He has swing and miss ability!…
My first thought hearing the news (allegedly, as there has been no official announcement yet) that the Yankees signed free agent first baseman Chris Carter was the team had captured last year’s strikeout leader. Great if the signing was for a pitcher, but not so great when it is a hitter.
Credit: USA TODAY Sports
Still, for a team with questions at first base, the signing makes some sense. It’s not a given that Greg Bird will pick up where he left off in 2015 given that he missed most of last year due to injury (playing only in the Arizona Fall League).
The other first base candidate (Tyler Austin) was completely off the Yankees’ radar last off-season. He had a surprisingly good year to recapture prospect status and came up with some big hits in the Bronx at the end of the year. But he is not the second coming of Don Mattingly, Tino Martinez, Jason Giambi or Mark Teixeira.
Carter will end many innings with strikeouts, but the potential for the big smash to win games is there. He provides help from the bench if Bird captures first with a strong Spring performance or is there for a platoon if necessary. He also provides insurance at DH for Matt Holliday who has spent a fair amount of time on the DL over the last few years.
For only $3.5 million (and one year), Carter is a good investment. He can play his way into a new contract with the Yankees or the parties can decide to part ways at the end of the year which fits with Hal Steinbrenner’s desire to get under the luxury tax threshold next year.
We’ve been spoiled by great first basemen over the years, but I didn’t enjoy the various Teixeira ailments that plagued the team in recent years. I am hopeful that Bird grabs the position and runs with it. Carter will be there for insurance.
Wanted: Starting Pitchers…
I had been hopeful the Yankees would sign a veteran pitcher to bring to camp but it doesn’t look like it will happen. Jason Hammel had been my choice, but he recently signed with the Kansas City Royals as they attempt to recover from the devastating passing of Yordano Ventura. Doug Fister is still out there, but I don’t think he’ll be coming in for the Yankees. So, it looks like the Yankees will fill the two open spots in the rotation with in-house candidates. Clearly, they have to be hoping for a rebound by Luis Severino who failed miserably as a starter last year (finding success only in the bullpen). But with off-season work with Pedro Martinez, maybe Sevy can show he is capable of becoming a good starter at the major league level.
I would love for James Kaprielian to take the other spot, but I recognize that he is not ready yet. He’ll need more time in the minors and might get a chance later in the year. Luis Cessa and Chad Green will be given every opportunity, but Jordan Montgomery is quickly becoming my favorite. Last year, he pitched to a 2.95 ERA in 19 starts with AA Trenton, and then 0.97 in just 6 starts with AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre. At 6-6, he is a formidable presence on the mound with the pitches to match. His time may be now. Severino and Montgomery have the potential to make the back end of the Yankees rotation quite strong, which would certainly help the question marks that exist in the front end.
Credit: Jason Farmer/Scranton Times Tribune
It’s exciting that baseball is almost back. Pitchers and catchers will report on Valentine’s Day (that must have made a bunch of wives and girlfriends very happy) so we’re only days away. It seems like it wasn’t that long ago Aroldis Chapman was on the mound winning a World Series. It will be good to see him back in blue (well, a darker shade of blue than we last saw him in). The excitement of spring training and the limitless possibilities it brings is fun.
Welcome back, Yankees!
Sad Day for Detroit and all of Major League Baseball…
On a final note, my deepest sympathy and condolences to the Detroit Tigers, their fans, and the family of their late owner Mike Ilitch who passed away yesterday. He was great for the Tigers and for the city of Detroit. He will be missed. It’s unfortunate that he was unable to see a Tigers championship or the opening of the new Little Caesars Arena for his other team, the Detroit Red Wings.
What’s the plan?…
Well, it’s January 2015. The Yankees roster is slowly evolving. The latest addition/return was the surprise re-signing of Stephen Drew which certainly makes sense. While I still prefer to see Rob Refsnyder win the second base job outright, Drew certainly provides great insurance at both second base and shortstop. It’s no sure thing that Didi Gregorius will be successful and I’d prefer not to see Brendan Ryan as the only other choice, even if he is a slick fielder.
