Sayonara, old friends…
This was a sad week for former Yankees stars as Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon were designated for assignment by their respective teams (Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Indians). Matsui has subsequently been released and Damon’s release is imminent. I doubt that either player will be picked up at this point in the season so it is most likely the sunset of both careers.
For Matsui, I think his original plan was to only play in the United States for three years but I am grateful that he extended his stay. He may not have been the “monster” player that he was in Japan (a/k/a Godzilla), but he knew and understood the power of the timely hit. Time and again, Matsui had a key hit to propel the Yanks to victory. He always seemed to rise to the occasion in the intense Boston-New York wars. In terms of character, he could easily stand in the same room with guys like Derek Jeter.
It hasn’t been fun watching Matsui wear Angels, A’s, and Rays jerseys, but he will always be Yankee.
As for Damon, it is ironic that a player who played such a key role in the Red Sox breaking ‘The Curse of the Bambino’, plus the entire Caveman image, could become a valued Yankee. Unlike Matsui, I won’t view Damon as a “Yankee” given his long tenure and success with other teams, but for his time in New York, he showed nothing but class and dignity. Like Matsui, he was a clutch player who seemed to excel in the bright lights.
Introducing Billy Beane’s latest star pitcher…
With the apparent end of two great careers this week, I saw the opposite on a plane trip from Portland, OR to Oakland on Thursday. The guy I was sitting next to was excited to be flying to Oakland to see his son, Dan Straily, make his major league pitching debut for the A’s on Friday night. He was proud to say that his son led all of baseball in strikeouts, and talked about the hard work his son had accomplished to get to this point. For the game, Straily didn’t figure in the decision, but his performance was a success:
The A’s won the game, 5-4, in 15 innings. I am sure that we’ve not seen the last of Mr. Straily. Here’s hoping this is the start of a long and memorable career for Straily, his father and the rest of their family.
When in doubt, pick up a Pirate…
While the trading deadline was very active compared to recent years, it was another quiet period for the Yankees. As the now fiscally conservative Yankees had been preaching, they did not make any moves for expensive, short-term rentals. They picked up a need (third baseman Casey McGehee) to ensure that backup third baseman Eric Chavez is not over exposed to playing time while starter Alex Rodriguez is on the DL. It’s a shame that Chavez is such an injury risk at this stage of his career, but I agree that it is best to limit his playing time for the good of his long-term health.
I thought the Yanks might try to make a move for a pitcher (someone like Ryan Dempster or Matt Garza) but it was clear that they would not overpay. Time will tell if they made the right decisions, but I still have concerns about the team’s offense in the play-offs when every pitcher they face will be a #1 or #2 starter. But September should see the return of top pitcher Andy Pettitte and a fresh Alex Rodriguez so perhaps those will be the team’s noteworthy “acquisitions” that boost team momentum.
Magic seems to be enjoying his new hobby…
The Los Angeles Dodgers have clearly re-emerged as a force in baseball with the new ownership group as they were the most active team in acquiring upgrades over the past couple of weeks (Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino and Joe Blanton). I guess they’ve gotten over the reign of Frank McCourt and have shown that they are back in the game. The San Francisco Giants are a strong team, but I think the Dodgers’ moves will help propel them past the Giants to the NL West pennant. Good for Dodgers manager Don Mattingly who remains one of my favorite guys in Major League Baseball.
Nothing but crickets…
I was surprised the Boston Red Sox didn’t make any moves. If there was a team that I had expected to make noise at the trading deadline, it was the Sox. I don’t think they should give up quality guys like Jacoby Ellsbury or Jon Lester, but there were moves they could have made to give the team a jolt. I may not be a fan of the Red Sox so I might be biased in making this comment, but I hope that this is a ‘one and done’ season for Boston manager Bobby Valentine.
We’ve moved into August and the Yankees hold a 6 ½ game advantage at the moment, but admittedly, it’s hard to get comfortable when that team in the rear view mirror is the Tampa Bay Rays. The next couple of months should be interesting. Let’s win this thing!…
Uneven start to the 2012 season…
I guess the season opening series sweep by the Tampa Bay Rays set the tone, but this has been a hot and cold season thus far. The New York Yankees followed the Rays series with their own sweep of the Baltimore Orioles, but they’ve struggled against the Minnesota Twins in the Bronx. Given how the Yankees have owned the Twins in recent years and the fact the Twins were a 99 loss team last year with no notable improvements, it seems odd that the Yankees are fighting to salvage the fourth game of the series with the Twins and at least earn a split.
