Tagged: Pirates

All things considered, he’d rather be in Pitt…

What he said was telling…

A.J. Burnett’s words upon his arrival in Bradenton for training camp with the Pittsburgh Pirates told me all that I needed to know.  The Yankees made the right decision.  It’s not like I needed any reassurance, as I’ve felt for a long time that a change of scenery would be the best case scenario for Burnett.  But reading his words, “Going back to the NL, where I can hit and run the bases, and get the joy back in the game” showed that he was never going to repeat his 2009 success in pinstripes or be the pitcher he was in 2008 with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Courtesy Pirates.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One day, he is among several others in competition for the #5 spot in the rotation and the next, he’s a frontliner.  The difference and perhaps why he’ll succeed as a Bucco are the lower expectations.  I am not from Pittsburgh and I cannot speak for Pirates fans, but somehow, I don’t think they have the same ‘World Series or bust’ mentality of Yankees fans.  I have always respected Burnett’s arm, and I like the guy from what I’ve seen in interviews.  He has a reputation for being a stand-up guy and of course he brought a lighter air to the stuffy Yankee corporate clubhouse environment.  Hopefully, if anything, his sense of humor and camaraderie will prevail among his former teammates.

It would have been interesting to see what Burnett could have done at the back of the Philadelphia Phillies rotation given his close relationship with Doc Halladay, but Pittsburgh is the best spot for Burnett to focus on his game.

For once it was young guys leaving Pittsburgh instead of the other way around in a Yankees-Pirates trade.  Time will tell if Diego Moreno and Exicardo Cayones can make the Show, but it would be nice to see former Pirates prospects excel in New York after so many years of the opposite situation.

Time to face the music…Exit the Sandman…

Speaking of words, it definitely sounds as though we may be witnessing the final year of a legend.  While Mariano Rivera hasn’t admitted that this is his last season, it would appear that his decision of ‘when’ has already been made.  So, it fells into what he didn’t say, and that tells me that he is prepared to ride off into the sunset.  Mo is already a legend and will leave the game of baseball as the greatest closer in major league history.  I have dreaded this day for a number of years but obviously it eventually has to happen.  I just don’t see Mo as a guy who hangs on and can’t let go.  I also don’t want to see an erosion of his amazing talent so I’d prefer that he walked away while he was still at or near the top.  Along with Derek Jeter, they are a pair assured of entry into the Hall of Fame.  While closers have generally had to wait for extended periods to gain entry, I doubt Mo will suffer the same fate.

AP Photo/Matt Slocum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maybe this is not Mo’s final season, maybe it is.  Regardless, I will value and appreciate every time he takes the mound…

Now, only the EZ acquisitions remain…

Welcome Raul Ibanez!  The Yankees finally settled the left handed side of DH, and went with a proven slugger.  Last year was bit of a down year for Ibanez but he still managed 20 homers.  His new role, which will be more limited for him than in years past, should allow him to continue to perform well.  A DH tandem of Ibanez and Andruw Jones should be a productive one, particularly given that they’ll be spelled from time to time by Alex Rodriguez.  Maybe Raul will let Cliff Lee know that being a Yankee isn’t all bad…

With Ibanez on board, I really hope the Yankees can entice third baseman Eric Chavez to return.  Nothing against Bill Hall or Eduardo Nunez, but I’d really prefer to see Chavez as the primary backup for those inevitable A-Rod absences.  I know, I need more faith in A-Rod’s ability to stay healthy.  I’d like nothing more than to see him prove me wrong and post a banner year.  If 2012 continues to be ‘more of the same’ that we’ve seen in recent years, his behemoth contract is going to weigh more and more heavily on the team.  Sadly, that’s not one that the Pirates or any other team can help with…

Wow, it’s actually kind of fun to have some Yankees stuff to talk about!  I love talking baseball and see the photos from spring training, even if it is snowing outside while I write this post.

–Scott

Addition by Subtraction…

 

Whew, it’s over…

On one hand, I do feel bad because there’s no denying the talent in A.J. Burnett’s arm, even if it has lost some of its zip over the past couple of seasons.  If he had the mental fortitude of his good buddy, Roy Halladay, there’s no telling what he could have done with his extraordinary gift.  But it was the mental lapses in difficult situations, magnified on the big stage in New York, that led the Yankees to make the only move they could have made.  So, it’s exit Stage Left, or I guess Stage Right in Burnett’s case, as he moves on to the Steel City.

