Meaningful Yankee talk has definitely been a rarity in recent weeks…
We are rapidly approaching the start of training camp, so hopefully, we’ll have more to talk about than we’ve experienced in the past month and a half. Of course, I don’t really want a repeat of last spring’s A-Rod saga with the steroids admission and hip surgery.
As we head to camp, many positions are locked up. However, there are questions about left and center fields. I know that Curtis Granderson is a centerfielder, but there’s obviously been talk about his possible move to left so we’ll put center in the ? mark column. Otherwise, all positions are set. If the season started today, the lineup would look like this:
Brett Gardner/Randy Winn-lf
With this configuration, I am with the majority that still want the Yanks to find a way to bring Rocco Baldelli to camp.
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
I read the article about how excited Hank Steinbrenner was about the Yankees’ off-season additions. However, I have to admit that I remain a bit skeptical. The off-season losses were huge. The Yankees will definitely miss Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon. I think the team will regret not bringing back at least one of those players. Also, in Buster Olney’s blog post yesterday, he stated that as the dust has settled on the AZ-Det-NY trade, all of the players were flawed. From a character-standpoint, Curtis Granderson is a first class addition…no argument from me. However, he has trouble with lefties and he strikes out too much. He’ll need to improve in these areas for long-term success in the Bronx. Javier Vazquez is a quality pitcher and he strengthens the rotation, however, the fact remains that he struggled in the Bronx during his last go-around so he still has to prove himself regardless of his subsequent success in Chicago and Atlanta. Meanwhile, the Boston Red Sox have clearly improved themselves so the gap between these two teams has probably faded… but don’t tell Julia that I said that!
Antonelli/New York Daily News
If you missed Harold Reynolds interview with Derek Jeter on MLB.com, I encourage you to listen to it. Hat tip to Jane Heller, Confessions of a She-Fan for the heads-up about the interview. DJ shows why he is a legend in our midst. He has a quality that clearly sets him apart from others. Sure, there are other players like him (Chase Utley immediately comes to mind), but I am glad to have witnessed the entire career of a great player. I hope the Yankees find a way to ensure that DJ ends his career in pinstripes. During the interview with Harold Reynolds, DJ mentioned how strange it was to see Don Mattingly in a Dodgers uniform. I don’t really want to experience seeing DJ, as a player, in another uniform. After he retires, if he decides to stay in baseball, he’ll most likely wear different colors but I can deal with that. Don Mattingly remains my favorite living Yankee, and his presence in Dodger gear doesn’t diminish that respect. I hope that Donnie Baseball is the next Dodgers manager.
Speaking of the Dodgers, the Yankees travel to Chavez Ravine this year to face Joe Torre and company. I definitely want to make the trip to see at least one game of the series. It should be very exciting times.
What else is there to talk about? Despite my beloved Minnesota Vikings losing to the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship, I am pulling for the Saints in the Super Bowl. I think the Vikings could have and should have beat the Saints, but that’s water under the bridge at this point. While I want the Saints to win, do I think they’ll beat the Colts? Not really. Peyton and Crew are simply too superior to allow for an upset. So, while I want the Saints, I am prepared for a Colts victory. This is one time that I hope I am wrong…
I have tickets to see Daughtry and Lifehouse in concert in early May. I am very excited to see Daughtry perform. I still can’t understand how Taylor Hicks beat Chris Daughtry on American Idol, but Chris has his revenge. He has clearly had the best career of any of his AI opponents, and stands among the other AI greats like Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson.
Pardon me for saying this, but if I were New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan, I would have thrown the finger too!…
After a month of no news or action, the Randy Winn signing was a bit underwhelming…
All off-season, Yankees fans everywhere have yearned for the return of fan favorite Johnny Damon. Perfectly suited for left field in the new Yankee Stadium, it seemed, at least initially, as though the two sides would eventually come together.
Yet, as we approach February, the link between Damon and the Yankees is irreparably damaged. I don’t blame the player and I clearly find fault with the agent, Scott Boras. If, at one point, the Yankees were willing to pay 2 years at $14 million when Damon wanted at least 2 years at $22 million, it would seem that there was room for compromise. However, neither side actively pursued resolution and now the team has clearly moved on.
It’s a sad situation and the Yankees will regret the move at some point this season. Perhaps a couple of years down the road when Carl Crawford is patrolling left, it won’t get a passing thought. But for now, we say goodbye to Damon…prematurely in my opinion. I wish him the very best wherever he lands (even if it is in Toronto). Thanks, Johnny, for the great memories in the Bronx!
