The season of “Win some, lose some”…
This season has had a strange aura to it. Maybe it was the loss of the legendary Mariano Rivera for the season due to the knee injury suffered in Kansas City. Maybe it is because of the anemic Yankee bats. Maybe it’s because Hiroki Kuroda is acting like the latest incarnation of the Yankee versions of Ed Whitson and A.J. Burnett. I am not quite sure, but the feeling is similar to last season’s play-off series against Detroit when it simply felt like the Tigers were going to win.
After Boston’s horrid start and despite the fact they are still in last place in the AL East, they actually have much greater momentum at the moment than the Yankees. Plus, they figure to get stronger as the injured players return to the lineup. At the moment, the Sox only trail the Yankees by one game, so given Boston’s momentum, it actually feels as though the Yanks trail the Sox.
I hate to sound so negative. Things always look so grim when the Yankees lose, and so happy and cheerful when they win. But it’s the inconsistency and the quiet bats against lesser known pitchers that concern me. Everyone always talks about the powerful Yankees offense and the pitching is viewed as the Achilles heel, so far, the offense has worried me more than the troubles of the pitching staff, most notably Kuroda and Ivan Nova (and of course the injuries in the bullpen).
I realize that Alex Rodriguez hit two home runs in tonight’s win over the Kansas City Royals, but one game does not a season make. It’s the timely clutch hitting on a consistent basis that is needed so desperately. Is the clutch hitter the team needs on the current active roster or is this a position Brian Cashman will need to focus on over the course of the next two months? Time will tell. I remember when Philadelphia Phillies GM Ruben Amaro said earlier in the season that he didn’t know if the Phillies would be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline. The same could still be said of the Yankees if they don’t start winning a few series along the way.
I could stand one of those ten game win streaks about now…
So long Kerry Wood…
Clearly, Kerry Wood will always be remembered as a Chicago Cub, but he does have Yankees alumni status due to his brief stint in the Bronx a few seasons ago. He never fulfilled the fans’ expectations, but he had, without a doubt, a quality major league career. He is not a future inductee to the Hall of Fame, but he’ll be remembered as a true professional and a great representative of the game. Although I had wanted the Yankees to re-sign Wood, I am glad that he was able to return home to the Cubs to finish his career. He will be forever linked to the organization and will be one of their greatest ambassadors in future years.
For me, this is bittersweet. I’ve been aware of Kerry since he was a high school pitcher in Texas. I never met him, but he was a very close friend of the son of a former co-worker. The co-worker’s son was a good high school athlete, and I remember major league scouts were scouting both him and Kerry at the same time. The co-worker always raved about her son (naturally) but the accolades from others centered on Kerry so you knew early on that he was destined for the major leagues. I can still recall when we found out that Kerry had been drafted by the Cubs. It was fun to follow his career from that point in time until his retirement this month.
I wish Kerry the very best as he moves into the next stage of his life. Thanks for the 20 strikeout game among many other outstanding performances, and thanks for being a quality individual and great role model for kids. Too bad there aren’t more guys in the big leagues like you…
Hello Andy Pettitte…
What can you say…simply outstanding. After one game to shake off the rust, he has pitched back to back stellar starts, vintage Andy Pettitte. For all the good things I said about Kerry Wood, I hold Pettitte, another Texan, in the same regard. Andy is why it is great to be a Yankees fan. He could lose the rest of his starts this year, and it wouldn’t diminish the high regard I have for the guy. I greatly admire players who take personal responsibility and accountability, and Andy’s been that guy from Day One. With the struggles of Kuroda and Nova, and the move of the ineffective Freddy Garcia to the pen, Andy has been the great stabilizer of the starting rotation. It was an awful feeling when Andy signed with the Houston Astros as a free agent and it was awful when he retired. But both returns have been invigorating even if the present team is a bit sluggish.
Andy may not make the Hall of Fame but he’s earned a spot in Monument Park. His name should be forever linked to the Yankees.
Ah, there was a time when those words were such sweet
music to the ears!…
Granted, it was probably more like “Martin’s Back!” but
still, the name Martin and the city of New York is a great match. The latest Martin to set foot on Broadway is
former Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Russell Martin. In theory, he has been groomed for this
opportunity by the best…former Dodgers manager Joe Torre and former Dodgers hitting
instructor (now Dodgers manager) Don Mattingly.
While he still has to pass a physical, Martin has apparently signed a
one-year contract with the Yanks.
Larry Goren/Icon SMI
Martin was one of the top catchers in the NL several
years ago but has regressed. He suffered
a torn labrum in his right hip last August and missed the remainder of the
season. I will be anxious to see what
Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long can do with Martin. More than likely, Martin will be part of a
catching platoon with Jesus Montero, assuming the latter proves that he is
major league ready in spring training.
