Tagged: Johnny Damon

No Fan of DH by Committee…

 

All I want are a few home runs…

Lately, more has been written about the potential of the Yankees signing someone like Raul Ibanez to fill the void at DH.  Given all available options, he is probably as good as any, plus he most likely would understand his role if he was offered and accepted a contract with the Yanks.  He’s still got some pop in his bat, and he could occasionally take the field when/if needed.  I am not overly enthused about a former Phillie being on the team, but Ibanez is a former teammate of A-Rod’s from their Seattle days together.

It would be preferable to see a former Yank, i.e., Hideki Matsui or Johnny Damon, if for no other reason than what they’ve already accomplished in pinstripes.  I recognize that Ibanez might be the better fit in 2012, even if he is pushing 40.

In his days with the Montreal Expos, Vladimir Guerrero was one of my favorite players but at this point, I don’t really see him as an option.

He looks great…in a different uniform…

Whatever the Yankees do, I hope they are successful in moving A.J. Burnett.  This one is tough, because I was so in favor of his signing when he first came to the Yankees.  I always admired his arm when he played for the Florida Marlins and later with the Toronto Blue Jays.  He’s largely been a disappointment since the successful 2009 voyage.  There have been flashes of brilliance, but more times than not, his performances have ended on a disappointing note.  Some guys are better served in less pressurized environment, and Burnett would probably excel in a place like San Diego.  If Burnett doesn’t make the starting rotation, I think he would be a distraction to the team in the bullpen.  Therefore, best case scenario would be to move Burnett. Of course, that means he will be accompanied by lots of cash to pay his freight, but sometimes its addition by subtraction.  Sadly for Burnett, that time is now.

“Manny being Manny”…

As for the rotation, my preference is to give Phil Hughes the opportunity to either grab hold of his place on the team or perhaps prove that it is time for him to seek employment elsewhere.  If the latter situation occurs, Dellin Betances should be ready to step in to fill the void (or Freddy Garcia, if he is kept on the roster).  Manny Banuelos will probably make noise this year, but he’ll probably not surface on the major league level until late this year.  Now, if Banuelos comes to Tampa this spring with a ‘refuse to lose’ mentality and takes the job (much like Michael Pineda did last year with the Seattle Mariners), so be it.  Banuelos is the eventual star of the rotation, with Pineda.

Striving to be regular contributors to the daily Transactions column…

I was surprised to see the Boston Red Sox trade starting shortstop Marco Scutaro to the Colorado Rockies.  It’s being said that the move was made to free payroll to sign a free agent pitcher like Roy Oswalt or Edwin Jackson.  Personally, I think it was a move to set up another move, in addition to rebuilding the rotation.  I would be surprised if the Red Sox broke camp with the tandem of Mike Aviles and Nick Punto as their starting shortstop.  I keep hearing that a trade for the Marlins’ Hanley Ramirez is out of the question, but somehow I could still see that happening.  Whatever happens, I do expect the Sox to break camp with a quality shortstop, in other words, someone not named Aviles or Punto…

The Prince of Bel Air?…

It’s too bad that the Los Angeles Dodgers are still an organization in a state of flux until new ownership can take over.  It would make so much sense for the Dodgers to go after free agent first baseman Prince Fielder, and it would be a move that would help begin the healing process for the Dodger fan base, who have suffered under the reign of Frank McCourt.  A lineup that includes Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Fielder would certainly steal some thunder from the Albert Pujols-led Angels.

Checkmate…

There’s still a lot of drama to unfold before pitchers and catchers report next month.  The Yankees and Mariners should finally be in position to announce the Jesus Montero-Michael Pineda trade early this week.  Hopefully, that will open the gridlock at DH and set the stage for other moves that will hopefully produce the 28th World Championship in franchise history.  Whatever happens, I am ready for some baseball…

–Scott

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…

Deux Sorianos?…

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…

–Scott

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Disappointment replaced by Optimism…

 

After some thought, I’ve come around…

Now that I’ve had time to digest the Friday night whirlwind that brought pitchers Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda to the Bronx, my initial disappointment was evaporated.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the power potential of Jesus Montero, and I know full well that he’ll be as devastating against the Yankees as Jay Buhner was if not more.  But I recognize that from a position of need, a top of the rotation starter is better than a player without a position.

