I was never a fan of good-byes…
Sadly, the 2013 Major League Baseball Season has come to an end. Well, at least for the New York Yankees. It was an eventful final week that saw a farewell to the great Mariano Rivera that was unmatched by any I have seen in recent years or even during my lifetime. Mo’s final game at Yankee Stadium turned out to be the final game of his professional career as he chose not to pitch during the season-ending series in Houston to preserve his Bronx goodbye as the final exit for a storied and soon to be Hall of Fame career.
I have been a Mariano Rivera fan since the days when he set up John Wetteland in the bullpen. His 7th and 8th inning appearances before the cardiac appearances by Wetteland were electric. The ball seemed to come screaming with blazing speed yet Mo seemed so effortless in letting the ball leave his hand. He made it look easy, and for the length of his career, he proved he was just a little better than everyone else. Sure, there were a few hiccups along the way. A couple of key blown saves in critical games, but these were few and far between. His success rate was far superior to any failures, and in those failures, you knew that Mo had left his all.
Looking back, I certainly have no regrets. It was an honor and privilege to be a Yankees fan and to witness the career of the latest Yankees legend. He’ll be someone that my grandchildren will be talking about, and I can say that I saw him pitch from the beginning to the end. Mo showed how special it was to play for one team, and he is forever embedded into Yankees lore. Ichiro Suzuki will be immortalized in Cooperstown one day as a Seattle Mariner, but Seattle will never be able to call Ichiro exclusively their own. They may have had his best years, but he still is playing his final years as a Yankee, not a Mariner. Fortunately, we never had to see Mo in another uniform or his former catcher, Jorge Posada.
I have been a Yankees fan since 1974 when free agent Jim “Catfish” Hunter, then my favorite pitcher, signed with the Yankees. I had grown up very intrigued by the Yankees with their great history and tradition. Those early 70’s were still a tough time for the Yankees organization, but they were about to turn the corner following the acquisition of the team by George Steinbrenner and his partners. To digress, I always loved the quote “There is nothing in life quite so limited as being a limited partner of George Steinbrenner”. This quote is attributed to former Yankees minority owner and later Houston Astros owner John McMullen. The first baseball biography I recall reading when I was little was a book about Lou Gehrig, and I’ve been a fan of his ever since. So, when Catfish made the decision to join the Yankees, it was very easy for me to follow.
During the course of my Yankees fandom, I’ve considered the following players to be my favorite Yankees. Hunter, Thurman Munson, Rich “Goose” Gossage, Don Mattingly, and Mariano Rivera. All those years and I can still count my favorite active Yankees on one hand, well until today with Rivera’s retirement. That doesn’t mean I don’t respect other Yankees over the years, these guys just happened to be my personal favorites at the time they played.
Being someone who appreciates history and tradition, I’ve always felt that Rivera was the perfect man to take Jackie Robinson’s number to retirement for the final time. Mo proved that he had the character to stand with greatness, and he served the legacy of Jackie Robinson very proudly and understood its significance. I am glad that the last guy out of baseball with #42 wasn’t some thug just trying to hang on to a lost career, with rumors of a steroid past. He wears #13. Okay, sorry, I didn’t mean that, or maybe I did, but you get the point. Jackie Robinson was a great man who dealt with more adversity than any of us will ever knew. He did it while turning the other cheek and proving he was the better man. He did this while carving out a Hall of Fame career on the field. If there was a man who deserved to have his number retired across baseball, it was Robinson, and if there was a man who deserved to be the final one to walk off the field with it, it was Mo. The Baseball Gods made sure this one played out like it was supposed to.
Mo, we thank you for simply being you. You did it your way, and you never strived to be anything other than what you were. You proved better than most in shaking off the game’s failures and you never gloated in its successes. You were proud of your teammates and respectful of your opponents. Baseball needs you, and I hope that this is just the beginning as you move into the next phase of your career. I am proud, very proud, when I say that I am a Mariano Rivera fan. He exceeded my wildest expectations and he leaves as the best ever at his position. He deserves to be a first ballot entry to the Hall of Fame. Anything less is unacceptable. He was ours and he proved he belongs to the Hall like no other that I’ve personally witnessed during my lifetime. Farewell, Mo. This is not the end, but simply the closing of one chapter and the opening of the next.
