DJ LeMahieu Signs 2-Year Deal w/Yankees…
The Yankees caught everyone by surprise on Friday when it was reported they had signed former Colorado Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu to a two-year contract worth $24 million, pending a physical. I knew the San Francisco Giants were interested in LeMahieu and were willing to move Joe Panik if necessary and the Los Angeles Dodgers had long been mentioned as a favorite but I hadn’t really given any thought to DJ as a Yankee. So, when I first heard the news, I was a bit underwhelmed.
This, in no way, means I do not recognize LeMahieu is a very good baseball player. He is. I guess going into the off-season, I felt the Yankees had a tremendous opportunity to substantially improve their club at a time when the Boston Red Sox are struggling with the pains of a very high payroll. I don’t want to beat the Red Sox, I want to crush them. I had felt if the Yankees could sign Patrick Corbin and Manny Machado and/or Bryce Harper, they’d be the clear most powerful team in the AL East. As we know, the Yankees expressed interest but did not play in the Corbin negotiations when other offers exceeded their comfort zone. Now, it appears the Yankees are out on both Machado and Harper.
I’ll remain on Team Machado until he signs with another club. Even Ken Rosenthal, while he believes the Yankees are no longer “in” on Machado, will only believe he’s not going to be a Yankee when he pulls up another jersey at an introductory press conference. To me, Machado is missed opportunity. A large number of fans are quick to say Machado was merely a ‘want’ and not a need. Okay, I get it. But how often are young (very young) superstars available for only money? And how many of those young superstars have always wanted to be Yankees? I guess we’d like to think everyone wants to be a Yankee. But that’s a rather narcissistic view. Both Harper and Machado are players who wanted to wear the famed Pinstripes and it’s disappointing, to me, that neither dream will come true.
Setting aside Machado and Harper, the Yankees ARE an improved team. I like the infield with LeMahieu at second and Gleyber Torres at shortstop over Troy Tulowitzki at short and Gleyber remaining at second even though I didn’t really want to see Gleyber sliding back and forth. I am not convinced Tulo can stay healthy and I certainly do not want to pin any hopes on him. LeMahieu, on the other hand, can play a vital role for this team.
|Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Kelley L Cox)|
Down the stretch last year, Colorado’s great third baseman Nolan Arenado was quoted as saying this about LeMahieu: “If fans knew how much we appreciate DJ and saw how much we care for him and how important he is to this team, they’d realize what a big factor he is. He sets the standard for us. We go where he goes, really.” That’s very high praise from one of the game’s true superstars. Charlie Blackmon is also on record making similar comments. I listened to an interview with Blackmon a few days ago and he was still expressing hope the Rockies would re-sign LeMahieu despite the team’s acquisition of Daniel Murphy. It appears the Rockies intend to play Murphy at first, assuming they figure out what do to with Ian Desmond, and open second base for competition between a couple of young players. The Rockies hold aspirations of competing with the Dodgers for the NL West title and LeMahieu would have helped their cause.
While I probably would have preferred Marwin Gonzalez for his ability to play shortstop and left field, it’s hard to find fault with the defensive prowess LeMahieu brings to the team. He may not have much power but he’s certainly not going to disappoint you with his bat. He has a batting title to his credit (NL, 2016) and has appeared in a couple of All-Star games. He has won three Gold Gloves, including the past two years. He has also been the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year at second for the last two seasons and in 2013.
Infield defense was a huge concern prior to LeMahieu’s signing so his presence is much needed and as it stands right now I am glad he’s a Yankee. If Tulo shows anything at shortstop, the Yankees have the option of moving LeMahieu to third with Miguel Andújar shifting to DH and Giancarlo Stanton playing left field which eases some doubts I have with the dependence on Brett Gardner as an every day option in left field. To sign Machado now would probably mean the end of the Yankees career for Didi Gregorius, a free agent after the upcoming season. I want Didi back as the team’s starting shortstop so maybe all things considered, the LeMahieu signing is a blessing.
