January 2009

Mystique & Aura have a new home…

This is an impressive first look at the new Yankee Stadium, complete with CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Mark Teixeira.  I realize that it is a virtual look, but it definitely has the “feel” of the old Yankee Stadium:  Sony MLB ’09  

Jon Heyman has indicated that the chances of the Yankees resigning Andy Pettitte are less than 50%, with retirement, the Dodgers or the Astros looming as possible alternatives.  Given the losses of Derek Lowe and Brad Penny, combined with the Astros’ budgetary constraints, I see a reunion with Joe Torre and Donnie Baseball as the most likely destination at this point.

Good luck to Justin Christian, who signed with the Baltimore Orioles today.  I’d like to see him experience success in the major leagues…well, so long as it isn’t against the Yankees.  Speaking of the Orioles, I’d also like to say good luck for former O’s player, Jay Gibbons who has signed with the Florida Marlins.  Yes, he is associated with steroids, but deserves a second chance.  I read kind words about Jay from Baltimore writer Peter *******, and while I think Jay the baseball player was earned another opportunity, Peter leads me to believe that Jay the man equally deserves…

 

Granted, I am not that familiar with the Red Sox starting rotation, but if John Smoltz is going to start, who’s the odd man out?  Assuming that Brad Penny nails a spot, and the front three (Josh Beckett, Dice-K, and especially Jon Lester) are secure, wouldn’t that leave Tim Wakefield as the odd man out?  I guess he could be the long guy or spot starter, but wow, he’s been a rock in that rotation for so long. 

I think it’s wrong that Michael Young was told to move to third base from shortstop by Texas manager Ron Washington, but all things considered, I think he should make the move and drop the request to be traded.  I just don’t see how the Rangers could get equal value in a trade given Young’s age and contract.  Elvis Andrus certainly deserves a shot at short, but this situation could have been handled much better…

The first baseball game I ever attended was at the old Busch Stadium in St. Louis on May 29, 1974  I remember that Tommy John was on the mound for the Dodgers that day, and the legendary Bob Gibson for the Cardinals.  The teams were locked in a pitchers’ duel, when I left to go to the bathroom.  Of course, while away, Ron Cey hit what would have been the first home run I’d ever seen in person.  A little dejected, I walked over the concession stand but noticed a line nearby.  I walked over to check it out, and saw an older guy in sunglasses signing autographs.  I figured that he must have been someone important if everyone was lined up to get his autograph.  I waited and finally got my turn.  I looked the guy in the eyes and shook his hand.  He proceeded to sign his autograph in a book for me, and I looked down and saw the words “Stan Musial”.  Of course, even though I was only 12, I had read about Musial (my first book of interest was about Lou Gehrig, so I had a preference for baseball autobiographies).  I was a little shocked about who I had just met, and somehow that made up for not seeing Cey hit that sixth inning home run.   As I look back, I became an Al Hrabosky fan that day and there has been no one who has pumped me up the way Al did when he did his Mad Hungarian routine before taking the mound for the next pitch.  But, startling as it was, I did not realize that the Cardinals first baseman was none other than Joe Torre.  He went 1 for 4, with a single.  The Dodgers won 5-2.  It was an incredible first game, and it set me on the path of a lifetime love for major league baseball.  You would have thought I would have become a Cardinals fan, but I guess that it was the love of baseball history I experienced through that early book about Lou Gehrig.  My favorite player at the time was A’s pitcher Jim “Catfish” Hunter.  On December 31, 1974, Hunter signed with the Yankees.  I went with him…

 

 

Al Hrabosky St. Louis Cardinals Autographed 8x10 Photograph with Mad Hungarian Inscription

Before managing the Yankees to four World Series championships, Joe Torre put together an outstanding 18-year career with four teams.