AP Photo (courtesy of LoHud Yankees Blog)
The gaze from under the brim of his cat…
While the focus of this post is Rivera, I would be remiss for not saying thanks to Andy Pettitte. Time and again, he stopped losing streaks and he was clutch when it mattered most (October). He never had the brilliant stuff of Felix Hernandez or Roy Halladay, but he was a winner. His passion showed and he was a champion. It was tough watching him leave via free agency for those three years in Houston, but I am glad he came back. Even during his time in Houston, you’d hear stories about how Andy still followed the Yankees. He is part of the Yankees family and history and always will be. It was so very fitting that his final game was a complete game win in his hometown of Houston. A bit ironic that the opponent was named Clemens (Paul Clemens, no relation to Roger). For the final game of the season, Roger Clemens did make an appearance to wish farewell to Mariano, and he gave Andy a hug. There has been a lot of mudslinging between the former close friends and regardless of what Roger may have or have not done, I was glad to see the small reconciliation. Baseball is greater than any one of us, and at the end of the day, Clemens, Pettitte, and Rivera were teammates and they represented the our team. I fully expect to see all three at future Old Timer’s Day games and I am hopeful that old scars can be healed and that the game itself can move forward.
Back to Andy, he will be a hard act to follow. When you look at the Yankees pitching staff, there is not one that can match Andy’s heart. CC Sabathia appears to be on the downside of his career, Hiroki Kuroda could very well head to Japan for his final season or two, Phil Hughes has worn the pinstripes for the last time, Ivan Nova is a roller-coaster and the jury is still out on David Huff. Next season will be one of transition and it is unfortunate that we’ll no longer have Andy as an anchor to the rotation. Andy’s ceiling was never as a #1 pitcher. He came to the major leagues with question marks, but he left as one of its greatest post-season performers. We were lucky to call Andy one of our own, and I am glad that he was never dealt away in one of those knee-jerk type of trades that we saw during the George Steinbrenner regime. Sorry, George, I miss you but you gotta admit that some of those trades left a little bit to be desired…
Getting back on track, Andy leaves the game being able to stand shoulder to shoulder with the greatest lefty in Yankees’ history, the Chairman of the Board, Whitey Ford. The Core Four (Rivera, Pettitte, Jorge Posada, and Derek Jeter) did an excellent job in reaching the pinnacle of their positions in franchise history. Posada may not have matched Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey or Thurman Munson, but he can stand in the same room. DJ is obviously one of the greatest shortstops in the team’s history (along with Phil Rizzuto). For a team so stacked in history and tradition, four contemporary players reaching the upper echelon is amazing. It is the end of a terrific Yankees era, and as much as I hate to see Derek Jeter go out with an injury filled career, I would prefer for him to leave now rather than to come back next year for what most likely will be a year of reduced relevance on the roster.
What does the future hold?…
I really do not know what to expect next year. At the moment, it is uncertain if Robinson Cano or Curtis Granderson will be back. Joe Girardi is talking about needing time to decide if he wants to come back which is not a good sign in my opinion. Mark Texeira will be back next year, but he is deteriorating as he ages. I am not sure that CC can get back to being the dominant pitcher he once was, and the line-up is filled with age and injury-susceptible players. The farm system at the upper levels is weak, at best. While many of said that this has been a great year of managing by Joe Girardi, I’d argue that it has not been one of Brian Cashman’s best years. I do not know how much he has been constrained by ownership, but the 10 wins that the team could have used this season could have been acquired through smart and strategic moves. The farm system is very lacking at the upper levels and I know that injuries have played a part, but at some point, Cashman has to be held accountable. Like fine wine, it is harvest season except the Yankees do not have anything to harvest. They’ll have to overpay and to give up too much young talent to field a championship squad next season. Unfortunately, neither makes sense even for the Yankees, so it feels as though we are in the midst of an era of transition. Hopefully, greatness will be waiting on the other side…
The House that Hal…allowed deferred maintenance…
The season is fully underway and the DL is standing room only. 2013 did not get off to a great start with the season series opening loss to the Boston Red Sox, in Yankee Stadium no less. It was par for the course after an off-season that was satisfying, apparently, for Yankee ownership but not for its fans.
The series loss cost me my latest wager with former MLB Blogger Julia’s Rants. As a penalty for the loss, I have to read Terry Francona’s autobiography and provide Julia with my report. Had the Yankees won, she would have had to read Driving Mr Yogi, but it was not meant to be. I have the Francona book and I need to open it but I guess I can procrastinate for another day.
