Tagged: Patriots

Yes, he is A-Fraud…

 

Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice…

I have tried.  Honestly.  I tried to give Alex Rodriguez the benefit of the doubt and I tried to be positive that he was on my favorite team.  But with the latest swirling of PED use rumors, I’m done.  A-Rod’s contract is the albatross of all albatrosses.  He will single-handedly keep the Yankees from winning the World Series over the next couple of years because of how many salary dollars have to be steered his way.  If he was still producing, it would be one thing.  But he’s not.  He is clearly a player in decline who will miss the entire 2013 season.  He’ll be yet another year older in 2014, and it is highly unlikely that he’ll ever be a consistent threat at the plate.

For me, character is a very important component to building a successful team.  When it comes to class and character, A-Rod has none.  He is clearly a narcissistic player who prioritizes personal goals above team goals.  Perhaps I am judging him too harshly, but the cons far outweigh the pros when considering his place on the Yankees roster.  I am happier with an elder veteran, injury-risk third baseman like Kevin Youkilis than seeing A-Rod take the field.

As it sounds like A-Rod intends to keep playing after he recovers from his hip surgery, I am hopeful the Yankees can find a way to free themselves of the #13 baggage.

What, was Darryl Strawberry unavailable?…

With today’s announcement that the Yankees are nearing an agreement with former Cleveland Indians star Travis Hafner, it is hard to be enthused.  This post certainly has a negative spin to it, huh?  Well, anyway, Hafner has seen his better days and is no longer the feared hitter he once was.  It would have been great to have had Hafner, Youkilis and Ichiro Suzuki in 2004 or 2005, but they just don’t look quite as good in 2013.  Hafner can no longer play the field so the Yanks could easily have a glut of DH, no field type players if Youk or other older veterans become slowed by injury or for whatever reason.  In spots, Hafner can probably look good but I am just not confident in the starting lineup’s ability to stay healthy.

I know the Yankees still have a very good offensive lineup and an effective starting rotation, but has the rest of the league passed them by?  That’s a question that will have to be answered when the games begin, but the potential is certainly there.

This has been a long off-season without much to be excited about if you are a Yankees fan.  I am hopeful that someone like catcher Austin Romine will step forward in spring training and prove that he’s ready for major league fastballs.  I am anxiously looking forward to the arrival of outfielder Slade Heathcott but he’s still a year or two away.

The right way to kick off the season…

As a Yankees fan, it’s hard to like the Boston Red Sox.  But I really like the excitement and energy that goes into their annual Truck Day when the equipment truck loads up and heads for Florida.  It’s a great signal for the start of the upcoming season and it certainly helps get one into a baseball frame of mind after a winter of football and basketball.  I’d say hockey but they decided to take most of the season off until the recent return.  My Red Sox friends always get so jazzed this time of year and to a degree, I am envious.

End of the season celebration…

I am happy for Andy Pettitte that he will be able to end what will most likely be his final season with a series in Houston.  It does seem strange that the Yankees would be playing the Astros at the end of September as opposed to the Red Sox or Rays, but this should be a fun season for Andy.  I am also braced for what could be the final year for legendary closer Mariano Rivera.  So if both Andy and Mo depart, it will be special to watch them this year.  Those are two guys I hope are annual fixtures on Old Timer’s Day.

I think I’ll go with Harbaugh…

I live in the Bay Area so I should be supportive of the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday’s Super Bowl, but I am really undecided.  As a Minnesota Vikings fan, I do not have any attachments to the 49ers other than geographical location.  As I study the teams, they seem evenly matched and both have exciting young quarterbacks.  The Ravens have the added emotional incentive of the final game for future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis (yes, Denver, a team is finally throwing Lewis a retirement party).  To me, it comes down to the coaches.  I think Jim Harbaugh is a good coach, but coach-to-coach, brother-to-brother, I think John Harbaugh is the better coach.  Jim may have had the more successful playing career, but there are not many guys that understand the game like John.  I won’t be disappointed regardless of the result.  Both teams are deserving of victory.  There’s no one that I love to hate associated with this game, so it will be a good one to just watch and enjoy.  But I give the edge to the Ravens because of John…

And, finally…

By the way, congratulations to Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph for being named MVP of the Pro Bowl.  He can be a very effective weapon for QB Christian Ponder going forward.  I always loved the relationship between former Dallas Cowboys QB Troy Aikman and TE Jay Novacek (or even the Patriots’ QB Tom Brady and TE Rob Gronkowski).  Rudolph can be that type of guy for Ponder.  If they are successful, maybe I can watch the Vikings in the Super Bowl for the first time since I was a kid…

Happy February!