I am still concerned about the starting rotation. Reading CC Sabathia say the knee is fine is hardly a ringing endorsement that he’ll be the CC of old. I think best case he is a strong #3 in the rotation if he is able to come back healthy. His days as the team’s ace are over…in my opinion. The hope of the rotation lies with Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda. Obviously, there are health concerns with both pitchers. Even though Ivan Nova will return later in the year, I do not expect him to be back up to par until 2016. Nathan Eovaldi is the project. The Yankees apparently think they can turn him around and perhaps they can. It would be good to get him to the point that he is as reliable and consistent as Hiroki Kuroda was.
While I get why the Yankees will not pay $200 million for Max Scherzer, I wish they would make a play for James Shields. With a rotation containing so much uncertainty, the Yankees really need a dependable starter without question marks.
I have heard some rumblings that the Yankees now have the prospects to make a trade for Cole Hamels, but I am not sure that’s one I would pursue. I like prospects such as Aaron Judge and Luis Severino and want to see them succeed in pinstripes. It was tough when I was a kid and the Yankees were always trading youth for veterans. Doug Drabek, Jay Buhner, Fred McGriff, Al Leiter, J.T. Snow, Brad Ausmus. I know the list is much longer than this, but it was tough watching guys like that succeed elsewhere.
I don’t think that Cole Hamels would be the missing ingredient to suddenly make the Yankees the World Series favorites. So, if he is not the difference maker, then the Yankees shouldn’t raid the cupboards to bring him aboard. I’d rather see Hamels go to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The fear of course is that he’ll be calling Fenway Park home next season.
At this point, I still do not see the 2015 Yankees making the play-offs. I think the Baltimore Orioles will still be the team to beat. They suffered off-season losses, yes, but they’ll also be getting back Manny Machado, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters. The Toronto Blue Jays look to be the most improved team and they’ve been a team of potential for a few years. Boston will be stronger, and it’s best to never underestimate the Tampa Bay Rays even if Joe Maddon and Andrew Friedman are no longer calling the shots.
There’s still time for GM Brian Cashman to make the moves to propel the Yankees into contention but so much is riding on better seasons from Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, and Mark Teixeira. Of the group, McCann is the only one I feel is capable for turning it around. Beltran and Teixeira are in their decline years, and that slippery slope is steeper for some guys.
Hear the voice of the Bard!…
There’s a nice piece in Nick Cafardo’s column today (Sunday Baseball Notes in The Boston Globe) about the comeback of Daniel Bard. It would be good to see Bard successfully return to his position of bullpen relevance after years of struggle. Perhaps that’s a buy low signing the Yankees should pursue. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. There was a time when Bard was a Yankees draft pick although he never signed. Even if he goes back to Boston or another team, I truly hope that Bard is successful.
Short walk to the Hall…
Congratulations to the Hall of Fame inductees: John Smoltz, Randy Johnson, Craig Biggio, and Pedro Martinez. I think all of the selections were justified. It was sad that it was the final ballot appearance for Don Mattingly, but it was a given that he was not going to make it. Maybe he can take the Joe Torre route…great managerial success to go with a strong playing career…to gain access to the Hall.
25 years is long enough…
Put me in the group of people who want to see Pete Rose allowed to enter the Hall of Fame. He remains one of the best players I’ve been privileged to see play in my lifetime. This is not an endorsement of Pete the man and I feel what he did was wrong, however, Pete the player was one of the best players of all-time.
I am glad that this is the last full month without any baseball activity. Looking forward to the opening of spring training camps next month.
And so the wagers begin…
With the Yankees 5-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Friday
night, Julia of Julia’s Rants scores the first victory of the season. Of course, all things considered, a
meaningless loss in March is hardly anything to fret about. But still, a win is a win, and I am obligated
to write a post about Red Sox manager Terry Jon Francona.
Jim Davis/Globe Staff
Julia did send me some information to help get a head
start: Born in Aberdeen, South Dakota on
April 22, 1959. So, is that it? Am I done writing about Francona? Sweet!