Fortunately, after the series loss to the Red Sox and one to the Detroit Tigers, the Yankees have started to right the ship. After tonight’s win over the Baltimore Orioles (which, by the way, included a triple play), the Yanks finally have a winning record for the season at 5-4.
Nevertheless, the injury concerns persist. While the news lately has been positive about Mark Teixeira and his ability to return on or around May 1st, Andy Pettitte has postponed his next start due to back spasms. This is unfortunate as Andy has been stellar out of the gate. Hopefully, it is just a temporary setback and not indicative of a season long affliction.
I am not ready to climb on the ‘old guys are good’ bandwagon, but Vernon Wells and Travis Hafner have played better than I had anticipated. The key is continuance and consistency so we’ll see. Check back with me in June or July. In a scenario where Wells and Hafner continue to hit, it will be interesting to see what the Yankees do when Curtis Granderson returns. It’s fairly evident that the odd man out would be Ichiro Suzuki.
It was tough to see two games in Cleveland get rained out considering the Yankees did not have any further trips to Cleveland scheduled this year. So, later on what would have been an off-day, they’ll have to play a double-header. Hopefully it doesn’t come at a time when the team desperately needs a break. I guess it could be worse. I saw that tonight’s game in Minneapolis was in the 30’s. Minnesota-cold is beyond cold in other parts of the country. But throwing that aside, I do miss Minneapolis. It was a wonderful city to live in…at least from my perspective.
As tough as the Yankees’ schedule is for April, I wouldn’t be surprised if they got swept at the end of the month by the Houston Astros…
How to destroy $147 million with a single shoulder blow…
I feel bad for Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. Thanks to the stupidity of San Diego Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin, the Dodgers loose their $147 million investment (Zack Greinke) for eight weeks with a broken collarbone as a result of last night’s melee. As if the pressure wasn’t already intense on Donnie Baseball, the loss of an ace will certainly hurt. It’s rather disgusting that Quentin can get off with an 8-game suspension when he costs the Dodgers several months of one of their key pitchers. I can completely understand why the Chicago White Sox ditched Quentin.
Random Pinstripe Thoughts…
Nothing against Lyle Overbay but I suspect his Yankees career will be fairly short. Francisco Cervelli has done better than I had expected…so far. I am still a proponent for getting Austin Romine into the position when he’s ready but I don’t think Cervelli has been a drop-off from his predecessor, Russell Martin. I was glad to see Clay Rapada clear waivers and re-sign with the Yankees. I am in favor of a long-term Yankees tour for Brennan Boesch. Eduardo Nunez is not the solution for a post-Derek Jeter tenure. Give Robinson Cano his money. If Travis Hafner can hit like he did against his former team in other games, I will consider him an upgrade over former DH Raul Ibanez. If not, why is Ibanez in Seattle? Kevin Youkilis is as tough as advertised. I can see why the Red Sox fans loved the guy.
Baseball, I am glad it’s back…
Maybe the Yanks should be spending some extra cash on PowerBall…
I get that $200 million is a lot of money, and the Yankees have been the only team to play in that neighborhood “salary-wise” until the Los Angeles Dodgers joined the party. But I am surprised to hear Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner making comments about the disbelief in fan reaction to the team’s non-activity outside of re-signing its key free agents. Yes, that point is huge. Re-signing Huroki Kuroda, Ichiro Suzuki and Andy Pettitte were essential to the team’s hopes for 2013 so I do not dispute the importance of the team taking care of those players. While I like the signings of 3B Kevin Youkilis and DH Travis Hafner, there are huge injury risks prevalent with both players. I could be wrong but I doubt either player gives the Yankees at least 140 games this year.
My point and frustration with the Yankees ownership is the loss of free agents catcher Russell Martin to the Pittsburgh Pirates and right fielder Nick Swisher to the Cleveland Indians. Catching is left to a couple of career back-ups, including one recently associated with PED rumors, unless touted prospect Austin Romine can step it up and make his presence felt in the Bronx sooner rather than later. In right field, the Yankees do have Ichiro but he’s not getting any younger. He certainly won’t provide the pop that Swisher could. He’ll make more happen on the base paths, but isn’t that what Brett Gardner is for? Sometimes, a team needs to make a move to excite the fan base. I do not equate that to throwing money away to satisfy the fans, but making calculated, smart moves that give the team something to build upon.
