Baseball’s not a slow game but the off-season is…
It’s Thanksgiving, and the Yankees’ big moves this week were to sign journeyman utility infielder Jayson Nix and last year’s Andy Pettitte stand-in, Freddy Garcia. While I recognize that the Yankees needed to bring Garcia back, I hope that it does not deter them in their search for a legitimate #2 or #3 starter to go behind CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova. I have not seen any updates on how potential talks are going with backup third baseman Eric Chavez, but hopefully, he’ll return to New York for one more season. At this point, I view Nix as spring training fodder that will be discarded by the time the team heads for the Bronx.
In recent weeks, I’ve heard the Yankees linked to potential trades for Jair Jurrjens of the Atlanta Braves and Gio Gonzalez of the Oakland A’s. My preference of the two is Gonzalez because of Jurrjens’ history of knee trouble. Gonzalez, ironically, has been involved in separate trades involving current Yankees players during his career (Nick Swisher, when he was traded from the A’s to the White Sox, and Freddy Garcia, when he was traded from the White Sox to the Phillies).
I am anxious for the Baseball Winter Meetings so that free agent and trade activity will begin to heat up. So far, the early winner of the Hot Stove League has to be the Philadelphia Phillies for no other reason than they’ve been aggressive while other teams have been idle. Jonathan Papelbon was a good choice for closer, especially when you have as much invested in the rotation as the Phillies do. Ryan Madson did a good job last year, but it’s really anybody’s guess if he would have enjoyed the same level of success this year since he simply does not have the history to support it…yet. I am not quite sure how Jim Thome fits in, but as a pinch-hitter off the bench, there’s certainly worse bats you could have.
The Texas Rangers also did a good job in picking up former Minnesota Twins closer Joe Nathan, even if it does come with significant risk. As long as they have a solid Plan B in place, Nathan could be a very pleasant surprise if he shows that he can still pitch at a very high level.
Who will be the Astros’ DH?…
It will probably be strange for the Houston Astros next season as they make their farewell from the National League. Andy Pettitte is probably wishing that this had happened during his playing days so that he could have been ensured of playing at home every season. I think Brad Mills is a good manager but it will be interesting to see if he is retained by new owner Jim Crane when the Astros enter the AL West in 2013. He certainly deserves the opportunity, but you have to wonder if he’ll be given sufficient time to succeed.
Happy north of the border or wishing that Yawkey Way was a daily routine…
It’s no secret that the Boston Red Sox would love John Farrell as their manager, but the Toronto Blue Jays were obviously unwilling to allow that to happen. Nevertheless, I wonder how Farrell feels. Is he happy and delighted to be in Toronto, or does he have an unfulfilled desire for the Sox? Speaking of the Sox, I just don’t see how Bobby Valentine and the city of Boston are a good fit. I don’t dispute that he’s a good manager, but eventually he wears out his welcome and the pressure of Boston is greater than Arlington, Texas or even Flushing Meadows, New York. I don’t really know anything about Torey Lovullo’s managing background and Gene Lamont seems like an uninspired choice so I can’t say who I think would be a great fit for the job. Admittedly, I am a fan of former manager Terry Francona, so it does seem that whoever takes his place is going to an inferior choice. If it were my decision, I’d probably go with someone who has strong ties to the organization already, like bench coach DeMarlo Hale. But Boston’s late season collapse effectively removed any September participants from consideration and perhaps wrongfully so. It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the course of the next few weeks.
My first year in Minnesota coincides with the Vikings’ worst year in their 50 year history…
With the Minnesota Vikings standing at 2-8 heading into this weekend’s play, the baseball off-season has already seemed so incredibly long and it hasn’t even really started yet…
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!
With the Boss, we OWNED November…
Life under Hal Steinbrenner is certainly different than it was under the Boss. In the old days, the Yankees would already be dominating the news in November. At the very least, their name would be attached as a strong possibility for every elite free agent. These days, the Miami Marlins, Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers and even the Houston Astros have garnered more press time.