NY Daily News
Martin will probably be the only guy on the roster with a
name this long: Russell Nathan Jeanson
Coltrane Martin, Jr. Martin, born in East York, Ontario, will be 28
by the time the spring training games begin in February.
I like the move for Martin so long as it is not designed
to replace Montero so he can be used as a trading chip.
It was disappointing to see Cliff Lee decide to return to
Philadelphia on a 5-year deal for less money than he was offered by the
Yankees. I can’t blame Lee for choosing
a place that he is comfortable with, but I wish that he would have given New
York a chance. I grew rather pessimistic
about the Yankees chances last week when the Lee camp did not jump on the
Yankees 7 year offer. Like many, I
thought that he was headed back to the Texas Rangers so it was a bit of a shock
to hear that the mystery team was the Phillies.
All things considered, if Lee wasn’t going to go to New
York, I am glad to see him depart for the National League. I am not excited about a rotation that
features Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels and now Cliff Lee, but that’s
only a concern if you make it to the World Series as an American League team
(nice problem to have). The Rangers fans
are glad they didn’t lose out to the Yankees, but conversely, I am glad that
the Rangers and Nolan Ryan didn’t get one over on the Yanks. Also, I am glad that Lee didn’t go to the
Angels or the Red Sox.
As it stands, the Red Sox have enjoyed a hugely
successful off-season compared to the Yanks, but I would not underestimate
Brian Cashman and the Steinbrenner family.
As for immediate focus, I think the Yanks need to make sure that they
have the arms in the bullpen and I’d really like to see the return of Kerry
Wood. Of the remaining free agents,
there aren’t many that excite me. Manny
Ramirez is still out there but he’s a liability in the field and the Yankees
have the DH role locked up with Jorge Posada.
Manny’s bat is also not what it used to be and the Yankees don’t need
more ‘late thirtysomethings’ on the roster.
I’d have to say that I am mixed on whether the Yankees
should pursue a trade with the Kansas City Royals for starter Zack
Greinke. However, there will be
competition which of course drives up the trade demands so I am not sure that
avenue is the best given the uncertainty over whether Greinke could handle New
York (assuming he was willing to waive his no-trade clause to the Yankees). I’d probably prefer signing Brandon Webb or
pursuing Mark Buehrle in a trade. The
Yankees do have to do something about their starting rotation regardless of
whether Andy Pettitte returns or not.
Right now the #4 and #5 starters appear to be Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre
based on the current roster which is not very appealing. I am willing to give Nova a shot but if the
Yankees break camp with Mitre as their 5th starter, it’s going to be
a long season.
Why is it that Red Sox fans think the rivalry between the
Yankees and Red Sox is over on December 14th just because they didn’t
sign Cliff Lee? As Brian Cashman
indicated on a conference call earlier today, patience is the key. Somehow, I suspect the team that breaks camp
next spring will be able to compete with the newly enhanced Red Sox…
Congratulations to Hideki Matsui who signed a one year
deal with the Oakland Athletics. As a
resident of the Bay Area, I am sure that Godzilla will be well received and he’ll
be a great stabilizing factor in the A’s lineup.
Mo showed why he is great…
A day after losing a game in walk-off fashion to
the Texas Rangers, Mariano Rivera bounced back to save the Yankees’ 7-6 comeback
victory over the Rangers. So many
relievers have a tough time “forgetting yesterday”, but not Mo. After allowing a lead-off triple to Elvis
Andrus, he retired the next three batters to strand Andrus at third with what
would have been the tying run.
When Austin Kearns bounced into a double play with
the bases loaded to end the top half of the 8th inning with the
score 6-5 Texas, I thought the Yankees may have exhausted their chances for
victory. However, or rather , fortunately,
Marcus Thames proved me wrong. He
homered in the 8th, and drove in the eventual winning run in the 9th. Not bad for a guy who gets mentioned as an
afterthought when you name off Yankee players.
I am a bit disappointed with Kearns, who has failed to hit in key
situations since his arrival in the Bronx.
But to his credit, he did make a great shoestring catch in the 9th
in helping Mo to the save.
The other two recent acquisitions, Kerry Wood and
Lance Berkman, both played roles in Wednesday’s win. Wood pitched the 7th and 8th
innings in scoreless relief to pick up his first win as a Yankee. Berkman drove in a run in the 7th
on a ground rule double as the Yankees chipped away at what once had been a 6-1
Texas lead. Berkman, it should be noted,
was the only Yankees starter who did not strike out on a night when 17 Yankees
did, tying the dubious franchise record.
Nick Swisher, in particular, was an awful 0-for-5, with 4 SO’s.
