There always seems to be a lull in baseball activity
following the conclusion of the World Series until the start of the baseball
winter meetings in early December. There
are generally a few free agent signings but generally not the top shelf talent
that is available. So, yesterday was a
fairly active day for the Yankees, all things considered.
The biggest news was the surprise announcement of the new
pitching coach. After continually
hearing the names of Mike Harkey, Scott Aldred, Gil Patterson and even Rick Petterson,
the Yankees named Chicago Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild to the
post. Rothschild’s name had not surfaced
in media reports and I was very pleased to see the hiring of a coach with his
experience and credentials. Rothschild
was the first manager for the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and has been with
the Cubs since 2002.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that A.J.
Burnett will be number one on Rothschild’s priority list. He has to figure out a way to restore Burnett’s
confidence and get him back to pitching like he did for the 2008 Toronto Blue
Jays and the 2009 Yankees. Joba
Chamberlain will also be on the priority list.
I have seen so many reports that Joba would be better served by a change
in scenery but I still think he can achieve success in New York. The continued progression of Phil Hughes is
another key for the 2011 season.
I think the Yankees would have been fine with someone
like Gil Patterson or Rick Petterson, but they are definitely better with
Rothschild. Good move by GM Brian
Cashman and Manager Joe Girardi. I
thought it was funny when I read Rothschild’s comments about the unique
interview experience but I am glad that Cashman made the applicants prove they
were up for the challenge.
There were a few roster moves as the Yankees released
bullpen pitcher Jonathan Albaladejo so that he could sign with a Japanese
club. He had a great AAA season this
year, but he didn’t really get much of an opportunity at the big league
level. I wish him the best with the
Yomiuri Giants and hope that it propels him to another big league opportunity
down the road.
The Yankees also acquired Atlanta Braves minor league
outfielder Cody Johnson for cash considerations. A former top draft pick (24th
selection in the first round in 2006), Johnson has power but also has a
tendency to strike out…a lot. It looks
like the Braves have given up on him, but he is still young enough (22) for the
Yankees to try and correct the deficiencies in his game. This looks like one of those low cost, high
reward moves that Boston GM Theo Epstein is so good about.
Mark Almond/The Birmingham News
In the other roster moves made yesterday, the Yankees
placed three Rule 5 draft eligible prospects on the 40-man roster to protect
them. Included were top prospects (Dellin
Betances, perhaps the best pitching prospect in the organization, and third
baseman Brandon Laird). In a breakout
season, Laird, brother of Detroit Tigers catcher Gerald Laird, had 25 home runs
and 102 RBI’s between AA and AAA this year.
The third prospect placed on the 40-man roster was reliever Ryan Pope.
There were also reports that the Yankees were making an
offer of three years at $45 million for Derek Jeter. I doubt DJ accepts the offer but I think it
is a very fair one. Signing elsewhere,
there is no way he would get more than $10 million per season, so overpaying by
$5 mil per year on a contract that will take DJ to nearly 40 years of age is
generous and cognizant of DJ’s contributions and value to the
organization. I keep hearing that he’ll
have to consider a position switch at some point, but where would you put him? I’d hate to lose an outfield position to a
player with declining skills. Would he
be better than Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson or Nick Swisher? That’s a tough question. Perhaps if you had a Justin Upton or Carl
Crawford in the outfield to go with Granderson, you could fill the other corner
outfield spot with Jeter.
In another transaction this week, the Yankees made their
first trade with former Yankees consultant and new Arizona Diamondbacks GM
Kevin Towers. They shipped first baseman
Juan Miranda, who was out of options, to the D-Backs for pitcher Scott
Allen. I saw one report that called him “Scottie”. I really hope that he doesn’t go by that
name. It sounds like a little black dog
to me, or at the very least, the chief engineer on the Starship
No movement on the Cliff Lee front, but I don’t think
anyone expects him to sign until the baseball winter meetings or later. Next week will probably be very quiet from a
baseball perspective, but hopefully, the Hot Stove League will start cranking
up by the first of December. I am very anxious
to see who makes the trip to Tampa for spring training in February. It would be nice to see a Yankees limo
waiting at the Tampa airport for an incoming flight from Little Rock, Arkansas…
Milestone achieved at Yankee Stadium but not that one…
Zach Ornitz/The Star Ledger
On a night when everyone was watching and hoping for the 600th home run by Alex Rodriguez (which he failed to do), Jorge Posada delivered his 1000th RBI of his career. He hit a RBI double in the first inning off Kansas City Royals starter Brian Bannister.
Al Bello/Getty Images
A.J. Burnett looked much better in the 7-1 win over the Royals. His performance was shortened by a rain delay which limited him to 5 innings, but he only gave up 4 hits and no runs. He also walked a batter, and struck out 3. It was enough for A.J. to even his mark at 8-8, as relievers Chad Gaudin and Jonathan Albaladejo secured the victory for him. Albaladejo’s stay with the Yankees was brief as he was optioned to Scranton/Wilkes Barre to make room for today’s starter, Sergio Mitre (who was activated off the DL).
