When I heard today that Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner had apologized to Yankee fans for the 2014 season, it did bring back memories of when the Yankees lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1981 World Series and George Steinbrenner’s famed apology.
It’s tough to criticize ownership because they did spend money in the off-season to bring in Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann and others. However, it was a flawed team from the start. Even in April, when the starting rotation was still healthy, the infield looked to be a disaster with question marks around the bases. The gaping hole created by Robinson Cano’s departure was never sufficiently addressed although Martin Prado was a good late season pickup.
With Mark Teixeira’s injuries in recent years, it was no sure thing that he’d bounce back after last year’s wrist surgery. He was never the same player and may never be again. Third base was poorly addressed with Kelly Johnson, particularly when considered in tandem with the hole at second base and the diminished skills, thanks to age, of the legendary shortstop.
I am not sure what moves the Yankees could have made that would have worked out better. GM Brian Cashman was dealing with limited options last off-season and it is why they had to throw money at the situation. Sadly, it’s not the 20-something, in the middle of your prime, guys that are routinely available. It’s the aging veterans or the journeymen.
Via LoHud Yankees Blog
One of the guys who had been tied to the Yankees last off-season was second baseman Omar Infante. Infante subsequently spurned the Yankees for the Kansas City Royals, and in retrospect, he made the perfect decision as his team has advanced to the AL Divisional Play-offs. It is in what Infante saw regarding the Yankees situation that needs to be fixed.
Now that Alex Rodriguez is back, I hope that does not prevent the Yankees from bringing back Chase Headley. Straight up, I’d take Headley at third over Rodriguez. There’s going to be a huge fight for the DH spot next year with Beltran and A-Rod. If Beltran is healthy, I’d give him the edge so this team may simply have no spot for A-Rod (which is what I would like to see). I know the Yankees still owe A-Rod a great deal of money, but they’d be best served paying the majority of his contract to move him elsewhere (the proverbial “addition by subtraction”).
The first order of business for Yankee ownership is to re-sign Cashman. All reports indicate that’s going to happen, but I’d prefer to see it happen before the end of the World Series so that the GM is not a distraction at the start of the Hot Stove League. If anybody needs to be “all in”, it’s Cashman.
Typical Derek Jeter…
I was convinced all season long that there was no way Jeter could top Mariano Rivera’s 2013 farewell. But I should have never underestimated him. The game went from frustrating when David Robertson gave up the potential game winning lead to exhilaration when Derek hit the game winning, walk off single in the bottom of the 9th in his final Yankee Stadium appearance. It was an incredible experience to watch. The fans in attendance at the Stadium certainly got their money’s worth.
New York Times
At first, I was surprised when I heard that Jeter had no desire to play shortstop during the final series in Boston. But I completely get his reasons for wanting to take something away from the final Yankee Stadium appearance. By the end, Jeter was a guy ready to lay down his glove but he left the field with the same class and dignity as when he arrived. Tough to see Jeter go, but it was time. I saw the quotes that said ‘don’t be sad that it’s over, be glad that it happened’ and they are so true. We were blessed to have Derek Jeter, but now it is time for somebody else.
So long, Derek. Looking forward to the retirement of your number at Yankee Stadium and entry into the Hall of Fame.
Wells, that was not quite the answer I was looking for…
I have never been a big fan of Los Angeles Angels outfielder Vernon Wells, and was one of many who quietly laughed when the Angels took his financial albatross of a contract off the hands of the Toronto Blue Jays. But I guess it is apparently better to have the last laugh and that would not be me. The move allowed the Blue Jays to re-group to the point that they now have arguably the best team in the American League East. And, as health would have it (or lack there of), the Yankees find they have the need to take what’s left of Wells off the Angels hand so that they can pay those hefty contracts belonging to Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. Granted, the Angels will be paying most of the freight to bring Wells to the Bronx (assuming the deal goes through as expected), but he has been the Crown Prince of Disappointment for so many years. Yes, he’s had a good spring, but so have a lot of guys who didn’t amount to a hill of beans in the big leagues.
At first I heard that the Yankees would be paying less than $10 million on the Wells contract which has $42 million more to go until it expires following the 2014. But the latest word has the Yankees paying up to $13 million which means it will probably be more like $15 million or more when the deal is finally announced.
With the opening day absences of Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark Teixeira, the Yankees need proven production in the lineup. Robinson Cano is only one man. There’s question marks at every turn, but the likelihood of Curtis Granderson’s return is far better than Mark Teixeira (who some say could miss the season). This means I would have preferred to see the Yankees allocate resources toward an alternative first baseman. The prospect of outfielder Juan Rivera playing first on a full or part-time basis is just not very satisfying for me.