As for the obvious options, I do think the Yankees would be foolish to join the chase for free agent pitcher C.J. Wilson. I like Wilson as a starter, but he’s not worth the cost. I still prefer Mark Buehrle because it wouldn’t take as much money and even if he’s not flashy, Buehrle gives you innings and is very consistent. After life on the A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes Roller Coasters, I’d gladly accept some consistency in the middle of the rotation. As for trade targets, I’d love to get Matt Cain but I don’t think the San Francisco Giants will trade him.
Now that Eric Chavez has indicated he wants to play in 2012, I hope the Yankees can find a way to bring him back for a second year in pinstripes. It’s interesting that the team has acknowledged they may have been better off playing Chavez at third in the play-offs instead of the less-than-100% Alex Rodriguez. A healthy A-Rod is critical for next season and someone like Chavez, assuming he can also stay healthy, is the perfect backup because he can be a very effective starter in spots. At some point, A-Rod will probably see more time at DH than third, but that’s not going to happen next year. Chavez is a good bridge to the point the Yanks need a new full-time third baseman.
Sleep deprived Houstonians…
I think the announced move of the Houston Astros to the American League in 2013 makes sense. I understand the negatives….they’ll lose the Central Time Zone rivalries with the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs and will play more games on the West Coast…but I think they’ll develop good rivalries with the AL CST teams. As for the time zone differences, they still have it better than the three hour time zone differences the AL East teams face on their West Coast trips. I realize that those are not in-division games, but all things considered, having balanced leagues for scheduling purposes is important. Plus, it didn’t seem fair that the AL West had only four teams while the other divisions had five. I never fully understood why Milwaukee was moved from the AL to NL and I did think they probably should have been the team to move back to the AL, but clearly the MLB team owners used the sale of the Astros as leverage to force the move.
New meaning to ‘one and done’…
Of the other changes, I am not sure what I think about the addition of a second wild card team, and moving to a one game wild card play-off. I didn’t like the current system that did not differentiate between winning the division or getting into the play-offs as the Wild Card (except for home field advantage). But a one game play-off? That doesn’t really seem fair either. I know that the argument is to win the division and not put yourself in the wild card, but it doesn’t seem fair that one wild card team could finish 5 or 6 games ahead of the second team, but then lose out by virtue of a single off night. I know, ‘don’t put yourself in that position’ but still… Nevertheless, I am sure that this change will motivate teams to continue striving for the division championship and not mail it in once the wild card is secured.
I thought they put their pants on just like I do…
I think the right choices were made for the AL and NL Cy Young Awards…Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw, respectively. How scary is it that Kershaw’s only 23? Donnie Baseball has to be very happy with the top of his rotation. I am looking forward to the announcement of the MVP Awards, and I am in the category of those who believe that pitchers should not be considered for the award. Obviously, I am pulling for Curtis Granderson in the AL, but even if a Yankee wasn’t up for consideration, I’d feel the same way about no pitchers for the award. The Cy Young is a pitcher’s MVP award.
Trading Beer for Wind…
I was surprised to see Dale Sveum get the managing job with the Chicago Cubs. It’s not that I don’t think he’ll make a good manager, but rather I thought he’d be a good fit for the Boston Red Sox. I had been hoping that Terry Francona would get the Cubs job, and when he withdrew his name, I thought that Mike Maddux would be the next call. I know that name withdrawals are usually prompted by behind-the-scenes conversations (Francona probably realizing that he wouldn’t get the job), but I think it’s a travesty that Tito won’t be managing in the big leagues in 2012…unless that was truly his choice. If I owned a major league team, Tito would be at the top of my short list for managers. He may have been the manager of my team’s most bitter rival but I have a great deal of respect for him. It would have been great to see him manage the Cubs to a World Series Championship after ending Boston’s drought.