Now you see him, now you don’t…
I was excited last week when Hiroki Kuroda pitched a gem, but after getting pounded by the Twins yesterday , he’s had more bad starts than good. It’s only three starts in, and I am sure that Kuroda will not be A.J. Burnett Revisited, but I’d prefer the ratio of good starts to bad to be reversed. I can’t imagine what it would be like to change leagues, especially for a foreign player. There is a difference in pitching in the AL versus the NL, and it would seem, to a novice like me, that it would be more enjoyable to pitch in the National League given the lack of a DH.
Odd men out…
As it stands right now, I think that both Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia are pitching their way out of the rotation to make way for the eventual returns of Andy Pettitte and Michael Pineda. I expect Hughes to be moved to the bullpen, but I am not sure what will happen with Garcia. I don’t really see him going to the pen if Hughes goes there, and of course, he’s not going to the minor leagues. Best case scenario is a trade to bring in a player with potential. It obviously wouldn’t be a high ranked prospect, but rather something of a gamble with upside.
What have you done for me lately…
I feel bad for Francisco Cervelli sitting in AAA simply because he had options, but I have to say that I was impressed when no-hit back up catcher Chris Stewart had 3 RBI’s the other night. Stewart is clearly on the roster because of his defense but his bat has never scared anybody. It still won’t, but it’s always good to mix in a hit or two.
I didn’t watch the game but the match-up of Cliff Lee and Matt Cain last night in San Francisco was stellar. I was going to say that the game featured two of my favorite pitchers, but I am still a bit miffed at Cliff Lee for his rejection of the Yankees a couple of seasons back. Tim Lincecum gets the press in San Francisco, but I’ve always appreciated Matt Cain. If I owned a baseball team, he would be one of the guys that I’d target for acquisition. I’ve always admired his competitiveness. The marquee match-up didn’t disappoint as Cain went 9 innings, allowing no runs, and Lee went an almost unheard of 10 innings. Neither pitcher gave up a run. A more startling statistic is that Lee only threw 102 pitches and Cain 91. Neither pitcher figured in the outcome as the San Francisco Giants defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 1-0 in 11 innings. But there is no doubt that was the season’s prime pitching duel so far. Kind of makes me wish that I had been sitting in AT&T Park last night.
The Grandy Man can…
As I am sitting here typing this blog, Curtis Granderson has hit three home runs in the first four innings of tonight’s game against the Twins. Yes, I think Grandy has settled into the Bronx. As the song goes, with a slight variation, the Grandy Man can ‘cuz he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good. Yes, he does. I remember being disappointed that the Yankees gave up Austin Jackson, Ian Kennedy and Phil Coke for Granderson, but even though Kennedy has prospered in the Sonoran Desert, I am glad the trade was made. Grandy is a class act and probably the closest to Derek Jeter in terms of quality of character.
Will Los Angeles continue to take the best of Minnesota?…
As a resident of Minneapolis and a lifelong fan of the Minnesota Vikings, I am very disappointed in the recent chain of events in the Vikings’ efforts to secure a new stadium. A state legislative committee nixed the Vikings’ plan and it is looking like the subject will be tabled until 2013. The Minnesota legislature goes on break in a week so they are running out of time to take action with the stadium issue. There hasn’t been any threats of relocation but they are starting to rumble to the surface. The Vikings have passed the lease expiration of the Metrodome, so relocation is a genuine threat. Based on reports, the Vikings will not tolerate delay until 2013 so this situation is critical. I heard today that the NFL is coming to Minnesota in an effort to break the impasse. But the odds of the Los Angeles Vikings becoming a reality have to be increasing. This is very disappointing. For me, I am not a native Minnesotan, so I’ll stay with the Vikings regardless of what happens, but they belong in Minnesota. You would think that the city of Minneapolis would have learned something with the Lakers…
Well, what would we do if sports weren’t available to frustrate us?…
Something wicked this way comes…
The stage was set for a masterful start to what could be the final season for Hall of Famer-to-be Mariano Rivera, but it was not meant to be. Called on to protect a 6-5 Yankees lead in the bottom of the 9th at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, the Rays rallied against Mo to win the game, 7-6. Control was the main culprit, but Mo will just shake this one off, and will be prepared to take the mound again tomorrow if called upon.