I am hopeful that the new and less-pressurized environment will allow Burnett to pitch more like the guy he was in Toronto with the Blue Jays.  If that happens, it will be a win-win for both the Yankees and the Pirates.  Granted, the two “prospects” the Yankees acquired in the Burnett trade (pitcher Diego Moreno and outfielder Exicardo Cayones) are considered low-level, but the salary relief for the Yanks (Pirates absorbing $13 million of what’s left on Burnett’s remaining $33 contract) is a positive.  Even for the almighty Yankees.  If neither Moreno or Cayones ever develop into major league talent, it was still a good trade for the Yankees.  So, anything out of either of those players would be a bonus.

Of course, the haters will come out in full force if Phil Hughes fails to seize the opportunity and Freddy Garcia proves he overstayed his welcome by one year.  But even in that worst case scenario, I’d prefer to see the talented arms in the farm system get the audition.

The Yankees will apparently sign both third baseman Eric Chavez and outfielder Raul Ibanez once the Burnett trade is finalized.  Those are two good pieces for the 2012 squad.  I like the idea of an Ibanez-Andruw Jones tandem at DH, with occasional time for Alex Rodriguez.  Ibanez may not be the slugger he once was, but with 20 homers in Philly last year, he proved he can swing it on occasion.  For sentimental reasons, it would have been nice to see the return of either Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui, but Ibanez is clearly the better choice.

He did it the RIGHT way in more ways than one…

Pitcher Tim Wakefield has been a long-time nemesis as the member of the Yankees’ arch rival, but it was still sad to see him call it a career.  I know, it was time, and there’s always the chance the Red Sox call his number later in the season if they need help, but he leaves the game as a champion.  The city of Boston and the Red Sox organization are very privileged to have one of baseball’s most charitable and classiest individuals in the game as one of their own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both Wakefield and David Ortiz proved that anything can happen after they were both released by their previous organizations but flourished with the Red Sox in the major leagues.  It gives me hope for guys like Preston Mattingly and others.  Wakefield makes for an incredible role model, and hopefully, he’ll continue to be a fixture in baseball in some capacity.

The Los Angeles Vikings didn’t really sound very good any way…

Finally, the Minnesota Vikings have a tentative stadium deal.  Like the Burnett trade negotiations, this has been drawn out through eternity.  I know, there are still many hurdles to be cleared before actual construction begins, but at least it was the first positive move forward for the Vikings.  As a Vikings fan, there’s always been the fear in the back of one’s mind that the team would decide to move to greener pastures in Los Angeles (much like the Minneapolis Lakers did years ago).  The tentative stadium deal would keep the Vikings in Minneapolis, as opposed to a suburban area like Arden Hills.  Hopefully, this deal will get passed by the city and state, and will ensure that the Vikings are in Minnesota…and Minneapolis…for the long haul.

–Scott

Is Generallissimo Francisco Franco still dead?…

 

Isn’t this kind of like pulling my finger- and toe-nails?…

One thing I’ve learned with these extended A.J. Burnett trade talks, patience is not my middle name and it’s not one of my virtues!  While the Michael Pineda-for-Jesus Montero came very fast and furiously, the potential Burnett trade has been dragging for an eternity.  There’s no question the Yankees have identified the Pittsburgh Pirates as the prime target.  It’s been reported that the Yankees and Los Angeles Angels were willing to make a trade that would have brought the return of Bobby Abreu to the Bronx, but it was nixed by A.J. as the Angels were one of the ten teams on his no-trade list.  This actually blows my mind to think that he’d turn down the Angels, arguably one of the best teams in the major leagues with Jered Weaver and Albert Pujols, but he’d be willing to go to Pittsburgh.  To me, and maybe I am off-base, baseball is about winning and championships.  Nothing against the Pirates, but the Angels, as currently built, will see deep October sooner than the men from the Steel City.

Granted, Burnett would be the #2 starter on the Pirates staff and no better than #5 on the Angels.  But, c’mon, how much pressure can there be pitching behind Weaver, Dan Haren, C.J. Wilson, and Ervin Santana?  With Burnett in a low-risk situation, the Angels would have an absolutely ridiculous starting rotation and one that would clearly put the Philadelphia Phillies in an inferior position as baseball’s best rotation.  But Mrs. Burnett apparently has issues with flying, so the perfect situation for Burnett won’t happen.