But speaking of first base, the only talk I hear is the potential acquisition of first baseman Lyle Overbay from the Boston Red Sox. Overbay can opt out of his deal this week and that would put him at the forefront of Yankees’ attention.
None of these acquisitions will give anyone illusions of a championship.
At some point, the Yankees are going to have to just blow it up and start over…
This is the time of hard cuts. I saw today that the Cleveland Indians cut Daisuke Matsuzaka. Okay, I don’t consider that a hard cut, but there will be notable names mentioned in the coming days. It is hard to believe that the Yankees will be powering up Yankee Stadium just one short week from tomorrow. As for the Yankees, I remain hopeful that both Ben Francisco and Brennan Boesch will travel north with the club despite the apparent acquisition of Vernon Wells. While I’ve been pulling for Boesch, I have to say that Francisco has played well enough to start at least as part of a platoon. I seriously doubt that Travis Hafner and Kevin Youkilis will make it through the season injury-free so at some point, Wells will probably start to take the majority of the at-bats at DH.
I guess there should be plenty of drama this week as MLB teams shape up their opening day rosters.
It’s just a number…
As a Minnesota Vikings fan, I am still trying to wrap my head around Greg Jennings playing for the Vikings. After Darren Sharper, Ryan Longwell, and Brett Favre, I should be used to this. Jennings may not have the athleticism of departed slot receiver Percy Harvin, but if healthy, he is a weapon. It’s interesting that he selected #15. I can’t say that I can remember another Viking who wore the number although I am sure a few have. Of course, #15 for me is always going to be Thurman Munson but that’s a different sport. Greg Childs currently holds Jennings’ Packer number, #85. After missing his first season due to injury, I can’t say that his grasp on #85 is very strong. Perhaps Jennings is just biding his time until he can retrieve #85. Childs’ childhood friend and lifelong teammate, Jarius Wright, is clearly the favorite to fill Harvin’s role.
Part of me wants the Vikings to sign former Chicago Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, but of course, the sensible part of me only wants guys that can be part of the future as the door is starting to open for the Vikings again as a play-off contender. I would like to see the Vikings to find a way to bring Antoine Winfield back to purple and gold. I have faith in the younger guys and GM Rick Spielman has shown that he knows a thing or two about the NFL Draft so I am sure the secondary will be addressed next month. I am anxious to see what Josh Robinson is capable of, but it would be nice to have Winfield to help the transition.
I like the job that Leslie Frazier has done with the Vikings and I am hopeful that it will lead to a long-term contract.
Next month is a big sports month. Opening day in Major League Baseball and the NFL Draft. It should be a very fun time. And for my friends in the East and Midwest, it should mean a little less snow…
Grace and dignity…
Unfortunately, this day was inevitable. Father Time catches up with everyone, including the greatest closer in the history of Major League Baseball.
Saturday, the great Mariano Rivera confirmed the speculation of the last few days. The 2013 season will be his final one as the champion of the 9th inning at Yankee Stadium.
Mo has been my favorite Yankee since the time he was the “lights-out” set up guy for closer John Wetteland in the 1996 season. Wetteland was effective, but there were always a few anxious moments. Rivera, on the other hand, completely dominated the hitters prior to turning the ball over to Wetteland. There were so many times that I had wished manager Joe Torre would have stayed with Rivera rather than pulling him for Wetteland. While it was Rivera’s talent and ability that caught my attention, it was his character…full of grace, dignity, and professionalism…that has made me an enduring fan all these years.
Rivera has taught so many over the years how to forget life’s failures and how to enjoy its successes without gloating or antagonizing opponents. He has always respected the game and never once in his career has he placed himself above the game or above others.
Relievers have had their struggles gaining acceptance into the Hall of Fame, but in my mind, Rivera should be a first ballot entry.
It was appropriate that Mo wore the number #42. As the final active player to wear the number after it was retired league-wide, he has upheld the legacy of Jackie Robinson…perhaps better than anyone else could have. Jackie endured far more challenges and difficulties than I’ll ever be able to fully comprehend, but he paved the path for others including Mariano Rivera to succeed. Mo embodies the depth of character that Jackie Robinson had and it is tremendous that #42 hanging in Memorial Park will stand for two of the greatest men in baseball’s long history.