|Photo Credit: Instagram via @sirdidig18|
Like Tulo, LeMahieu will have to find a new number. The number 9 he wore in Colorado is retired for the late Roger Maris. The Yankees retired the number for Maris in 1984, a few months after they had traded Graig Nettles, the last to wear the number, to the San Diego Padres.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images|
The fringe players are slowly coming off the 40-man roster. RHP A.J. Cole was claimed by the Cleveland Indians on waivers yesterday. He had been designated for assignment to make room for Tulowitzki. I thought the Yankees might be able to pick up a lower-ranked prospect for Cole but it was not to be. Yesterday, to make room for LHP Zach Britton, infielder Hanser Alberto was waived and almost immediately claimed by Britton’s former team, the Baltimore Orioles. Once the LeMahieu signing becomes official, the Yankees will need to make another move so Luis Cessa, Ben Heller and Tim Locastro are probably the most vulnerable unless the Yankees finally move Sonny Gray for prospects (I’d prefer MLB talent in return). I like Heller despite his current recovery from Tommy John surgery (which means he can’t provide any immediate help) but would prefer to see the exit of Cessa over Heller.
The Yankees are always slow to announce their non-roster invitees for Spring Training but the list is building:
LHP Rex Brothers
LHP Danny Coulombe
RHP Drew Hutchison
OF Billy Burns
OF Matt Lipka
I don’t see any great upside with these players but Scranton/Wilkes-Barre needs some help after the losses they’ve suffered in the last few months so they represent organizational depth. Brothers is a one-time Colorado Rockie and teammate of Tulo, LeMahieu, Tommy Kahnle and, cough-cough, free agent reliever Adam Ottavino.
Lastly, while I was glad to see the Yankees agree with all of their arbitration-eligible players on new contracts for the upcoming season except one, I was disappointed the one player is Luis Severino. I don’t like the arbitration process which requires the team to tell an arbitrator the entirety of the player’s faults to build their case for the lower salary. If Dellin Betances leaves via free agency after the season, I will look back to the contentious hearing he had with the team a couple years ago and the poor choice of words by Yankees President Randy Levine after the decision in the team’s favor as a reason for his departure. I know, Dellin’s final decision will most likely be based on money but he surely has the negative feelings in the back of his mind regardless of his love of wearing the hometown Pinstripes. I think what bothers me more about Sevy’s case is how close the two parties are. Severino wants $5.25 million while the team offered $4.4 million. It seems like there was room for compromise. The two sides can continue to negotiate so I hope there is resolution before the actual arbitration hearing is held. We need to build Sevy up to be the ace he is destined to be, not tear him down.
I was very glad the Yankees settled with new starting pitcher James Paxton for $8.5 million. I want Paxton’s experience to be very positive from the start. By all accounts, he is very excited about pitching for the Yankees. In reading and listening to Zach Britton’s words about re-signing with the Yankees, it is very clear how he and his family were treated by the Yankees played a very strong factor in his decision to return. I want Paxton fully appreciate his first year in the Bronx too.
Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training a month from tomorrow. I am anxious to see Tampa and Steinbrenner Field buzzing with Yankees again. There’s no doubt Manager Aaron Boone will carry greater confidence and preparedness into camp this year with a year under his belt. I am convinced he’ll be much stronger this year and that bodes well for the team.
Good times in the Yankees Universe.
As always, Go Yankees!
|Credit: Kathy Willens-AP|
Brewers 9, Yankees 4…
In a game that should have been about young Aaron Judge shattering a mark long held by the great Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio, Tyler Clippard torched a chance at yet another win as the Yankees fell to the Milwaukee Brewers.
We have gone from hoping the starters can successfully get the game to the bullpen to “OMG Joe, don’t take ‘the starter’ (insert name) out!”.
But first, Aaron Judge. With his 30th home run of the season, Judge broke the Yankees season record for most home runs by a rookie which has been held by Joe DiMaggio since 1936. The homer, a shot to center off Brewers reliever Josh Hader, traveled 432 feet. Judge has reached base in 37 consecutive games that he started, the only blemish being a recent unsuccessful pinch hit appearance. He is also only one of three Yankees to ever have 30 home runs by the All-Star Break (joining Roger Maris who had 33 in his historic 1961 season and Alex Rodriguez who had 30 in 2007).
|Credit: Mike Stobe-Getty Images|
As for the game, it was a bend and mostly not break performance for Jordan Montgomery. He worked out of a potential run scoring opportunity for the Brewers when they had two on with no outs in the second inning and got out of the inning by striking out Keon Broxton with a runner at third.
