Definition of a Stopper…
I felt good about today’s game on the simple basis of knowing that A.J. Burnett would be taking the mound. It wasn’t a perfect performance, but he made the big pitches when they mattered the most.
Of course, I didn’t know that Nick Swisher would be starting and delivering 5 RBI’s, but that was a nice bonus. I like Swish and the energy he brings to the team. God bless him for the loud music he plays, even when he is relegated to bench duty.
Robby Cano is also showing signs that he may be maturing.
And Tex, it was very appropriate to get the first home run of the season in front of his hometown crowd. In the grand scheme of things, a win or loss wasn’t going to determine the season, but it was nice to get the first one out of the way.
THE AMERICAN IDLE
I am normally not one to gloat, but I was so disappointed in Carl Pavano as a Yankee. The guy has the talent, there is no doubt. But what’s going on inside the head is a different story. Today’s line score is very appropriate…
C Pavano (L, 0-1)
Carl only retired three of twelve batters that he faced.
Good luck in Cleveland, Carl. I am glad that you are no longer a Yankee…
THE DEPARTED ANGEL
It’s been tough today seeing the tributes for Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart. Also, the TV clips of Wednesday night’s performance against the A’s have been equally difficult.
By virtue of injuries, Nick was the Angels #3 starter. But he showed on Wednesday night that he belonged in the major leagues. He was a guy that had Tommy John surgery in high school, yet rebounded to become the top prospect in the Angels organization. He was a humorous guy…the kind of guy who drives others to achieve greatness.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi made some comments today that I completely agree with. Joe was the Rock of Gibraltar during the untimely passing of St. Louis Cardinal pitcher Darryl Kile (the Cardinals were playing the Cubs, Girardi’s team, at the time of Kile’s death).
“It’s sad. It really is,” Girardi said. “You think of a young man who realizes his dream and pitches six shutout innings, and drives home and is gone. Life is not supposed to be like that. I didn’t even know the kid and it’s hard for me. He’s just a little boy who dreamed about playing in the big leagues.
“It’s one big fraternity, one big family. Your heart goes out to that family and that young man. You realize how precious life is. You wake up every day and be thankful for what you’ve got, because you never know.”
Well said, Joe…
We have been cheated by not seeing what Nick could have become. At 22, he did more than most of us will achieve in a lifetime. April 9th will become to Angels fans what August 2nd means to Yankee fans. Nick, you will be missed…
This has not been a great start to the 2009 season…at least for Yankees fans…
April, in recent years, has proven to be a very challenging month for the Yankees. With the most Grapefruit League victories and the new high profile acquisitions, I was hopeful that April would be a very powerful month for a change.
Don’t get me wrong, it is way too early to write off this month or even this week. As I write this post, the Yankees are only 0-2, after losing to the Baltimore Orioles 7-5 on Wednesday night.
Today started off on the wrong foot as the Joba Chamberlain DUI Video hit the mainstream newspapers. Joba, how could you say anything bad about Yogi Berra of all people? Yogi laughed it off, and Joba apologized but there are now skeptics who wonder if Joba has truly matured beyond his 23 years. I believe that he has and when he says that the DUI stop was the best thing that happened to him, I trust his words.
It is now up to Joba to live his words, but I feel the new criticisms are unfair and not warranted. He has been penalized for his actions, and, in my opinion, he has said and done the right things since the incident. He even made nice with Big Papi over the winter…
Back to the Yankees, I think it will only take a few key hits and some solid pitching to get the Yanks back on track. I feel good about A.J. Burnett starting the next game.
Trust me, I expect to be fully ready for Julia‘s birthday weekend when the Yankees travel to Fenway Park. And, no, Julia, the Yankees will won’t be going 0-162!
It was nice to see Jason Giambi back on the ESPN highlights. In Tuesday’s 6-4 win over the Los Angeles Angels, Jason went 3 for 5, with a run scoring double in the 8th. It was great to see the Giambino in action, although the stubble on his face, tinged in grey, looks a little odd…
The A’s also claimed pitcher Dan Giese off waivers from the Yankees. Giese was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Ramiro Pena.
