After some thought, I’ve come around…
Now that I’ve had time to digest the Friday night whirlwind that brought pitchers Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda to the Bronx, my initial disappointment was evaporated. Don’t get me wrong, I love the power potential of Jesus Montero, and I know full well that he’ll be as devastating against the Yankees as Jay Buhner was if not more. But I recognize that from a position of need, a top of the rotation starter is better than a player without a position.
Ever since I first heard Jesus Montero’s name, it always included a statement that he’d eventually have to find a new position because he would outgrow catcher. The obvious moves would be to either first base or left field, but last time I checked, both of those positions were occupied by long-term tenants. Putting an offensive juggernaut at DH is great for offense but it does nothing to help with the defensive aspects of catching or learning a new position. With Russell Martin in the fold for the foreseeable future, there was no way that Montero would gain the starting position at catcher. Martin’s ability to handle the pitching staff is simply too important to the team even if his bat is nothing remotely close to Montero.
With Montero, I was always worried about the other young Yankee catchers. Of course, there’s Francisco Cervelli on the active roster. If Montero were to take the backup catching job, where would that leave Cervelli? Most likely playing for the Twins, backing up oft-injured Joe Mauer or someone like that. I like the defensive reports that I’ve heard about both Austin Romine and Gary Sanchez, but if their path was clogged by Martin and Montero, where did that leave them? Sanchez needs more time in the minors, but Romine is nearing major league ready status. With an injury or two, I fully expect him to get his chance to make an impression at Yankee Stadium in 2012. The trade of Montero ensures that Romine will get his major league opportunity with the Yankees so that’s a good thing. He doesn’t have Montero’s bat (who does?) but good defense is essential for championships.
Maybe just tell us who the Yankees haven’t talked to…
As for the DH slot, it seems like the Yankees have expressed interest in about everyone. There have been reports they’ve spoken to the agents for Carlos Pena, Johnny Damon, and Hideki Matsui. There are pros and cons with all three players, but whoever the Yankees bring on board will have to share time at DH with Alex Rodriguez, Andruw Jones, and Derek Jeter so I’d be okay with any of the three. I’ve always liked the clutch bats of Damon and Matsui, and the swing for the fences power of Pena is nice even if the average is hovering slightly above the Mendoza line. With all the reports that the Yankees only have a $1 million or two to spend on a DH, I half expect a report that they’ve talked to Reggie Jackson! Okay, that might be a stretch, but I’d consider letting ‘all or nothing’ slugger Jorge Vazquez. He does deserve a shot. If not, the Yanks should cut him loose and let him pursue a team that will.
If Jorge Posada had embraced the DH role last year, he’d be on his way back to the Bronx for an encore performance…
Upon second thought…
As for the pitching staff, my initial prediction about the rotation order was flawed. I recognize that Micheal Pineda is the clear #2 in the rotation. I’ve seen Ivan Nova slotted at #4, but I’d still keep him at #3 at least until he gives reason to drop him in the order. I think Kuroda is a great addition, but he has to adjust to the American League in the most difficult division, while moving from a pitcher’s ballpark to a park that is less forgiving. So, I’d give Nova time for pinstripes served and put him ahead of Kuroda. After the former Dodger, it’s anybody’s guess who will win out…Phil Hughes, my personal favorite; Freddy Garcia, probably the better choice among the pitchers in terms of consistency; and A.J. Burnett, the candidate for most likely to depart the Bronx if the Yanks can find a willing trade partner that wants Burnett…and a boatload of cash to pay that ridiculous salary. What happens if either Manny Banuelos or Dellin Betances pitches “lights out” in training camp? This is going to be an interesting battle.
He’s really a cousin of Alcides and Kelvim Escobar?…
Back to Friday night’s trade, I was a bit dismayed when I saw that pitcher Hector Noesi had been included in the trade. I kept hearing that his ceiling was the back end of the rotation but there was something that I liked about the pitcher. At first, I didn’t know anything about the “other” Mariner included in the deal, Jose Campos. But since the initial report of the trade, I’ve come to realize that he has great potential. At 19, he’s 6’4” and throws in the mid 90’s. He’ll more than make up for Noesi and fits a better timeline in terms of being major league ready given the high level pitching prospects already in the organization (Banuelos and Betances, for example). The Curtis Granderson trade has been labeled as a ‘win-win-win’ for all concerned. Hopefully, this M’s-Yankees trade will meet a similar fate.
What would I expect Bobby V to say?…
Contrary to what Bobby Valentine may think, the Yankees are a better team today than they were last Thursday. But, I recognize the Boston Red Sox are not done yet. They signed former Dodger pitcher Vicente Padilla today (a guy I loathe personally) and there’s rumors they could go after Roy Oswalt if they can move payroll. I still think Boston could be a player for Cubs starter Matt Garza given Theo Epstein’s knowledge of the Red Sox minor league prospects. Whether Ben Cherington or rather Larry Lucchino would trade with Epstein is another matter. Still, I think there are changes to be made on both the Yankees and Red Sox between now and training camp. Last year, I saw a Red Sox friend predict 118 or 119 wins for Boston. Teams look great on paper, but as they say, the ‘proof is in the pudding’!
Moneyball II, starring Jorge Garcia…
It’s hard to think of the Oakland A’s signing former Yankees starter Bartolo Colon as a low-cost, high reward “Moneyball” kind of move. At 39, I don’t think there’s really any upside to Colon at this point and in my opinion, he’s not capable of sustaining a full season of starts. I’d rather have Gio Gonzalez or Trevor Cahill in the rotation, but I guess since those are no longer options, they have to look at the scrap heap that served the Yankees so well last season.