With one out in the bottom of the second inning, Didi Gregorius lined a sharp fly ball to right but right fielder Domingo Santana made a slight turn in the wrong direction that caused him to miss Didi’s ball as it glanced off his glove for an error. Didi ended up at third on the play. Clint Frazier followed with a sacrifice fly and it was 1-0 Yankees.
The Brewers finally got to Montgomery in the 4th inning when Ryan Braun opened with a double and Jesus Aguilar homered to right as the Brewers took the 2-1 lead. The Yankees came right back in the bottom of the inning when Didi Gregorius reached first base on another fielding error and Ji-Man Choi, providing something that we have rarely seen from the team’s first basemen…production, homered in the rain to right. “Track, Wall, See Ya!” courtesy of Michael Kay. The Yankees had re-taken the lead with the second deck towering blast, 3-2.
The rain started coming down in buckets and the game moved into a delay. When play resumed in the top of the 5th, Montgomery got into trouble again when Orlando Arcia and Jonathan Villar hit consecutive one-out singles. I am sure the rain delay factored into his performance. Tyler Webb was brought in to replace Monty and he induced Domingo Santana to hit into an inning-ending double play. For the game, Monty went 4 1/3 innings, giving up 7 hits and the two-run homer. He didn’t walk anyone and struck out 4 in the eventual no-decision. In the bottom of the inning, Judge led off with his historic home run. 4-2, Yankees.
Webb was back out on the mound in the top of the 6th. He walked Ryan Braun on a 3-2 count and former Red Sock Travis Shaw followed with a double to push Braun to third. Then, in a move that brought a groan from me, Manager Joe Girardi pulled Webb and brought in the flammable Tyler Clippard. A wild pitch allowed Braun to score and Shaw to move to third. Jesus Aguilar lofted a fly to center that scored Shaw and the game was tied.
The Yankees were unable to do anything in the bottom of the 6th as Josh Hader and the Brewers struck out the side.
With another groan when I saw Clippard back out on the mound for the 7th, any optimism I had was quickly evaporating. With one out, Clippard walked Jonathan Villar and Domingo Santana. A fly out by Ryan Braun moved the runners to second and third. Clippard issued an intentional pass to Travis Shaw and the bases were loaded for the only reliever who is worse than Dellin Betances right now. Jesus Aguilar, loving every minute of Yankee Stadium, took advantage of the opportunity and destroyed the Clippard offering for a grand slam with a blast to center (his second homer of the night). I know that Girardi was trying to avoid using Chad Green or Adam Warren, but Clippard should have never been the guy on the mound at that point in the game. When I fire up the grill, I don’t use lighter fluid, I just throw pics of Clippard on the charcoal and flames erupt.
Girardi pulled Clippard at that point, but his replacement, Chasen Shreve, had the Clippard-Betances Syndrome and gave up another run with the first two men he faced. A double by Hernan Perez and a single by Manny Pina (who?) which scored Perez. The Brewers had the 9-4 lead and coasted to the four-hit victory. Clippard (1-5) took the loss with his fifth blown game.
The Yankees (44-40) are on the fast track for third place in the AL East. The Boston Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 8-3, to pad their lead by 4.5 games. But even with the loss, the Rays are just a game behind the Yankees.
Brett Gardner had four walks in the game but wasn’t able to do anything with the free passes. He was caught stealing third in the 3rd inning. Clint Frazier, in addition to the sac fly RBI, had a triple in the 8th with one out, but was left stranded.
