Tagged: Marlins

Better Late Than Never…

Credit:  Mike Stobe-Getty Images

Yankees 5, Red Sox 4…

And thus endeth the Red Sox eight-game winning streak.  For seven innings, it looked like the Yankees offense was still MIA.  But then the 8th inning happened.  It got a little dicey in the 9th with Aroldis Chapman on the mound but in the end he got the job done with a huge assist from Aaron Hicks and Todd Frazier.  The Yankees emerged with the victory in the first game of a three game set with the Boston Red Sox.
Credit:  Charles Wenzelberg-NY Post

The Red Sox jumped on the board first.  In the top of the first inning, with Mookie Betts on first after a walk, Yankees starter Jaime Garcia decided to challenge Hanley Ramirez with an inside fastball on a 3-1 count.  Bad idea.  Ramirez deposited the ball over the left center wall into the bullpen, and the Red Sox had the early 2-0 lead.  In the bottom of the first, walks to Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge had a runner in scoring position with only one out.  But like the struggles in Toronto on Wednesday night, the Yankees failed to advance the runners.  Admittedly, it felt like it was going to be another one of those games.

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-The Associated Press

It seemed Red Sox were going to blow the game open in the 3rd inning.  Mookie Betts singled to left with one out  Great stop by Aaron Hicks that prevented a double.  He was followed by Andrew Benintendi who laced a soft line drive single to center.  Betts moved to third on the hit, with Benintendi advancing to second on Jacoby Ellsbury’s late throw to third.  Hanley Ramirez was intentionally walked, loading the bases.  Jaime Garcia, in one of the keys to the game, struck out former Yankee Chris Young and got Xander Bogarts to ground out to escape the inning unscathed.

Bottom of the third, another Yankee (Aaron Hicks) was left stranded at second after he had hit a one-out double to center past a lunging Mookie Betts.  The RISP struggle continued.

Boston added another run in the top of the 5th.  With Garcia still pitching, Andrew Benintendi homered to right with two outs, a solo shot into the second deck.  Garcia got into a little further trouble when the next batter (Hanley Ramirez) doubled off the center field wall and Chris Young walked, but, after a talk with pitching coach Larry Rothschild, he was able to get Xander Bogarts to hit a fly to right for the third out.

Ronald Torreyes doubled to left off the wall with one out in the bottom of the 5th, but like Hicks in the 3rd, he could go no further.  Another failed scoring opportunity.

The Red Sox had a chance to add to their lead in the 6th.  Garcia struck out Red Sox rookie Rafael Devers but Christian Vazquez got on base with a single up the middle.  Jackie Bradley, Jr hit a grounder to short which erased Vazquez at second but the Yankees couldn’t turn the double play.  With JBJ at first and Eduardo Nunez coming to bat, Manager Joe Girardi pulled Garcia and replaced him with Adam Warren.  Nunez stroked a single to right, with JBJ taking second.  The dangerous Mookie Betts came up but Warren got him on a fly out to right.  Whew!  Evading trouble in that spot was huge.  

Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez did not return for the 7th inning.  It was good to see him leave the game.  Six innings, two hits, no runs, seven strikeouts.  But the Yankees didn’t fare much better against Sox reliever Matt Barnes in the bottom of the 7th.  After he walked Todd Frazier, he easily set down the next three batters.

Hats off to Adam Warren.  He had shut down the Sox in the 7th and did the same in the 8th.  He was as responsible as anyone for the setting the stage for the bottom of the 8th dramatics.  If he had not held the Red Sox at bay, the hole might have been too large to overcome.  

Brett Gardner led off the bottom of the 8th against former New York Mets reliever Addison Reed.  Gardner reached first when he was hit by a pitch on his front foot (a call made after a replay challenge by the Yankees).  A-A-Ron Hicks, in his second game back from the DL, blasted Reed’s slider into the right field stands just inside the foul pole to make it a 3-2 game.  

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-The Associated Press

Continuing the inning, Gary Sanchez singled to left and took second on a wild pitch by Reed.  Aaron Judge patiently accepted a walk, and Reed was pulled in favor of Joe Kelly.  Didi Gregorius singled to left, scoring Sanchez to tie the game.  Judge moved to third.  Todd Frazier joined the party with a single to left that dropped in front of Andrew Benintendi to score Judge with the go-ahead run.  The Yankees loaded the bases when Jacoby Ellsbury, the $153 million man, singled to right after Chase Headley had struck out.  Ronald Torreyes, the little man with a big stick, hit a sacrifice fly to left which was deep enough to score Gregorius with what would prove to be a HUGE insurance run.  It was 5-3 Yankees.  Brett Gardner walked to re-load the bases, but the Sox replaced Kelly with Fernando Abad who retired Aaron Hicks, coming to bat for the second time in the inning, on a pop out to end the inning.  

