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!
I said ‘NO’, oh, by the way, here’s a $30 million contract for you…
There is still not much to write about in the Yankees Universe. There’s a report that Managing GM Hal Steinbrenner has talked with super agent Scott Boras about pitcher Edwin Jackson, but other than that, not much to talk about. Given that Steinbrenner orchestrated the signing of reliever Rafael Soriano last season (much to the disagreement of GM Brian Cashman), it would be interesting to hear what Cash has to say about Jackson. Universally, any team would be happy to sign Jackson on a short term, but a longer term deal is perceived as problematic. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. The Yankees need a solid #2 or #3 pitcher in addition to the current roster, but it is not worth the price of paying Jesus Montero and/or Manuel Baneulos.
Personally, I would not be opposed to Jackson in the rotation as I feel that pitching coach Larry Rothschild would be a very strong influence on the pitcher. He certainly has the potential of being better than anything in the rotation outside of CC Sabathia.
It’s a given that the Yankees need to do something. I think standing pat is the wrong approach. It would most likely ensure a second or third place finish behind the Boston Red Sox and/or Tampa Bay Rays. They need to improve the rotation. There are too many question marks attached to Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter will be another year older. The Yankees need a pitcher other than Sabathia that is completely capable of shutting down the opposition. Jackson can be that guy. I don’t like the idea of “saving your bullets” for another off-season in terms of projected free agents. In 2013, A-Rod and Jeter will be another year older and further from their prime. Why couldn’t have George Steinbrenner instilled this win at all costs mentality in his sons? Okay, fiscal responsibility is a good idea, but the Yankees need to ensure that they can withstand improved Red Sox, Rays and Blue Jays squads.
I like the Yankees’ signing of former Los Angeles Dodgers prospect Preston Mattingly. Granted, Donnie Baseball is one of my all-time heroes. But I’d like to see what the Yankee coaches and instructors can do with the former first round pick. He certainly has the pedigree to succeed. But time will tell if he can be Ken Griffey, Jr… or Pete Rose, Jr. His current path leans toward the latter, but he is only 24 years old. This goes into the category of ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’. For Preston’s sake, I hope that he succeeds in the organization that his father starred.
It was only $35.5 million…
I really feel bad for former Philadelphia Phillies closer Ryan Madson. Once rumored to be close to a 4-year, $44 million contract with the Phillies, he signs with the Cincinnati Reds for a one year contract at $8.5 million. He’ll close for a fraction of the money that the Yankees pay 7th inning guy Rafael Soriano. The hope, obviously, is that liquidity will return to the closer market during the next off-season so that Madson can capture a lucrative long-term deal. I don’t know what went wrong with his negotiations with the Phillies and what led to their acquisition of former Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, but he’ll long wonder what could have been.
We’ll give you over $50 million, but we’d really prefer to keep his salary at a couple mil…
For as much as the Texas Rangers bid for Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish, I will be very surprised if they fail to come to contract terms with Darvish returning to Japan. But at this point in the negotiations, you have to wonder if that’s not the likely outcome. It would be interesting to see Darvish on the open market after next season. I wonder if that would change the Yankees interest level…
It’s hard to believe that pitchers and catchers will be reporting to camp next month. I’ve been in Minnesota all winter long hoping for snow…and being sadly disappointed. At least the opening of baseball camps gives me something to be excited. I am looking forward to the debut of the 2012 Yankees! Bring it on!…
After a season of ‘will he’ or ‘won’t he’ opt-out, CC Sabathia accepted the Yankees offer and I couldn’t be more pleased. I am a bit concerned that CC’s weight will eventually prove to be a problem if he doesn’t get control of it, but clearly he is the Yankees best pitcher and the best hope for the next few years.
Since avoiding the opt-out only cost the Yankees $30 million (potentially $50 million if he is still at the top of his game at the end of the contract), it was clearly a bargain since they would have paid more to retain him had he hit the open market or perhaps they risked losing him altogether. I know that CC’s decision to stay was not solely on his love for the city and organization, but I am glad that he’s a permanent Yankee with no opt-out looming on the horizon.
I was driving home from work on Monday evening when I heard the news of the signing on MLB Radio. I had feared the worst so the news of his announcement on his website that he was staying was such an incredible relief. I have felt that the key to a successful off-season is getting both Sabathia and GM Brian Cashman locked up before the start of the free agency period. Mission accomplished. I am not sure there’s much on the free agent market that can help the Yanks, but hopefully, the team will be able to make a trade or two to improve the quality of the rotation.