I had an uneasy feeling with the slim lead heading into the latter stages of the game. David Robertson successfully navigated out of a self-created jam in the 8th inning and it did feel as though momentum was on the Yankees’ side. But after the teams combined for 11 runs in the first three innings, the Yankee bats went silent and the crucial hits, when needed, later in the game never came.
It’s interesting that both the Yankees and Red Sox lost their season openers due to bullpen failures. But at least the Red Sox can say that they had an unproven closer (Alfredo Aceves) in the game. Aceves has a bit of catching up to do to accumulate as many saves as Mo has. Still, it’s just one game, and last time I checked, there were still 161 more to go. I am anxious to see what new Yankee pitcher Hiroki Kuroda can do tomorrow.
Just not quite enough room…
I knew that there was no room for outfielder Justin Maxwell, but it was still disappointing when he was designated for assignment. Maxwell had a good spring, but he has the misfortune of playing for a team that boasts the likes of Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez in reserve outfield roles.
Now you see him, now you don’t…
The biggest surprise of the final roster breaking spring training was the demotion of backup catcher Francisco Cervelli, who was optioned to AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre. In a trade that sent reliever George Kontos to the San Francisco Giants, the Yankees re-acquired defensive catcher Chris Stewart. Stewart will never make anybody forget Cervelli’s bat, but Francisco was a victim of circumstance. Of the two catchers, he was the only one who still had options. The need for Stewart was created by the injured Austin Romine. I understand Cervelli’s frustration and disappointment with the move, but hopefully, he’ll get his head right and take advantage of starting in the minors until the inevitable call comes to bring him back to the Bronx.
Ah, the first time!…
Congratulations to pitcher David Phelps for being named the team’s long reliever. It’s always great to see young players excited when they make a major league roster for the first time. Hopefully it is the start of a long and productive career for Phelps.
Well, today’s loss was no fun, but time to move on. Let’s go Yankees, let’s go Kuroda! Game 2, bring it on!
The Return of an old Friend…
When I first heard the news, I kept looking for the tag that it was a joke. I did have to think about what day it was, wondering if we had somehow fast forwarded to April Fool’s Day. But alas, the reports of Andy Pettitte coming out of retirement were accurate.
I am happy to see Andy back in Pinstripes, but it was still very surprising news. Of course, those close to Andy realized how much he missed the game when he was at camp for a few days earlier this month, but from the distant view of a fan, it just looked like he was enjoying spending time with the team. It sounded as though he was busy with his children’s activities in Texas, and could only spend a short amount of time in Florida as a result. But of course, I didn’t realize the soul-searching he was going through.
I do not believe that the one year lay-off will adversely impact Andy. I felt he left the game prematurely when he did, and this is no different than a pitcher out with injury for an extended period. The only difference is that Andy continued to pitch throughout the duration of the time away, aside from a short break he apparently took when it appeared there was no opportunity with the Yanks.
For Jorge Posada, I felt it was time for him to retire. But I didn’t have that feeling about Andy. I think he can still be a very productive pitcher at this stage of his career. Granted, he is not a front of the rotation starter anymore, but he definitely strengthens the back end. The downside is the impact on the other pitchers fighting for the 5th spot in the rotation…Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes. It also impacts the young pitchers who may have opportunities to pitch in the majors this year…Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, D.J. Mitchell, Adam Warren and others. Of this group, I am most concerned about Hughes. He has appeared to be in excellent mental and physical shape this year, and seemed to be primed to have a season reminiscent of his 18-win season a couple of years ago. Barring injury, does Pettitte’s readiness in May or June mean that Hughes will be moved to the pen? More than likely. The odd man out appears to be Freddy Garcia. He could move into the role of long man, but paying Garcia $4 million to be the long reliever seems excessive for a team trying to cut costs as the role could easily be filled by a number of less expensive options with similar results.