Ever since I first heard Jesus Montero’s name, it always included a statement that he’d eventually have to find a new position because he would outgrow catcher.  The obvious moves would be to either first base or left field, but last time I checked, both of those positions were occupied by long-term tenants.  Putting an offensive juggernaut at DH is great for offense but it does nothing to help with the defensive aspects of catching or learning a new position.  With Russell Martin in the fold for the foreseeable future, there was no way that Montero would gain the starting position at catcher.  Martin’s ability to handle the pitching staff is simply too important to the team even if his bat is nothing remotely close to Montero.

With Montero, I was always worried about the other young Yankee catchers.  Of course, there’s Francisco Cervelli on the active roster.  If Montero were to take the backup catching job, where would that leave Cervelli?  Most likely playing for the Twins, backing up oft-injured Joe Mauer or someone like that.  I like the defensive reports that I’ve heard about both Austin Romine and Gary Sanchez, but if their path was clogged by Martin and Montero, where did that leave them?  Sanchez needs more time in the minors, but Romine is nearing major league ready status.  With an injury or two, I fully expect him to get his chance to make an impression at Yankee Stadium in 2012.  The trade of Montero ensures that Romine will get his major league opportunity with the Yankees so that’s a good thing.  He doesn’t have Montero’s bat (who does?) but good defense is essential for championships.

Maybe just tell us who the Yankees haven’t talked to…

As for the DH slot, it seems like the Yankees have expressed interest in about everyone.  There have been reports they’ve spoken to the agents for Carlos Pena, Johnny Damon, and Hideki Matsui.  There are pros and cons with all three players, but whoever the Yankees bring on board will have to share time at DH with Alex Rodriguez, Andruw Jones, and Derek Jeter so I’d be okay with any of the three.  I’ve always liked the clutch bats of Damon and Matsui, and the swing for the fences power of Pena is nice even if the average is hovering slightly above the Mendoza line.  With all the reports that the Yankees only have a $1 million or two to spend on a DH, I half expect a report that they’ve talked to Reggie Jackson!  Okay, that might be a stretch, but I’d consider letting ‘all or nothing’ slugger Jorge Vazquez.  He does deserve a shot.  If not, the Yanks should cut him loose and let him pursue a team that will.

If Jorge Posada had embraced the DH role last year, he’d be on his way back to the Bronx for an encore performance…

Upon second thought…

As for the pitching staff, my initial prediction about the rotation order was flawed.  I recognize that Micheal Pineda is the clear #2 in the rotation.  I’ve seen Ivan Nova slotted at #4, but I’d still keep him at #3 at least until he gives reason to drop him in the order.  I think Kuroda is a great addition, but he has to adjust to the American League in the most difficult division, while moving from a pitcher’s ballpark to a park that is less forgiving.  So, I’d give Nova time for pinstripes served and put him ahead of Kuroda.  After the former Dodger, it’s anybody’s guess who will win out…Phil Hughes, my personal favorite; Freddy Garcia, probably the better choice among the pitchers in terms of consistency; and A.J. Burnett, the candidate for most likely to depart the Bronx if the Yanks can find a willing trade partner that wants Burnett…and a boatload of cash to pay that ridiculous salary.  What happens if either Manny Banuelos or Dellin Betances pitches “lights out” in training camp?  This is going to be an interesting battle.

He’s really a cousin of Alcides and Kelvim Escobar?…

Back to Friday night’s trade, I was a bit dismayed when I saw that pitcher Hector Noesi had been included in the trade.  I kept hearing that his ceiling was the back end of the rotation but there was something that I liked about the pitcher.  At first, I didn’t know anything about the “other” Mariner included in the deal, Jose Campos.  But since the initial report of the trade, I’ve come to realize that he has great potential.  At 19, he’s 6’4” and throws in the mid 90’s.  He’ll more than make up for Noesi and fits a better timeline in terms of being major league ready given the high level pitching prospects already in the organization (Banuelos and Betances, for example).  The Curtis Granderson trade has been labeled as a ‘win-win-win’ for all concerned.  Hopefully, this M’s-Yankees trade will meet a similar fate.

