyer for his minor league contract with an invitation to spring training with the Colorado Rockies. I was really surprised when I heard that Moyer intended to make a comeback following his recovery. At 49, the odds are probably against him, but you have to love his no-quit mentality.
Sometimes good fans are the difference…
Similar congratulations go to reliever Joel Zumaya, who signed with a quality organization (the Minnesota Twins). Ironically, it was at Target Field where Zumaya’s elbow exploded a couple of years ago. I remember when he was hailed as THE flamethrower in the league, and was a huge part of the Detroit Tigers bullpen. It’s anybody’s guess what kind of pitcher he will be going forward, but it would be good to see him recapture success for an organization that deserves better than last year’s 99 losses. With the departure of Joe Nathan and the inconsistency of Matt Capps, there’s certainly going to be opportunity with the closing and set up roles for the Twins.
It was a bit hard to imagine Zumaya throwing from the mound at Target Field this morning as the temperature reading in my car read -10 degrees in downtown Minneapolis. The weathermen were reporting that with the wind chill factor, it felt like -38. In weather like that, it’s hard to imagine that the lights of Target Field will be back on in just a couple of months. While I admit that the 16 degrees I experienced in Winnipeg, Manitoba a few weeks back felt much colder, there’s no question that in temps like this you just want to go from your heated house to your heated car to your heated work. This past summer, I was in Phoenix when it was in the 120’s. All things considered, I’ll gladly take -38 in Minneapolis as opposed to 122 degrees in Phoenix. I don’t care that it’s paradise in Arizona right now…
Back to the Yankees, I’ve wondered if some kind of deal involving the Chicago Cubs would work. The Yankees want to unload A.J. Burnett, and he’d clearly benefit from a change of scenery. He’d also be more effective in the National League at this point. I wouldn’t say that the pressure would be less in Chicago, but I think A.J. could more himself. Conversely, the Cubs have an albatross with Alfonso Soriano. Soriano could still be a fairly productive DH at this point in his career. Not that I want to give two rosters spots to over-paid, under-productive Sorianos but it would be a potential solution. I think I can speak for most Yankees fan when I say that we’ve rode the Burnett train about as far as we care to. Now that Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda have all but pushed Burnett out of the rotation, a win-win trade with the Cubs would certainly make sense.
Yeah, you and what bank?…
If I’m Cole Hamels, I am going for free agency in the fall of 2012. Don’t even talk to me about an extension! If the Texas Rangers will lay out $110 million for an unproven, albeit very highly talented, pitcher, there’s no question what a championship performer like Hamels can command on the open market.
I choose you, no, maybe you…
I am glad that Bartolo Colon was able to find a home with the Oakland A’s, but admittedly, I am glad that he is not returning for an encore performance in the Bronx. I am not quite sure with what happened between Colon and the Arizona Diamondbacks (he apparently agreed with them and then reneged, ala David Wells a few years ago), but I am sure he had his reasons for why Oakland was a better fit. But I guess those reasons didn’t include W’s…
Those pesky Nats!…
As for the ongoing Prince Fielder sweepstakes, I just wish the Washington Nationals would put one of those ridiculous Jayson Werth type contracts in front of him and get him signed. I’d be surprised if the Texas Rangers were financially able to sign both Yu Darvish and Fielder but stranger things have happened. I really don’t want to see Fielder in for Mitch Moreland on the defending AL Champions. I still think the Los Angeles Angels, thanks to Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, are a better team in the AL West, with or without Fielder on the Rangers, but I certainly do not want the potential roadblocks to a Yankees World Series getting stronger.
First base at Yankee Stadium will forever mean Lou Gehrig to me until the day I die, even if I didn’t personally get to see him play. For what I have seen, Don Mattingly is the epitome of greatness. I was a bit skeptical when Tino Martinez took over for Mattingly, but he played the position as well as anyone could have following the footprints of #23. I loved the signing of Mark Teixeira and he was a prime reason for the Yankees success in 2009, but after a couple of disappointing seasons with the usual stone cold starts, something has to give. Defense alone at first base is not enough. Not that I want to go back to the days of Giambi (great bat, not-so-great glove), but Tex needs to dedicate himself to an improved performance in 2012. I know that we’ll have to deal with the usual sluggish start, but he needs to show that he can be more like the 2009 Teixeira than the 2011 version.