Javier Vazquez, who had recently been diagnosed
with a “dead arm”, was very ineffective in the match-up against the almost
Yankee, Cliff Lee. Javy was out after 4 1/3
innings after he gave up 6 runs. I am
not quite sure what it will take to get Javy back to the level of pitching he
was at last month, but he needs to improve if the Yankees intend to hold off
the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox.
Matthew Emmons/US Presswire
Meanwhile, Cliff Lee was solid in striking out 11 Yankees although the Yankees were able to score against him late as he gave up a total of 4 runs through 6 1/3 innings. I remain hopeful that Lee will be the Yankees prime target in the free agent market after the season.
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
The Yankees were fortunate to get a win out of a
two game series that looked like it would be a sweep for Texas. The Rays lost to the Detroit Tigers, but the
Boston Red Sox steamrolled over the team that gave the Yankees and Rays so much
trouble, the Toronto Blue Jays. For all
of the key injuries Boston has suffered this year, they are within striking
distance at just 5 games back.
The series in Texas was tough. It started with news that hot-hitting Mark
Teixeira would remain in New York with his wife, who gave birth to their third
child, William Charles. I hated to see
the removal of Teixeira’s bat from the lineup, and it was compounded when
Robinson Cano couldn’t start the first game of the series due to illness
(although he did later pinch hit and entered the game as a replacement at 2nd
late in the game despite his weakened condition). Jorge Posada also missed the game, so those
were three huge voids in the lineup.
The Yankees now head for Kansas City for a
four-game set against the Royals.
Teixeira will rejoin the team, and should be in the lineup tonight. On paper, tonight’s game looks like a
mismatch (CC Sabathia versus Bruce Chen), however, the Yankees have not been
playing great ball lately. They missed a
great opportunity to bury both the Rays the Red Sox and couldn’t do it. Hopefully, the team can catch fire soon and
put the pressure on the other teams instead of carrying the weight on their own
Despite the new additions, the Yankees lost the
latest series to the Tampa Bay Rays…
Saturday was an exciting day when Robinson Cano
homered in the top of the 9th inning to give the Yanks the go-ahead
run and ultimately the win. Earlier in
the day, the trade with the Houston Astros for first baseman Lance Berkman was
finalized (sending minor leaguers, Mark Melancon and Jimmy Paredes, to
Houston). In the final hour before the 4
pm Eastern deadline, the Yankees made another trade with the Cleveland Indians
for reliever Kerry Wood (for a player to be named later or cash).
But Sunday, the new additions weren’t the
difference makers as the Yankees couldn’t get any offense going against James
Shields, and fell to the Rays, 3-0. The
loser was CC Sabathia.
Alex Rodriguez sat today, although he did pinch hit
in the 7th inning and struck out.
So, he remains at 599 home runs.
Jeff Griffith/US Presswire
Both Austin Kearns and Lance Berkman started the
game (Kearns in left, in place of Brett Gardner, and Berkman, at first in place
of Mark Teixeira who moved to DH).
Kearns was 0-for-2 and Berkman was 1-for-4 but at least the latter
finally broke through with his first Yankee hit.
The team now heads back to the Bronx to face the
Toronto Blue Jays. Hopefully, the team
and Alex Rodriguez can get untracked at home and put some distance between them
and the Rays now that the lead has dwindled to just one game.
I was reading Ken Rosenthal’s article that the
Yankees apparently tried to work a three-way deal with Texas Rangers that would
have brought Boston’s Mike Lowell back to New York. I would have been in favor of the move as
Mike would have made a great backup for Alex Rodriguez and an occasional DH platoon
partner with Lance Berkman. I am sure
that Brian Cashman will continue to push for a backup third baseman before the
end of August. It would be nice if it
I am still amazed that a team in bankruptcy, the
Rangers, could emerge as the media-appointed “winner” of the trading
deadline. Obviously, their acquisitions,
including Cliff Lee and Jorge Cantu, stood out, however, I am not sure I fully
understand how those decisions were made given the Rangers financial
I thought it was interesting that the Los Angeles
Dodgers acquired two of Joe Torre’s former players with the Yankees, Octavio
Dotel and Ted Lilly. The Yanks weren’t
interested in Dotel, but Torre obviously was.
I wish the Yanks could have found a way to bring Lilly back to New York,
but it was clear the Yanks weren’t interested in giving up any top talent (nor
should they have).
As I was writing this post, I was watching the San
Francisco Giants beat the Los Angeles Dodgers, 2-0. Hats off to Matt Cain for his first win
against the dreaded rival Dodgers. Cain
went 7 2/3 innings, and gave up only 4 hits and no runs. He struck out 7, and walked just one Dodger
batter. An impressive win for an unsung
hero on the Giants pitching staff.
Here’s hoping that a new day will bring a Yankees’