What would I expect Bobby V to say?…

Contrary to what Bobby Valentine may think, the Yankees are a better team today than they were last Thursday.  But, I recognize the Boston Red Sox are not done yet.  They signed former Dodger pitcher Vicente Padilla today (a guy I loathe personally) and there’s rumors they could go after Roy Oswalt if they can move payroll.  I still think Boston could be a player for Cubs starter Matt Garza given Theo Epstein’s knowledge of the Red Sox minor league prospects.  Whether Ben Cherington or rather Larry Lucchino would trade with Epstein is another matter.  Still, I think there are changes to be made on both the Yankees and Red Sox between now and training camp.  Last year, I saw a Red Sox friend predict 118 or 119 wins for Boston.  Teams look great on paper, but as they say, the ‘proof is in the pudding’!

Moneyball II, starring Jorge Garcia…

It’s hard to think of the Oakland A’s signing former Yankees starter Bartolo Colon as a low-cost, high reward “Moneyball” kind of move.  At 39, I don’t think there’s really any upside to Colon at this point and in my opinion, he’s not capable of sustaining a full season of starts.  I’d rather have Gio Gonzalez or Trevor Cahill in the rotation, but I guess since those are no longer options, they have to look at the scrap heap that served the Yankees so well last season.

Yes, I know the way to San Jose!…

Speaking of Oakland, I do hope they are successful in their desire to move to San Jose.  As a former San Jose resident, I think it’s very exciting for the city and its metro area to be on the verge of landing both the A’s and the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, to go with the NHL’s Sharks.  I saw that A’s owner bought the famed Hotel Sainte Claire in downtown San Jose.  He already owns one hotel in San Jose so I guess you can’t read too much into it, but he’s definitely positioning himself for the growth and excitement that San Jose could see in the coming years.  I’d be happy with a Stanley Cup Championship this year, but that’s a little off-topic…

I really don’t forsee another 99 losses when you place character first…

I was a little surprised to see the Minnesota Twins sign former Detroit Tigers flamethrower Joel Zumaya.  He suffered his devastating arm injury at Target Field in 2010.  So, in terms of Karma, you’d think that he’d avoid Target Field like the plague.   But I read comments in this morning’s paper about how he was touched by the reception he received from the Twins fans as he left the field that fateful day.  Stories like that certainly make me feel honored to be a Minneapolis resident, but I was still surprised by Zumaya’s decision.  I wish him the best as he begins the Comeback Trail.  Hopefully he can get back to the level he was before.  For the Twins, with Joe Nathan in Texas and Matt Capps scheduled to close games, they need Zumaya as the pitcher he once was and hopefully will be again.

When it’s tough being the son of Donnie Baseball, come home to the Bronx!…

Before I go, I want to say that I am really hopeful that the Yankees organization proves to be a blessing for former Dodgers prospect Preston Mattingly.  I’ve always heard what a great athlete he is/was when he was younger.  I don’t know what happened through his time in the Dodgers and Indians organizations and I realize that he is getting a bit long in tooth for a prospect, but I really hope that he can find some level of success with the Yankees.  It would be very cool to see Mattingly make a debut at Yankee Stadium at some point in the future.  Who knows if it is in the cards, but being a late bloomer is not outside of the realm of possibility when it comes to someone with his bloodline.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s hard to believe that we are just a month away from training camp.  I’m excited and looking forward to a great season.

 

–Scott

Somehow I knew it would end like this…

 

Sad but realistic…

Well, the Yankees lost a series that they could have and should have won.  I can’t say that I am as disappointed as I’ve been in past years during play-off failures as I recognized the team had its fatal weaknesses that would be exposed the deeper it got in the play-offs.  Clearly, starting pitching has been a problem.  CC Sabathia has been great, but he hasn’t been Justin Verlander- or Roy Halladay-great.  He is still the ace and legitimately so, but the weaknesses in the rotation behind him put more pressure on CC to be perfect.  That’s a tough for anyone.  Even if the Yankees had gotten past the Detroit Tigers, I am not so sure that they would have fared well against the Texas Rangers.