Well, I am at this end of this post, but I see that GM Brian Cashman still has much work ahead of him before we start talking about games at Legends Field…
The Bear is sleeping…
With the Yankees in hibernation for the winter, there’s not much for us Yankee fans to talk about. The latest speculation centers on catcher Jorge Posada and where he might end up. Of the three teams mentioned (Rays, Phillies, and Orioles), I don’t see Jorge as a good fit.
In Tampa, he’d back up his former back up, Jose Molina. I suppose that he could earn additional starting time by the virtue of his superior bat, but why tarnish a great Yankees legacy by playing for a key divisional rival. Same goes for the Orioles. I think there’s a strong chance for Jorge to get pushed aside in either organization for younger, cheaper talent. Neither the O’s or the Rays would be beholden to Posada as he didn’t carve out a borderline Hall of Fame career in their uniforms. As for the Phillies, it would probably be a good way for one last shot at the World Series, but the Phillies have emerged as a chief rival for the Yankees. He wouldn’t start for the Phillies, and his pinch-hitting opportunities and DH duty in interleague play would be limited with Jim Thome on the roster.
I would still like to see Jorge go to the Miami Marlins as a best-case scenario if he decides to continue playing. He lives in Miami, and the team is in the opposing league. They are not a natural rival by geography, and he wouldn’t tarnish his Yankees legacy. But as Nick Cafardo said in his Boston Globe column yesterday, “Hope Jorge Posada retires as a Yankee”.
Short-term rental looks better every day…
With the list of prospective pitchers dwindling, I am in favor of a short term signing (such as Roy Oswalt or Edwin Jackson). The recent trades of Mat Latos to the Reds and Gio Gonzalez to the Nationals has shown that the price is sky high for young, talented pitchers. Giving up Jesus Montero and Manuel Banuelos in any trade would be a mistake. I am not sure if this is akin to 1995 when Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera may have been considered potential prospect trade bait, but still, I’d rather see what the future holds with Montero and Banuelos than without. I think that either Oswalt or Jackson would be a better option than either Bartolo Colon or Freddy Garcia, and would allow the Yankees more time to work on a more equitable trade or seek potential help in the 2012 free agent market.
Strengthening your team with ex-Yankees…
I really do not want to see the Boston Red Sox weaken the Yankees’ bench by signing Andruw Jones. The Yankees had a great fourth outfielder in 2011, and they need to make his return a priority. This is an area that I’ve been greatly disappointed by the continued silence. I really do not feel that Justin Maxwell, Chris Dickerson or Melky Mesa can fill Andruw’s shoes.
Just like the Los Angeles Angels crept up and became the star of the Winter Meetings (overtaking the Miami Marlins), I keep expecting the Red Sox, who have been very dormant this winter despite their acquisition of former Yankees reliever Mark Melancon, to make a big splash to improve their 2012 team for new manager Bobby Valentine. It could be the signing of Hiroki Kuroda (whom the Yankees are also interested in) or a trade for the Cubs’ Matt Garza, but if they do improve, it will be difficult for the Yankees to adjust.
The Winter of (Y)our Discontent…
I never thought I’d feel bad for the New York Mets, but it has to be tough for their fans to watch their team move into rebuilding mode when every other team in the division has gotten better. The Mets would appear to have a stranglehold on fifth place in their division, with no competition. There is no great joy in watching the Mets as a defeated organization.
Don’t wake the Beast…
It’s hard to believe that pitchers and catchers report in less than two months. Of course, I am in Minnesota and it’s sunny with an expected high today of nearly 50 degrees. Nothing is what you expect, or I suppose you could say what it seems. There’s a winter beast that will soon be awakened in Minnesota. Does the same hold true for The Bronx?…
Baseball’s not a slow game but the off-season is…
It’s Thanksgiving, and the Yankees’ big moves this week were to sign journeyman utility infielder Jayson Nix and last year’s Andy Pettitte stand-in, Freddy Garcia. While I recognize that the Yankees needed to bring Garcia back, I hope that it does not deter them in their search for a legitimate #2 or #3 starter to go behind CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova. I have not seen any updates on how potential talks are going with backup third baseman Eric Chavez, but hopefully, he’ll return to New York for one more season. At this point, I view Nix as spring training fodder that will be discarded by the time the team heads for the Bronx.