–Scott

 

 

Wanted: Big Production, Little Paycheck…

 

Joe says it so it must be true!…

So now even manager Joe Girardi is expressing interest in a left-handed bat!  Joe’s joined the club of us overly intelligent, know-more-than-Brian Cashman fans!  LOL!  Just kidding.  But it is interesting to see a key Yankee figure express the need for additional help.  With free agents Raul Ibanez (wow, I almost typed Mondesi!), Hideki Matsui, and Johnny Damon lurking on the sidelines, GM Brian Cashman recently indicated the Yankees would pursue help via trade.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.  Obviously, the Yankees need to unload a pitcher.  With three starters vying for the #5 spot in the rotation (Freddy Garcia, A.J. Burnett, and Phil Hughes), it’s clear that this is going to end badly for one or two pitchers.  All things considered, I think you have to put Phil Hughes in the rotation.  The Yankees HAVE to prove that 2010 was not a fluke (or not).  Plus, Hiroki Kuroda, at 37, is not destined to be a long-term Yankee.  Sure, the Yanks could go hard after Cole Hamels or Matt Cain as a replacement following the 2012 season but I still subscribe to the ‘dance with the one who brung ya’ theory.  Well, at least until he proves us wrong.  I know, the leash is overly long, but Hughes is still young, and he can still be a force in the rotation.  He’d certainly be cheaper than either Hamels or Cain in the foreseeable future.

So, where does that leave Burnett and Garcia?  I think Garcia is the best option to plant in the bullpen as the long man and #6 starter in the event of injury in the rotation…at least until Dellin Betances and/or Manny Banuelos are ready later in the year.  This means shipping Burnett and lots of money to another team is probably best case scenario.  Trading Hughes would be foolish since the return, following his poor 2011 season, would be under market value.  Plus, Hughes has more long-term value to the team than Burnett.  There’s no way the Yankees re-sign Burnett at the expiration of his contract.  He’ll see the same door as Jason Giambi with a slight push from behind.

But, and that’s a big but, what does Burnett bring in trade?  He is not going to bring a young slugger, that’s for sure.  More than likely, it would only be someone else’s albatross, ala Alfonso Soriano.  I still think one of the available free agents is the best option for the left-handed bat, but I am sure whatever move Cashman makes will be the best one for the organization.

Wanted:  Someone who’s butt can withstand splinters…

As for the additional infield bench support to accompany Eduardo Nunez, I still would really like to see the return of Eric Chavez even though Bill Hall’s name has been mentioned more frequently as of late.

“Buck, we really need to be the focus of the tabloids”…

I have to admit that I am surprised to see the teams mentioned as possibilities for Manny Ramirez.  No, I don’t want Man-Ram calling 161st and River home, but the teams mentioned…Oakland A’s, Baltimore Orioles, and Toronto Blue Jays…seem like odd fits for a guy that has to spend 50 games on the suspended list.  With the emphasis on youth in Oakland and Baltimore, I’d question whether having Manny on the team is worth it in terms of the negative impact he can have.  Younger players are far more impressionable, and no team, even the Blue Jays, need a distraction.  Maybe Manny can still swing it.  I acknowledge that he was once the most feared hitter in the AL, but I don’t think he’ll ever be close to the hitter he once was.  Age sucks, but it happens to us all…

A funny thing happened to the Phillies on their way to the World Series…

Edwin Jackson to the Washington Nationals on a one-year deal was a good move for the Nats.  Outside of the New York Mets, the NL East is a scary division.  Yeah, the Philadelphia Phillies have the Big 3 (Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels), but there are too many other question marks to make them the clear favorite.  I don’t think the Miami Marlins will win the division but they’ll make noise.  The Braves, the Nats.  That’s a tough division.  Then, there’s the Mets…

Go, boston?…

With a New York-Boston Super Bowl upon us, it’s weird that I, as a Yankees fan, find myself on the Boston side of the battle.  That seems so wrong on so many levels.  But it is what it is…go Patriots!

