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”!…
Missing The Mark…
It’s always fascinating to learn more about those who have worn the famed Yankee pinstripes. The great ones are often mentioned; Ruth, Gehrig (my personal favorite all-time player), DiMaggio, Mantle, etc. But not much is said of the lesser known players who have carved their niche in Yankee history.
I saw one blog yesterday that cried out Mark Teixeira is already the greatest all-time “Mark” in Yankees history. My only issue with this statement is that Teixeira has yet to take an “official” at bat for the Yankees, and he certainly has done nothing…yet…to bring the elusive 27th World Championship closer to the Bronx. But the topic did make me think of Mark Koenig. I am not saying that Koenig was a great player (he wasn’t), but he has a place in Yankee history that should not be forgotten.
Koenig was the original number 2 for the Yankees, and played shortstop on the storied 1927 Murderers’ Row team. A Yankee from 1925 to 1930, he was the double play combination with second baseman Tony Lazzeri.
Granted, Koenig did not have great career numbers and he didn’t stick in the major leagues for very many years. But he did bat .500 in the 1927 World Series, and had a .319 batting average in 1928.
In an interview before he died, Koenig described himself best. “I was ordinary. Very ordinary,” he said. “I had small hands and made too many errors. The only thing that I had was a powerful arm. I don’t think I could have stayed on any other club. The Yankees could have carried a midget at shortstop. That’s how good a club it was.”
Koenig had a league-leading 52 errors in 1926, with 4 more in the 1926 World Series which helped open the door for the St. Louis Cardinals to win the deciding Game 7 and their first world championship.
Koenig, who died in 1993 at age 88, was asked why he was the last survivor of the 1927 team. “I don’t understand it,” he said in a 1990 SI interview. “Maybe they got on base more and wore themselves out.”
Mark Teixeira will be the “MVM” (Most Valuable Mark) but we should definitely not forgot the Mark’s that have preceded him through the history of the franchise…
The New “Burner”…
Brett Gardner is definitely positioning himself as the Yankees’ starting centerfielder for Opening Day at Yankee Stadium on April 16th. I know it is still very early in camp, but Gardner has gotten off to a great start.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Pete Abraham of The LoHud Yankees Blog asked Jorge Posada about the irritation a player like Gardner causes a catcher. “Oh, we hate it,” Posada said. “It changes everything about the defense.”
Nick Swisher put it more bluntly when he said that Gardner was the ‘fastest white dude’ that he’s ever seen.
If I were Melky Cabrera, I would have skipped the WBC to make sure that my presence was felt in Yankees camp. I do not want to belittle what Cabrera can do for the WBC’s Dominican Republic team, but the phrase “out of sight, out of mind” does seem to apply. Maybe he has a tremendous few weeks with the WBC, and comes back to camp in late March to take the centerfield job. But at this point, I think Gardner brings a new dimension to the Yankees offense (so long as he can continue to get on base) and he is the leading contender for the job in my eyes…
The Closure of The Rocky Mountain News
The closure of Denver’s oldest newspaper has adversely impacted one of baseball’s greatest writers, Tracy Ringolsby. I have respected and trusted Tracy’s opinions for many years and he has long been one of my favorites.
I became a fan while he was covering the Texas Rangers for The Dallas Morning News in the late 1980’s. He has been with The Rocky Mountain News for 17 years.
The good news is that Tracy will continue to write for Foxsports.com, and he’ll expand his role at Baseball America.
Tracy has written a very good final column for the News about Manny Ramirez and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Happy trails to you too, Tracy! We’re looking forward to the next phase of your great career!
New Vikings Quarterback
In my blog yesterday, I indicated that I did not know what to think of the Minnesota Vikings’ acquisition of QB Sage Rosenfels from the Houston Texans. The indifference seems to be shared by the local press in Minneapolis-St. Paul as the Star Tribune’s headline reads “Sage Investment? We’ll See”, while the Pioneer Press opted for the more neutral “It’s Sage Rosenfels vs. Tavaris Jackson for Vikings QB” approach.
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Nevertheless, I am willing to give a fellow native Iowan a chance. Just so it doesn’t bring back memories of Bob Lee at quarterback, he’ll be alright…
Maybe it was because I was such a huge fan of Fran Tarkenton, but one of my most painful memories as a Vikings fan (aside from all those Super Bowl losses and the 1998 playoff loss to the Falcons) was during the short time Lee was the starting QB. In 1978, I wrote the team a letter resigning as a fan because of my dislike for Lee, and it took a few years for the passion about the Vikings to return…
Julia of Julia’s Rants has challenged me to a duel!