Joe Mauer, come back!…
I am still missing the lights of Target Field from my condo. I can see the lighted field name sign, but there is just something about those stadium lights that give a magical feeling to the skyline of downtown Minneapolis. I am looking forward to April when Jamey Carroll and the Minnesota Twins turn on the lights. As for how the Twins do, they can lose 99 games again…
Waiting for the Hot Stove League to start…
I think the longest point in the off-season for a Yankees fan is from the day the team exits the play-offs until the conclusion of the World Series. The shorter that gap, the better. Unfortunately, it was not to be this year with the team’s departure after the opening series loss to the Detroit Tigers.
The saddest part of 2011 is that the Yankees could have beaten the Tigers, and I think they would have been very competitive with the new AL League champion Texas Rangers. Texas pulled the perfect play-off card in getting the unexpected wild card Tampa Bay Rays who had been left for dead by everybody except themselves. In the ALCS, they avoided the Yankees, or the top clubs that didn’t make the play-offs, the Red Sox and the Los Angeles Angels. I have long been in favor of expanding the divisional series from 5 to 7 games, and this year is just another reason why. The Yankees, with the best league record, were unable to start against the weakest team in the play-offs, the Rays, because they are from the same division. So, that pitted the Yankees against the stronger Tigers in a shortened series. I am not saying that the Yankees would have won it had the series been in the 7-game format, but at least it would yield a more truthful result.
I am a former Dallas resident but not a Rangers fan…
I am not a fan of the Texas Rangers so it’s hard to feel any satisfaction in their team reaching the World Series for the second year in a row. However, my son is a Rangers fan and he’s certainly excited about the team’s success. We lived in the Dallas-Fort Worth area when my son was small, and after a Rangers game, we had gone to a nearby restaurant for dinner. There weren’t too many people in the restaurant at the time, and my son must have been about 2 or 3. On the other side of the restaurant, then Rangers pitcher Nolan Ryan was having dinner with his family. We told our son who was at the table, and a friend walked him over to the table to introduce my son to Nolan. My son was wearing a Rangers cap, so Nolan took it off and signed the bill of the cap. My son is now almost 22 years old, and he still has that signed cap with him. He remains a Rangers fan to this day, despite his dad’s loyalty to the Yankees.
The team with the second greatest World Series success…
While I think the World Series will be competitive this year, I still think the National League will emerge victorious again. I don’t really see the Milwaukee Brewers getting past the St. Louis Cardinals, so it should be the Cardinals in the World Series against the Rangers. It’s too bad the Cardinals don’t have Adam Wainwright in their rotation, but the team is certainly on a mission. I think the Cardinals will end the NLCS with a Game 6 win tonight in Milwaukee.
Strike quickly with full force and focus…
I am anxious for the World Series to conclude so that we can move on to the Hot Stove League. I really hope the Yankees can re-sign GM Brian Cashman to a new deal before the end of the month and before the start of the free agency period. This off-season is about timing and the Yankees need to move very quickly to secure Cashman and hopefully re-negotiate with CC Sabathia so that they can turn to free agency and the trade market with full and heavy focus. My wish list for the off-season is an improved starting rotation, strength on the bench, and perhaps a heavy hitter to offset the declining production from Alex Rodriguez in the batting order.
But I thought beer and hot dogs were part of baseball…
I am not quite sure what to make of the situation in Boston. I think former manager Terry Francona has taken too much blame, and I was a little surprised to see GM Theo Epstein leave his hometown and his favorite team to take over as GM of the Chicago Cubs. Granted, he’ll have greater authority in Chicago, and it would be tremendous to be the GM responsible for the first World Series victory for the Cubs after their historic drought. But it leaves Boston without a manager or a general manager. Obviously, when the Red Sox move Ben Cherington to GM, they’ll maintain the continuity and Ben will do a fine job. However, the Sox will definitely have a new look in 2012. It will be interesting to see what moves they make with the roster in the off-season if they intend to place greater priority in character. Jon Lester has been one of my favorite pitchers, so I am hopeful that he is surrounded by better influences going forward.