As it stands, the possibility the Yankees lose Robinson Cano to free agency is high. Yes, ownership makes the comments about how they want him to be a Yankee for life. However, I seriously doubt the organization is going to give an 8 to 10 year deal to a 30-year old veteran player even if he is the team’s best player. We have A-Rod to thank for making ownership a bit gun shy, and rightfully so. I think the single biggest detriment to keeping the Yankees from winning the World Series in the next few years is A-Rod. If you could take those dollars and invest them in better, cheaper resources, the team would be much stronger and the goal of coming in under $189 million next year would be possible.
If catching is a debacle and the older Yankees show their age, this is going to be a very long season. Personally, I think this will be Manager Joe Girardi’s most challenging year. He’ll be riding the hot seat all year long, especially if the Yankees get off to a sluggish start in April. It is a given that Mark Teixeira’s bat won’t show up until around Memorial Day so I am fearful the team will become too dependent on guys like Youk and Hafner which could overexpose them and increase the likelihood of injury. Now would be the time for infielder Eduardo Nunez to step up in a huge way…
The argument can be made that every team in the AL East has the ability to play better than .500 ball, and all have the wherewithal to win the division outright. My guess, at this point, is the division goes to the Toronto Blue Jays, leaving the Yanks, Red Sox, Orioles and Rays to fight it out for a Wild Card spot.
But it’s a long season, and there is always the potential the Yankees do make the necessary moves to ensure a strong chance for October success.
The Giambino back in the AL…
I saw a report this morning that former Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi has signed a $750,000 minor league deal and invitation to training camp with the Cleveland Indians. It seems a bit strange to see Giambi on a team managed by Terry Francona, but if used in the right way, Giambi could help the Indians. As the Toby Keith song goes, “I ain’t as good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was”. While I think Giambi should have retired, I am sure that he’ll begin his coaching career soon enough and it’s not a bad idea to learn a trick or two from one of the better managers in baseball.
It’s just a number…
Although the Yankees active roster on MLB.com has not been updated, it looks like Kevin Youkilis is going to wear #36. I would have preferred to see the team dust off Jorge Posada’s #20 given that was Youk’s number in Boston. I am not trying to be disrespectful to Jorge, but I’ve never been a big fan of retired numbers unless the guy was an absolute legend like Babe Ruth or Lou Gehrig. Posada had a great career, but I simply do not put him in the same category with catching greats Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra or Thurman Munson. With all the retired and reserved Yankee numbers, it is inevitable that many players will be joining Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain in the 60’s or higher.
Time to head to Florida and Arizona…
With all the snow Boston has received this weekend, it’s hard to believe that baseball training camps start to open this week. It feels much more like baseball weather where I sit in California as temps are expected to reach the 70’s this week, but for my friends in Boston, I am hoping all are safe and warm. It was a good thing that Truck Day happened before the weather emergency. Even as a Yankees fan, I would never wish ill will on the Red Sox or their fans. As they say, you have to beat the best to be the best and I wouldn’t want it to be any other way.
Why not dream big?…
Admittedly, I keep hoping the Yankees announce the acquisition of a proven slugger for right field, but the realist in me knows that the Yankees are truly serious about getting salaries beneath $189 million by next year.
I’ve also come to realize that whenever the Yankees are publicly attached to a certain player through rumors or expressed interest, those deals rarely come to fruition. Such was the case with Washington Nationals first baseman/outfielder Michael Morse who was subsequently dealt to the Seattle Mariners. I thought Morse would have been a good replacement for the departed Nick Swisher, but the Yankees obviously felt the cost in terms of prospects was too much. Of the remaining options, there’s always the chance that GM Brian Cashman can parlay his good relationship with Arizona Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers into a deal for outfielder Justin Upton. I am really not enamored with other possibilities like Vernon Wells.
I guess I am still waiting for that next Paul O’Neill type of deal to bring a fixture to right for years to come…
What if Boston’s acquisition of A-Rod had come true so many years ago…
Before I write these next words, please know that I am not a fan of Alex Rodriguez. Therefore, my words about him will always be jaded. My personal opinion is that A-Rod was as immersed into PED’s as the newly admitted doper Lance Armstrong. I look forward to the day when A-Rod no longer wears the pinstripes. When the reports about A-Rod’s ailing hip came to light, there were comments by his doctor that it was directly attributable to his poor play late last season. But today, the news headline is that the cartilage damage was “less than expected”. So, of course, my immediate thought was maybe the hip had nothing to do with A-Rod’s performance…he just tanked it as he always does in pressure situations. The man who lives for his own personal stats is not a friend of mine and certainly not someone I want on my team.