The New York Yankees play the Boston Red Sox for a three game series at Fenway Park in Boston beginning Friday, April 24, 2009. If the Yankees take the series, Julia has to change her website banner to show the Yankees logo. Conversely, if the BoSox take the series, I will have to sport the dreaded Red Sox emblem on this site.
But, let the record show that Julia has the unfair advantage of home field! But it is her birthday weekend, so I suppose some concessions must be made…
I am wondering what Julia’s site will look like…
My feelings about the
Boston Red Sox New York Yankees, baseball, sports and life in general.
This bet actually reminds me of an ongoing bet that I have had with a friend in Tampa named Kelly. Kelly has been a devout Devil Rays, excuse me, Rays fan for many years.
She was a season ticket holder for Rays games when getting a root canal was preferable to going to Tropicana Field. She likes to get her season tickets in the upper balcony, and there were often times that you would need binoculars just to see the person sitting next to you.
For several years, the bet has been about bragging rights.
For each series played during the season, the winner has bragging rights until the next series is played. Whichever team takes the season series has bragging rights throughout the off-season, and the other person is powerless to retaliate.
When the bet was first made, I had the advantage of the high and mighty Yankees against the lowly, pathetic then Devil Rays. Of course, tables were turned on me last season, and I had to reluctantly take what I had been giving for so many years. Fortunately for me, the Yankees went out and spent $423.5 million in the off-season, so hopefully, I’ll be able to return to my “perch” again this year!
Actually, Kelly let me know that I had a thing or two to learn about “bragging” as she showed me how it is really done!
It’s going to be a very exciting summer in the American League East…
Manny Is Officially From Another Planet
Manny Ramirez has turned down the Dodgers for the fourth time. I thought the latest offer was very generous given the current state of the economy. Plus, it isn’t exactly like there are teams beating down the door to sign Manny.
A quick scan of the Los Angeles Times’ Business section shows the following headlines:
- GM posts $9.6-billion quarterly loss
- Source: U.S. on verge of deal to boost its stake in Citigroup
- Student loan companies’ shares plunge on Obama proposal
- U.S. banks post collective $26.2-billion quarterly loss
- Weak healthcare stocks drag market lower
- The sun sets on the Rocky Mountain News
- 667K new jobless claims; continuing claims top 5M
- AIG could be broken up
- Economy still going south
I feel that Manny is proving to be very selfish, and we are seeing the true player that exposed himself in Boston. It is a very unfortunate situation, and the Los Angeles Dodgers deserve better.
On a side note, that is sad news about the closure of the Rocky Mountain News, which became Denver’s first newspaper on April 23, 1859.
Other Tidbits for a Friday…
Admittedly I do not follow the PGA very closely, but who is Tim Clark and how did he beat Tiger Woods?…
The Minnesota Vikings should be announcing later today that they have acquired QB Sage Rosenfels from the Houston Texans. I am not sure how I feel about the acquisition. Granted, I do not think that Tavaris Jackson is the answer, and Gus Frerotte is getting too old. I really like Matt Cassel, but when the New England Patriots placed the franchise tag on him, it removed him as a possibility as the cost to acquire him would be so great. Picking up someone like Jeff Garcia or even Michael Vick is equally unappealing. There just doesn’t seem to be any viable answers out there, so perhaps Rosenfels is the best option available. The cost to acquire Rosenfels is reasonable (fourth round draft pick, and contract extension of three years for $9 million). Like Arizona Cardinals QB Kurt Warner, Rosenfels hails from Iowa. He was born in Maquoketa, IA, and played college football at Iowa State. Given that I also grew up in a small Iowa town, I can relate to Sage and Kurt (well, except for the part about the million dollar contracts…and okay, the superior physical conditioning…and, I know, the heighth of the players…). Hopefully, Sage can have some of the success that Kurt has experienced. His stock was very high after the 2007 season, but the bloom lost much of its luster this past season when he went 2-3 filling in for injured QB Matt Schaub.
The Phoenix Suns, minus star Amare Stoudemire, have now suffered blowout losses to the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers within the past week. The Suns were also without Steve Nash in the loss to the Lakers, but this has been a very disappointing season. The Suns, if they make the play-offs, look like they’ll suffer another first round exit…
On the bright side, the San Jose Sharks beat the Ottawa Senators last night, 2-1. The Sharks were powered by two power-play goals by Milan Michalek and Patrick Marleau, which were scored 1:18 apart in the second period. The Sharks, 42-9-9, lead the Western Conference by 5 points over the Detroit Red Wings.
Have a great weekend everybody!