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-The Associated Press

The 9th inning brought Aroldis Chapman into the game.  Unfortunately, this season has seen Chapman struggle with too much rest or too much use.  This time it was too much rust as he hadn’t pitched since last Saturday.  He walked the first three batters to load the bases (while I was losing my mind).  Girardi was much more patient than I would have been.  I would have pulled Chapman after he walked the second batter to replace him with David Robertson…the luxury of having proven closers in the pen behind Chapman.  But Girardi’s patience with Chapman paid off.  Even though the Red Sox scored a run with the next batter, Andrew Benintendi, the Yankees probably would have been unable to hold the lead without the sequence of events.  Benintendi hit a deep fly to left.  Aaron Hicks noticed that his former teammate with the Minnesota Twins, Eduardo Nunez, was breaking for third, and he fired a shot to Todd Frazier who grazed the sliding Nunez with the tag before he was able to reach third.  The Red Sox challenged the play (admittedly very close) but lost the appeal.  The double play thwarted the Red Sox momentum.  The next batter, Mitch Moreland, flied out to center to end the game.  If the Yankees had not thrown Nunez out, he most likely would have scored the game tying run when Moreland lofted his fly ball.  The  Yankees win, 5-4, and stop the Red Sox winning streak.

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-NY Post

Adam Warren (3-2) was the winner in relief of Jaime Garcia.  New acquisitions Garcia and Sonny Gray can’t seem to get any runs from the Yankees offense.  Garcia’s final line was respectable…5 2/3 innings, 7 hits, 3 runs, 3 walks, and 6 strikeouts.  It was a ‘bend but not break’ performance that kept the Yankees in the game.  A-A-Ron Hicks was the clear MVP of the game with his home run and the brilliant throw to nail Nunez.  

Credit:  Charles Wenzelberg-NY Post

The Yankees (61-53) moved back to 3 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East Standings after it had felt like they might fall a season high 5 1/2 games back.  The Cleveland Indians shut out the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-0, to push the Rays 3 1/2 games behind the Yankees.  The Baltimore Orioles fell 5 games behind the Yanks with their 5-4 loss to the Oakland A’s.    

Aaron Judge struck out for his 28th consecutive game.  He was 0-for-2 with two walks and a run scored plus the strikeout.  

Odds & Ends…

It sounds like Derek Jeter is finally going to be Don Mattingly’s boss after months of rumors and speculation.  Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has accepted a bid to sell the team to a group headed by New York businessman Bruce Sherman and Jeter for $1.2 billion.  Apparently, Sherman will be the “control person” (the Hal Steinbrenner of the group) and Jeter will run baseball and business operations.  The investment group headed by Sherman and Jeter includes NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan.  The sale, which must be approved by MLB owners, is expected to close in October.  

Credit:  Andrew Savulich-New York Daily News

As expected, the Yankees placed LHP CC Sabathia (right knee inflammation) on the 10-Day DL and recalled LHP Jordan Montgomery.  Montgomery is expected to start on Sunday against Boston’s Chris Sale.  1B Tyler Austin was reinstated from the DL and optioned to Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  I am sure that Garrett Cooper’s recent performance had a strong say in that decision.

Friday night featured a great match-up between Chance Adams of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders and Ryan Yarbrough of the Durham Bulls (Triple A team for the Tampa Bay Rays).  Yarbrough may not be a top pitching prospect for the Rays (he is #23 on their top prospect list according to MLB.com) but he entered the game with 12 wins, tied for the International League lead, or four more than Adams.  The RailRiders tagged Yarbrough with his sixth loss in the 6-2 victory as Adams (9-3) picked up the win.  I was very pleased to see that he walked only one batter.  Adams threw 101 pitches (69 for strikes) over six innings.  He only allowed four hits and two runs (one earned) while striking out six.  His season ERA stands at 2.31.  Soon, Young Grasshopper…

Have a great Saturday!  Let’s take down the Sox again this afternoon!  Go Yankees!

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3 Minus 1 Equals 2…

Credit:  Globe Staff/John Tlumacki

Impressive math skills, huh?  With Tuesday’s rain-out, the 2017 opening Yankees-Red Sox series becomes a two game affair.  It plays havoc with a wager I hold every year with a die-hard Red Sox fan.  Years ago, when we were both bloggers, we started making bets on every series.  Over the years, I’ve had to wear Red Sox caps in photos (including a pink one one year), write long posts about past and present Red Sox players, and sport Red Sox-related profile pics through social media.  My friend no longer blogs so the current bets tend to revolve around FaceBook profile and cover pics.  With only two games, a split means the win goes to the team with the most runs scored.  The loser has to use a Red Sox player as their FaceBook profile pic for three days under the current bet.  So, I have a vested interest in the Yankees to take this series.  Yes, it’s all about me.

The rained out game will be made up on Sunday, July 16th as part of a day-night double-header.   The scheduled starters are pushed back a day so Luis Severino takes the mound today against AL Cy Young Award Winner Rick “Justin Verlander Deserved It More” Porcello while Masahiro Tanaka, in the series marquee matchup, faces Chris Sale on Thursday.  CC Sabathia becomes an observer for this series, with a probable early flight back to New York for Friday’s start against the AL East leading Baltimore Orioles.

