I’ll say it right now. I am NOT on board with the special Derek Jeter’s Day hats to be worn by the Yankees on Sunday. With no disrespect to the former Yankees captain or the countless mothers that will be in attendance for the joint Jeter-Mother’s Day game, the color pink does not have a place with the famed pinstripes. Behind the pink hat is just someone trying to make a buck. If all proceeds are given to a meaningful charity, then maybe I could buy into the dreadful hat. Otherwise, it looks like a poorly thought out marketing scheme.
The DL epidemic seems to be impacting elite closers. Depending upon who you ask, Baseball’s third and fourth best closers are now on the Disabled List. Zach Britton of the Baltimore Orioles is out for 45-60 days following a visit with Dr Neal ElAttrache (the surgeon who recently performed Tommy John surgery on James Kaprielian). For Britton’s sake, he received better news than Kaprielian did as surgery is not necessary for his left arm (throwing arm) strain. However, he’ll be out until after the All-Star Break. Meanwhile, the San Francisco Giants have placed their new high-priced closer, and former Yankee, Mark Melancon, on the DL with a “mild right pronator strain”. Here’s wishing and hoping for good health for the premier closers, the Yankees’ Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
I realize that some Yankees fans will be moving into “World Series or Bust” mode any day now (if they haven’t already) but I still need more time before I am going to proclaim the Yankees as the team of the year. I want to see how the young Baby Bombers perform this weekend against Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran and the high flying Houston Astros. If the Yankees are still making noise at the top of the AL East when the calendar flips to June, then maybe I’ll start to get on-board. It’s a long season and it’s still early. There’s no doubt we’ll experience a few bumps in the road. It will be how the team responds to those downturns that will determine the eventual course for this season.
CC Sabathia was awful for one inning last night but that’s all it took to shut down the Yankees’ six game winning streak in the 5-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. Ten men came to the plate against Sabathia in the second inning. Six singles and a walk later and the Reds had erased a 2-0 Yanks advantage by pushing five runs across the plate. Sabathia (2-2) went 6 innings, allowing 7 hits and the 5 runs. He walked 2 and struck out 2, while pushing his ERA to 5.77. Right now, at least, Sabathia is the weak link in an otherwise strong Yankees rotation. But as the saying goes, you are only as strong as your weakest link so this is certainly a concern.
Credit: John Minchillo/AP
The Yankees had a chance to win at the end. With any game, that’s all I can ask. After Aaron Hicks and Matt Holliday walked with one out in the 9th inning, Gary Sanchez came to the plate with the chance to erase the Reds’ two-run lead. Sanchez had already homered in his first at-bat of the game, a ball that travelled 448 feet to center. But he lined a shot to Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez, who threw to second, catching Hicks off base, for the game-ending double play.
Didi Gregorius is starting to heat up which is a good sign. He went 3-for-4 with a first inning home run.
The Baltimore Orioles defeated the Washington Nationals 5-4 in extra innings last night, so the Yankees (21-10) fell out of first place in the AL East by a half-game. The Boston Red Sox lost which is always a fun thing to see. I’d take joy in that even if they were the worst team in baseball.
All things considered it was a good (albeit short) road trip as the Yanks took four of five. With an off day today (Sleep, I love you!), the Yankees prepare for a long four game set against the Houston Astros at Yankee Stadium beginning Thursday. The series concludes on Sunday with Derek Jeter Night and the aforementioned pink caps.
The former Yankees coming to the Bronx are Astros catcher Brian McCann and DH Carlos Beltran. Lance McCullers, Jr, one of the Astros starting pitchers, is the son of a former Yankee. His father pitched for the Yankees from 1989 to 1990 (three years before Lance Jr was born).
