Tagged: Melky Cabrera

Melky, what were you thinking?…

 

Disappointing…

I am not quite sure what was reaction was when I heard that San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera had been suspended for 50 games due to substance abuse.  As a former Yankee, I watched his career as it went through Atlanta and Kansas City before his arrival in the City by the Bay.  The year in Atlanta was forgettable, but Melky rebounded in Kansas City and continued his renaissance in San Francisco.  The highlight of the year for him was capped with the MVP Award for the All-Star Game.

When Melky was a Yankee, he was often in the mix for game-winning hits and the recipient of one of A.J. Burnett’s pies.  It was tough to see him go to Atlanta in the ill-fated trade for Javier Vazquez but I had hoped that he would have a chance to thrive outside of Yankee Stadium and the platoon situation he found himself in.  Even with his recent success, I still feel that Brett Gardner, when healthy, is a better fit for the Yankees.  Nevertheless, I was glad to see that Melky had found major league success as a regular.

Well, until the day it was announced that he had been suspended.  I lost most if not all respect that day.  Melky’s quick acceptance of his suspension only rubbed salt in the wound, and now there’s a report that he staged a bogus website in a botched attempt to mask his guilt.  I can gladly say that I am glad that Melky is not a Yankee today.  I would not want him on my team and if I was the Giants’ GM Brian Sabean, I’d cut my losses and move on.  The last thing the Giants need is a player with the aura of substance abuse, particularly on the heels of former Giants outfielder Barry Bonds.  Character should be the first criteria when determining if a player is a good fit for any organization.  Yes, athletic ability and talent rank very highly but it means nothing if the player is one of poor character.

News of the totally irrelevant…

Speaking of substance abuse, it’s ironic that another former Yankee is again in the news.  There were reports that Roger Clemens has signed with an independent team.  Seriously?  A 50-year-old pitcher trying to make a comeback?  The only guy who could make Jamie Moyer look like a teenager?  I don’t care if Clemens was acquitted in June.  He is one guy that I never want to see wear pinstripes again or ever set foot on Yankee Stadium soil.

I have been supportive of current Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte.  There was something very honest about Pettitte’s admission of substance abuse a few years back.  Maybe he has all of us fooled.  Maybe not.  I tend to believe the latter.  On the other hand, I don’t believe anything Roger Clemens has to say.  Nor do I believe Alex Rodriguez for that matter.  I tolerate Rodriguez because he is on the Yankees but I am not a fan of his.

I’d like to put Melky in the category of guys that should be forgiven, but he just strikes me as another Clemens or A-Rod at this point.  It is incredible that a guy, at this point in time, would risk millions by doing something that is so closely watched.  He was on the fast track for failure.  I doubt we’ve seen the last of Melky but I hope that he learns something from the time off.

I was a Yankee for two months…

I know that the Ichiro in Pinstripes Era is very short-lived and will be expiring at the end of the season, but it was a joy to see him hit two home runs off Josh Beckett in the weekend series against the Red Sox.  Although the Yankees only took two of three from the Sox, this is not the same Red Sox squad of years passed.  Although Bobby Valentine has gotten a vote of confidence from the Front Office, I don’t see how he makes it past just one season in Boston.  It is no secret the Sox covet Toronto Blue Jays manager John Farrell so if there’s a way to pry him from Canada, I am sure that he will be immediately named the next manager of the Sox.

How did I go from Ichiro to John Farrell?  I am not quite sure about that one myself…

Where did all these former Dodgers come from?…

It’s only a brief sample, but I really wouldn’t mind seeing Derek Lowe return as the long man in the pen next season.  I’ve always admired Lowe’s competitiveness and determination.  It’s still a bit weird watching him in pinstripes, but he is a welcome addition.  There’s no doubt that I want to see the return of pitcher Hiroki Kuroda.  He’s been even better than I had anticipated.  I always wondered why Dodger fans were so endeared to him as I had viewed him as a middle of the road starter.  But, wow, I was wrong!  I totally get why he meant so much to Dodger fans.  The team would be lost without Kuroda, particularly after the DL stints of most notably CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte.

