Thanks for the memories…
Although Prince Fielder had other ideas, today was Jorge Posada Day. On a day when the Milwaukee Brewers’ talented free agent signed an unexpected 9-year, $214 million contract with his father’s former team, the Detroit Tigers, a Yankee Legend called it a career. So, while Tigers fans are rejoicing, the Yankees Universe is united in sorrow to see the end of a tremendous career.
It was time. Although I knew that Posada could still hit, he was ill at ease at DH and he was no longer the consistent clutch hitter that he had once been. He could have held on for a few more years in a more limited role, but I am grateful that he recognized that it’s best not to overstay your welcome. It would have been awful to see him put on a Rays, Marlins or Mets uniform. I am sure that we would have quietly supported him, but now this way, he bled pinstripes from beginning to end. I value and appreciate the untarnished career. Don Mattingly may call Dodger Stadium “home” these days, but he’s still a Yankee. The same holds true of Posada…once a Yankee, always a Yankee.
In the late 1970’s, my favorite Yankees were catcher Thurman Munson and closer Rich “Goose” Gossage. I truly did not believe that I’d ever see two players as great as those two legends. Of course, the great Mariano Rivera has eclipsed Gossage’s career, but Posada has certainly earned the right to stand in the same room with Munson, Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey and Elston Howard. It’s ironic that long-time projected replacement Jesus Montero and Posada officially exited the Yankees on back-to-back days, but the position seems to be in capable hands with Russell Martin until future star Gary Sanchez is ready for the major leagues.
I wish Jorge the very best in whatever he decides to do next. Selfishly, I’d like to see him stay in baseball as he’d make a great future manager. I love people who are passionate about what they do, and Jorge lived and breathed passion every day. He is the type of guy that you’d want to go to battle with so long as he was on your side. The immediate thought is probably to spend some quality time with his family, but hopefully, he’ll be back in Major League Baseball as a coach sometime in the not-so-distant future.
Hip, hip, Jorge! 🙂
If he is following his father’s footsteps, when does he become a Yankee?…
Speaking of Fielder, I was shocked when I heard that the Detroit Tigers had signed the prolific young slugger. There were constants reports of possible signings by the Texas Rangers and the Washington Nationals, and the occasional links to passive teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers, but I have to admit that I did not suspect the Tigers. Of course, I didn’t foresee the Angels signing Albert Pujols but I suppose when you are talking about $200 million, it’s probably best not to tip your hand.
Photo ops for game winning hits…is that too much to ask for?…
I thought the Yankees and the Tigers were searching the same pool for an effective, low-cost option to DH. While I wanted the Yankees to sign Johnny Damon, I knew that he had enjoyed his time in Detroit and there seemed to be some level of interest there. Obviously, the Fielder signing takes the Tigers out of the market for someone like Damon or Hideki Matsui. But based on comments that Yankees GM Brian Cashman made earlier in the week, it sounds like a free agent slugger is Plan B. Plan A apparently involves the trade for a young, controllable hitter. I am sure that type of move is predicated upon moving a contract like A.J. Burnett’s even if it means packing a few extra dollars in his suitcases. My fear is that a trade could cause the loss of someone like Dellin Betances or Manny Banuelos which I’d hate to see. I am not sure what quality hitter is available and the market seems to be drenched with potential salary dumps. I wonder if Cash has his eye on a certain player. Still, I’d go the cheaper route and sign Damon, Matsui, or Raul Ibanez to a short-term deal. If the team offense struggles early on, the Yankees could potentially make a move in July for a veteran hitter. I am not sure that there is a young position player out there with the potential of pitcher Michael Pineda that could be had for a relatively inexpensive cost.
My fear with the Yankees offense, while they have produced, is they do not strike fear in the hearts of opposing pitchers. When Robinson Cano is in the groove, he is as good as anybody in the game. I know that Curtis Granderson had a near-MVP season last year, but I’d be surprised if teams planned their strategy around him. Yes, Alex Rodriguez was once the best player in the game, but he is a couple years removed from domination. Injuries have held him back and while he certainly has the potential to have a few more power seasons, he carries a big “if”. It would be great if Mark Teixeira could get back to the hitter he was a couple of seasons ago. Up and down the lineup, outside of Cano, there are questions. I am pleased with Granderson but I want to see him do it again before he has my complete trust.
