All I want are a few home runs…
Lately, more has been written about the potential of the Yankees signing someone like Raul Ibanez to fill the void at DH. Given all available options, he is probably as good as any, plus he most likely would understand his role if he was offered and accepted a contract with the Yanks. He’s still got some pop in his bat, and he could occasionally take the field when/if needed. I am not overly enthused about a former Phillie being on the team, but Ibanez is a former teammate of A-Rod’s from their Seattle days together.
It would be preferable to see a former Yank, i.e., Hideki Matsui or Johnny Damon, if for no other reason than what they’ve already accomplished in pinstripes. I recognize that Ibanez might be the better fit in 2012, even if he is pushing 40.
In his days with the Montreal Expos, Vladimir Guerrero was one of my favorite players but at this point, I don’t really see him as an option.
He looks great…in a different uniform…
Whatever the Yankees do, I hope they are successful in moving A.J. Burnett. This one is tough, because I was so in favor of his signing when he first came to the Yankees. I always admired his arm when he played for the Florida Marlins and later with the Toronto Blue Jays. He’s largely been a disappointment since the successful 2009 voyage. There have been flashes of brilliance, but more times than not, his performances have ended on a disappointing note. Some guys are better served in less pressurized environment, and Burnett would probably excel in a place like San Diego. If Burnett doesn’t make the starting rotation, I think he would be a distraction to the team in the bullpen. Therefore, best case scenario would be to move Burnett. Of course, that means he will be accompanied by lots of cash to pay his freight, but sometimes its addition by subtraction. Sadly for Burnett, that time is now.
“Manny being Manny”…
As for the rotation, my preference is to give Phil Hughes the opportunity to either grab hold of his place on the team or perhaps prove that it is time for him to seek employment elsewhere. If the latter situation occurs, Dellin Betances should be ready to step in to fill the void (or Freddy Garcia, if he is kept on the roster). Manny Banuelos will probably make noise this year, but he’ll probably not surface on the major league level until late this year. Now, if Banuelos comes to Tampa this spring with a ‘refuse to lose’ mentality and takes the job (much like Michael Pineda did last year with the Seattle Mariners), so be it. Banuelos is the eventual star of the rotation, with Pineda.
Striving to be regular contributors to the daily Transactions column…
I was surprised to see the Boston Red Sox trade starting shortstop Marco Scutaro to the Colorado Rockies. It’s being said that the move was made to free payroll to sign a free agent pitcher like Roy Oswalt or Edwin Jackson. Personally, I think it was a move to set up another move, in addition to rebuilding the rotation. I would be surprised if the Red Sox broke camp with the tandem of Mike Aviles and Nick Punto as their starting shortstop. I keep hearing that a trade for the Marlins’ Hanley Ramirez is out of the question, but somehow I could still see that happening. Whatever happens, I do expect the Sox to break camp with a quality shortstop, in other words, someone not named Aviles or Punto…
The Prince of Bel Air?…
It’s too bad that the Los Angeles Dodgers are still an organization in a state of flux until new ownership can take over. It would make so much sense for the Dodgers to go after free agent first baseman Prince Fielder, and it would be a move that would help begin the healing process for the Dodger fan base, who have suffered under the reign of Frank McCourt. A lineup that includes Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Fielder would certainly steal some thunder from the Albert Pujols-led Angels.
There’s still a lot of drama to unfold before pitchers and catchers report next month. The Yankees and Mariners should finally be in position to announce the Jesus Montero-Michael Pineda trade early this week. Hopefully, that will open the gridlock at DH and set the stage for other moves that will hopefully produce the 28th World Championship in franchise history. Whatever happens, I am ready for some baseball…
Yeah, but at what price?…
I am bummed…
After years of trade rumors involving Yankees prospect Jesus Montero, I thought he was finally home free and slated to be a member of the 2012 Yankees unless a trade for the seemingly untouchable Felix Hernandez were to materialize. So, to hear tonight’s news that the Yankees have traded Montero to the Seattle Mariners is a shock since it did not involve the aforementioned King Felix.