Yes, I know the way to San Jose!…
Speaking of Oakland, I do hope they are successful in their desire to move to San Jose. As a former San Jose resident, I think it’s very exciting for the city and its metro area to be on the verge of landing both the A’s and the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, to go with the NHL’s Sharks. I saw that A’s owner bought the famed Hotel Sainte Claire in downtown San Jose. He already owns one hotel in San Jose so I guess you can’t read too much into it, but he’s definitely positioning himself for the growth and excitement that San Jose could see in the coming years. I’d be happy with a Stanley Cup Championship this year, but that’s a little off-topic…
I really don’t forsee another 99 losses when you place character first…
I was a little surprised to see the Minnesota Twins sign former Detroit Tigers flamethrower Joel Zumaya. He suffered his devastating arm injury at Target Field in 2010. So, in terms of Karma, you’d think that he’d avoid Target Field like the plague. But I read comments in this morning’s paper about how he was touched by the reception he received from the Twins fans as he left the field that fateful day. Stories like that certainly make me feel honored to be a Minneapolis resident, but I was still surprised by Zumaya’s decision. I wish him the best as he begins the Comeback Trail. Hopefully he can get back to the level he was before. For the Twins, with Joe Nathan in Texas and Matt Capps scheduled to close games, they need Zumaya as the pitcher he once was and hopefully will be again.
When it’s tough being the son of Donnie Baseball, come home to the Bronx!…
Before I go, I want to say that I am really hopeful that the Yankees organization proves to be a blessing for former Dodgers prospect Preston Mattingly. I’ve always heard what a great athlete he is/was when he was younger. I don’t know what happened through his time in the Dodgers and Indians organizations and I realize that he is getting a bit long in tooth for a prospect, but I really hope that he can find some level of success with the Yankees. It would be very cool to see Mattingly make a debut at Yankee Stadium at some point in the future. Who knows if it is in the cards, but being a late bloomer is not outside of the realm of possibility when it comes to someone with his bloodline.
It’s hard to believe that we are just a month away from training camp. I’m excited and looking forward to a great season.
Perfect no more…
The Yankees errorless streak was halted at a major league record 18 games. I had expected Derek Jeter or Robinson Cano to boot a routine grounder to end the streak, but it was a throwing error by catcher Jorge Posada that sailed into center field on a stolen base attempt. Truth be told, I am glad to see the streak come to an end so that it removes the “pressure” of trying to maintain the streak.
During the streak, Yankee players fielded 660 chances without an error.
But the end of the streak was the only negative to an otherwise joyous evening…well, for everyone except Mark Teixeira, who was hit by two Vicente Padilla pitches.
The Yankees won the game, 12-3, over the Texas Rangers, and maintained their one game lead on the Boston Red Sox, who also won, in the AL East Standings. Early on, it looked like the game could go either way. The Yanks had taken an early 2-0 lead in the 2nd inning, thanks to a run-scoring single by Brett Gardner and a bases loaded balk by Padilla. After Mark Teixeira was hit by a Vicente Padilla pitch for the first time, Alex Rodriguez grounded out with the bags full to prevent further scoring. The next inning, the lead was quickly erased when Texas right fielder Nelson Cruz hit a three-run shot to left.
In the bottom of the 4th inning, both Melky Cabrera and Derek Jeter walked. Johnny Damon hit a single which scored Cabrera with the tying run. Teixeira, the next batter, was hit by a pitch from Padilla for the second time. With Jeter at third and the bases loaded, Alex Rodriguez hit into a fielder’s choice. Teixeira was out at 2nd but his slide upended shortstop Elvis Andrus and prevented a double play. However, Jeter scored with his 1,500th career run and the Yankees had forged ahead, 4-3. Robinson Cano singled to right, to bring home Damon and Padilla’s night was finished. Texas reliever Derek Holland entered the game, and promptly surrendered a run scoring single to Jorge Posada. The next batter, Hideki Matsui, cleared the bases with a three-run homer to right center field, his 8th of the season. Cabrera, batting for the second time in the inning, hit a grounder to second for the third out. However, the Yankees had scored 7 runs in the inning, and the 3-2 deficit had become a 9-3 lead.
Jorge Posada closed out the scoring in the 6th with a three run homer to right.
A.J. Burnett (4-2) picked up his first Yankee Stadium win of the year. He went 7 innings, giving up 8 hits and 1 walk. He allowed three runs on the Cruz homer, and struck out 8 batters.
The unsightly duo of Brett Tomko and Jose Veras pitched the final two innings of scoreless relief. When Veras entered the game, I have to admit that I began to feel somewhat uncomfortable…even with a 9 run lead.
Derek Jeter extended his hitting streak to 16 games. However, Mark Teixeira did not get a hit so his streak ended at 14 games.
The hostility between Teixera and Padilla dates back to June 5, 2005 when Teixeira’s Rangers played Padilla’s Philadelphia Phillies. Tex homered in his first two at-bat’s against Padilla, and when he came to the plate for the third time, Padilla plunked him with a pitch. The two were Texas teammates in 2006-07, however, the ill feelings between the two were never resolved. “That’s not the right way to play the game and, unfortunately, that guy’s been doing that his whole career,” Teixeira said after the game. Padilla, by the way, has hit a major league high 97 batters since 2002.
It was nice to see Tex play with emotion and without losing control.
It was also nice to see my friend Julia stay in second place… 🙂