Time to head North for the Bronx!…
As the Texas Rangers open the American League for business tonight against new AL tenant, the Houston Astros, everybody knows that baseball doesn’t really start until the Yankees play the Red Sox! But the wait wont’ be long as the Yankees open Yankee Stadium tomorrow against their long-time AL East rival, the Boston Red Sox. Granted, this is probably going to be a down year for both the Yanks and Sox, but still, it is an exciting rival and one that I look forward to every year.
This time of year, there’s always painful cuts so this year’s unfortunate parting of the ways is with lefty specialist Clay Rapada. Rapada had been a great find last season as one of those scrap heap signings that worked. He did his job and he did it well. There’s no doubt that the Yankees will be able to move Rapada to another team that will appreciate his talents. The Yankees certainly appreciated what he could do, but in the end, it was a game of numbers, options, and flexibility. For every player that did make the 2013 Yankees, you can certainly rationalize why each should be a part of the team.
But with Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, Phil Hughes, and Alex Rodriguez on the disabled list, there will be other notable moves as the Yankees clear space for the ones who return to health this season. But for now, this the 2013 Yankees:
Mariano Rivera (for the final time…sniff…sniff…)
I was a little surprised that Vernon Wells took number 12 to open the season. While he had stated that he’d get a lower number after taking #56 upon his arrival, 12 seems to be an odd choice. But then again, with so many retired numbers (and numbers on hold), there aren’t too many options. Conversely, Lyle Overbay took Hideki Matsui’s old number, #55, which seems better suited for an outfielder.
Everyone has to start somewhere…
Congratulations to Boston rookie Jackie Bradley, Jr. for making the Red Sox opening day roster and his starting assignment in left field tomorrow in the Bronx. What a great way to kick off one’s career! Of course, I am hoping that his career firsts (home run, RBI, etc.) occur during Boston’s second series of the season, but it’s exciting to see young, talented players embark on what could be a great career.
While others prepare to exit, with a brief delay or two…
I saw that Jason Bay has made the Seattle Mariners as their fifth outfielder behind former Yank Raul Ibanez. I am glad for him. It’s hard not to feel bad for a guy who clearly made the wrong decision to go to the Mets when he left Boston a few years back. Nothing against the Mets, but it was the wrong park for Bay. It’s doubtful he’ll ever be anything close to what he was in Boston, but hopefully he can put together a few solid years in the Great Northwest before calling it a career.
He wore the pinstripes proudly…
I saw that Bullet Bob Turley died over the weekend. It was very sad to hear the news of his passing from liver cancer. He won 21 games in 1958, and lifted the Yankees in a come from behind World Series championship over the Milwaukee Braves. Another great Yankee passes but forever remains intertwined into the fabric of Yankee Stadium.
All hail the Champions…
A quick post to congratulate the New York Yankees for winning the American League East Division Championship on the last day of the season. Thanks to the Baltimore Orioles’ loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, the division was a foregone conclusion when the Yankees completed their thrashing of the Boston Red Sox. Still, I am glad that the team won on the day they clinched the division. A loss on “clinching day” always seems so cheap.
Although it was disappointing the Yankees let a large lead slip, they definitely went into ‘bend but not break’ mode as they held at least a share of first throughout the O’s challenge in the final month of the season. It was a constant back-and-forth…tied, then Yanks ahead, and then tied again. But in the end, the team persevered.
A funny thing happened on the way to the World Series…
The big surprise to me on the last day of the season was the Texas Rangers’ failure to withstand a large charge by the Oakland A’s. I remember looking at the standings in July and writing it off as a foregone conclusion that the Rangers would be the AL West champions. In my mind, they were still the team to beat in the American League. While I recognized the A’s had the spirited ‘don’t quit’ mentality, I still viewed them as inferior either the Rangers or the Los Angeles Angels. This was a team that was throwing Triple A pitchers into the starting rotation in September. All the way to Game 162, I fully expected the Rangers to take care of business. But they failed, and were forced to play the one game Wild Card game against the Baltimore Orioles, which they subsequently lost. Here was the team that was in my mind, the team most likely to go to the World Series and win it, yet they collapsed in the final two most critical weeks of the season.