It’s hard to believe that September is right around the corner.  I guess we will soon be inundated with magic numbers.  There is only one number I am concerned about…#28.  Let’s go, Yankees!

–Scott

 

All things considered, the first half was a success…

 

A 7-game lead is nice, but…

As the All-Star Break comes to a close, I should be very happy the Yankees hold a 7-game lead in the AL East (7 ½ and 9 ½ games over their chief rivals, the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox, respectively).  There were times during the early weeks of the season that I really questioned the makeup of the 2012 team.  At one point, after the horrific start of the Red Sox, only one game separated the two teams.  Fortunately, the Yankees began to put together consistent pitching performances and powered their way to first before July arrived.

But, as I sit here waiting for the second half to start, it’s evident the Texas Rangers have the most balanced squad in the league even if the Yankees have the slightly better record.  Last year, the Detroit Tigers simply shut down the Yankee bats to eliminate the Pinstripers in the play-offs.  The old adage, good pitching beats good hitting.  The problem is the Yankees didn’t have and still do not have a true, legitimate clutch bat.  I am not trying to take anything away from Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher and others, they’re good hitters.  But there’s always doubt in key situations.  There are certain hitters that always come through in the clutch or at least it seems like it.  I’d put former Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis in that category.  You know that he’s not going to get cheated in an at-bat…win or lose, he’s going to grind.

While the Yankees have gotten good pitching lately, it’s still a fact that their top two starters are on the DL.  Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes have pitched very well in their absence, but even with CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte, the Tampa Bay Rays have a better pitching staff.  I still find it hard to believe that the Red Sox are as bad as their record indicates.  The realist in me keeps expecting them to go on a tear sometime in the second half.  Neither the Rays or the Red Sox are finished, and I am confident both will be making noise in September.

While it is likely the Yankees do not make any moves this month as the trading deadline nears, the team needs to be aware that the competition is not going to sit back and go with the status quo.  I fully expect the powerful Rangers to make a move to further improve their team.  It’s scary to think of them potentially acquiring a frontline starter like Cole Hamels.  I recognize and understand that the Yankees are more budget conscious under Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner than they were under the Boss.  I get the reasons for reducing payroll by 2014 to avoid additional penalties.  Plus, there’s always the fear that the Yankees trade a strong prospect or good player for a risk, only to see the player hit a home run and win the MVP award in an All-Star Game wearing an opponent’s jersey.

It will be good to see the return of Sabathia, Pettitte, and Brett Gardner in the coming weeks.  Plus, Joba Chamberlain will finally begin his rehab starts this weekend.  So, there is help on the horizon.  But will it be enough?  Time will tell.

Farewell to the better Twin City…

I moved from Minneapolis to the San Francisco Bay Area so I no longer have my great downtown view of Target Field.  I so loved downtown Minneapolis, living in the Warehouse District.  It was a great experience in a great city.  Northern CA is a wonderful place to live, but it will take time for me to re-adjust to California after enjoying Minneapolis so much.  So, now instead of being within walking distance of Target Field, I am a BART ride away from the Oakland A’s and the San Francisco Giants.  It’s not quite the same thing.  Of course, ask me in December or January and my response will probably be substantially different.

The Kidd from Cal…

After completing my first year as a fan of the New York Knicks, I was pleased to see the team sign veteran point guard Jason Kidd to back up starting guard Jeremy Lin.  I have always felt a connection with Kidd.  I lived in Dallas when he was drafted by the Mavericks, and I moved to Phoenix shortly after he was traded to the Suns.  Yes, I have moved a fair amount during the course of my life.  I am not sure that the Knicks will win in 2012-13, but they should be very fun to watch.