Seriously, when I was a kid, the Red Sox were so easy to
dislike because I did not have any sense of attachment to their players and
their manager was usually someone that I felt indifferent about. Darrell Johnson, Don Zimmer (sorry Zim!), Ralph Houk, John
McNamara, Joe Morgan, etc. The names
just ran together to me and had no particular meaning. It culminated in 2003 when Grady Little left
Pedro Martinez too long during Game 7 of the ALCS. It was a game that the Sox probably should
have won, but ultimately lost when Aaron Boone homered to advance the Yankees
to the World Series.
When Boston decided not to renew Little’s contract in the
off-season and chose to go with Francona, I probably had similar thoughts to my
perception at the time the Yankees announced “Clueless Joe” (a/k/a Joe Torre)
as their manager. Here was, in my mind
at the time, an unsuccessful major league manager the Sox think they can
re-cycle. Francona had been fired from
his only previous managing gig with the Philadelphia Phillies so I was very
quick to dismiss his hiring.
Boy, was I ever WRONG!
Putting everything known about Francona aside, all he has
done is win two world championships for an organization that could not win a
World Series since my grandmother was a teenager. He eliminated the phrase “Curse of the
Bambino” from the vocabulary of all baseball fans and has established the Red
Sox as one of the premier organizations in all of baseball.
Francona, the man, is perhaps one of the classiest acts in
major league baseball. To a fan of
Boston’s chief rival, Terry has been nothing short of the consummate
professional since his first day in a Red Sox uniform. He is always so humble, and his teams always
so prepared and unwilling to quit. He
has changed my perception of the Sox and has given me a reason…a very strong
reason…to hold the Sox in great respect.
I look forward to the day when Terry decides to step away from the game
so that I can go back to hating the Red Sox!
I remember Terry when he came up with the Montreal
Expos. He was not a great player and
only accumulated 16 home runs and 143 RBI’s in 10 seasons with 5 clubs. He did manage to pitch one game in 1989,
striking out Stan Javier.
His minor league managerial career began in 1991 with the
Chicago White Sox organization. He made
it to the big leagues as third base coach with Buddy Bell‘s 1996 Detroit
He spent four seasons as the Phillies manager from 1997 to
2000 but was fired after failing to finish higher than 3rd
place. In Philly, he did get the chance
to manage his future Red Sox ace Curt Schilling setting the stage for their
eventual and highly successful reunion.
When he was hired by the Red Sox, he had been the bench
coach for the Oakland A’s.
Terry and his wife Jaque live in Brookline,
Massachusetts. They have four child (one
boy and three girls).
For a largely undistinguished playing career, Terry is a
Hall of Fame manager in my opinion. I
may trash talk about the Red Sox but one thing is certain…I will never say a
bad word about the man who is arguably the best manager in baseball.
Julia, I am out!
Okay, who will it be?…
Rumors allegedly have the New York Yankees actively pursuing another pitcher for the starting rotation. Apparently, it is a position that the team intends to fill by the end of the year. Will the spot be filled by a free agent signing or via trade? Given the lack of top shelf talent on the free agent market, it would appear that a trade is forthcoming.
Of the free agents, I like Ben Sheets but he’s probably the riskiest of all from an injury standpoint. With Sheets, you’d have to have a very clear Plan B in the event there are any setbacks in spring training. But I do like his upside and on his best day, he can pitch toe-to-toe with the likes of Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and John Lackey.
Jason Marquis was another option but he signed a two-year deal with the Washington Nationals earlier today. A native New Yorker, he would have made a smooth transition to the Bronx but the jump from the NL to the AL would have been more difficult.
Jeff Zelevansky, Icon SMI
Pedro Martinez? Fuggetaboutit!
There have been some reports of talks between the Yankees and the Braves. I do not know the topic of the discussions but I don’t really think that Derek Lowe is the answer at this stage of his career.
Nor am I ready to get excited about a return of Javier Vazquez regardless of how will he performed in Atlanta.