It would have been foolish for the Yankees to pursue Fielder. Even if they have the money, it just doesn’t make financial sense to tie the organization to the player for the next decade at that kind of money. It makes me sick to think the Yankees pay A-Rod more than the Angels pay Pujols or the Tigers will pay Fielder. When A-Rod leaves the ballpark, I bet he pops the Dire Straits’ Brother in Arms into his CD player, listening to “Money for Nothing”…
A Sad Day lies ahead…
It was mentioned today that Mariano Rivera might be the next Yankees great to call it a career, possibly as soon as the end of the upcoming season. I’m telling ya, that’s going to be a day that I cry like a baby. Rivera has been my favorite among current Yankees and it will be a tough day when #42 simply walks away. I am glad that 162 regular season games and a few play-off series in October stand in the way of that dreadful day.
If Everybody Cared…
This is off-topic, but I am excited to have a ticket to the upcoming Nickelback concert tour, Here and Now. This will be my third Nickelback concert in three years. So far, I’ve seen them in two outdoor amphitheaters (San Jose, CA and Concord, CA) but this time I will be seeing them inside (in May at Target Arena, home of the NBA’s the Minnesota Timberwolves). I have also enjoyed Seether and they will be one of the opening acts. It should be a great show!
Amare, Carmelo and Fid…together again…
My next event at Target Arena, which will be my first visit to the facility, will be to cheer on the New York Knicks when they come to Minnesota to play the T-Wolves in February. Hopefully, the Arena won’t be rocking like it will with Nickelback when the Knicks come to town. In fact, I hope it’s eerily quiet. Score one for the away team!
After some thought, I’ve come around…
Now that I’ve had time to digest the Friday night whirlwind that brought pitchers Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda to the Bronx, my initial disappointment was evaporated. Don’t get me wrong, I love the power potential of Jesus Montero, and I know full well that he’ll be as devastating against the Yankees as Jay Buhner was if not more. But I recognize that from a position of need, a top of the rotation starter is better than a player without a position.
Ever since I first heard Jesus Montero’s name, it always included a statement that he’d eventually have to find a new position because he would outgrow catcher. The obvious moves would be to either first base or left field, but last time I checked, both of those positions were occupied by long-term tenants. Putting an offensive juggernaut at DH is great for offense but it does nothing to help with the defensive aspects of catching or learning a new position. With Russell Martin in the fold for the foreseeable future, there was no way that Montero would gain the starting position at catcher. Martin’s ability to handle the pitching staff is simply too important to the team even if his bat is nothing remotely close to Montero.
With Montero, I was always worried about the other young Yankee catchers. Of course, there’s Francisco Cervelli on the active roster. If Montero were to take the backup catching job, where would that leave Cervelli? Most likely playing for the Twins, backing up oft-injured Joe Mauer or someone like that. I like the defensive reports that I’ve heard about both Austin Romine and Gary Sanchez, but if their path was clogged by Martin and Montero, where did that leave them? Sanchez needs more time in the minors, but Romine is nearing major league ready status. With an injury or two, I fully expect him to get his chance to make an impression at Yankee Stadium in 2012. The trade of Montero ensures that Romine will get his major league opportunity with the Yankees so that’s a good thing. He doesn’t have Montero’s bat (who does?) but good defense is essential for championships.
Maybe just tell us who the Yankees haven’t talked to…
As for the DH slot, it seems like the Yankees have expressed interest in about everyone. There have been reports they’ve spoken to the agents for Carlos Pena, Johnny Damon, and Hideki Matsui. There are pros and cons with all three players, but whoever the Yankees bring on board will have to share time at DH with Alex Rodriguez, Andruw Jones, and Derek Jeter so I’d be okay with any of the three. I’ve always liked the clutch bats of Damon and Matsui, and the swing for the fences power of Pena is nice even if the average is hovering slightly above the Mendoza line. With all the reports that the Yankees only have a $1 million or two to spend on a DH, I half expect a report that they’ve talked to Reggie Jackson! Okay, that might be a stretch, but I’d consider letting ‘all or nothing’ slugger Jorge Vazquez. He does deserve a shot. If not, the Yanks should cut him loose and let him pursue a team that will.