The probable pitching matchups for the Astros series are as follows:
HOU: Dallas Keuchel (5-0, 1.88 ERA)
NYY: Michael Pineda (3-1, 3.12 ERA)
HOU: Lance McCullers, Jr (2-1, 3.40 ERA)
NYY: Jordan Montgomery (2-1, 3.81 ERA)
HOU: Mike Fiers (1-1, 5.64 ERA)
NYY: Luis Severino (2-2, 3.40 ERA)
HOU: Charlie Morton (4-2, 3.63 ERA)
NYY: Masahiro Tanaka (5-1, 4.36 ERA)
Speaking of former Yankees, the Detroit Tigers have named Justin Wilson as their closer, replacing Francisco Rodriguez. The lefty, who brought pitchers Luis Cessa and Chad Green to New York, is currently carrying a 1.32 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 13 2/3 innings. Regardless of how Cessa and Green ever perform, it sure would have been nice to have Wilson in this year’s bullpen. But then again, Andrew Miller would have looked good too. Oh well, onward and upward!
Have a great Wednesday!
Sleep? Who needs stinkin’ Sleep! The Yankees arrived in Cincinnati, Ohio at 5:08 a.m. yesterday following their 18-inning marathon win over the Chicago Cubs and by the end of the day, they had their sixth consecutive victory with the 10-4 pounding of the Reds. The Yankees treated their former top prospect Rookie Davis, banished to Ohio in the Aroldis Chapman trade, like, well, a rookie. Run-scoring singles by Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius put three runs on the board in the first inning and the sleepless Yanks were in charge early.
It was another okay, but not great, pitching performance by Masahiro Tanaka. He definitely went the ‘bend but not break’ route in picking up his fifth win of the year. The Reds had the bases loaded with no outs in the fourth inning, trailing the Yankees by three. But a pop out and a double play ended the threat. It was probably the game-defining moment.
Credit: John Minchillo/AP
In the seventh inning with former Washington Nationals closer Drew Storen on the mound, three Yankees were hit by pitches. It wasn’t intentional but that’s a lot for one inning. The last one, a pitch that hit Chase Headley on the bone just below his knee (ouch!) with the bases loaded, scored a run. Ronald Torreyes, after being knocked down by a high, inside pitch from the wild Storen, singled to put the Yankees up 7-2. The second runner, Gary Sanchez, was easily thrown out at the plate, for the final out.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, with Tanaka running on fumes after reaching the 100-pitch mark, he walked Zach Cozart and then gave up a no doubt-about-it home run to Reds slugger Joey Votto. With his 112th pitch, Tanaka somehow got Adam Duvall on a swinging strikeout to end the inning. As Tanaka walked off the mound, he was clearly upset about the Votto home run but his night was done with the Yankees leading 7-4.
The eighth inning featured another long home run to right by Brett Gardner, scoring two runs, and a solo shot by Matt Holliday, playing his second straight game at first base.
From there, it was up to the depleted Yankees bullpen. With most of the relievers unavailable, the Yankees went with Tyler Clippard for the eighth. Clippard was his usual self with a quiet inning that saw three up and three down. I have to admit that I got a sick feeling to my stomach when I saw lefty Tommy Layne warming up for the ninth inning. A six-run lead should make one feel fairly secure, but if any Yankee could blow a large lead, it’s Layne. It didn’t help when the first batter reached on an infield single. The next batter hit into a ground out but the Yanks were unable to turn a double play, capturing only the lead runner. That brought the speedy Billy Hamilton to the plate. Layne fell behind in the count very quickly with three successive balls. I started to have chills, knowing the heart of the Reds order was coming up. After a couple of well-placed strikes, Hamilton hit a grounder to Didi Gregorius. This time, the Yankees were successful in turning the double play and it was game over. Yankees win, 10-4.
The Yankees (21-9) maintained their half-game lead over the Baltimore Orioles. The O’s withstood a late challenge to beat their former catcher Matt Wieters and the Washington Nationals 6-4. The O’s have won five in a row as they seemingly match the Yankees step-for-step on a nightly basis. The Boston Red Sox had the night off.
Prior to yesterday’s game, there had been speculation the Yankees might send down Sunday night heroes Chasen Shreve and/or Jonathan Holder to bring up fresh arms. But in the end, it was Rob Refsnyder who got the ticket to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In his place, the Yankees recalled pitcher Chad Green.
For the Reds, the loss cost them first place in the NL Central as they were overtaken by the St Louis Cardinals.