So wrong on many levels…

Speaking of basketball, it was hard to see Steve Nash don a Lakers jersey.  Despite his years in Dallas, I will always associate Nash with the Phoenix Suns.  The Lakers, of course, are a chief nemesis of the Suns, so Nash’s move would be like Derek Jeter signing with the Red Sox at this stage of his career.  I was a Lakers fan prior to moving my allegiance to the Knicks, but still, I hate to see players join a chief rival in any sport or league.  I know that whenever a Yankee or a Minnesota Viking leaves as a free agent, I am always hoping they sign in the other league or conference.

I want but cannot have…

I feel bad for Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic.  After openly expressing his desire to be traded to the Brooklyn Nets, the teams were unable to consummate a deal.  Given that Howard has no desire to stay in Orlando, it will be interesting to see where he ends up.  But Brooklyn would have been a lot of fun with the upcoming inaugural season for the former New Jersey team.  I guess the Magic didn’t want Kris Humphries.  Well, maybe Kim Kardashian was right after all…

Okay, let’s throw the first pitch for the second half!  Time to race to October!

–Scott

Mr. Personality…

 

The Bully has spoken…

 

 

WFAN

 

 

 

As much as I love the Yankees and support their right to spend whatever is necessary to win, I admittedly have trouble warming up to Yankees president Randy Levine.  I agree with Levine’s words:  “We play by all the rules and there doesn’t seem to be any complaints when teams such as the Brewers receive hundreds of millions of dollars that they get from us in revenue sharing the last few years.  Take some of that money that you get from us and use that to sign your players”, Levine said in an interview with ESPNNewYork.com in response to Milwaukee owner Mark Attanasio’s ongoing complaints about how much the Yankees spend.  Per ESPN, the Yankees have paid out nearly $175 million in the last 7 years (92% of the total revenue sharing that has been paid out to teams). 

 

 


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I agree, in principle, with everything Levine has said, but he still comes across as a big bully.  I don’t follow the business side of the Yankees as much as I do the playing side so maybe I just don’t know Levine.  Or maybe this truly is the real Levine.  Either way, I am not a fan of his…

 

 


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After failing to see the much-needed clutch hit during Sunday night’s loss to the Red Sox, I could not help but notice Monday’s box scores:

 

Johnny Damon, Detroit Tigers (8-4 win over the Kansas City Royals)

2 hits (including a double); 2 runs; and 2 RBI’s

 

Said Johnny Damon after the game: "We battled. We never quit. I'm very happy with what I saw today."   (JOHN SLEEZER/McClatchy-Tribune)

John Sleezer/McClatchy-Tribune

 

Hideki Matsui, Los Angeles Angels (6-3 win over the Minnesota Twins)

2 hits (including a solo home run); 1 run; and 2 RBI’s

 

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Rose Palmisano/The Orange County Register

 

The four RBI’s could have come in very handy on Sunday night!

 

At least Melky Cabrera went 0-for-5 for the Atlanta Braves.  Well, he did score a run.  Ugh!

 

 

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The Yankees captured their first win of the season with a 6-4 victory in Boston.  The win evens the series, and sets up the getaway game as the deciding game in my latest wager with Julia of Julia’s Rants.  It should be a great game with Andy Pettitte facing new Red Sox pitcher John Lackey.  Hopefully, I will be arranging for the shipment of a book to the Boston area so that a friend of mine can begin her book assignment!

 

 

 

 

In tonight’s game, Nick Johnson did EXACTLY what he was signed to do…get on base.  With the bases loaded in the 8th and the score tied 4-4,  Nick worked a walk to bring in the go-ahead run.  Robinson Cano added an insurance run with a solo homer in the 9th, but Nick Johnson was definitely the key to the rally.

 

Joba Chamberlain showed me that he is the 8th inning set up guy, and Mariano Rivera proved, yet again, he is a legend in our midst.  I am sure it will be a very sad day when Mo walks off the mound for the final time.  I have been very proud of him all these years, and he probably is my favorite Yankee.

