Life beyond 3,000 hits…
I hate to make any anti-Derek Jeter comments but I was fearful that the Yankees’ recent winning roll would get derailed by DJ’s return to the lineup. Sure, the recent losses are not his fault, but for whatever reason, the team fared better when he was out of the lineup. I didn’t like the errors made by Eduardo Nunez or Ramiro Pena, but Nunez in particular seemed to have a fresher bat.
Art by Scott Dalgleish, http://scottydal.deviantart.com/
I would like to see more batting orders in the second half of the season with Brett Gardner leading off. I suspect that will happen anyway, but Jeter is clearly the focal point of baseball right now as he approaches 3,000 hits.
Will he get those 2 hits that he needs today against the Tampa Bay Rays? He could, but I think it’s more likely that the 3,000th hit will come tomorrow. Of course, I could be completely wrong and DJ might go 0-4 both days.
Don’t get me wrong…I like Jeter and what he has meant to the organization. I will enjoy the day that they retire #2 and make the speeches at Yankee Stadium to induct a commemorative stone into Monument Park on his behalf. But as great as it is to see a player spend his entire career with one organization, I can definitely see the downside which is the deterioration of the player’s skills and ability.
Don Mattingly was in a fast decline when he retired after the 1995 season, however, I don’t think that I was mentally ready for his departure. Perhaps it was because I really wanted to see him win a championship. But with DJ, he has the championships and will soon be the only player in Yankee history with 3,000 hits. He has done everything you could ask for in pinstripes. My only request is that he steps away from the field when he realizes that his skills have eroded to the point that he is a liability. It’s not there yet, but the day is rapidly approaching. As the saying goes, time stops for no one.
A tear in the team’s hopes…
I just read that Alex Rodriguez might have a meniscus tear in his right knee which could require surgery. If Alex and the team decide now is the time for the surgery, it is speculated that he would miss a month. That’s definitely not good news as the Yankees have fallen behind the Boston Red Sox in the standings. I’d feel better if there was a healthy Eric Chavez on the roster but as it stands, it would be necessary for Eduardo Nunez to fill in at third. A-Rod’s loss definitely weakens the Yankees and it puts some pressure on GM Brian Cashman to find a replacement third baseman (in addition to his search for pitching).
I do not know the ramifications of A-Rod playing through the injury, but I hope that he takes the path that leads to good health by September. Of course, if the Yankees fall too far out, there won’t be an extended playing season this year.
What can we find at Nordy’s Rack?….
As far as moves the Yankees are looking at, it appears that there is a dearth of quality starting pitching available on the trade front. The Yankees are apparently looking at relief pitching, like many other teams. Reports have the Yankees interested in, among others, Sean Burnett of the Washington Nationals and Randy Choate of the Florida Marlins. I have liked what Choate has done since he left the Yankees as he became a very solid lefty option for the Tampa Bay Rays and now the Marlins. Burnett probably has the better potential at this point although I am not enamored by his 5.76 ERA. But ERA can be deceiving and I don’t know the reasons behind Burnett’s number as I don’t follow the Nats.
These are the times that I am appreciative that Brian Cashman is the team’s general manager. It is his job to find what ails the team and hopefully bring in the necessary chips to ensure that the team is playing meaningful baseball in October. I am full confidence in his abilities and I’d never underestimate the power of his network throughout baseball.
This month should get very interesting as the days go by…
A sad day in baseball…
I would be remiss if I did not mention the tragedy in Arlington, Texas where the fan reaching for a ball thrown into the stands by Josh Hamilton fell to his death. I have never caught a ball at a game, and I can remember as a kid how much I wanted to catch one during every visit to the old Busch Stadium in St. Louis. I can see how the ball would become your prime focus. The loss of the fan, Shannon Stone, was horrible by itself but it was made worse by the presence of his 6-year-old son. I lost my father as a child but I wasn’t there when he died. I simply cannot imagine how difficult it will be for Shannon’s son in the days and years ahead. I definitely hope that he and his family are taken care of by the Texas Rangers organization and Major League Baseball.
Now there’s talk the players could be barred from throwing baseballs into the stands (they’d have to hand the ball to a fan or hand it to an usher who, in turn, would hand it to the fan). While I am in favor of additional safety measures to prevent future unnecessary deaths like Shannon, I would hate to see the players lose the ability to toss a ball into the stands.
Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers (AP Photo)
No, really, I don’t want to go to Phoenix…
When the All-Star Team was announced, I was excited about the number of Yankees making the team. But it appears that many of them won’t be making the trip to Phoenix. First, Mariano Rivera pulled out, and now, both Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez have withdrawn from the game. I am still surprised that CC Sabathia did not make the team, but then again, I am okay avoiding the added wear and tear on his arm. So, as it is, I will be cheering for Robinson Cano and Russell Martin. As for A-Rod, it is a bit ironic that his All-Star replacement would be Boston’s Kevin Youkilis. Former Red Sox third baseman Adrian Beltre (Texas) moves up to the starting position.
One week, everything can be coming up roses, and the next it is doom and gloom. I guess that’s just life as a Yankees fan…
The return of Larry Bowa’s nephew…
Although they never wore the pinstripes at the same time, former coach Larry Bowa’s nephew, Nick Johnson, is coming home. Traded to Montreal in 2003 for pitcher Javier Vazquez, Nick has signed a one-year deal for $5.5 million, with a mutual option for 2011, to return to the Bronx.
During Nick’s “exile”, winning baseball was not necessarily a common theme among his teams with the Montreal Expos, Washington Nationals, and Florida Marlins. Nick is eager to return to a team with a “win at all costs” attitude. Nick could have signed with the San Francisco Giants as their first baseman, however, his first love remained the Yankees. So, once the Yankees expressed interest, no other team really had a chance with Johnson.
Hector Gabino/Miami Herald
Nick slots in nicely at the top of the batting order behind leadoff hitter Derek Jeter. Nick has a knack (no pun intended) for getting on base. His career on-base percentage is .402.
Welcome home, Nick! We’re glad you’re back!
Given that the Yankees have now reacquired the two primary players in the December 2003 deal that sent Nick to Montreal and brought Javier Vazquez to the Yankees (the first time), they should consider calling the Los Angeles Angels and the Tampa Bay Rays about the availability of outfielder Juan Rivera and reliever Randy Choate, respectively.
Gary A. Vasquez/US Presswire
Although those are positions of need, I do not really want to see the return of either Rivera or Choate, but the Yankees do need to get creative about filling the hole in left field. It bothers me that the team hasn’t figured out a way to unload pitcher Kei Igawa, particularly when his salary could go a long way toward bringing in a solid left fielder. The Yankees say they’ll go with Brett Gardner and Jamie Hoffmann. While I don’t feel you need an All-Star in left, I don’t think that Gardner and Hoffman, individually or collectively, are the answer. I have genuine concerns about Nick Swisher’s encore performance and the Yankees do not need simultaneous struggles at both outfield corners. I’d rather pay for a sound and dependable solution for left and then be prepared for Plan B in right.
Best case scenario is the return of Johnny Damon. It could still happen but Damon’s price tag will have to come down. The other solid option (Mark DeRosa) appears to be dissipating as DeRosa is apparently favoring an agreement with the San Francisco Giants. Hey, as a Bay Area guy, I can’t find fault with someone who wants to call the area home. San Francisco’s a great town with a terrific ballpark.
Reed Johnson’s name has been mentioned but I am less than enthused. Johnson missed 49 games in 2009 for the Chicago Cubs after fouling a pitch off his left foot which caused a fracture. A career .282 hitter, Reed only batted .255 in 65 games last season with 4 home runs and 22 RBI’s.
His scouting report¹ says that “Hustle is his strongest suit. Makes consistent contact and hits well with runners in scoring position – especially against lefties. Is a good outfielder.” The report goes on to say “he struggles against finesse pitchers and righties. A quality platoon or 4th outfielder.” It sounds like he would be more capable as a back-up for Curtis Granderson in center than a starter in left.
¹Source: Sportsnet.ca Ontario
Lobbying for the Cubs to re-sign Johnson in September, pitcher (and former Yankee) Ted Lilly was seen wearing a t-shirt that read “With Reed, we will succeed”. Maybe for Lilly and the Cubs, but not for the World Champions. Pass…
So now Jason Bay and his agent are calling the Boston Red Sox? Maybe Jason has started to send Theo fruit baskets like Julia did every day last season! Ha! I bet the Red Sox offer of 4 years and $60 million is looking very appealing these days. But of course, after Boston’s signing of John Lackey and Mike Cameron, the money offered to Bay is probably no longer available. Bay has a 4 year, $65 million offer from the New York Mets. However, $5 million extra over 4 years is not worth the mess known as the Mets. Bay’s best option is to remain in Boston but it is questionable whether the Red Sox have room in the 2010 budget at this point. Bay, at this point in time, appears to have overestimated his worth in the current free agent market. Financial constraint being shown by both the Yankees and the Red Sox…what is the world coming to? 😉
Finally, I’d like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! May this be a season of joy for you and your family, and here’s hoping that 2010 fulfills your every dream! Well, except for a World Series championship…I reserve that one for Yankees fans! J