What will it take to consummate the deal with the Pirates?  I’ve read the Yankees have proposed a sliding scale…the more money the Pirates take in salary, the less the Yankees will seek in terms of prospects.  I do think that Burnett could excel in Pittsburgh.  There’s pressure but it is certainly nothing like playing in New York.  A.J.’s problems tend to be mental as there is no questioning the value of his great arm.  I think A.J. can relax and trust his stuff better in a lower-pressured situation.

For the Yankees, I think the #5 slot is Phil Hughes’ to lose regardless of the contract the Yanks gave to Freddy Garcia.  Garcia will be the long man and spot starter.  That leaves no room for Burnett, and of course, that would only bring a bad attitude if he reports to camp with the Yankees.  So, hopefully, GM Brian Cashman can put the distractions of his poor sleeping partner decisions to rest long enough to hammer out the deal with the Pirates within the next 24-48 hours.  With the recent promotions of Assistant GM Jean Afterman to SVP and Angels GM Candidate #2 Billy Eppler to Assistant GM, maybe the second string is working this one.  I don’t care if George Steinbrenner’s widow, Joan, is working this one, let’s just get it done…

Sorry, A.J., I love your arm, but I haven’t wanted to see a player leave New York this bad since Ed Whitson was a Yankee.

Welcome to New York…err, Tampa!..

I really enjoyed reading some of the early reports about new pitcher Michael Pineda.  He reported to camp early and talked about how excited he was to be a Yankee.  He gave glowing reports of his interactions with Robinson Cano, and it is easy to see that he’ll mesh very nicely with “King of the Hill” CC Sabathia.  Passion and intensity are two qualities that I’ve always respected, and Pineda seems to have “it”.

If Ken Griffey, Jr and Gary Matthews, Jr can do it, so can Donnie Baseball, Jr…

I realize that minor league OF prospect Preston Mattingly is getting a bit long in tooth after two failed tries with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Cleveland Indians, but he is still only 24 years old.  I know that he’s getting “old” for a prospect, but it would be a wonderful story for Mattingly to seize the opportunity with the Yankees and prove that he can be the talent that he was once projected to be with the Dodgers.  So far, I’ve liked what he has had to say.  He certainly has his father’s positive attitude and realistic perspective, even if he isn’t the player his father was.  I’d like nothing more than to see Preston eventually earn a spot on the Yankees roster.  I am biased because his father was my favorite player and is the reason that the Los Angeles Dodgers are my favorite NL team.  Let’s hope that good things happen for a deserving son of a great legend…

Scratching nails on a chalkboard…

It rubs me wrong every time the Yankees sign a former Boston Red Sox player.  Well, I might be okay if the Yankees picked up Jon Lester, Jacoby Ellsbury or Dustin Pedroia.  But otherwise, I really have no desire to see former Red Sox players pull on the pinstripes.  Conversely, it is even harder to watch former Yankees sign with the Red Sox.  When the Yankees cut ties with Alfredo Aceves due to his injury history, my immediate thought was a potentially huge mistake.  At that point, I was hoping someone like the San Diego Padres would sign Aceves, but unfortunately, the Red Sox swooped in and captured Aceves.  He went on to have a brilliant season with the Sox in the bullpen, and is a valued member of their pitching staff heading into 2012.  So, it pained me today when I saw that the Red Sox had signed former Yankee pitcher Ross Ohlendorf.  I realize that Ohlendorf had a miserable 2011 season with the Pirates, but I’ve always liked the guy who the Yanks acquired when they dealt Randy Johnson back to the Arizona Diamondbacks a few years ago.  I am really hoping that Ohlendorf doesn’t become the next Tim Wakefield for the Sox.

Clearly our loss…

Baseball-speaking, today was a very sad day.  I had heard that Gary Carter was battling cancer, but it was still hard to hear the news that he had passed.  I think back to when I first became aware of baseball and a Yankees fan.  It was in the mid-1970’s.  In those early years, I was focused primarily on the Yankees.  I was aware of other teams and players, but I can’t say that I know too much about them.  Thurman Munson was the catcher and he quickly became my favorite player.  I could never fully appreciate the greatness of Johnny Bench because of my admiration for Thurman.  Same holds true for Carlton Fisk, who I always saw as a Red Sock even after his trade to the Chicago White Sox.  My world changed on August 2, 1979, and it caused me to step back and look at the bigger picture.  Only then did I begin to truly appreciate the value of great players on other teams.  At that point, the catcher of the Montreal Expos quickly rose to the surface, for me, as one of the premier players at his position.  There was something very clutch and special about Gary Carter.  He went on to drive the New York Mets to a World Series championship in 1986, and proved that he was the catcher of my era.  I am glad that he saw his entry into the Hall of Fame and there’s no question that he packed more into 57 years than I’ll ever experience regardless of how old I live to be.  A good man, a proud father, a legendary baseball player.  Gary, we will never forget you.