William Perlman/The Star Ledger
Meanwhile, the Yankees have signed former San Francisco Giants outfielder Randy Winn. Winn is coming off a disappointing season but he’s been a reliable player in years past. I am very disappointed with the move and I truly hope that Brett Gardner wins the job outright in spring training. Perhaps another signing is imminent (Reed Johnson or Rocco Baldelli?) but most likely, the Yankees have made their final player move before heading to Tampa.
It was difficult to watch Xavier Nady sign with the Chicago Cubs. I had really hoped that if the Yankees didn’t sign Damon, they’d pursue Nady. Maybe he regresses in his attempt to come back from an injury-filled 2009 season, but I really think he’ll have a solid season and will be one of the free agent success stories. It was an excellent move for Lou Piniella and the Cubs.
Chris Faytok/The Star Ledger
Sports-wise, this has been a tough week for me. On Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings lost a heartbreaker to the New Orleans Saints. The Vikings had their chances but it was not meant to be. As Buster Olney put it, you expect to win as a Vikings fan but you are conditioned to lose. I am not optimistic about next season if the starting QB is either Tavaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels so this was definitely the lost opportunity of a lifetime. It was more painful than the loss in the 1998 NFC Championship to the Atlanta Falcons.
So far, 2010 has not been a great year for my sports teams but there is still much time for a major turnaround. Sorry Julia! I do not intend to lose to you this year…in any sport!
If the reports are true, Derek Jeter will be breaking the hearts of women and girls across the country…
According to Newsday and the New York Post, Derek Jeter will marry Minka Kelly on November 5th…right after the end of the World Series.
The reception will likely be held at Oheka Castle in Huntington, Long Island.
It is hard to believe that DJ has finally decided to settle down, but I think he’s made a wise choice with Minka. From afar, they seem like a very happy couple. Let’s hope that 2010, all the way around, is DJ’s best yet!
New York Post
Much is being made of the alleged wedding date which ends a day or two after the last possible game for the World Series. I think Derek will be fine with a night’s rest after he helps the Yankees win their 28th World Championship. But, of course, my friend Julia will argue that DJ will have several weeks, if not more, to rest up for the wedding following the end of the Yankees’ season. Well, I guess that’s why they play the games.
Congrats to Derek and Minka!…if the rumored wedding is true…
Speculation continues to churn out more names for left field. I like the one that would put Rick Ankiel and Rocco Baldelli in a platoon. I do not want to see the team sign an aging veteran like Brian Giles or Jermaine Dye. But the longer Johnny Damon goes unsigned, the more I get renewed hope that he’ll settle for less and return to the Bronx. Clearly, his return is the best case scenario.
Al Bello/Getty Images
The Dallas Cowboys are headed to Minnesota in the divisional play-offs next week. For me, it is chance for revenge of 1975’s Hail Mary Pass by Roger Staubach as the Cowboys ousted the Vikings from the play-offs. The 1975 Vikings were a great team, much like the 1998 version, and both of those teams suffered bitter, disappointing losses to end their respective seasons. Brett Favre has a great deal of experience facing the Cowboys in the play-offs. Too often, the games were played at Texas Stadium and Favre ended up on the losing end. However, this time, the game is at home so Favre has a chance for vindication. After years of watching the Cowboys end his season, he can finally return the favor. Let’s hope that a trip to the NFC Championship is in store for the Vikings.
The Cowboys entered December trying to find post-Thanksgiving success…something that has eluded the team in recent years. This year, the Cowboys were able to turn it up a notch when the temperatures dropped. They definitely have momentum on their side following two lop-sided wins over their bitter division rival, the Philadelphia Eagles. Many experts had predicted that the eventual NFC champion would come from the winner of the Cowboys-Eagles game. I hope that’s not the case…
Hey Julia, only 84 more days until you experience the Red Sox first defeat! 😉
“I consider this position I am playing in as a bench role”…
These were the words of Yankees GM Brian Cashman on January 6th regarding the current Yankees outfield. Cashman is apparently looking for a right-handed bat to complement Brett Gardner in left. Let’s see if these words still hold true on, say, February 23rd. I guess we’ll check back at that time to see if Cashman held true to his words.