But the positives of Pettitte’s return outweigh the negatives. He is a champion and his competitiveness rivals guys like former Yankees pitcher David Cone. He won’t be winning 20 games, but he’ll win or at least put his team in the best position to win when he is called upon. I heard an interview show that talked about ‘what if’ Pettitte cannot return to being the pitcher he was before, and I trust those who say that Andy would stop the comeback before the Yankees would if he felt he wasn’t effective. As the saying goes, ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained’. I wish Andy the very best on the comeback trail and I am looking forward to seeing #46 on the mound at Yankee Stadium.
The road to the Bronx is not paved with .065 hitters…
Like others, I am growing a bit concerned about the inability of Raul Ibanez to hit this spring. The phrase, “don’t worry, he’ll hit” just doesn’t hold any water for a player the fans have no emotional attachment to. I didn’t follow Ibanez closely during his Phillies career, but it seemed like he started slowly last year but still ended up with decent numbers by the end of the year. But every year is different, and at age 40, Ibanez is going to continue to regress. I am not sure if the best path is to wait to see if Ibanez comes around and supplement his at-bats in a DH rotation with Eric Chavez, Andruw Jones, and Alex Rodriguez, or if the Yankees should pursue another alternative via trade. Anything that is available on the market will have flaws so there are no easy answers. For whatever reason, the Yankees seem to be opposed to the idea of either Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui returning. I’d probably bring them in for an open competition with Ibanez at this point. Then, at the end of spring training, may the best bat move north.
If I had been a fan of Ibanez for a number of years, then I’d feel differently. But since there is no history, I similarly have no patience. If Ibanez continues to hit less than .100 in spring training, then it’s time to move on and find another option. If he can’t hit in March, how is he going to be able to catch up to that Justin Verlander four-seam fastball in October?…
What did you say your name was again?…
I am glad to see that Clay Rapada is making the most of his opportunity to emerge as the second lefty option for the pen. When Rapada was released by the Baltimore Orioles earlier this year, I didn’t think much about it. He quietly signed with the Yankees, and then another key left-handed option, Hideki Okajima, failed his physical. It seems like the Yankees are always looking for that second lefty and maybe Rapada can finally find his moment to shine. The Tampa Bay Rays seem to have very good luck in building strong bullpens from the scrap heap, so it would be nice if Rapada turned out to be an “Andrew Friedman” like move.
It is interesting following the Peyton Manning story, but I haven’t seen any teams emerge as a great fit for him. He’s already passed on the Miami Dolphins, and he is apparently throwing for the Tennessee Titans, but I don’t see the Titans, or the Denver Broncos, as an immediate threat to win the Super Bowl…with or without Manning. Perhaps the best fit might be the San Francisco 49ers. It would be great to see Manning in New Orleans given his family’s history there, but Drew Brees isn’t going anywhere so that’s not a possibility. My team, the Minnesota Vikings, have so many problems beyond QB that they are not an option. Regardless of where Peyton lands, it will be weird to see him in a different uniform. I never could quite get used to seeing Joe Montana with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Keeping Ponder off his back…
With the NFL Draft just a month away, I am hopeful the Vikings retain their #3 pick (there’s been talk of trading down to pick up additional picks). With QB Andrew Luck (Colts) and QB Robert Griffin III (Redskins) off the board, that leaves powerhouse offensive tackle Matt Kalil ready and able to join the Vikings to protect QB Christian Ponder for years to come. For a team that struggled with its offensive line last season following the ouster of longtime tackle Bryant McKinnie, Kalil seems to be exactly what the doctor ordered.
Courtesy of a friend:
Senior Citizen Texting Codes:
ATD: At The Doctors
BFF: Best Friend Fell
BTW: Bring the Wheelchair
BYOT: Bring Your Own Teeth
FWIW: Forgot Where I Was
GGPBL: Gotta Go Pacemaker Battery Low
GHA: Got Heartburn Again
IMHO: Is My Hearing-Aid On
LMDO: Laughing My Dentures Out
OMMR: On My Massage Recliner
OMSG: Oh My! Sorry, Gas
ROFLACGU: Rolling On Floor Laughing And Can’t Get Up
TTYL: Talk To You Louder
FWIW! Have a great day!
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.
