|Photo Credit: SI.com (Kristyn Ulanday)|
Opening the Gates of Steinbrenner Field…
As the saying goes, today is the first day of the rest of your life. Or as I prefer to call it, the first day of the 2018 New York Yankees. Welcome, Pitchers and Catchers! Your host, Aaron Boone, and his staff are eager and ready to serve you.
I am excited and anxious to hear Boone’s kickoff press conference today at 12:00 pm ET. We’ve heard Boonie talk over the winter but now he’s officially in uniform and ready to lead Baseball’s most storied franchise to the Promised Land. It’ll be cool to get a glimpse inside his mind as he begins his Pinstriped Journey in earnest. Sure, he’s had the conference calls with his coaches and shared text messages, a few rounds of golf or dinner with his players, but today it gets real. It’s a very exciting time in the Yankees Universe. After meeting with the press today, Boone will lead the first official workout tomorrow on Valentine’s Day. Very appropriate given how much we love these Yankees.
My most recent fear was averted yesterday when it was the Texas Rangers (and not that the Yankees) that gave a minor league contract with training camp invite to free agent third baseman Trevor Plouffe. I was starting to get worried that we’d see him in Tampa, but alas, the Rangers saved the day.
There’s still time for new faces to appear but at the moment, the starting rotation returns intact from top to bottom and the leading contenders for second and third bases are Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar, respectively. The next few days will feature many bullpen sessions and we’ll get our first images of the new season.
I am ready for Yankees baseball.
The Freak is back…
Speaking of reclamation projects, the Yankees will send a scout to watch Tim Lincecum’s showcase in Seattle on Thursday according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. Admittedly, when I first heard the 34-year-old was attempting another comeback, I scoffed. Two years ago, he signed a deal with the Los Angeles Angels after providing an open tryout in front of scouts. He failed miserably, going 2-6 with 9.16 ERA in nine games pitched. His WHIP was an unsightly 2.374. Maybe there’s nothing left, but then again, maybe there is.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images, via Men’s Fitness (Joe Robbins, Otto Greule, Jr)|
People scoffed at Bartolo Colon when he made a comeback with the Yankees a few years ago, yet he continues to pitch and it is likely he’ll find another Major League contract somewhere this year. I am not saying that Lincecum is Colon, but at one time, Lincecum was a very good pitcher for the San Francisco Giants. I seriously doubt he’ll ever be anything close to that level again but nothing ventured, nothing gained. Why not take a shot? If he shows nothing, you help him pack his bags and send him on his way. He certainly won’t be cost prohibitive at this point in his career. I’d sign him if he shows anything on Thursday. He wouldn’t unseat any current starters in the rotation regardless of how well he throws but he could be a better option as a replacement starter than Luis Cessa if he has anything left. I am sure some team will take a chance on The Freak through a minor league deal to see if he can help.
Stick a fork in him, he’s done…
I am so very disappointed in Rich “Goose” Gossage. At one time, the guy was my favorite player. I loved to watch him come into games throwing heat and shutting down the opposition. It was tough to watch Goose leave the Yankees when he signed a free agent contract with the San Diego Padres in January 1984. Even tougher watching the Padres in the World Series that year, who also featured former Yankee Graig Nettles at third base, even if they lost to the Detroit Tigers. I was excited when he played for a couple of months with the Yankees at the end of the 1989 season despite being in the twilight of his career. I was proud when he was named to MLB’s Hall of Fame in 2008. Unfortunately, his behavior since that time has been anything but professional.
Last year, he took shots at Hall of Famer-to-be Mariano Rivera, one of my all-time favorite Yankees over the course of my lifetime, which I did not appreciate nor respect. When I heard the Yankees had not extended an invitation to Spring Training for Goose this year, I felt it was the right thing. The Yankees did not need the unwanted attention and distraction for a new manager and coaching staff. Yet, the New York Daily News beat writers had to reach to Goose to get comment about the spurned invitation and he chose to use it as a forum to go off on GM Brian Cashman.
Frankly, I don’t care if Gossage ever sets foot in Yankee Stadium again. He comes across as an angry old man to me. I am tired of his “back in my day” rants. He played in a different era but it doesn’t mean that it was better. The game has changed. Sadly, Gossage has not. There is no place for him with today’s game and no place for him in the Yankees Universe. Let him go play Old Timer’s games with the Chicago White Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Texas Rangers, Oakland A’s or Seattle Mariners. What? Those teams do not hold their former players in same high regard as the Yankees? Sucks for him. Good riddance…
Rest in peace, facial hair…
We also say goodbye to CC Sabathia’s beard.
While I personally feel that the Yankees should change the long-standing team policy that prohibits facial hair outside of “porn star” mustaches, it’s too bad that they can’t at least open Spring Training to a relaxed hair policy before the team heads north to put on the famed pinstriped jerseys. Sabathia had a very cool beard this winter, as did a number of other players. It would be nice to see them with a tougher look, if only for the exhibition games at Steinbrenner Field. Some guys, like Jordan Montgomery, could seriously stand an edgier look instead of the choir boy approach. I know, the hair policy will never change. The Steinbrenner Family will always preserve George’s wishes as long as they own the team. I get the professionalism aspect to the policy but I am also a believer in self-expression. I am not crazy about Justin Turner’s flowing red hair and beard with the Los Angeles Dodgers but it is who he is and I would not want to change him. If it works for the player, it works for me.