I’d be more willing to see the return of the Chicago Cubs’ Ted Lilly…
There’s always the potential that the Yankees could convince the Florida Marlins to part with Josh Johnson. However, I am not sure the Marlins are ready to do anything with Johnson and there’s always the problem with the NL-to-AL transition.
So where does that leave us? According to the latest reports, a strong possibility could be Aaron Harang of the Cincinnati Reds. Earlier, I was convinced that Harang was headed to the Los Angeles Dodgers. However, that organization seems paralyzed by the McCourt divorce proceedings.
I am not sure what I think about Harang, but he does have some AL experience from his early days with the Oakland A’s. He would clearly be an upgrade over Chad Gaudin or Sergio Mitre. How I really feel about him will be determined by how much the Yanks have to give up to get him. Last season, he was an uninspiring 6-14 with the Reds and posted a 4.21 ERA. His 142 strikeouts, with only 43 walks, looked good, but this is a guy who led the majors with the most home runs allowed in 2008 (19). That’s not exactly the guy you’d want to be pitching at the Batting Practice known as Yankee Stadium.
Maybe Brian Cashman can convince the Seattle Mariners that they don’t really need Cliff Lee…
We’ll see how this turns out. Hopefully, Cashman will make the smart, prudent choice and ensure the Yankees have the middle of the order protected.
It’s not official yet but it sounds like the Yankees have signed Nick Johnson as their full-time DH. If it is confirmed, I am glad to see Nick return to the Bronx. I had feared that he’d sign with Boston and had quietly hoped that he’d go with the San Francisco Giants. I didn’t really expect him to sign with the Yankees, but I am supportive of the move. All signs indicate Johnson’s arrival spells the end of Johnny Damon’s Yankees career. I do not necessarily agree. I think the Yanks could still find a way to allow Johnny to return under a deal that makes sense for both parties. They are a good fit for each other so hopefully egos can be set aside for the good of all.
After resolution of pitching and left field, I think the Yanks will move either Melky Cabrera or Brett Gardner. Cabrera would seem to have the greatest trade value. The Yanks still need a few more arms for bullpen competition in the spring.
I would give the backup catching spot to Francisco Cervelli although I recognize that it is only a matter of time until Jesus Montero arrives as Jorge Posada’s eventual successor.
Ah, the life and times of the Yankees general manager. No stress for the holidays…
P.S. Major League Baseball would like to thank the Yankees for their generous $26 million “donation”. Who says the Yanks aren’t good for baseball…
I knew it!…
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
I was afraid that Cliff Lee would dominate the Yankees in Game 1 of the World Series. He has always pitched very well against the Yanks, and he won the very first game in the new Yankee Stadium in April while a member of the Cleveland Indians.
Lee’s performance was masterful and he deserves all accolades for a job well done. Of course, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have Chase Utley as your second baseman.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
The Phillies’ 6-1 victory took away home field advantage from the Yankees and leveled and the playing field.
I was stunned at the trading deadline when the Phillies acquired Lee from the Indians. Everybody had been talking about Roy Halladay of the Toronto Blue Jays and the Phillies quietly dropped an ace into their starting rotation. I had wanted the Yankees to upgrade the #5 pitching slot. They did acquire the San Diego Padres’ Chad Gaudin but I’d hardly call that a major move. Even the Los Angeles Angels were able to acquire a stud for their rotation with the acquisition of the Tampa Bay Rays’ Scott Kazmir. The Philles had signed free agent Pedro Martinez a few days earlier. Pedro was another pitcher that I felt the Yankees should have pursued, but they were never a player. I can so clearly remember hoping that the moves wouldn’t come back to haunt the Yankees. Well, it is now October, and the moves are staring us straight in the face…
Fortunately, Game 2 was a reversal of fortune. Early on, it was a great pitching duel between the Yankees’ A.J. Burnett and the Phillies’ Pedro Martinez. It had the “feel” of an old Yankees-Red Sox game. Hmmm, I wonder what my friend Julia is doing these days? Probably watching Celtic basketball. Nevertheless, Burnett was stellar, while Pedro gave up homers to Mark Teixeira and later Hideki Matsui.
