Who Cares About Tom Brady and the New England Patriots…
Yankee pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training two weeks from today. Finally, the end is in sight for the long, often grueling, off-season. Well, maybe not for the high number of MLB free agents including two “generational talents” but for the rest of us and those players signed, we’ll be hearing the sounds of baseballs popping in catching mitts soon.
I don’t think any of us expected utility man Neil Walker to return but any chance was eliminated last night when it was announced that he had signed with the Miami Marlins. Walker is expected to platoon with former Yankees prospect Peter O’Brien at first base. Not sure where Garrett Cooper is in the mix (maybe the outfield?) but I think he’s healthy now so there should be a few ex-Yankees roaming the training fields with holdovers Starlin Castro and Caleb Smith for Derek Jeter’s team this Spring. I think I’d be hesitant to wear the Number 14 for the Yankees this year. The last two guys who wore it during the regular season now reside in Miami. Personally, I’d prefer to see Tyler Wade wear the number, giving up 12 for Troy Tulowitzki who obviously cannot wear his Number 2 (as worn in Denver and Toronto) for obvious reasons.
Speaking of numbers, I have no clue what number DJ LeMahieu will wear. If he wants to keep his Colorado Rockies 9 in his number, I suppose he can wear Todd Frazier’s old Number 29. If it were up to me, I’d go with David Robertson’s number (30). James Paxton should wear 65 so that means Domingo German will be part of the number-searching brigade.
I am surprised that we are at the end of January and neither Bryce Harper nor Manny Machado have signed. It was funny watching the unofficial reports yesterday in Philadelphia that had the Phillies signing Harper. Turned out to be fake news like so many of the Harper-Machado rumors we’ve heard this winter. I think I’ve gotten to the point that if Ken Rosenthal is not talking about it, there’s nothing to it.
Despite the infield additions, I would still like to see the Yankees bring in another shortstop. I think they need to plan for the ‘what if’…what if Troy Tulowitzki is unable to recapture his past form? No doubt we’ll see DJ LeMahieu starting at second and Gleyber Torres covering short until Didi Gregorius returns (which is the way it should be anyway with the current roster makeup). But I’d like a strong fallback plan for the Tulo experiment. The Yankees lost one option yesterday when Freddy Galvis signed a one-year deal with the division rival Toronto Blue Jays (who will compete with Lourdes Gurriel, Jr for Tulo’s old job). Adeiny Hechevarria remains available and he’s certainly a guy I’d try to bring back. I think the ship has sailed for someone like Marwin Gonzalez but the former Astro fits the roster so well given his versatility. Jose Iglesias is the only other name out there that seems like a decent possibility. As it stands, it seems as though the Yankees will roll with the tandem of Tulo and Gleyber at short, backed by Tyler Wade. If there was ever a time for Wade to step up big, now is it. I wish I had more confidence in his ability to do it. Maybe the Yankees do. We’ll see.
The Yankees are continuing their search for another starter as a hedge against the health of CC Sabathia which I feel is a very good idea. None of us want to see Luis Cessa starting on a consistent basis. Most likely Jonathan Loaisiga, if he can stay healthy, represents the best in-house insurance backed by Domingo German. I fully expect to see Chance Adams and Domingo Acevedo given their chances this year. If the Yankees do bring in another starter, I see someone like Brett Anderson, not Dallas Keuchel.
I was surprised to see the Boston Red Sox sign former Mets reliever Jenrry Mejia to a minors deal. The three-time PED offender who received a lifetime ban a few years ago which was subsequently lifted by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred last summer, gets a fourth chance. The minor-league contract does not include a provision to attend Major League camp but no doubt if Mejia shows anything, he has a chance to make the Red Sox roster at some point this season. Mejia represents a shot in the dark for the Red Sox who have seen their bullpen depleted with the departure of Joe Kelly and the potential Craig Kimbrel does not return. Mejia was once a decent receiver. He’s been away from the game for a long time, yet he is only 29 and could certainly surprise some people. I am sure Boston loves the price tag (Mejia would make $625,000 if he is on the Major League roster) but Mejia’s character is enough for me to pass. Better Boston signs him than the Yankees. Boston fans can stop trashing Alex Rodriguez for his PED use now.