It’s raining again today in Boston but hopefully the rain gods will make way for the 7:10 pm EDT start time to allow a few hours of clear skies.  Oh yeah, this is Yankees-Red Sox, better make that four hours of clear skies.

I am not sure what I think about the possibility of Derek Jeter becoming an owner in Major League Baseball.  As Bloomberg reported yesterday, the group led by former Presidential candidate and Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Jeter won the auction for exclusive negotiating rights to buy the Miami Marlins.  The sides still have to hammer out a formal written agreement that must be approved by MLB owners, but I do not see any roadblocks to the eventual sale.  

I suppose that all things considered, it would have been worse for Jeter to buy his local Tampa Bay Rays.  Under that scenario, the Yankees would have had to face a Jeter-owned team 19 times a year in the fight for the American League East.  With Jeter owning a National League team, the Yankees won’t face the Marlins except for every few years in inter-league play.  There’s the possibility that the Yankees could face the Jeter-owned Marlins in the World Series at some point.  But for the most part, they won’t step foot on the same field at the same time.  So, this is probably the best situation for Jeter’s dream to be a Major League owner, particularly considering the Steinbrenner Family has no interest in selling the Yankees.  

It was tough to watch Don Mattingly, a lifetime Yankee, put on another team’s jersey.  If I have a second favorite or National League favorite team, it is probably the Los Angeles Dodgers (okay, not probably, it is).  Mattingly as an assistant coach for Joe Torre in Los Angeles and then later the manager was very palatable.  I was fortunate to live in Los Angeles during the Mattingly regime and I enjoyed having a long-time favorite player as manager of the local team.  I remain a fan of Mattingly’s even though he now calls Miami home, but it’s weird.  I am hopeful that he finds his way back home to Yankee Stadium one day.  I do not know Jeter’s intended ownership percentage or how active he will be as the face of the organization.  Unlike Mattingly, he won’t be putting on a Marlins uniform so technically the Yankees uniform should remain his only one.  Magic Johnson is one of the owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers but activity-wise, he is a bigger part of the Los Angeles Lakers.  Will Jeter take that type of passive ownership role or will he be the front man for the team like Denver Broncos non-owner John Elway?  I can’t really see Jeb Bush taking a backseat to Jeter unless Jeter has the greater ownership interest.  These are the things that will shake themselves out in the course of the coming days, weeks and months.  Congrats to Jeter for apparent achievement of his lifelong dream.  I hope he still finds time to visit the old stomping grounds on occasion.  

Credit:  Getty Images

I saw an article today on the YES Network asking if the Yankees should protect James Kaprielian on the 40-man roster next year in advance of the 2018 Rule 5 Draft.  I want to say now, they had better make room.  This should not even be a discussion.  I will be very upset if the Yankees do not add him to the 40-man next year and risk losing him.  I was mad about the sequence of events that led to Jacob Lindgren signing with the Atlanta Braves.  I hope we do not have a repeat situation with Kaprielian.  I know that he has been plagued by injuries and his body of work in the minor leagues is fairly slim, but he is a top talent.  If, I know…ifs and buts…, if he can stay healthy, I really feel that he’ll be a high end starter in the rotation.  I am steadfastly a fan of Kaprielian’s and I look forward to the day he takes the mound at Yankee Stadium.

The San Diego Padres, who had been carrying three catchers including Rule 5 draftee Luis Torrens (from the Yankees), demoted one of the catchers to AAA.  Starter Austin Hedges has played very well this year.  The catcher sent to AAA, Christian Bethancourt, was attempting to be a combo pitcher/catcher.  The demotion leaves the soon-to-be 21 year-old Torrens as the primary backup for Hedges.  In reality, Torrens should be no higher than A or AA so I am optimistic that events will force the Padres to upgrade backup catching to more seasoned talent to pave the way for the return of Torrens to New York.   But as each month goes by, the chances decrease.  Time will tell.

Have a great Wednesday!  I hope it’s a dry one!

If we pay you this money, can you get 8 of your buddies to cover the other positions on the field?…

13 long years…

Say what?…

As Giancarlo Stanton and the Miami Marlins approach the finish line on the potential largest contract in the history of Major League Baseball, I can’t help but wonder how crazy this is.  13 years at $325 million is a lot of money any way you slice it.  Granted, Stanton will only be 37 at the end of the deal, but I stand with the many who believe that excessively long contracts are not good for the sport.

While guys like Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera earned their pay through their last games, the tail end of the contracts for Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia are looking ghastly.  For A-Rod and over $30 mil per year for three more years, the Yankees get a guy who hasn’t played for a year and is being mentioned as a back-up first baseman/DH type.  If he manages to hit 20 home runs next season, it will be considered a success but not when you tally the cost of each of those home runs.  Stanton is not A-Rod and odds are that Stanton will be playing at a higher level toward the back end of his contract, but there is so much potential for this deal to go drastically wrong.  With players now frequently receiving opt out clauses, it’s too bad that the teams do not get an opt out when things go sourly.  I would love to see the Yankees use the money slated for A-Rod, Teixeira and Sabathia elsewhere.  If the Yankees maintain the status quo this offseason (signing only their own free agents) and do not make any attempt to upgrade the team, we’re faced with another mediocre season and it’s directly the result of the bad contracts.