It has been a privilege to call Mo my favorite player for so many years. As I think back upon my life as a Yankees fan, it was Jim “Catfish” Hunter who first attracted me to the Yankees when he signed as a free agent in 1974, along with my high regard for the legendary Lou Gehrig. Once a Yankees fan, my favorite player quickly changed to the heart and soul of the team…catcher Thurman Munson. I have always loved to see passion in doing what you enjoy, and Thurman was certainly as fiery and passionate as they come. The 1976 World Series still stands out to me. Although the Yankees were swept by the Cincinnati Reds, it wasn’t because of Munson, who hit over .500 in the series. If the rest of the team could have matched Munson’s intensity that year, they would have defeated the Big Red Machine.
After Thurman’s untimely death in 1979 (a day that I will always vividly remember, like so many Yankee fans), Rich “Goose” Gossage became my favorite player. After a few years, he had moved on to the San Diego Padres as a free agent. But by that time, Don Mattingly had become my favorite player. Donnie Baseball was one of the great ones and it’s unfortunate that back problems caused the premature end of his production and subsequently career. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’d be in the Hall of Fame if he had been able to sustain his production for a few more years. Donnie Baseball will always be a favorite and he’s the reason that I consider the Los Angeles Dodgers to be my favorite NL team. When Mattingly retired after the 1995 play-off loss to the Seattle Mariners, I became a Mariano Rivera fan.
As I look to life beyond 2013, I cannot say that any one player stands out as a potential favorite player. But as history has proven to me, the door will open for the next great Yankees superstar to take the stage.
None of this is meant to knock Derek Jeter. He has been a terrific player for so many years and can match Rivera in depth and quality of character stride for stride. He’ll be taking his place in Cooperstown one day, but for me, this day is about Mariano Rivera. Enter the Sandman…Exit the Legend.
I look forward to watching Mo for one more season. Regardless of the outcome, he is a champion…
Nobody was the right fielder…
I was surprised that nobody was elected to the Hall of Fame for the Class of 2013. Count me among those who feel no consideration should have been given to the players accused or who have admitted steroid use.
There no circumstances that I would have supported putting Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens into the Hall. From the sounds of it, it is the consensus of the HOF members. However, I am probably not as hard line as Rich “Goose” Gossage who said “If they let these guys in ever — at any point — it’s a black eye fo rthe Hall and for baseball”. I do believe there will be a day when Bond, Clemens and other suspected users should be given consideration. With Barry, I realize that ‘roids changed his physique and surely powered a few homers. However, his terrific hand-eye coordination was his own and not something derived through PED’s.
Same with Clemens. He was a great pitcher from the start. Maybe PED’s extended the career, but the ability to leave batters befuddled at the plate, mix up his pitches and play to the batters’ weaknesses was never drug induced. Baseball has seen too many guys who could throw a baseball 100 mph but couldn’t harness the control to save their lives. Clemens knew where to place his pitches and it was his natural ability that made him a star, not his suspected PED use.
I am not sure how long they should be excluded for the Hall but personally I would not want to see them allowed to enter for at least 5 years. Admittedly, I am also in favor of Pete Rose’s entry to the Hall but I suspect that one won’t happen until Pete has met his maker.
The sad part about this entire issue is the presence of suspected and possibly undetected cheaters in the current HOF enshrinement.
As for the 2013 votes, Craig Biggio deserved to get into the Hall. But I am not convinced he was a first ballot HOFer. So I think 2014 will be his year as he will be enshrined at some point.
I did not believe that Bernie Williams was a legitimate Hall of Famer but it was still sad to see him make his final unsuccessful attempt. Given the Yankees have not re-issued #51 or #21 (for Paul O’Neill), it is very likely they will be enshrined in Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park. That certainly makes for a nice consolation prize. I still see votes for Don Mattingly. I would absolutely love to see Donnie Baseball make the Hall but realistically I do not believe it will happen. Yet, he continues to garner sufficient votes to remain on the ballot. Mattingly was my favorite player and has reached the status of my favorite manager. I hope the expectations for the Los Angeles Dodgers, the newly adorned salary champions of baseball, do not become too overwhelming for Donnie to succeed. If given the time and support, he will win a championship.
Much ado about something?…
Back to the Yankees, I think the Yanks should aggressively pursue Michael Morse of the Washington Nationals. His bat would fit nicely into right field. I would be inclined to move Ichiro Suzuki to left, and move Brett Gardner for prospects. Morse is the kind of guy that I’d love to see the Yankees pursue.
Today was cold by Northern CA standards. Yeah, to the Cheeseheads of Wisconsin in town for the NFL play-off game between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers might beg to differ but I was shivering. If there is a reason I left my beloved Minneapolis, this might be it. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…….