 And finally, why I am a Yankees fan…

                                                                  

A Hall of Fame Kind of Day…

Granted, Rickey Henderson was the proverbial “no-brainer” (I hate that term actually), but I was glad that Jim Rice made it.  I’ve heard all the arguments against him, but growing up, it was clear that he was in an elite class and a feared hitter.  But, with Rice in, I think that Andre Dawson and Bert Blyleven are certainly just as deserving.  Hopefully, next year will be their year…

 

Why was Joba Chamberlain hanging out with David Ortiz at this month’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas?  I guess that’s one way to learn a hitter’s tendencies…

 

 

I am glad to see that Dan Graziano has begun writing his own blog, New York Baseball Hack, since his departure from the Star-Ledger. Dan is definitely one of the best baseball writers…in my opinion, and I always appreciate his insights. Dan expects the coming week to be quiet for the Yankees unless Andy Pettitte finally decides to re-sign with the team, and for Xavier Nady to be traded in Spring Training.

A special note of thanks to Tony Dungy as he departs the NFL.  Thanks Tony, you were truly one of the good guys and you set a standard of excellence that will be difficult for others to achieve.  Tony was the defensive coordinator of my favorite team, the Minnesota Vikings, back in the days of Dennis Green, and I always felt that the team should have dumped Green and promoted Dungy rather than let him leave to take the Tampa job.  Oh knows, the Vikings may have finally achieved the elusive Super Bowl championship under Dungy.  But regardless, the guy has sacrificed so much, personally and professionally, for so many others.  He will be missed…

tony-dungy.jpg

Did the Broncos really hire a coach that is only 12 years older than my son?  Yikes!  Seriously, I do think Josh McDaniels was a good hire, and he should have time and support on his side as he attempts to recapture the glory of the John Elway years…

I saw a Dallas Cowboys headline that said ‘Either Jason Garrett or Terrell Owens has to go!’  Of course, I have to ask, is this a trick question?  That one’s a “no-brainer”!  Aaarrrggh, I hate that term!  ;)

And now, I’ll end with a quote from Larry the Cable Guy:  “The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese in the trap.”…

 

 

 

A quiet Sunday in Yankeeland…

All quiet on the Yankee front…

I have to give Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner credit, they do a good job of avoiding leaks to the press (unlike George in years past).

 

I keep trying to reconcile my mind to accept Phil Hughes as the #5 starter, but when I think of worst-case scenario (both A.J. Burnett and Joba Chamberlain down with injuries), I know that they need more if they are to compete against a Red Sox pitching staff that has 2006/07 16-game winner Brad Penny at the end of the rotation (without even getting to John Smoltz or the beefed up bullpen).

 

I saw that Nick Cafardo suggested that the Red Sox trade for Prince Fielder.  If the Red Sox were successful in acquiring Fielder, I wonder if the Yankees would stand pat.  That’s hard to imagine, but at this point, the Red Sox do have the opportunity to have the better offseason despite the huge cash outlay by the Yankees.  I saw that Ken Rosenthal suggested that the Brewers trade Fielder for pitching prospects and sign Adam Dunn as his replacement.  Which, of course, makes me wonder why don’t the Red Sox consider Dunn?  Granted, he is a defensive liability but he is a proven power hitter with good on base percentage.  He is a patient hitter (maybe too patient it has been suggested), but he’d provide solid protection for Papi.  Plus, Clay Buchholz would stay on the Red Sox roster…

I have a tough time picturing Derek Lowe in a Braves uniform.  I think he is a much better fit with the Mets or Phillies…assuming that he wants to win.  He’d be a great fit on the Yankees, but of course, that’s cost prohibitive (you don’t pay those kind of dollars to your fifth starter..are you listening Andy?). 

 

Whatever happened to Oscar Gamble?…

Huh? Pavano said what?…

Carl Pavano said what? 

“When you’re down, you expect your organization to pick you up, not kick you when you’re down.  I’ve had to pick myself up quite a few times the last four years.”

If Carl had to pick himself up quite a few times, who’s fault was it that he was down to begin with?  Was it the Yankees fault that the guy had no heart and was susceptible to constant injuries?  What a jerk!  Did this guy really win 18 games for the Marlins a few years back?  Good luck in Cleveland…

 

 

 The new Yankee Stadium is definitely coming together:

 

 

 

Man, I am going to hate John Smoltz’s rational, sane, professional interview responses now more than ever!  Seriously, I am worried about the good job that Theo is doing toward building the 2009 Red Sox.  He has rebounded very nicely since the Teixeira saga.  I saw that they have their eye on Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero.  Assuming that Jesus Montero stays at catcher (there’s been talk of him moving to first base for physical reasons, but I think that won’t happen now that Teixeira is locked in at first), the Yankees and Red Sox could have catchers with the same last name once Jesus makes it to the bigs in the not-so-distant future. 