As good as Cash…
Speaking of Cashman, his re-signing was essential for organizational continuity. I am not sure how long it takes a new GM to get acclimated to the job, but it would seem making your way in the Yankees Universe would take longer than usual. I am sure that the Yanks would have looked in-house for candidates (such as Billy Eppler or Damon Oppenheimer) but the man for the job continues to be Cashman. I am sure that he’s thought of what life would be with in a less stressful environment, but nobody is as suited for the Bronx as Cash is. I thought it was an interesting stat that he’s been the Yankees general manager longer than anyone since Ed Barrow (1920-45).
The start of a new era…
After standing pat for the most part with last year’s roster, it will be interesting to see what the Yankees do this year. I don’t expect them to go hog wild but they definitely need to get CC some help and they need a few clutch bats off the bench. At some point, the Yankees will have to say goodbye to Jorge Posada who few people expect to be on the 2012 roster. It is time for Jesus Montero to take up residence at Yankee Stadium and sadly that means there is no room for Jorge. He will go down as a great Yankee, and he’ll be heavily cheered at future Old Timer’s Days. My preference is for him to retire as a Yankee rather than to try and hang on for another year or so with another team.
Despite the Yankees decision to pick up his option, the odds of Nick Swisher still have to be mixed at best. If the Yankees can pick up a better player for right, I am sure that they’d do it. Swish’s personality would be missed but if he could be used, in part, to bring a frontline pitcher to New York, I’d be in favor of it.
Rafael Soriano decided against exercising his opt-out? Big surprise… L
You win some, you lose some…
I was disappointed to see the failure of Project Andrew Brackman. When Brackman was drafted, it was clear the Yankees had been able to get him at the spot they drafted because Brackman needed Tommy John surgery. I had really hoped that the pick would pay off and that Brackman would eventually be the top pitcher his potential screamed. Sadly, it was never meant to be…at least in New York…as the Yankees declined his option, making the 25-year-old a free agent.
There are other teams besides the Yankees?…
I was shocked when I heard that the St. Louis Cardinals might have interest in Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon as a replacement for Tony LaRussa. There’s no doubt that he’d be a great fit, but I just cannot see Tampa allowing Maddon to leave. He has been great for the city and the team…much to my chagrin and to the dismay of my friends in Boston. But I wouldn’t lose any sleep if Maddon does manage to get out of Tampa to take the Cardinals job.
I would really hate to see the Boston Red Sox get Michael Cuddyer…
The 2011 AL East Division Champions…
Most importantly, congratulations to the New York Yankees for their AL East Division Championship. They should have been AL East Champions last season but stumbled in the final days of the season to allow them to be eclipsed by the Tampa Bay Rays. So, fortunately, the Yankees have returned to their rightful throne! Well, at least for September. Come October, nothing less than a World Series Championship is acceptable!
So, I was only half right…
Admittedly, I am surprised the way this season has played out. At the beginning of the season, I had picked the Boston Red Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies as the World Series participants. The Phillies still look like the odds-on favorite at this point given their stellar starting pitching, but the Red Sox have faded oh so quickly. I remember listening to Sox fans who were predicting at least 114 wins or more for their revamped Red Sox, and while I openly scoffed at the notion, there was a part of me that was concerned that the Red Sox did have the necessary personnel to pull off a magical season. The chances for the magical season faded quickly when pitcher Clay Buchholz was lost for the season, but the Red Sox had charged back after a sluggish start and were in the thick of things at the end of August. Up to that point, the Red Sox had played the Yankees very aggressively with a significant advantage in the season series. They showed they had the offense to destroy virtually any pitcher on any given night, and there is no doubt that Adrian Gonzalez is perfectly suited for Fenway Park. But sadly for the Sox, the calendar turned to September and the deteriorated pitching staff started to show the stress and strain of the long season. Still, I didn’t expect the free fall that has currently left the Sox tied with the Tampa Bay Rays for the Wild Card slot, while the Yankees have wrapped up the division championship and best record in the AL. I never dreamed that the Yankees would be in position to walk to the finish line.