An intriguing option in a platoon situation is free agent outfielder Rocco Baldelli. Rocco has had medical issues the past few years and suffers from channelopathy, but in a limited role, he might be a viable option. He appeared in only 62 games last season for the Boston Red Sox, batting .253 with 7 home runs and 23 RBI’s. I don’t know what the future holds for Rocco, but if he can overcome his medical condition, he might thrive in a part-time position. I am sure the price tag would be enticing to a GM looking to keep the payroll under $200 million…
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
I am warming up to the idea of Reed Johnson as a possibility for a potential platoon, but as each passing day goes by and Johnny Damon remains a free agent, I am hopeful that his price tag falls far enough that he fits into Cashman’s budget. If the Yankees could get Damon to come back for one year, it would be an ideal situation and Johnny could test the free agent waters next fall.
It’s tough when you pull up a New York paper, and the leading Yankees story is the signing of pitcher Sergio Mitre to a one-year, $850,000 deal. Okay, I accept that the possibility that Mitre will be significantly improved since he’ll be further from his elbow ligament replacement surgery (July 2008). But to spotlight him in the New York tabloids is a bit much. I do not see Mitre as more than a bit player in 2010. Maybe he’ll prove to be the second coming of Aaron Small but who knows…
Sipkin/New York Daily News
Peter Abraham says that Chien-Ming Wang is ready to move on from the Yankees. I am still a bit perplexed why the Yankees didn’t try to give Wang one more chance. Maybe there’s a possibility that he could still return, but I would hate to see him experience a rebirth in Boston (not that they need another starter with that rotation). Actually, if it were me, I’d go to Seattle. The Mariners are definitely poised to make a run in what should be Ken Griffey, Jr.’s final year. The Mariners have made some great acquisitions this off-season. Sure, they lost Adrian Beltre, but they’ve acquired Cliff Lee, Casey Kotchman, and Chone Figgins. But like with Damon, I do hope that Wang finds his way back to the Bronx.
Andrew Mills/The Star-Ledger
I was sorry to see David Cone leave the YES Network. There was always something very re-assuring about Coney as a player and as a broadcaster. I can’t say that I was pleased when he decided to go to Boston to pitch, but he is a class guy. Whatever the future holds for Coney, I hope that it’s what he wants to do.
Congratulations to pitcher Joba Chamberlain for being a winner of the Thurman Munson Award (which acknowledges excellence in competition and philanthropic work in the community). The award will be given on February 2nd. This is definitely a preferable off-season event over a DUI. I am glad to see Joba’s growth and maturity in a very positive direction.
Sports Illustrated, courtesy of Microsoft
My weekend football predictions:
Cincinnati Bengals 21, New York Jets 17
New England Patriots 31, Baltimore Ravens 20 (Okay, this is for my friend Julia!)
Arizona Cardinals 27, Green Bay Packers 17
Dallas Cowboys 33, Philadelphia Eagles 31
The only problem with my predictions is that it would bring the Dallas Cowboys to Minnesota to face the Vikings. This, of course, is the match-up that has haunted me for many years. On December 28, 1975, I was watching the Cowboys and Vikings in the NFC Divisional Play-offs. It appeared that the Vikings had the game in hand until Roger Staubach threw the unbelievable Hail Mary pass caught by Drew Pearson as Nate Wright fell to the ground. I remember exactly where I was, where I was standing, and my reaction. Fortunately, I’ve had the Yankees all these years to give me some “relief” from the disappointment…
When can we start talking about baseball?…
Let’s Go Yankees! 🙂
Carl Pavano said what?
“When you’re down, you expect your organization to pick you up, not kick you when you’re down. I’ve had to pick myself up quite a few times the last four years.”
If Carl had to pick himself up quite a few times, who’s fault was it that he was down to begin with? Was it the Yankees fault that the guy had no heart and was susceptible to constant injuries? What a jerk! Did this guy really win 18 games for the Marlins a few years back? Good luck in Cleveland…
The new Yankee Stadium is definitely coming together:
Man, I am going to hate John Smoltz’s rational, sane, professional interview responses now more than ever! Seriously, I am worried about the good job that Theo is doing toward building the 2009 Red Sox. He has rebounded very nicely since the Teixeira saga. I saw that they have their eye on Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero. Assuming that Jesus Montero stays at catcher (there’s been talk of him moving to first base for physical reasons, but I think that won’t happen now that Teixeira is locked in at first), the Yankees and Red Sox could have catchers with the same last name once Jesus makes it to the bigs in the not-so-distant future.