 

 

 

 

It was not a great night for Boston’s Jon Lester but I am convinced this will be a big year for him.  I may not be a Red Sox fan but I am a Jon Lester fan.  Beckett and Lackey?  Not so much…

 

 

Jorge Posada #20, Derek Jeter #2, Nick Swisher #33 and Robinson Cano #24 of the New York Yankees celebrate the win over the Boston Red Sox on April 6, 2010 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. The Yankee defeated the Red Sox 6-4. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Elsa/Getty Images

You Traded Me for Randy Freakin’ Johnson?…

The answer to the question is an old friend from the past…

 

Bill Kostroun/AP

 

It was no secret that the Yankees were actively seeking to fill an open spot in the rotation and the word was that it would be accomplished by year end.  As it were, the Yankees wrapped the package up prior to Christmas.  The result is the return of Javier Vazquez….

When I first heard the deal, I was a little upset at what the Yankees gave up (Melky Cabrera, Michael Dunn, and Arodys Vizcaino).  However, after having time to let it sink in, I am okay with it so long as the Yankees can come up with a decent alternative for left field.  Brett Gardner is not an every day player, and at this point, neither is Jamie Hoffmann.  Perhaps Gardner can be part of a platoon, but the other half is not currently on the roster. 

Vazquez was a Yankee for one brief season.  But it was a very painful season.  For years, we had grown up knowing that the Boston Red Sox had been suffering from the Curse of Babe Ruth prior to our own births.  However, in 2004, the Red Sox finally shook the curse and defeated the mighty Yankees despite being down 3 games to none in the American League Championship Series.  The defining moment occurred in Game 7 when Johnny Damon hit a grand slam off Javier Vazquez.  The win propelled the Red Sox to the World Series and an eventual championship that could have belonged to the Yankees.  After the season, the Yankees packaged Vazquez in a deal to Arizona that netted Randy Johnson.  At the time, Vazquez didn’t want to leave the Yankees but “public opinion” was clearly against him and the Yankees fans didn’t cry too much as Vazquez headed for the Sonoran Desert. 

Nevertheless, spin forward 5 years, and Vazquez has proven consistency and durability.  2009 was perhaps his finest year with Atlanta Braves as he went 15-10 with a 2.87 ERA.  Injuries, including pink eye, kept 2009 from being even more successful.  When you are throwing around names like Ben Sheets, Justin Duchscherer, Aaron Harang, and others, I have to admit that Vazquez is the best case scenario.  Admittedly, I would have preferred a Bronx return by Ted Lilly but there probably wasn’t any way that the Chicago Cubs were going to let him go.  The Yankees tried hard for Cliff Lee, but the Phillies felt they needed to send Lee as far from Philly as they could given the backlash they’d receive by dealing him.  Understood.  So all things considered, Javier Vazquez as your number 4 starter is a pretty good situation.  I’d take Vazquez in a head-to-head match up against John Lackey so I think the move was a good counter to Boston’s free agent signing.

 

 

Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal Constitution

It is ironic that Damon’s departure is met by Vazquez’s return.  It is equally ironic that Vazquez and DH Nick Johnson will be teammates given they were once traded for each other.  Hopefully, this ends the Yankees’ attempt at a 2003-04 reunion tour.  We really don’t need to see a return performance by Jason Giambi.  Sorry, G, I loved you in pinstripes but that day has passed. 

 

AP 

 

The Yankees did manage to secure a bullpen part with the Vazquez trade.  They also acquired pitcher Boone Logan.  Gotta love the name.  Logan is a lefty but is probably more of a one batter specialist.  The Yankees are hopeful that Damaso Marte will continue at the level he displayed late in the season.  Logan was acquired by the Atlanta Braves in the same trade that brought Vazquez from the Chicago White Sox.  So, once again, Logan and Vazquez are intertwined…and hopefully the duo will prove to be very successful in the Bronx.  Vazquez is a free agent after 2010, so it’s possible that this is another one-and-done Yankee performance, but it is my hope that he proves he belongs in pinstripes.