The baseball offseason is over. It is time to get to work…
|Photo Credit: Newsday (J Conrad Williams, Jr)|
The team of low expectations…
As the Yankees stumbled to the All-Star Break, I was surprised to read the number of stories that said the Yankees may have a hard time making the play-offs if they keep playing like this. I hate to be the doomsayer but this team isn’t going anywhere. I love the Yankees and I’ve been a long-time fan, but there’s no doubt that this team is not built for October success. As it stands, a third or fourth place finish, if nothing changes, is the best case scenario for the injury-plagued, patch-work 2013 Yankees. When your ace pitches like Jose Contreras used to against the Boston Red Sox while wearing pinstripes, it’s fairly obvious that there are no 10-game winning streaks looming on the horizon.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a season where every player who has been injured, gets re-injured after his return. Hopefully, Derek Jeter just had a minor setback but at this point, it’s anybody’s guess what the second half of the season holds.
I still do not support trading top prospects for a glimmer of hope. I think any mid-season deals at this point would only strengthen the possibility of third over fourth. I do not see any potential deal that would make me line up to buy play-off tickets. I would so love to be wrong, and you could argue that the Los Angeles Dodgers have arisen from the dead to become potential play-off contenders, but they aren’t pieced together like a quilt comprised of Goodwill cloth.
Erase the standings…well, except for the Yanks…
Even though they aren’t in the top 3 in the AL in wins, I still expect the Detroit Tigers and the Texas Rangers to be the last men standing when the ALCS rolls around. I don’t buy into the Red Sox “Juggernaut” and I expect the Rangers to eclipse the Oakland A’s this time around. Tampa Bay will be a threat but in the end, the Tigers and Rangers should persevere. Detroit will be so scaring if Justin Verlander starts pitching like he can and Max Scherzer continues his Verlander-like impression.
Holiday for A-Rod…
The latest A-Rod news has him proclaiming that he should be ready for the Bronx in about a week. So, I say, Commissioner Selig, where are those suspensions? It is time to send A-Rod to the bench. 50 games? Life? I would probably prefer the latter, but at the very least, the suspension should, in my mind, prevent his 2013 return. I do not want to see #13 on the field regardless of the cost. Sorry A-Rod, I am not a fan of yours.
What’s happenin’ in Scranton/Wilkes Barre and Trenton?…
At this point, 6 games down in the AL East standings, I’d probably prefer to see the Yankees give some younger guys a shot. This is not 1978 where the Yankees have the team to overtake Boston to win the World Series. With Rafael DePaula now becoming the most hyped Yankees pitching prospect, let’s see what he has at the major league level. I’ve watch the Phil Hughes Show and it deserves to be cancelled. It’s too bad that Hiroki Kuroda is nearing the end of a great career, the Yankees will be hard-pressed to replace both him and potentially CC Sabathia at the top two positions in the rotation if CC continues to struggle.
Do you want Hal’s office or Hank’s?…
So, should the Yankees re-sign Robinson Cano? Absolutely. He is the team’s legitimate star, and they need to build around him in coming seasons. If they are looking for a second baseman next year in addition to a power bat in the middle of the order and the other missing pieces, it’s going to be shades of the 1980’s as the team will have to have some down years before they can re-emerge.
Hope on the horizon…
I was glad to see the Yankees finally sign first-round pick Aaron Judge. Judge, an outfielder, seems to embody the right ingredients to be a future star in the Bronx. I think I read the Yankees had signed their top 16 picks which is good. It’s tough watching a guy like Gerrit Cole pitch for the Pittsburgh Pirates knowing he was once a Yankees draft pick that didn’t sign. I kind of feel the same way about Josh Pettitte. I would love to see the Yankees sign Pettitte, but it’s been made very clear his path is college. Andy’s professional success has given Josh the financial security to make that decision. I can only hope the Yankees have another opportunity to one day draft Josh with the serious intent to sign him.
You need a clutch hit, I give you Donnie Baseball!…
Going back to the Los Angeles Dodgers, I want to say how proud I am of Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. His team came into the season with very heavy expectations and injuries derailed any chance of a strong start. He became everybody’s favorite to be the next manager fired, but with a recent rally, he has the Dodgers within 2.5 games of the first place Arizona Diamondbacks. I fully expect Donnie Baseball to surpass the D-Backs after the All-Star Break and he’s proven to me that he is a quality baseball manager. There’s a reason he has always been my favorite when he puts on a uniform and he is not disappointing me this year. He’s truly one of the game’s greats.
You’re a Knicks fan, I’m a Knicks fan, we’re ALL Knicks fans!…
I left the Los Angeles Lakes to become a New York Knicks fan before last season, and now Metta World Peace has apparently followed the same logic in signing with the Knickerbockers. I am not crazy about J-Kidd coaching in Brooklyn, but hopefully the Knicks can pull together some magic for next season.