Maybe Phil Jackson would like to have one more shot…

I had fun on Saturday night when the New York Knicks came to Minneapolis to play the Minnesota Timberwolves.  As a Knicks fan (my first year!), I was excited to see what Lin-mania was all about.  He was a little off that night, but at the end, it was Jeremy Lin’s basket that proved to be the game-winner.  The T-Wolves, or the Muskies as they were referred to that night in tribute to a former Minneapolis basketball team from the 60’s or 70’s, had led the game from the start.  The Knicks had caught the T-Wolves a couple of times, but then Minnesota seemed to drop a few consecutive buckets to pull ahead again.  But at the end, Lin was not to be denied, and “Lin-sanity” continues.  It’s funny because I bought the tickets to the game hoping to see Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, and neither player dressed for the game.  But all things considered, Lin was the perfect substitute.

Yes, it was exciting to see the opening of Fantasy Baseball…

It’s fun to see the return of fantasy baseball.  I’ve already set a few teams with ESPN and I think my first draft is this weekend.  I am looking forward to when they open the live drafting functionality.  I like fantasy baseball if for no other reason than it helps you know and understand players on other teams than just your favorite team.  If Jon Lester heads my starting rotation or if Jacoby Ellsbury is roving my outfield, I am okay with that.  Granted, when Lester and Ellsbury come to Yankee Stadium, I’ll be pulling for L’s and O-fer’s but when Lester shuts down the Rays or Ellsbury slams a homer to beat the O’s, there might  be a smile on my face.

Baseball, let’s get started…

–Scott

Yankees should be forbidden from crossing the MA state line…

 

Right player, wrong uniform…

The acquisition of reliever Mark Melancon by the Boston Red Sox reminded me of how much I dislike seeing former Yankees in Boston gear.  At one time, Melancon was mentioned as the possible successor to future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera.  He did not fulfill his promise with the Yankees and was subsequently traded to the Houston Astros in the deal that brought present St Cardinals first baseman Lance Berkman to New York.  Melancon was forced into a closing role in Houston due to injuries, but he doesn’t project to be a closer for the Red Sox.  Time will tell if he can become Boston’s version of David Robertson.

With Alfredo Aceves already on the Boston pitching staff, that makes two Yankees on the roster with no Sox players on the Yankees roster.  Granted, it doesn’t hurt quite like it did when David Wells and David Cone pulled on the Sox cap after success in the Bronx, but still, I’d rather see ex-Yankees experience success away from the AL East.  There are 28 other teams that these players could have gone to.

From the Sox perspective, I am not sure that Melancon justified the cost.  I know that Jed Lowrie wasn’t the answer at short, but there was always something that I respected in the player, even as a member of an opponent.  I don’t know about the other player the Sox sent to Houston (pitcher Kyle Weiland), but it would appear to be a fairly high cost for a setup guy.  I just don’t see Melancon as Jonathan Papelbon’s replacement.

Maybe this trade turns out wonderfully for the Sox, maybe it doesn’t.  I guess baseball is a game of chances and as the saying goes ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’.  But I wish the Sox would quit loading up on Yankees (and Rays).  At least they replaced Lowrie with a former Twin and Cardinal (Nick Punto).

Never underestimate the power of the woman behind the man…

I am still in disbelief that Albert Pujols is no longer in St Louis, but after previously reading comments by Dodgers manager Don Mattingly that he felt Albert was frustrated with the Cardinals about the negotiations and the subsequent comments by his wife about how the Cardinals didn’t give Albert the proper respect, I can better understand why he would leave the organization that had meant so much to him for 11 years.  At this point, his present and future are associated with the Los Angeles Angels and he will be the face of the organization.  I doubt Angels fans are missing Mark Teixeira too much these days.