I remember back in the good old days when the Yankees bullpen meant a complete shutdown of the opposition’s offense. I miss those days…
Odds & Ends…
When an “unnamed Yankees insider” speaks, it always sounds exactly like the words are coming out of the mouth of Yankees Idiot…sorry I mean…President, Randy Levine. The “insider” told The New York Daily News, speaking about Greg Bird, that “You have to wonder what’s with this guy. You’d think with Judge and Sanchez, the guys he came up through the system with, doing so well up here, he’d want to be part of this. Apparently not.” I may be frustrated that Bird has been unable to get back on the field with his ankle injury but I do not blame the player. If he feels that he is not 100% and would be a liability on the field, I will not fault him for trying to find pain relief and good health before he returns. Bird responded “I want to play. I’ve always wanted to play since I can remember. I love baseball. For me, I’m doing everything I can to come back. I love it and I want to be playing with these guys. I would hope people see it”. I see it and wish that Levine would shut the h*ll up…
Bird will consult with Dr Martin O’Malley, a foot and ankle surgeon, on Monday. So, we should have clarity on whether or not he’s lost for the season soon. This is shaping up to be two consecutive lost years for the young slugger.
|Credit: Seth Wenig-AP|
Matt Holliday and Starlin Castro are now expected to rejoin the Yankees when they open the second half next week in Boston. Holliday is going to start a rehab assignment today. Castro bowed out of the All-Star Game and in a move that was a little bittersweet (for me) to take, Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners was named as his replacement. Nothing against Cano as I still think he’s a good player, but it’s a reminder of the sting I felt when he left in free agency.
In a surprise move today, the Yankees have optioned Jordan Montgomery and Luis Cessa to Triple-A and have recalled relievers Ben Heller and Jonathan Holder. I can only assume that the moves were made to strengthen the Yankees bullpen in light of Clippard’s meltdown. Montgomery will be back after the All-Star break.
Have a great Saturday! A new day and a new opportunity to win a game. Let’s Go Yankees!
Credit: Jim Davis/Globe Staff
The lead for my post today has to be in support of Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones. He was subjected to thrown objects and racial taunts in Boston on Monday night. As a Yankees fan, it would be easy to pick on the Red Sox fans but this is not isolated to Fenway Park. There are small, narrow-minded people in every stadium, including Yankee Stadium. There is no excuse for the racial slurs and unacceptable behavior anywhere.
Boston Red Sox President Sam Kennedy issued the following statement:
“The Red Sox have zero tolerance for such inexcusable behavior, and our entire organization and our fans are sickened by the conduct of an ignorant few. Such conduct should be reported immediately to Red Sox security, and any spectator behaving in this manner forfeits his/her right to remain in the ballpark, and may be subject to further action. Our review of last night’s events is ongoing.”
Granted, the Red Sox response was driven in large part by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred but I thought the Red Sox said the right words. The proof is in the pudding so now let’s see Red Sox security enforce those words. But it doesn’t stop there. Security for every MLB team needs to take similar action. There simply cannot be any tolerance for this type of behavior regardless of geography. I support the Yankees but I will never support racial inequality and injustice. I do not support the uniform he wears, but I will always support Adam Jones…the player and the man.
A close friend of mine, a Boston-area resident and die-hard Red Sox fan, posted this on Social Media yesterday:
“I’m baffled….why are so many Red Sox fans defending the deplorable behavior of the fans last night at Fenway who yelled racial slurs and threw things at Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles? This SHOULD be something we all agree on….there is no room for hate at Fenway.”
I am in 100% agreement with her words. This type of behavior must stop now.
To Boston’s credit, Red Sox fans gave Adam Jones a much-deserved standing ovation during yesterday’s game.
Moving on to baseball, the Yankees made a couple of moves yesterday. Greg Bird was placed on the 10-Day Disabled List. The ankle he injured the last week of training camp has not sufficiently healed and may have contributed to the dreadful 6-for-60 start (.100 batting average) with 22 strikeouts. Rob Refsnyder was recalled to take Bird’s roster spot and he’ll back up interim starting first baseman Chris Carter. Also, Luis Cessa was demoted after one day in the Bronx. He came up long enough to cover the innings that Luis Severino could not on Monday (allowing the rest of the bullpen to take a much needed night off). Mission accomplished, and back to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Recalled in his place is lefty reliever Chasen Shreve. Shreve has pitched very well this year whether for the Yankees or the RailRiders. Prior to his demotion to AAA, he pitched three scoreless innings with two strikeouts. At Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, he pitched 6 1/3 innings and allowed only one run. He struck out twelve and walked none.