 

–Scott

Why waste the paper for the signing?…

 

No Hablo Red Sox…

I know that it was a “no-risk, why-not-take-shot minor league with a major league camp invitation” signing but something just struck me wrong with the addition of former Red Sox reliever Manny Delcarmen.  Over the past few years, I have admittedly built up some respect for the good Red Sox players.  I’d count Red Sox ace Jon Lester as one of my favorite pitchers, and I appreciate players like Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury.  I think Adrian Gonzalez is one of the premier sluggers in baseball and all things considered, the Red Sox got the better end of the deal when they lost out on Mark Teixeira to the Yanks and had to “settle” for Gonzalez in a trade with the San Diego Padres.  There are those Sox players that I dislike but know they are ‘gamers’ like Josh Beckett, but conversely, there are those guys that I just thought were bad baseball players.  I’d put Delcarmen in the latter category.

Delcarmen is the bullpen answer to A.J. Burnett.  In other words, the guy most likely to implode.  The Red Sox proved they held a similar opinion when they dumped Delcarmen on the Colorado Rockies in 2010.  Delcarmen failed to stick in the Mile High City, and bounced in the minor leagues last season with the Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners, accumulating a less than inspiring 5.59 ERA.  Odds are that he’ll never see the light of day at Yankee Stadium, but I think my tolerance quota for ex-Red Sox players in Yankees camp has been exceeded with Hideki Okajima, Delcarmen, and the possible signing of former Sox infielder Bill Hall.  I guess the Yankees brass wants to counteract the strong performance that Alfredo Aceves gave the Sox last year after being cut by the Yankees with a rejuvenated former Sox player in pinstripes.  If this was the objective (I know it wasn’t), then the Yankees should have signed DH David Ortiz before he accepted arbitration with the Sox.

Good luck to Delcarmen, but I still hope that he finds success elsewhere.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Hendry…

I was surprised to hear that the Yankees had signed former Chicago Cubs GM Jim Hendry as a special assignment scout.  For one, the Yankees have a stable of up-and-comers in Billy Eppler and Damon Oppenheimer.  Eppler almost landed the GM job with the Los Angeles Angels before Jerry DiPoto was hired so he’s certainly a sought-after commodity.  I saw today that the Yankees added the title of Senior Vice President to Assistant GM Jean Afterman, while naming Eppler as an assistant GM.  I know that Afterman doesn’t have the authority of Brian Cashman but it’s weird that they are both SVP’s.  All things considered, Cash should be in line for a promotion to Executive Vice President since he is clearly above the other SVP’s.

Admittedly, I am leery about bringing in strong GM types like Hendry.  Sure, he has a wealth of knowledge, but this position allows him to learn the inner-workings of the Yankees organization.  I am sure that Arizona Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers used his brief time with the Yankees to identify pitcher Ian Kennedy as a trade target.  I realize that Kennedy brought Curtis Granderson to New York, but had the Yankees been able to include a different pitcher with qualifications below Dellin Betances or Manny Banuelos in the trade, how good would Kennedy have looked at the back end of the rotation instead of Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon?

Snow:  To be or not to be…

It’s hard to believe that tomorrow is February and the month that players report to training camp.  My first winter in Minnesota has been so incredibly mild.  I think there have only been two days of challenging driving conditions but even on those days, I still managed to travel without too many obstacles.  Of course, we could be engulfed in a blizzard while Robinson Cano is punching one over the Steinbrenner Field wall, but I am definitely excited for the return of the primary major sport.  No offense to the New England Patriots or the New York Giants, but pro football ranks second to America’s favorite pastime (in my opinion).  I’ll be more excited to see CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda standing side-by-side in camp than watching QB Tom Brady tell me via TV that he’s headed for Disney World.