I was perusing the MLB Trade Rumors tonight when I saw the blurb that the Mariners were close to acquiring an “young impact hitter”. Of course, there aren’t too many guys that fit that description and Montero is near or at the top of the list. I didn’t suspect a King Felix trade since there have been no signals that the Mariners are interested in trading him, so my immediate reaction was the fear of trading Montero for something else. My fear has been justified as the word has come the Yankees traded Montero and pitcher Hector Noesi, a potential candidate for the starting rotation, to Seattle for pitcher Michael Pineda and minor league pitcher Jose Campos. I know nothing about Campos (whether he is a high or mid level prospect or just fodder for the lower leagues). So, this trade was clearly about Pineda, 22, who made the All-Star Team as a fill-in for Justin Verlander last year during his rookie season. I recognized that Pineda was a quality pitcher, and I had him on a few of my fantasy baseball teams.
But still, I bought into the hype that Montero was going to be an offensive force. I recognized that he was a liability at catcher, and that Russell Martin and Francisco Cervelli represent the best catching tandem at the moment until Austin Romine and Gary Sanchez are ready to advance. To ask a young player to start at DH does seem to be a poor major league decision, but I was looking forward to seeing Montero star in pinstripes. His bat would have found a good spot in the starting lineup. Maybe a few years down the road, this trade will look great for the Yankees if Pineda wins the Cy Young or becomes the ace of the staff. But right now, I am just shocked. It’s not the type of move that one can embrace or create excitement among the fan base. I truly would have preferred a short term deal to Edwin Jackson or Roy Oswalt as opposed to giving up young, quality talent. I also liked Noesi, and knew that he was a viable candidate for the starting rotation.
At the moment, and this could change in time, I think the advantage goes to the Seattle Mariners. I am assuming that they have the young pitching talent, to go with Noesi, to find a suitable replacement for Pineda in the rotation. Meanwhile, they get one of the best young bats in the game today. This takes a little heat off first baseman Justin Smoak so perhaps now he can thrive. Right now, I rate the Yankees rotation as CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, Phil Hughes, and A.J. Burnett. This means that Freddy Garcia is the pitcher most likely to be cut unless the Yankees can find a home for Burnett.
Maybe he missed pitching to #55…
Okay, after an off-season of solitude, Friday the 13th has just become Yankees Night. The latest word is the Yankees have signed former Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda. Based on recent reports, I had expected Kuroda to sign with the Boston Red Sox. Bobby Valentine’s experience with Japanese players, in my mind, gave the Sox the clear advantage. Regardless of what transpired and why he decided to come to New York (Russell Martin?), he’s an innings-eater and fits nicely in the back of the rotation. So, if the news of Kuroda’s signing is accurate, I need to update my starting rotation…CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, Phil Hughes, and Kuroda (although an argument could be made for why Hughes should be at the back end of the rotation). The wild card is Hughes, so do the Yankees keep Burnett for long relief and a potential return to the starting rotation if Hughes falters or do they simply cut their losses? I suspect that it will be the latter with Freddy Garcia held in reserve. I also think this virtually confirms that we’ll see Dellin Betances and/or Manny Banuelos in the starting rotation at some point during the season.
My second favorite team is my National League favorite, the Los Angeles Dodgers, so I have to say that I enjoyed the starts I saw from Kuroda in his Dodger days. He may be older, but he’s a quality pitcher. He’s not going to shut down the opposition but he’s going to keep you in the game. I would have preferred Edwin Jackson if no other reason than age (and Jackson’s ability to occasionally be a very dominating pitcher). But still, it’s hard to find fault with the Kuroda signing. I’d rather go with Kuroda over Roy Oswalt. I’ve got to believe that the Yankees figured out the game plan for A.J. Burnett before the events of today unfolded so it’s likely that another deal is forthcoming before pitchers and catchers head for Tampa next month.
The fingerprints of Cash or Hal?…
I always wonder on these types of days if these moves were effected by GM Brian Cashman or if Hank and Hal Steinbrenner got bored and decided to take matters into their own hands. I am not sure that there’s a move out there that could excite me at this point, but there’s no question the Yankees have a better rotation. My primary concern still remains a quality backup third baseman for those inevitable A-Rod absences (i.e., trips to the DL). But now, with Montero in Seattle and Posada on the beach waiting for Old Timer’s Day, who is going to be the DH? At the moment, it’s a DH by committee with a rotation of A-Rod, Andruw Jones, and others. It does make one believe that there is a potential acquisition for a veteran hitter in the making. Bring back Johnny Damon? It’s certainly within the realm of possibility.