Yogi Berra’s heir-apparent…
I am very pleased to see Jorge Posada accepting an invitation to spring training as a guest instructor. There’s no doubt his exit from the Yankees could have been handled much better, but it is time to make amends and to embrace Jorge as a Yankees Legend. Without question, the uncertainty of the 2013 starting catcher is a great opportunity for Jorge to mentor the right candidate for the job. I think the starter will be Francisco Cervelli or Cervelli in a platoon with another catcher. As much as I like Austin Romine, it’s just not quite his time yet. Welcome back to the fold, Jorge! Hip-hip, Jorge!
Andy, just say “no”…
I know that Andy Pettitte has not committed to the WBC or Team USA yet, but I really hope that it does not happen. I am not convinced that the Yankees can get an entire season out of Pettitte who missed part of last year due to injury. I do feel that 2013 most likely will be Andy’s last season so I hope that we can get the best possible Andy for his swan song.
I guess Jenny Craig does work…
After seeing all those photos of “fat” Derek a month or so ago, it’s clear from current photos that he’s in pristine condition and ready to take the field. Derek has never been my favorite player (sorry, but Mariano Rivera has held that position since 1996), but he’s a future Hall of Famer and his number will be between Billy Martin and Babe Ruth in Monument Park after his playing days are over. Derek has impressed me with many things over the years but his renaissance after talk he was declining shows how truly special the player is. I have trust in DJ to know that when his time comes, he will walk away. He will never be a burden to the Yankees roster…unlike his teammate to his right.
Back to A-Rod, I really hope that Kevin Youkilis holds third base for the entire season…
My favorite manager is…
I can’t help but think the stars are aligning perfectly for Don Mattingly to return to the Yankees as manager. I do like Joe Girardi and I’d be in favor of an extension, but the Yankees’ sudden budget conservatism places the Yankees in a potential “letdown” season. If the team loses, can Girardi hold his job? Meanwhile, baseball’s new salary leaders, the Los Angeles Dodgers, have soared expectations to unimagined heights. So, if the Dodgers underachieve, is Mattingly a potential fatality? Mattingly has become a good manager so if the circumstances yield a result with Girardi unemployed and Donnie Baseball available, is #23 the next manager of the Yankees? It could certainly happen. As a huge Donnie Baseball fan, I’d like to see this outcome. Sorry Joe…
Spring training is getting closer and closer. I am ready…
“It ain’t over ‘til it’s over”…
There is a reason that Mariano Rivera has been my favorite Yankee for a very long time. I know that Derek Jeter is a quality guy and a favorite of many, but for me, Mariano Rivera has always been the premier player in my opinion. It doesn’t mean that I feel Jeter’s not a great player…he is. He is most likely a first ballot Hall of Famer and will go down as the greatest shortstop in Yankees history (with no disrespect to Phil Rizzuto). But Rivera has always handled himself with dignity and class, and he’s always been accountable when things have gone wrong. He has never disrespected another player or team, nor has he placed blame anywhere but with himself. He hasn’t always been perfect, but he’s clearly the best closer in major league history (with no disrespect to Goose Gossage).
I have been dreading the day when Rivera walks off the field as a player for the final time. But I never dreamed that, potentially, his final moment would be inability to walk off the field under his own power. It was very disheartening to see the pre-game injury when Rivera tore the ACL in his knee this week against the Kansas City Royals. I kept hoping for the best when I first heard the news, but it is now known that he’ll miss the remainder of the season. Given that he is 42, the road to recovery is going to harder than if he was still in his 30’s. Nevertheless, withn 24 hours, Rivera was saying that he wasn’t going to go out like this and that he’d be back next season after much speculation this might be his final season prior to the injury.
If Mo says that he’ll back, I am fully confident that he will be. I am sad that we won’t see #42 come out of the bullpen for the rest of the year, but I look forward to next season when Mo perhaps takes the final lap in what has been a legendary career. I will always be appreciative that Rivera wore pinstripes, from beginning to end, and he’ll remain one of my favorites in the history of the storied franchise.
That first step is a doozy…
David Robertson has big shoes to fill as he steps into the closer’s role but I have faith and confidence in his abilities. I hope that Rafael Soriano is up to the challenge of making a positive impact as he slides back into the role of primary setup man. Just as Andy Pettitte has become a much more needed pitcher than he was when it was announced he was going to pitch this year, the need for the return to good health for Joba Chamberlain is equally important. I am glad that one of Manager Joe Girardi’s strengths is his ability to work the bullpen so I continue to view the Yankees relief corps as a strong unit despite Rivera’s absence.