WALLY THE GREEN MONSTER
As everyone outside of me probably knows, Wally the Green Monster is the official Mascot of the Boston Red Sox. On my weekend trip to Boston, Julia presented me with a gift for making the journey. I am appreciative, and he has taken his rightful place at the FEET of my Yankee bear, Lou…
Well, after the Yankees’ 6-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds in their final Grapefruit League road game, I owe an apology to Joba Chamberlain for the wiffle ball comment that I made in my last blog.
Joba sparkled yesterday, going 5 1/3 innings and allowing 5 hits, 2 runs, and 2 walks. He struck out 6. But the greater stat, in my perspective, was the increased velocity on his pitches (speeds of up to 96 mph).
Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger
Both Joba and Andy Pettitte have shown that the back end of the rotation is just fine.
I have seen reports that A.J. Burnett has proven to be a good mentor for Joba this spring. I am glad to see A.J. take the leadership responsibility, and I think he has much wisdom to offer based on his own experiences as he has learned to become a true pitcher instead of just a hard thrower.
Joba is in Lancaster County, Nebraska today for his arraignment on last fall’s drunken-driving charge. One thing’s for sure, Joba will hold only himself accountable and he can be depended upon to make the best of a bad situation. He’s a ‘stand up’ guy, and that’s certainly one quality that has earned my respect.
THE NEW YANKEE STADIUM WON’T BE “OFFICIAL” UNTIL…
Until these familiar words flow through the loudspeakers, the new Yankee Stadium cannot be truly christened…
“Good evening…ladies and gentlemen…and welcome…to Yankee Stadium”
Unfortunately, long-time Yankees public-address announcer Bob Sheppard, who is in his late 90’s, will miss the exhibition games with the Chicago Cubs on April 3rd and 4th, and Opening Day on April 16th against the Cleveland Indians.
He is still recovering from the bronchial infection that sidelined him for most of last season. His wife indicated that he does not currently have the necessary stamina and was advised against working by his physician. She stated that a warmer mid-season return was more likely. Until then, Paul Olden will handle the duties.
It is hard to believe that Sheppard has been the public-address announcer since 1951. His first game was April 17, 1951. The Yankees defeated the Boston Red Sox, 4-0, that day. The combined lineups featured seven Hall of Famers: Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Johnny Mize, Yogi Berra, Phil Rizzuto, Ted Williams, and Lou Boudreau. It was also Mickey’s first game (he went 1-for-4), and the beginning of the Yankee Clipper’s final season.
Here’s hoping for a full recovery and a triumphant return to the new Stadium by Mr. Sheppard…
ODDS & ENDS…
Jonathan Albaladejo has made the final Yankees roster, which means that Brett Tomko, Alfredo Aceves, and Dan Giese are headed for Scranton. Tomko was very disappointed as he felt that he had pitched well enough to make the roster. True, but Joe Girardi obviously feels that the club is stronger with Albaladejo.
The last roster decision is the infield utility role, which has become a competitive battle between Angel Berroa and Ramiro Pena. Unless the Yankees decide to go outside of the organization for a last-minute choice, I fully expect Pena to be announced as the victor. But the #90 jersey has to go! Just kidding. I know that he’ll be re-assigned a more “reasonable” number if he makes the roster.
I was glad to see that former Yankee Nick Green has won Boston’s infield utility role (well, at least until Julio Lugo returns).
I was surprised by the Detroit Tigers decision to release Gary Sheffield. The Phillies were almost immediately mentioned as a possible destination, but Sheffield is better suited for the American League as a designated hitter. The Rays have also been mentioned. Considering that his next home run will be number 500, there should be some good early season drama. That’s okay, but can we put Sheffield on mute?…
Warning: I am getting ready to make some non-baseball related comments so please feel free to bail from this blog…
What took John Calipari so long to say yes to the University of Kentucky’s $31.65 million offer to become head coach of the school’s basketball team? Geesh! $32 mil at one of the most prestigious basketball programs in the country. What’s to think about?…
Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress is really scaring me now. He has made comments that he is satisfied with the current quarterbacks on the roster (primarily Tavaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels). Fine, but calling Sage “a younger Gus Frerotte” is not a good thing! No offense to Gus, but c’mon…we need more than the next Gus Frerotte. The Vikings have shown no interest in Denver Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler, but of course, you never know if that’s truly because there is legitimately no interest or if it is simply posturing in the event of a trade so that the team doesn’t appear to be desperate. Now that the Broncos have indicated they will trade Cutler after an inability to communicate with him for 10 days, it will be interesting to see what transpires. I am not saying the Vikings need to pull the trigger, but they need to get in the game…
Have a happy April Fool’s Day, everyone!