Jorge Posada’s Meltdown…
MLBlogs decides to convert to Word Press over THE weekend that Jorge Posada decides to meltdown! Sheesh! After weeks of not much to write about, the most enticing piece of Yankees news comes at a time when we were unable to talk about it. Okay, I do applaud MLBlogs for upgrading our site, so we’ll forgive this one indiscretion.
Andrew Theodorakis/The New York Daily News
During Saturday night’s game when it was announced during the game that Jorge Posada, who had asked out of the lineup, would be addressing the media after the game, I was convinced that he was going to announce his retirement. Obviously I don’t know Jorge very well, because retirement is the furthest thing in his mind. Nevertheless, his latest action has ensured that 2011 will be his final season in pinstripes…regardless of whether intends to continue playing or not.
Please do not get me wrong. I’ve always appreciated Jorge’s intensity and passion, and how much he hates to lose. He has been a great Yankee for many years, and he certainly deserves to be in the same room with Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra, Elston Howard, and Thurman Munson. But I thought his reaction to batting 9th in the order Saturday night (asking out of the game) was completely inappropriate and it shows what is wrong with the 2011 Yankees. The Yankees are currently in a free fall, having lost 6 in a row after getting swept in Yankee Stadium by the Boston Red Sox and losing Monday night’s game to the Tampa Bay Rays.
It’s disappointing because the Yankees finally played April strong after years of slow starts. Of course, it is now all for naught as they’ve had an atrocious May. The signs were evident as the Yankees were winning by the home run in April and that’s not a sustainable winning strategy. I think the problems can be tied to three players…Posada, Derek and Nick Swisher. At some point, the Yankees have to break the Core and go younger. I really don’t think this team can afford both Posada and Jeter in the lineup unless one or the other starts to hit. Given the choice of the two, I’d prefer to see Derek Jeter stay. I don’t think the Yankees will release Posada, but he’s clearly a liability at this point.
Can we get to the Trading Deadline already?…
If Swisher doesn’t start hitting, the Yankees will be looking for an outfielder in addition to a left-handed starting pitcher at the trading deadline. I only hope that the team doesn’t fall too far out by then. The Rays are starting to separate themselves from the Yankees, and it won’t be long before they are passed by the Red Sox.
I don’t know what the best plan is, but clearly, GM Brian Cashman has his job cut out for him. With principal owner Hal Steinbrenner’s comment that the Yankees shouldn’t get swept at home even if they are playing the 1927 Yankees, his tolerance level is going to be very low. This will be a very critical year if Cashman and manager Joe Girardi intend to keep their jobs.
I am the gift that keeps on giving to my friend Julia…
Having lost the weekend series against the Red Sox to my friend Julia (of Julia’s Rants), there will be a bottle of Rodrigue Molyneaux’s Cabiovese (75% Sangiovese and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon) on its way to the East Coast. Enjoy the wine, Julia. Yes, I am getting tired of losing these wagers but I am convinced ‘what goes around, comes around’. In other words, my turn will come.
Wow, did you see that?…
I participated in the 100th Bay to Breakers 12K Run in San Francisco on Sunday. Being San Francisco, you’re assured of seeing about everything and Sunday was true to form. This was my 4th time participating in the event, and it wasn’t my best time but I still had a great time figuratively speaking. I didn’t wear a costume and, unlike quite a few people, I kept my clothes on but I can say that ‘people watching’ was at its finest.
Anna Vignet/The San Francisco Chronicle
As it stands today, and I realize that it is still early
January, the Boston Red Sox are clearly the class of the AL. The Yankees inability to snag a frontline
pitcher will haunt the team, and the missed opportunities to upgrade in other
areas will cost the team valuable victories in the highly competitive AL East.
Jim Davis/Boston Globe
At the moment, Ivan Nova represents the #4 starter behind
CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett.
I’d argue that Burnett should be considered no more than a #4 if he can’t
turn it around. Meanwhile, other teams
are getting stronger. The latest AL team
to improve was the Texas Rangers with the addition of former Boston third
baseman Adrian Beltre. I know that the
Rangers, like the Yankees, still need more starting pitching, but they’ve
clearly improved the offensive and defensive makeup of the team.