To flip the coin, I hate to defend the Red Sox but I’ve seen so many Yankee fans quick to rip Boston about their bullpen and how the Red Sox cannot match last year’s 108 wins due to career years by a few players. The Red Sox have won three consecutive AL East division championships in a row and four overall since the Yankees last won the division. Boston’s bullpen may not match up with the Yankees at the moment but as we’ve seen, relievers can be the most unpredictable in the sport. The Tampa Bay Rays, historically, have been very good at throwing together very effective bullpens with a cast of no-names. Conversely, even the great Yankee relievers are prone to blow a game now and then. The Yankees’ super-pen may look much better on paper right now but there is still time for the Red Sox to re-sign Kimbrel even if his level of play may be slipping. I know there are some young guys coming up in the Red Sox system that can be effective arms and there are a few holdovers that should not be dismissed like Tyler Thornburg, Ryan Brasier and Matt Barnes. I don’t think we should be so quick to discount the Red Sox this year. They are the defending World Champions and they made their AL Division Series with the Yankees last October look like a total mismatch. They still have many of the very talented players that made the Los Angeles Dodgers look like a minor league team in the World Series. Based on their first seasons, Alex Cora was a better manager than Aaron Boone. It doesn’t mean that Boone can’t get better but the Red Sox are simply not going away. I see the division as a total dogfight. The Tampa Bay Rays, with their pitching staff, have the potential to be the surprise team of 2019 like the Oakland A’s were last year. I’ve gotten to the point where I am tired of people saying that Harper and Machado are “luxuries, not necessities”. Until the Yankees can win the division and advance to the World Series to claim the championship, better players are a necessity. The Yankees haven’t won the World Series since 2009 (ten years ago) and have not sat atop the AL East since 2011. Yes, the 2019 Yankees, with no further additions, are arguably the best team we’ve seen since the 2009 Yankees, I agree. It does not mean that we cannot or should not strive to be better. No team is going to roll over for the Yankees, not even the lowly Baltimore Orioles. If anything, teams play harder, try harder against the Yankees than any other team. With or without Harper or Machado, the Yankees have much to prove before we can start beating our chests.
Congratulations to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders for the selection of their new manager, Jay Bell. Bell, known as a player’s manager and referred to as the GOAT by his teams, has managed in the Yankees’ minor league system since 2017. In two years, he has taken High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton to the playoffs and will be looking to make it to the post-season for the third consecutive season with the RailRiders. I know that Aaron Boone likes ‘smart and confident’ which is the reason he chose Josh Bard, most likely a future manager, as his bench coach, but I can’t help but think Boonie would have benefited from someone like Bell at his side. Nevertheless, Bell is now coaching the guys who are just a phone call (and a bus ride) away from the Bronx and guys he has watched grow and develop over the last few years. The former Arizona Diamondback, who scored the winning run on the World Series-winning walk-off single by Luis Gonzalez in 2001 off legendary Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera, is making a huge contribution to the Yankees organization. I guess it’s his payback for breaking our hearts so many years ago although I am sure that he’d gladly step on home plate again to defeat the Yankees if given the opportunity. I think Bell’s promotion from Trenton was an excellent move. Nothing against former RailRiders manager Bobby Mitchell but he didn’t really excite me as a manager. Bell does. He seems to have the presence or aura held by former RailRiders manager Al Pedrique, maybe even more so. He’ll do well with the top Yankees farm team and the fruits of his efforts will be highly visible in the Bronx this coming season and for years to come.
The Yankees should be commended for their decision to sign lefty reliever Danny Farquhar to a minor league contract with an invitation to Major League camp. Last summer, it appeared Farquhar’s career was over with his brain hemorrhage. He survived the life-threatening ordeal and is pitching again. It’s a tall order for him to make the Yankees roster but I don’t think anybody is rooting against him. It would be a great story if he does deliver this Spring and finds his moment to step out on the Yankee Stadium turf wearing the famed Pinstripes.