The Yankees may get catcher Gary Sanchez back on Friday at Wrigley Field in Chicago.
It’s possible that Jacoby Ellsbury could find his way to the DL (surprise, surprise…yeah, not really). He has a bruised nerve in his left elbow. The Yankees are going to give it a couple of days before making any decisions. Oh well, it’s good opportunity for Aaron Hicks to get some regular playing time. I personally could have come up with many better ways to spend $153 million a few years ago but the Yankees didn’t ask me.
According to the Miami Herald, Jeb Bush has indicated Derek Jeter will run Baseball Operations if their purchase of the Miami Marlins comes to fruition. With a lack of experience, it will be interesting, if the sale does go through, to see who Jeter hires or if he’ll retain Yankees Legend Don Mattingly as the team’s manager. I’ve heard some speculate that Alex Rodriguez could be the eventual manager. If it were me, one of the first telephone calls I would make to join my administration would be Yankees Vice President and Director of Amateur Scouting Damon Oppenheimer. I could easily envision Oppenheimer as the team’s GM. If not Oppenheimer, then former Yankees Assistant GM Kim Ng, currently Senior Vice President for Baseball Operations with Major League Baseball. Rule Number One, surround yourself with people that are smarter than you.
In last night’s baseball action, where do we begin? You can talk about Brett Gardner’s second multi-homer game in four days, Matt Holliday’s 3-for-4 night or another win by Masahiro Tanaka (4-1) as the Yankees stopped Toronto’s three-game winning streak with an 11-5 victory. But really, the game came down to two words:
The Aaron Judge Show continues to dazzle live and TV audiences. Judge started the day with a smashed TV in the outfield terrace during batting practice off a monster home run. It was a sign of things to come as Judge matched Gardner’s two homer day and easily took the spotlight from the speedy Gardner. With a homer by center fielder Aaron Hicks, the Yankees outfield produced five home runs. It was the most home runs produced by a Yankees outfield trio since Mickey Mantle (2), Roger Maris (2) and Yogi Berra (1) did it on May 30, 1961 in a 12-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox. Judge finished with four RBI’s while Gardner had three.
Credit: Kathy Willens/AP
Masahiro Tanaka was unable to match his last start in Boston and he failed to deliver a quality start but fortunately on this night it was not needed. He needed to do enough to deliver the win and, thanks to the Yankees bats, he did his job. He went 6 1/3 innings. He allowed eight eights and four runs, striking out two. Toronto got to Tanaka in the 7th inning when Steve Pearce homered and Devon Travis singled. With one out, Clippard replaced Tanaka after the Travis at-bat, and was ineffective. Although he got Chris Coghlan out, he gave up a single to Kevin Pillar and walked Joey Bats to load the bases. Dellin Betances replaced Clippard, and balked to allow Travis to score (with the run charged to Tanaka). Betances then walked Russell Martin to re-load the bases, which brought the tying run to the plate. But Betances struck out Kendrys Morales to end the threat.
Former Yankee Steve Pearce had two home runs for Toronto, both off Tanaka.
With the win, the Yankees (16-9) moved back into a first place tie in the AL East with the Baltimore Orioles. The O’s lost to the Red Sox, 5-2.
On the downside, catcher Austin Romine left the game with a cramp in his right groin. According to manager Joe Girardi, Romine was pulled from the game despite saying no at least three times. Hopefully, Romine is better today and this doesn’t develop into something more serious that causes lost playing time. Regardless of how Romine feels today, I’d guess that Kyle Higashioka will be the starting catcher for the final game of the three-game set with the Blue Jays. The Yankees will play it conservatively and allow Romine sufficient rest to recover. The impending return of #24 comes at a very good time.
Have a great Wednesday! Hopefully the Yankees can get over the hump and beat Marcus Stroman and the Blue Jays!
Going up or going down?…
About 20 games into the season and the Yankees are barely closer to first place than they are last place. Only two games separate the Yankees from the dismal start by the Boston Red Sox but of course the Sox are playing better as of late. It’s only April so at this point, the standings don’t really mean too much as the superior AL East teams will begin to separate themselves from the pretenders over the course of the next couple of months.