Mark Kotsay and Rocco Baldelli as your back up outfielders…that’s just sick!  And I mean that with the highest respect from a bitter rival.  Meanwhile, the Yankees are talking about trading Xavier Nady to put .220 hitter Nick Swisher in right, and they still haven’t figured out center field.  Johnny Damon is the only certainty in the Yankee outfield…

I read a blog today that the Yankees should try to sign Arizona’s RP Juan Cruz for the bullpen and I completely agree. They’d only have to surrender a 4th round pick since picks 1-3 are headed to the Angels, Brewers and Blue Jays for the earlier FA signings.  The guy has huge upside, and is only 30 years old.  He is #19 on ESPN’s Keith Law’s list of top free agents:

 

19

Juan Cruz

POSITION: Relief pitcher
AGE: 30 | BATS: R | THROWS: R
2008 TEAM: Arizona Diamondbacks
STATUS: Free agent
<!–TERMS:
–>

2008 SEASON STATISTICS
GM IP W-L ERA SV BB SO
57 51.2 4-0 2.61 0 31 71

Cruz has an electric arm, but struggles with command and control have held him back in the past and limited his value to Arizona in 2008, although he showed some improvement after missing time with an oblique strain in July.

Cruz throws a 94-97 mph four-seamer with late life, and it plays up because his arm is so quick, meaning that the ball gets in on hitters quickly. He pairs it with a sharp slider, very hard and 80-84 against right-handed batters but a little slower when he’s trying to use it against left-handed hitters. It’s power stuff that misses bats, which plays in any park in either league, and he has a good chance to develop into a closer for a team looking to create one rather than give big money to K-Rod.

 

I changed the name of this blog from Fiddler on the Roof to I’m Not A Headline Guy to give it a little more originality.  But, of course, it is not original at all.  My idol is Lou Gehrig, and the name of the blog is a tribute to him.  It is a quote that Lou once made.  Lou, I didn’t live in your era, but you were a headline guy, and a class act…

Goodnight all!  For the record, baseball fans rock!  :)

 

 

Good moves by the BoSox…

As much as I hate to give credit to the Red Sox, I thought the signings of SP John Smoltz and OF Rocco Baldelli were excellent moves.  Clearly, the Red Sox can now stack up a rotation that meets or exceeds anybody.  There’s risk with both players, but the price offsets much of the risk.  These were good moves by Theo, and of course, Smoltzie gives the Red Sox the ability to seriously entertain moving Clay Buchholz for better pieces to the puzzle.

Red Sox or not, it is going to be tough to see John Smoltz in anything other than a Braves uniform…

Meanwhile, the Yankees are actively trying to move either Xavier Nady or Nick Swisher.  By all accounts, it will be the former.  Either way, I am not convinced that you want Swisher as your starting right fielder.  I’d rather have him as the fourth outfielder, who can back up Mark Teixeira if necessary.  It’s tough having question marks in both right and center.  Johnny Damon is the only certainty in the outfield. Anyone got an extra $20 mil or so lying around that we can use to bring Manny to the Bronx? 

Rob Neyer makes a good argument on his ESPN blog for why the Yankees should just hang on to both Nady and Swisher.  He’s right…

I like the way the Andy Pettitte camp floated the possibility that Andy would be open to returning to the Astros.  Of course, the Astros GM subsequently stated that Andy would not fit their budget.  I still think Andy will eventually re-sign with the Yankees, but this prolonged negotiation, with so much posturing by both sides, is getting old. 

I thought the photo of Jason Giambi putting his head on Billy Beane’s shoulder during yesterday’s press conference was priceless.  Clearly, the old “G” is  back.  Well, in every way except the MVP caliber production that the A’s were accustomed to in 1999 or 2000.  Still, Giambi is going to have a much more positive impact on the A’s clubhouse than he ever did or could have with the Yankees clubhouse. 