The Yankees face a more challenging pitcher today in Tim Adleman (1-1, 4.22 ERA). For the Yanks, CC Sabathia (2-1, 5.45 ERA), who hasn’t instilled confidence in anyone except opposing hitters in recent starts, takes the mound. I expect to see a much stronger Reds team today so hopefully the Yankees offense can rise up to the challenge. It will be good to see a rested Aaron Judge back in the lineup.
Tomorrow is a day off so the Yankees will be able to catch up on some much needed sleep.
Have a great Tuesday! Let’s grab a W and head back to New York!
When you have one of Baseball’s elite closers on the mound with a three run lead in the bottom of the 9th, it should be game over. Sadly, it was an off night for Aroldis Chapman as he allowed three runs before being pulled from the game. From that point, it felt like it was only a matter of time before the Chicago Cubs pulled off a walk-off. Fortunately, these are not the 2016 New York Yankees.
In an 18-inning affair that lasted six hours and five minutes (sorry, I didn’t stay up), Aaron Hicks , Ronald Torreyes and Starlin Castro emerged as the heroes of heroes. Leading off the 18th, Aaron Hicks bunted toward third and reached second thanks to a throwing error by Cubs catcher Wilson Contreras. After a sacrifice bunt by Torreyes moved Hicks to third, he scored on a grounder to short by Castro.
When Chasen Shreve (1-0) struck out Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks at 2:13 a.m., the Yankees (20-9) had completed an improbable and very exhausting 5-4 victory.
It’s tough to play a night game on “getaway” day, but even tougher to play what essentially equates to a double-header in terms of innings played. It was an incredible job by the bullpen for anyone not named Chapman. Tyler Clippard, Adam Warren, Jonathan Holder and Shreve combined for 9 1/3 innings of scoreless relief following Chapman’s blown save. The Yankees and Cubs set a Major League record for strikeouts with 48. Yankees pitchers accounted for 26 of those K’s, including 9 by starter Luis Severino and 5 by Shreve. The Cubs also set a record by using three pitchers as pinch-hitters.
I am thankful the Yankees didn’t have to employ the last man standing in the bullpen (Tommy Layne) given his recent propensity for watching the opponent score while he is on the mound.
Chapman’s underwhelming performance against his World Series teammates wasted another great start by Severino. With a four-hitter in 7 innings of work while allowing only a single run (a 2nd inning home run by Javier Baez), he bested former Boston Red Sox nemesis Jon Lester and stood in line for the victory until Chapman let it get away. A run scoring triple by Aaron Judge in the 7th inning had put Severino in position to win, with a two-run homer by Jacoby Ellsbury in the 8th for support. But the Cubs, stealing a page from these exciting young Pinstripers, showed that the game is not over ’til it’s over…to borrow a line from legendary Yankees catcher Yogi Berra.
Castro completed his three day Chicago reunion with 2 RBI’s despite an 0-for-8 night. He also had a run-scoring ground-out in the first inning.
The game had its humorous moment when left fielder Aaron Hicks lost sight of Baez’s home run ball. That’s how I would play every inning…
Matt Holliday did a solid job with his first Yankees start at first base. He went 2-for-4 until he was lifted for pinch-hitter Chris Carter. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Holliday play some more first base in Cincinnati. Heck, at this point, the Yankees should probably play Aaron Hicks at first. They have to find ways to keep that dude’s bat in the lineup.
For the Yankees, they became only the second team to sweep the Cubs this season. They maintained a half-game over the Baltimore Orioles for the AL East lead. The O’s had a broom of their own with a weekend sweep of the Chicago White Sox. Sadly, the Red Sox won again after providing 17 runs for their ace, Chris Sale.
The Yankees make a short hop to Cincinnati, Ohio for a game against former Yankees top pitching prospect Rookie Davis and the Cincinnati Reds later today. I would generally say that the Yankees may be a little sluggish after the late night, but that would be underestimating the resiliency of this team. It will be a challenge as the Reds (17-14) are the current leader in the NL Central, thanks to the Yankees’ sweep of the Cubs. But if any team can find a way, I’ll take my chances with the Yankees.
Have a great Monday! Hopefully we’re in line for a restful and victorious day!