If Jorge Posada had embraced the DH role last year, he’d be on his way back to the Bronx for an encore performance…
Upon second thought…
As for the pitching staff, my initial prediction about the rotation order was flawed. I recognize that Micheal Pineda is the clear #2 in the rotation. I’ve seen Ivan Nova slotted at #4, but I’d still keep him at #3 at least until he gives reason to drop him in the order. I think Kuroda is a great addition, but he has to adjust to the American League in the most difficult division, while moving from a pitcher’s ballpark to a park that is less forgiving. So, I’d give Nova time for pinstripes served and put him ahead of Kuroda. After the former Dodger, it’s anybody’s guess who will win out…Phil Hughes, my personal favorite; Freddy Garcia, probably the better choice among the pitchers in terms of consistency; and A.J. Burnett, the candidate for most likely to depart the Bronx if the Yanks can find a willing trade partner that wants Burnett…and a boatload of cash to pay that ridiculous salary. What happens if either Manny Banuelos or Dellin Betances pitches “lights out” in training camp? This is going to be an interesting battle.
He’s really a cousin of Alcides and Kelvim Escobar?…
Back to Friday night’s trade, I was a bit dismayed when I saw that pitcher Hector Noesi had been included in the trade. I kept hearing that his ceiling was the back end of the rotation but there was something that I liked about the pitcher. At first, I didn’t know anything about the “other” Mariner included in the deal, Jose Campos. But since the initial report of the trade, I’ve come to realize that he has great potential. At 19, he’s 6’4” and throws in the mid 90’s. He’ll more than make up for Noesi and fits a better timeline in terms of being major league ready given the high level pitching prospects already in the organization (Banuelos and Betances, for example). The Curtis Granderson trade has been labeled as a ‘win-win-win’ for all concerned. Hopefully, this M’s-Yankees trade will meet a similar fate.
What would I expect Bobby V to say?…
Contrary to what Bobby Valentine may think, the Yankees are a better team today than they were last Thursday. But, I recognize the Boston Red Sox are not done yet. They signed former Dodger pitcher Vicente Padilla today (a guy I loathe personally) and there’s rumors they could go after Roy Oswalt if they can move payroll. I still think Boston could be a player for Cubs starter Matt Garza given Theo Epstein’s knowledge of the Red Sox minor league prospects. Whether Ben Cherington or rather Larry Lucchino would trade with Epstein is another matter. Still, I think there are changes to be made on both the Yankees and Red Sox between now and training camp. Last year, I saw a Red Sox friend predict 118 or 119 wins for Boston. Teams look great on paper, but as they say, the ‘proof is in the pudding’!
Moneyball II, starring Jorge Garcia…
It’s hard to think of the Oakland A’s signing former Yankees starter Bartolo Colon as a low-cost, high reward “Moneyball” kind of move. At 39, I don’t think there’s really any upside to Colon at this point and in my opinion, he’s not capable of sustaining a full season of starts. I’d rather have Gio Gonzalez or Trevor Cahill in the rotation, but I guess since those are no longer options, they have to look at the scrap heap that served the Yankees so well last season.