A few favorites…
With Rivera as my favorite current Yankee player, it made me think of my other favorites:
- Favorite living former Yankee: Don Mattingly
- Favorite former Yankee who played during my lifetime: Thurman Munson
- Favorite all-time player: Lou Gehrig
- Favorite manager: Billy Martin (followed closely by Joe Torre)
- Favorite owner: George Steinbrenner
- Favorite current Yankee (excluding Rivera): Robinson Cano
- Favorite Yankees team: 1998 Yankees (closely followed by 1927 Yankees)
There are many other players that I will always have special feelings for…most notably, pitcher Jim “Catfish” Hunter, for whom I attribute to why I am a Yankees fan today. I was a fan of the Oakland A’s and Hunter in particular when I was young, but everything changed when he signed with the Yankees as a free agent in December 1974. I had always admired the history and the tradition of the Yankees (the first book I recall reading was a biography about Lou Gehrig), so bring the combination of the Yankees and Hunter together brought me to the team as a fan. I’ve been a faithful one ever since that time.
I’d be remiss by not mentioning Mickey Mantle. A great player who really could have been even greater than he was. I was able to attend his funeral in Dallas, and I remember seeing a few of the former Yankee greats who were in attendance. It was an experience that I’ll never forget. Bob Costas delivered a tremendous eulogy. It’s amazing to think of what Mantle could have accomplished if he had held himself to the same standards as Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera do.
Yogi Berra, of course, is an invaluable link to the Yankees’ history of success. There are way too many guys to acknowledge, but these are a few that stand out to me.
Hard to close…
It’s amazing to me how 2012 has been the Year of the Fallen Closers. So many closers on the DL (Rivera, Andrew Bailey, Drew Storen, etc.); so many demotions (Jordan Walden, Carlos Marmol, whoever is pitching for the White Sox, etc.); and guys who are on the brink of losing their jobs (most notable being Heath Bell). This is one of the only years in fantasy baseball where all my bench slots are filled with guys on the DL. But as they say, one guy’s misfortunate is another guy’s opportunity. Sports is about the ability to step up and take it to the next level.
Game of Stars…
I realize that Bryce Harper is only 19 but I am hopeful that he can find success at this level now rather than a return trip to the minor before he is ready. I can’t recall a player who has received as much hype (well, perhaps Stephen Strasburg) but I genuinely would like to see the player match (or even exceed) the hype. It is good for baseball. Robin Yount was in the majors by age 19 and I think he had a fairly successful career (<understatement). While I still question the signing of Jayson Werth, it is fun watching the accumulation of talent in DC. I am just glad they play in the NL and not the AL.
Where’s the caveat?…
When a pitcher throws a no-hitter like Jered Weaver did this week against the Minnesota Twins, they should come up with a degree of difficulty score. C’mon, it was the freakin’ Twins! It wasn’t like Weaver was facing the monster bats of Texas, New York, Tampa, Detroit, or Boston. So, while a no hitter is a great achievement, it’s hard not to discount Weaver’s performance.
What am I doing writing this post? I should be in line to buy my ticket to see The Avengers! Have a great weekend, everyone! J
The Return of an old Friend…
When I first heard the news, I kept looking for the tag that it was a joke. I did have to think about what day it was, wondering if we had somehow fast forwarded to April Fool’s Day. But alas, the reports of Andy Pettitte coming out of retirement were accurate.
I am happy to see Andy back in Pinstripes, but it was still very surprising news. Of course, those close to Andy realized how much he missed the game when he was at camp for a few days earlier this month, but from the distant view of a fan, it just looked like he was enjoying spending time with the team. It sounded as though he was busy with his children’s activities in Texas, and could only spend a short amount of time in Florida as a result. But of course, I didn’t realize the soul-searching he was going through.
I do not believe that the one year lay-off will adversely impact Andy. I felt he left the game prematurely when he did, and this is no different than a pitcher out with injury for an extended period. The only difference is that Andy continued to pitch throughout the duration of the time away, aside from a short break he apparently took when it appeared there was no opportunity with the Yanks.