The only non-dramatic series of the 2012 post-season…
Sadly, the 2012 season is over for the New York Yankees. But admittedly, I did not feel the team had the horses to win the World Series this year. I know, any team can get hot and take the championship (i.e., 2011 St Louis Cardinals), but the team’s hot and cold hitting pattern bothered me. As the saying goes, “good pitching beats good hitting” so the Yankees’ hitting problems are magnified in the play-offs as they continually face #1 or #2 type starters. If Robinson Cano had gotten hot, maybe it would have been different but no one rose to the challenge in the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers.
The ALCS loss by sweep was painful. For me, it probably ranks with the 1976 World Series when they were swept by the Cincinnati Reds. If memory serves, they won the World Series the following two years so I guess there is hope for next year! Well, maybe not. But all things considered, I’d rather be embarrassed on the ALCS stage than the World Series. That’s probably awful to say because who wouldn’t want their team in the World Series and I am no different. But I wouldn’t want to see the Yankees looking as pathetic in the World Series as they did in the ALCS if that makes any sense.
The 2013 season – optimism or pessimism?…
On the heels of Derek Jeter’s successful ankle surgery that will have him out for 4-5 months, there are reports that CC Sabathia will be consulting with Dr. James Andrews for his ailing left elbow. Apparently, the ligament is intact so there’s hope that either rest or minor surgery to shave the bone spur in his left elbow will be the cure. This definitely bears close watching over the course of the next few months. If CC is unavailable to pitch in 2013, the Yankees would be lacking a legitimate #1 starter. I have not heard how Michael Pineda has been doing, but he’ll be expected to help fill the void in the rotation regardless of what happens to CC, assuming that he is healthy. This was a difficult year for young Yankees pitching prospects, with injuries to Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos, the latter of whom will be lost for 2013 due to Tommy John surgery.
The Yankees really need to do what it takes to ensure that Hiroki Kuroda returns for one more year, and hopefully, Andy Pettitte will decide to go for one more tour around the American League. With the Houston Astros moving to the American League in 2013, Andy would be assured of playing a few league games at home. It would be a great farewell tour with Andy pitching in Houston while standing on the mound with the interlocking N-Y on his hat.
Another year in, and I still don’t know what the Yankees have with Phil Hughes. At times, he is so promising, but others, such a disappointment. I am not sure that he can be trusted to be anything more than a #5 starter with his inconsistency. The Yankees have tough decisions to make on both Hughes and reliever Joba Chamberlain, two pitchers who have seemingly been intertwined since they arrived in New York.
I am concerned about Alex Rodriguez and the huge adverse impact of his contract on the team. The production no longer matches the pay, and of course, the pay prevents those dollars from being spent more wisely. The Yankees will have to settle for “less” in other areas, which will further handicap the team’s productivity. If the Yankees can find a way to move A-Rod, regardless of the cost, I would be in favor of it. I’ve never been a big A-Rod fan, and I would prefer to see his association with the Yankees eliminated.
I want the Yankees to re-sign Robinson Cano, but if the cost is a 10-year, behemoth mega-million contract, I am not so sure the team should go down that road. I am tired of these long-term deals where the player only performs to the level of the contract for the first few years. Cano’s silent bat in the play-offs also was a red flag for me. It’s disappointing because Cano has been one of my favorite players, but the future of an organization should not be tied to one or two players. The St Louis Cardinals are an organization that always seems to make the right decisions for the good of the team, and it has worked out well for them. They are a win away from the World Series despite letting one of the best hitters in baseball walk away last winter.
I do not want to be disrespectful of Derek Jeter and I recognize that he had a great 2012 season, but the fact remains that he’ll be a 39-year-old shortstop coming off ankle surgery heading into next season.
When the Yankees signed Mark Teixeira, it looked like a great signing…much better than the previous first base commitment to Jason Giambi. But after a great 2009 season, Teixeira has not been the feared hitter that I thought he would be. He has been great defensively, but never delivers the key, clutch hit. Those ice cold starts to begin seasons are getting longer and longer.
I do believe the Yankees need to re-sign catcher Russell Martin. I’d also like to see them either invest in a stronger back-up catcher or commit to Francisco Cervelli over Chris Stewart.