I’m not a paranoid guy. Really, I’m not…
So, what if Joba Chamberlain is throwing wiffle balls…
Okay, maybe Robinson Cano could show a little more maturity and hustle…
I’m not worried that Derek Jeter or Mariano Rivera will suddenly start acting their age…
Or that Cody Ransom can’t hit a change-up or a curve…
I am hopeful that A-Rod will look as good to us upon his return in May as he does to himself…
No concerns…seriously…about Posada or Matsui’s knees…
Or that A.J. Burnett has a charter membership to the DL…
I do wonder if Andy Pettitte will manage to get by in New York on just $5 mil…
Or if Brett Gardner will join Hair Club for Men…
But is Joe Girardi on the Hot Seat? I didn’t even notice…
I’m not worried. We’ll just shuffle the cards, and pull out an Ace…
All is right in the world. Let’s roll!
A COLUMN TO READ…
This is a special shout out to Mark Feinsand and his Blogging the Bombers column in the New York Daily News for the great plug of our fearless leader, Jane Heller, and her book, Confessions of a She-Fan. Too bad Mark isn’t the Yankees Media Relations Director…
Have a great day!
Congratulations to Brett Gardner, the new starting centerfielder for the New York Yankees!
J. Conrad William, Jr./Newsday via MCT
He’s the Toast of the Town! The King of New York!
Brights Lights, Big City…
A VIP at the best restaurants and bars in Manhattan…
Broadway Shows, Fifth Avenue Shopping, and perhaps an appearance on the David Letterman Show…
He plays among the ghosts of Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle…
Life is grand!
BUT, if May or June finds Brett’s batting average at .220, he’ll be banished to…
Or perhaps even worse…
Or worse yet, Egads! (I hate to wish this upon any living soul)…
Traded to the Boston Red Sox!
FORMER YANKEES PRESIDENT PASSES AWAY
Former Yankees president Lou Saban died Sunday at his home in North Myrtle Beach, SC. He was 87.
Saban is perhaps best known as the head coach of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, where he coached O.J. Simpson. Lou was also coach of the Bills when they won the 1964 and 1965 American Football League (AFL) Championships (the last two years prior to the start of the Super Bowl, which began in 1966). The AFL titles were the only championships in Bills history.
Saban was also the first head coach of the Boston Patriots, who began play in 1960 when the AFL was formed (thanks for that information, Julia!).
In 1955, George Steinbrenner served on Saban’s coaching staff at Northwestern University (as receivers coach).
“He has been my friend and mentor for over 50 years, and one of the people who helped shape my life,” Steinbrenner said in a statement. “Lou was tough and disciplined, and he earned all the respect and recognition that came his way. He spent a lifetime leading, teaching and inspiring, and took great satisfaction in making the lives around him better. This is a tremendous loss to me personally.”
Saban worked for George Steinbrenner as Yankees president in 1981 and 1982.
I like this Saban quote: “You can get it done. You can get it done. What’s more, ya GOTTA get it done!”.
Saban was definitely one of a kind…
The injuries have mounted for many teams this spring. We’re concerned about Joe Mauer in Minnesota (well, some of us more than others…LOL!) and Cole Hamels in Philadelphia. Justin Duchscherer of the A’s will start the season the DL after surgery on his elbow. There are too many injuries, both big and small, to count…
A review of current headlines show that the Braves’ Brian McCann is still hurting from getting hit in the ring finger by a foul pitch in yesterday’s loss to the Yankees…
…to Angels pitcher John Lackey’s stiff forearm.
We’ve seen Jason Johnson in Yankees camp be diagnosed with eye cancer in the Yankees camp, and of course both Damaso Marte and Robinson Cano came back from the WBC hurting.