The Yankees lost a great player when Robinson Cano signed his monster deal in Seattle, but even in retrospect, I think the Yankees were smart in not matching Seattle’s offer.

Giancarlo Stanton is a great player and the Marlins are better with him than without.  But I do not like the precedent that it sets.  Odds are that Stanton opts out and gets even more money so good for him.  Yet, what protects the Marlins from a bad investment?  Or how the bar is elevated for future deals?  I am trying wondering if I will see players receiving a percentage of team ownership one day.

When I was a kid, I remember star pitcher Ron Guidry having to settle for $900,000 because George Steinbrenner said that he’d never pay a pitcher a million dollars a year.  I guess times have changed…

The early results…

So far, the Yankees have re-signed Chris Young and acquired lefty reliever Justin Wilson.  I think both moves are good for the back of the roster.  The Yankees needed to do something with Francisco Cervelli given the catching depth and to get a guy like Wilson was a smart move given the team’s difficulty in finding a replacement for Boone Logan.

Young earned a return to the Bronx with his September performance.  Hopefully, that’s the player the Yankees are getting for 2015 and not the earlier Mets version.

As much as I would like to see the Yankees pursue Jon Lester or Max Scherzer, I’ll be very relieved if and when the Yankees re-sign David Robertson, Chase Headley and Brandon McCarthy.  New York is a hard place to play, but all three of these guys have shown they can prosper in the Bronx.  Robertson followed a legend with grace and ease, Headley showed brilliant defense at a position we really haven’t seen since Graig Nettles, and McCarthy gave the Yankees a chance to win with almost every start.  Dellin Betances had a great first year but we really do not know if he could make the transition to closer.  It wasn’t something that Robertson was able to do immediately as he did not enjoy success the year Mariano Rivera was hurt in Kansas City.  I believe that A-Rod will look to be the older, injury prone player that he has become, if not worse.

The Yankees need to make some inspired trades.  It may mean taking a chance on someone who, for whatever reason, has not found his potential, but that’s okay.  I’d rather take a chance on a young player with upside than getting locked into a three year deal with an aging outfielder.

I was glad to see former Yankee and Pirate A.J. Burnett re-sign with Pittsburgh, foregoing more money from his last year’s team, the Philadelphia Phillies.  Burnett was a good fit in Pittsburgh and it was nice to see a player take an offer that extended beyond just money.

Not that I want to wish the year away, but I am anxious for next month’s winter meetings so that Project Improve the Yankees can start taking form…

–Scott

When a move that had to be made, is made…

Thank you, Merci, Gracias, Grazie, Danke, ありがとう

Yes, I admit it, I was worried that starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda was either going to sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers or head back to Japan to pursue his stated intent to finish his career in his home country.  Pulling Kuroda out of the Yankees rotation was not a promising thought.  Given CC Sabathia’s recent minor surgery, it is no sure thing that he’ll be Mister King of the Hill when the season rolls around.  After CC, there is nothing but question marks.  As it stands, the rotation would be Sabathia, Kuroda, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova and David Phelps.  Nothing against the latter three, but all of them carry their own questions and concerns.  The Yankees are not going after a prize free agent pitcher, so they would have been left to try and find a diamond in the rough.  Fortunately, that’s no longer a concern, particularly if the Yankees get a return engagement from Andy Pettitte.

In the back of mind, I did feel that Kuroda would stay in New York due to a sense of unfinished business.  In his final season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, I remember he had veto power on trades and he made a comment that he wanted to finish the season with the guys he started the year with.  He struck me as a loyal and honorable player with those remarks, and despite rumors he left money on the table from other prospective clubs, he made the decision to return to New York on a one-year, $15 million deal.  This may be his second and final season with the Yankees, but he’s certainly proven to me that he has a great deal of integrity with a genuine respect for the game which places him among the upper echelon of guys who have put on the pinstripes.

Thanks, but don’t let the door hit you on the way out…

As for the other two notable Yankee free agents (Rafael Soriano and Nick Swisher), I am indifferent about who they sign with.  I would prefer to see neither player sign with an AL East club, but then again, they have to find the best deal for them wherever that may be.  I saw some speculation that the Boston Red Sox might go after Swisher, but after their signing of former Oakland A’s outfielder Jonny Gomes today, I wonder if it lessens their interest in Swish.  I am concerned about right field, but I have to trust that GM Brian Cashman has a plan.  His trade for Swisher a few years ago was inspired, and I am sure they’ve scoped the league for players who are long on talent but have underperformed to this point.  Logan Morrison of the Miami Marlins is one player who immediately comes to mind.