I had great respect for Eric Chavez when he was the starting third baseman for the Oakland A’s early in his career, and I’ve thought he was a great role player for the Yankees over the last couple of seasons. But now is the time for the Yankees to move on and find a strong, reliable third base option to spot A-Rod (or replace him if they can somehow find a way to move A-Rod to Miami or Phoenix).
In the outfield, I am hopeful the healthy return of Brett Gardner will be a positive. I have mixed feelings about re-signing Ichiro Suzuki. I thought he rebounded to have a very productive end of the season, but the Yankees are too full of guys nearing or at 40 years of age. A healthy Gardner can replace what the Yankees have in Ichiro…well maybe not the hitting ability, but all other components of his game. I like Curtis Granderson and even though he underperformed in the play-offs, I would still like to see his return. I’ve been a big fan of Nick Swisher, and have appreciated how his personality lightens the Yankees clubhouse. But right field is an area in need of improvement. If the Yankees can get Swisher to re-sign for a reasonable amount of dollars and years, maybe it makes sense to bring him back. But if his expectation is 5-7 years at dollars approaching $100 million, then the team should let him walk.
I am not in favor of bringing either Andruw Jones or Raul Ibanez back. Ibanez had some tremendous hits in the play-off series against the Baltimore Orioles, but the Yankees need to strengthen their bench with younger players who have greater upside.
I am glad to see the Yankees commit to both GM Brian Cashman and Manager Joe Girardi for the 2013 season. I think both, if given the resources and support, can bring the team back to championship level. At this point, the Yankees seem to be in an inferior position to the last place Boston Red Sox in terms of roster flexibility. The Sox ability to unload dead contracts on the Los Angeles Dodgers late in the season was huge. Now that the Sox have their guy as manager (John Farrell), there’s no doubt that we’ll see an improved Red Sox team next season. If the AL East was highly competitive in 2012, it will be even more so in 2013. The difference between first and last place could be which team makes the best decisions this off-season. The margin for error will be less than it has ever been.
I hate to be so doom and gloom, but the Yankees have much work ahead of them. Despite baseball’s highest payroll, they have a team comprised of older ballplayers that are experiencing the inevitable declines in production. The dollars committed to unproductive players like A-Rod and Teixeira are an albatross for a team that wants to reduce its payroll by 2014 to avoid excessive financial penalties. The Yankees do have the talent in the front office and certainly the resources to persevere so how they navigate the next few months will determine if the Yankees are a team of promise and destiny at the start of the 2013 or just another aging ball club that has seen its better years.
A fan of whatever team plays the Tigers…
Despite being an American League fan, it will be hard for me to cheer for the Detroit Tigers in the World Series. With the Cardinals holding a 3-2 advantage against the San Francisco Giants heading into tonight’s NLCS Game 6, my preference is for the Giants to somehow find a way to overcome. But if they are unsuccessful and the Cards advance to face the Tigers, I will pull for St Louis. Residing in the Bay Area, the Giants are a “hometown” favorite for me; while the Cardinals are a “sentimental” favorite (my first major league baseball game as a kid was in St Louis). Plus, as a fan of the Minnesota Vikings and San Jose Sharks, it would be tough for me to pull for any city that boasts the Lions or the Red Wings.
At this point, I am ready for the Hot Stove League to begin…
All hail the Champions…
A quick post to congratulate the New York Yankees for winning the American League East Division Championship on the last day of the season. Thanks to the Baltimore Orioles’ loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, the division was a foregone conclusion when the Yankees completed their thrashing of the Boston Red Sox. Still, I am glad that the team won on the day they clinched the division. A loss on “clinching day” always seems so cheap.
Although it was disappointing the Yankees let a large lead slip, they definitely went into ‘bend but not break’ mode as they held at least a share of first throughout the O’s challenge in the final month of the season. It was a constant back-and-forth…tied, then Yanks ahead, and then tied again. But in the end, the team persevered.