Let it snow in Minnesota and let those Michael Pineda fastballs start popping Russell Martin’s mitt.  Life is good.  Now, about that DH position for the Yankees…

–Scott

 

I Know What It Must Feel Like To Be An Angels Fan…


As it stands today, and I realize that it is still early
January, the Boston Red Sox are clearly the class of the AL.  The Yankees inability to snag a frontline
pitcher will haunt the team, and the missed opportunities to upgrade in other
areas will cost the team valuable victories in the highly competitive AL East.


The 2004 Red Sox team celebrates after winning the World Series in St. Louis Wednesday night.

Jim Davis/Boston Globe


At the moment, Ivan Nova represents the #4 starter behind
CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett. 
I’d argue that Burnett should be considered no more than a #4 if he can’t
turn it around.  Meanwhile, other teams
are getting stronger.  The latest AL team
to improve was the Texas Rangers with the addition of former Boston third
baseman Adrian Beltre.  I know that the
Rangers, like the Yankees, still need more starting pitching, but they’ve
clearly improved the offensive and defensive makeup of the team. 

It appears that the Chicago Cubs have acquired pitcher
Matt Garza from the Tampa Bay Rays.  At
face value, it would appear the move weakens the Rays for the short term,
particularly in light of the previous losses (namely Carl Crawford, Rafael Soriano,
and Carlos Pena).  However, the Rays have
a rich farm system and of course they needed a spot in the rotation for high
end prospect Jeremy Hellickson.  Everyone
seems to be writing off the Rays, but I fully expect them to be in the thick of
the race.  Somehow, they are the New
England Patriots of baseball…they may suffer huge personnel loss but there’s
always someone ready to step up their play as a replacement. 


Tom Brady (left) and wide reciever Deion Branch differ on how far New England is from the goal line.

Jim Davis/Boston Globe


The rest of the division has gotten better, while the
Yankees have simply gotten older. 


Last year, when the Rays trotted out Joaquin Benoit and
Rafael Soriano, it was game over.  As it
stands, the Yankees set up crew consists of David Robertson and Joba
Chamberlain…a combo that was not consistent last year and forced the deadline
trade for Kerry Wood who solidified the position.  I would have really liked to have seen the
Yanks pursue Soriano for the set up role, especially after his agent expressed
his willingness to set up for Mariano Rivera. 
I was disappointed when GM Brian Cashman came out today to say there was
no chance of a Soriano signing since it would cost a first round pick.  I get it. 
The farm system is important and it has taken years for the Yankees to
rebuild the system after the cupboards were left bare.  But still, it is hard not to think about how
effective a bullpen duo of Soriano-Rivera would be.  It would probably be the best one-two punch
since the days of Rivera-Wetteland in the mid 90’s. 


Tampa Bay Rays closer Rafael Soriano racts after picking up the save in the Rays 5-3 win over the Seattle Mariners during a baseball game Friday, Sept. 24, 2010, in St. Petersburg, Fla.

AP

It definitely sounds as though Andy Pettitte won’t be
making the trip to Florida next month.  I
want Andy to come back but I am okay if he decides to stay home.  If he came and his heart wasn’t in it, he
just wouldn’t be the same pitcher we’ve come to rely upon.  I wanted Minnesota Vikings QB Brett Favre to
come back this year and he did after much coaxing by his teammates, but the
results were horrific.  Andy either has
to be “all in” or he should go ahead and hang up the glove.  I would hate to see Andy leave with a Javier
Vazquez type of season. 

The Yankees have made minor moves this off-season that I’ve
liked.  The latest is the pick-up of
former Chicago Cubs reliever Brian Schlitter. 
While he was not effective in his brief time with the major league club
last season, I have to believe this signing had much input from former Cubs,
and now Yankees, pitching coach Larry Rothschild.  If Larry felt the Yanks should move on
Schlitter, then I feel he showed Larry enough to prove that he could be a
valuable and effective arm in the pen. 