Pitching, pitching, pitching…
My lack of faith in the Yankees at the beginning of the season was due primarily to the pitching staff. I was concerned about A.J. Burnett and his ability to bounce back from a disastrous season (and rightfully so). I did not think the Yankees could replace Andy Pettitte with two scrapheap pitchers in Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon. Plus, the Yankees were placing much emphasis on Phil Hughes who, despite his 18-win season, had not proven that he was a reliable and dependable starter. Rounding out the rotation was a rookie pitcher (Ivan Nova), who had not even been mentioned in the same breath with Yankees prospects Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances. With CC Sabathia followed by a cast of characters, I did not see how the Yankees could compete with the Red Sox and felt that the Wild Card was the team’s best hope. Now, I am very delighted that I was wrong. While Burnett and Hughes have been disappointments, Ivan Nova has been huge and is now the second best pitcher in the rotation. Garcia and Colon have been terrific even if Colon seems to be wearing down at this point in the season. Garcia is definitely a play-off caliber starting pitcher. If the Yanks go with a four man rotation, then the 4th man should be Burnett. But he’ll have a very short leash with Colon and Hughes potentially in the bullpen.
Don’t play Poker with Brian Cashman…
If I had been the GM, I am sure that I would have made some impulsive and regrettable move at the trading deadline. GM Brian Cashman, on the other hand, stood pat and played with the hand he was dealt. In retrospect, he looks like a hero (which includes his anti-Rafael Soriano stance in the spring). I hope the Yankees do whatever it takes to ensure Cash’s return to the Bronx. I am sure that there would be significantly less stress in Chicago with the Cubs or some other major league team, but nobody understands New York better than Cash. I definitely think the Steinbrenners need Cashman more than he needs them. Hopefully, they’ll recognize it and make sure that Cashman is re-signed.
Passing of the Guard…
If the Yankees have learned anything in September (aside from the importance of quality starting pitching in watching the Sox freefall), it’s that Jesus Montero is ready for The Show. This does not bode well for Jorge Posada who is most likely playing his final year in Yankee pinstripes. If he continues his career season, it will be tough to see him play in different team colors. My only request would be for him not to go to Boston or Tampa. It’s always tough to see players cross those lines, and if it were me, I’d retain the respect for the Yankees and walk away from the AL East.
He surprised me yet again…
Count me as one of the skeptics in Ozzie Guillen’s decision to orchestrate his departure from the Chicago White Sox so that he could join the Florida Marlins. While I realize that Guillen will sell tickets in Miami, I don’t see it as a good fit with ownership. I am still not quite sure how someone could have issues with Joe Girardi, but fortunately, Miami did and he’s the highly successful manager of the Yankees. But Joe is far less out-spoken than Guillen, so if Joe’s comments got him into trouble, what’s going to happen with Guillen who always openly and freely speaks whatever is on his mind. I had always heard that White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf loved Ozzie like a son, so there’s no way the relationship in Miami will be anything comparable. His on the field performance had better outweigh the baggage that comes with Ozzie as your manager. He may regret taking the money and running…
Two game sabbatical from ‘Red Sox Suck!’…
With the Red Sox and Rays tied for the Wild Card tonight, I’ll have to go with the Red Sox as my preferred team to advance. I don’t think the Sox will be the easier opponent in the play-offs but that doesn’t concern me. I’ve always believed that you have to ‘beat the best to be the best’. This comes down to respect and I simply respect the Red Sox more…
It’s been a combination of both a long and a short winter and now “spring” is officially upon us as Yankees pitchers and catchers report to Tampa on Monday…
So, after an 8-game win streak, the Yankees have
failed against the Baltimore Orioles in the Bronx and the Texas Rangers in
Arlington, Texas. For the last six
games, they have a 1-5 record to show for it.
That’s not exactly the way to win friends and influence enemies. Now the Yanks head for St. Petersburg, FL, to
face the second place Tampa Bay Rays who stand only .5 games behind the Yankees
in the AL East Standings. The Rays are
confident, and even the Boston Red Sox have to have a renewed sense they can
catch the Yankees.
GM Brian Cashman knew that the starting pitching
would be the Yankees’ Achilles Heel, and of course, had he been successful in
capturing Cliff Lee from the Seattle Mariners, things would look very
differently in the AL East standings.
Even Ted Lilly could have made a difference. So, the Yanks prepare for their AL East
showdown with the Rays, who figure to have the advantage due to their starting
James Borchuk/St. Petersburg Times
Game 1 will feature CC Sabathia against fellow Cy
Young candidate David Price in what should be a marquee pitching duel. The Yankees need a victory, and this game is probably
the single most important game of the season if the Yanks want to win the
division. It is not the end of the world
if they lose, but the Rays have a chance to make a huge statement in this
series. They are a very good team, no
doubt, and they do have the horses to capture the AL East flag. Watching the Rockies win their 10th
in a row tonight thanks to ex-Yankee Jason Giambi is proof positive that
someone, anyone, can stand up and deliver.
Now is the time for those unsung heroes of the 2010 Yankees to shine.