Sorry, I still can’t get used to the short hair…
Congratulations to Tim Lincecum for his no-hitter. But it came too late to help my fantasy baseball teams as I cut bait long ago. I guess if I were a baseball owner, I’d probably be George Steinbrenner. Billy!!!! 😉
Are you mocking me?…
The final series of the season has begun and the Yankees find themselves a game up on the Baltimore Orioles with two games to go in the battle for AL East supremacy. It’s been a dogfight since the O’s caught the Yankees earlier in the month, and the two teams have pretty much matched each other stride for stride since that time. Sunday, when the Yankees were trailing the Toronto Blue Jays 5-1 after the O’s had won was the first time that I legitimately felt the Yankees could end the day in second place for the first time since early in the season. Fortunately for me…and the Yankees, they fought back to emerge with a 9-6 victory.
A season of surprises…
After years of Yankees-Red Sox and most recently, Yankees-Red Sox-Rays, I never expected this to be the year that the Baltimore Orioles would emerge as the Yankees’ primary nemesis. Still, the Tampa Bay Rays are the team that scares me the most. With their pitching, they have the potential to go all the way if they make it. Granted, it’s clearly an uphill battle for them, but they are perhaps the hottest team in baseball right now with 11 wins in 12 games. Hopefully, the Oakland A’s will end the Rays’ quest but I’d like to see the Rays with an opportunity for at least one more night so they’ll play at the top of their game against the O’s again tomorrow night. If the A’s win against the Texas Rangers tonight, then it’s over for the Rays. I am thankful that the Rays’ run got started so late in the season. If it had occurred earlier, there’s little doubt they’d be bumping shoulders with the Yankees and O’s.
While I am surprised about the successful O’s season, I am flabbergasted by the dismal failure of the Boston Red Sox. This is a team that could have and should have won the AL East in 2011, but after tonight’s game, the team stands at 91 losses. It is the highest loss total since 1965 when they lost 100 games. There’s no threat of 100 losses, but this is clearly an inferior Red Sox team. I think they’ll be much improved in 2013 but the team has much to do in order to re-tool the once championship squad. In my opinion, Bobby Valentine has to go. He has contributed to the dysfunction of the 2012 season and while the losses may not be his fault, he is not the right man for the job. I do not necessarily think that John Farrell is, or that last year’s runner-up, Gene Lamont, should get the job. If I were the Red Sox GM, I’d probably go with a guy who has a great deal of minor league managerial experience but has never gotten the opportunity at the major league level, Ryne Sandberg. He’d be respected by the players and he has the ability to effectively communicate with the younger prospects.
I thought this would be the year the Toronto Blue Jays would take a step forward. If I would have had to choose between the O’s and the Jays at the start of the season, I probably would have taken the Jays. But I felt they regressed this year. Well, actually they did. Who knows how this plays out for John Farrell. It could be ownership is more willing to let him go to Boston, but of course, does Boston want him and is he truly the right fit? This remains to be seen. Nothing like some good old fashioned drama as we head toward the off-season.
As for the other races, I was disappointed to see the Chicago White Sox fade. I felt they had their division, but the talent of the Detroit Tigers persevered and thrust the team into the lead with a few games left. Out west, there’s no doubt the Texas Rangers were going to be the champion, but to put the A’s into the play-offs over the Los Angeles Angels was a surprise. Oakland’s pursuit of Yoenis Cespedes doesn’t look so far fetched now.
In the National League, I never would have predicted a division championship for the Washington Nationals. They earned and deserved it, but I didn’t foresee it. The awful season the Philadelphia Phillies experienced was a surprise. Hey, Cliff Lee, how does that decision to rebuke the Yankees feel now? I know, one season does not a mega-million contract make, but hey, this is baseball and it’s all about ‘what have you done for me lately?’. Congratulations to the Atlanta Braves for at least nailing the Wild Card slot.
The Cincinnati Reds were not a surprise, even playing in the same division as the St Louis Cardinals. This was destined to be a challenging year for the Cards with a new manager and first baseman. The Cardinals should still make the play-offs, but this division played out as expected.
The NL West is where I am perplexed. Although I currently reside in the Bay Area, my NL team is the Los Angeles Dodgers. This is primarily because of the manager (Don Mattingly). But after the expensive acquisitions late in the season (Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Brandon League and others), I really thought the Dodgers would be well poised to surge to the division championship. Of course, I fully underestimated the San Francisco Giants and their pitching staff. Tim Lincecum may have had his struggles this year, but I’d still hate to face him in October with all the chips on the table.
Welcome to the 2012 World Series…
As for my prediction of World Series participants, I am going to go with the Cincinnati Reds versus the Texas Rangers. The Reds, in my opinion, have a slight advantage over the Washington Nationals. Of course, I’ve underestimated the San Francisco Giants all season long so why should I change now? I know this is a Yankees blog and I should be ‘all in’ on another Yankees participation in the World Series. But I am just not convinced the team has the clutch hitting to succeed. Hey, I hope they prove me wrong, but I don’t really see anyone else emerging from the AL than the Rangers. I do not like the Rangers but I recognize that their hunger for a World Series championship remains and they have the talent to succeed. Best case scenario? The Yankees go to the World Series to face the San Francisco Giants and see how their hitters perform against former closer Dave Righetti’s aces.