 

 

The Yankees also signed free agent catcher Mike Rivera (formerly of the Milwaukee Brewers).  So long as Rivera is slotted for the third catching spot, I am okay with the move.  I feel that Francisco Cervelli deserves the primary shot to be Jorge Posada’s backup, but a veteran influence like Rivera can’t hurt.

 

 

So, now the question is what the Yankees will do about left field?  The Vazquez trade brings the payroll to nearly $200 million which is the alleged budget for 2010.  Perhaps they’ll need to offload Chad Gaudin and/or Sergio Mitre (among others), but room can be made for a capable left fielder.  Alas, it won’t be Matt Holliday or Jason Bay (or even Johnny Damon),  but I have confidence that GM Brian Cashman won’t leave the team shortchanged.

 

 

All these moves do have the potential of disrupting team chemistry so I am hopeful that the team is able to mesh in spring training.  From a character standpoint, I have no reservations with Curtis Granderson, Nick Johnson, or Javier Vazquez, so I think they’ll be fine.  But as they say, the proof is in the pudding…

 

Reality Check…

 

What a letdown!…

 

 

 

After taking 2 of 3 from the Boston Red Sox last weekend, the Yankees landed with a thud in the Bronx.  The Texas Rangers, normally a team the Yankees can handle, took 2 of 3 from the Bombers while Boston was busy taking 3 of 4 from the Chicago White Sox.

 

Kathy Willens/AP 

The once expansive 7 1/2 game lead has been reduced to 6 games.  But all things considered, a 6 game lead on August 27th is still a very good place to be.

 

 

I was disappointed with the first game of the Texas series.  Trailing 10-5 in the bottom of the 9th, the Yankees brought it to 10-9 with runners in scoring position.  But the rally was killed by a failed bunt attempt by Nick Swisher and a game-ending double play by Melky Cabrera.

 

Henny Ray Abrams/AP 

 

Andy Pettitte convincingly won the second game of the series, but further disappointment followed in the final game as the Yanks fell 7-2.  A.J. Burnett continued his recent streak of no success.  Despite 12 strikeouts and an otherwise dominating performance, he paid dearly for a mistake that resulted in a three-run bomb by Ian Kinsler.

 

Noah K. Murray/Star Ledger 

 

Now the Yankees prepare for the Chicago White Sox to arrive in town.  It won’t match the intensity of the last Sox team, but hopefully, CC Sabathia will right the ship and get the Yankees back on the winning track.  After all, these Yankees have a division to win.  Right, Alex?

 

 

 

So, the Yankees were apparently the team that filed the waiver claim on pitcher Brad Penny.  The move forced the Red Sox to drop Penny for no compensation.  Bummer for Theo.  While I suspect, like everyone else, that Penny will return to the NL, I can’t help but think that he’d be an improvement over Sergio Mitre and Chad Gaudin.  The Yankees should definitely consider being one of the teams lining up to talk to Penny on Monday when he clears waivers.

 

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I read tonight that the Yanks most likely won’t be buyers in the free agent market this winter.  I guess that means no Matt Holliday or Jason Bay.  Okay, I recognize that we are spoiled as Yankees fans by ownership committed to winning, but I do miss having at least one superstar outfielder (sorry Johnny!).  Austin Jackson will enter the outfield mix in 2010 but there is no in-house answer for right field if Xavier Nady is allowed to walk at the end of the year.  But of course, what you HEAR is not always what you SEE with the Yanks.  Brian Cashman has gotten good at lying in the weeds, waiting to strike…

 

 

I hate to go off-topic (okay, not really).  There are reports that a “schism” has developed in the Minnesota Vikings’ clubhouse with players feeling that either Tavaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels would give them a better chance to win than Brett Favre.  I still remain hopeful that we’ll see the 2007 Packers version of Favre rather than the 2008 Jets version.  Favre will play a half during Monday’s exhibition game and he needs to start showing his teammates that he is still the same player that terrorized them in Green Bay.  This season has the makings of something really special…or something really rotten.  The difference maker, in either direction, will be Favre.