If I was a Major League player, I think I’d want to know where I’d be reporting in two weeks. It seems like maybe we’ll see a flurry of signings in the coming days. Starting to see reports this morning that reliever/closer Greg Holland has signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks so there’s another relief option off the board for Boston. I really hope the next week or so finally brings closure to the Harper-Machado saga, wherever they may land. It would be great if one (or both) fell into the Yankees’ lap but I am done with them, and just want to move on.
As always, Go Yankees!
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…
I have tried. Honestly. I tried to give Alex Rodriguez the benefit of the doubt and I tried to be positive that he was on my favorite team. But with the latest swirling of PED use rumors, I’m done. A-Rod’s contract is the albatross of all albatrosses. He will single-handedly keep the Yankees from winning the World Series over the next couple of years because of how many salary dollars have to be steered his way. If he was still producing, it would be one thing. But he’s not. He is clearly a player in decline who will miss the entire 2013 season. He’ll be yet another year older in 2014, and it is highly unlikely that he’ll ever be a consistent threat at the plate.
For me, character is a very important component to building a successful team. When it comes to class and character, A-Rod has none. He is clearly a narcissistic player who prioritizes personal goals above team goals. Perhaps I am judging him too harshly, but the cons far outweigh the pros when considering his place on the Yankees roster. I am happier with an elder veteran, injury-risk third baseman like Kevin Youkilis than seeing A-Rod take the field.
As it sounds like A-Rod intends to keep playing after he recovers from his hip surgery, I am hopeful the Yankees can find a way to free themselves of the #13 baggage.
What, was Darryl Strawberry unavailable?…
With today’s announcement that the Yankees are nearing an agreement with former Cleveland Indians star Travis Hafner, it is hard to be enthused. This post certainly has a negative spin to it, huh? Well, anyway, Hafner has seen his better days and is no longer the feared hitter he once was. It would have been great to have had Hafner, Youkilis and Ichiro Suzuki in 2004 or 2005, but they just don’t look quite as good in 2013. Hafner can no longer play the field so the Yanks could easily have a glut of DH, no field type players if Youk or other older veterans become slowed by injury or for whatever reason. In spots, Hafner can probably look good but I am just not confident in the starting lineup’s ability to stay healthy.
I know the Yankees still have a very good offensive lineup and an effective starting rotation, but has the rest of the league passed them by? That’s a question that will have to be answered when the games begin, but the potential is certainly there.
This has been a long off-season without much to be excited about if you are a Yankees fan. I am hopeful that someone like catcher Austin Romine will step forward in spring training and prove that he’s ready for major league fastballs. I am anxiously looking forward to the arrival of outfielder Slade Heathcott but he’s still a year or two away.
The right way to kick off the season…
As a Yankees fan, it’s hard to like the Boston Red Sox. But I really like the excitement and energy that goes into their annual Truck Day when the equipment truck loads up and heads for Florida. It’s a great signal for the start of the upcoming season and it certainly helps get one into a baseball frame of mind after a winter of football and basketball. I’d say hockey but they decided to take most of the season off until the recent return. My Red Sox friends always get so jazzed this time of year and to a degree, I am envious.
End of the season celebration…
I am happy for Andy Pettitte that he will be able to end what will most likely be his final season with a series in Houston. It does seem strange that the Yankees would be playing the Astros at the end of September as opposed to the Red Sox or Rays, but this should be a fun season for Andy. I am also braced for what could be the final year for legendary closer Mariano Rivera. So if both Andy and Mo depart, it will be special to watch them this year. Those are two guys I hope are annual fixtures on Old Timer’s Day.