Yes, I know the way to San Jose!…
Speaking of Oakland, I do hope they are successful in their desire to move to San Jose. As a former San Jose resident, I think it’s very exciting for the city and its metro area to be on the verge of landing both the A’s and the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, to go with the NHL’s Sharks. I saw that A’s owner bought the famed Hotel Sainte Claire in downtown San Jose. He already owns one hotel in San Jose so I guess you can’t read too much into it, but he’s definitely positioning himself for the growth and excitement that San Jose could see in the coming years. I’d be happy with a Stanley Cup Championship this year, but that’s a little off-topic…
I really don’t forsee another 99 losses when you place character first…
I was a little surprised to see the Minnesota Twins sign former Detroit Tigers flamethrower Joel Zumaya. He suffered his devastating arm injury at Target Field in 2010. So, in terms of Karma, you’d think that he’d avoid Target Field like the plague. But I read comments in this morning’s paper about how he was touched by the reception he received from the Twins fans as he left the field that fateful day. Stories like that certainly make me feel honored to be a Minneapolis resident, but I was still surprised by Zumaya’s decision. I wish him the best as he begins the Comeback Trail. Hopefully he can get back to the level he was before. For the Twins, with Joe Nathan in Texas and Matt Capps scheduled to close games, they need Zumaya as the pitcher he once was and hopefully will be again.
When it’s tough being the son of Donnie Baseball, come home to the Bronx!…
Before I go, I want to say that I am really hopeful that the Yankees organization proves to be a blessing for former Dodgers prospect Preston Mattingly. I’ve always heard what a great athlete he is/was when he was younger. I don’t know what happened through his time in the Dodgers and Indians organizations and I realize that he is getting a bit long in tooth for a prospect, but I really hope that he can find some level of success with the Yankees. It would be very cool to see Mattingly make a debut at Yankee Stadium at some point in the future. Who knows if it is in the cards, but being a late bloomer is not outside of the realm of possibility when it comes to someone with his bloodline.
It’s hard to believe that we are just a month away from training camp. I’m excited and looking forward to a great season.
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…
After more than a year of speculation and news about the Albert Pujols contract negotiations, he shocks the world and accepts Arte Moreno’s $250 million to go to Anaheim. I guess you can blame the Yankees for this one. Don’t they always get the blame? If the Yanks hadn’t gone on a spending binge several years to secure the services of then-Angels first baseman Mark Texeira, the Los Angeles Angels would not have been in the market for a top shelf first baseman. Albert, of course, is more than top shelf, he is THE top shelf. Still, I was surprised by the move. The Angels have Mark Trumbo returning, a player they control, and a healthy Kendrys Morales. I am sure that there are other areas of the team that could have used upgrades.
The Angels did follow up immediately with the signing of top free agent pitcher C.J. Wilson. I had a feeling that Wilson would be headed to the West Coast despite the Miami Marlins pursuit of the former Texas Ranger. He leaves the top of the rotation for perhaps the #3 or #4 slot with the Angels. The Philadelphia Phillies have been recognized for the best rotation, but the Angels cannot be too far behind with Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana and now Wilson leading the rotation. I don’t know who the #5 starter is for the Angels off the top of my head, but does it really matter? You could probably go grab Mark Langston out of retirement and throw him in the rotation…it wouldn’t matter.
This has to be a reactionary move by owner Arte Moreno. The Los Angeles Dodgers are primed to re-capture the LA market once a reputable, financially-sound owner or ownership group takes control of the team. After being considered the class of the AL West for years, the Angels have become an understudy for the Texas Rangers. Today’s moves clearly re-establish the Angels as the class of the AL West, and perhaps of the American League.
I do feel bad for the St Louis Cardinals and their fans. As an iconic player, the fans deserved to see Albert play his entire career in St Louis. Stan “The Man” Musial is beloved to this day, and Albert is the first Cardinals player that could have rivaled Musial after his playing days are over. Now, Albert will never be automatically thought of as a Cardinal. He’ll carve out a legacy as an Angel, and will give us reasons to remember him in Anaheim. A very disappointing day for the Cardinals. No offense to Lance Berkman, but that’s a big drop-off from Albert.
The Miami Marlins had looked like the crown prince of the Winter Meetings with their acquisitions of Heath Bell, Jose Reyes, and Mark Buehrle, but they were torched on the last day by the Angels. It’s been a good off-season for the Angels, who earlier picked up a new backstop in Chris Iannetta.