I saw that Kris Benson pitched for the Dodgers.  I have always liked Benson, and I am hopeful that a team takes a chance on him and that he has the opportunity to capture some of the promise he held when he was younger.  I have a Benson signed baseball from his days with the Pirates, and I have always hoped that he would achieve success in the major leagues.  But injuries have derailed his career.  Nevertheless, here’s to you, Kent.  Hopefully, the Dodgers saw enough that you can make it to Joe Torre’s lineup card…

Hey Brett Favre…it’s called retirement; try it, you might like it…

How cool would it be for Joe Flacco to defeat the mighty Titans?…

Whatever happened to former Yankee second baseman Brian Doyle?…

I don’t know the answer to this question, but have the top pitcher and hitter to be traded at the trading deadline ever been subsequently signed as free agents by the same team in the subsequent offseason prior to this year?

Well, the battle today was won by the Red Sox, but the war ensues…

Goodnight all!

 

 

Number 16 Back in Oakland…

In a way, it was a little bittersweet watching the Jason Giambi press conference.  Much has been written about Jason’s failure to live up to expectations for his 7 year, $120 million contract with the Yankees.  Granted, the steroids period was tough, but I remember how excited I was when the Yankees signed Giambi.  His first couple of years were strong (not quite near his highs with Oakland but still respectable), the down years during the steroid issue, but I think Jason ended his career with the Yankees on a high note.  As much as I would have liked to have seen the Yankees resign Giambi, that was never going to happen with the plethora of DH types on the roster, most notably Hideki Matsui but potentially Jorge Posada too depending upon his recovery.  So, given that Jason idolized Mickey Mantle, it was appropriate that he left after 7 years.

I was glad to see Eric Mangini get another chance in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns.  I am not a Jets fan, but I place more blame on Brett Favre for the Jets season-ending slide that cost them the play-offs. 

I get the sense that despite the rhetoric about Andy Pettitte rejecting the Yankees $10 million offer, they are working behind the scenes to put a deal together…

I saw an article today that the Vikings are interested in Matt Cassel.  I had wondered about that myself earlier, but figured that if the Patriots franchise Cassel, it would cost too much to acquire him (assuming that Tom Brady is healthy and the Pats feel secure in letting Cassel go).  As evidenced by the Philadelphia game, Tavaris Jackson is not the answer, and I think Cassel would be a great fit.  Time will tell…

Peter Gammons mentioned a “testiness” that existed between A-Rod and Mark Teixeira in Texas.  I had wondered what their relationship was like, but there doesn’t seem to be much written about their prior relationship.  Of course, it made me wonder…does A-Rod have a relationship with anyone besides Madonna?  Mark definitely has his work cut out for him with those errant throws coming in from A-Rod, DJ, and Cano…

It’s hard to get excited about a Phillies opening day lineup that will have Marcus Giles at 2B (Chase Utley’s absence will definitely be felt)…

I love the Yankees’ united “Why?  Because we can” approach to responding to the critics…

I agree with Peter Gammons take on why Mark Teixeira went with the Yankees.  It came down to his wife’s shopping preferences.  I can’t say that I’ve shopped in Boston, but c’mon, there’s nothing like Manhattan.  Then again, $180 million will only go so far in New York City…

The advantage to the Yankees not putting names on the back of jerseys?  I can wear my Jason Giambi jersey with pride, and everyone will think that I am supporting the latest and greatest Yankee first baseman!  Sweet!  :)

Cheers!

 

The Unveiling of Big Teix…

With the Mark Teixeira signing officially out of the way, the Yankees began their off-season rummage search with the signings of Jason Johnson and Angel Berroa.  I think I heard something about John Rodriguez too.  Granted, Berroa was a previous ROY, but I really would not have known anything about him if he had not been traded to the Dodgers last year to fill-in for Rafael Furcal (I lived in LA at the time).  I guess the Yankees are looking for bodies for Tampa next month…

As much as I love Andy Pettitte, I completely agree with the Yankees’ approach.  I really think that no organization knows when to part ways with aging players like Boston, and now is the time for the Yankees to make one of those hard decisions.  At this point in his career and given the current market, Andy is simply not a $10 million a year guy anymore.  Those resources are better served elsewhere.  With Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, Alfredo Aceves, and now Jason Johnson in reserve, the Yanks should try to take a chance on someone like Ben Sheets.