There’s still time for the Yankees to make the necessary
moves to improve the roster and certainly if an “all in” Andy Pettitte signs up
for a final season, the team will look much better than it does today.  


Underachieve.JPG


If they maintain the status quo, I can’t help but wonder
how intense the pressure will be on manager Joe Girardi.  Can he survive a season where he finishes
third (or worse) in the division?  I am
not so sure.  His best friend is his new
three year contract.  Managing General
Partner Hal Steinbrenner is a numbers guy, and unlike his father, might not be
so willing to “eat” a contract.  As much
as I would dislike the move, I can’t help but think that the Yankees failure to
land a quality frontline starter has enhanced the chances that we will see
Bobby Valentine in the Yankees dugout. 
Ugh, I hope it doesn’t come to that…


bobby-valentine-new-york-mets-espn-929.jpg

AP


Sadly, today brought the loss of another former Yankee
(Ryne Duren).  Duren was a reliever for
the Yanks in the late 50’s and early 60’s, and was known for his coke bottle
glasses and 100 mph fastball.  I liked
Yogi Berra’s quote about Duren:  “Ryne could throw the heck out of the ball. He threw
fear in some hitters. I remember he had several pair of glasses but it didn’t
seem like he saw good in any of them
.”  Duren
passed away in Florida on Thursday at the age of 81. 


Ryne Sandberg was named after ex-pitcher Ryne Duren whose real name is Rinold.

Diamond Images/Getty Images


Congratulations to Jim Harbaugh, the new head coach of
the San Francisco 49ers.  My favorite
Harbaugh moment still has to be in 1992 when the Chicago Bears were leading the
Minnesota Vikings 20-0 in the fourth quarter and the Vikings came back to win,
21-20.  I can still remember the
frustrated Harbaugh wondering what hit him. 
Nevertheless, I do wish him much success as he attempts to revitalize
the 49ers.  It should be fun next season
when the Niners play the Baltimore Ravens, coached by Harbaugh’s brother
John. 



Well, I guess I’ll go back to waiting for the Yankees to
make a move…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

 

–Scott

 

 

Weekend in New England…

 

Well, it’s time to pay off one of my two debts owed to Julia of Julia’s Rants for several wager losses.  I should have been more responsive to my obligation but business travel and work have been very challenging lately.

 

The two losses were the final regular season series loss by the New York Yankees to the Boston Red Sox and the Halloween dismissal of the Minnesota Vikings by the New England Patriots.  It goes without saying which teams Julia was pulling for.  Sadly for me, the results were in her favor. 

 

For the loss by the Yankees, I owe Julia a couple of signs on my blog.  I promise that I’ll have them up by Thanksgiving.  With the loss by the Vikings, I have to write a blog about Julia’s favorite football team.  I know this is very off-topic for a baseball blog but keep in mind this is for Julia

 

THE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

 

 

 

 

 

When I was a kid, I remember reading about the old American Football League (AFL) and its original members.  The Boston Patriots were one of those teams.  In fact, when they were awarded their franchise in 1959, they were the eighth and final team. 

 

 

 

Mike Holovak is the guy who stands out to me as the head coach of the Patriots in the 1960’s, however, it was long-time Buffalo Bills head coach Lou Saban who was the team’s first head coach. 

 

My first real meaningful recollection of the Patriots was after they moved to Foxboro and became the New England Patriots.  By that time, the head coach was Chuck Fairbanks.  The year that stands out for me is 1974.  The Patriots started season 5-0 behind QB Jim Plunkett, RB Sam “Bam” Cunningham, and WR Randy Vataha.  They would only win two more games that season to finish 7-7, but one of the wins came at the expense of my Vikings. 

 

 

81394434, Sports Illustrated/Getty Images /Sports Illustrated

Dick Raphael/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

 

 

I know, Julia‘s favorite was actually this guy (Steve Grogan)…

 

 

Before the AFL and NFL merged in 1970, the Patriots did play in one championship game, the 1963 AFL Championship.  They lost 51-10 to the San Diego Chargers, and would not advance to post-season play again until 1976.  They won their first AFC East division championship in 1978, but like in 1976, they were eliminated in the first round of the play-offs.