Kim Klement/US Presswire
Of all the missed opportunities this weekend, the
one that sticks out most in my mind is when the Yankees had the bases loaded in
the top of the 13th inning on Saturday night. The Yankees catcher was Chad Moeller and he
ended the inning with no runs in a game that the Rangers won in the bottom of
the inning. A healthy Jorge Posada could
have made such a difference, but it really exposed that the Yankees don’t have
anything behind Francisco Cervelli until Jesus Montero and/or Austin Romine are
ready for the major leagues.
Oh well, all things considered, the Yankees are in
great shape on September 12th.
Regardless of whether they go into the play-offs as AL East Champions or
the Wild Card, they’ll be ready for October baseball. Andy Pettitte should be back in the rotation
and even if he’s not in the starting rotation, Javier Vazquez should be a high
quality long man.
The Yankees just need to keep doing what they’ve
been doing since April. The team is good
and they need to understand that and continue to persevere. This is the time that makes champions…
Revenge is best served cold…
Unfortunately, the last laugh belongs to former Yankees manager Buck Showalter. A funny thing happened to the Yankees on their way to the AL East Championship; they were derailed by Showalter’s Baltimore Orioles. Following an 8-game winning streak, the Yanks have now lost three games in a row including the first two of their latest series with the O’s. As the O’s were pounding the Yankees tonight, the Tampa Bay Rays were thumping the Boston Red Sox to move closer to first.
The Boston Globe
In a dead heat, it is hard not to give the Rays the advantage due to their superior pitching staff. Frankly, I am not so sure that the Yankees have the pitching to advance very deep into the play-offs regardless of whether they win the AL East or get in as the Wild Card. I want the Yankees to win, of course, but when the O’s can pummel your ace like a batting practice pitcher, and the next pitcher in line, A.J. Burnett, no longer trusts his stuff, how can you get excited about your team’s chances? No one knows how Andy Pettitte will perform, and there is a very good chance he’ll have some rust to shake at a time when there is no time. Javier Vazquez is finished as a frontline starter in New York at least, and Phil Hughes is about done as he nears his innings ceiling. The second best starter on the staff right now is rookie Ivan Nova. The missed opportunities to get either Cliff Lee (regardless of his recent health issues) or Ted Lilly will haunt the Yanks in October. I realize that it wasn’t necessarily Brian Cashman’s fault, but looking back, I was so surprised last off-season when the decision was made to bring future ex-Yankee Vazquez back to New York. I thought it was a mistake at the time, and now it appears to be a catastrophic error.
When the Yankees win, things are fantastic, but when they lose, it’s doom and gloom, I know. But realistically speaking, win or lose, the Yankees simply do not have the horses in the starting rotation beyond CC Sabathia to excel in the play-offs when clearly good pitching beats good hitting.
The Yankees have a great offense, but without top line pitching, their hitters can’t power their way to October wins. The injury issues with Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher have hurt, as has Derek Jeter’s slump. Lance Berkman is starting to figure out AL pitching but is it too little too late? Time will tell.
This off-season will be one of transition for the Yanks. They’ll have to make some hard decisions, and they’ll need to look at replacing some of the old guard. The Boston Red Sox have proven that no team should get too attached to any player. I know the Sox will most likely miss the play-offs but that’s only because of the toll the injuries have had on the team (which is beyond Theo Epstein’s control). Otherwise, it is not outside of the realm of possibility that the Yanks could be in third chasing the Rays and the Sox.
It’s hard to believe that the NFL season is now upon us. My team, the Minnesota Vikings, open the season on Thursday night against the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints. Brett Favre will get the chance to prove that he should have run instead of attempting to pass, but it will be hard to re-capture last year’s magic. Favre’s favorite target, Sidney Rice, is on the sidelines thanks to hip surgery. In reading many Minnesota news reports, you come to the conclusion that the media feels strongly this is the final year of the Vikings’ window of opportunity. I know so much rides on Brett Favre’s arm, but the rest of the team does have some talent. I was sad to see fellow Iowa native Sage Rosenfels traded to the New York Giants, but something had to give to protect QB prospect Joe Webb. I am not a fan of backup QB Tavaris Jackson, but I am also not so sure that Webb will be ready to take over at QB when Favre retires (for good) at the end of the year. I was quietly hoping the Vikings would make a play on free agent QB Matt Leinart before he signed with the Houston Texans. I know that Leinart failed in Arizona, but I do believe that he has the talent to succeed in the right system. He is signed to just a one-year deal so hopefully he’ll be one of the options the Vikings look at when trying to replace Favre for next season.
I guess this is a ‘glass is half empty’ kind of night…