Mark Kotsay and Rocco Baldelli as your back up outfielders…that’s just sick! And I mean that with the highest respect from a bitter rival. Meanwhile, the Yankees are talking about trading Xavier Nady to put .220 hitter Nick Swisher in right, and they still haven’t figured out center field. Johnny Damon is the only certainty in the Yankee outfield…
I read a blog today that the Yankees should try to sign Arizona’s RP Juan Cruz for the bullpen and I completely agree. They’d only have to surrender a 4th round pick since picks 1-3 are headed to the Angels, Brewers and Blue Jays for the earlier FA signings. The guy has huge upside, and is only 30 years old. He is #19 on ESPN’s Keith Law’s list of top free agents:
POSITION: Relief pitcher
Cruz has an electric arm, but struggles with command and control have held him back in the past and limited his value to Arizona in 2008, although he showed some improvement after missing time with an oblique strain in July.
Cruz throws a 94-97 mph four-seamer with late life, and it plays up because his arm is so quick, meaning that the ball gets in on hitters quickly. He pairs it with a sharp slider, very hard and 80-84 against right-handed batters but a little slower when he’s trying to use it against left-handed hitters. It’s power stuff that misses bats, which plays in any park in either league, and he has a good chance to develop into a closer for a team looking to create one rather than give big money to K-Rod.
I changed the name of this blog from Fiddler on the Roof to I’m Not A Headline Guy to give it a little more originality. But, of course, it is not original at all. My idol is Lou Gehrig, and the name of the blog is a tribute to him. It is a quote that Lou once made. Lou, I didn’t live in your era, but you were a headline guy, and a class act…
Goodnight all! For the record, baseball fans rock! 🙂
As much as I hate to give credit to the Red Sox, I thought the signings of SP John Smoltz and OF Rocco Baldelli were excellent moves. Clearly, the Red Sox can now stack up a rotation that meets or exceeds anybody. There’s risk with both players, but the price offsets much of the risk. These were good moves by Theo, and of course, Smoltzie gives the Red Sox the ability to seriously entertain moving Clay Buchholz for better pieces to the puzzle.
Red Sox or not, it is going to be tough to see John Smoltz in anything other than a Braves uniform…
Meanwhile, the Yankees are actively trying to move either Xavier Nady or Nick Swisher. By all accounts, it will be the former. Either way, I am not convinced that you want Swisher as your starting right fielder. I’d rather have him as the fourth outfielder, who can back up Mark Teixeira if necessary. It’s tough having question marks in both right and center. Johnny Damon is the only certainty in the outfield. Anyone got an extra $20 mil or so lying around that we can use to bring Manny to the Bronx?
Rob Neyer makes a good argument on his ESPN blog for why the Yankees should just hang on to both Nady and Swisher. He’s right…
I like the way the Andy Pettitte camp floated the possibility that Andy would be open to returning to the Astros. Of course, the Astros GM subsequently stated that Andy would not fit their budget. I still think Andy will eventually re-sign with the Yankees, but this prolonged negotiation, with so much posturing by both sides, is getting old.
I thought the photo of Jason Giambi putting his head on Billy Beane’s shoulder during yesterday’s press conference was priceless. Clearly, the old “G” is back. Well, in every way except the MVP caliber production that the A’s were accustomed to in 1999 or 2000. Still, Giambi is going to have a much more positive impact on the A’s clubhouse than he ever did or could have with the Yankees clubhouse.
I saw that Kris Benson pitched for the Dodgers. I have always liked Benson, and I am hopeful that a team takes a chance on him and that he has the opportunity to capture some of the promise he held when he was younger. I have a Benson signed baseball from his days with the Pirates, and I have always hoped that he would achieve success in the major leagues. But injuries have derailed his career. Nevertheless, here’s to you, Kent. Hopefully, the Dodgers saw enough that you can make it to Joe Torre’s lineup card…
Hey Brett Favre…it’s called retirement; try it, you might like it…
How cool would it be for Joe Flacco to defeat the mighty Titans?…
Whatever happened to former Yankee second baseman Brian Doyle?…
I don’t know the answer to this question, but have the top pitcher and hitter to be traded at the trading deadline ever been subsequently signed as free agents by the same team in the subsequent offseason prior to this year?
Well, the battle today was won by the Red Sox, but the war ensues…