 

My next significant memory of the Patriots happened in 1985.  The Patriots made it all the way to the Super Bowl, but it coincided with the great Super Bowl Shuffle by the legendary Walter Payton and the Chicago Bears as the Patriots lost 46-10.

 

 

 

 

Sorry Julia, but it’s hard to pass by Walter Payton’s name without giving him some sort of tribute.  He was one of the greatest players to set foot on the gridiron…

 

As the organization moved into the 1990’s, their long history of futility began to change.  In 1993, Bill Parcells was named the head coach and the following year, the team was acquired by owner Robert Kraft.  Parcells would get the Pats to the Super Bowl in 1996 but they’d lose to Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers, 35-21.  Hmmm, no wonder Julia dislikes #4!…

 

Brian Bahr/Allsport/Getty Images

 

 

After Parcells left, Pete Carroll was brought in for a few seasons.  Despite making the play-offs two of his three seasons, the results were unimpressive and he was discharged.  Still, a decade of some success had transformed the organization into one with a winning tradition despite the absence of Super Bowl success.

 

The arrival of the 21st Century also brought championship success for the Patriots as they won the Super Bowl in three of four years (2001, 2003, and 2004).  If memory serves correctly, the new century also had a positive impact for another Boston area team that shall go nameless!  😉  With head coach Bill Belichick and QB Tom Brady, the Patriots emerged as the team to beat in the 2000’s. 

 

 

 

 

The Patriots did miss out on football immortality in 2007 when the team went undefeated during the regular season but lost to what I felt was an inferior New York Giants team in the Super Bowl.  How many teams can say that a 18-1 record was a failure?  None, except the New England Patriots.  I am sure that there were a few former Miami Dolphins celebrating that day…

 

 

The Patriots remain a championship quality organization and they have been able to successfully replace aging stars and over-priced free agents through the years.  They are currently tied for the division lead in the AFC East with a 6-2 mark and seem well positioned for much success in the second half of the season.  With Tom Brady at the controls, it is a certainty that they’ll have a say in who represents the AFC in the Super Bowl at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas on February 6, 2011. 

 

 

Tom Brady

 

P.S.  They won’t miss Randy Moss but I think I will…  L*

 

*Brought to you by the Fire Brad Childress Immediately Committee.

 

 

It’s A New Year, What’s New?…

 

New Year, same problems in left…

 

 

Choices1.JPG

 

Okay, I didn’t really want to start the new year with any mention of left field, but unfortunately, there hasn’t been much more to talk about.  2010 begins where 2009 left off…the Yankees are still in search of the right combination for left field.  Perhaps the answer is already on the roster in the form of Brett Gardner and Jamie Hoffmann, or maybe the Yanks should move Curtis Granderson to left and install Gardner back in center.  Ultimately, I don’t think either of those options will be viable ones when training camp opens in Tampa.  But they do underscore the lack of urgency on the Yankees’ part.

 

 


Patient.JPG 

 

I am a big proponent of finding a low-cost option with high upside.  When Paul O’Neill was acquired from the Cincinnati Reds, he wasn’t a “big” name and he only cost the Yankees the long-forgotten Roberto Kelly.  At the time, I was miffed that the Yanks would give up on Kelly, but history clearly showed that it was one of the most astute moves in Yankee history.

 

 

 

Getty Images

 

 

I read a blog that speculated David DeJesus of the Kansas City Royals would be a good fit.  I do not disagree.  Today, Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues suggested Travis Buck of the Oakland A’s.  Regardless of the latter’s health history, I am okay with either player.  Ideally, there’s no question that I’d prefer Johnny Damon first and foremost.  But I just don’t think it will happen for whatever reason.  So, short of Damon, I like the idea of inserting a player with potential.  It is a given that the Yankees will aggressively pursue Plan B if Plan A doesn’t work out.  I don’t think the Mets would give him up at this point, but I have liked Jeff Francoeur.  I still think that he’ll turn it around and live up to his early career promise.  The Indians signed free agent and former Yankee Shelley Duncan today.  In retrospect, it is too bad that the Yankees never gave him a chance.