Saed Hindash/The Star Ledger
A-Rod went 2-for4 but no home runs in his quest for 600. In today’s game, he will face the pitcher who gave up his 500th career home run (Kyle Davies). Hopefully, Alex will get the home run sooner rather than later so that he can move on. I remember watching when Barry Bonds hit his 600th home run, and how magical the night was. I realize it won’t be like that for Alex, given his steroids admission, but it is still a monumental feat. Hitting home runs takes great hand/eye coordination and Alex, regardless of his past admissions, is still one of the better players of his era.
Zach Ornitz/The Star Ledger
Nick Swisher missed the game when he woke up with soreness in his Achilles heel. He had been penciled in to start in right. Colin Curtis, who has really proven that he is a good hitter, took his place. Curtis will get another start today in place of Brett Gardner in left. Gardner is dealing with an acid reflux problem that apparently dates back to his childhood. Swisher is still out so Marcus Thames will start in right.
There have been rumors that the Yankees are talking with the Arizona Diamondbacks about starting pitcher Dan Haren, but all reports this morning are that the teams are far apart and nothing is imminent. I know that I voiced frustration with Joba Chamberlain in my last post, but I would hate to see him go to Arizona for Haren. I keep hearing that the D-Backs want a major league ready pitcher in addition to prospects, so it is very unlikely the Yankees could get Haren for, say, Ivan Nova and Zach McAllister. It just seems that the price tag would be too high, not to mention Haren’s high salary. He is certainly no Cliff Lee, so it would be very hard for me to justify paying a King’s ransom for him. I know that I want another option in the starting rotation than Mitre, but I suspect the Yankees will wait until closer to the deadline when there is a greater sense of urgency for teams to move certain guys. Perhaps the Yankees make no moves, but if there is none out there that make sense, then they should pass. Hopefully, guys like Curtis and Albaladejo can step up to fill crucial needs.
Now that CC is getting warmed up, Spring Training is officially underway…
Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger
So far, Camp has been very quiet for Team World Champions. Of course, that figures to change when position players report next week. But it has been great to see the guys arriving in Tampa as they begin defense of their World Series championship.
Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger
I always enjoy hearing about the players who re-committed themselves during the off-season, and arrive in camp in better shape than ever. This year’s “Biggest Losers” are reliever Jonathan Albaladejo and right fielder Nick Swisher. Both reported significantly lighter than we lost saw them in October. I have been a bit concerned that Swisher will have difficulty matching last season’s success, but hopefully, the weight loss will help him build upon the success and we’ll continue to see the A’s version of Swisher and not the White Sox version.
It’s evident the players have a great deal of respect for Andy Pettitte. Andy could have had the perfect ending to a great career by riding off to the sunset after last year’s championship, but he decided that he is not ready to hang up the glove yet. Obviously, I was disappointed when Andy admitted steroid use, however, throughout his career and including the time of the admission, Andy has handled himself with nothing but class and dignity. CC Sabathia credited Pettitte for helping his transition, and I am sure that he’ll have a similar influence on Javier Vazquez as he re-adjusts to life with the Yankees. I would have preferred if Andy had never left to play in Houston for three years, but conversely, the time away definitely gave Andy a different perspective and he clearly values his Yankees legacy now more than ever before.
I saw the comment by Hideki Matsui on the Angels MLB.com website that although he feels physically strong, his knees aren’t 100%. As tough as it was to see Godzilla leave, I think the Yankees made the right decision. While I recognize that he may have a great 2010 season, sooner or later he’ll begin breaking down and missing more time. Besides, there’s not much more that he could have done for a Yankees farewell than being named the World Series MVP.
Speaking of ex-Yankees, Johnny Damon is now officially a member. He signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Tigers for $8 million. Damon will definitely be the poster child for negotiating failures, at least for the short term. With better strategy, he could have secured a longer term deal for more money from the Yankees, but Damon and agent Scott Boras overvalued the market. Of course, the Yankees quickly moved on. I do not find fault with the Yankees approach because had they waited, they risked getting nothing. As it stands, the Yankees offense should be fine with Nick Johnson, Randy Winn and Marcus Thames on-board. I am still puzzled by the Tigers since they moved Curtis Granderson because of money, and he would have made less this year than Damon will cost them. I guess Damon is an $8 million insurance policy as a hedge to see if Austin Jackson is capable of making the leap to the major leagues.