But is the biggest injury in Yankees camp the hip surgery performed on A-Rod’s torn labrum earlier this month?
No, the most devastating injury in Yankees camp is…
…Derek Jeters’s pinkie!
Stop the presses!
Call the ambulance…quick! Emergency treatment is needed now!
Yankeeville hangs in the balance, awaiting news of DJ’s injured left pinkie…
Oh, he’ll play today against the Pirates?
Well, Nevermind!…as Roseanne Rosannadanna would say…
TEIXIERA AND THE YANKS
In an interview with WFAN, it appears that Mark Teixiera’s signing with the Yankees wasn’t so improbable after all. In words that are sure to infuriate both Angels and Red Sox fans, Tex clearly had the Yanks in his sights from the start.
It has been assumed that the Yankees came in with a late offer to swoop Tex away from the Red Sox. However, it appears that this was destined to happen from the start as the Yankees were apparently the only team that complied with Teixeira’s request to keep negotiations confidential.
As transcribed by Mike DiGiovanna in the Los Angeles Times:
“I always had the Yankees in my sights, and one thing my agent and I had asked every single team is, we’re not going to negotiate through the media, and we ask you not to. The Yankees were really the only team that did that. The other teams went out and told everybody their offers, told everybody that they talked to me, that they made this call, made that trip. The Yankees kept quiet. We talked all winter. When they were ready to make their final offer, it was a great offer, and my wife and I were excited about going to New York.”
Teixiera was asked about the recruiting visit made to his Texas home by the Red Sox in December, and he responded: “I think in the end, it probably worked against them a little bit, because everyone thought the Red Sox were my No. 1 choice,” Teixeira said. “… The Yankees had a leg up all along.”
Regardless of how it went down, I will be glad to see Tex standing at first base for Opening Day at the new Yankee Stadium on April 16th.
The Yankees will dedicate a new memorial for the victims of 9/11 today at Steinbrenner Field. A piece of steel from the World Trade Center ruins was used to create the memorial which depicts the Twin Towers sitting on a Pentagon-shaped foundation. The memorial sits on grass in tribute to United Flight 93 which crashed in Somerset County, PA. It is a tremendous memorial that pays a great tribute to all those who lost their lives on that fateful day, and broke the heart of a nation.
Courtesy New York Yankees
According to many articles, it sounds as though the Yankees may opt to go with Jonathan Albaladejo in the bullpen, leaving long reliever candidates Brett Tomko, Alfredo Aceves, and Dan Giese on the outside looking in. It’s unfortunate for Tomko, who has had a terrific spring, but the odds were stacked against him from the start since he is not on the 40-man roster.
I had expected the Minnesota Twins to return Rule 5 draftee Jason Jones to the Yankees, but the teams opted to swap righthanders as the Yankees received 23-year-old Charles Nolte. I don’t know anything about Nolte, but he’s three years younger than Jones. He posted a 2.05 ERA in 44 Single A relief appearances last year, and had 75 strikeouts in 70 1/3 innings.
With the attention that Ramiro Pena has drawn for his fielding prowess, is this the year that the Yankees start to experiment with Derek Jeter in an occasional start in other positions, like centerfield? Given that there are other long-term solutions for centerfield to go with Brett Gardner (like potentially Jeter and the much anticipated arrival of Austin Jackson later this year or in 2010), I wonder if Melky Cabrera will become a trading chip at some point. I am still not comfortable with the thought of Cody Ransom at third.
Where’s Mike Pagliarulo when you need him?
Speaking of Pena, it sounds as though he’s beaten out Angel Berroa for the infield utility spot. I definitely feel for Joe Girardi. He has some very difficult decisions in the coming days, and they are decisions that will dramatically shape the 2009 Yankees. No pressure…
Meanwhile, I am trying to decide whether I want an apple or an orange. Man, what a tough decision! 😉
In the great tradition started by the tremendous Yankees blogger, Jimmy Curran, I dedicate this blog to #12 (thanks to the latest Leaders List for Fan Blogs that Mark posted on Friday). There are so many great bloggers on the list, and it is certainly an honor and privilege to be among such outstanding writers and fans. Congratulations to everyone who made the list! MLBlogs is the premier baseball blogging site because of all of you!