 

 

 

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images 

 

 

At the end of the day, I think that GM Brian Cashman won’t leave the Yanks short-changed in left.  I have faith in the man with the plan…

 

 

 

John Munson/The Star Ledger

 

 

Allegedly, 15 teams have expressed interest in pitcher Chien-Ming Wang (with the Yankees included).  I hope that the team can find a way to bring Wang back home.  If Wang is right, how awesome would the Yanks bullpen be with both Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes?  

 

 

 

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images 

 

So, the Boston Red Sox finally solved their third base woes with the signing of free agent Adrian Beltre.  I do not dispute that he is masterful with the glove, but anybody who has owned him in fantasy baseball knows that he is brutal offensively.  He is clearly not the slugger he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers a few years ago.  So, if you ask me if I am disappointed the Red Sox signed Beltre?  No, if it means that the team can no longer pursue San Diego Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez (financially speaking).  Gonzalez is a difference-maker; Beltre is not.  The sad part of the Beltre signing is that it will relegate Casey Kotchman to the bench or at the most, DH.  At DH, he has potential, but of course, it means the end of David Ortiz.  Also, this almost certainly ensures that Mike Lowell will be dealt.  The latest rumor has him going to the Mets for Luis Castillo, which is kind of funny considering that the Mets haven’t been able to unload Castillo on anybody.   So, the Beltre signing is “nice”, but it doesn’t improve the Sox in the long run, in my opinion.

 

 

Infielder Adrian Beltre #29 of the Seattle Mariners bobbles the ball before fielding a ground ball out against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the game at Angel Stadium on August 12, 2008 in Anaheim, California. The Angels defeated the Mariners 7-3.

 

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

 

 

Did the Vikings’ total domination of the New York Giants and capture of the NFC second seed restore my faith in the Minnesota Vikings?  Not really.  The New York Giants gave up last week, so they pretty much rolled over for the Vikings on Sunday.  It is hard for me to believe that the Vikings are truly a team capable of laying a 44-7 whuppin’ on a play-off foe.  It’s funny that the Vikings were rooting for the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday considering that the Cowboys have long been my “second” favorite team dating back to the Roger Staubach days.  I admit that I was a bit miffed with the Cowboys beat the Vikings on the Hail Mary pass, but I did enjoy the Cowboys’ success under Jimmy Johnson and Troy Aikman in the 90’s.  Of course, I did live in Dallas at the time, so it was a bit more enjoyable.  Nevertheless, I still remain on the Purple side, so I’ll await the outcome of the NFC wild card games to see if the Vikings can legitimately move the closest to the Super Bowl that they’ve been since 1998.  I am not a great fan of the current Dallas Cowboys so I don’t know who I’ll root for should my Vikings stub their toe.  Perhaps I’ll root for Julia’s New England Patriots, but admittedly, they’ll have a tough road sans Wes Welker.

 

Donna McWilliam/AP

 

I am not surprised that the Washington Redskins sacked head coach Jim Zorn.  I know they are wining and dining Mike Shanahan, and that would probably be a very good move for them.  I think Shanahan is a better fit than Steve Spurrier ever was.  He knows owner Daniel Snyder so I think the two could co-exist so long as Shanahan can produce.  Yeah, I wish the Vikings could be in play for a good coach…

 

 

 

Bill Ross/AP

 

I hope everyone had a great holiday season, and a very happy New Year!  Just think, baseball training camps open next month.  I can’t wait.  I am anxious to resume my battles with a certain friend in Boston

 

 

 

No Time for Sleepless in Seattle…

A well deserved day off while the Yankees head to Seattle…

 

 

Speaking of Seattle, I am always appreciative of the fact that Tom Paciorek no longer plays baseball.  For my generation, he was the original Yankee killer.  I know that there were many before him and many since, however, he was the first player that I personally witnessed as a single-handed destruction force against anything pinstripe-related.

 

paciorektom81d.jpg image by worldwideed

 

It was an interesting week.  Monday saw the Yankees defeat their nemesis, the Los Angeles Angels, in a makeup of the May 3rd rainout.