It seems like the season just started but now just two games separate us from the 2012 post-season. The race to the World Series begins…
Uneven start to the 2012 season…
I guess the season opening series sweep by the Tampa Bay Rays set the tone, but this has been a hot and cold season thus far. The New York Yankees followed the Rays series with their own sweep of the Baltimore Orioles, but they’ve struggled against the Minnesota Twins in the Bronx. Given how the Yankees have owned the Twins in recent years and the fact the Twins were a 99 loss team last year with no notable improvements, it seems odd that the Yankees are fighting to salvage the fourth game of the series with the Twins and at least earn a split.
Now you see him, now you don’t…
I was excited last week when Hiroki Kuroda pitched a gem, but after getting pounded by the Twins yesterday , he’s had more bad starts than good. It’s only three starts in, and I am sure that Kuroda will not be A.J. Burnett Revisited, but I’d prefer the ratio of good starts to bad to be reversed. I can’t imagine what it would be like to change leagues, especially for a foreign player. There is a difference in pitching in the AL versus the NL, and it would seem, to a novice like me, that it would be more enjoyable to pitch in the National League given the lack of a DH.
Odd men out…
As it stands right now, I think that both Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia are pitching their way out of the rotation to make way for the eventual returns of Andy Pettitte and Michael Pineda. I expect Hughes to be moved to the bullpen, but I am not sure what will happen with Garcia. I don’t really see him going to the pen if Hughes goes there, and of course, he’s not going to the minor leagues. Best case scenario is a trade to bring in a player with potential. It obviously wouldn’t be a high ranked prospect, but rather something of a gamble with upside.
What have you done for me lately…
I feel bad for Francisco Cervelli sitting in AAA simply because he had options, but I have to say that I was impressed when no-hit back up catcher Chris Stewart had 3 RBI’s the other night. Stewart is clearly on the roster because of his defense but his bat has never scared anybody. It still won’t, but it’s always good to mix in a hit or two.
I didn’t watch the game but the match-up of Cliff Lee and Matt Cain last night in San Francisco was stellar. I was going to say that the game featured two of my favorite pitchers, but I am still a bit miffed at Cliff Lee for his rejection of the Yankees a couple of seasons back. Tim Lincecum gets the press in San Francisco, but I’ve always appreciated Matt Cain. If I owned a baseball team, he would be one of the guys that I’d target for acquisition. I’ve always admired his competitiveness. The marquee match-up didn’t disappoint as Cain went 9 innings, allowing no runs, and Lee went an almost unheard of 10 innings. Neither pitcher gave up a run. A more startling statistic is that Lee only threw 102 pitches and Cain 91. Neither pitcher figured in the outcome as the San Francisco Giants defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 1-0 in 11 innings. But there is no doubt that was the season’s prime pitching duel so far. Kind of makes me wish that I had been sitting in AT&T Park last night.
The Grandy Man can…
As I am sitting here typing this blog, Curtis Granderson has hit three home runs in the first four innings of tonight’s game against the Twins. Yes, I think Grandy has settled into the Bronx. As the song goes, with a slight variation, the Grandy Man can ‘cuz he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good. Yes, he does. I remember being disappointed that the Yankees gave up Austin Jackson, Ian Kennedy and Phil Coke for Granderson, but even though Kennedy has prospered in the Sonoran Desert, I am glad the trade was made. Grandy is a class act and probably the closest to Derek Jeter in terms of quality of character.
Will Los Angeles continue to take the best of Minnesota?…
As a resident of Minneapolis and a lifelong fan of the Minnesota Vikings, I am very disappointed in the recent chain of events in the Vikings’ efforts to secure a new stadium. A state legislative committee nixed the Vikings’ plan and it is looking like the subject will be tabled until 2013. The Minnesota legislature goes on break in a week so they are running out of time to take action with the stadium issue. There hasn’t been any threats of relocation but they are starting to rumble to the surface. The Vikings have passed the lease expiration of the Metrodome, so relocation is a genuine threat. Based on reports, the Vikings will not tolerate delay until 2013 so this situation is critical. I heard today that the NFL is coming to Minnesota in an effort to break the impasse. But the odds of the Los Angeles Vikings becoming a reality have to be increasing. This is very disappointing. For me, I am not a native Minnesotan, so I’ll stay with the Vikings regardless of what happens, but they belong in Minnesota. You would think that the city of Minneapolis would have learned something with the Lakers…
Well, what would we do if sports weren’t available to frustrate us?…
I didn’t really expect the Yankees to go into Texas
and sweep the Rangers, so all things considered, I’ll take a split in the ALCS as the teams
make their way to the Bronx…
The Yankees took the first game in dramatic fashion
as they overcame a 5-0 deficit to win 6-5, thanks to a five run 8th
inning. It was a disappointing
performance by CC Sabathia at a time when you expect nothing but perfection
from your ace.
As bad as Sabathia was, Phil Hughes was worse in
Game 2 as the Yankees fell to the Rangers, 7-2.