A funny thing happened on the way to the World Series…
The big surprise to me on the last day of the season was the Texas Rangers’ failure to withstand a large charge by the Oakland A’s. I remember looking at the standings in July and writing it off as a foregone conclusion that the Rangers would be the AL West champions. In my mind, they were still the team to beat in the American League. While I recognized the A’s had the spirited ‘don’t quit’ mentality, I still viewed them as inferior either the Rangers or the Los Angeles Angels. This was a team that was throwing Triple A pitchers into the starting rotation in September. All the way to Game 162, I fully expected the Rangers to take care of business. But they failed, and were forced to play the one game Wild Card game against the Baltimore Orioles, which they subsequently lost. Here was the team that was in my mind, the team most likely to go to the World Series and win it, yet they collapsed in the final two most critical weeks of the season.
The Rangers’ loss opens the door for all of the other AL play-off participants to advance to the World Series. I can’t say there is a clear-cut favorite because even the Yankees, with the best record in the conference, have their share of questions. The ALDS series format is odd given the first two games of the series will be held in the inferior team’s ballpark. The Yankees are tied with the O’s late in Game 1 tonight but that always favors the home team with last at-bat.
It was real, it was fun, but it was not real fun…
I am not a Bobby Valentine fan, but I really do believe that firing Valentine was the best case scenario for the Boston Red Sox organization. As a fan of an opposing team, I’d love for the dysfunction to continue, but the Red Sox fans deserve better. I subscribe to the adage that ‘to be the best, you have to beat the best’ so I really hope the Red Sox can secure a manager who fits the organization and maximizes the potential and ability of its players. I still think that recently named Phillies third base coach Ryne Sandberg would be an excellent fit, but maybe it is John Farrell despite the disappointing year in Toronto or other manager. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
Respectful of the man who brought two World Championships to Boston…
Speaking of Boston, it was good to see former Red Sox manager Terry Francona return to the game as manager of the Cleveland Indians. Even when he was the manager of the Red Sox, I had a great deal of respect for Tito. I have long felt he was one of the game’s truly good guys. Yes, that final year in Boston did get away from him, but there were so many factors and personalities at play, I feel it is unfair to pin all the blame on Tito. I am looking forward to seeing what he can do in the Cleveland with his batteries recharged…
A few thoughts on the season…
- Hey Albert, how did that first year in Los Angeles work out for ya? Well, at least you have all those mega millions to enjoy your off-season while the team you bailed on continues the defense of its world championship…
- Miguel Cabrera has overcome those personal demons, I think…
- Bryce Harper got the press, but Mike Trout is the stud…
- A.J. Burnett proved that he is the latest incarnation of Ed Whitson. Wilt under the New York spotlight, but thrive in a smaller market with less glare…
- Melky Cabrera, disappointment is an understatement. I respect the San Francisco Giants for their intention to cut ties with the Melk Man. I really wouldn’t want to be the organization that extends him an olive branch. In other words, I do not want to see Melky back in the Bronx.
- How many more years are left on A-Rod’s contract? Geesh, Jeter continues to pay dividends on his contract at age 38, while A-Rod just keeps making me think of that old Dire Straits’ tune “Money For Nothing”…
- The Atlanta Braves may have made a quiet departure with their Wild Card loss to St. Louis, but there’s no question that the Braves will continue to be a force with those young pitchers…
- Oh, Philadelphia Phillies, where for art thou?…
- The American League Houston Astros? That sounds so wrong! But then again, I have finally accepted the Milwaukee Brewers as a National League team so I guess we’ll have to re-visit this in a few years…
- Trade Ivan Nova and re-sign Hiroki Kuroda…that sounds like a good plan to me!…
I know there’s many more thoughts regarding the 2012 season, but these were a few that immediately came to mind. It was a fun season and continues to be as we move forward in the AL and NL divisional series. The idea of two Wild Card teams per league was a success, and win or lose, it was the right thing to do. There was drama and intrigue up until the last day of the season, and no team “mailed it in”. I still have too many questions about my own team to anoint them as the AL representative for the World Series. As of the present moment, my best guess is a “Sparky Anderson” World Series…The Cincinnati Reds versus the Detroit Tigers. Obviously, I’d prefer to see the Yankees and I hope they prove me wrong about their pitching and clutch hitting…
Ah, October baseball, I love this time of year!