In recent weeks, I’ve heard the Yankees linked to potential trades for Jair Jurrjens of the Atlanta Braves and Gio Gonzalez of the Oakland A’s. My preference of the two is Gonzalez because of Jurrjens’ history of knee trouble. Gonzalez, ironically, has been involved in separate trades involving current Yankees players during his career (Nick Swisher, when he was traded from the A’s to the White Sox, and Freddy Garcia, when he was traded from the White Sox to the Phillies).
I am anxious for the Baseball Winter Meetings so that free agent and trade activity will begin to heat up. So far, the early winner of the Hot Stove League has to be the Philadelphia Phillies for no other reason than they’ve been aggressive while other teams have been idle. Jonathan Papelbon was a good choice for closer, especially when you have as much invested in the rotation as the Phillies do. Ryan Madson did a good job last year, but it’s really anybody’s guess if he would have enjoyed the same level of success this year since he simply does not have the history to support it…yet. I am not quite sure how Jim Thome fits in, but as a pinch-hitter off the bench, there’s certainly worse bats you could have.
The Texas Rangers also did a good job in picking up former Minnesota Twins closer Joe Nathan, even if it does come with significant risk. As long as they have a solid Plan B in place, Nathan could be a very pleasant surprise if he shows that he can still pitch at a very high level.
Who will be the Astros’ DH?…
It will probably be strange for the Houston Astros next season as they make their farewell from the National League. Andy Pettitte is probably wishing that this had happened during his playing days so that he could have been ensured of playing at home every season. I think Brad Mills is a good manager but it will be interesting to see if he is retained by new owner Jim Crane when the Astros enter the AL West in 2013. He certainly deserves the opportunity, but you have to wonder if he’ll be given sufficient time to succeed.
Happy north of the border or wishing that Yawkey Way was a daily routine…
It’s no secret that the Boston Red Sox would love John Farrell as their manager, but the Toronto Blue Jays were obviously unwilling to allow that to happen. Nevertheless, I wonder how Farrell feels. Is he happy and delighted to be in Toronto, or does he have an unfulfilled desire for the Sox? Speaking of the Sox, I just don’t see how Bobby Valentine and the city of Boston are a good fit. I don’t dispute that he’s a good manager, but eventually he wears out his welcome and the pressure of Boston is greater than Arlington, Texas or even Flushing Meadows, New York. I don’t really know anything about Torey Lovullo’s managing background and Gene Lamont seems like an uninspired choice so I can’t say who I think would be a great fit for the job. Admittedly, I am a fan of former manager Terry Francona, so it does seem that whoever takes his place is going to an inferior choice. If it were my decision, I’d probably go with someone who has strong ties to the organization already, like bench coach DeMarlo Hale. But Boston’s late season collapse effectively removed any September participants from consideration and perhaps wrongfully so. It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the course of the next few weeks.
My first year in Minnesota coincides with the Vikings’ worst year in their 50 year history…
With the Minnesota Vikings standing at 2-8 heading into this weekend’s play, the baseball off-season has already seemed so incredibly long and it hasn’t even really started yet…
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!
As the Fonz said, I am ‘wrrrro…, I am wwwrrroo..’…
I was a pessimist in spring training…a non-believer. I didn’t think the Yankees could compete with the Boston Red Sox with their current roster after the off-season spurning by pitcher Cliff Lee. At the time, the Yankees were trying to piece together a rotation that was void of both Lee and Andy Pettitte, who opted to retire.
At the trading deadline, the Yankees were silent while the Red Sox were busy acquiring infielder Mike Aviles from the Kansas City Royals and pitcher Erik Bedard from the Seattle Mariners.
