Tagged: Theo Epstein

Here we are, Game 5 — Play Ball!…

 

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…

 

–Scott

 

 

Bad Day for Baseball…

 

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!

–Scott

All Hail the Red Sox Nation…


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.


Red Sox.JPG


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
respect them. 


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
confidence.

The bullpen looks great on
paper, but already this season, there have been failures by Rafael Soriano and
Joba ChamberlainPedro 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
distraction.

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…

–Scott

 

Why Do We Always Worry About THEM?…

 

How can we enjoy the Championship off-season when the Red Sox are just so darn busy?…

 

 

The champagne on the Yankee Stadium clubhouse floor hadn’t dried when it was announced that the Red Sox had acquired promising outfielder Jeremy Hermida from the Florida Marlins.  Hermida, 25, has underachieved in Miami but something tells me that he is about to blossom in Beantown.

 

Roger Williams/UPI 

 

As expected, the Red Sox exercised the option for Victor Martinez, the 2010 starting catcher and they re-signed the ageless Tim Wakefield for two years.  The team did not pick up the option of former starting catcher Jason Varitek, however, I fully expect him to exercise his player option for a return in 2010 to back up Martinez.  I agree with Julia that Tek is a manager in waiting so I see next year as a transition year to coaching.  It would not surprise me at all to see him on Terry Francona’s staff in 2011.

 

Bob Breidenbach/The Providence Journal 

 

As much as I would like to see Jason Bay sign with the Yankees, I fully expect him to return to Boston.  I think the Yankees need a solid addition for the outfield, but I do not expect them to pursue either Bay or Matt Holliday.  I’d like to see them pursue someone like Jeremy Hermida…oops, too late!  Nevertheless, I am sure that there are other deals that could be made under the radar for a potential horse.

 

AP 

There have been rumors that Boston will acquire San Diego Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.  That’s a deal, if it happens, which would not surprise me and would significantly strengthen the Sox.

 

Adrian Gonzalez

Brad Mangin/Sport Illustrated 

 

That, in turn, could force the Yanks to be major players for Angels starter John Lackey.  Imagine Lackey as the #2 starter behind CC Sabathia, sliding A.J. Burnett to third.  That would be a top trio in baseball, and one that would virtually guarantee a return to the post-season next year.

 

perlman_lackey_angels.JPG

William Perlman/The Star Ledger 

 

I hope this off-season does not turn into another Brett Favre-like ordeal with pitcher Andy Pettitte.  If Andy wants to come back for at least one more year, and I think he does, the Yanks should move quickly to wrap him up on a one year deal.  The Red Sox showed Tim Wakefield much respect by how quickly they tore up his contract and signed him to a new two-year deal.  The Yankees need to give Andy the same respect.

 

Andy Pettitte, Angels, Yankees, pitcher

Jae C. Hong/AP

 

I saw that the Los Angeles Dodgers announced that Joe Torre’s staff would return intact for 2010.  It will be Torre’s final year on his current contract, although I read he is in negotiations for a new contract.  During his final years, I remember always hearing how his wife wanted him to retire and spend time with their daughter.  Here we are years later and the daughter is getting older.  Yet, Torre continues to manage.  Maybe he just can’t get managing out of his blood.  I hope it is something more like that than possible revenge against the Yankee brass or the desire to prove that he can win without the support of the Steinbrenner’s money.  I don’t want to take away from Don Mattingly but if he wants to be a future manager, is hitting coach the right spot?  I have always heard that Bench Coach or Third Base are better positions for future managers.  I still think that Donnie Baseball will replace Torre as Dodgers manager, however, it looks like it may be a few more years.

 

Don

latimes.com

 

Pedro Feliz may have hit a home run in Game 4 of the World Series, however, it didn’t take the Philadelphia Phillies long to say goodbye to their third baseman.  Thanks for all you do Pedro, but don’t let the door hit you on the way out!

 

AP

 

Why is my worst fear that the Yankees will be staring at Roy Halladay on the mound when April 5, 2010 rolls around?  I hope not, but of course, I am sure that a certain Red Sox blog will be gleefully delighted…

 

Paul Battaglia/AP 

The Little Engine That Could…

 

Wow, the winner is….ME! 

 

 

When the season started and the Yankees promptly proceeded to drop the first 8 games of their season series to the Boston Red Sox, I was starting to develop an inferiority complex.  At every turn, Julia was emerging victorious and I was wearing pink Red Sox hats.  But finally the tide turned in early August.