Another former Yankee, Chien-Ming Wang, signed with the Washington Nationals. I am surprised that he went with the Nats. Nothing against them, but I really expected to see Wang go with Joe Torre and the Los Angeles Dodgers. They have a clear need for a fifth starter, and if healthy, Wang could have potentially filled the void. Whatever happens, I wish Wang the best of luck…and health. I hope he has learned to run the bases now that he’ll be hitting in the National League.
Now that Jose Molina is in Toronto, it sounds like manager Joe Girardi is going to make sure that Jorge Posada and A.J. Burnett work as a team this spring. Hopefully, they’ll be able to build a good rapport. If not, I hope that Francisco Cervelli is up to the challenge of being A.J.’s personal caddy.
The Yankees will definitely encounter more than a few former players (and manager) during the upcoming season.
Hopefully, the “pies” will belong to the current Yankees and not the former crowd. It should be a fun season, and I am looking forward to the renewed battle with Julia. I was hoping that we’d have a few “warm-ups” during the Spring, but the Yankees and Red Sox are not scheduled to face each other until Opening Day. Oh well, I am looking forward to starting the season 1-0. Right, Julia? 😉
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
This is off-topic, but now that American Idol has reduced the field to 24, my early favorite is Janell Wheeler…
But then again, Ashley Rodriguez does have a great voice…
It should be a great Season 9 on American Idol! Music and Yankees baseball…sounds like it will be a great summer to me! If Julia doesn’t agree, this video says it all…
Brian Cashman, did I mention how much I appreciate the investment you made in A.J. Burnett?
The Yankees salvaged the final game of the four game series with the Cleveland Indians to settle for a split in the first series ever played at the new Yankee Stadium. Considering that the Yankees lost games of 10-2 and 22-4, taking 2 of 4 sounds like a fairly good deal. The last time the Yankees gave up two big innings in a series like this, they were known as the New York Highlanders and it was 1907.
Branch Rickey, who is best known as the Dodgers GM who broke the color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson, was a left fielder on the team.
The Sporting News
Jack Chesbro, who had won 41 games three years earlier, was winding down a great career. San Jose’s own Hal Chase was the Yankees first baseman.
Courtesy Hal Edward Chase III
Sunday brought the return of Carl “American Idle” Pavano, and he pitched the way he should have when he wore pinstripes. He pitched six innings, gave up 4 hits and 1 walk, and struck out 4. He turned over the game to the Cleveland bullpen, with a 3-1 lead. Fortunately, the Yankees rallied against the Tribe, thanks in large part to a disputed two-run pinch hit homer by Jorge Posada. The play represented the first time the officials used the video replay, but the upon review, the homer stood. The Indians had claimed fan interference.
A.J. Burnett had gotten into trouble earlier in the inning, when he loaded the bases with one out. A.J. struggled with his control today, walking 7 batters and throwing three wild pitches. But he kept the Yankees in the game, until he couldn’t go any further. Joe Girardi went to reliever Jonathan Albaladejo who did a great job in retiring the next two batters. Then, it was time for Posada’s heroics.
Cody Ransom (he’s still a toad) hit a three-run double in the 8th to provide the final margin of victory, 7-3. I am not quite sure why Shin-Soo Choo slowed up and let Ransom’s hit drop, but I’ll take it. Maybe the ghosts of The House That Ruth Built finally moved across the street after seeing Saturday’s debacle.
The game was closed out by the dynamic duo of Brian Bruney (8th) and Mariano Rivera (9th). It was not a save situation for Mo due to Ransom’s insurance runs. Albaladejo got the win (1-0).
A.J. Burnett may not have had his best stuff today, but again, he has proven he is a warrior and the guy knows how to pitch. I have great confidence when Burnett pitches. He may not get the decision and he might take the loss, but you know that he’s going to give it everything he’s got and clearly he’s nobody’s fool. The guy has heart, and the last guy who pitched like that in pinstripes (David Cone) had a memorable Yankees career.
The Yankees are in second place, 2.5 games behind the AL East Leader, the surprising Toronto Blue Jays. Julia‘s Red Sox are a half-game back, tied for third with the Baltimore Orioles.
Next up at Yankee Stadium is an old friend. Jason Giambi returns to the Bronx to check out the new Stadium with his team, the Oakland A’s.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Nomar Garciaparra will be in tow. I think he’s played a meaningful game or two in the Bronx.
Speaking of old friends…well, maybe less emphasis on the “friends” part, congratulations to Randy Johnson for his stellar performance against his old team, the Arizona Diamondbacks. He had a no-hitter into the 7th inning before giving up a double to Augie Ojeda. Johnson stranded Ojeda at third, and left the game after 7 innings. He gave up just one hit, Ojeda’s double, and struck out 7. It was Johnson’s first victory of the season (1-2) and the 296th of his career. As one who never minds seeing the D-Backs lose, congrats to the Big Unit for the vintage performance!