Going up or going down?…
About 20 games into the season and the Yankees are barely closer to first place than they are last place. Only two games separate the Yankees from the dismal start by the Boston Red Sox but of course the Sox are playing better as of late. It’s only April so at this point, the standings don’t really mean too much as the superior AL East teams will begin to separate themselves from the pretenders over the course of the next couple of months.
It was nice to see the Yankees pull off a walk-off win at Yankee Stadium last night against the team that seems to terrorize them in the play-offs in recent years, the Detroit Tigers. I am really surprised that Justin Verlander holds an 0-2 mark with 4.50 ERA for his career at the new Yankee Stadium. When he is on the mound, it is hard not to expect bad things for the home team. So, regardless of Verlander’s struggles at Yankee Stadium, it is still a great feeling to pick up a win on a night when he took the mound.
Cashman made the right decision…
Lately, there have been numerous columns and articles written about how disastrous the Yankees trade for Michael Pineda has become. I realize that he’s lost for the season due to his shoulder injury, but he is still a young and talented pitcher. I know there’s always a risk that he isn’t quite the pitcher was projected to be when he comes back, but I think it’s way too early to criticize the trade which sent talented hitter Jesus Montero to Seattle. Pineda’s injury was suffered on the Yankees’ watch and not while he was in Seattle, and there is still a good chance that he’s a strong, contributing part of next year’s rotation.
Phil Hughes is probably the beneficiary of Pineda’s injury as I feel that Freddy Garcia will be the odd man out when Andy Pettitte returns to the Bronx. Hughes hasn’t exactly pitched like he wants to stay, but I am not ready to see the Yankees banish him to Pittsburgh or someplace like that. Maybe I am an eternal optimist but I still believe that Hughes can prosper in New York.
I am a bit concerned by the uneven starts provided by new Yankee Hiroki Kuroda, but I think he’ll settle in and deliver consistent performances in the coming weeks and months. Yes, I do thank the lucky stars every day for CC Sabathia.
A sad day in the Yankees Universe…
I was saddened to hear the passing of Yankees great Bill “Moose” Skowron yesterday. He was part of the 1961 Yankees which will always be a special team in Yankees history for the famed M&M Boys (the year Mickey Mantle hit 54 home runs, and Roger Maris hit the then record 61 homers). But there’s no way either Mickey or Roger could have reached those heights without guys like Skowron on the roster.
Next stop, Superstardom…
Well, the Bryce Harper Show begins its maiden tour in Washington with the scheduled first start today for the ultra-hyped, super prospect National. Given that he was called up to take the roster spot of injured 3B Ryan Zimmerman, there’s always the chance that Harper goes back down when Zimmerman returns from the DL. But if Harper starts to hit like we know he will, it will be hard for the Nats to remove him from the roster. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. America loves superstars and Harper certainly has as much of a chance to be the best as anyone in the game today.
When Christian Ponder and Adrian Peterson are happy, so am I…
It’s only been three rounds, but I am pleased with the NFL draft selections made by the Minnesota Vikings. Prior to the draft, my preference for the Vikings #3 pick in the first round was USC OT Matt Kalil. There was talk that the Vikings were undecided among Kalil, CB Morris Claiborne, and WR Justin Blackmon, but in the end, it proved to be a smokescreen. I was a bit anxious when I first heard the Vikings had traded down with the Cleveland Browns, but it was clear that the Browns were going after RB Trent Richardson so there was no risk of losing Kalil off the board. At first, I didn’t understand the logic of the move, but clearly the Vikings (and GM Rick Spielman) had made the Browns fearful they’d trade down with another team which could potentially cost the Browns a shot at the premier running back in the draft. The move brought three late round picks to the Vikings and it didn’t cost them anything as they were focused on Kalil from the start.
I also like the Vikings’ subsequent picks (late first round selection of S Harrison Smith and early third round choice of speedy CB Josh Robinson). For a team that was desperate of upgrades in the secondary, they fared well. It would have been nice if Robinson were a bit taller, but his 4.33 speed at the Combines was unmatched. I think he’s good material for the coaching staff to mold for playing at this level. The Vikings have a plethora of selections today as Rounds 4-7 are completed, and I am sure that the defense will continue to get attention. I also expect the Vikings to choose a wide receiver, but I have no idea who they might target. Nevertheless, with Spielman’s decisions so far, I have no doubt that he’ll continue to bring talented playmakers to Minnesota.