The sleeping giant has awakened…
I know the Yankees objective is to get under $189 million in salary by 2014, but the team is always a sleeping giant. If the Texas Rangers can come up with $51 million just to talk to Yu Darvish, you know the Yankees are capable of so much more. It will be interesting to see how the next few weeks unfold. After a season of inactivity, the Hot Stove League just got warmed up for the Yankees…
The Bear is sleeping…
With the Yankees in hibernation for the winter, there’s not much for us Yankee fans to talk about. The latest speculation centers on catcher Jorge Posada and where he might end up. Of the three teams mentioned (Rays, Phillies, and Orioles), I don’t see Jorge as a good fit.
In Tampa, he’d back up his former back up, Jose Molina. I suppose that he could earn additional starting time by the virtue of his superior bat, but why tarnish a great Yankees legacy by playing for a key divisional rival. Same goes for the Orioles. I think there’s a strong chance for Jorge to get pushed aside in either organization for younger, cheaper talent. Neither the O’s or the Rays would be beholden to Posada as he didn’t carve out a borderline Hall of Fame career in their uniforms. As for the Phillies, it would probably be a good way for one last shot at the World Series, but the Phillies have emerged as a chief rival for the Yankees. He wouldn’t start for the Phillies, and his pinch-hitting opportunities and DH duty in interleague play would be limited with Jim Thome on the roster.
I would still like to see Jorge go to the Miami Marlins as a best-case scenario if he decides to continue playing. He lives in Miami, and the team is in the opposing league. They are not a natural rival by geography, and he wouldn’t tarnish his Yankees legacy. But as Nick Cafardo said in his Boston Globe column yesterday, “Hope Jorge Posada retires as a Yankee”.
Short-term rental looks better every day…
With the list of prospective pitchers dwindling, I am in favor of a short term signing (such as Roy Oswalt or Edwin Jackson). The recent trades of Mat Latos to the Reds and Gio Gonzalez to the Nationals has shown that the price is sky high for young, talented pitchers. Giving up Jesus Montero and Manuel Banuelos in any trade would be a mistake. I am not sure if this is akin to 1995 when Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera may have been considered potential prospect trade bait, but still, I’d rather see what the future holds with Montero and Banuelos than without. I think that either Oswalt or Jackson would be a better option than either Bartolo Colon or Freddy Garcia, and would allow the Yankees more time to work on a more equitable trade or seek potential help in the 2012 free agent market.
Strengthening your team with ex-Yankees…
I really do not want to see the Boston Red Sox weaken the Yankees’ bench by signing Andruw Jones. The Yankees had a great fourth outfielder in 2011, and they need to make his return a priority. This is an area that I’ve been greatly disappointed by the continued silence. I really do not feel that Justin Maxwell, Chris Dickerson or Melky Mesa can fill Andruw’s shoes.
Just like the Los Angeles Angels crept up and became the star of the Winter Meetings (overtaking the Miami Marlins), I keep expecting the Red Sox, who have been very dormant this winter despite their acquisition of former Yankees reliever Mark Melancon, to make a big splash to improve their 2012 team for new manager Bobby Valentine. It could be the signing of Hiroki Kuroda (whom the Yankees are also interested in) or a trade for the Cubs’ Matt Garza, but if they do improve, it will be difficult for the Yankees to adjust.
The Winter of (Y)our Discontent…
I never thought I’d feel bad for the New York Mets, but it has to be tough for their fans to watch their team move into rebuilding mode when every other team in the division has gotten better. The Mets would appear to have a stranglehold on fifth place in their division, with no competition. There is no great joy in watching the Mets as a defeated organization.
Don’t wake the Beast…
It’s hard to believe that pitchers and catchers report in less than two months. Of course, I am in Minnesota and it’s sunny with an expected high today of nearly 50 degrees. Nothing is what you expect, or I suppose you could say what it seems. There’s a winter beast that will soon be awakened in Minnesota. Does the same hold true for The Bronx?…
A split against Doc Halladay and Jamie Moyer is not so bad until you realize that the loss was against the latter…
The Yankees pummeled Philadelphia starter Roy Halladay on Tuesday night with three home runs in defeating the Phillies 8-3. The victory was somewhat of a surprise given that Halladay held an 18-6 mark against the Yankees going into the game. Time and again, Halladay has frustrated Yankee bats, but last night was not one of those times. If memory serves correctly, Halladay has also lost to the Boston Red Sox this season so his reunion with the AL East has not been very enjoyable for him.