Turning nothing into something…

I am still amazed that former Yankees reliever Jose Veras brought the Pittsburgh Pirates the Milwaukee Brewers former third baseman Casey McGahee.  McGahee has his issues, but Veras was a disaster for the Yanks.  I know that he pitched effectively before his gradual descent in pinstripes but I cringed every time he entered a game during his final season in the Bronx.

C’mon, the weather really isn’t that bad…

I was listening to MLB Radio the other night when they mentioned that the Minnesota Twins had signed former Oakland A’s (and Marlins) outfielder Josh Willingham.  One of the guys, I don’t remember which one, then proceeded to bash Minnesota for its weather.  Granted, I am a new arrival to Minnesota and I did not experience the 87 inches of snow last winter, but I have yet to complain about Minnesota weather.  Actually, I have enjoyed the change of seasons after life in California where there are only two seasons (warm and not so warm).  I wore my winter coat one week last year and that’s when I went back East to New York.  I’ve been wearing that coat since early November this year and I love it.  I am disappointed that they are now saying that we won’t have a White Christmas in Minneapolis.

Back to Willingham, I am sad that it means the end of the Twins career for Michael Cuddyer.  It’s too bad that the Yankees don’t have a role for a guy like that.  Mr. Versatility.  It doesn’t sound like the Phillies or the Red Sox are options for him at this point, but I was fearful to see him on either of those rosters.  He may not be THE guy, but he is the type of guy that helps win championships.

Nevertheless, welcome to Minneapolis, Mr. Willingham!

50 years brings total futility; this must be what it feels like to be a Cubs fan…

My first year living in Minnesota has been a disaster as far as being a fan of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings.  1983 was a miserable year with horrific coach Les Steckel and the franchise’s worst record in its history.  This year, the record of futility may be eclipsed by the current squad.  I feel bad for coach Leslie Frazier.  I like him, but there is no patience when it comes to the NFL.  I read an article about how the Vikings would have been better off if they had just stayed with Mike Tice after the Wilf’s bought the team.  As it stands, I’d prefer to see Frazier get at least another year, but if he is cut loose, I would not be opposed to someone like Brian Billick.  I was frustrated with him when he was the Vikings offensive coordinator, but he was a good coach in Baltimore.  I doubt the Vikings would be competitors for someone like Bill Cowher.  I could definitely see Cowher going to the Miami Dolphins if he decides to return to coaching, especially if Carl Peterson takes over the leadership of the team.  Cowher was an assistant for Kansas City, Peterson’s former team, prior to coaching the Steelers.

I am adamant, and maybe not so much…

As for my other teams, I remain a devout San Jose Sharks fan and will be there when the Sharks come to St Paul, Minnesota to face the Minnesota Wild.  But I had to make a decision in the NBA.  I’ve been a Los Angeles Lakers fan the last few years, but I am tired of a team that is expected to win and often does (well, except for when it pertains to baseball!).  Amare Stoudemire has been my favorite player since his days in Phoenix and despite his injury history.  Carmelo Anthony was another favorite.  So, with those two headlining the New York Knicks, I really don’t have any choice but to become a Knickerbockers fan.  With the NBA, I have not maintained a constant loyalty to one team.  It’s moved as I’ve moved.  I started life as a Philadelphia 76ers fan in the days of Dr. J. (Julius Erving).  In my early 20’s, I moved to Dallas and become a Mavericks fan.  Later, I moved to Phoenix and became a Suns fan.  About 6 years ago, I moved to California and became a Lakers fan (sorry, I just couldn’t embrace the Golden State Warriors or the Sacramento Kings as a Northern CA resident).  Now, I am in Minnesota, but for whatever reason, I just can’t embrace the Minnesota Timberwolves.  So, it’s time to move my basketball allegiance to the Big Apple.  I am not really a fan of the New Jersey and soon to be Brooklyn Nets, so the stars were perfectly aligned for me to become a Knicks fan.  So, let it be…

By the way, where did 2011 go?…

–Scott

 

Just Win, Baby!…

 

What a difference a day makes!…


Happy.JPG

 

Of course, the Yankees could have used a few of
those runs on Tuesday night, but at least they were facing a proven major
league pitcher (Fausto Carmona) which they definitely have greater success
against than unproven, unknown rookies. 

 

The Yankees got the scoring going early, building
up to a 6-0 lead after just three innings, and then coasted to the 8-0 win
against the Indians in Cleveland. 
Another night, another homerless evening for Alex Rodriguez who remains
stuck on 599.  It would be nice for him
to just hit the home run so that he’d stop pressing so hard. 



