Once you’ve failed Boston, come to New York…
Okay, I admit it. I am not overjoyed to see the Red Sox reunion on the Yankees roster. First, there was former Red Sox reliever Hideki Okajima, then reliever Manny Delcarmen, and now utility infielder Bill Hall. Of the three, Okajima is actually the only who’s last team was the Red Sox but still, the three have served their time in Beantown and are now “enemies” in a friendly camp.
If Okajima can win a job, that’s fine but I don’t really see him beating out Cesar Cabral unless the latter is a complete washout in camp. Delcarmen, in my mind, is simply fodder for the spring with no hope of seeing the major league roster come Opening Day. Hall is an interesting pickup. I am concerned because I want to see the return of backup third baseman Eric Chavez, who is the perfect as a substitute for Alex Rodriguez when A-Rod takes his usual spot on the DL. Indications are that the Yankees are still interested in Chavez despite the Hall signing and I hope so. Reports have also indicated that the Yankees are in deep conversation with Raul Ibanez. If both Hall and Ibanez are signed, is there room for Chavez? I really hope that Chavez is independent of the other decisions.
Nevertheless, even if the Yankees break camp with Okajima, Delcarmen and Hall, they are still inferior to what the Yankees could have had with long reliever/spot starter Alfredo Aceves. At the time the Yankees cut bait with Aceves, I thought it was a mistake. I realize that he had been hurt and subsequently suffered a setback that cost more time. But never once did I consider him to be the second coming of Carl Pavano. I thought that once he was healthy, he’d return to being the effective reliever he was prior to the injuries. Of course, that’s exactly what he did…only in a Red Sox uniform. That’s why I always hate to see ex-Yankees go to Boston. Sure, it would be fun to see Okajima, Delcarmen or Hall thrive in the Bronx, but I just don’t see it happening. I’d have to score this one as ‘Advantage, Red Sox’.
Swisher deserves compensation!…
I enjoyed seeing pitcher Jeremy Guthrie’s quote after being traded from the Baltimore Orioles to the Colorado Rockies. He said the loser in the trade was Nick Swisher’s batting average. Hopefully, Swish can find a replacement pitcher to pick on!
$19 Million? Put it on the tab…
Good move by the Los Angeles Dodgers to lock up arbitration-eligible starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw for two years. It helps buy some time for the new ownership group to take control and do what’s right by ensuring Kershaw is a long-term fixture in Chavez Ravine. I am sure these are tenuous times for Donnie Baseball given the uncertainty regarding the ownership picture and the current financial constraints. But the Dodgers have done well in securing Matt Kemp and now setting up Kershaw for discussions on a longer-term deal under a time frame that will suit the new owners.
RBI, or IBRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR….
It’s hard to believe that we are just a few weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting to camp. The temps in Minnesota have dipped back into the 20’s with some sub-zero temperatures looming on the horizon. Target Field is looking a bit frigid to think the lights will once again be illuminated in two short months. Nevertheless, I am glad to see the return of the America’s Favorite Pastime. No offense to Eli Manning, but I’ll be glad when the “star of New York” is someone like CC Sabathia, Robinson Cano, or Curtis Granderson rather than Peyton’s little bro.
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.
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…
Bobby Valentine’s hire…
I am still surprised that the Boston Red Sox ownership and management team did not have a clear plan of succession when they failed to back former manager Terry Francona at the end of the season. Sure, Francona left on his terms but the lack of support had as much to do with the decision as anything. So, if ownership felt that they wanted a change, they should have had a short list of potential replacements in mind. Theo Epstein moved more quickly in Chicago when they named Sox candidate Dale Sveum as their manager. The Sox search just felt “messy” to an outsider like me.
Still, they probably did as well as they could with the hiring of Bobby Valentine. There is no question that he is a superior tactician. He is very passionate, which is an attribute that I have always admired. I cannot say that I’ve been a Bobby V fan in my life. I lived in Dallas during his years as the manager of the Texas Rangers. But I respect his knowledge, skills and high desire to win. At different points during the last few years, there have been times he has been mentioned as a possible Yankees manager. You don’t have to like the guy personally if he can get the job done. I think one of my friends referred to Bobby as “swarmy” and it’s a good description. Nevertheless, I am sure that Bobby will prove himself worthy of the Red Sox Nation and they’ll love him. Meanwhile, we’ll just continue our loathing of him which fits since he is now with a bitter rival.
I would like to see if Bobby can have a positive impact on pitcher Jon Lester. Lester has been one of my favorite players, despite his uniform. He is an ace, and capable of carrying the high expectations that go with it. 2011 was a regression year for Lester so hopefully he’ll get back on track in 2012 and clearly establish himself as the leader of the Red Sox rotation.
…and Terry Francona’s ire…
In recent years, I admittedly lessened my dislike for the Boston Red Sox and it was primarily because of my respect for manager Terry Francona. In my mind, Joe Torre had been the model of a superior manager, and the Francona mold was in the same class. I do not know the inner workings of the Red Sox organization, but I am still surprised that they didn’t support Francona based on comments Tito has made during interviews. I was even more surprised to hear that he had to defend himself against questions about painkillers during his interview with the St. Louis Cardinals. Here is a manager that won two World Series for an organization that had not won since 1918, or when Babe Ruth was still on the roster. It’s incredible to think of how many Red Sox managers failed where Tito succeeded. I think teams missed the boat in not aggressively pursuing Tito this off-season. Hopefully, teams won’t make the same mistake next year.
