Tagged: Tony Pena

The March to Opening Day…

How will the Yankees “manage” potential change?…

Will Joe Girardi be the Yankees manager this time next year?  As the manager enters the final year of his contract, the expectation is that he’ll re-sign with the Yankees in October or November.  But anything is possible.  The Steinbrenner family might have a change of heart and decide that a change is needed.  Girardi has held the job for a long time (this will be his 10th season as Yankees skipper).

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Credit:  AP Photo/Kathy Willens

I get frustrated with Girardi at times.  He’s never been one of my favorite managers.  I had greater confidence in Joe Torre’s ability to lead.  Among current managers, I hold Don Mattingly and Terry “Tito” Francona in highest regard.

Mattingly was my favorite player so sentimentally that’s probably why he is my favorite manager.  In 2008, when the Yankees hired Girardi over Mattingly, I did think it was the right decision given Mattingly’s lack of managerial experience at the time.  Mattingly was not able to succeed in Los Angeles for the Dodgers, but I’ve felt he has continually improved each year.  Today, I’d easily take Mattingly over Girardi.  My only reservation with hiring Mattingly as Yankees manager (assuming the Yankees could pry him from Miami) is preservation of his Yankees legacy.  Managers are hired to be fired or so the saying goes.  I wouldn’t want my final memory of Mattingly in pinstripes to be him walking away after being fired.

I have admired Francona since he was manager of the Boston Red Sox.  I had great respect for the champions he built and of course he was responsible for ending The Curse of the Bambino, along with then general manager Theo Epstein.  I doubt that Francona would ever leave the Cleveland Indians (by his own choice).  The Yankees could have hired him after he was fired in Boston but they did not express any interest.  Francona has history with the Cleveland Indians franchise (pre-dating his time in Boston), and after taking the team to the World Series last year, he is very beloved in the city.

If the Yankees do decide to make a managerial change at the end of the season, I just don’t see any overwhelming candidates who could do a better job.  Mattingly would be great, but he is under contract, so it would take a trade to make it happen.  I am not enthused by simply elevating one of the coaches (Rob Thomson or Tony Pena).

This situation bears watching over the course of the season.  I think the odds are much better that GM Brian Cashman, also in the final year of a contract, re-signs with the Yankees than Girardi.  Time will tell.

Let the competition be Judged…

The Yankees have various degrees of competition at certain positions this spring.  The most obvious is the two open spots in the pitching rotation behind Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia.  The early leaders, in my opinion, are Luis Severino and Bryan Mitchell.  But there is still time for Chad Green, Luis Cessa, and perhaps Adam Warren to state their case.  I am anxious and excited for Jordan Montgomery and James Kaprielian but it does not appear to be their times yet.  Kaprielian has the higher ceiling but he won’t make an appearance at Yankee Stadium, barring injuries, until September at the earliest.  Montgomery could show up sooner and might be the first or second option if someone gets hurt.

MONTGOMERY

The competition at first base evaporated somewhat when Tyler Austin broke his foot.  Greg Bird clearly holds the advantage over Chris Carter despite the latter’s 41 home runs last season.  Unlike Carter, Bird is good defensively (even if he’s not on par with former first baseman Mark Teixeira’s glove) and hits for average.  As Bird has shown this spring, he still has his power following last year’s injury.

Right field was also a speculated position of competition.  Most assume that Aaron Judge will get the job, but technically, he is in competition with Aaron Hicks.  Judge has a much greater upside, but he did strike out 42 out of 84 times late last season.  If he is not able to make the necessary adjustments at the big league level, it could open the door for Hicks to take the job.  I personally hope it does not happen.  I am hopeful that Judge figures it out at this level like he has at every level thus far.

The flaming red hair is left on the barbershop floor…

Kudos to OF Clint Frazier for cutting his bushy red hair this week.  While I personally feel that the Yankees current hair policy is outdated, I thought it was a good move by Frazier to cut his hair after a talk with Manager Joe Girardi.  Girardi felt that the hair had become a distraction.  It was a mature statement by Frazier in saying that he loved playing for the organization more than his hair.

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Credit:  AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Frazier won’t break camp with the Yankees, but he’ll be there soon enough.  This is all part of his maturation into a dynamic young future star outfielder for the Pinstripers.

There’s other baseball on TV…

I should probably watch the WBC more but I’ve never been into it.  Still, I fully understand the importance of placing Baseball on the World Stage and should reconsider my complacency.  I guess I am just get tired of seeing the Dominican Republic or Japan always win the competition.

Regardless, it was fun to see the USA defeat Columbia, 3-2, on a run-scoring single by Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles.  Yankees reliever Tyler Clippard picked up the win.  The game featured a very strong start by Jose Quintana for Columbia.  The rumors continue to swirl about Quintana’s future and the Yankees remain one of the potential destinations.  His WBC performance yesterday did nothing to dispel those rumors.

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Credit:  Logan Bowles, USA TODAY Sports

Have a great weekend, everyone!