Are you mocking me?…
The final series of the season has begun and the Yankees find themselves a game up on the Baltimore Orioles with two games to go in the battle for AL East supremacy. It’s been a dogfight since the O’s caught the Yankees earlier in the month, and the two teams have pretty much matched each other stride for stride since that time. Sunday, when the Yankees were trailing the Toronto Blue Jays 5-1 after the O’s had won was the first time that I legitimately felt the Yankees could end the day in second place for the first time since early in the season. Fortunately for me…and the Yankees, they fought back to emerge with a 9-6 victory.
A season of surprises…
After years of Yankees-Red Sox and most recently, Yankees-Red Sox-Rays, I never expected this to be the year that the Baltimore Orioles would emerge as the Yankees’ primary nemesis. Still, the Tampa Bay Rays are the team that scares me the most. With their pitching, they have the potential to go all the way if they make it. Granted, it’s clearly an uphill battle for them, but they are perhaps the hottest team in baseball right now with 11 wins in 12 games. Hopefully, the Oakland A’s will end the Rays’ quest but I’d like to see the Rays with an opportunity for at least one more night so they’ll play at the top of their game against the O’s again tomorrow night. If the A’s win against the Texas Rangers tonight, then it’s over for the Rays. I am thankful that the Rays’ run got started so late in the season. If it had occurred earlier, there’s little doubt they’d be bumping shoulders with the Yankees and O’s.
While I am surprised about the successful O’s season, I am flabbergasted by the dismal failure of the Boston Red Sox. This is a team that could have and should have won the AL East in 2011, but after tonight’s game, the team stands at 91 losses. It is the highest loss total since 1965 when they lost 100 games. There’s no threat of 100 losses, but this is clearly an inferior Red Sox team. I think they’ll be much improved in 2013 but the team has much to do in order to re-tool the once championship squad. In my opinion, Bobby Valentine has to go. He has contributed to the dysfunction of the 2012 season and while the losses may not be his fault, he is not the right man for the job. I do not necessarily think that John Farrell is, or that last year’s runner-up, Gene Lamont, should get the job. If I were the Red Sox GM, I’d probably go with a guy who has a great deal of minor league managerial experience but has never gotten the opportunity at the major league level, Ryne Sandberg. He’d be respected by the players and he has the ability to effectively communicate with the younger prospects.
I thought this would be the year the Toronto Blue Jays would take a step forward. If I would have had to choose between the O’s and the Jays at the start of the season, I probably would have taken the Jays. But I felt they regressed this year. Well, actually they did. Who knows how this plays out for John Farrell. It could be ownership is more willing to let him go to Boston, but of course, does Boston want him and is he truly the right fit? This remains to be seen. Nothing like some good old fashioned drama as we head toward the off-season.
As for the other races, I was disappointed to see the Chicago White Sox fade. I felt they had their division, but the talent of the Detroit Tigers persevered and thrust the team into the lead with a few games left. Out west, there’s no doubt the Texas Rangers were going to be the champion, but to put the A’s into the play-offs over the Los Angeles Angels was a surprise. Oakland’s pursuit of Yoenis Cespedes doesn’t look so far fetched now.
In the National League, I never would have predicted a division championship for the Washington Nationals. They earned and deserved it, but I didn’t foresee it. The awful season the Philadelphia Phillies experienced was a surprise. Hey, Cliff Lee, how does that decision to rebuke the Yankees feel now? I know, one season does not a mega-million contract make, but hey, this is baseball and it’s all about ‘what have you done for me lately?’. Congratulations to the Atlanta Braves for at least nailing the Wild Card slot.
The Cincinnati Reds were not a surprise, even playing in the same division as the St Louis Cardinals. This was destined to be a challenging year for the Cards with a new manager and first baseman. The Cardinals should still make the play-offs, but this division played out as expected.
The NL West is where I am perplexed. Although I currently reside in the Bay Area, my NL team is the Los Angeles Dodgers. This is primarily because of the manager (Don Mattingly). But after the expensive acquisitions late in the season (Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Brandon League and others), I really thought the Dodgers would be well poised to surge to the division championship. Of course, I fully underestimated the San Francisco Giants and their pitching staff. Tim Lincecum may have had his struggles this year, but I’d still hate to face him in October with all the chips on the table.