Player most likely to replace A-Rod during the inevitable DL stint…

Once we get past Thanksgiving and to the Baseball Winter Meetings, we should start to get a better idea of what the Yankees game plan for 2013 looks like.  I am sure that there will be late moves in January or early February, but at some point, the Yankees have to do something to improve their roster.  Complacency in the AL East will only buy you last place.

There hasn’t been much talk about catching, but I wonder who’ll be the backstop in 2013.  Russell Martin has not been a priority so the potential increases every day that someone steps forward with a reasonable offer that entices Martin to bite.  I get the sense that if he is healthy, Austin Romine may see some time behind the plate.  It’s too bad Gary Sanchez is still so far away in the minor leagues.

Hello, again…

I was surprised to see the Toronto Blue Jays bring back former manager John Gibbons, but then again, they brought back Cito Gaston for a second tour of duty (when he replaced Gibbons a few years ago).  Gibbons must be jazzed about getting control of his old team combined with the influx of great talent through the trade with the Marlins that brought Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson and Emilio Bonificio to Ontario.  Of course that adds pressure to the job due the increased expectations.  I was still surprised that the Jays didn’t try to keep Torey Lovullo (who followed John Farrell to Boston) given the recent trend to go with younger, unproven managers (ala Robin Ventura, Don Mattingly, Walt Weiss, Mike Redmond, etc.).  Not that Gibbons is old (he is only 50), but he does kind of have that ‘been there, done that’ stigma attached to him.

Why did I tell Boston to shove it?…

Speaking of the Marlins, I wonder how their new hitting coach Tino Martinez feels about the team now.  He signed with the Marlins just prior to the blockbuster trade, so the roster looks completely different now than it did when he joined Miami.  He’ll have his work cut out for him as the Marlins unveil a largely unknown roster when play resumes in April.

Hal, Rupert Murdoch on Line 1…

Now that the News Corporation has acquired a 49% stake in the YES Network, I wonder how much influence Rupert Murdoch will have on the Steinbrenner family.  The YES Network is dependent upon the success of the Yankees, and if Hal’s imposed budgetary constraints on the Yankees result in diminished performance, how loud does Murdoch become?  People will not pay premium dollars to watch a 70-win team on the field.  The Steinbrenner family insists this is not a prelude to the possible sale of the Yankees, but then again, Hal and Hank were always reluctant to join the team’s management when their dad was alive and healthy.  For years, it seemed like a Steinbrenner son-in-law had more interest than a blood-born Steinbrenner (outside of George, of course).  If someone told me that I could make billions, I am sorry but I’d have to let go of my affection for the Yankees.  If Hal is so focused on the bottom line, I believe that inevitably he’ll seek to cash out when the team is at an optimum potential sales price.

The next couple of years will be very pivotal years for the Yankees franchise.

Who died and made you George Steinbrenner?…

The Los Angeles Dodgers remain my second favorite team (otherwise known as my favorite National League team), but I maintain my reservations that they want to become the new “Yankees”.  It is not outside of the realm of possibility that they’ll surpass the Yankees in total annual salaries.  Yes, I am tired of simply buying players.  I do like the good old fashioned trade to help subsidize home-grown talent.  For years, that was the Dodgers’ business model and it is one that has helped propel the San Francisco Giants to two World Championships in three years.  I remain a devout Don Mattingly fan, but I hope that the organization is not creating expectations so great that Donnie Baseball can’t survive.  Then again, there is the scenario that the Yankees and Dodgers regress, and both Joe Girardi and Mattingly are fired, setting up the potential return to New York for the now experienced manager Mattingly.

I want to wish everyone a very happy and enjoyable Thanksgiving!  May it be a time of peace, joy, and robust memories for all of you and your respective families.  Of course, in Dallas, it will only be memorable if the Cowboys win, but everywhere else, I hope everyone is grateful and thankful for life and what life has to offer.  Be well and enjoy!…

–Scott

The Hot Stove League Pre-Season is underway…

 

Yes, Brian, I want to believe…

“I am excited about the opportunities we have.”

I wish that I could say that was my quote, but unfortunately, I am not feeling as optimistic as GM Brian Cashman who spoke those words.

With the imminent departure of Nick Swisher, Rafael Soriano, and Hiroki Kuroda, combined with another year of age on Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter, the future is not looking so rosy at the moment.  For a team that needs to upgrade its rotation, losing Kuroda would clearly be a setback.  I remain hopeful that the team will re-sign him to a one year deal since he appears willing to accept a short-term contract and all signs indicated he enjoyed his time in New York.  I really do not expect the Yankees to re-sign either Swisher or Soriano.  It’s unfortunate as I’ve appreciated the positive impact that Swisher’s personality had on the Yankees’ “corporate” clubhouse culture.  As Soriano, the excessively fat contract for a set up guy paid dividends when Mariano Rivera was lost for the season and he superbly stepped in to give the Yankees a top closer as a brief trial with David Robertson.