 

Bill Kostroun/AP 

 

Tuesday was a mess.  A brawl left Jorge Posada and Shelley Duncan with three-game suspensions.  Posada, who had taken exception to an earlier pitch, threw an elbow at Jays pitcher Jesse Carlson, while scoring on a double by Brett Gardner.  There were several bench clearing moments, and the latter occurred following the elbow by Posada.  Hitting coach Kevin Long and pitcher Edwar Ramirez were also fined for their involvement in the fracas.  Any way you slice it, it was an ugly representation of baseball.  The Yankees dropped the game, 10-4.

 

Kathy Willens/AP 

 

Wednesday, the teams were more amenable to each other.  The Yankees fell behind the Jays early and trailed 4-2 in the 7th inning.  I had started to become concerned that the Yanks were on the verge of their second consecutive loss, but Hideki Matsui allayed my fears with a two-run homer in the 8th to tie the game.  At that point, I had confidence that the team would mount yet another walk-off win.  I was not denied, although I was a bit surprised by the source.  I will first start by saying I love watching Brett Gardner work the base paths.  Following a lead-off single in the 9th inning, he stole second.  Derek Jeter grounded out to short, but it advanced Gardner, the winning run, to 3rd.  That brought catcher Francisco Cervelli to the plate.  His single to left scored Gardner, and the Yankees had a new recipient for the pie of the day…

 

Yankees tangle in positive way thanks to Francisco Cervelli.

Ron Antonelli/New York Daily News

 

This morning, I was looking at the AL East standings, and was surprised to see that the Red Sox were only 5 games behind the Yanks in the loss column.  Boston has been playing very well lately as evidenced by the 7-game winning streak.  Julia is quick to note that this team reminds her of the 2004 and 2007 World Championship clubs, and the way they’ve been playing, I do not necessarily disagree.  Nevertheless, I have confidence in my guys and their ‘no-quit’ determination.   Given that the Texas Rangers have performed the baseball equivalent of hara-kiri, there is no much mystery left regarding whether the Yankees and Red Sox will make the play-offs.  The only question is who will take the AL East crown, and right now, the Yankees have the advantage.  The Yankees continue their quest for the best record in the AL, but they cannot lose sight of the team in their rearview mirror.  I learned long ago not to underestimate the Red Sox.

 

 

 

The Red Sox did see the end of their 7-game winning streak tonight, as they were clipped by the Angels, 4-3.  The Yankees magic number has been reduced to 10, although the Angels were able to pick up a ½ game on the Yanks.

 

Charles Krupa/AP 

The Scranton/Wilkes Barre Yankees were unable to defend their International League crown.  They were swept in the finals tonight by the Durham Bulls with a 3-2 loss in the third and final game.  The Yankees did pick up championships in two other minor leagues.  Class A Tampa won the Florida State League, while the Staten Island Yankees won the New York/Penn League.  I’m thinking “three’s company”, so let’s go big league Yanks!

In a somewhat shocking announcement, Peter Abraham of the Yankees LoHud Yankees Blog announced that he will be moving to Boston to work for the Boston Globe.  His blog has long been one of my personal favorites, and I will miss his Yankees insight.  I am sure that he’ll provide Red Sox fans with the same robust and reliable information that we Yankee fans have been accustomed to, not to mention the quick wit.   Pete Abe made a comment that some will call him a traitor, but I will not.  He is a class act, and his decision was made for family reasons, which is a very admirable trait.  I would like to thank him for his work over the years, and I wish him the very best in Boston.  Of course, he’ll miss out on writing about the 2009 World Series Champions…

 

 

My fantasy football team faces a huge dilemma this weekend.  My starting QB is Tom Brady, while my defense is the Jets D.  So, I have one player working against another since the Patriots face the Jets this weekend.  Who do I pull for?  Yikes!  As an 0-1 team (thanks to LaDainian Tomlinson’s ankle), I have to hope that best case scenario plays out.

 

 

 

I will close with a photo of my pride and joy.  She has been the master of self portraits since she was very small, and has developed a great sense of humor (despite her dad)…

 

 

–Scott