 

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Elizabeth Flores/Star Tribune 

 

I am definitely looking forward to the Top 11 post by my friend Julia (of Julia’s Rants).  The photos of her in a Yankees cap will be a special treat.  Nevertheless, I recognize that September will be a dogfight and I look forward to the next battle with Julia.  Hmmm, maybe we need to raise the stakes…

Hey Yankees, let’s roll!…

 

Remembrance of a Legend…

 

Where were you 30 years ago today?

 

Getty Images

 

Well, many of you probably weren’t even born yet.  But those of us who were most likely will remember August 2, 1979…particularly Yankees fans.  The day saw the untimely demise of #15, the Yankee Captain, Thurman Munson.

 

 

As a teenage Yankees fan, Thurman had been my hero.  While I have always credited Jim “Catfish” Hunter and the legend of Lou Gehrig as the primary reasons I became a Yankees fan despite growing up in the Midwest, it was the tough and tenacious Munson that quickly became my favorite player. 

Thurman was his own man and he wouldn’t let anyone push him around.  Not George Steinbrenner, not Billy Martin, not Reggie Jackson, not Carlton Fisk.  I will always remember the 1976 World Series…not for the series sweep at the hands of the Big Red Machine but how Thurman wouldn’t quit.  He hit .529 in the series, and at one point, had six consecutive hits.  His performance laid the foundation for the championship years of 1977 and 1978. 

I had known about Thurman’s interest in airplanes, and how he viewed it as a way to reach his family in Ohio more often.  Selfishly, I was hopeful that he’d never leave the Yankees in the late 70’s/early 80’s, but I had become increasingly fearful that he would leave at the end of his contract to sign with the Cleveland Indians (to be closer to his home).  Unfortunately, I never saw that day come and will never know if Thurman would have truly left or if he would have stayed to finish his career in pinstripes.

On August 2, 1979, I was in high school and employed by a local grocery store in a small Iowa town.  I was working when one of our customers told me that they had just heard Thurman Munson was killed in an airplane crash.  I vividly recall just standing there with a blank look of disbelief frozen on my face.   My hero had just died…

 

It is a loss that I personally will never forget.  I think about Thurman every August 2nd, and I see his spirit continue to thrive in present day Yankees like Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, and Mariano Rivera.

 

Doug Kanter/AFP/Getty Images

 

Today was a day to remember Thurman and we continue to owe him a debt of gratitude for the way he wore pinstripes.  Thanks for the tremendous memories, Thurman.  You are still my hero…

 

 

For a great article about Thurman Munson, please read Moss Klein’s article in The Star Ledger, entitled Catcher Thurman Munson, The Captain, was the Heart and Soul of the NY Yankees.  It’s an excellent read.

 

YANKEES WIN…FINALLY…

The Yankees were able to beat the Chicago White Sox today, 8-5, to avoid being swept in the four game series which began last Thursday.

 

Mike Carlson/AP

Melky Cabrera became the first Yankee since Tony Fernandez in 1995 to hit for the cycle.  Melky went 4-for-5 with 4 RBI’s and 2 runs scored.  He staked the Yanks to an early lead with a three-run homer in the second inning.

 

Tannen Maury/EPA

In the 9th, needing only a tripe, Melky hit a liner off the right field wall.  Trying to do his best impression of Brett Gardner, Melky sped around the bases and just beat the relay throw to third for his first triple of the season and completed the cycle.

 

Nam Y. Huh/AP

 

It wasn’t a great game for CC Sabathia (perhaps he was still disappointed that his buddy, Victor Martinez, now calls Fenway Park home), however, he gutted it out and stayed in the game into the 8th inning.  Mark Buehrle, fresh off a perfect game just two starts ago, was the loser.