When the season began, I felt that on paper the Boston Red Sox had a superior team.  My picks for the World Series were the Red Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies.  I was wrong on both counts, but I felt that the Yankees weak rotation would put too much pressure on the hitters.  When the big bats go cold, there just haven’t been the consistent key hits off the bench.  There have been a few here and there, but nothing like the critical and timely hits that Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui used to deliver.  I was concerned that this would be the final fatal blow for the Yankees chances in 2011, and that’s exactly what happened.

At the trading deadline, I had hoped the team would at least make an attempt to acquire a clutch hitter if they weren’t able to find any pitching depth.  They stood pat and did nothing.  I agree that it was the right decision if the moves would have cost talent like Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances or Jesus Montero, but other teams found ways to spend a little to acquire a lot like the Tigers with their pickup of pitcher Doug Fister.

The priority move – sign Cash…

Although the 2011 season was a “failure” as per owner Hal Steinbrenner, I clearly hope the team decides to bring back GM Brian Cashman.  No one understands the Yankees or the city of New York better than Cash, and he’s still the right man for the job.  With so much to do in the off-season, the Yankees need to move quickly to sign Cash.  With CC likely to opt out of his contract, the Yankees will need to be equally as quick to renegotiate a replacement contract so that they can turn to ways to improve the team as opposed to sustaining the current depth of talent.  I would hate to see the Yankees lose other opportunities because they are too focused with the Cashman and Sabathia negotiations.  Last off-season, it appeared that the team was only capable of dealing with one issue at a time.  When they were chasing Cliff Lee, it seemed as though that’s all they did.  They let other matters sit, including the topic of Andy Pettitte, until Lee surprised everyone and returned to Philadelphia.  I am not quite sure why the organization is incapable of multi-tasking, but they do need to ‘divide and conquer’ if they intend to be the dominant force in 2012.

Looking forward to Jorge Posada Day…

Jorge Posada played very well in September and October, and he’s been a fantastic Yankee, but the time has come for him to go.  I hope that he decides to put the bat down and simply walks away.  I’d really hate to see him try to play again in 2012, which most likely would be with a different team.  His legacy is secured in Yankees history, and he’ll always be treated as royalty by the organization.  He was the greatest catcher since Thurman Munson, and he’ll certainly be remembered in the same room with Munson, Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra, and Elston Howard.

The “Opt-Out” I wish would happen…

How great would it be if Rafael Soriano opted out of his contract?  Sadly, that’s not going to happen and the Yankees are stuck with the guy who is trying to be the next Jose Veras rather than the next Mariano Rivera…

Bay Area Losses…

Northern California has certainly suffered great losses this week with the passing of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and now legendary Raiders owner Al Davis.   Davis is one of the guys that you just thought would live forever.  I am not a Raiders fan, but he revolutionized the game and was one of its most colorful characters.  I admired his strength and resolve, and it’s unfortunate that his final Raider seasons were filled with losses.  The game certainly won’t be the same without Davis…

–Scott

 

Seriously?…


As if the off-season hasn’t been difficult enough regarding the Yankees’ starting rotation, now comes word that the Yankees have signed soon-to-be 38 year old pitcher Bartolo Colon.  Sorry, but in my opinion, this signing has no upside.  Colon hasn’t pitched since 2009 and he has not started at least 20 games since his Cy Young Year with Chicago in 2005.  When he pitched for the Boston Red Sox, he just struck me as old and out of shape.  I just don’t see a comeback season in Colon.  I know that he’s probably just fodder for spring training as the Yankees look to see if they can find some nuggets in the scrap heap.  

My favorite quote about Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez signing with Tampa Bay was that the Rays are now the early favorite for the 2004 World Series.  I guess that means the Yankees view Colon and his 18 2004 wins as a potential obstacle for Damon and Ramirez.  Maybe Major League Baseball needs a Senior Tour like the PGA.  Oh, nevermind, that’s what we are going to see in the MLB next season…

The Yankees have apparently offered Andy Pettitte $12 million to return for a final season.  I know that Andy is still in Texas deciding his future (how long does it really take?) but it is definitely a reality check when a baseball player can view $12 million like I do with 12 dollars. I am ready for Andy to make his decision…either way.  I know the Yankees are allegedly not waiting for his decision, but this needs to end.  