Yet, on the morning of August 16th, the Yankees found themselves in a first place tie with the Boston Red Sox. Not bad for a team that has been rated as inferior to the Red Sox by so many, including me. It is no secret that the Red Sox have owned the Yankees in their head-to-head match-up’s but of course that doesn’t mean a thing in October. Still, if the Yankees had been able to at least play .500 ball against the Sox, they’d have a fairly comfortable lead in the division. That’s probably where Lee and Pettitte would have made a difference, but who knows, perhaps they could have been even worse.
Despite the team’s success, I still do not like the prospects for October against the Red Sox and the Texas Rangers. Like the Red Sox, the Rangers were able to add some quality arms to the bullpen when they picked up Mike Adams from the San Diego Padres and Koji Uehara from the Baltimore Orioles. I do not like moves for the sake of simply making a move so perhaps the Yankees did the best thing by standing pat. But the team still has too many shortcomings that can be exposed in a short series. Part of me pulls for a Bronx return by Hideki Matsui who has cleared waivers for the Oakland A’s. Matsui has shown there is still ‘clutch’ in his bat and used in the right spots, he could be a valuable weapon. The team is counting very heavily on the return of Alex Rodriguez, but they need a contingency plan. The DH spot has been weak, for the most part, with Jorge Posada and Eric Chavez. Granted, Posada had a recent 6 RBI game that that’s clearly an aberration at this point of his career. I haven’t seen too many timely hits off his bat this season.
GM Brian Cashman is making the usual comments that he does not envision any trading activity this month, but of course, you never really know what is up his sleeve. So much of it has to do with posturing and trying to make the opposition believe that you aren’t desperate.
What have you done for me lately…
As for Posada, I am ready to cut ties. He has been a long and faithful Yankee, and certainly a very passionate one. However, I do not see a role on the 2012 Yankees for him. At this point, he has become a liability, and if he wishes to extend his career, I am okay with it being in another uniform. Hopefully, he doesn’t decide to go someplace like Boston, but I’d hope that he would make a respectful decision for the Yankees fans. All things considered, I wish that he’d simply hang up the catcher’s mitt at the end of the season and call it a career but I don’t think that’s going to happen. If I have to pick between Posada and Jesus Montero on the roster next year, Montero wins hands down. Sorry, Jorge, but I am looking forward to your participation on Old Timer’s Day.
A quiet major milestone even if it was a booming blast…
Congratulations to Jim Thome for slugging his 600th home run against the Detroit Tigers last night. It was an interesting stat that he was the first player to hit both his 599th and 600th home runs in the same game, and no one had ever hit his 600th in the next at-bat after 599. Babe Ruth was the closest, needing two at-bat’s. Thome’s march to 600 was one of the quietest milestone marches that I’ve experienced, and I even call Minneapolis home these days. I’ve never thought of him as a superstar, but he has consistently been a home run producer for many years. In my mind, he was never top shelf talent but he was always in the next tier and his career has spanned longer than many top shelf players. Does that qualify for entry to the Hall of Fame? It will be an interesting debate. He is certainly not a first ballot shoo-in, but he’ll probably find his way eventually.
Time to see my guys…
The Yankees will be coming to the Twin Cities this week, so I’ll be at one of the games this weekend. During my short time in Minneapolis, I have come to appreciate Target Field. I am a fan of many of the newer ballparks, and I like some better than others. But Target Field has a good feel to it, and I like its downtown location. I intend to wear my Yankees cap, which might not be the best idea when walking downtown, but I am sure that I won’t be alone…
Waiting for the opportunity…
As a lifelong fan of the Minnesota Vikings, it was tough a few years ago when I had to adjust to the sight of longtime enemy Brett Favre in purple. I actually did enjoy his first year, although the second one was a disappointment. But it is probably harder for me to accept the sight of Donovan McNabb in purple. Okay, I wasn’t one of those guys who booed when the Philadelphia Eagles selected McNabb in the draft over RB Ricky Williams, but I was never overly impressed with McNabb in his Philly days. I even lived in the area during his final years with the Eagles, and perhaps my impression of McNabb is tainted by the bitterness that Eagles fans held toward him. Yes, he won, but he never won the games that truly counted. It’s a team sport so you can’t hang total blame on him, but he is just not someone that I’ve ever been able to embrace as one of the game’s best QB’s. Maybe he will change my opinion of him. I definitely think that he has something to prove after his disastrous year in Washington, and I won’t be surprised if he rises to the challenge.