I think I’ll go with Harbaugh…
I live in the Bay Area so I should be supportive of the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday’s Super Bowl, but I am really undecided. As a Minnesota Vikings fan, I do not have any attachments to the 49ers other than geographical location. As I study the teams, they seem evenly matched and both have exciting young quarterbacks. The Ravens have the added emotional incentive of the final game for future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis (yes, Denver, a team is finally throwing Lewis a retirement party). To me, it comes down to the coaches. I think Jim Harbaugh is a good coach, but coach-to-coach, brother-to-brother, I think John Harbaugh is the better coach. Jim may have had the more successful playing career, but there are not many guys that understand the game like John. I won’t be disappointed regardless of the result. Both teams are deserving of victory. There’s no one that I love to hate associated with this game, so it will be a good one to just watch and enjoy. But I give the edge to the Ravens because of John…
By the way, congratulations to Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph for being named MVP of the Pro Bowl. He can be a very effective weapon for QB Christian Ponder going forward. I always loved the relationship between former Dallas Cowboys QB Troy Aikman and TE Jay Novacek (or even the Patriots’ QB Tom Brady and TE Rob Gronkowski). Rudolph can be that type of guy for Ponder. If they are successful, maybe I can watch the Vikings in the Super Bowl for the first time since I was a kid…
No Hablo Red Sox…
I know that it was a “no-risk, why-not-take-shot minor league with a major league camp invitation” signing but something just struck me wrong with the addition of former Red Sox reliever Manny Delcarmen. Over the past few years, I have admittedly built up some respect for the good Red Sox players. I’d count Red Sox ace Jon Lester as one of my favorite pitchers, and I appreciate players like Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury. I think Adrian Gonzalez is one of the premier sluggers in baseball and all things considered, the Red Sox got the better end of the deal when they lost out on Mark Teixeira to the Yanks and had to “settle” for Gonzalez in a trade with the San Diego Padres. There are those Sox players that I dislike but know they are ‘gamers’ like Josh Beckett, but conversely, there are those guys that I just thought were bad baseball players. I’d put Delcarmen in the latter category.
Delcarmen is the bullpen answer to A.J. Burnett. In other words, the guy most likely to implode. The Red Sox proved they held a similar opinion when they dumped Delcarmen on the Colorado Rockies in 2010. Delcarmen failed to stick in the Mile High City, and bounced in the minor leagues last season with the Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners, accumulating a less than inspiring 5.59 ERA. Odds are that he’ll never see the light of day at Yankee Stadium, but I think my tolerance quota for ex-Red Sox players in Yankees camp has been exceeded with Hideki Okajima, Delcarmen, and the possible signing of former Sox infielder Bill Hall. I guess the Yankees brass wants to counteract the strong performance that Alfredo Aceves gave the Sox last year after being cut by the Yankees with a rejuvenated former Sox player in pinstripes. If this was the objective (I know it wasn’t), then the Yankees should have signed DH David Ortiz before he accepted arbitration with the Sox.
Good luck to Delcarmen, but I still hope that he finds success elsewhere.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Hendry…
I was surprised to hear that the Yankees had signed former Chicago Cubs GM Jim Hendry as a special assignment scout. For one, the Yankees have a stable of up-and-comers in Billy Eppler and Damon Oppenheimer. Eppler almost landed the GM job with the Los Angeles Angels before Jerry DiPoto was hired so he’s certainly a sought-after commodity. I saw today that the Yankees added the title of Senior Vice President to Assistant GM Jean Afterman, while naming Eppler as an assistant GM. I know that Afterman doesn’t have the authority of Brian Cashman but it’s weird that they are both SVP’s. All things considered, Cash should be in line for a promotion to Executive Vice President since he is clearly above the other SVP’s.
Admittedly, I am leery about bringing in strong GM types like Hendry. Sure, he has a wealth of knowledge, but this position allows him to learn the inner-workings of the Yankees organization. I am sure that Arizona Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers used his brief time with the Yankees to identify pitcher Ian Kennedy as a trade target. I realize that Kennedy brought Curtis Granderson to New York, but had the Yankees been able to include a different pitcher with qualifications below Dellin Betances or Manny Banuelos in the trade, how good would Kennedy have looked at the back end of the rotation instead of Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon?
Snow: To be or not to be…
It’s hard to believe that tomorrow is February and the month that players report to training camp. My first winter in Minnesota has been so incredibly mild. I think there have only been two days of challenging driving conditions but even on those days, I still managed to travel without too many obstacles. Of course, we could be engulfed in a blizzard while Robinson Cano is punching one over the Steinbrenner Field wall, but I am definitely excited for the return of the primary major sport. No offense to the New England Patriots or the New York Giants, but pro football ranks second to America’s favorite pastime (in my opinion). I’ll be more excited to see CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda standing side-by-side in camp than watching QB Tom Brady tell me via TV that he’s headed for Disney World.