0728gamer.JPG

Andrew Weber/US Presswire

 

It was also a great pitching performance by the
hotheaded A.J. Burnett, who managed to avoid a meltdown in throwing scoreless
ball for 6 1/3 innings (he gave up 7 hits and 3 walks, while striking out
7). 

 

I did think that it was a good idea to bring in
Joba Chamberlain in the 7th inning despite the 8 run lead.  He needs to build his confidence back up
again, and become the pitcher that we know he can be.  The 8th inning went to starter
reject Sergio Mitre as manager Joe Girardi continued to experiment with the
bullpen.   Mitre was effective with two
strikeouts as he retired the 3 batters he faced in the 8th, although
he did struggle somewhat in the 9th (allowing two baserunners
through a hit and a walk).  But he did
end the game on a swinging strikeout.   I
think he’s definitely better in spots than as a starting pitcher, so perhaps he’s
found a niche.  His replacement in the
rotation, Dustin Moseley, starts against the Indians tomorrow in the getaway
game.  Hopefully, Dustin will enjoy
greater success than Mitre did in the last start. 

 

Despite the Yankees’ win, they failed to pick up
any ground on either the Tampa Bay Rays or the Boston Red Sox as both team won
today.  The pressure will be on the
Yankees tomorrow night, especially if the Rays win their earlier game against
the Tigers.  The Rays are presently two
games back in the AL East, so they could be within a game after tomorrow’s
results.  The Red Sox, 7 games back, are
idle. 


Red Sox Fan 2.JPG

 


I can’t say that there have been many trade
speculations this week that I have been excited about, but I agree with Mike Axisa of River Avenue Blues about the potential of adding Adam Dunn to
the lineup at DH.  His swing would be a
great fit for Yankee Stadium, and unlike Nick Johnson, he is someone that can
be counted on to be around when October rolls around.  He would also provide great protection for
Robinson Cano in the batting order.  I
think Dunn and a solid reliever would make the July trading deadline a huge
success for the Yanks. 



Adam Dunn Adam Dunn #44 of the Washington Nationals poses during photo day at Roger Dean Stadium on February 21, 2009 in Viera, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Adam Dunn

Doug Benc/Getty Images



I want to send out my best wishes for former
Yankees pitcher Ross Ohlendorf who was hit in the face on a ball hit by
Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki.  The line
drive hit which struck the right side of Ohlendorf’s face occurred in the first
inning of tonight’s game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Colorado
Rockies.  Ohlendorf remained upright and
never lost consciousness.  He underwent
further tests after the incident, but hopefully, all is well and he’ll be back
in the Pirates rotation soon.



Chris Schneider/AP


–Scott



Maybe I Should Go Away More Often…

 

A great day for a birthday…

 

Sipkin/NY Daily News

 

Today is my birthday, and it couldn’t have had a happier ending than a Yankees win combined with a Red Sox loss.  All week, a certain blogger from Boston kept telling me that I couldn’t have a Red Sox loss for my birthday since she would be in attendance at Fenway Park.  Hey Julia, how did that work out for ya?  😉

 

John Smoltz leaves the mound after...

AP

 

This is my first blog in a week so I don’t really plan to delve into breakdowns of the games that have been played since my last blog.  I recently took a job with a new company that allowed me to return home to Silicon Valley, California.  I had been in Wilmington, Delaware for the past year.  For the past week, I packed my belongings and drove across the country (3,000 miles in 3 ½ days).  Since the focus of the week was the move, I did not take my laptop with me and as a result, I have been silent on this blog for a week.

 

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In seven days while I’ve been gone, the Yankees lost only one game.   The Oakland A’s snapped the Yankees’ winning streak on Saturday, when Alfred Aceves failed to bail out Andy Pettitte.  It was the end of the Yankees eight game winning streak, as well as an eight game streak against the A’s dating back to 2008 (they had taken the first four games of the series this year).

 

Mitsu Yasukawa/The Star Ledger 

 

Beating up the Tigers, Twins, and A’s has allowed the Yankees to extend their lead in the AL East to 2 ½ games over the Boston Red Sox.  The Yankees do have a challenging schedule for the remainder of the season, and it won’t get any easier with a 9-game road trip that begins in St. Petersburg, Florida against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday.  The Rays are currently in third place, 6 ½ games back.