The Rangers’ loss opens the door for all of the other AL play-off participants to advance to the World Series. I can’t say there is a clear-cut favorite because even the Yankees, with the best record in the conference, have their share of questions. The ALDS series format is odd given the first two games of the series will be held in the inferior team’s ballpark. The Yankees are tied with the O’s late in Game 1 tonight but that always favors the home team with last at-bat.
It was real, it was fun, but it was not real fun…
I am not a Bobby Valentine fan, but I really do believe that firing Valentine was the best case scenario for the Boston Red Sox organization. As a fan of an opposing team, I’d love for the dysfunction to continue, but the Red Sox fans deserve better. I subscribe to the adage that ‘to be the best, you have to beat the best’ so I really hope the Red Sox can secure a manager who fits the organization and maximizes the potential and ability of its players. I still think that recently named Phillies third base coach Ryne Sandberg would be an excellent fit, but maybe it is John Farrell despite the disappointing year in Toronto or other manager. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
Respectful of the man who brought two World Championships to Boston…
Speaking of Boston, it was good to see former Red Sox manager Terry Francona return to the game as manager of the Cleveland Indians. Even when he was the manager of the Red Sox, I had a great deal of respect for Tito. I have long felt he was one of the game’s truly good guys. Yes, that final year in Boston did get away from him, but there were so many factors and personalities at play, I feel it is unfair to pin all the blame on Tito. I am looking forward to seeing what he can do in the Cleveland with his batteries recharged…
A few thoughts on the season…
- Hey Albert, how did that first year in Los Angeles work out for ya? Well, at least you have all those mega millions to enjoy your off-season while the team you bailed on continues the defense of its world championship…
- Miguel Cabrera has overcome those personal demons, I think…
- Bryce Harper got the press, but Mike Trout is the stud…
- A.J. Burnett proved that he is the latest incarnation of Ed Whitson. Wilt under the New York spotlight, but thrive in a smaller market with less glare…
- Melky Cabrera, disappointment is an understatement. I respect the San Francisco Giants for their intention to cut ties with the Melk Man. I really wouldn’t want to be the organization that extends him an olive branch. In other words, I do not want to see Melky back in the Bronx.
- How many more years are left on A-Rod’s contract? Geesh, Jeter continues to pay dividends on his contract at age 38, while A-Rod just keeps making me think of that old Dire Straits’ tune “Money For Nothing”…
- The Atlanta Braves may have made a quiet departure with their Wild Card loss to St. Louis, but there’s no question that the Braves will continue to be a force with those young pitchers…
- Oh, Philadelphia Phillies, where for art thou?…
- The American League Houston Astros? That sounds so wrong! But then again, I have finally accepted the Milwaukee Brewers as a National League team so I guess we’ll have to re-visit this in a few years…
- Trade Ivan Nova and re-sign Hiroki Kuroda…that sounds like a good plan to me!…
I know there’s many more thoughts regarding the 2012 season, but these were a few that immediately came to mind. It was a fun season and continues to be as we move forward in the AL and NL divisional series. The idea of two Wild Card teams per league was a success, and win or lose, it was the right thing to do. There was drama and intrigue up until the last day of the season, and no team “mailed it in”. I still have too many questions about my own team to anoint them as the AL representative for the World Series. As of the present moment, my best guess is a “Sparky Anderson” World Series…The Cincinnati Reds versus the Detroit Tigers. Obviously, I’d prefer to see the Yankees and I hope they prove me wrong about their pitching and clutch hitting…
Ah, October baseball, I love this time of year!
Life beyond 3,000 hits…
I hate to make any anti-Derek Jeter comments but I was fearful that the Yankees’ recent winning roll would get derailed by DJ’s return to the lineup. Sure, the recent losses are not his fault, but for whatever reason, the team fared better when he was out of the lineup. I didn’t like the errors made by Eduardo Nunez or Ramiro Pena, but Nunez in particular seemed to have a fresher bat.
Art by Scott Dalgleish, http://scottydal.deviantart.com/
I would like to see more batting orders in the second half of the season with Brett Gardner leading off. I suspect that will happen anyway, but Jeter is clearly the focal point of baseball right now as he approaches 3,000 hits.
Will he get those 2 hits that he needs today against the Tampa Bay Rays? He could, but I think it’s more likely that the 3,000th hit will come tomorrow. Of course, I could be completely wrong and DJ might go 0-4 both days.