Meanwhile, I can hear crickets at Yankee Stadium…
A little bit of nothing…
The Yankees did win the posting for Japanese infielder Hiroyuki Nakajima, but based on the reports I’ve read, the Yankees will have difficulty signing him. The leading speculation is that he’ll return to Japan for another season and then sign with the Boston Red Sox next winter. That would really stink if the Yankees lost a prospect to their bitter rival. But from Nakajima’s perspective, Boston could offer him a starting role at shortstop (something the Yankees could not do) and their manager has tremendous experience with Japanese players. The posting I want the Yankees to win is for pitcher Yu Darvish, but reports indicate the Yankees interest is lukewarm. Of course, that could always be a ploy to help keep posting bids down, but the lukewarm comments certainly proved to be accurate for the Yankees interest in C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehrle.
I remain hopeful that the Yankees have started the groundwork for a successful acquisition of a pitcher like Gio Gonzalez, John Danks, or Kyle Drabek. Brian Cashman may feel that he doesn’t need to do anything with a 97-win team, but I heard a GM on MLB Radio say that if you’re standing pat, you are getting worse. I agree that you need to consistently seek upgrades and for the most part, the Yankees stood pat last season. Catcher Russell Martin was huge, but at the time of the signing, it was very low key. Same with the signings of Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon. It’s been a very long time since Yankees fans have had a reason to feel great excitement and joy for a player acquisition like the Angels experienced today. Meanwhile, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter are getting older and certainly not better…
I know, we’re Yankees fans, we want it all…
Go New York!…
Now that the NBA is back, I am at the crossroads. I’ve been a Los Angeles Lakers fan in recent years, primarily because of my appreciation for Kobe Bryant as a player. But as funny as this sounds as a Yankees fan, I am tired of backing a team that is always expected to win and often does. I want a team that has suffered so that when the team does win, there is greater satisfaction. As a result, I am switching my allegiance to a team that has my favorite player, Amare Stoudemire as well as my second favorite player, Carmelo Anthony…the New York Knicks.
First year in Minnesota, worst year in the history of the franchise…
Despite my relocation to Minnesota, I remain committed in my support of the NHL’s San Jose Sharks. And despite their 2-10 record, I am still a Vikings fan. On the bright side as a Vikings fan, I won’t have to wait long to find out who the Vikings select in the NFL Draft in April 2012. At this point in the season, you’re pulling for losses, hoping the team can overtake the Indianapolis Colts for the worst record. But of course, that’s a moot issue if the Colts can’t win a game. This is probably one of the first years ever that I’ve accepted and embraced that the Green Bay Packers will win the Super Bowl. It’s easier to say that when your team was left for dead long ago.
I need one of my teams to step forward and win a championship. It’s been a drought since 2009, and I need something to cheer about!
Bobby Valentine’s hire…
I am still surprised that the Boston Red Sox ownership and management team did not have a clear plan of succession when they failed to back former manager Terry Francona at the end of the season. Sure, Francona left on his terms but the lack of support had as much to do with the decision as anything. So, if ownership felt that they wanted a change, they should have had a short list of potential replacements in mind. Theo Epstein moved more quickly in Chicago when they named Sox candidate Dale Sveum as their manager. The Sox search just felt “messy” to an outsider like me.
Still, they probably did as well as they could with the hiring of Bobby Valentine. There is no question that he is a superior tactician. He is very passionate, which is an attribute that I have always admired. I cannot say that I’ve been a Bobby V fan in my life. I lived in Dallas during his years as the manager of the Texas Rangers. But I respect his knowledge, skills and high desire to win. At different points during the last few years, there have been times he has been mentioned as a possible Yankees manager. You don’t have to like the guy personally if he can get the job done. I think one of my friends referred to Bobby as “swarmy” and it’s a good description. Nevertheless, I am sure that Bobby will prove himself worthy of the Red Sox Nation and they’ll love him. Meanwhile, we’ll just continue our loathing of him which fits since he is now with a bitter rival.