 

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Jason Behnken/Tampa Bay Tribune 

 

I have been pleasantly surprised about the Yankees’ success so far in the second half of the season.  Admittedly, I was down after the Yankees had been swept by the Los Angeles Angels to close out the first half.  Prior to that series, the Yankees had tied Boston for the AL East lead.  While the Yanks were getting swept, Boston was doing their own sweeping so the first half closed with a three game Boston lead.  But as quickly as the Yanks went from a first place tie to three games back, they surged back to overtake Boston with only one loss since the All-Star Game.  I suspect that the lead will change hands a few more times before this is all said and done, but it is nice to see the Yankees reach 60 wins faster than any other AL team at this point in the season.

 

Christopher Pasatieri/US Presswire 

The news regarding Chien-Ming Wang has not been good.  He will meet with Dr. James Andrews on Tuesday.  Wang had a second MRI last week, according to Peter Abraham of the LoHud Yankees Blog, and it revealed a possible rotator cuff tear.  If it is not a scar from Wang’s prior surgery in 2000, and has rotator cuff surgery, he will be lost for most, if not all, of next season.

 

Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

I do not think that Sergio Mitre is the answer in the rotation, and apparently neither do the Yankees.  According to Jenifer Logosch at MLB.com, the Yankees had scouts in attendance to watch Ian Snell pitch.  Snell struggled for the Pittsburgh Pirates earlier this season, going 2-8 in 15 starts, with 5.36 ERA.  He was demoted to AAA Indianapolis and has pitched lights out.  In four starts for Indy, Snell has pitched 26 1/3 innings with a 0.34 ERA and 34 strikeouts.  Snell apparently has no interest in rejoining the Pirates, and feels that he was made a scapegoat for their early season problems.  I am not sure if Snell is the answer or if his AAA success can equate to Major League success after past difficulties, but, for the right price, he is probably worth trying.  I’d rather go there before taking a chance with Kei Igawa.  I read that the Seattle Mariners wanted both Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner for Jarrod Washburn, so there’s no way that deal is happening unless the Mariners drop their asking price.  The Yankees won’t be contenders for either Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee, so they’ll continue to rummage through the bargain bins over the next couple of days as they continue to seek possible replacements for Chien-Ming Wang in the rotation.

 

Peter Diana/Post-Gazette

Speaking of Brett Gardner, he landed on the DL after suffering a fractured thumb in the first inning of Saturday’s game.  Of course, in that game, he had a run-scoring triple and played excellent defensively AFTER the thumb injury.  He is a huge loss for the team, but hopefully he’ll be out no more than three weeks or so.  I hope that Melky Cabrera maintains a high level of play during Gardner’s absence, and doesn’t lose any motivation or ambition without Gardner competing with him every day.  Hopefully, Gardner’s recovery will be as speedy as he is on the base paths…

 

Frank Franklin II/AP

 

Boston has a chance to make up ground on the Yankees during the upcoming 9-game road trip, but I have to admit that I am very shocked that John Smoltz is 1-4 with a 7.04 ERA.  I liked Boston’s pick up of Adam LaRoche (well, not as a Yankees fan, but looking at the trade objectively and knowing what it means for the Red Sox).  Of course, with Theo Epstein, you know that the next few days will be very interesting as Boston continues to seek upgrades.

 

A look back at Theo Epstein's first season with the Red Sox -- 2003

 

Jim Davis/Boston Globe

 

I am sure that most people have become familiar with Batting Stance Guy but I wasn’t.  I saw him on David Letterman this week and he was hilarious (his impression of Kevin Youkilis is priceless).  You can check him out at www.battingstanceguy.com.  His posts can also be found on YouTube.  Here is his impression of the 2009 Yankees:

 

 

As much as I will miss the close proximity to Yankee Stadium, I am looking forward to my first visit to AT&T Park this year when I attend next Sunday’s match-up between the San Francisco Giants and Philadelphia Phillies.  After a year in Phillies country, I am excited about the opportunity to watch Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, J-Ro, and the other Phillies without being surrounded by those “calm and quiet” Philadelphia fans!  Seriously, there aren’t many things better than watching baseball near the Bay…

 

 

Have a great week!

–Scott

 

Red Sox?…We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Red  Sox!…

Ugh, not another Red Sox player!