Chris McGrath/Getty Images
The Yankees added a run in the 7th inning before a botched call by the umpires cost the Yanks the possibility for more runs. With one out (why the heck was Derek Jeter bunting with two strikes???!!!), Johnny Damon hit a liner at Ryan Howard. The runner at first (Jorge Posada) had broken for second and would have made it safely on an errant throw. However, the ump called it a double play when Posada was tagged since they ruled Damon had lined out to Howard. Subsequently, replays showed that the ball had one-hopped into Howard’s glove so the runners should have been safe at first and second. I hate it when the umpires are in position to decide a game…
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Burnett was pulled after 7 magnificent innings. Manager Joe Girardi wasted no time in going with legendary closer Mariano Rivera. I thought it was a bit premature, but after a few bumps and bruises but no runs, the Yankees had emerged with a 3-1 victory. The win tied the Series at one game apiece.
The Series now heads for Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia on Saturday. Andy Pettitte versus last year’s post-season ace Cole Hamels.
For the record, sitting Nick Swisher was an excellent move even if Swish didn’t agree. His bat could be likened to the Artic Front. He was replaced by Jerry Hairston, Jr.
I am glad that George Steinbrenner has been able to watch the games at Yankee Stadium. Given the decline in his health, you never know if this will be his final World Series appearance. I hope not…
“It’s great to see Pedro Martinez on the stage again” – ESPN Analyst Chris Berman
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
I don’t disagree, but I am still glad that he didn’t get the win…
In the post game press conference, Pedro said, “If I played for the Yankees, I’d be the King”. The comment was made in response to the boos he received as he walked off the field, but he’s probably right…
It’s a different team now…
Mark J. Terrill/AP
So says Derek Jeter when asked to compare the 2009 Yankees to the 2004 team that lost the ALCS to the Boston Red Sox. Yankee confidence seems to be very high based on the comments that I’ve read by a number of players. Of course, the confidence on the other side is equally high despite the 3-2 series advantage for the Yanks. Torii Hunter, in particular, intends to “shock the world”. Nevertheless, tonight’s game should be a classic regardless of the outcome.
I have felt all along that this series would go the full seven games. There is a reason that the Angels are one of the best teams in the American League and they certainly showed it in their elimination of the Boston Red Sox in quick order. Hi Julia, how are you doing? 😉
There seems to be significant criticism of manager Joe Girardi and his pitching decisions late in games. Some have even called for his head if the Yankees lose the ALCS. While I do not agree with the decision to use the ineffective Damaso Marte to relieve A.J. Burnett in Game 5 or some of the other moves involving Alfredo Aceves or even why Burnett was even brought back into the game after the Yankees dropped 6 runs on the Angels the other night, I am not ready to say that he should lose his job if he doesn’t advance to or win the World Series.
I still remember 1980 when the Yankees fired the late Dick Howser after he had won 103 games in the regular season but lost the ALCS to the Kansas City Royals. That was one of the worst decisions of the George Steinbrenner era, and Howser went on to enjoy a highly successful managerial career with the Royals before his untimely demise. I do not expect Hal Steinbrenner to follow his father’s decision-making pattern, and I am convinced that Joe will be the manager of the 2010 Yankees.
I think the decision to leave Eric Hinske off the ALCS roster was a mistake. The team opted for the speed of Freddy Guzman, but I think a pinch hit appearance by Hinske in the 9th inning of Game 5 with the bases loaded could have yielded a different outcome than allowing the ice cold Nick Swisher to hit (or lack thereof!).
If the team is able to advance to the World Series, I am hopeful that they’ll add Hinske for some pop off the bench.
It’s crazy to think that Pedro Martinez will be a potential Game 3 starter in the World Series for the defending champion Phillies. Of course, the staff is led by Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, and includes the impressive young J.A. Happ. But Martinez has revitalized his career and is now in position to significantly contribute for another championship.