It was nice to see the Yankees pull off a walk-off win at Yankee Stadium last night against the team that seems to terrorize them in the play-offs in recent years, the Detroit Tigers. I am really surprised that Justin Verlander holds an 0-2 mark with 4.50 ERA for his career at the new Yankee Stadium. When he is on the mound, it is hard not to expect bad things for the home team. So, regardless of Verlander’s struggles at Yankee Stadium, it is still a great feeling to pick up a win on a night when he took the mound.
Cashman made the right decision…
Lately, there have been numerous columns and articles written about how disastrous the Yankees trade for Michael Pineda has become. I realize that he’s lost for the season due to his shoulder injury, but he is still a young and talented pitcher. I know there’s always a risk that he isn’t quite the pitcher was projected to be when he comes back, but I think it’s way too early to criticize the trade which sent talented hitter Jesus Montero to Seattle. Pineda’s injury was suffered on the Yankees’ watch and not while he was in Seattle, and there is still a good chance that he’s a strong, contributing part of next year’s rotation.
Phil Hughes is probably the beneficiary of Pineda’s injury as I feel that Freddy Garcia will be the odd man out when Andy Pettitte returns to the Bronx. Hughes hasn’t exactly pitched like he wants to stay, but I am not ready to see the Yankees banish him to Pittsburgh or someplace like that. Maybe I am an eternal optimist but I still believe that Hughes can prosper in New York.
I am a bit concerned by the uneven starts provided by new Yankee Hiroki Kuroda, but I think he’ll settle in and deliver consistent performances in the coming weeks and months. Yes, I do thank the lucky stars every day for CC Sabathia.
A sad day in the Yankees Universe…
I was saddened to hear the passing of Yankees great Bill “Moose” Skowron yesterday. He was part of the 1961 Yankees which will always be a special team in Yankees history for the famed M&M Boys (the year Mickey Mantle hit 54 home runs, and Roger Maris hit the then record 61 homers). But there’s no way either Mickey or Roger could have reached those heights without guys like Skowron on the roster.
Next stop, Superstardom…
Well, the Bryce Harper Show begins its maiden tour in Washington with the scheduled first start today for the ultra-hyped, super prospect National. Given that he was called up to take the roster spot of injured 3B Ryan Zimmerman, there’s always the chance that Harper goes back down when Zimmerman returns from the DL. But if Harper starts to hit like we know he will, it will be hard for the Nats to remove him from the roster. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. America loves superstars and Harper certainly has as much of a chance to be the best as anyone in the game today.
When Christian Ponder and Adrian Peterson are happy, so am I…
It’s only been three rounds, but I am pleased with the NFL draft selections made by the Minnesota Vikings. Prior to the draft, my preference for the Vikings #3 pick in the first round was USC OT Matt Kalil. There was talk that the Vikings were undecided among Kalil, CB Morris Claiborne, and WR Justin Blackmon, but in the end, it proved to be a smokescreen. I was a bit anxious when I first heard the Vikings had traded down with the Cleveland Browns, but it was clear that the Browns were going after RB Trent Richardson so there was no risk of losing Kalil off the board. At first, I didn’t understand the logic of the move, but clearly the Vikings (and GM Rick Spielman) had made the Browns fearful they’d trade down with another team which could potentially cost the Browns a shot at the premier running back in the draft. The move brought three late round picks to the Vikings and it didn’t cost them anything as they were focused on Kalil from the start.
I also like the Vikings’ subsequent picks (late first round selection of S Harrison Smith and early third round choice of speedy CB Josh Robinson). For a team that was desperate of upgrades in the secondary, they fared well. It would have been nice if Robinson were a bit taller, but his 4.33 speed at the Combines was unmatched. I think he’s good material for the coaching staff to mold for playing at this level. The Vikings have a plethora of selections today as Rounds 4-7 are completed, and I am sure that the defense will continue to get attention. I also expect the Vikings to choose a wide receiver, but I have no idea who they might target. Nevertheless, with Spielman’s decisions so far, I have no doubt that he’ll continue to bring talented playmakers to Minnesota.