Tonight, ancient starter Jamie Moyer got revenge in helping the Phillies defeat the Yanks, 6-3. The seats at Yankee Stadium were barely warm by the time the Phillies had surged ahead 6-1 after three innings. The relief contingent of Boone Logan (freshly called up from AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre to replace DL-bound Marcus Thames) and Chad (is he still around?) Gaudin pitched superbly and gave the Yankees a chance to climb back into it. The Yankees weren’t really able to get anything going although they did bring the potential tying run to the plate before Jorge Posada struck out to end the game. Where are those grand slams (or at least a 3-run dinger in this case) when you need them? Oh well, tomorrow is a new day. Fortunately, the Tampa Bay Rays also lost (6-2 to the Atlanta Braves) so the Yankees remain tied for the AL East lead despite the loss.
Moyer became the oldest pitcher to beat the Yankees at 47 years, 155 days. The previous oldest pitcher was former Yankee Phil Niekro who was 47 years, 122 days when he last beat the Yanks according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Julia will be quick to point out that the Boston Red Sox are only three games back after their 6-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks. The city needs something to cheer about given that they will lose the NBA Finals to the soon-to-be World Champion Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night! J
There has been much speculation that the Yankees should pursue a trade for a frontline pitcher like Cliff Lee or Roy Oswalt. That’s a tough one. As much as I would like Cliff Lee, I have a tough time finding a spot in the rotation for him. CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, and Phil Hughes are locks and not going anywhere. A.J. Burnett, as frustrating as he can be at times, isn’t going anywhere. So, the only spot would be Javier Vazquez but he’s been arguably the Yankees best pitcher for the past month. I guess the question would then become whether you can trust Vazquez for the remainder of the season. If the Yankees can trade for Lee contingent upon signing him to a new contract, perhaps it makes sense given Javy’s impending free agency. But, of course, at what cost? If you are talking about Jesus Montero or Austin Romine and other top talent, it is probably not worth it (and that is what it would take). It would be better to take your chances during free agency in the off-season. The downside is that you wouldn’t have Lee in the play-off rotation should the team get that far. Okay, I know they’ll get that far, but it is a little early yet. It’s probably better to build a stronger bench for the stretch run…
Apparently, the Yankees have tentatively reached an agreement with top 2010 draft pick shortstop Christopher “Cito” Culver. Culver, who had signed a letter of intent with the University of Maryland, withdrew from his commitment to the school. The Yankees cannot formally sign Culver until he officially graduates from high school.
A Pac-10 match-up between Colorado and Utah? It could happen if the Utes accept the conference’s invitation to join. Wow, this has been a crazy off-season. Colorado to the Pac-10, Nebraska to the Big 10, Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and others staying put in the Big 12. Growing up in the Midwest, there was always something special about those Nebraska-OU games so it will be sad to see the rivalry, as we know it, come to an end. Granted, Nebraska hasn’t done much in recent years, but the Cornhuskers are still a premier school. As a fan of the University of Iowa, it will be fun to see Nebraska-Iowa on a consistent basis, but it won’t be the same.
It’s good to be home again…
The Yankees started the latest home stand on the right foot with an 8-2 victory over the Cleveland Indians. Phil Hughes was the winner in a game that was relatively tight until Robinson Cano broke it open in the bottom of the 7th inning with a grand slam.
For Hughes, it was great to see him return to top form after a few subpar performances. He allowed 5 hits, 2 runs, and just 1 walk in seven innings of work, striking out 8. Hopefully, the improved pitching will spill over to CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, both of whom have struggled in recent starts.
Tim Farrell/The Star Ledger
The game also marked the return of center fielder Curtis Granderson, who went 1-for-3 with a run scored. The activation of Grandy had an effect on the roster as the Yankees designated outfielder Randy Winn for assignment. It is a sad end for Winn’s brief Yankee career, but he was ill-suited for the backup role on the team. I think he can still be a productive player, but he needs to play every day to be the player he was with the San Francisco Giants. He was not going to get that opportunity with the Yankees, so this move is for the best. It also allowed young, versatile Kevin Russo to remain on the roster. Russo has already been instrumental in several Yankee wins this season, and he is a much better fit for the roster than Winn. I do wish Randy the very best and thank him for his contributions to the team this season.
Nick Swisher hit his 9th home run in the game. I am pleasantly surprised with Swisher’s play this year. I had been fearful that 2009 was an aberration and that Nick would revert to the player he was with the Chicago White Sox. So far, he has proven me wrong. After two months of the season, Nick has a .301 batting average and 27 RBI’s to go with his 9 home runs. His numbers are definitely superior to former starter and current Chicago Cub Xavier Nady.