I was surprised it took so long for anyone to sign Martinez this year, but the Phillies did a great job in solidifying both the front and back ends of the rotation with the acquisitions of Martinez and ace Cliff Lee. At the time, I thought that Martinez would have made a great #5 starter for the Yanks but they were never players for his services.
So, should the Yankees advance, they’ll be facing a former foe who was one of those players responsible for the end of the Curse in Boston. If the Angels advance to the Series, I’ll root for Martinez…despite the past history…and the Phillies.
Harry How/Getty Images
The Yankees should have ended the ALCS in Anaheim, but of course, the celebration would have been muted. So, maybe it was meant to be for the series to return to the Bronx. We’re home…we’re ready…and it’s time to succeed! Let’s Go Yankees!
Richard Perry/NY Times
No A-Rod in the line-up? No problem, just call Andy…
Andy had a run-scoring double in the 2nd inning to put New York on top of the Florida Marlins, 3-0. It was a lead that the Yankees never relinquished. They won the game, 5-1, behind Pettitte’s other skills….a solid pitching performance that saw only three hits in 7 innings, with 7 strikeouts. He had good control as he did not issue any walks, and became the first Yankees pitcher to reach 7 wins. He was, of course, quite winded after the long run to second base! Hahaha! The lone Marlin run was a homer by outfielder Cody Ross. Pettitte did say after the game that several other fly balls would have been home runs in Yankee Stadium. Nevertheless, they were in Miami and the Yankees easily won, snapping a two game losing streak.
The Yankees also got great production from their bullpen with two innings of hitless relief provided by Brian Bruney and Brett Tomko. I can’t say that I was excited to see Tomko enter the game, but he did his job.
The Yankees only had one home run, a solo shot by Melky Cabrera in the 3rd.
Before the game, it was announced that Alex Rodriguez would sit the first two games of the series in Miami against the Marlins. Alex has been struggling lately, and his batting average has plummeted to .212. Kevin Long tracks swings that are considered reaches, and indicated that since early June, A-Rod has extended his arms from his body in his swings nearly 85% of the time. He wants to work with A-Rod to bring his arms back in for a tighter, more compact swing. Hopefully, the rest will do A-Rod some good, although I am sure it’s frustrating for him to sit while the team is in his hometown. Angel Berroa filled in for A-Rod at third, while Jorge Posada batted clean-up.
It was a good game for the Yankees, beginning to end. I had some concerns that they were facing a pitcher they had never seen before (Sean West), but they easily figured him out and scored all 5 runs against West in his four innings of work.
Derek Jeter was back in the lineup Friday night, but you could tell that the ankle is still bothering him.
It was a reunion of sorts for manager Joe Girardi, who got his first managerial job with the Marlins in 2006. He was named NL Manager of the Year, and was subsequently fired by owner Jeffrey Loria. Girardi and Loria chatted briefly outside of the Yankees clubhouse prior to the game. Per Girardi, it was a pleasant conversation with Loria and they have a good relationship. Still, you just know that Girardi took satisfaction in taking the first game of the series with the Marlins…
The Yankees picked up a game on both first place Boston and third place Toronto as both of those teams lost on Friday night. The Yanks are two games behind the Red Sox and two games ahead of the Blue Jays. I wonder if the Red Sox could start Dice-K again tonight? I kinda like it when he pitches… 😉 Seriously, I have faith in the Braves’ Derek Lowe even though he is facing Josh Beckett. Vindication is always a sweet feeling, and Lowe is a gamer. Good luck to him as he faces his former teammates!
Despite watching Pedro Martinez pitch in the Dominican Republic, the Yankees expressed no interest in signing the 37 year old pitcher. Whew!
Brett Gardner is still feeling the effects of the collision with the outfield wall on Thursday, but is improving.
It has nothing to do with the game, but Miami always reminds me of one of my favorite singers, the late great Keith Whitley. This is one of my favorite Whitley songs…
Posted on YouTube by Victorcoral
Have a great Saturday!