As Luck would have it…
Like everyone else, I think that QB Andrew Luck has the potential to be one of the greats in the game but how much more difficult can it be to be replacing one of the greatest QB’s to play the game with added pressure of being the number one selection in the NFL Draft (along with the expectations that go with it)? If Luck succeeds, and I do not doubt that he will, he will prove, without a doubt, that he was the right choice to replace Manning. Luck, with a horseshoe on his helmet, seems like it was destiny. Meanwhile, I continue to “ponder” things in Minnesota…
Today, with Yankees-Tigers on tap and the conclusion of the NFL Draft, will be a fun day. Enjoy!
Roger Maris, 61 Home Runs*…
For years, the asterisk was a negative mark against Roger Maris. It signified that his record was accomplished in a 162-game schedule whereas Babe Ruth’s 60 home runs occurred when the regular season consisted of only 154 games. There is no question that the asterisk was unfair to Maris and baseball in general.
However, with the admission by Mark McGwire that he juiced during the record breaking year when he hit 70 home runs, it stands to reason that the asterisk should again be placed by Maris’s record…only this time it should be construed as a positive. When you look at the guys who have hit more than 61 home runs, all are confessed, proven or highly suspected steroid users (McGwire, Sammy Sosa and current single season HR leader Barry Bonds). Roger’s mark should stand alone as THE record…accomplished by a player who set the record with natural ability. Ruth did not have to withstand the incredible pressure that Maris faced in 1961, and of course, Ruth didn’t have to contend with “juicers” breaking his record. Once and for all, Roger Maris deserves the recognition of being that champion he is.
I hope that I do not see McGwire, Bonds, or Sosa in the Hall of Fame in my lifetime. I refuse to be hypocritical, so I will say that the same should apply to Alex Rodriguez. There are obviously reasons that guys like Ty Cobb, records aside, should not be in the Hall of Fame, but those decisions cannot be undone. The Hall of Fame can prohibit the entry of any proven or confessed steroid abusers, and I feel very strongly that they should. I would probably be more willing to consider Pete Rose (well, maybe not while he is still living), but if the Hall can take action against Rose, why can’t the same prohibitions apply to the cheaters of the game?
I feel the game owes a huge debt of gratitude to the players who stood “clean” in an era of deceit. Whether it is Derek Jeter, Dwight Evans, Cal Ripken, or Chase Utley, they played the game the right way and deserve special recognition for staying true to the integrity of the game. Hats off to the good guys…
Time for some non-baseball talk (sorry, there just isn’t much happening in the Yankees Universe)…
I was surprised to see Pete Carroll jump at the opportunity with the Seattle Seahawks. Pete has an unsuccessful record as a NFL head coach, and his style of leadership seemed to be best suited for the college level. USC is certainly one of the plum college coaching jobs, and the departures of top college coaches to the NFL has generally been met with less than desired results. Granted, I wouldn’t want the job of babysitting the college kids and making sure that they do not do anything to violate NCAA rules, but the USC job seemed like it would be Carroll’s for as long as he wanted it. I was surprised when John McKay left USC back in the 70’s, and I am equally surprised about Carroll. Hopefully, he’ll be able to “recruit” the right players to Seattle.
John W. McDonough/SI
Speaking of USC, I was even more shocked that the school was able to land Lane Kiffin as their next coach. This morning, the breaking news on ESPN was that the school had offered the job to Jacksonville Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio. That actually made sense to me since Del Rio doesn’t have that many years left unless he starts to win. But by the end of the day, Del Rio had announced that he was staying in Jacksonville, and USC had a new coach in Kiffin, who is bringing his father, Monte, along as defensive coordinator. The school also successfully brought UCLA offensive coordinator Norm Chow back too. The loser in this whole ordeal (sorry Rick Neuheisel!) is the University of Tennessee. They gave a great opportunity to Kiffen when he was dumped by Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders. He rewarded them with some questionable coaching practices, confrontation with SEC coaches, and a less-than-stellar 7-6 mark. For $800,000 (payable over 36 months), Kiffin can simply walk away. Incredible. Hopefully, Tennessee will rebound with a solid coaching hire, but they didn’t deserve this treatment from Kiffin. I think I will be a UCLA fan next season (how sick is that?)…
Given that the San Francisco Giants have signed Aubrey Huff which would potentially keep Pablo Sandoval at third, and Mark DeRosa in left field, the Atlanta Braves appear to be the only viable option outside of the Yankees for free agent Johnny Damon. Personally, I think the Braves will opt for a less expensive option, so it really means that the Yankees and Damon need to sit down and determine a fair salary that works for both sides. This is not rocket science. But of course, the negative factor is agent Scott Boras. I vote for the removal of Scott Boras from the Scott Club! 😉 Johnny, pick up the phone and call Brian or Hal. You can get this deal done…
John Munson/Newark Star-Ledger
How many more days until the Yankees beat the Red Sox? That’s right, I just need to check Julia’s website…
As if Alex Rodriguez hasn’t done enough to fill the tabloids this year, now comes word that he shops at the same place as former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer.