I would like to see if Bobby can have a positive impact on pitcher Jon Lester. Lester has been one of my favorite players, despite his uniform. He is an ace, and capable of carrying the high expectations that go with it. 2011 was a regression year for Lester so hopefully he’ll get back on track in 2012 and clearly establish himself as the leader of the Red Sox rotation.
…and Terry Francona’s ire…
In recent years, I admittedly lessened my dislike for the Boston Red Sox and it was primarily because of my respect for manager Terry Francona. In my mind, Joe Torre had been the model of a superior manager, and the Francona mold was in the same class. I do not know the inner workings of the Red Sox organization, but I am still surprised that they didn’t support Francona based on comments Tito has made during interviews. I was even more surprised to hear that he had to defend himself against questions about painkillers during his interview with the St. Louis Cardinals. Here is a manager that won two World Series for an organization that had not won since 1918, or when Babe Ruth was still on the roster. It’s incredible to think of how many Red Sox managers failed where Tito succeeded. I think teams missed the boat in not aggressively pursuing Tito this off-season. Hopefully, teams won’t make the same mistake next year.
All quiet on the Western front…
The days leading up to the Baseball Winter Meetings in Dallas seem so incredibly quiet compared to life under the Boss. While I recognize that part of it is posturing by the Yankees to avoid overpaying for players, there is the realization that this is a different ownership group even if it is still “in the family”. The Yankees did not really make any notable moves last season outside of signing catcher Russell Martin and bringing in pitchers Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon. To fail to upgrade the team this year is a mistake in my opinion. Last year’s roster was easily defeated by the Detroit Tigers in the play-offs. While I realize that anything can happen in a short series, I didn’t have the sense or “feel” that the Yankees were going to prevail. It almost seemed as though it was inevitable the Yankees would lose. That’s a bad feeling. The team needs bench or role players that can come through like Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui used to, and they need help at the top of the starting rotation behind CC Sabathia.
I hopeful that the team can re-sign Eric Chavez, Andrew Jones and Luis Ayala. Chavez is a perfect fit behind Alex Rodriguez, assuming that he can stay healthy, and Jones was a great fourth outfielder if he is content with resuming that type of role for the upcoming season. Ayala seems to be garnering much attention with at least six teams interested.
I like the one rumor that I heard about the Yankees possibly being interested in Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Kyle Drabek. He would definitely be a pitcher that I’d target if I were the GM. As a fan, the trade of Doug Drabek hurt at the time and it hurt even more when Drabek went on to achieve great success with the Pittsburgh Pirates. While acquiring Kyle Drabek has nothing to do with his father as he has great potential on his own right, it would be nice to have the son of Doug Drabek in the organization. Interestingly, the Yankees had obtained Doug Drabek in a trade with the Chicago White Sox for shortstop Roy Smalley. If they had held onto him that trade would have been remembered as one of the Yankees better trades. As it was, the Yankees traded him to the Pirates for Rick Rhoden, who was serviceable but not great.
Of the free agent pitchers, I am still most interested in Mark Buehrle. I think he’d fit perfectly into the middle of the Yankees rotation. I like C.J. Wilson but I can understand the team’s apprehension given the dollars that have been mentioned to sign him. If Yu Darvish is posted later this off-season, I really would like to see the Yankees be aggressive in pursuing him. I am convinced that he’ll have greater major league success than Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka. The negative is obviously the cost of the posting fee that it will take to get the job done. The Red Sox paid over $51 million for the rights to negotiate with Dice-K, and apparently, it will take a similar if not higher number to land Darvish.
If the Yankees were to include outfielder Nick Swisher in a trade for a starting pitcher, they’d need to find a replacement. As a fan, I am always on the lookout for the next Paul O’Neill type of trade to fill the void…acquiring a talented young outfielder with much promise who has yet fulfilled those expectations. It’s a high risk move, but as in the case of O’Neill, high reward. Curtis Granderson has thrived in a Yankees uniform despite the sluggish start, and it’s better to catch a player before he hits the upward arc of his career in terms of cost. If the Yankees tried to acquire Granderson from the Tigers today, there’s no way that they could get it done with Ian Kennedy, Austin Jackson and Phil Coke (and that’s with Kennedy being mentioned in the NL Cy Young race this year).