Welcome to the 2012 World Series…
As for my prediction of World Series participants, I am going to go with the Cincinnati Reds versus the Texas Rangers. The Reds, in my opinion, have a slight advantage over the Washington Nationals. Of course, I’ve underestimated the San Francisco Giants all season long so why should I change now? I know this is a Yankees blog and I should be ‘all in’ on another Yankees participation in the World Series. But I am just not convinced the team has the clutch hitting to succeed. Hey, I hope they prove me wrong, but I don’t really see anyone else emerging from the AL than the Rangers. I do not like the Rangers but I recognize that their hunger for a World Series championship remains and they have the talent to succeed. Best case scenario? The Yankees go to the World Series to face the San Francisco Giants and see how their hitters perform against former closer Dave Righetti’s aces.
It seems like the season just started but now just two games separate us from the 2012 post-season. The race to the World Series begins…
I said ‘NO’, oh, by the way, here’s a $30 million contract for you…
There is still not much to write about in the Yankees Universe. There’s a report that Managing GM Hal Steinbrenner has talked with super agent Scott Boras about pitcher Edwin Jackson, but other than that, not much to talk about. Given that Steinbrenner orchestrated the signing of reliever Rafael Soriano last season (much to the disagreement of GM Brian Cashman), it would be interesting to hear what Cash has to say about Jackson. Universally, any team would be happy to sign Jackson on a short term, but a longer term deal is perceived as problematic. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. The Yankees need a solid #2 or #3 pitcher in addition to the current roster, but it is not worth the price of paying Jesus Montero and/or Manuel Baneulos.
Personally, I would not be opposed to Jackson in the rotation as I feel that pitching coach Larry Rothschild would be a very strong influence on the pitcher. He certainly has the potential of being better than anything in the rotation outside of CC Sabathia.
It’s a given that the Yankees need to do something. I think standing pat is the wrong approach. It would most likely ensure a second or third place finish behind the Boston Red Sox and/or Tampa Bay Rays. They need to improve the rotation. There are too many question marks attached to Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter will be another year older. The Yankees need a pitcher other than Sabathia that is completely capable of shutting down the opposition. Jackson can be that guy. I don’t like the idea of “saving your bullets” for another off-season in terms of projected free agents. In 2013, A-Rod and Jeter will be another year older and further from their prime. Why couldn’t have George Steinbrenner instilled this win at all costs mentality in his sons? Okay, fiscal responsibility is a good idea, but the Yankees need to ensure that they can withstand improved Red Sox, Rays and Blue Jays squads.
I like the Yankees’ signing of former Los Angeles Dodgers prospect Preston Mattingly. Granted, Donnie Baseball is one of my all-time heroes. But I’d like to see what the Yankee coaches and instructors can do with the former first round pick. He certainly has the pedigree to succeed. But time will tell if he can be Ken Griffey, Jr… or Pete Rose, Jr. His current path leans toward the latter, but he is only 24 years old. This goes into the category of ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’. For Preston’s sake, I hope that he succeeds in the organization that his father starred.
It was only $35.5 million…
I really feel bad for former Philadelphia Phillies closer Ryan Madson. Once rumored to be close to a 4-year, $44 million contract with the Phillies, he signs with the Cincinnati Reds for a one year contract at $8.5 million. He’ll close for a fraction of the money that the Yankees pay 7th inning guy Rafael Soriano. The hope, obviously, is that liquidity will return to the closer market during the next off-season so that Madson can capture a lucrative long-term deal. I don’t know what went wrong with his negotiations with the Phillies and what led to their acquisition of former Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, but he’ll long wonder what could have been.
We’ll give you over $50 million, but we’d really prefer to keep his salary at a couple mil…
For as much as the Texas Rangers bid for Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish, I will be very surprised if they fail to come to contract terms with Darvish returning to Japan. But at this point in the negotiations, you have to wonder if that’s not the likely outcome. It would be interesting to see Darvish on the open market after next season. I wonder if that would change the Yankees interest level…
It’s hard to believe that pitchers and catchers will be reporting to camp next month. I’ve been in Minnesota all winter long hoping for snow…and being sadly disappointed. At least the opening of baseball camps gives me something to be excited. I am looking forward to the debut of the 2012 Yankees! Bring it on!…