Missing the view…
Living in downtown Minneapolis, I have to admit that I miss seeing the lights of Target Field at night. It created a great view from my place, and there’s definitely a void now that the ballpark lights have been shut off until next spring. So, as a newcomer to Minnesota, the obvious question to me as how many inches of snow will I have to deal with before those lights come on again? 😉
The Yankees are playing an elimination game, so of course, I need something to take my mind off the game! 😉
Maybe we’ll see the new White Sox manager run toward the Texas Rangers owner’s box in a fit of rage…
I was surprised to hear the announcement that former Yankees third baseman Robin Ventura had been named the manager of the Chicago White Sox. I think Robin’s a great guy and he should be a good manager, but he’s definitely the anti-Ozzie Guillen. I thought that Jerry Reinsdorf and company would go for a more experienced manager. Personally, Terry Francona would be at the top of my list but I am sure that Reinsdorf had good reasons for taking a chance with Robin.
I have not done any research to see what Ventura has been up to in recent years but hopefully he’s prepared for the rigors of managing in a big city with high expectations. If the Chicago Cubs somehow managed to land GM Theo Epstein and/or Terry Francona, it would put pressure on Ventura to produce quickly in the Battle of the Windy City.
Now you see them, now you don’t…
I was equally surprised to see the quick exit from the play-offs by the Tampa Bay Rays. After they successfully caught the Boston Red Sox in September and captured the Wild Card, I did think they were a team of destiny. They certainly have the starting pitching to contend, but it was not meant to be. Red Sox fans were so hoping for the ouster of the Yankees and Rays on the same night. Fortunately, they were disappointed. I really hope the Yankees get the chance to play the Texas Rangers in the ALCS to, hopefully, avenge the play-off loss last year. Texas has an incredible offensive machine, but they are not unbeatable.
Weren’t the Cardinals left for dead just a month or so ago?…
It is interesting that all division series, except Rangers-Rays, have gone the full 5 games. I don’t expect the St. Louis Cardinals to beat the Philadelphia Phillies, but they’ve certainly shown they can play on the same field. The Phillies remain the team I think will win the World Series, but I’d be foolish to underestimate the heart of the Cardinals. The Arizona Diamondbacks were able to dig out of a 0-2 hole against the Brewers, but I don’t really expect them to beat the Brewers in Milwaukee on Friday night. I think the NLCS will feature the Phillies and the Brewers, with the Phils advancing to the World Series.
The Vikings are dead…
Football has definitely not been fun this year as my team, the Minnesota Vikings, have lost all four games to open the season. Every game has been close, but the Vikings simply do not know either how to win or how to close out games. Is that the coach or the players? I really want to see Head Coach Leslie Frazier succeed, but I am not a big fan of QB Donovan McNabb (he will never again approach the success he enjoyed in Philly). Also, I was not a fan of Mike Singletary when he was coach of the San Francisco 49ers and now he has Leslie’s ear as his chief confidant and close friend. Perhaps Frazier would be better off without Singletary and with Christian Ponder as the starting QB…
Thanks for my iPod…
The Yankees and Detroit Tigers are getting ready to play Game 5 so I’d better cut this short. But before I go, I’d like to say my condolences to the family of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. His passing this week was difficult news to hear. Somehow it seems as though we’ve lost a great friend and the world will never be quite the same. He is missed by so many and rightfully so. When he stepped down as the CEO of Apple in late August, I didn’t realize that he was so close to the end. Nevertheless, he lived his life his way and on his own terms. He left a legacy for all of us to learn from. If we could accomplish 2% of what he did, we’d be wildly successful…
The Pride of the Red Sox…
I am sure that there are Yankee fans rejoicing tonight at the news the Boston Red Sox and manager Terry “Tito” Francona have mutually decided to part way. There is no rejoicing on this Blog. I have a great deal of respect for Tito and he was/is arguably one of the best managers in baseball.