It appears that the Chicago Cubs have acquired pitcher
Matt Garza from the Tampa Bay Rays. At
face value, it would appear the move weakens the Rays for the short term,
particularly in light of the previous losses (namely Carl Crawford, Rafael Soriano,
and Carlos Pena). However, the Rays have
a rich farm system and of course they needed a spot in the rotation for high
end prospect Jeremy Hellickson. Everyone
seems to be writing off the Rays, but I fully expect them to be in the thick of
the race. Somehow, they are the New
England Patriots of baseball…they may suffer huge personnel loss but there’s
always someone ready to step up their play as a replacement.
Jim Davis/Boston Globe
The rest of the division has gotten better, while the
Yankees have simply gotten older.
Last year, when the Rays trotted out Joaquin Benoit and
Rafael Soriano, it was game over. As it
stands, the Yankees set up crew consists of David Robertson and Joba
Chamberlain…a combo that was not consistent last year and forced the deadline
trade for Kerry Wood who solidified the position. I would have really liked to have seen the
Yanks pursue Soriano for the set up role, especially after his agent expressed
his willingness to set up for Mariano Rivera.
I was disappointed when GM Brian Cashman came out today to say there was
no chance of a Soriano signing since it would cost a first round pick. I get it.
The farm system is important and it has taken years for the Yankees to
rebuild the system after the cupboards were left bare. But still, it is hard not to think about how
effective a bullpen duo of Soriano-Rivera would be. It would probably be the best one-two punch
since the days of Rivera-Wetteland in the mid 90’s.
It definitely sounds as though Andy Pettitte won’t be
making the trip to Florida next month. I
want Andy to come back but I am okay if he decides to stay home. If he came and his heart wasn’t in it, he
just wouldn’t be the same pitcher we’ve come to rely upon. I wanted Minnesota Vikings QB Brett Favre to
come back this year and he did after much coaxing by his teammates, but the
results were horrific. Andy either has
to be “all in” or he should go ahead and hang up the glove. I would hate to see Andy leave with a Javier
Vazquez type of season.
The Yankees have made minor moves this off-season that I’ve
liked. The latest is the pick-up of
former Chicago Cubs reliever Brian Schlitter.
While he was not effective in his brief time with the major league club
last season, I have to believe this signing had much input from former Cubs,
and now Yankees, pitching coach Larry Rothschild. If Larry felt the Yanks should move on
Schlitter, then I feel he showed Larry enough to prove that he could be a
valuable and effective arm in the pen.
There’s still time for the Yankees to make the necessary
moves to improve the roster and certainly if an “all in” Andy Pettitte signs up
for a final season, the team will look much better than it does today.
If they maintain the status quo, I can’t help but wonder
how intense the pressure will be on manager Joe Girardi. Can he survive a season where he finishes
third (or worse) in the division? I am
not so sure. His best friend is his new
three year contract. Managing General
Partner Hal Steinbrenner is a numbers guy, and unlike his father, might not be
so willing to “eat” a contract. As much
as I would dislike the move, I can’t help but think that the Yankees failure to
land a quality frontline starter has enhanced the chances that we will see
Bobby Valentine in the Yankees dugout.
Ugh, I hope it doesn’t come to that…
Sadly, today brought the loss of another former Yankee
(Ryne Duren). Duren was a reliever for
the Yanks in the late 50’s and early 60’s, and was known for his coke bottle
glasses and 100 mph fastball. I liked
Yogi Berra’s quote about Duren: “Ryne could throw the heck out of the ball. He threw
fear in some hitters. I remember he had several pair of glasses but it didn’t
seem like he saw good in any of them.” Duren
passed away in Florida on Thursday at the age of 81.
Diamond Images/Getty Images
Congratulations to Jim Harbaugh, the new head coach of
the San Francisco 49ers. My favorite
Harbaugh moment still has to be in 1992 when the Chicago Bears were leading the
Minnesota Vikings 20-0 in the fourth quarter and the Vikings came back to win,
21-20. I can still remember the
frustrated Harbaugh wondering what hit him.
Nevertheless, I do wish him much success as he attempts to revitalize
the 49ers. It should be fun next season
when the Niners play the Baltimore Ravens, coached by Harbaugh’s brother
Well, I guess I’ll go back to waiting for the Yankees to
make a move…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…