Brace yourself, here comes Roller-Coaster Week!…
The upcoming week is always my favorite week of the off-season. The Hot Stove League is at its pinnacle. Even if the Yankees do not do anything, it is still a thrilling ride. It’s fun to talk and think about all the potential possibilities, even as far-reaching as some may sound. My primary wish is for the Cardinals to get their long-anticipated deal with Albert Pujols done so that we can move on to other storylines. There’s no way that he is going to Chicago or Miami, and at the end of the day, he is and always will be a Cardinal.
My preferred landing spot for Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, if he decides to continue playing, is the Miami Marlins. I do not want to see him go to the Mets, Red Sox, or any other AL East rival including the Tampa Bay Rays.
Good move, Bad move…
The Los Angeles Dodgers are my favorite National League team, although I do not have the passion for the team or the sense of loyalty that I hold for the Yankees. My affection for them began when Joe Torre was named manager (previously I had considered the San Francisco Giants as my NL team) and it has continued with one of my all-time favorite players as the current Dodgers manager, Don Mattingly. I am dismayed with the ownership situation and do not have any respect for Frank McCourt, but I am optimistic that the sale of the team will restore the luster of the storied franchise.
While it was good for the Dodgers to lock up outfielder Matt Kemp long-term, I do question the move to sign free agent pitcher Chris Capuano. The cost was too great ($10 million for two years) for a journeyman pitcher who is average to average-minus with no upside. If this move prevents free agent pitcher Hiroki Kuroda from returning, then it’s an even greater mistake. I don’t know how much it will cost to sign Kuroda and I realize that he is 37, but he’s still a better pitcher than Capuano.
Don’t let the door hit you on the way out…
I was not excited when the Minnesota Vikings trade a 6th round draft pick to the Washington Redskins for QB Donovan McNabb before the season started, but I did realize the team needed a veteran presence. McNabb was a failure for the Vikings, and I was glad to see the team finally cut bait with his release this past week. I am not convinced he can thrive in any environment, contrary to what head coach Leslie Frazier may say. I think the Vikings simply found out what the Philadelphia Eagles knew and what the Redskins found out last season. He’s done. I was pleasantly surprised to see QB Sage Rosenfels return as the third string QB after his release from the Miami Dolphins. It’s not that I expect Rosenfels to take any regular season snaps this time around, but he’s a good insurance policy and allows the Vikings to continue to use second string QB Joe Webb in a variety of roles.
It’s tough when your favorite football team is playing so bad that you actually hope for losses to ensure a high draft pick. The Vikings are only two games behind the Indianapolis Colts in the sweepstakes for Stanford QB Andrew Luck. I am a fan of Vikings QB Christian Ponder, but even I would gladly take Luck over Ponder. So, with the Denver Broncos playing the Vikings today, all I can say is ‘Go Tim Tebow!’ as a way to bring good “Luck”!…
The Ace of Scranton/Wilkes Barre…
I kept hoping that the Yankees would be able to find a way to keep Ivan Nova in the rotation, but inevitably, the team made the only decision it could by sending him down to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. I agree that it is in Nova’s best interests to keep him on rotation, and not stunt his development by moving him to the pen.
I find it highly unlikely that either Bartolo Colon and/or Freddy Garcia will make it through the remainder of the season without any health issues. So, almost assuredly, Nova will be back and he’ll prove why he is a long-term option for the starting rotation.
Larry knows best…
Nothing against former pitching coach Dave Eiland, but his replacement, Larry Rothschild, has certainly shown why he was a great hire in the off-season. The Yankees struck gold with both Colon and Garcia when they were hopeful that they’d be able to get something out of at least one of the pitchers. I thought the Colon signing was a joke, and didn’t really begin to take the former Cy Young Award winner seriously until after the regular season began.
Thomas A. Ferrara/Newsday
Rothschild has also overseen the return of A.J. Burnett as a viable force in the rotation, which, after last season, was no small task.