Congratulations to Jason Giambi for his new deal, pending a physical, with Oakland.  He did redeem himself in my eyes with his play last season, and I think it’s fitting that he returns to his original team.  I fully expect to lose a game next year due to a ninth inning Giambino home run…

My favorite quote today was by Yankee co-chairman Hal Steinbrenner:  “If some owners are upset we invest in our team, I’m not going to lose any sleep over it.”  I think Hal is proving to be a very capable leader for the organization.

Is Derek Jeter really going to 35 in June?  Wow!  Where did the years go?  It seems like he was just an 18 year old kid out of Kalamazoo…

I kind of like those rumors of Trevor Hoffman potentially going to the Dodgers.  It seems like a good fit.  He makes his home in the area, and I don’t think Joe Torre wants to hand the full-time closer’s role to Jonathan Broxton just yet. 

I saw a return of new articles reporting that Bobby Valentine would be a leading candidate for the Yankees managerial post if Girardi fails this year.  Ugh, that’s not really something I’d want to see regardless of what happens and no matter how much Bobby V may have changed…

With the Yankees luck in recent years, Carl Pavano will win 15 games for the Tribe…

Starting to see more rumors involving Xavier Nady so I suspect that he may be the odd man out.  All things considered, I’d probably rather see Nick Swisher go since I think he is better suited for first base than an outfield position as evidenced by Chicago last year.  It would be a shame for the Yankees half billion dollar investment to go array because of poor OF decisions this winter (I am sure that my Red Sox friends are losing sleep over that one!  Ha!).

Personally, I’d give a Hall of Fame Vote to Jim Rice if I could.  Regardless of what has been said, the fact remains that the guy was one of the most feared hitters of the 70’s. 

Whatever happened to Butch Hobson?…

Somewhere in Texas…

The reports are now coming out that Andy Pettitte has formally rejected the Yanks’ $10 million offer, but the possibility of his return to the team remains.  I have felt all along that they need to build incentives into their base offer so that if Andy can achieve certain objectives, he can reduce the paycut he is being asked to take.  There has to be a happy median between both camps that can work.  If not, the Yanks should cut bait and move on. 

The on again, off again rumors continue regarding Jake Peavy and the Cubs (which may never come to fruitition with the pending sale of the Padres), but the Cubs front four is a rather formidable group (Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Rich Harden, and Ted Lilly).  It carries no less the injury risk that the Yankees have (with primarily A.J. Burnett), but if Peavy is added to that staff, they’d clearly have to be the early favorites for the World Series.  Why did we trade Ted Lilly for Jeff Weaver again?…

I found it odd that Newsday would actually write a story that #23 was not available for Mark Teixeira.  Like there was a chance that would ever happen.  Why didn’t they go on to say that #4 was also not available?  I think #25 is the best choice as it is a strong power number, but admittedly, I don’t like the Giambi stigma attached to it.  Continuing Mark’s recent number trend (23 with the Rangers, 24 with the Braves, 25 with the Angels), he should bump Jose Molina and take #26…

Today should be another productive day with free agent signings if yesterday was any indication… 

 

 

Red Sox Paranoia…

I haven’t decided if this blog is pro-Yankees or anti-Red Sox!  Maybe a little of both?  ;)

I came home tonight and was anxious to see what was airing on the MLB Network, and proceeded to relive the nightmares of the Red Sox eliminating a 3 games to none deficit to the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS.  The only thing worse would be watching Luis Gonzalez hit that bloop single in the 2001 World Series…oh yeah, that was on the MLB Network a few days ago!  AAARRGH!  I really wish that Comcast Cable had the option to pick up the YES Network! 