When Joe Girardi was named manager of the Yankees, I was a bit disappointed. Of course, I’ve been a huge fan of Don Mattingly since he came up through the Yankees farm system and he was my favorite choice for manager despite his lack of managerial experience. I liked Girardi the player, but he was never one that I was able to fully embrace. I was concerned about the red flags that he exhibited during his year of managing the Florida Marlins and didn’t think that he’d be able to make the transition to the ‘Bright Lights, Big City’. I was envious of the Red Sox and their manager because he was the standard that I wanted Girardi to achieve. To Joe’s defense, he has but he is still not quite on the same level as Tito.
When the Red Sox first hired Tito, I simply viewed him as a Philadelphia Phillies reject. To me, he hadn’t proven himself as a manager and it was hard for me to take him seriously (kind of reminds me what I felt when the Yankees named Joe Torre as their manager). For years, the Red Sox had brought in guys that I just viewed as the manager of THAT team. None were able to capture my respect and admiration, and that includes Don Zimmer who I didn’t develop respect for until years later as a Yankees coach. But Tito was different. In 2003, the Red Sox lost a heartbreaker in the ALCS, thanks to Aaron Boone’s home run. Yet, the following year, the Sox were back. Even though his team fell down 3 games to none, they stayed calm and persevered toward the AL Championship, and the first World Series Championship since 1918. He was responsible for the end of the phrase “Curse of the Bambino”. He followed up with another World Series Championship in 2007, making him the most successful manager in the modern history of the Red Sox.
When I look at the 2011 Red Sox, it is a team that should have prevailed. They had a superior pitching staff, and the additions of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford made it a much better team than the 2010 version. But the injuries, most notably, starting with starting pitcher Clay Buchholz and later Kevin Youkilis, were devastating. That’s really beyond the control of the manager. He has to play with the hand he has been dealt. The Red Sox recognized the flaws in the starting rotation, yet the best they could do was former Seattle pitcher Erik Bedard. Nothing against Bedard, but it has been years since he was considered a stopper due to injuries. So, if there is any blame, it has to reside with GM Theo Epstein for failing to make the right move. While Epstein made the unsuccessful Bedard deal, the Detroit Tigers made a deal with the same Mariners team to bring them a starting pitcher (Doug Fister) that is as responsible as any for the Tigers’ late season success. Epstein was clearly outdone by Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski, and had he made the right move, the Red Sox would be playing Game 1 of the AL play-offs tonight and Tito would still be manager.
If I am Jerry Reinsdorf, I am already on the phone calling Tito’s agent. He is the perfect choice to follow the highly volatile Ozzie Guillen for the Chicago White Sox. Chicago has a sound and supportive ownership group and the team is willing to make the necessary moves for success. I think it would be a great fit, although it would probably be better as a Yankees fan to see Tito in the National League. Another option would be the Los Angeles Dodgers. It’s not that I want to see Don Mattingly fired, but I think any change in ownership will also result in a change at the managerial level. Regardless of where Tito goes, some team is going to benefit greatly. If he doesn’t take a managerial job and becomes an ESPN analyst, we still win because we’ll get a first-hand view of his wisdom and insight.
Tito, you were a worthy opponent and a great champion. I wish you nothing but the absolute best in whatever the future holds for you. We look forward to your next adventure!
The first win of the season
goes to my friend Julia, of Julia’s Rants.
Despite an 0-6 start to the season, the Boston Red Sox were able to
capture their first two wins of the season in this past weekend’s series
against the New York Yankees.
With the loss, I have to
write about what’s right with the Red Sox and what’s wrong with the Yankees. So, here it goes…
Why the Boston Red Sox will win…
Pitching, pitching, pitching. Say what you
will about Dice-K, but the Red Sox have, arguably, the best starting rotation
in the American League. Jon Lester has
been one of my favorite pitchers and will be a Cy Young candidate when the
season is over. Despite some early
season struggles, I definitely feel that Clay Buchholz is one of the up and
coming stars and will be solid over the course of the long season. I know that the third starter, John Lackey,
has also struggled, but I feel very strongly that he’ll find his niche in
Boston and will consistently put the Sox in a position to win. Josh Beckett, if he continues to pitch like
he did on Sunday, is back. The Yankees
have a rookie in the 4th spot…the Sox have a former ace and one who
is capable of pitching like the elite pitcher he once was.