I am a fan of QB Christian Ponder. There’s no doubt that I wanted the team to draft Jake Locker, but it was not meant to be so Ponder is certainly the next best thing. Intellectually speaking, I think Ponder is at the head of the class and I look forward to seeing how he grasps the Vikings playbook. But, there’s no way that I think he is ready to start this year, particularly with the lockout shortened off-season. I think that Aaron Rodgers benefited greatly by sitting on the bench for those first few years, and the same holds true with Ponder. McNabb gives the Vikings the flexibility to allow Ponder to grow into the position…unless McNabb shows that Washington wasn’t a fluke. I am sure that we’ll see #7 line up behind center at some point in the regular season, but until then, I’ll be content with McNabb. Well, until he proves otherwise…
There were two Vikings that I really hated to see leave as free agents. WR Sidney Rice was one of my favorites, and he is now in Seattle with former Vikings QB Tavaris Jackson. I am not sure that Michael Jenkins or Bernard Berrian can be anything close to what Rice was, but I will say that WR Percy Harvin has been one of my favorite Vikings, if not the favorite. Now that his migraines appear to be behind him, I am looking forward to seeing if he can take it to the next level. The guy clearly has the talent and the heart to succeed. The other loss was LB Ben Leber who signed with the St. Louis Rams. But with Leber’s loss, it does create an opportunity for Erin Henderson to step into his shoes. I really like what I’ve seen from Erin, and it is a great story if he starts next to his brother, middle linebacker E.J. Henderson. But regardless of what the final roster looks like, I feel very confident in the decisions being made by head coach Leslie Frazier. I don’t want to diss former head coach Brad Childress, but this is the most confident that I’ve felt about a Vikings head coach in a very long time. I can never recall a time where I was content with the heads of both the Yankees and the Vikings but I am very comfortable with both Joe Girardi and Frazier. Now, let’s see if it equates to a few championships…
It was a nice win by the “kid”
of the pitching staff. With 24-year-old
Ivan Nova on the mound, the Yankees bolted to a 4-0 lead behind Alex Rodriguez
and Jorge Posada and then held off the Minnesota Twins for the 4-3
Antonelli/NY Daily News
I’ll admit that I had the
fears from last year when Nova had men on first and third and Jim Thome at the
plate after recording two outs with the bases empty. Thome sliced a double to score two runs, and
I was worried the floodgates were about to open. Fortunately, he escaped the inning without
further damage. Despite giving up a run
the next inning, Nova went six innings before turning the game over to the
bullpen combo of Chamberlain-Soriano-Rivera.
Nova is definitely the wild
card of the pitching staff. Stuff-wise,
I am not really expecting much from him.
It’s not like he has the talent of a David Price or a Jeremy Hellickson,
but he does have a chance of being a solid contributor on an outstanding club.
Okay, I know that I am a
die-hard Yankees fan, but I have to admit that I was a bit embarrassed listening
to MLB Radio this morning when a guy claiming to be a Yankees fan was gloating
about the Red Sox Opening Series loss. 3
games out of 162 mean nothing. The Red
Sox are a sleeping Giant and when they wake up, they are going to be very
powerful. I know when the Yankees travel
to Boston, records won’t mean anything.
The series will be the first intense test of the season and I’m sure
that we’ll see the real Red Sox in prime form.
I am not disappointed to see the Red Sox lose (naturally), but there’s
no way I’d gloat about the situation.
The Yankees will have their own bumps in the road along the way…
Like everyone else, I am
concerned about the drop in Phil Hughes‘ velocity, but we need a greater body of
work before deciding if this is a trend.
I think he’ll be okay after a few more starts.
I keep reading about how
Jorge Posada needs to fill the time between his at-bats as he adjusts to the DH
role, but with 3 home runs, he must be doing something right.
So Andruw Jones hasn’t
appeared in a single game yet? Geesh, I’d
like to collect his salary for doing nothing!