I got into running more than a year ago, and spent the majority of 2008 training for my first marathon (NYC last November).  In no given month did I miss more than 5 or 6 days working out at the local gym.  Since the marathon (I finished under 4 hours which isn’t bad for my age), I’ve continued with my distance training.  Yet, today at the gym, as I was getting ready after a run and workout, some guy I’d never seen before walked in and said, “New Year’s Resolution, huh?”  What???  All I could think was that this guy HAD to be a freakin’ Red Sox fan!

The Yankees sign C Kevin Cash and the Red Sox counter by signing INF Nick Green…somehow I don’t think either move will ensure 2009 success…

Tampa made the right move in signing Pat Burrell to be their DH.  Clearly, he is no longer suited for the field, and I think his veteran presence will help the younger Rays.  Pat is a stand-up guy, and others will benefit greatly from his example.  Of course, now that Tampa has Burrell, I expect to see the Giambi deal finalized in Oakland sooner rather than later, and despite Ken Griffey Jr’s Orlando home, I think the speculated return to Seattle will happen.

In looking at the list of current free agents, you can’t help but get the sense that there are going to be some quality hitters and pitchers on the outside looking in when spring training rolls around.  The experts are expecting a flurry of free agent signings now that the first of the year has passed, and today was certainly a step in that direction, but there will be a number of losers in this market.  And I think Barry Bonds telling everyone that he’ll be ready by Opening Day is an absolute joke.  I simply cannot see any team signing him…or Sammy Sosa…at this point.

Now that Carl Pohlad has died, do his billions of dollars get pumped into the Twins franchise and make the team a major market player?  Um, probably not…

 “Whether you love them or hate them, everybody wants to be Yankee - A.J. Burnett

 

Oliver Perez, among other things…

The New York Post is running a story today that the Yankees should pursue Oliver Perez for the back end of the rotation should Andy Pettitte not re-sign with the team.  While the stats support the argument and Perez is 10 years younger, I am not so sure that I’d want to deal with Oliver’s lack of focus in less significant games.  Of course, the Post uses the argument that the Yankees would be perfect for Perez because every game is a big game and he’d be surrounded by veteran leadership which would make it less likely he’d become complacent.  I am not so sure I agree…maybe for the short term but not the long term unless he makes significant changes in the way he approaches every game.  I’d rather see what the Yankees have with Phil Hughes before contemplating the addition of Perez.  Which is why it would make more sense for the Yankees to build some incentives into their $10 million offer to Pettitte and bring him back for a year (to allow Hughes to slowly transition into the rotation rather than being thrust into the spotlight like last year). 

I haven’t been so concerned about the Rays this offseason, but it is hard to under-estimate what a year of maturity will do for their fine young hitters, particularly with Evan Longoria.  David Price will also be huge in the coming season, so they’ll clearly be there until the end.  But the Red Sox do concern me.  They obviously have less holes to fill, and it really wouldn’t take much fine-tuning to generate a 100-win team for 2009.  I am glad that they won’t have Teixeira, but I still think they’ll make a significant move between now and Opening Day that will be a potential difference-maker.  If the Twins fall out of it early next year, do they trade Joe Mauer to the Red Sox at the trading deadline?  It could happen…

I still think the Dodgers will re-sign Manny…

Peter Abraham wrote a great article yesterday on the LoHud Yankees Blog entitled “Stop the Madness, Please!”.  I think he perfectly stated each point accurately and succinctly.  The basic gist was Joba should stay in the rotation, the Yankees would be foolish to sign Manny, and leave Matsui alone.  But I thought the point about quit hating on young players was great by showing that Mickey Mantle hit .267 in his first 341 AB’s and struck out 74 times, while Tom Glavine was 9-21 with a 4.76 ERA in his first two seasons. 

Sounds like Mark Teixeira will be in New York for his physical in the next day or so, with the obligatory news conference early in the week.  I guess just as CC’s and A.J.’s press conference was billed as the final one at the old Yankee Stadium, so will Mark’s…

I think it’s more likely that Giambi will sign with Oakland than Tampa, but I wonder how long before the A’s crowds warm back up to him.  I don’t think there was a player jeered as badly as Jason was when he returned to the Bay Area.  One home run or two?  ;)

Whatever happened to Jeremy Giambi…

 

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.