For number 12, I thought about who I should write about. Unfortunately, the Yankees current #12 is not someone that I’ve been enamored with. I have openly expressed a desire for the Yankees to pursue third base options other than Cody Ransom, so he’s out. Then there’s Alfonso Soriano. He was fun to watch as a Yankee, but he’s toiling at Wrigley Field these days. So, I decided to write about the first Yankees #12 that I distinctly remember.
Jim Spencer, known for his excellent fielding skills, played for a few American League clubs in the early 1970’s (most notably the California Angels, although I probably remember him more as a member of the Chicago White Sox).
Spencer came to the Yankees in 1978, and played in 71 games for the World Championship club that staged one of the greatest comebacks ever against the Boston Red Sox. It was a season that was highlighted by Bucky (bleeping) Dent’s home run in the one game play-off at Fenway Park. .
Spencer was the batter who preceded Dent before his historic homer, but he popped out with two runners on base. Can you imagine how much differently we would have remembered Spencer had he hit the home run instead of Dent?
In 1979, Spencer hit a career high of 23 home runs. He ended his career with the Oakland A’s in 1982.
I can still remember the comments Jim Spencer made about Catfish Hunter during the pitcher’s funeral in 1999. “When we won in ’78, the team headed to New York for a ticker tape parade — 27 blocks, 27 million people. I was in it, Jimmy was only interested in coming home to Hertford (NC). Deer hunting season opened the next day,” remembered Spencer. “He was the kind of player whose competitive drive spilled over to his teammates.” Considering that Hunter was one of my personal favorites, I recall being very touched about Spencer’s words since everyone knew how much the outdoors meant to Catfish.
Sadly, just three years later, Spencer was taken from us too soon when he died from a heart attack. He will always be remembered as part of the historic 1978 World Champions that included Hunter, Dent, Goose Gossage, Thurman Munson, Chris Chambliss, Graig Nettles, Willie Randolph, Mickey Rivers, Reggie Jackson, Lou Piniella, Cliff Johnson, Paul Blair, Roy White and others…
Posted on YouTube by yankschamps
YANKEES HAPPENINGS AND OTHER NEWS
It was a slow day for Yankees news on Friday.
CC Sabathia looked ready to roll in his spring training win over the Cincinnati Reds (retiring 16 consecutive batters at one point).
It sounds as though Joe Girardi will be announcing the starting centerfielder later this weekend, with Brett Gardner the most likely selection. It’s great that both Brett and Melky Cabrera had such good springs. Just because one may be selected as the starter now does not mean that the other won’t be starting by June, or prevent Mike Cameron from arriving prior to the trade deadline. But all things considered, I like the intangibles that Brett brings to the lineup. His blazing speed is very exciting, and he makes things happen on the base paths. But I also recognize that Austin Jackson will enter the mix next year, or perhaps even later this year. So, nothing is set in stone in centerfield.
If the decision is between Alfredo Aceves and Brett Tomko, I’d go with Aceves…
I liked Derek Jeter’s comment about leading off instead of batting second: “You hit 60 seconds earlier than you normally do.”
It doesn’t sound like David Robertson will make the club. I am hopeful that if he is sent down, he’ll continue to improve and make a speedy return to the Bronx.
As spring training nears an end, I am very pleased with the progress made by several areas of concern, most notably Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera. I am dreading the day Mo walks off the mound for the final time.
Al Bello/Getty Images
There is continued concern over Joba’s loss of speed on his fastball. After routinely hitting the gun at 98 MPH last season, he’s been more in the 88 to 92 MPH range and only hit 94 MPH a couple of times in his last start. The Yankees and Joba don’t seem concerned, but there are definitely some mechanics that need to be worked out. This could be a defining moment for pitching coach Dave Eiland.
I was pleased to hear that Aaron Boone’s open heart surgery went well on Thursday. Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery!
It’s going to be a fun year in the American League East as even the Orioles and Blue Jays have solid talent on their teams. Maybe not enough to contend, but they’ll have a say in the eventual Division winner.
Regardless of what happens, I have a feeling that this will be a very special year for all of us (baseball fans, not just Yankees fans). It’s the dawn of a great season…
Have a great day!