If the Yankees could sign Joaquim Soria to a set up role, I do think it would help neutralize the loss of Soriano.  There is also the possibility that reliever David Aardsma could move into the role, along with Robertson, if he successfully makes it back from his injury.

Replacing Swisher’s bat will be the tougher challenge.  No offense against Torii Hunter, but signing him to be the new right fielder does not make me excited.  I do like the talk of moving Brett Gardner to center and Curtis Granderson to left.  Hopefully, the Yankees can bring Ichiro Suzuki back for another year.  I am not sure what the best answer is for right.  The best options are only available through trade.

I read this morning that the Boston Red Sox had signed Atlanta Braves’ backup catcher David Ross, whom the Yankees liked.  I am surprised Atlanta let him get away given the health of starter Brian McCann, but it’s disappointing to see the Red Sox snatch away a player that could have helped the Yankees.

With a team that is trying so hard to reduce payroll by 2014 and one that devotes so much salary space to decreasingly productive guys like Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, I just don’t see Brian Cashman being successful playing “Moneyball”.  When you consider how many dollars the Yanks have committed to A-Rod and his drain on the roster, it would appear to me that the team has less dollars to play with than any of their big city rivals if the end game is to avoid luxury tax and penalties in 2014.

Don’t get me wrong, I have been so appreciative of players like Jeter, Rivera and Andy Pettitte.  But the fact remains that they will be another year older in 2013 and at some point, they will begin to break down.  There doesn’t seem to be any high level prospects ready to step into their shoes.  I wish there was a way the team could move A-Rod and his albatross contract but that’s unlikely to happen.

I remain hopeful that Brian Cashman is able to make a move this winter to improve the team.  If the team stays status quo or struggles to replace those they will lose, I do not see the Yankees finishing any higher than third in the AL East next season.  But, of course, if Hal Steinbrenner lets Cash make the moves necessary to position the team for 2013, then they’ll be in the thick of the pack at the top of the division.

Tino, Tino, Tino!…

I am happy to see Tino Martinez become hitting coach for the Miami Marlins.  It is bittersweet to see him leave the Yankees organization, but much easier to see him go to his home state as opposed to being the hitting coach for the Boston Red Sox.  The latter was a real possibility as the Sox had gotten permission to talk to Martinez, but fortunately, he opted to go help Mike Redmond turn around the Marlins.  The Los Angeles Dodgers have been my favorite NL team in recent years due to manager Don Mattingly.  I enjoy seeing my favorites do well, even if they can’t do it in the Yankees organization.  Another example would be San Francisco Giants’ pitching coach Dave Righetti, fresh off his second World Series championship in three years.  Tino is certainly in the same class with those guys, and will always be someone that I will root for.  That’s why watching him go to Boston would have been so difficult.

Coach Giambino…

Speaking of hitting coaches, I am hopeful that manager “wannabe” Jason Giambi decides to take the hitting coach position with the Colorado Rockies.  Maybe he is not ready to hang up his bat just yet, but I think he would be a very positive addition to Walt Weiss’s staff and it would put him on the path of eventually reaching his goal to be a manager.  While I was surprised to see the Rockies go with Weiss as manager over Matt Williams, I recognize that Weiss knows the Rockies organization and they know him.  If he surrounds himself with the right coaching staff, I think Weiss can be highly successful in Colorado.

The Dodgers quest to overtake the Giants…

Regressing back to the Dodgers but staying on the theme of hitting coaches, I was mildly surprised by Mark McGwire’s decision to move from the Cardinals to the Dodgers.  I know that McGwire is a Southern CA guy, but still, the Cardinals were his organization.  Maybe that’s why it is best to move to another organization so that your legacy as a player is the primary association.  Granted, McGwire does not have the untarnished reputation like Mattingly had in New York, but hopefully it works out for Big Mac.  Performance-enhancing drugs or not, the guy knows how to hit.

It’s funny, particularly given my long history of being a Yankees fan, but I am a little put off by the free spending ways of the new Dodgers ownership group.  While I believe that you have to spend to put a quality team on the field, spending frivolously seems excessive.  For the Yankees, I only need to use A-Rod as the example.  Over $30 million in one season devoted to a player whose skills are rapidly eroding.  $30 million would go a long way toward bringing in multiple quality…and productive…players.  The Dodgers should no qualms about picking up the contracts of Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford when it remains to be seen if they can rise to the current level of their contracts.  It looks like high stakes poker to me with much potential for disaster.

In a couple of weeks, the Hot Stove League should start heating up and it will be interesting to see what form this off-season takes.  I am cautiously optimistic, but understand that it’s very possible the Yanks go into next season hoping some young guys from the farm system are ready to take it to the next level.  I guess I now know what it’s like to be a fan of the Minnesota Twins or Kansas City Royals…

–Scott

 

You had me at ‘Yankees win!’…

 

For away games, I prefer to see a Yankees pitcher on the mound for the last out…

Finally, the first win of the year has arrived.  It was a bit delayed in coming, but alas, the victory came with the Yankees’ first game away from Tropicana Field.  Hopefully, the Tampa Bay Rays’ home won’t become a house of horrors for the Yankees this season but it was clear for the first three games of the year that the Rays were the better team.