For Jorge Posada, I felt it was time for him to retire. But I didn’t have that feeling about Andy. I think he can still be a very productive pitcher at this stage of his career. Granted, he is not a front of the rotation starter anymore, but he definitely strengthens the back end. The downside is the impact on the other pitchers fighting for the 5th spot in the rotation…Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes. It also impacts the young pitchers who may have opportunities to pitch in the majors this year…Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, D.J. Mitchell, Adam Warren and others. Of this group, I am most concerned about Hughes. He has appeared to be in excellent mental and physical shape this year, and seemed to be primed to have a season reminiscent of his 18-win season a couple of years ago. Barring injury, does Pettitte’s readiness in May or June mean that Hughes will be moved to the pen? More than likely. The odd man out appears to be Freddy Garcia. He could move into the role of long man, but paying Garcia $4 million to be the long reliever seems excessive for a team trying to cut costs as the role could easily be filled by a number of less expensive options with similar results.
But the positives of Pettitte’s return outweigh the negatives. He is a champion and his competitiveness rivals guys like former Yankees pitcher David Cone. He won’t be winning 20 games, but he’ll win or at least put his team in the best position to win when he is called upon. I heard an interview show that talked about ‘what if’ Pettitte cannot return to being the pitcher he was before, and I trust those who say that Andy would stop the comeback before the Yankees would if he felt he wasn’t effective. As the saying goes, ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained’. I wish Andy the very best on the comeback trail and I am looking forward to seeing #46 on the mound at Yankee Stadium.
The road to the Bronx is not paved with .065 hitters…
Like others, I am growing a bit concerned about the inability of Raul Ibanez to hit this spring. The phrase, “don’t worry, he’ll hit” just doesn’t hold any water for a player the fans have no emotional attachment to. I didn’t follow Ibanez closely during his Phillies career, but it seemed like he started slowly last year but still ended up with decent numbers by the end of the year. But every year is different, and at age 40, Ibanez is going to continue to regress. I am not sure if the best path is to wait to see if Ibanez comes around and supplement his at-bats in a DH rotation with Eric Chavez, Andruw Jones, and Alex Rodriguez, or if the Yankees should pursue another alternative via trade. Anything that is available on the market will have flaws so there are no easy answers. For whatever reason, the Yankees seem to be opposed to the idea of either Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui returning. I’d probably bring them in for an open competition with Ibanez at this point. Then, at the end of spring training, may the best bat move north.
If I had been a fan of Ibanez for a number of years, then I’d feel differently. But since there is no history, I similarly have no patience. If Ibanez continues to hit less than .100 in spring training, then it’s time to move on and find another option. If he can’t hit in March, how is he going to be able to catch up to that Justin Verlander four-seam fastball in October?…
What did you say your name was again?…
I am glad to see that Clay Rapada is making the most of his opportunity to emerge as the second lefty option for the pen. When Rapada was released by the Baltimore Orioles earlier this year, I didn’t think much about it. He quietly signed with the Yankees, and then another key left-handed option, Hideki Okajima, failed his physical. It seems like the Yankees are always looking for that second lefty and maybe Rapada can finally find his moment to shine. The Tampa Bay Rays seem to have very good luck in building strong bullpens from the scrap heap, so it would be nice if Rapada turned out to be an “Andrew Friedman” like move.
It is interesting following the Peyton Manning story, but I haven’t seen any teams emerge as a great fit for him. He’s already passed on the Miami Dolphins, and he is apparently throwing for the Tennessee Titans, but I don’t see the Titans, or the Denver Broncos, as an immediate threat to win the Super Bowl…with or without Manning. Perhaps the best fit might be the San Francisco 49ers. It would be great to see Manning in New Orleans given his family’s history there, but Drew Brees isn’t going anywhere so that’s not a possibility. My team, the Minnesota Vikings, have so many problems beyond QB that they are not an option. Regardless of where Peyton lands, it will be weird to see him in a different uniform. I never could quite get used to seeing Joe Montana with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Keeping Ponder off his back…
With the NFL Draft just a month away, I am hopeful the Vikings retain their #3 pick (there’s been talk of trading down to pick up additional picks). With QB Andrew Luck (Colts) and QB Robert Griffin III (Redskins) off the board, that leaves powerhouse offensive tackle Matt Kalil ready and able to join the Vikings to protect QB Christian Ponder for years to come. For a team that struggled with its offensive line last season following the ouster of longtime tackle Bryant McKinnie, Kalil seems to be exactly what the doctor ordered.