Let it snow in Minnesota and let those Michael Pineda fastballs start popping Russell Martin’s mitt. Life is good. Now, about that DH position for the Yankees…
Well, it’s time to pay off one of my two debts owed to Julia of Julia’s Rants for several wager losses. I should have been more responsive to my obligation but business travel and work have been very challenging lately.
The two losses were the final regular season series loss by the New York Yankees to the Boston Red Sox and the Halloween dismissal of the Minnesota Vikings by the New England Patriots. It goes without saying which teams Julia was pulling for. Sadly for me, the results were in her favor.
For the loss by the Yankees, I owe Julia a couple of signs on my blog. I promise that I’ll have them up by Thanksgiving. With the loss by the Vikings, I have to write a blog about Julia’s favorite football team. I know this is very off-topic for a baseball blog but keep in mind this is for Julia…
THE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
When I was a kid, I remember reading about the old American Football League (AFL) and its original members. The Boston Patriots were one of those teams. In fact, when they were awarded their franchise in 1959, they were the eighth and final team.
Mike Holovak is the guy who stands out to me as the head coach of the Patriots in the 1960’s, however, it was long-time Buffalo Bills head coach Lou Saban who was the team’s first head coach.
My first real meaningful recollection of the Patriots was after they moved to Foxboro and became the New England Patriots. By that time, the head coach was Chuck Fairbanks. The year that stands out for me is 1974. The Patriots started season 5-0 behind QB Jim Plunkett, RB Sam “Bam” Cunningham, and WR Randy Vataha. They would only win two more games that season to finish 7-7, but one of the wins came at the expense of my Vikings.
Dick Raphael/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images
I know, Julia‘s favorite was actually this guy (Steve Grogan)…
Before the AFL and NFL merged in 1970, the Patriots did play in one championship game, the 1963 AFL Championship. They lost 51-10 to the San Diego Chargers, and would not advance to post-season play again until 1976. They won their first AFC East division championship in 1978, but like in 1976, they were eliminated in the first round of the play-offs.
My next significant memory of the Patriots happened in 1985. The Patriots made it all the way to the Super Bowl, but it coincided with the great Super Bowl Shuffle by the legendary Walter Payton and the Chicago Bears as the Patriots lost 46-10.
Sorry Julia, but it’s hard to pass by Walter Payton’s name without giving him some sort of tribute. He was one of the greatest players to set foot on the gridiron…
As the organization moved into the 1990’s, their long history of futility began to change. In 1993, Bill Parcells was named the head coach and the following year, the team was acquired by owner Robert Kraft. Parcells would get the Pats to the Super Bowl in 1996 but they’d lose to Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers, 35-21. Hmmm, no wonder Julia dislikes #4!…
Brian Bahr/Allsport/Getty Images
After Parcells left, Pete Carroll was brought in for a few seasons. Despite making the play-offs two of his three seasons, the results were unimpressive and he was discharged. Still, a decade of some success had transformed the organization into one with a winning tradition despite the absence of Super Bowl success.
The arrival of the 21st Century also brought championship success for the Patriots as they won the Super Bowl in three of four years (2001, 2003, and 2004). If memory serves correctly, the new century also had a positive impact for another Boston area team that shall go nameless! 😉 With head coach Bill Belichick and QB Tom Brady, the Patriots emerged as the team to beat in the 2000’s.
The Patriots did miss out on football immortality in 2007 when the team went undefeated during the regular season but lost to what I felt was an inferior New York Giants team in the Super Bowl. How many teams can say that a 18-1 record was a failure? None, except the New England Patriots. I am sure that there were a few former Miami Dolphins celebrating that day…
The Patriots remain a championship quality organization and they have been able to successfully replace aging stars and over-priced free agents through the years. They are currently tied for the division lead in the AFC East with a 6-2 mark and seem well positioned for much success in the second half of the season. With Tom Brady at the controls, it is a certainty that they’ll have a say in who represents the AFC in the Super Bowl at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas on February 6, 2011.
P.S. They won’t miss Randy Moss but I think I will… L*
*Brought to you by the Fire Brad Childress Immediately Committee.