The Rangers will now have Cliff Lee available in Games 3 and 7 if
necessary. It definitely gives the
Rangers an advantage, but if the Yankees can start pitching like they are
capable of, they can neutralize the advantage.
Sipkin/NY Daily News
As the San Francisco Giants showed in Game 1 of the NLCS, great pitching
can beat great pitching (Tim Lincecum over Roy Halladay). For Game 3, the Yankees need for Andy
Pettitte to keep the game close until they can get Cliff Lee out of the
Michael Macor/The Chronicle
If they lose, the Rangers are almost certain to
face CC Sabathia rather than A.J. Burnett in Game 4. Given the short outing in Game 1, it’s
possible that Sabathia may be a go for Game 4 regardless of what happens in
Game 3 against Lee. The Yankees will
want to posture the rotation for a potential Sabathia-Lee showdown in Game 7 if
the series goes that far. I know that
Joe Girardi is saying that Sabathia is still the scheduled Game 5 starter, but
I really think he’ll announce a change.
I know Andy is a big-game pitcher, but I’d rather have Sabathia in an ‘all
or nothing’ situation.
The Yankees also need to work on the bats. In yesterday’s loss, the Yankees squandered
multiple scoring opportunities as they left 12 men on base. They were 1-for-11 with men in scoring
position. That’s definitely not the way
to ensure a return trip to the World Series.
Time for Mystique and Aura to make an appearance at
I am pleasantly surprised at the Yankees’ success,
so far, against the Minnesota Twins…
I had been so disappointed with the team’s pathetic
September performance that saw them lose any chance of winning the AL
East. Within a matter of days or even
hours, they went from the possibility of the AL East Championship with home
field advantage to a road-traveling Wild Card team. It was hard to be excited about the start of
the play-offs with the team playing so poorly.
For the first two games of the ALDS series against the Twins, the
Yankees have risen to the challenge.
Granted, the Yankees have a history of success against the Twins, but I’d
be the first to say that past domination does not guarantee future domination. 2004 wasn’t that many years ago…
Vincent Laforet/The New York Times
While the Yankees have the series advantage and are
now headed for the Bronx to resume the series on Saturday night, the Twins are
far from out of it. If they can get
solid pitching and timely hitting in New York, they have a chance to take the
series back to Minnesota for the deciding Game 5. Outside of perhaps CC Sabathia, the Yankees simply
do not have a pitcher that is capable of putting up a Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee
type of performance. Even CC has his bad
days. But going into the play-offs, I
knew that the lesser guys would need to stand up and so far, Lance Berkman and
Curtis Granderson certainly have.
Sipken/NY Daily News
I am very surprised to see the AL East Champion
Tampa Bay Rays trailing their ALDS series to the Texas Rangers (down two games
to none). I realize that the Rays
struggled in September like the Yankees but I felt they were probably the best
team in the American League based primarily on their pitching staff. Like the Twins, the Rays can still get back
in the series but the Rangers have to like their chances.
There have been great pitching performances in the
National League with the no-hitter thrown by the Philadelphia Phillies’ Roy
Halladay and last night’s 14-strikeout, complete game shut-out thrown by San
Francisco’s Tim Lincecum in the Giants’ 1-0 victory over the Atlanta
Michael Macor/San Francisco Chronicle
Regardless of what happens, the League Championship
Series in both leagues should be very exciting this year. I still think the Phillies will win it all,
but the Yankees certainly have as much talent as anyone to get on a roll.
Going off-topic but staying with the ‘Minnesota to New York’ theme, I was very pleasantly surprised to
see the return of Randy Moss to the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings play the Jets in the Meadowlands on Monday night. I have retained my purple #84 jersey all
these years but never thought that I’d get a chance to wear it again. I knew that Randy had become quite vocal in
recent weeks about the lack of a contract extension and of course there was
last weekend’s blow-up with a coordinator.
Still, I did not expect the New England Patriots to trade Moss. The Vikings have clearly been missing Sidney
Rice who will be out until at least mid-season due to hip surgery. It will be interesting to see if chemistry
develops between Moss and QB Brett Favre.
It is going to be weird watching Moss catching passes from Favre after
all those years of playing against each other in the Packers-Vikings series.
At 1-2, the Vikings face a very challenging
October. After the game against the Jets, they will face the Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers and
New England Patriots to close out the month.
The team should definitely know where they stand by Halloween.
Interesting how the Yankees can lose their last
game and still end up in first place…
I went all week thinking that the Yankees were a
game and a half out of first place.
After a very disappointing September that found the Yankees trailing the
Tampa Bay Rays, I’ve been very pessimistic about the team’s chances in
October. I still am, but it would
definitely be better to go into the play-offs as the AL East Champion and
possibly holder of the league’s best record than it would be to go as the road
traveling Wild Card team.
I was very pleasantly surprised to hear that the
Yankees were only a ½ game back this morning.
I don’t know how I got 1 ½ games stuck in my head. The Rays were in Kansas City tonight to start
a four game series against the Royals and they had to face Zack Greinke. It’s been a disappointing season for Greinke
but he still rose to the challenge tonight as he defeated the Rays, 3-2. The loss dropped the Rays into a tie with the
Yankees with three games to play. If
both teams finish in a tie, the division goes to the Rays by virtue of the
better head-to-head record. So, the
Yankees really need to go into Boston seeking a sweep. I seriously doubt that the Rays will drop
more than one more game to the Royals.