Keivom/NY Daily News
I saw the question posed if the Yankees should pursue a trade for Andy Pettitte’s pal, Houston Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt. While it would seem that if the Astros do decide to trade Oswalt, the Texas Rangers would be the obvious choice. Personally, I do think the Yankees should consider pursuit of him. Clearly, Javier Vazquez has proven that he can’t handle the pressure of New York and the American League. But he can still excel in the National League. Houston’s low-pressure environment would be the right setting. If the Yankees were to package Vazquez, plus cash to pay a large part of his salary, and the right combination of prospects, it would seem that the team could be successful in acquiring Oswalt. It would slot very nicely into the rotation, and he’d be a great replacement for Andy Pettitte if/when Pettitte retires after the season.
Tonight was the perfect night in the AL East. A win by the Yankees, combined with losses by both the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays. The perfect combination!
Boston Globe Staff
Speaking of winners, congratulations to American Idol winner Lee DeWyze. Lee had become my choice in recent months, and it was great to see his victory on Wednesday over Crystal Bowersox. Mama Sox would have been a terrific champion too, and I am sure that both will be very successful as they embark on their professional careers.
Have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day Weekend!
I liked Dave Letterman’s admission that he took “performance enhancing vodka” during his prior years with NBC on Late Night…
OSWALT CALLS OUT STEROID USERS
When I first saw Roy Oswalt’s critical comments of Alex Rodriguez this morning on ESPN, I couldn’t help but wonder if Oswalt had said anything about his buddies, former Astros pitchers Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens. To his credit, he did include those guys when he made his critical statements about PED users.
However, he is taking the softer “innocent until proven guilty” approach with Clemens, and indicated that he doesn’t have anything against the admitted users. However, he stated “Only the guys that have been proven guilty, their numbers shouldn’t count…I love Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens just like brothers. I’ve played with them for three years. They’re great teammates and I would love to have them on my team this year, but the way I feel I feel like they cheated me out of the game just because of the way they enhanced themselves but I’ve done it by working out”.
Oswalt is a proponent of two record books. One book for “clean” players and separate book for the admitted and proven steroids users.
“Now with the testing we have in place, there’s no way you can get around it,” Oswalt said. “I think in the last two years or three years the game’s been clean, real clean. It’s probably one of the cleanest sports out there. There’s really no way to beat the tests with what’s in place now.”
With a little modification, these old lawyer jokes can become very timely:
Q: What’s the difference between a dead dog and a dead A-Rod in the road?
A: There are skid marks in front of the dog.
Q: What do you have when A-Rod is buried up to his neck in sand?
A: Not enough sand.
Q: How can you tell when A-Rod is lying?
A: His lips are moving.
Q: Why did God make snakes just before making A-Rod?
A: To practice.
Q: What’s the difference between A-Rod and a bucket of pond scum?
A: The bucket.
These pretty much sum up the gist and tone of the articles I’ve been reading about A-Rod lately…
A FEW OF YESTERDAY’S MOVES AND SOME ODDS & ENDS
Bobby Abreu to the Angels on a one year deal. Money-wise it was a fair deal for the Angels, but hopefully, they’ll be able to DH him more often than not given his defensive shortcomings at this stage of his career.
Kevin Millar continues his circuit of the AL East by signing with the Toronto Blue Jays. I suppose that this means he will be with Tampa or New York next year…
Frank Viola to the Cleveland Indians as spring training pitching instructor. It’s good to see Frank’s name again. He was a teammate of Cleveland manager Eric Wedge in 1992 while they were with the Red Sox. Hey Frank, good luck with the American Idle (i.e., Carl Pavano)…
Adam Dunn to the Nationals on a two year deal. So much for Dunn’s plans to play for a contender. I do feel bad for Nick Johnson. He had so much promise when he came up with the Yankees, but injuries have robbed him of a good career and now he has no position to play…
I am pulling for a return to Seattle by Ken Griffey, Jr. It would be nice to see him end it where he started. By the way, can you take A-Rod with you? Just kidding!
Of the Yankee players who have shown up in Tampa early, I was pleased to see that the list included Nick Swisher. I remain hopeful that the Yankees either trade Xavier Nady, or simply keep both Nady and Swisher. I keep hearing that the Braves are interested in Swisher, but I’d rather keep him on the roster to see if he can rebound from last year’s White Sox disaster.
Yankees pitchers and catchers report to camp TOMORROW! Bring it on! J