You can say that the Yankees
have the better bullpen, but if Jonathan Papelbon falters, the Sox have several
fallback options in former Chicago White Sox closer Bobby Jenks and future
closer Daniel Bard. They have reliable
arms in the pen, and have a proven long man in a guy the Yankees are well
familiar with (Alfredo Aceves). The gap
between the Sox and Yankee pens won’t be as big as experts may believe,
especially since the Sox will be able to be more selective in relief with a
superior rotation that is able to go much deeper into games.
Adrian Gonzalez. Count me as one of those who
believe that Gonzalez will be a monster at Fenway Park. He counteracts anything the Yankees have with
Mark Teixeira plus he has the intangibles.
A few years back, I was constantly looking up to see the highlights of
David Ortiz with another walk-off home run.
I fully expect Gonzalez to be that guy for the Sox, and he is going to
win games with both his bat and his glove.
Disruption. Once Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury get
going (it’s a question of when, not if), the Sox are going to be very
disruptive for opposing pitchers.
Singlehandedly, they have the ability to change the complexion and
momentum of games.
The forgotten hitter. For all the
headlines the newest additions have gotten and the return of players who were
injured last year (like Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia), it is easy to forget that
this lineup still features third baseman Kevin Youkilis. Youk is one of the best clutch hitters in
baseball, and teams will be so focused on stopping Crawford and Gonzalez that
they’ll lose sight of Youk…and will pay a high price for it.
The dead will rise. It is easy
for people to write off David Ortiz and Jason Varitek given their respective
ages, however, they are both consummate professionals who can still perform at
a high level. Like the Toby Keith song
goes, ‘I may not be a good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was’. There’s no doubt that these two will figure
prominently in Sox wins over the summer.
The bench. If there is anything I’ve learned about the
Sox, it is to never underestimate the power of Theo. Time and again, names come out of nowhere to
lead the Sox to victory. They had a
chance to catch the Yankees last September despite fielding a roster of
unknowns. Even on Tuesday night’s game,
the first run of the game came courtesy of a home run by Darnell McDonald. It wasn’t that long ago the Yankees wanted
Mike Cameron as their centerfielder, and here he is backing up the Sox
regulars. I don’t care if the player’s name
is Dork Fumblefingers. If he puts on a
Sox uniform, he is most likely going to hit game winning home runs and make
highlight reel catches in the outfield.
Terry Francona. When the Sox lose, Francona
detractors seem to come out of the woodwork, but he is, in my opinion, the best
manager in baseball. The only place with
greater expectations than New York might just be Boston, yet Terry is always a
show of class and his decision making skills show a deft understanding of now
and the future (i.e., the season). He
garners the most of his roster, and I have no doubt that he’ll right the ship
despite the slow start to the 2011 season.
With the Sox standing at 2-8 entering play tonight, people are quick to
say how poorly comparable teams have finished.
I will argue that when the season is done, the Sox will be the model of
the franchise that was able to successfully overcome such a poor start. In future years, when a team goes on a losing
streak to start the season, the media will be saying ‘but the 2011 Red Sox were
able to overcome…’.
Theo Epstein, Larry Lucchino, and John Henry. These
gentlemen took a franchise that was “cursed” from the 1923 trade that sent Babe
Ruth to the Yankees, and eradicated the word “curse” from the Red Sox
vocabulary. I also have not heard any
mention of Bucky Friggin’ Dent in several years. These guys have successfully brought two
world championships to Boston, and there is no doubt that they’ll have a third
one in the not-so-distant future (much to my chagrin).