The Yanks have not shown the killer instinct yet this month, but
hopefully, they’ll find it in Beantown.
In a statement of the obvious, I pin the blame on
the Yankees potential inability to win the division on pitcher A.J.
Burnett. At 10-15, he has been largely
ineffective most of the season. When he
is bad, he is really bad. Had he been
just 13-12 so far this season, the Yankees would hold a comfortable lead in the
East heading into the weekend. I know,
there are more reasons for why the Yankees are in this predicament than just
Burnett. But I am a fan so I can be
unreasonable and flawed in my thinking…
Theodorakis/NY Daily News
I am still very pessimistic about the team’s
chances in October. I simply do not feel
that a rotation of Sabathia-Pettitte-Hughes can provide the type of shutdown
performances that will be required. The
Rays will find ways to score runs and so will the Twins. If Josh Hamilton comes back strong, the
Rangers could make noise. To me, there’s
only one team playing like they are the World Series champion and that’s the
Philadelphia Phillies. I also give
credit to the San Francisco Giants who, unlike last year, rose to the challenge
this September and are on the verge of winning the NL West. Of course it helps to have Tim Lincecum at
the top of your rotation.
Thanks to the loss of my last wager with Julia of
Julia’s Rants, I am awaiting the arrival of a Boston Red Sox cap in the
mail. Upon receipt, I am obligated to
take photos wearing the hat along with a Red Sox t-shirt that I “acquired”
through a previous wager loss. I have a
business trip to Texas next week so I may be delayed, but a bet is a bet so the
photos will appear on the blog sometime soon L.
But until then…
For the last wager of the baseball season, Julia and
I have decided the loser should post photos holding signs. If the Red Sox win the 3 game series, I will
be forced to hold pro-Red Sox signs. If
the Yankees win, then Julia will be holding pro-Yankee signs.
It has been a fun season despite the
challenges. I’ve enjoyed the battles
with Julia and I was glad to see the Red Sox eliminated from the play-offs
before the final series. Boston has been
an incredibly resilient team despite the massive injuries they’ve
suffered. I have been very impressed
with the ‘never quit’ mentality and I am relieved that the Yankees won’t have
to face it in October.
In a final non-baseball note, I’d like to express
sadness at the loss of actor Tony Curtis.
He died yesterday of cardiac arrest in his Las Vegas home at age
85. He’ll be missed…
Whew! I’ll take it!…
It was the top of the 9th inning and the Yankees were trailing the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium, 6-2. On the mound was Dodger closer Jonathan Broxton with an 0.83 ERA and 16 saves. He struck out the first batter, Mark Teixeira, so it looked as though the Yankees would head back to New York with only 1 win in 3 games against their former manager, Joe Torre. Then, Alex Rodriguez singled and there was a slight glimmer of hope. Robinson Cano followed with a double to score A-Rod to close the gap to 3 games. The next batter, Jorge Posada, singled. After a walk to Curtis Granderson, the bases were loaded with the tying run on first. I was excited, but the excitement was tempered by the fact the next hitter was rookie Chad Huffman, who had entered the game earlier as an injury replacement for Brett Gardner. Huffman proved up to the task as his single scored Cano and Posada. Suddenly, the Yankees were just one run down. The next batter was Colin Curtis. Again, I had some trepidation given Colin’s major league inexperience. But fate was smiling on the Yankees, thanks to a poor fielding decision by Dodgers first baseman James Loney. Curtis hit a grounder to Loney. With Curtis Granderson breaking for home, Loney stepped back to first to secure the out and then attempted to throw home but was too late to nail Granderson…game tied. Had Loney disregarded Curtis and went directly home with the throw, he would have easily gunned down Granderson. A ground out by Francisco Cervelli ended the inning, but the Dodgers still had last at-bat.
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Despite the tied score, manager Joe Girardi went with certainty in bringing in closer Mariano Rivera. I would later read that Joe Torre had told Girardi before the game, he wouldn’t bring in Rivera with the game tied. Fortunately, the younger Joe is his own man, and he went with his instinct. Mo easily retired 3 Dodger batters, so it was off to the 10th inning.
Ramon Troncosco replaced Broxton at the top of the inning, and Mark Teixeira greeted him with a single. A-Rod followed with a fielder’s choice to short, which easily erased Teixeira at second. With Robinson Cano coming up, Joe Torre opted to go with reliever George Sherrill. Cano’s lifetime record against Sherrill entering the game was 0-for-11. Cano promptly conveyed a message that numbers don’t mean anything when he crushed a home run to give the Yankees a two-run lead. Mo came back out for the bottom of the 10th inning, yielding only an infield single in shutting down the Dodgers. With the win, the Yankees were able to claim a 4-2 road record against the Dodgers and Diamondbacks and headed back to the Bronx where they will face nemesis Cliff Lee and the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night.
By the way, I was pleased to see Alex Rodriguez reach out to Joe Torre before the game. Too much was being read into the relationship between A-Rod and Torre, and I thought Alex showed class in being the one to extend his hand.