 

driveway1.jpg 

At the All-Star break, the Yankees trailed the Red Sox by four games.  They had been swept in their last series before the break by the Los Angeles Angels, and admittedly, I was a bit pessimistic.

 

 

But after the break, the Yankees quickly caught and passed the Red Sox.  Then, came the four game sweep at Yankee Stadium against the Red Sox in early August that stopped the losing streak.

 

Bill Kostroun/AP 

 

But the true test was the latest road trip.  The Yankees first headed for Seattle where they took 3 of 4 from the Mariners.  Next stop was Oakland.  Former Yankee Brett Tomko silenced the Yankee bats in the first game, but the Yanks came back to win the next two to take the series.  With a 5-2 road record, the Yankees headed for Boston.  The Sox had been playing very well, and the 30 inning scoreless streak against the Yankees earlier in the month seemed to be a distant memory. 

The Yankees took the first game at Fenway Park, but it wasn’t easy as ridiculous as it sounds.  With a 12-1 lead, I was actually fretful of a Sox comeback.  The Red Sox did starting scoring runs, but fortunately the Yanks stayed several steps ahead.  At one point, I had sent an email to Julia to tell her guys to quit scoring.  She didn’t listen.  With a 20-7 lead in the 9th inning, the Red Sox scored 4 runs to close the gap to 20-11, but that was it…finally.

 

Elise Amendola/AP

 

I knew that once the Yankees scored 20 runs, they were in trouble the next day.  Generally, whenever the Yanks have scored 20 or more runs in a game, they struggle offensively the next night.  I can really only recall one time that ever not being the case.  Unfortunately, it held the next day as the Red Sox thrashed the Yanks, 14-1.

 

Elise Amendola/AP

 

So, Julia and I went into the final game of the series tied.  I wasn’t overly optimistic given that Josh Beckett was on the mound.  But at least we had CC Sabathia on our side.  I recognize that CC has had his share of failures at Fenway Park, but in August, CC seems virtually unstoppable.  It wasn’t a great performance on Sunday, but he didn’t give up 5 home runs like Beckett.  Plus, he had Hideki Matsui on his side.  Matsui lived up to his nickname this series, “Godzilla”…

 

 

It was somewhat bittersweet given that this is perhaps his final year in pinstripes.  There is virtually no chance that the Yankees will re-sign Matsui so this is his farewell tour.  The Red Sox probably wish that he would have left a year earlier.

 

Charles Krupa/AP 

 

In the end, the Yanks had an 8-4 victory, and completed a 7-3 winning road trip.  They had taken the Red Sox in the latest series, with only one more remaining.  So, it means that my friend Julia will be posting a Pro-Yankee Top 11 List.  Plus, she must spend a day wearing a Yankees cap and provide photos to prove it.  A pink Yankees cap has been ordered through MLB.com, and is making its way to Boston.

New York Yankees Caroline Women's Cap - MLB.com Shop

Enjoy being a Yankees fan for a day, Julia!

 

 

 

…farewell until we meet again in September!  We’ll need to come up with a memorable wager since it will be the last hurrah of 2009…well, at least until the Yanks meet the Red Sox in the American League Championship Series!

With the Red Sox’ win tonight over the Chicago White Sox, the Yankees’ lead in the AL East stands at 7 games.  This one is far from over, but on August 24th, I like where the Yankees sit.

 

 

During the off-season, I liked the moves that Theo Epstein made for the Red Sox, including the one they didn’t make (Mark Teixeira).  Overall, I thought that Theo did a better job of filling the holes, while Brian Cashman was focusing on big game.  Even during the season, Theo has made some wise moves, such as the trade for Cleveland’s Victor Martinez.  John Smoltz didn’t pan out, but he was better suited for the NL anyway.  In the grand scheme of things, I’d rather have Clay Buchholz in the starting rotation than John Smoltz so it worked out for Boston.  I was frustrated when the Yanks’ biggest in-season moves were Eric Hinske, Jerry Hairston, Jr., and Chad Gaudin.  But the patience that Brian Cashman had (that I did not have) paid off as the bullpen solidified once Phil Hughes began his mastery of the 8th inning.  I guess that’s why Cash gets the big bucks, and I only sit and write about it.

 

 

I am still not convinced that the Yankees have the starting pitching to go deep in the play-offs unless A.J. Burnett steps up his game.  But the Yanks have the talent to get hot in late September/early October.  Frank Miller, a late cartoonist for The Des Moines (Iowa) Register, used to say that it wasn’t an official World Series if the Yankees weren’t in it.  I am thinking that it is time for an official World Series…

 

 

World Champs.JPG

 

Go Yankees!

–Scott