 

Nam Y. Huh/AP

 

With the win, the Yankees remain a ½ game ahead of the Boston Red Sox in the AL East.  The Red Sox throttled the Baltimore Orioles today, 18-10.

 

Nick Wass/AP 

Hey Julia, just 4 more days until the showdown resumes.  From what I can tell, the Yankees have finally figured out a way to beat a team called the Sox!  Life is good! 

With today’s game, Derek Jeter has now played in 2084 games, which ties Babe Ruth for fourth place on the list of most games played with the Yankees.

 

AP file 

 

A DAY IN SAN FRANCISCO

My wife and I attended the San Francisco Giants game against the Philadelphia Phillies today at AT&T Park.  It was a beautiful day for a game.  The weather forecast was cloudy and 59 degrees, however, after early cloudiness, it was all sunny skies and 66 degrees.  The Giants prevailed, 7-3, with Barry Zito getting the win over Cole Hamels. 

AT&T Park is one of my favorite ballparks, and today was definitely a treat…

 


 

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Okay, I did have to make sure that I kept an eye on a certain American League score…

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…but I managed to watch the Giants win a great game!

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Late in the game, a Dodgers fan walked up the stairs to leave the game.  The crowd booed and hissed unmercifully while the Dodgers fan just soaked it all in and waved his Dodgers cap with pride.  After the Dodgers fan had exited, a Boston Red Sox fan made the same exit except this time, no one said anything at all.  The Red Sox fan was ignored as he quietly left the stadium.  Ah, I love being back in the Bay Area…

 

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–Scott

Bad Finish to a Good First Half…

 

I knew it was going to be a bad weekend, and it was…

 

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I didn’t feel right about the Yankees’ series against the Angels.  I was excited about the Yankees reaching a first place tie with the Boston Red Sox following their sweep of the Minnesota Twins last week, but I had suspected that they’d lose some ground over the weekend.  I just didn’t expect that it would be a three game fall. 


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Of course, it didn’t help that the Red Sox were playing the Kansas City Royals.  Why couldn’t the schedule gods have pitted a more difficult opponent for Boston as their first half ending opponent?  There is no doubt that Julia is proclaiming 3 as her new favorite number…

 

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My concerns heading into the second half include:

Starting rotation. 

The only reliable spot, as of late, has been A.J. Burnett.

 

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CC Sabathia has been a disappointment in terms of expectations in light of the monster off-season contract.  For the amount he’s paid, you’d expect his performance to more close resemble the performances of Roy Halladay and Josh Beckett. 

Joba Chamberlain has been an enigma.  You keep hearing comments that he is still learning the ropes, but how long is that going to continue? 

Andy Pettitte probably should have retired last fall. 

Chien-Ming Wang is on the DL, and has clearly been a major disappointment.  It is very likely that the Yankees rotation will include Sergio Mitre. 

As much as I’d like Roy Halladay in the rotation, I do not feel that the Yankees should give up the young talent it would take to pull off a deal.  Almost any trade would certainly include Phil Hughes, and other blue chip prospects.  That’s just not worth it for a 32-year-old pitcher.  Of the other possibilities, there really isn’t much to get excited about (Jarrod Washburn?), so it appears that the Yankees will have to find the answers to the starting rotation from within.

Bullpen.

Phil Hughes has proven that he is the answer for the bridge between Mariano Rivera and the rest of the guys.  He has been very effective as a set up guy, but of course, the question is whether he’ll continue his progress in the second half.

 

Paul J. Berewill/Newsday 

 

Phil Coke and Alfredo Aceves have been effective, but I am concerned about Brian Bruney and Damaso Marte.  I still believe that Marte can return to his previous status as a premier left handed reliever, so hopefully, he’ll be much improved upon his return from the DL. 

I would like to see the team find an upgrade for Brett Tomko.

I am supportive of David Robertson and Mark Melancon and would like to see them contribute in the second half.

And then there’s Mo…life is good…

 

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Catcher

Health is the key for Jorge Posada.  He has performed very well, considering his age and despite the time on the DL. 