Still, despite the Yankees’ 0-3 record as they departed Florida (the same mark as the Boston Red Sox at the time of their departure from Detroit), I never felt the sense of doom and despair that usually accompanies losses.  Sometimes, for whatever reason, the momentum of a series goes with one team.  Sure, you can say better hitting and pitching will do it every time, but the Yankees could easily take the series they play against the Rays…or not.  I don’t think the Yankees will sweep their latest opponent, the Baltimore Orioles, even though they’ve won something like 40 out of the last 55 games against them.  But there is no doubt that the Yankees rotation will right the ship.  In Minnesota, where the Twins also lost their opening series by sweep (to the Orioles) and now stand at 0-4 after a home opening loss to the Los Angeles Angels in Minneapolis, there is a sense of dread and gloom already.

While Boston matched the Yankees loss-for-loss, and finally last night, win-for-win, I haven’t sense of feeling of desperation from the Sox fans yet either.  So, it’s clear in both New York and Boston that the fans expect their respective teams to perform (unlike those in the Gopher state).  The main thing I hear from Boston fans is the overwhelming belief that Daniel Bard should be the team’s closer, not former Yankee Alfredo Aceves.  I tend to agree as I’ve always felt that Aceves is better suited for long relief and spot starts.

Back to the Yankees, if you asked me who would pick up the first win among the quartet of CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova, there’s no question that I would not have picked Nova.  I wasn’t crazy about the 10 hits he allowed, but he kept the O’s from scoring as they were only able to push 2 across home plate.  I would never be foolish enough to expect Nova to be a front-of-the-rotation starter, but he is perfectly cast in the back of the rotation and I don’t care what he has to do as long as it produces W’s.  With both Andy Pettitte and Michael Pineda looming on the horizon within the next couple of months, there are two starters who won’t be starting.  If Nova can continue to produce, he increases the possibility that Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes are the odd men out.

Please tell me more about the medical insurance…

With so many closers on the DL (Drew Storen, Andrew Bailey, and Ryan Madson to name a few), it amazes me that not only has Mariano Rivera thrived at such a high level for so long, he’s done it without too much down time.  It reinforces to me that he should be a first ballot Hall of Famer despite the Hall’s reluctance to bring closers into the fold.  I am still amazed when I think that I was once disappointed that Mariano had been named closer after the departure of John Wetteland (I didn’t want Wetteland to leave via free agency).  Instead, Mo has rewarded me by allowing me to witness one of the all-time Yankee greats.  As a big fan of Lou Gehrig, I love the history and the tradition of the Yankees, and it’s reassuring to know that my grandchildren and their children will hear the name of Mariano Rivera.

A 5-day sabbatical and an apology is fine, but learn from the experience…

I am not quite sure what I think about the Ozzie Guillen fiasco in Miami with his pro-Fidel Castro comments.  I do know that I do not feel he should lose his job so long as he shows remorse and learns from the situation.  We all know that Ozzie is going to say whatever is on his mind and he’s not going to edit it first.  He speaks to provoke reactions and I am not convinced that he always believes what he says.  I know that’s no excuse for making insensitive comments in one of our country’s top Cuban communities.  He needs to realize that his words can and will hurt.  He now has a 5-game suspension to think about what he said.  I don’t think it will put a muzzle on him as he is, after all, Ozzie and there’s no changing that.  But I hope that he embraces Miami’s Cuban community and can show them he is on their side.

I know, sports history is littered with ruined careers thanks to misguided words.  But I hope that we can find forgiveness for Ozzie so long as he doesn’t later give us a reason to regret it.  I know that I will not always agree with Ozzie, but I respect him for being his own man.  So, for those who say fire him, I say keep him.

I am glad that baseball is finally underway.  Now, if just a few more wins could follow….

 

–Scott

 

His name is easy, it’s Champion!…

 

Thanks for the memories…

Although Prince Fielder had other ideas, today was Jorge Posada Day.  On a day when the Milwaukee Brewers’ talented free agent signed an unexpected 9-year, $214 million contract with his father’s former team, the Detroit Tigers, a Yankee Legend called it a career.  So, while Tigers fans are rejoicing, the Yankees Universe is united in sorrow to see the end of a tremendous career.

It was time.  Although I knew that Posada could still hit, he was ill at ease at DH and he was no longer the consistent clutch hitter that he had once been.  He could have held on for a few more years in a more limited role, but I am grateful that he recognized that it’s best not to overstay your welcome.  It would have been awful to see him put on a Rays, Marlins or Mets uniform.  I am sure that we would have quietly supported him, but now this way, he bled pinstripes from beginning to end.  I value and appreciate the untarnished career.  Don Mattingly may call Dodger Stadium “home” these days, but he’s still a Yankee.  The same holds true of Posada…once a Yankee, always a Yankee.