In the bullpen, the Yankees have overcome the loss of set up man Rafael Soriano and Joba Chamberlain with the superb play of David Robertson. Robertson has shown that he is not only a great bridge to Mariano Rivera, but is perhaps a very viable alternative as Mo’s eventual replacement. GM Brian Cashman was right to be against the Soriano signing, and now the Yanks will have Soriano for two more years since there’s no way that he’ll opt out of his lucrative contract. It will be interesting to see how the Yankees handle this situation when Soriano returns.
As great as Larry Rothschild is, there are still going to be those moments when all goes wrong like today’s loss to the New York Mets. Mariano Rivera blew a save opportunity in the 9th, and the Yanks subsequently lost in 10 innings. But the nice thing about the Yankees bullpen is that they have a very short memory, and I’m sure that they’ll be back in stellar form tomorrow.
Congratulations, you’re an All-Star! As your reward, here is a ticket to the face of the Sun…
Congratulations to the players that will represent the Yankees during next week’s All-Star Game in Phoenix. Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, and Curtis Granderson will be in the starting lineup, while Mariano Rivera and Russell Martin were also added to the squad. Count me as one of those who hope that a spot opens for David Robertson. The All-Star Yankees will need to get used to the heat as it has been blistering hot in the Valley of the Sun. Yesterday, the official high was 117 degrees in Chandler, AZ, however, I saw temperature readings over 120 degrees. It may be a dry heat, but it’s just plain hot. Fortunately, Chase Field will be covered and the indoor temps should be very mild.
Nearing the end of the first half…
I am quite please with the way the Yankees have played the first half of the season. I still feel that the Boston Red Sox have the superior team on paper, but the Yankees have held their own and currently lead the Sox by 1 ½ games. I don’t think the Yanks can stay ahead of the Sox without any changes to the roster, but the team has definitely gotten more out of less.
Have a very happy, safe and enjoyable 4th of July, everyone!
This weekend’s abbreviated
two-game series against the Baltimore Orioles was a positive despite the
postponement of one game that will cause its share of challenges later in the
Saturday featured a great performance
by CC Sabathia, along with a
plethora of hits and home runs for the Yanks, while Sunday saw the Yanks pull
out a game that they could have lost when Mariano
Rivera blew his second straight save opportunity. I am not concerned about Mo, as he has had
short stretches like this during the season in recent years.
Sunday saw a great hitting
performance by the ‘written off for dead’ Derek
Jeter, who went 4-for-6 with a run scored and a RBI to raise his batting
average to .257. I agree that it’s too
soon to write Jeter’s obituary, just like it is too soon to start questioning
if Mo is losing it. But still, I have
the right to ask. Is it time for Jorge Posada to call it a career? I know it’s still early, but a .153 batting
average is abysmal. Let’s hope that he
turns it around like David Ortiz
always seems to do for the Red Sox…
Congratulations to Freddy Garcia for another six inning
shut-out! Also, after wondering if the
Yankees made a huge mistake in unloading Ian
Kennedy, Phil Coke and Austin Jackson to acquire Curtis Granderson for most of last
season, I am a fan of the Grandy Man! He
hit his 7th home run of this young season, and could be on track for
30+. He has definitely gained a comfort
zone in pinstripes.
Saturday’s hero, aside from
the great job by CC Sabathia, was
catcher Russell Martin. We are not out of April and he already has
one more home run than last season, and needs just one more to tie his total for
2009. Combined with good health, the
change of scenery has been very good for Martin. I am looking forward to Francisco Cervelli‘s return so that he can start spelling Martin on
occasion, but I am glad that GM Brian
Cashman had the foresight to sign Martin rather than go with the untested Jesus Montero. Montero’s time will come but it was obvious
that his time is not now. Martin has
been very instrumental in the Yankees’ strong start, especially when you
consider how sluggish the team has performed the last few Aprils. I don’t want to criticize Posada, but I like
the way Martin has meshed with the pitching rotation.
I hope everyone had a very
Happy Easter today. Easter time with the
family definitely brings back great memories…