The RSN. The fan base for the Sox is the most
passionate and fervent of any that I’ve experienced. I am not saying that Yankees fans aren’t
passionate, but Sox fans are like no other.
They stuck by their team when championships were only something their
grandparents or great-grandparents had ever experienced. Yankees fans get spoiled by championships in
almost every decade. The Sox fans have a
greater understanding and appreciation of what it means to be a true
champion. I am not one of them, but I
Why the Yankees won’t win…
Pitching, pitching, pitching. As great as
CC Sabathia is, he is still not a sure thing.
He has his moments where he struggles.
I know, like all pitchers, but there is something special when a pitcher
like Roy Halladay takes the mound. Win
or lose, you expect the team to win. I
expect the Yankees to win when CC is on the mound, but it is not with the
confidence that I’d have if Halladay were a Yankee. After CC, there is nothing but question
marks. A.J. Burnett has pitched well to
start the season, but he always starts good.
It is how he finishes. If he
reverts to 2010 A.J., the Yankees are toast.
Phil Hughes and the decreased velocity are a concern. He finished poorly last season, and he has
yet to pitch lights out this year. At
this point, I am really not sure what Hughes lies ahead. After Hughes is a rookie, Ivan Nova, who has
pitched well, but how will he perform the second time around when opposing
lineups get used to him? Can he make the
necessary adjustments? As it stood, the
ceiling for Nova was much lower than it is for guys like Brian Matusz or Jeremy
Hellickson (or even Michael Pineda). Is
he in the rotation because he has the potential to be great or is it because
none of the other prospects are ready. I
remain fearful that it’s the latter. I’ve
heard that Nova’s future is in the pen, and that doesn’t bode well for the
rotation. In the fifth spot, who
knows. Freddy Garcia has yet to pitch
due to rain delays. Bartolo Colon is
waiting in the wings if Garcia stumbles, as are Kevin Millwood and Carlos
Silva. None of the options instill
The bullpen looks great on
paper, but already this season, there have been failures by Rafael Soriano and
Joba Chamberlain. Pedro Feliciano is on
the DL and I heard that he had a setback today.
Luis Ayala is headed for the DL so the Yankees are already looking to
Scranton-Wilkes Barre for replacements.
One of these years, Mariano Rivera is actually going to show his
age. Will this be the year?
Aging lineup. Mark Teixeira is already
31? Seriously, we are already in the
midst of another April chill for Tex. He
started strong this year (thanks to Opening Day in March), but he went 0-fer
against the Sox. He was as much responsible
for me writing this post as anyone.
Derek Jeter has continued to show his age and is providing evidence that
his down season in 2010 may be a sign of things to come. Jorge Posada feels like a fish out of water
at DH. He’s done at catcher so where’s
his long-term potential with this team?
Alex Rodriguez looked great during spring training, but he is getting
older. Question marks continue to dog
Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner. The
Yankees are a great offensive club, but their hitters just don’t put fear in
you. If they don’t hit, they can be beat
as Josh Beckett proved on Sunday night.
In October, you’re facing the best pitchers in baseball. If the Yankees can’t hit the best, they can’t
be the best.
The bench. Don’t get me wrong…I love Eric Chavez and I
am glad that he’s a Yankee. But I am
concerned that injuries may force the Yankees to play Chavez more than they
should, exposing him to potential injury.
What if Derek Jeter is done? Is
Nunez ready to take over at short? I really
don’t expect this to be the year that Jeter goes south, but you have to
recognize that it could happen. It
eventually happens to all superstars.
Hank Steinbrenner. Eventually,
Hank is going to make an impulsive move that he’ll regret. I am sure that he has a Jay Buhner like trade
that he’ll force causing the Yankees to relinquish a prime prospect for an
aging past-his-prime veteran in an effort to shake things up.
The off-season. As difficult as last season was,
there is the potential that this off-season will be even more difficult. CC Sabathia can opt out of his contract, as
can Rafael Soriano. If the Yankees lose
Sabathia, they won’t be able to recover.