—Scott

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If they’re saying it, it must be true!…

Rumors…


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With nothing to talk about, the speculation continues
about what free agents the Yankees are looking at.  The latest has pitcher Justin Duchscherer and
outfielder Andruw Jones within the team’s sights…


Tony Gutierrez/AP


Andruw Jones Of White Sox Smiles After Infield Single

UPI/David Richard via Newscom

I like Duchscherer, although he has been beset with
injuries and depression in recent years. 
I recognize that he is considered an “average” pitcher, but he does know
how to win.  He’ll never be the second
coming of Chris Carpenter, but when the alternative at the 5th spot
in the rotation is Sergio Mitre, he’d be worth the shot.  I have quietly been hoping the Yankees would
sign former Rockies pitcher Jeff Francis but there has been no activity on that
front.  It wasn’t that long ago
(pre-Ubaldo Jimenez) that Francis was considered the ace of the Rockies
staff.  If the signing of Francis is not
meant to be, then I like Duchscherer over other options like Jeremy
Bonderman.  I like the addition of either
Francis or Duchscherer even if somehow and magically Andy Pettitte decides to
return for one last season. 

The other rumor has the Yankees considering outfielder
Andruw Jones.  I actually wanted the
Yankees to sign Jones last off-season. 
He ended up with the Chicago White Sox and hit 19 home runs.  I realize that he will never be the Atlanta
Braves’ version of Jones, but in the right role, he can excel.  I lived in the Los Angeles during his final
year with the Dodgers and it was pathetic to see Jones as a shell of what he
used to be.  Still, I think he’d be a
good fit as a role player for the Yankees. 
Jones could also step into left if either Brett Gardner or Curtis
Granderson missed any time due to injury. 

What can Larry Rothschild do to restore Joba Chamberlain’s
confidence?  With A.J. Burnett and Joba
at the top of his to-do list, I wonder if Larry fully understood what he was
getting himself into.  If he can somehow
turn both of these guys around, he will be a legend in Yankees history. 


Larry Rothschild, shown here with the Chicago Cubs, has been named the New York Yankees newest pitching coach.

David Zalubowski/AP


Speaking of Rothschild, the Yankees announced their 2011
coaching staff and the only change was Larry in for former pitching coach Dave
Eiland.  All things considered (and
nothing against Eiland), but I feel very good about the pitching being in the
hands of the long-time Cubs pitching coach. 
It’s also good to know that Tony Pena will return to his role as bench
coach for manager Joe Girardi.  I think
that’s a good pairing, even if Pena will have to coach against his son, Tony
Pena Jr., who is currently a member of the dreaded Boston Red Sox. 



There has been so much talk lately about the impending
free agency of St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols.  Personally, I do not want to see Albert in
anything other than a Cardinals uniform. 
Hopefully, the first ballot to be Hall of Famer and the Cardinals can
find a way to ensure that Albert stays in St. Louis for the duration of his
career.


Albert Pujols - 2004

Scott Rovak/Getty Images


There are going to be some really great pitching
performances in the National League this season.  Granted, the class of the rotations is the
Philadelphia Phillies, but so many teams have improved (like the Brewers, Cubs,
and Marlins to name a few).  Plus, let’s
not forget the solid starting five of the World Champion San Francisco
Giants.   Give me the #5 starter, Madison
Bumgarner, for the Yankees rotation…please!   

I have to admit that I was pleased to see future Hall of
Fame closer Trevor Hoffman retire today. 
It fixes his save total at 601, and certainly makes it within reach for
also future Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera. 
With a two year contract and standing at 559 saves, there’s no reason in
the foreseeable future that Mo can’t erase the difference.   I think both Trevor and Mo should be first
ballot elections, although I’d admit that Lee Smith should go in before either
one.  With Mo, I have definitely been
grateful in recent years that I’ve been able to watch one of the all-time great
New York Yankees.  It’s a lengthy list
but Mo will exit at the head of the class for his position.  I am envious of anyone who actually saw my
idol, Lou Gehrig, play, but I’d also say that I’ve been very fortunate to see
Mo pitch.  It’s nice to know that when
#42 is retired at Yankee Stadium for Jackie Robinson, it will be shared by
Mo.  Nevertheless, I wish the very best
for Trevor Hoffman, who I hear is headed back to the San Diego Padres for their
front office.


Trevor Hoffman

AP


Finally, I wanted to say how much I miss former Yankees
beat writer/blogger, Peter Abraham.  I
keep up with him with Boston.com, and his latest post shows why he is simply
one of the best…if not the best.


 


Okay, one more thing. 
The loss of Dallas Green’s 9-year-old granddaughter, Christina Taylor
green, to the shooting in Arizona is devastating.  I can’t help but think of the great things
that she could have and most likely would have accomplished in her
lifetime.  It was a senseless tragedy and
we are clearly the worse for it. 
Somehow, the world is a lesser place today because of her loss.  I am also saddened for the others that lost
their lives, and I wish for a full and speedy recovery by Rep. Gabrielle
Giffords.  The restoration of her life
and career is so important to the balance of life…



-Scott