I had told some Dodger friends that the Yankees would have a better record than their team by the end of week. The only problem? The Dodgers haven’t lost since. Yikes! Joe Torre and company continued their 8-game winning streak with a 14-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies. Manny Ramirez may be all that, but Matt Kemp is finally becoming the man for the Dodgers. Credit Donnie Baseball for his help in Kemp’s realization of his five-tool talent.
The Red Sox won. Bummer…
Just kidding, Julia! 🙂
Have a great week!
Well, after the Yankees’ 6-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds in their final Grapefruit League road game, I owe an apology to Joba Chamberlain for the wiffle ball comment that I made in my last blog.
Joba sparkled yesterday, going 5 1/3 innings and allowing 5 hits, 2 runs, and 2 walks. He struck out 6. But the greater stat, in my perspective, was the increased velocity on his pitches (speeds of up to 96 mph).
Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger
Both Joba and Andy Pettitte have shown that the back end of the rotation is just fine.
I have seen reports that A.J. Burnett has proven to be a good mentor for Joba this spring. I am glad to see A.J. take the leadership responsibility, and I think he has much wisdom to offer based on his own experiences as he has learned to become a true pitcher instead of just a hard thrower.
Joba is in Lancaster County, Nebraska today for his arraignment on last fall’s drunken-driving charge. One thing’s for sure, Joba will hold only himself accountable and he can be depended upon to make the best of a bad situation. He’s a ‘stand up’ guy, and that’s certainly one quality that has earned my respect.
THE NEW YANKEE STADIUM WON’T BE “OFFICIAL” UNTIL…
Until these familiar words flow through the loudspeakers, the new Yankee Stadium cannot be truly christened…
“Good evening…ladies and gentlemen…and welcome…to Yankee Stadium”
Unfortunately, long-time Yankees public-address announcer Bob Sheppard, who is in his late 90’s, will miss the exhibition games with the Chicago Cubs on April 3rd and 4th, and Opening Day on April 16th against the Cleveland Indians.
He is still recovering from the bronchial infection that sidelined him for most of last season. His wife indicated that he does not currently have the necessary stamina and was advised against working by his physician. She stated that a warmer mid-season return was more likely. Until then, Paul Olden will handle the duties.
It is hard to believe that Sheppard has been the public-address announcer since 1951. His first game was April 17, 1951. The Yankees defeated the Boston Red Sox, 4-0, that day. The combined lineups featured seven Hall of Famers: Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Johnny Mize, Yogi Berra, Phil Rizzuto, Ted Williams, and Lou Boudreau. It was also Mickey’s first game (he went 1-for-4), and the beginning of the Yankee Clipper’s final season.
Here’s hoping for a full recovery and a triumphant return to the new Stadium by Mr. Sheppard…
ODDS & ENDS…
Jonathan Albaladejo has made the final Yankees roster, which means that Brett Tomko, Alfredo Aceves, and Dan Giese are headed for Scranton. Tomko was very disappointed as he felt that he had pitched well enough to make the roster. True, but Joe Girardi obviously feels that the club is stronger with Albaladejo.
The last roster decision is the infield utility role, which has become a competitive battle between Angel Berroa and Ramiro Pena. Unless the Yankees decide to go outside of the organization for a last-minute choice, I fully expect Pena to be announced as the victor. But the #90 jersey has to go! Just kidding. I know that he’ll be re-assigned a more “reasonable” number if he makes the roster.
I was glad to see that former Yankee Nick Green has won Boston’s infield utility role (well, at least until Julio Lugo returns).
I was surprised by the Detroit Tigers decision to release Gary Sheffield. The Phillies were almost immediately mentioned as a possible destination, but Sheffield is better suited for the American League as a designated hitter. The Rays have also been mentioned. Considering that his next home run will be number 500, there should be some good early season drama. That’s okay, but can we put Sheffield on mute?…
Warning: I am getting ready to make some non-baseball related comments so please feel free to bail from this blog…
What took John Calipari so long to say yes to the University of Kentucky’s $31.65 million offer to become head coach of the school’s basketball team? Geesh! $32 mil at one of the most prestigious basketball programs in the country. What’s to think about?…
Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress is really scaring me now. He has made comments that he is satisfied with the current quarterbacks on the roster (primarily Tavaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels). Fine, but calling Sage “a younger Gus Frerotte” is not a good thing! No offense to Gus, but c’mon…we need more than the next Gus Frerotte. The Vikings have shown no interest in Denver Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler, but of course, you never know if that’s truly because there is legitimately no interest or if it is simply posturing in the event of a trade so that the team doesn’t appear to be desperate. Now that the Broncos have indicated they will trade Cutler after an inability to communicate with him for 10 days, it will be interesting to see what transpires. I am not saying the Vikings need to pull the trigger, but they need to get in the game…
Have a happy April Fool’s Day, everyone!