In the late 1970’s, my favorite Yankees were catcher Thurman Munson and closer Rich “Goose” Gossage.  I truly did not believe that I’d ever see two players as great as those two legends.  Of course, the great Mariano Rivera has eclipsed Gossage’s career, but Posada has certainly earned the right to stand in the same room with Munson, Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey and Elston Howard.  It’s ironic that long-time projected replacement Jesus Montero and Posada officially exited the Yankees on back-to-back days, but the position seems to be in capable hands with Russell Martin until future star Gary Sanchez is ready for the major leagues.

I wish Jorge the very best in whatever he decides to do next.  Selfishly, I’d like to see him stay in baseball as he’d make a great future manager.  I love people who are passionate about what they do, and Jorge lived and breathed passion every day.  He is the type of guy that you’d want to go to battle with so long as he was on your side.  The immediate thought is probably to spend some quality time with his family, but hopefully, he’ll be back in Major League Baseball as a coach sometime in the not-so-distant future.

Hip, hip, Jorge!  🙂

If he is following his father’s footsteps, when does he become a Yankee?…

Speaking of Fielder, I was shocked when I heard that the Detroit Tigers had signed the prolific young slugger.  There were constants reports of possible signings by the Texas Rangers and the Washington Nationals, and the occasional links to passive teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers, but I have to admit that I did not suspect the Tigers.  Of course, I didn’t foresee the Angels signing Albert Pujols but I suppose when you are talking about $200 million, it’s probably best not to tip your hand.

Photo ops for game winning hits…is that too much to ask for?…

I thought the Yankees and the Tigers were searching the same pool for an effective, low-cost option to DH.  While I wanted the Yankees to sign Johnny Damon, I knew that he had enjoyed his time in Detroit and there seemed to be some level of interest there.  Obviously, the Fielder signing takes the Tigers out of the market for someone like Damon or Hideki Matsui.  But based on comments that Yankees GM Brian Cashman made earlier in the week, it sounds like a free agent slugger is Plan B.  Plan A apparently involves the trade for a young, controllable hitter.  I am sure that type of move is predicated upon moving a contract like A.J. Burnett’s even if it means packing a few extra dollars in his suitcases.  My fear is that a trade could cause the loss of someone like Dellin Betances or Manny Banuelos which I’d hate to see.  I am not sure what quality hitter is available and the market seems to be drenched with potential salary dumps. I wonder if Cash has his eye on a certain player.  Still, I’d go the cheaper route and sign Damon, Matsui, or Raul Ibanez to a short-term deal.  If the team offense struggles early on, the Yankees could potentially make a move in July for a veteran hitter.  I am not sure that there is a young position player out there with the potential of pitcher Michael Pineda that could be had for a relatively inexpensive cost.

My fear with the Yankees offense, while they have produced, is they do not strike fear in the hearts of opposing pitchers.  When Robinson Cano is in the groove, he is as good as anybody in the game.  I know that Curtis Granderson had a near-MVP season last year, but I’d be surprised if teams planned their strategy around him.  Yes, Alex Rodriguez was once the best player in the game, but he is a couple years removed from domination.  Injuries have held him back and while he certainly has the potential to have a few more power seasons, he carries a big “if”.  It would be great if Mark Teixeira could get back to the hitter he was a couple of seasons ago.  Up and down the lineup, outside of Cano, there are questions.  I am pleased with Granderson but I want to see him do it again before he has my complete trust.

It would have been foolish for the Yankees to pursue Fielder.  Even if they have the money, it just doesn’t make financial sense to tie the organization to the player for the next decade at that kind of money.  It makes me sick to think the Yankees pay A-Rod more than the Angels pay Pujols or the Tigers will pay Fielder.  When A-Rod leaves the ballpark, I bet he pops the Dire Straits’ Brother in Arms into his CD player, listening to “Money for Nothing”…

A Sad Day lies ahead…

It was mentioned today that Mariano Rivera might be the next Yankees great to call it a career, possibly as soon as the end of the upcoming season.  I’m telling ya, that’s going to be a day that I cry like a baby.  Rivera has been my favorite among current Yankees and it will be a tough day when #42 simply walks away.  I am glad that 162 regular season games and a few play-off series in October stand in the way of that dreadful day.

If Everybody Cared…

This is off-topic, but I am excited to have a ticket to the upcoming Nickelback concert tour, Here and Now.  This will be my third Nickelback concert in three years.  So far, I’ve seen them in two outdoor amphitheaters (San Jose, CA and Concord, CA) but this time I will be seeing them inside (in May at Target Arena, home of the NBA’s the Minnesota Timberwolves).  I have also enjoyed Seether and they will be one of the opening acts.  It should be a great show!

Amare, Carmelo and Fid…together again…

My next event at Target Arena, which will be my first visit to the facility, will be to cheer on the New York Knicks when they come to Minnesota to play the T-Wolves in February.  Hopefully, the Arena won’t be rocking like it will with Nickelback when the Knicks come to town.  In fact, I hope it’s eerily quiet.  Score one for the away team!

–Scott