As Luck would have it…
Like everyone else, I think that QB Andrew Luck has the potential to be one of the greats in the game but how much more difficult can it be to be replacing one of the greatest QB’s to play the game with added pressure of being the number one selection in the NFL Draft (along with the expectations that go with it)? If Luck succeeds, and I do not doubt that he will, he will prove, without a doubt, that he was the right choice to replace Manning. Luck, with a horseshoe on his helmet, seems like it was destiny. Meanwhile, I continue to “ponder” things in Minnesota…
Today, with Yankees-Tigers on tap and the conclusion of the NFL Draft, will be a fun day. Enjoy!
Two out of three ain’t bad!…
The trend continues. The Yankees have played three series so far this young season, and have won two out of three in each. The schedule makers were very unkind to the Yankees as they pitted their top 3 foes to start the season. Fortunately, the results have been very favorable. I realize that there are many games to be played but given the Yankees are historically slow starters, at least in recent years; this season has gotten off to a great start.
Tonight, despite an inability to get Hideki Matsui out, the Yankees prevailed against the Los Angeles Angels, 6-2. The game saw the return of Angels starter Scott Kazmir (fresh off the DL) and starter-turned 8th inning setup guy-turned starter Phil Hughes. The Yankees made it a short night for Kazmir (4 innings, 6 runs) but Hughes did struggle somewhat with his control as he gave up 5 walks and was gone in the 6th with no outs. He did strike out 6 and only gave up 3 hits and 2 runs in picking up the win.
Robinson Cano was the star of the game with 2 tremendous home runs. Derek Jeter also contributed with a homer and 2 RBI’s. I don’t think Curtis Granderson will need an adjustment period. He has already shown that he likes being a Yankee and his two triples tonight were fantastic. Meanwhile, I am getting a bit tired of seeing goose eggs next to Mark Teixeira’s name but fortunately April will soon be over. Mariano Rivera, as efficient as ever, came on to pick up his 4th save in relief of Joba Chamberlain. I have to admit, there was some satisfaction that it was Bobby Abreu who grounded out to end the game. A good win and a good series…
Tim Farrell/The Star Ledger
Now, the Yankees await the arrival of the Texas Rangers for a weekend series in the Bronx. What can CC Sabathia do to follow up on the one-hit performance in his previous start? All is well at 161st and River…
I will admit that Javier Vazquez has had a rough start in his reunion with the Yankees. He is 0-2 with a 9.82 ERA. However, I am not so sure he deserved to be booed as he walked off the mound during Wednesday’s 5-3 loss to the Angels. I’d really like to see a few more starts before fans rush to judgment. If you want a player to be the best that he can be, boos and cat calls are probably not the answer. Save those for Fenway Park or Tropicana Field. In Yankee Stadium, the fans should be united in their support of the players. If a player is bad or ill-suited for New York so be it, but 2 games does not a season make! Back off and give Javy some room. He’ll be fine…
Today was Jackie Robinson Day around Major League Baseball as players honored the late Dodgers great by wearing his jersey number (42) which was previously retired throughout baseball except for those players who wore the number at the time.
Barton Silverman/The New York Times
The last player to wear 42 in either league is, of course, the great Mariano Rivera. As Mo so eloquently put it, “It’s a privilege, an honor to be the last one to wear 42; it’s a blessing for me. I definitely have a job to do to represent him well.” Mo, I think you’ve succeeded. Here’s to Jackie Robinson and how he changed baseball for the better.
The end of an era…
Simmons/NY Daily News
The “Voice of God” has finally called it a career. Bob Sheppard, 99, announced earlier today that he was finally retiring since he no longer had the stamina needed to return to his job as the PA announcer at Yankee Stadium. Sheppard was last heard “live” at the old Yankee Stadium in 2007.
Health issues have kept Sheppard from returning the last couple of years, and at his age, he finally decided that he’ll never be strong enough to resume his duties. Paul Olden, who took over for Sheppard, will continue as the Yankees PA announcer.
Sheppard began his career at Yankee Stadium on April 17, 1951. It’s amazing how many great Yankee players have heard their names called by Sheppard. Sheppard’s first game was the final opening day game for Yankee great Joe DiMaggio.
I am very thankful that I was able to hear the great voice of Bob Sheppard at many Yankee games over the years. Derek Jeter continues to play a recording of Sheppard’s voice at each at-bat, so his voice will continue to resonate throughout the new Yankee Stadium despite never having set foot there.
Bob Sheppard will always be remembered as one of the Yankee Legends. I wish him much happiness and joy in his final years.
Shelley Duncan has joined the rank of ex-Yankees. He refused an assignment to AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre after being dropped from the Yankees 40-man roster. I would like to see a team give Duncan the opportunity to play at the major league level. He has earned the right with his play and work ethic.
Caffalo/NY Daily News
Happy Thanksgiving to all!