My streak of wager wins against Julia of Julia’s Rants has sadly come to an end. I suppose I deserved it when I went with a team other than the almighty New York Yankees.
The wager was for a single game, the Boston Red Sox versus the Giants in San Francisco. I was in attendance at AT&T Park, and foolishly thought a wager was a good idea.
On paper, it looked like a marquee match-up with Jon Lester facing Tim Lincecum.
Unfortunately for me, the two-time reigning NL Cy Young Award Winner looked more like John Lackey at Fenway Park than he did the elite pitcher he is. Lester, on the other hand, was expectedly masterful. He gave up a game-tying run in the bottom of the first but that was it. It never felt like the Giants were going to get back into it after the Red Sox had re-taken the lead.
I was amazed at the sheer volume of Red Sox fans at the game. As a Yankees fan, I am always surrounded by fellow Yankees fans whenever I see the team play on the road. But Boston definitely rivals the Yankees in their ability to draw on the road.
So, congratulations are in order for Julia. My sentence is to include a paragraph about a current Red Sox player (as of 6/26/10) for the next 25 blog posts. With the first entry, I will go with the player of the game…
#31 Jon Lester
Jon Lester, at 9-3, is a virtual lock for a spot on the American League All-Star Team, and a leading candidate to start. Lester, a native of Tacoma, Washington, won the clinching game of the 2007 World Series against the Colorado Rockies. He followed it up the next year with a no-hitter. Personally, going into the season, I was convinced this would be a breakout year for Lester…the year he becomes the “ace”. As if a championship and a no-hitter aren’t enough for his resume, he’ll soon be collecting Cy Young Awards. The Sox rotation is incredibly talented with Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, Dice-K, and Tim Wakefield. However, if I am starting a new franchise, and I need an ace to lead my staff, I’m calling Lester.
Personal note about Lester: Lester was diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma in August 2006.
“This is going to sound funny but God blessed Jon Lester with cancer just to show a lot of people that you can overcome something that’s so hard in your life you think, ‘I’m not gonna make it.’ He’s going to be able to take his faith in God and the strength God gave him and tell a lot of other people a great story.”
–former Red Sox reliever Mike Timlin
Lester is definitely one of the truly great guys in the game…
Only 24 more to go… L
Joe Torre and Derek Jeter together again…
Gina Ferazzi/LA Times
Share the love! Seriously, it was bittersweet to see Joe Torre wearing enemy colors while standing next to the likes of Joe Girardi, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada. Much has been written in recent days about the rift that exists between Torre and the Yankees hierarchy. One article speculated that if the Yankees wanted to have a special honor for Torre, he would most likely turn it down. Former Yankees pitcher and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre thought that Torre would eventually be more forgiving than the Yankee brass. Joe’s rift is how his relationship with the Yankees ended (lowball, token contract offer that represented a steep pay cut). There is no way that the Yankees could have expected Torre to take the contract offer so it was obviously a ploy designed to show Torre the door while trying to show the Yankees Universe that they tried. The Yankees problem is relative to Torre’s book and how he unveiled many thoughts that should have been left behind closed doors.
Regardless of how it ended and despite how much I have always respected Joe Torre, it was time for a change. The Yankees had not won a World Series since 2000 (losing in both 2001 and 2003) while the dreaded Boston Red Sox were winning two (2004, which included the ALCS meltdown by the Yankees; and 2007). Torre is “old-school”, and it was time for a more current manager. Joe Girardi was the right guy at the right time. As a player, he was clearly a leader. When I think of the death of Darryl Kile, I will always think of how Joe Girardi stepped up as the voice of the team. He is always prepared and he clearly wants to win. He is young enough to hold the position for many years, and I think he has shown improvement as a manager every year. Joe Torre has moved on, the Yankees have moved on, and so have the fans. It’s time for the media to let go…
I was reading today that the reason the Yankees are in Los Angeles to play the Dodgers as opposed to Yankee Stadium was based on a decision by FOX television. They wanted Manny Ramirez to return to Boston for a reunion against the Red Sox. I think it was a missed opportunity for FOX. Manny was not gracious to the Boston fans or media, and he didn’t really do anything in the series that was swept by the Red Sox. On the other hand, it would have been tremendous to see Joe Torre set foot on the grounds of the new Yankee Stadium given that he’s never managed there before.
The first game of the Dodgers-Yankees series went to the visitors behind CC Sabathia who is beginning to pitch like “Second Half CC” when he becomes so utterly dominant. It was ironic that the game-winning home run was hit by Alex Rodriguez, who has yet to speak to Joe Torre.
CC went 8 innings in the 2-1 victory, giving up 4 hits and striking out 7. Mariano Rivera, an old friend of Torre’s, closed out the game with three strike outs.
There were lots of photos with Torre and the core Yankees, but none with Don Mattingly that I found. It would have been interesting to see Donnie Baseball in the reunion photos too. He will most likely be the next Dodgers manager, and based on recent reports, it could happen as soon as next year. It’s hard to see one of my favorite all-time Yankees becoming so engrained with another organization, but he does deserve the opportunity to manage and it wasn’t going to happen with the Yankees. Given that managers are hired to be fired, it’s probably best that Donnie manages elsewhere. That proved to be a better route for Lou Piniella. If Derek Jeter decides to stay in baseball after his playing days, I am sure that the day will come when he dons something other than Yankee pinstripes. So long as there isn’t on “B” on the cap, I’m cool with it.