 

UPI

 

Don’t we already have one of those?  I think one is more than enough…

 

Bench: Mike Greenwell and Johnny Damon The Gator cleaned out his locker and left before the end of the '96 season when told he would be a part-timer in '97. Damon (pictured) was a hero from the 2004 postseason turned Benedict Arnold, signing with the Yankees - after promising he would not - and fired various parting shots at the Sox.

Reuters

 

Unless your name is Jason Bay or Jon Lester, I am not interested in seeing you wear pinstripes.  It was no fun watching David Wells and David Cone in Boston; conversely I do not need any repeat appearances of Mark Bellhorn or Mike Myers in New York.

 

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

AP

f03b70a7.jpg image by ChadFinn

 

AP  

Much to my chagrin, the Yankees acquired third baseman Eric Hinske from the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Hinske was batting .255 in 106 at-bats and had 1 HR and 11 RBI’s (hardly earth-shattering numbers).  To Hinske’s defense, he did hit 20 home runs (with 60 RBI’s) for the 2008 American League Champion Tampa Bay Rays but he isn’t exactly the “supersub” I was hoping for.   He was also a member of the 2007 World Champion Boston Red Sox.

 

Reuters

Well, I guess sometimes having an ex-Red Sox player is not so bad…

 

 

Hinske can play both corner spots, providing relief for both Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira.  I recognize the need for backup support at first since Nick Swisher is locked in at right field now that Xavier Nady is out for the season.  Hinske can also play right and left field.  The Yankees do not have the roster space to call up Shelley Duncan, who would have been limited to 1B/DH duty.  With Hinske on board, the Yanks should be able to rest A-Rod more often.

 

Eric Hinske #16 of the Pittsburgh Pirates is congratulated after he scored in the 9th inning against the St. Louis Cardinals on Opening Day on April 6, 2009  at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. The Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 6-4.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Eric Hinske

Elsa/Getty Images 

 

To acquire Hinske, the Yankees gave up two minor leaguers, right-hander Casey Erickson and outfielder Eric Fryer.  They had acquired Fryer in last year’s trade of pitcher Chase Wright to the Milwaukee Brewers. 

Due to a flight delay from Pittsburgh, a roster decision might not be made until Wednesday, but Ramiro Pena will be optioned to AAA-Scranton/Wilkes Barre to make room for Hinske.  At this point, the move makes sense.  Pena needs more playing time, and the Yankees needed some pop off the bench with the loss of Nady. 

Hinske must be on one of those AL East circuits like Kevin Millar…don’t stop until you’ve played with every team in the division.  He only needs to play for Baltimore to complete the circuit, whereas Millar just has to spend some time in pinstripes.  Egads!  Please, Brian Cashman, do not let that happen!  We do not need any ‘Cowboy Up’ in the Bronx!

 

 

 

Somewhere in Boston, Julia is probably in hysterics.  We acquire a Red Sox “has been” and Boston will most likely pursue a former beloved Yankee like Nick Johnson.  It’s not fair.  One of the days, the tide has to turn.  The season has been way too easy on the illustrious Ranter from Boston

 

Turning the Tide.JPG

 

In a move that should signal the Yanks to be cautious with Alex Rodriguez, the Red Sox placed third baseman Mike Lowell on the Disabled List.  Lowell had fluid drained from his right hip on Monday, and had received an injection designed to relieve inflammation in the area previously operated on.  The Red Sox decided not to take any chances and to give Lowell some added rest so that he’ll be ready for the second half of the season.  Perhaps Lowell’s struggles are another reason that led to Hinske’s acquisition.  I do wish Mike the best, and hope to see him back in the field shortly after the All-Star Break.

 

 

The Yankees also signed another third baseman from the independent leagues.  Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks 3B Yurendell DeCaster’s contract was purchased by the Yankees, and he was assigned to AAA-Scranton/Wilkes Barre.  DeCaster is 29 and was leading the Northern League with 13 HR’s and 43 RBI’s, while batting .344.  Sounds like Cash is still looking to catch lightening in a bottle…

 

 

Is there anything more temporary than being a good outfielder in Pittsburgh?  The Pirates traded yet another quality outfielder in Nyjer Morgan to the Washington Nationals for OF Lastings Milledge and reliever Joel Hanrahan.  The Nats also picked up left hander Sean Burnett.  Will Milledge finally realize his potential in Pittsburgh?  If so, how long before he is traded?  At this rate, he is a future Yankee…

 

AP

 

Go Yankees!

 

–Scott