I liked Brian Cashman’s comment this week that the Boston Red Sox have the better team but the Yankees have the better bullpen.  He definitely wants the world to know that he was against the Rafael Soriano signing.  I was listening to MLB Radio this morning and the hosts were speculating that Cash sounded like a guy who was trying to talk his way out of a job.  Frankly, I’d have to agree.  When George Steinbrenner was alive, I remember hearing how much the organization admired Jim Bowden.  In light of his failure with the Washington Nationals a few years ago, I wonder if he is still a favorite son.  Whether it is Bowden or someone else, it appears the team might be ready for a new general manager and Cash ready for new ownership when his current deal expires at the end of the season.

If the Yankees finish third or fourth, they may be looking for more than just a new general manager.

–Scott

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!…


Understandably, the signing was met with mixed reaction by Yankees fans, but personally, I liked the move to sign Andruw Jones as the team’s fourth outfielder.



98486113, Sports Illustrated/Getty Images /Sports Illustrated
Brad Mangin/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

Marcus Thames came up with a few clutch hits last season but it was fearful to watch him play the outfield.  With Jones, the Yankees have someone that can spell all three outfield positions and can be counted on to provide adequate defense.  With the bat, when hitting in his spots, he can still perform as evidenced by his 19 home runs with the Chicago White Sox last season.  

I realize that Andruw is a shell of the superstar that he used to be despite being only 33, however, he is still young enough to turn it around for a few seasons if he can make a commitment to conditioning and the other factors that make older players like Alex Rodriguez or Derek Jeter successful.  I know, he’ll never hit 51 home runs again or even 30 or 40, but so long as he can hit a few clutch shots, I’ll be satisfied.  The Yankees are only paying him $2 million for one year…a far cry from the $18 million per season the Los Angeles Dodgers were paying him only a couple of seasons ago.  

The sad part of the season is that it meant the Yankees would not be pursuing Johnny Damon.  Jones had the advantage of being the better defensive player (at this stage of their respective careers) and that ensured him of the Yankees primary focus.  Damon, meanwhile, has signed with the Tampa Bay Rays where he’ll see greater playing time than he would have with the Yankees.  Aside from all the love and positive statements that Johnny will be professing about Tampa and the Rays, I wish him all the best.  


Johnny Damon Tigers Alex Rodriguez Derek Jeter Yankees
John Dunn/Newsday/MCT

Speaking of the Rays, they also signed Manny Ramirez as their DH.  I was a bit surprised by that move considering that the Rays have been so selective about bringing on quality, team-first guys.  Perhaps they feel that Damon will be able to keep Manny in check.  Or perhaps it really was just a move to help drive up attendance.  Either way, it is going to be hard to take the Rays as seriously as I have in the past.  It could be a long season in Florida or maybe the joke’s on us.  Time will tell…

Chicago White Sox DH Manny Ramirez talks with former Boston Red Sox teammate David Ortiz Saturday at Fenway Park.
Townson/AP

Back to the Yankees, they’ve made all the necessary moves…except the final one or two pieces…namely the #4 and #5 spots in the starting rotation.  When I heard that the Detroit Tigers had designated pitcher Armando Galarraga for assignment after signing free agent pitcher Brad Penny, I was a bit skeptical and leery of Armando.  However, after additional thought, he might be someone the Yankees should pursue.  So long as they don’t have to relinquish any top shelf talent, the gamble would be worth the risk.  He might blossom under the tutelage of pitching coach Larry Rothschild.  He is the type of pitcher that I’ve wanted the Yankees to acquire.  Someone who hasn’t quite fulfilled his promise or potential but who is still young enough to have that breakout season.  Maybe Armando is that guy…


Umpire Jim Joyce, pitcher Armando Galarraga, wire
Kirthmon F. Dozier/Detroit Free Press/MCT

If the Rafael Soriano signing was Hal Steinbrenner’s idea, hats off to him.  It was a bold move and I have been concerned that Hal, as an educated bean counter, would not make those seemingly crazy moves to improve the team.  I should qualify that by saying that I do not want to see another Ed Whitson or Steve Kemp signing, but you want an owner who sometimes sets aside rationale and conservative thought to go with a gut instinct.  When I first heard that the Yankees had signed Soriano, my immediate thought was that Hank Steinbrenner was behind the move.  Perhaps it was and he sold his brother on the idea, but if it was Hal’s idea, that’s even better.  As a fan, I do not view GM Brian Cashman any less than I did before.  Ownership always has the right to have the final say and of course it’s their money.  Brian does what is right for the organization.  The Steinbrenner family is responsible for ensuring a marketable and performing asset for the YES Network and their Yankee Stadium season ticket holders.  