Don’t get me wrong…I like Jeter and what he has meant to the organization. I will enjoy the day that they retire #2 and make the speeches at Yankee Stadium to induct a commemorative stone into Monument Park on his behalf. But as great as it is to see a player spend his entire career with one organization, I can definitely see the downside which is the deterioration of the player’s skills and ability.
Don Mattingly was in a fast decline when he retired after the 1995 season, however, I don’t think that I was mentally ready for his departure. Perhaps it was because I really wanted to see him win a championship. But with DJ, he has the championships and will soon be the only player in Yankee history with 3,000 hits. He has done everything you could ask for in pinstripes. My only request is that he steps away from the field when he realizes that his skills have eroded to the point that he is a liability. It’s not there yet, but the day is rapidly approaching. As the saying goes, time stops for no one.
A tear in the team’s hopes…
I just read that Alex Rodriguez might have a meniscus tear in his right knee which could require surgery. If Alex and the team decide now is the time for the surgery, it is speculated that he would miss a month. That’s definitely not good news as the Yankees have fallen behind the Boston Red Sox in the standings. I’d feel better if there was a healthy Eric Chavez on the roster but as it stands, it would be necessary for Eduardo Nunez to fill in at third. A-Rod’s loss definitely weakens the Yankees and it puts some pressure on GM Brian Cashman to find a replacement third baseman (in addition to his search for pitching).
I do not know the ramifications of A-Rod playing through the injury, but I hope that he takes the path that leads to good health by September. Of course, if the Yankees fall too far out, there won’t be an extended playing season this year.
What can we find at Nordy’s Rack?….
As far as moves the Yankees are looking at, it appears that there is a dearth of quality starting pitching available on the trade front. The Yankees are apparently looking at relief pitching, like many other teams. Reports have the Yankees interested in, among others, Sean Burnett of the Washington Nationals and Randy Choate of the Florida Marlins. I have liked what Choate has done since he left the Yankees as he became a very solid lefty option for the Tampa Bay Rays and now the Marlins. Burnett probably has the better potential at this point although I am not enamored by his 5.76 ERA. But ERA can be deceiving and I don’t know the reasons behind Burnett’s number as I don’t follow the Nats.
These are the times that I am appreciative that Brian Cashman is the team’s general manager. It is his job to find what ails the team and hopefully bring in the necessary chips to ensure that the team is playing meaningful baseball in October. I am full confidence in his abilities and I’d never underestimate the power of his network throughout baseball.
This month should get very interesting as the days go by…
A sad day in baseball…
I would be remiss if I did not mention the tragedy in Arlington, Texas where the fan reaching for a ball thrown into the stands by Josh Hamilton fell to his death. I have never caught a ball at a game, and I can remember as a kid how much I wanted to catch one during every visit to the old Busch Stadium in St. Louis. I can see how the ball would become your prime focus. The loss of the fan, Shannon Stone, was horrible by itself but it was made worse by the presence of his 6-year-old son. I lost my father as a child but I wasn’t there when he died. I simply cannot imagine how difficult it will be for Shannon’s son in the days and years ahead. I definitely hope that he and his family are taken care of by the Texas Rangers organization and Major League Baseball.
Now there’s talk the players could be barred from throwing baseballs into the stands (they’d have to hand the ball to a fan or hand it to an usher who, in turn, would hand it to the fan). While I am in favor of additional safety measures to prevent future unnecessary deaths like Shannon, I would hate to see the players lose the ability to toss a ball into the stands.
Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers (AP Photo)
No, really, I don’t want to go to Phoenix…
When the All-Star Team was announced, I was excited about the number of Yankees making the team. But it appears that many of them won’t be making the trip to Phoenix. First, Mariano Rivera pulled out, and now, both Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez have withdrawn from the game. I am still surprised that CC Sabathia did not make the team, but then again, I am okay avoiding the added wear and tear on his arm. So, as it is, I will be cheering for Robinson Cano and Russell Martin. As for A-Rod, it is a bit ironic that his All-Star replacement would be Boston’s Kevin Youkilis. Former Red Sox third baseman Adrian Beltre (Texas) moves up to the starting position.
One week, everything can be coming up roses, and the next it is doom and gloom. I guess that’s just life as a Yankees fan…