A well deserved day off while the Yankees head to Seattle…
Speaking of Seattle, I am always appreciative of the fact that Tom Paciorek no longer plays baseball. For my generation, he was the original Yankee killer. I know that there were many before him and many since, however, he was the first player that I personally witnessed as a single-handed destruction force against anything pinstripe-related.
It was an interesting week. Monday saw the Yankees defeat their nemesis, the Los Angeles Angels, in a makeup of the May 3rd rainout.
Tuesday was a mess. A brawl left Jorge Posada and Shelley Duncan with three-game suspensions. Posada, who had taken exception to an earlier pitch, threw an elbow at Jays pitcher Jesse Carlson, while scoring on a double by Brett Gardner. There were several bench clearing moments, and the latter occurred following the elbow by Posada. Hitting coach Kevin Long and pitcher Edwar Ramirez were also fined for their involvement in the fracas. Any way you slice it, it was an ugly representation of baseball. The Yankees dropped the game, 10-4.
Wednesday, the teams were more amenable to each other. The Yankees fell behind the Jays early and trailed 4-2 in the 7th inning. I had started to become concerned that the Yanks were on the verge of their second consecutive loss, but Hideki Matsui allayed my fears with a two-run homer in the 8th to tie the game. At that point, I had confidence that the team would mount yet another walk-off win. I was not denied, although I was a bit surprised by the source. I will first start by saying I love watching Brett Gardner work the base paths. Following a lead-off single in the 9th inning, he stole second. Derek Jeter grounded out to short, but it advanced Gardner, the winning run, to 3rd. That brought catcher Francisco Cervelli to the plate. His single to left scored Gardner, and the Yankees had a new recipient for the pie of the day…
Ron Antonelli/New York Daily News
This morning, I was looking at the AL East standings, and was surprised to see that the Red Sox were only 5 games behind the Yanks in the loss column. Boston has been playing very well lately as evidenced by the 7-game winning streak. Julia is quick to note that this team reminds her of the 2004 and 2007 World Championship clubs, and the way they’ve been playing, I do not necessarily disagree. Nevertheless, I have confidence in my guys and their ‘no-quit’ determination. Given that the Texas Rangers have performed the baseball equivalent of hara-kiri, there is no much mystery left regarding whether the Yankees and Red Sox will make the play-offs. The only question is who will take the AL East crown, and right now, the Yankees have the advantage. The Yankees continue their quest for the best record in the AL, but they cannot lose sight of the team in their rearview mirror. I learned long ago not to underestimate the Red Sox.
The Red Sox did see the end of their 7-game winning streak tonight, as they were clipped by the Angels, 4-3. The Yankees magic number has been reduced to 10, although the Angels were able to pick up a ½ game on the Yanks.
The Scranton/Wilkes Barre Yankees were unable to defend their International League crown. They were swept in the finals tonight by the Durham Bulls with a 3-2 loss in the third and final game. The Yankees did pick up championships in two other minor leagues. Class A Tampa won the Florida State League, while the Staten Island Yankees won the New York/Penn League. I’m thinking “three’s company”, so let’s go big league Yanks!
In a somewhat shocking announcement, Peter Abraham of the Yankees LoHud Yankees Blog announced that he will be moving to Boston to work for the Boston Globe. His blog has long been one of my personal favorites, and I will miss his Yankees insight. I am sure that he’ll provide Red Sox fans with the same robust and reliable information that we Yankee fans have been accustomed to, not to mention the quick wit. Pete Abe made a comment that some will call him a traitor, but I will not. He is a class act, and his decision was made for family reasons, which is a very admirable trait. I would like to thank him for his work over the years, and I wish him the very best in Boston. Of course, he’ll miss out on writing about the 2009 World Series Champions…
My fantasy football team faces a huge dilemma this weekend. My starting QB is Tom Brady, while my defense is the Jets D. So, I have one player working against another since the Patriots face the Jets this weekend. Who do I pull for? Yikes! As an 0-1 team (thanks to LaDainian Tomlinson’s ankle), I have to hope that best case scenario plays out.
I will close with a photo of my pride and joy. She has been the master of self portraits since she was very small, and has developed a great sense of humor (despite her dad)…