–Scott

Have Arm, Will Travel…

 

Say what you will, it was a win…

 

 

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Tom Szczerbowski/US Presswire

 

A night after losing 3-2 to the Toronto Blue Jays in a game that probably could have been won if a clutch hitter like Johnny Damon, Melky Cabrera, Hideki Matsui or Jerry Hairston, Jr. were on the roster, the Yankees returned to their winning ways with a 11-5 victory over the Jays.  It was another solid fill-in performance by Dustin Moseley.  He was only responsible for 2 of the runs, as the remainder were charged against Chad Gaudin.  Moseley has definitely stepped up in a big way during the absence of Andy Pettitte.  After fretting what life would be like with Sergio Mitre after Andy went on the DL, manager Joe Girardi quickly reversed course and went with Moseley, a decision that has proven to be very fruitful.  Moseley is not the front-end starter you want in the play-offs, but for a team trying to battle its way to the AL East Championship, he has been exactly what the doctor ordered.

 

After losing to the Jays last night, the Yankees found themselves in a first place tie with the Tampa Bay Rays who defeated the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.  Mention has to go to Rays closer Rafael Soriano who threw a 9-pitch 9th inning that resulted in 3 strikeouts.  It was quite an impressive feat.  Why did the Atlanta Braves let Soriano get away again?…

 

Johnny Damon has apparently invoked his no-trade clause to stay in Detroit after being claimed on waivers by the Boston Red Sox.  All things considered, I am glad that Johnny opted to leave his Yankees legacy intact.  Damon was clearly one of the primary players responsible for the fall of the Curse of the Bambino as the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series, however, he was later able to cut the cords with the Red Sox after failed contract negotiations (or lack thereof) to sign with the Yankees where he ultimately won another championship.  Had he returned to Boston, he would have tarnished his Yankees legacy and turned the Yankees Universe against him.  David Cone was one of my favorite Yankees, but I don’t know if I can ever forgive him for going to Boston.  I would have hated to see Johnny return to Boston.  When I broached the possibility to my Red Sox friends, I received responses like “ugh!”, “ick!”, and “no!”.  While Jason Varitek and David Ortiz may have welcomed Johnny back, I am not sure that he would have been embraced by the RSN.  Perhaps he would have, but did the Red Sox claim Damon because they truly wanted him or did they do it to block the Rays?  As an aging player, I could have understood the player’s desire to play meaningful September games.  However, for Johnny, there was so much at stake personally.  He was a good Yankee, and hopefully, he’ll let that legacy stand on its own merits.  No reason to ruin it by going back to Beantown.  If the Yankees had just waited out Damon’s demands and brought him back to the Bronx, none of this would have been necessary.  Who knows where he’ll play in 2011, but for now, I remain proud of Damon for standing by his principles and commitment.

 

 

Johnny Damon Johnny Damon #18 of the New York Yankees stands during the national anthem before taking on the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angels Stadium on August 21, 2007 in Anaheim, California.

Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

 

In an off-topic comment, I was dismayed to hear that Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Sidney Rice will miss at least half of the season following hip surgery.  Given that the injury was suffered during the NFC Championship Game against the New Orleans Saints, I am not quite sure why Rice waited until now to have surgery.  He was the first true threat since the Vikings traded Randy Moss, so Brett Favre is definitely facing a challenge in what should be his final season.  This morning, there were reports the Vikings were close to signing former Packers wide receiver Javon Walker who clashed with Favre at times during their days in Green Bay.  With Percy Harvin’s on-going bouts with migraines, the best receiver at this point is probably Bernard Berrian which does not bode well for the Vikings and Favre. 

 

 

Seattle Times

 

Sports can be so brutal at times…

 

–Scott