Courtesy of a friend:
Senior Citizen Texting Codes:
ATD: At The Doctors
BFF: Best Friend Fell
BTW: Bring the Wheelchair
BYOT: Bring Your Own Teeth
FWIW: Forgot Where I Was
GGPBL: Gotta Go Pacemaker Battery Low
GHA: Got Heartburn Again
IMHO: Is My Hearing-Aid On
LMDO: Laughing My Dentures Out
OMMR: On My Massage Recliner
OMSG: Oh My! Sorry, Gas
ROFLACGU: Rolling On Floor Laughing And Can’t Get Up
TTYL: Talk To You Louder
FWIW! Have a great day!
Have arm. Will travel…
Well, not me, but the Yankees will be looking for some arms after this weekend’s injuries to A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte. Burnett should not miss any time after his boneheaded stunt on Saturday. He was frustrated about giving up three runs after two innings, and proceeded to take his frustration out on double doors in the clubhouse. The doors won as Burnett cut both hands on plexiglass lineup holders affixed to the doors. On Sunday, Andy Pettitte went the more honorable injury route as he was actually hurt while playing the game. He strained his left groin throwing a pitch to Kelly Shoppach in the 3rd inning after giving up back to back singles.
Zach Ornitz/The Star Ledger
There were no long man in the bullpen on Sunday thanks to Burnett’s episode on Saturday which required extended use of both Dustin Moseley and Chad Gaudin. So, the first guy out of the pen on Sunday was potential 8th inning set up man David Robertson. The pieced-together pitching staff worked well as the Yankees overcame an early 3-0 deficit against American League All-Star starting pitcher David Price to win 9-5.
Zach Ornitz/The Star Ledger
The win gave the Yankees the series win against the Tampa Bay Rays, who had won Saturday’s game against Burnett, 10-5.
Zach Ornitz/The Star Ledger
After the Yankees had won on Friday night in a thrilling 5-4 victory against the Rays on a night the team gave tribute to public address announcer Bob Sheppard and owner George Steinbrenner, I knew the Yankes would have a tough time on Saturday and Sunday facing Jeff Niemann and David Price. But if I had expected a pitcher to falter, it would have been Niemann and not Price so clearly the Yankees were fortunate that Price chose Sunday to have his worst start of the season.
Sergio Mitre, who is nearing return from the Disabled List, will slide into Pettitte’s spot in the rotation for the foreseeable future. It is anticipated that Pettitte will be out for 4-5 weeks. Even though Burnett should be able to make his next start, the Yankees need to be prepared for the worst-case scenario so I am sure that Joe Girardi will have Dustin Moseley and Chad Gaudin again waiting in the wings. I remember Moseley most as one of the guys that the Los Angeles Angels turned to after the death of Nick Adenhart last season. It would be good to see him excel in his opportunity with the Pinstripers.
After the missed opportunity for Cliff Lee, I did not expect the Yankees to pursue a starting pitcher prior to the trading deadline. However, I do wonder if that will change now that Pettitte is out for a month and Phil Hughes will be nearing his innings ceiling later in the year. The names on the market do not excite me (not like Cliff Lee did). Perhaps someone like Ted Lilly would be a good short term option, but he is hardly the front of the rotation starter that Lee would have been. The only guy I’d love to see in Pinstripes, outside of Lee of course, would be Florida’s Josh Johnson but I really doubt the Marlins would trade him.
Alex Rodriguez hit his 598th home run on Sunday (off Andy Sonnanstine on Sunday in the 7th inning).
Zach Ornitz/The Star Ledger
The Yankees have a much-needed day off on Monday to recover from the events of the past week and the weekend tributes to two legendary men. They’ll face the Los Angeles Angels beginning Tuesday in the Bronx as Hideki Matsui comes home to face his ex-teammates.
In a game that George Steinbrenner had wanted to attend, the Yankees held their Annual Old-Timers Game on Saturday. I have heard so many ex-player quotes about how well the Yankees and George in particular had treated the former Yankee players. I hope the Steinbrenner Family keeps up the tradition with the same conviction and passion that George did. I was saddened to hear that in addition to Steinbrenner, the Old-Timers Game was missing Yogi Berra who was hurt in a fall at his home. The game is definitely not the same without #8 on the field so I look forward to his return next year. For this year’s game, the Yankees celebrated the 1950 World Champions. Like last year’s champions, the 1950 club defeated the Philadelphia Phillies to claim the championship.
Zach Ornitz/The Star Ledger
It is tough to see George Steinbrenner go, but it is time to move on. I look forward to the leadership of Hal Steinbrenner, and the rest of the Steinbrenner children, and I hope they share their father’s passion and commitment to the success of the New York Yankees.
The New York Times