Of course, I couldn’t help but think of Charlie Sheen.
On TV, Charlie plays a morally corrupt bachelor with too much money…kind of like A-Rod.
He drinks excessively, and doesn’t worry about the impact on others when he opens his mouth. He’s the last person you’d want to depend upon if you needed help. He likes expensive clothes, albeit bowling shirts, but they are still expensive…again like A-Rod. He’s compulsive, a womanizer, and has yet to act his age.
The similarities between A-Rod and Charlie Sheen a/k/a Charlie Harper are uncanny…
Gustavo Cabellero/Getty Images
My only question…
If Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira are two men, what does that make A-Rod?
Gene J. Puskar/AP
One difference between A-Rod and Charlie…Charlie’s funny…
ALFRED MANUAL MARTIN, JR
The other day, Jane Heller questioned my choice of Billy Martin as my all-time favorite manager. Billy was someone you couldn’t live with, but couldn’t live without. His fiery, combative style always eroded ownership confidence very quickly. But the guy was simply a winner. He loved the Yankees with a very strong passion, and he was his own man. Every time he was re-hired as a Yankees manager was a great day for me…every time he was fired was very sad. I always wondered what the start of the 1990’s would have been like had Billy returned for a sixth time.
To most people on MLBlogs, Billy Martin was a long ago figure. Perhaps many do not even know who he was. But I did, and I will always remember him…
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YANKEES WIN STREAK OVER
I am definitely on the bandwagon of those who feel Rays pitcher David Price is destined for greatness. I have been all along, but today only reinforced why the guy has so much promise. Four scoreless innings, three hits, two walks and four strikeouts.
The Yankees lost the game, 5-0, ending their 9-game winning streak.
The Yankees also re-acquired catcher Chris Stewart from the Chicago White Sox, but he most likely falls behind Francisco Cervelli and Kevin Cash in the catching pecking order. With Cervelli most likely going back to AA Trenton, Stewart just fills catching depth at AAA Scranton.
There was great feedback regarding how everyone chose their favorite teams. Every story was very interesting, and I appreciated the ones that gave insight into all four major sports.
I am all over the board. I have been a fan of the New York Yankees and Minnesota Vikings since childhood. I grew up in Iowa, and Fran Tarkenton was my favorite QB, so following the Vikings was easy. Years ago, I was listening to The Musers (George Dunham and Craig Miller) on 1310 The Ticket in Dallas and they said if your state didn’t have a professional team, you were in a “free agent” state. So, I guess I took free agency by its most literal sense given that my favorite teams are scattered across the country.
In basketball, I am a fan of the Phoenix Suns. I lived in Phoenix for eight years, and my two children still reside there. I can’t say there is any one player that attracted me to the team. I liked the ownership, which was headed by Jerry Colangelo at the time, and it was easy to follow the team. I attended a number of games while in Phoenix, and today I am a big fan of Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire.
In hockey, I am a fan of the San Jose Sharks (as you may have noticed on this blog from time to time). Although I am presently living and working on the East Coast, San Jose is home. I have meant to extend my thanks to Julia for her Boston Bruins being so gracious as to send Joe Thornton to the Sharks a couple of years ago. Thanks Julia! 😉 When I get home, you can be assured that I’ll be hanging out at the Shark Tank.
Have a great week, everyone! J
P.S. This is my 61st blog, so I’d be remiss if I didn’t dedicate this one to Roger Maris…