Gene J. Puskar/AP
Friday night was a good night as not only did the Yankees win but the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox both lost. The Red Sox are in San Francisco (where I will be on Sunday), and lost to the Giants, 5-4. They also lost one of their warriors in Dustin Pedroia who fouled a pitch off his left foot. X-rays were negative but the foot is still sore and further tests are scheduled for today. I may not be a Red Sox fan, but I am a fan of Pedey’s so hopefully he’ll be back on the field soon. The Rays, meanwhile, were no-hit for the second time this season. This time at the hands of former Ray and current Arizona Diamondback Edwin Jackson. Frankly, I am not sure that I agree with the managerial decision to keep Jackson in the game despite the no-hitter. He walked 8 batters, and he threw 149 pitches. That sounds like something that Billy Martin would have done to the Oakland A’s pitching staff back in the 80’s when the pitchers later developed arm troubles. No good can come from it. The no-hitter is nice but at what cost?
Speaking of Sunday’s game between the Giants and Red Sox (which of course includes a wager with Julia of Julia’s Rants), the pitching match-up could not better. Jon Lester, one of my personal favorite pitchers and clearly one of the AL’s best, against Tim Lincecum, arguably one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. I’ll be pulling for Lincecum and the Giants, but it should be a classic pitching duel. I am looking forward to it!
By the way, the last wager didn’t go so well for Julia…
Courtesy of an unhappy Celtics fan!
Despite record snowfalls on the East Coast, spring training is right around the corner…
Yankee pitchers and catchers report next week, and the battle will begin for the fifth spot in the rotation. Of course, everyone is quick to indicate that Alfredo Aceves, Chad Gaudin, and Sergio Mitre have a shot, but this is really about a competition between Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain. Personally, I am putting my faith in Phil Hughes. I’d prefer to see Joba take over Hughes’ old spot as setup man for Mariano Rivera (positioning himself to be Mo’s successor when the eventual day comes). I am really anxious to see what Hughes can do in the rotation now that he has achieved success at the big league level.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
It will be interesting to see if Curtis Granderson stays in center, or if they ultimately decide to move him to left and return Brett Gardner to center. There should be good outfield competition among Jamie Hoffmann, Marcus Thames, and Randy Winn. Minor leaguer Colin Curtis and off-season pickup Greg Golson (from Texas) will also be on hand to compete. I am hopeful that Hoffmann, a good defensive player, finds a way to make the team. If not, the Yankees will have to offer him back to the Los Angeles Dodgers since he was a Rule 5 pickup.
Miles Chrisinger/Icon SMI
At catcher, Francisco Cervelli should break camp as backup to Jorge Posada. With each passing season, the backup catching position becomes more vital as Posada ages. I am anxious to see what Jesus Montero brings to camp. He’s not ready for the Bronx yet but he is getting close and will obviously be Posada’s eventual successor if they don’t move him to first base because of his physical size.
John M. Setzler, Jr.
It appears that Johnny Damon will sign next week, most likely with the Detroit Tigers based on the latest rumors. I do find it odd that the Tigers would pay Damon more than they would have owed Curtis Granderson yet Grandy was moved for financial reasons. It’s also disappointing that the Tigers will end up getting Damon for less than what the Yanks had been willing to pay at the start of the off-season. Agent Scott Boras forced the Yankees’ hand in signing DH Nick Johnson and outfielder Randy Winn, leaving no room for Damon. If Boras had shown a willingness to negotiate early on, perhaps Johnny would be returning to the Bronx for another go-around. But for as much as I will miss Damon’s ability on the bases and his offensive power, I won’t miss his throws from left field (which seemed to move in slow motion). I wish him the very best wherever he lands…Detroit, Chicago or Atlanta.
All things considered, it should be a fairly quiet camp compared to the past few years. I am not expecting any drug use admissions or sex scandals, but of course, you never know. I am just glad that it’s time for the guys to pick up the gloves, balls and bats and head back out for another summer of fun.
Josh Haner/The New York Times
By the way, congrats to Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum, who avoided arbitration by signing a two-year deal worth $23 million with San Francisco. With a pay increase from $650,000 to $8 million plus $2 million signing bonus in 2010, he can now afford to buy in Nob Hill…
Also, so long to the Big Hurt. Frank Thomas has decided to hang up his cleats and take his 521 home runs home. Of course, he’s been out of the game for a year, but now it’s official. No Brett Favre comebacks in Frank’s future…
Finally, I’d like to send my prayers to the family of Nodar Kumaritashvili, 21, a luger for the former Soviet republic of Georgia, who died today during a trial run at the Olympics in Vancouver, British Columba. I cannot say that I am well familiar with Luge but it seems like there could have been better safety precautions. The Olympic Games start on a disappointing note, but I hope the other athletes from Georgia rise to the occasion and give performances their fallen teammate would have been proud of…