As the season progresses, the Sabathia opt-out is going to get more and
more ink. Hopefully, it doesn’t become a
Who knows that the 2011
season holds in store for the Yankees and the Red Sox, but I can assure you,
that both teams will be in the thick of things come September. I will never be fooled by Boston’s slow start. This is a very dangerous team and one that
can never be underestimated.
Clearly, I want the Yankees
to win, and I am hopeful they will, but Boston, even at 2-9, is still the best
team in the American League from top to bottom.
That may change by the trading deadline, but as it stands today, the Sox
are still a team capable of 100 wins.
Julia, I’m out…
And so the wagers begin…
With the Yankees 5-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Friday
night, Julia of Julia’s Rants scores the first victory of the season. Of course, all things considered, a
meaningless loss in March is hardly anything to fret about. But still, a win is a win, and I am obligated
to write a post about Red Sox manager Terry Jon Francona.
Jim Davis/Globe Staff
Julia did send me some information to help get a head
start: Born in Aberdeen, South Dakota on
April 22, 1959. So, is that it? Am I done writing about Francona? Sweet!
Seriously, when I was a kid, the Red Sox were so easy to
dislike because I did not have any sense of attachment to their players and
their manager was usually someone that I felt indifferent about. Darrell Johnson, Don Zimmer (sorry Zim!), Ralph Houk, John
McNamara, Joe Morgan, etc. The names
just ran together to me and had no particular meaning. It culminated in 2003 when Grady Little left
Pedro Martinez too long during Game 7 of the ALCS. It was a game that the Sox probably should
have won, but ultimately lost when Aaron Boone homered to advance the Yankees
to the World Series.
When Boston decided not to renew Little’s contract in the
off-season and chose to go with Francona, I probably had similar thoughts to my
perception at the time the Yankees announced “Clueless Joe” (a/k/a Joe Torre)
as their manager. Here was, in my mind
at the time, an unsuccessful major league manager the Sox think they can
re-cycle. Francona had been fired from
his only previous managing gig with the Philadelphia Phillies so I was very
quick to dismiss his hiring.
Boy, was I ever WRONG!
Putting everything known about Francona aside, all he has
done is win two world championships for an organization that could not win a
World Series since my grandmother was a teenager. He eliminated the phrase “Curse of the
Bambino” from the vocabulary of all baseball fans and has established the Red
Sox as one of the premier organizations in all of baseball.
Francona, the man, is perhaps one of the classiest acts in
major league baseball. To a fan of
Boston’s chief rival, Terry has been nothing short of the consummate
professional since his first day in a Red Sox uniform. He is always so humble, and his teams always
so prepared and unwilling to quit. He
has changed my perception of the Sox and has given me a reason…a very strong
reason…to hold the Sox in great respect.
I look forward to the day when Terry decides to step away from the game
so that I can go back to hating the Red Sox!
I remember Terry when he came up with the Montreal
Expos. He was not a great player and
only accumulated 16 home runs and 143 RBI’s in 10 seasons with 5 clubs. He did manage to pitch one game in 1989,
striking out Stan Javier.
His minor league managerial career began in 1991 with the
Chicago White Sox organization. He made
it to the big leagues as third base coach with Buddy Bell‘s 1996 Detroit
He spent four seasons as the Phillies manager from 1997 to
2000 but was fired after failing to finish higher than 3rd
place. In Philly, he did get the chance
to manage his future Red Sox ace Curt Schilling setting the stage for their
eventual and highly successful reunion.
When he was hired by the Red Sox, he had been the bench
coach for the Oakland A’s.
Terry and his wife Jaque live in Brookline,
Massachusetts. They have four child (one
boy and three girls).
For a largely undistinguished playing career, Terry is a
Hall of Fame manager in my opinion. I
may trash talk about the Red Sox but one thing is certain…I will never say a
bad word about the man who is arguably the best manager in baseball.
Julia, I am out!