All quiet on the Western front…
The days leading up to the Baseball Winter Meetings in Dallas seem so incredibly quiet compared to life under the Boss. While I recognize that part of it is posturing by the Yankees to avoid overpaying for players, there is the realization that this is a different ownership group even if it is still “in the family”. The Yankees did not really make any notable moves last season outside of signing catcher Russell Martin and bringing in pitchers Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon. To fail to upgrade the team this year is a mistake in my opinion. Last year’s roster was easily defeated by the Detroit Tigers in the play-offs. While I realize that anything can happen in a short series, I didn’t have the sense or “feel” that the Yankees were going to prevail. It almost seemed as though it was inevitable the Yankees would lose. That’s a bad feeling. The team needs bench or role players that can come through like Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui used to, and they need help at the top of the starting rotation behind CC Sabathia.
I hopeful that the team can re-sign Eric Chavez, Andrew Jones and Luis Ayala. Chavez is a perfect fit behind Alex Rodriguez, assuming that he can stay healthy, and Jones was a great fourth outfielder if he is content with resuming that type of role for the upcoming season. Ayala seems to be garnering much attention with at least six teams interested.
I like the one rumor that I heard about the Yankees possibly being interested in Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Kyle Drabek. He would definitely be a pitcher that I’d target if I were the GM. As a fan, the trade of Doug Drabek hurt at the time and it hurt even more when Drabek went on to achieve great success with the Pittsburgh Pirates. While acquiring Kyle Drabek has nothing to do with his father as he has great potential on his own right, it would be nice to have the son of Doug Drabek in the organization. Interestingly, the Yankees had obtained Doug Drabek in a trade with the Chicago White Sox for shortstop Roy Smalley. If they had held onto him that trade would have been remembered as one of the Yankees better trades. As it was, the Yankees traded him to the Pirates for Rick Rhoden, who was serviceable but not great.
Of the free agent pitchers, I am still most interested in Mark Buehrle. I think he’d fit perfectly into the middle of the Yankees rotation. I like C.J. Wilson but I can understand the team’s apprehension given the dollars that have been mentioned to sign him. If Yu Darvish is posted later this off-season, I really would like to see the Yankees be aggressive in pursuing him. I am convinced that he’ll have greater major league success than Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka. The negative is obviously the cost of the posting fee that it will take to get the job done. The Red Sox paid over $51 million for the rights to negotiate with Dice-K, and apparently, it will take a similar if not higher number to land Darvish.
If the Yankees were to include outfielder Nick Swisher in a trade for a starting pitcher, they’d need to find a replacement. As a fan, I am always on the lookout for the next Paul O’Neill type of trade to fill the void…acquiring a talented young outfielder with much promise who has yet fulfilled those expectations. It’s a high risk move, but as in the case of O’Neill, high reward. Curtis Granderson has thrived in a Yankees uniform despite the sluggish start, and it’s better to catch a player before he hits the upward arc of his career in terms of cost. If the Yankees tried to acquire Granderson from the Tigers today, there’s no way that they could get it done with Ian Kennedy, Austin Jackson and Phil Coke (and that’s with Kennedy being mentioned in the NL Cy Young race this year).
Brace yourself, here comes Roller-Coaster Week!…
The upcoming week is always my favorite week of the off-season. The Hot Stove League is at its pinnacle. Even if the Yankees do not do anything, it is still a thrilling ride. It’s fun to talk and think about all the potential possibilities, even as far-reaching as some may sound. My primary wish is for the Cardinals to get their long-anticipated deal with Albert Pujols done so that we can move on to other storylines. There’s no way that he is going to Chicago or Miami, and at the end of the day, he is and always will be a Cardinal.
My preferred landing spot for Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, if he decides to continue playing, is the Miami Marlins. I do not want to see him go to the Mets, Red Sox, or any other AL East rival including the Tampa Bay Rays.
Good move, Bad move…
The Los Angeles Dodgers are my favorite National League team, although I do not have the passion for the team or the sense of loyalty that I hold for the Yankees. My affection for them began when Joe Torre was named manager (previously I had considered the San Francisco Giants as my NL team) and it has continued with one of my all-time favorite players as the current Dodgers manager, Don Mattingly. I am dismayed with the ownership situation and do not have any respect for Frank McCourt, but I am optimistic that the sale of the team will restore the luster of the storied franchise.
While it was good for the Dodgers to lock up outfielder Matt Kemp long-term, I do question the move to sign free agent pitcher Chris Capuano. The cost was too great ($10 million for two years) for a journeyman pitcher who is average to average-minus with no upside. If this move prevents free agent pitcher Hiroki Kuroda from returning, then it’s an even greater mistake. I don’t know how much it will cost to sign Kuroda and I realize that he is 37, but he’s still a better pitcher than Capuano.
Don’t let the door hit you on the way out…
I was not excited when the Minnesota Vikings trade a 6th round draft pick to the Washington Redskins for QB Donovan McNabb before the season started, but I did realize the team needed a veteran presence. McNabb was a failure for the Vikings, and I was glad to see the team finally cut bait with his release this past week. I am not convinced he can thrive in any environment, contrary to what head coach Leslie Frazier may say. I think the Vikings simply found out what the Philadelphia Eagles knew and what the Redskins found out last season. He’s done. I was pleasantly surprised to see QB Sage Rosenfels return as the third string QB after his release from the Miami Dolphins. It’s not that I expect Rosenfels to take any regular season snaps this time around, but he’s a good insurance policy and allows the Vikings to continue to use second string QB Joe Webb in a variety of roles.
It’s tough when your favorite football team is playing so bad that you actually hope for losses to ensure a high draft pick. The Vikings are only two games behind the Indianapolis Colts in the sweepstakes for Stanford QB Andrew Luck. I am a fan of Vikings QB Christian Ponder, but even I would gladly take Luck over Ponder. So, with the Denver Broncos playing the Vikings today, all I can say is ‘Go Tim Tebow!’ as a way to bring good “Luck”!…
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!