The Yankees learned they may have something with young catcher Francisco Cervelli, who provided much energy and excitement during Jose Molina’s stint on the DL.  Plus, further help is on the way with Jesus Montero and Austin Romine.  So, while there are short-term concerns about the catching position, the long-term prognosis is very bright. 

I think Posada will enjoy a productive and injury-free second half.

 

The Yankees and the Mets may fight it out for Jorge Posada.

Kathy Willens/AP

 

First Base

Defensively-speaking, Mark Teixeira has provided the best performance the position has seen since the days of Don Mattingly and Tino Martinez.  The bat has been very hot and cold.  The month of April was very chilly, but Teixera’s bat heated up once A-Rod returned in early May.  Mark cooled off in late June and early July, and must have missed the flight from Minneapolis to Los Angeles because he was a no-show during the Angel series.  Not really, but that’s what it felt like.  So, my wish for the second half is more consistency…

 

Kathy Willens/AP

 

Second Base

The curious case of the missing bat.  Robinson Cano is another player who ran ice cold at times.  I know that players go through streaks, but again, consistency is the key.  I’d rather see someone who is consistently productive than someone who had have a monster three weeks, followed by six weeks of swinging for air.

 

 

 

Shortstop

Derek Jeter is playing better than I had expected him to.  He is definitely outperforming his 2008 version, and hasn’t shown any signs of decline.  He still makes the occasional error at the most inopportune time, but he’s been very solid so far this year.  More of the same in the second half will be much appreciated.

 

 

Third Base

Considering that he had hip surgery in March and didn’t resume playing until May, I thought A-Rod had a very productive first half.  Watching Mike Lowell struggle with hip issues shows how difficult it is to come back from hip surgery, so I have to give A-Rod much credit.  There have been times that I’ve been frustrated by his bat, but c’mon, if I had hip surgery in March, I’d probably still be in the hospital in critical condition.  LOL!  Seriously, my primary hope for the second half is continued good health with sufficient rest and full protection for Mark Teixeira in the lineup.

 

Newscom

 

Outfield

Health is the key for veterans Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui.  Ideally, the second half will see Matsui being able to play some outfield to free up the DH slot for Jorge Posada or Alex Rodriguez. 

Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera have both shined at various point of the first half, so continued progress for both would be key for the stretch drive.

 

George McNish/The Star Ledger

 

Nick Swisher has performed capably, but of course, he is still a downgrade from last year’s starter, Bobby Abreu, and he isn’t that player that Xavier Nady is/was.  Perhaps Eric Hinske will see more time in the outfield.

While I’d like to see an upgrade for the outfield, I really do not see a major trade bringing someone like Matt Holliday to New York.

Conclusion

In years past, when the Yankees have said that they’d be quiet at the trading deadline, I have taken it as “trade posturing”.  This year, I do believe that the Yanks are attempting to operate within a budget (imagine that!) and no major moves are likely.  The team will go as far as the current roster takes them.  Perhaps a few second half surprises will come from the resources at Scranton/Wilkes Barre or Trenton.  But this team is going to win or lose with Joe Girardi at the helm.  I do see greater consistency from the big guys like CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira, but it probably won’t be enough to overtake Boston.

Nevertheless, the Yankees are in control of the AL Wild Card (they lead by 2 ½ games over the Texas Rangers).  They have a 51-37 record.  Despite the weekend disaster, they are still only 3 games behind Boston.  They clearly have the talent to remain in the mix until the end.  Is it enough to beat the Red Sox or Angels?  At this point, probably not, but there are still three months left in the season.  Much can happen, and the Yankees have plenty of time to overcome their “demons”, i.e., Angels and Red Sox.  No worries, well, unless you are Joe Girardi…

 

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Best wishes for a highly successful second half to the New York Yankees!  May they be four games better than the Boston Red Sox come October!  J

 

Kathy Willens/AP

 

After all, it’s a Yankees Universe!