March 2009

Just Another Day in Baseball…

A Bad Day at Black Rock

 

Nick Swisher is definitely the man who gets no respect. 

 

 

Well, perhaps some of it might be self-deserved…

 

First, I pull open the box score for the Yankees’ 7-4 loss to  the Detroit Tigers, and Swisher’s 0-for-3 line reflected 6 men left on base and a current spring batting average of .111. 

 

Then, I was reading Mark Feinsand’s Blogging the Bombers on the New York Daily News website.  In his blog, Mark credited Swisher with the “line of the day”.  

 

When Swisher entered the clubhouse after the game, there was a Mexican-themed spread.  Swisher yelled out to one of the attendants:  “Give me some of those burritos – I need to feed the village of people I left on base!”

 

Finally, I read Jon Heyman’s Daily Scoop on Si.com and found another Swish reference.  The article, about White Sox GM Ken Williams, mentioned Swisher’s .219 batting average last year with the White Sox.  According to an unnamed White Sox source, “We would have traded Swisher for a bag of balls.”  

 

 

Reuters Pictures

 

It definitely was not a good day for the “Work Hard-Play Hard” man…

 

Well, at least he got a RBI on a sac fly!  The day wasn’t a complete loss!   ;)

 

Papelbon said what?

 

I was surprised to read the comments Boston Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon had to say about Manny Ramirez.

 

 

There is no question that Manny quit on his Boston teammates, and his exit was arguably one of the worst ever.  However, there is still a code among ballplayers.  So, for Papelbon to go public with his thoughts, shows how deep the pain was with the team.

 

Among Papelbon’s quotes:

 

  • “It just takes one guy to bring an entire team down, and that’s exactly what was happening.”
  • “…It’s like cancer.  That’s what he was.  Cancer.  He had to go…”
  • “He was on a different train!”
  • “So Manny was tough for us…”
  • “…And for him not be on the same page as the rest of the team was a killer, man!”
  • “It takes 25 guys on a team to win, not 24, and that was blatantly obvious.”

 

Papelbon’s comments appear in the April issue of Esquire magazine.

 

At this point, there is no good that can come out of Papelbon’s comments.  Everyone knows that Manny had to go.  I realize that Papelbon is simply an outspoken guy (didn’t he make comments at last year’s All-Star Game that he should close over Mariano Rivera in the House That Ruth Built?).  

 

As an observer from afar, I think Manny was the toughest on Manager Terry Francona (a guy who deserves much better).  Yet, Francona has taken the high road and not publicly trashed Manny when he has every reason and right to do so.  That’s certainly a quality that I respect about Francona. 

 

I don’t disagree with Papelbon’s comments; I just think he should have kept them to himself…

 

Will Julia Rant or Acquiesce?

 

Tomorrow (Friday) is Round One of my wager with Julia of Julia’s Rants.  

 

The Yankees face the Boston Red Sox at City of Palms Park at 7:05 pm ET.  

 

If I read one of Julia’s posts correctly, announcer Jerry Remy, who has been ill, is expected back for the game.  David Ortiz and Jason Bay are also back from the WBC thanks to their teams’ respective losses.  Ortiz will DH and Bay will play left field according to Manager Terry Francona.

 

 

The bet – if the Yankees win, Julia will have to write a positive post about a Yankees player.  I gave her the latitude of players past or present.  For me, I’ve said that if Boston wins, I will write a positive post about a Red Sox player for each run determined by the margin of victory.  For example, if the Red Sox win 7-4, the margin of victory is 3 runs so I’d have to write three consecutive positive posts about different Red Sox players.

 

Needless to say, I am really hoping that I don’t have to do any Red Sox research.  Well, on the bright side, I do know about Pete Runnels…thanks to Julia’s latest blog!

 

 

May the best team, um Yankees, win!  

Not Tonight, I Want to Watch the WBC…

The WBC is quite interesting after all…

 

I have to admit that I am starting to get caught up with the World Baseball Classic.  At first, I dismissed it as a ploy by the Commissioner and viewed it as something that would prevent certain players from getting quality spring training time with their respective teams.  Granted, a Derek Jeter doesn’t have to worry that someone’s going to steal his job while he is away, but how about someone like Carlos Marmol?  Carlos should be the Cubs’ closer this year since Kerry Wood signed with Cleveland in the off-season.  However, the Cubs did acquire the Florida Marlins closer Kevin Gregg in the off-season.  I have not been following the Cubs that closely, so I don’t know if Marmol has already been given the closer’s role by Manager Lou Piniella or if he is in competition with Gregg.  But regardless, time away from Cubs camp can’t be beneficial. 

 

Jerry Lai/AP

 

On the same token, Kevin Cash is fighting for a Yankees roster spot as the third catcher.  Meanwhile, Francisco Cervelli has been with the WBC’s Team Italy.  Granted, Italy has been eliminated and Cervelli is on his way to Tampa to join up with the Yanks.  But still, the time away most likely was more beneficial for Cash than it was Cervelli.

 

Sorry, I digressed…

 

I am very surprised to see the Netherlands’ victory over the Dominican Republic.  On the bright side, it means that Robinson Cano and Damaso Marte will be on their way back to camp.  But I still have to believe that the DR was the better team.  Well, I guess on “any given Tuesday”, everyone has a chance.  That’s why the play the games, right? 

 

Two things did stand out to me about the Netherlands-DR game.   

 

First, Ubaldo Jimenez is a freak.  Ten strikeouts in four innings.  Two hits, no runs, no walks, and 43 of 65 pitches were for strikes.  It’s a tremendous line score, and is obviously a tournament record.  I’ve known that Jimenez was good, I just didn’t realize that he was this good.  The Rockies are very fortunate to have him.

 

 

Secondly, Pedro Martinez pitched very well and certainly deserves another opportunity.  The Mets are on record saying they have no interest in re-signing Pedro, but you’d think someone would take the chance.  I mean, c’mon, if you have the chance to go with Carl “The American Idle” Pavano or Pedro Martinez (albeit the antique version), you tell me you’re going to go with the guy most likely to hit the DL first?  I’d think a team that is capable of contending, like the Indians, would take a chance on Pedro as their fifth starter.  In the Netherlands-DR game, Pedro pitched very well (three innings, no hits, no runs, no walks, and two strikeouts).

 

The WBC games have been very entertaining, and I am looking forward to the second round.  Plus, Jimmy Curran has my interest piqued about Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish…

 

 

Steroids, the topic that won’t go away

 

Alex Rodriguez should be thankful for the torn labrum.  The injury and the subsequent surgery have caused people to focus on things other than his admitted steroids use.  So, the surgery definitely has had some positive impact despite the negative of keeping A-Rod out of action for 6-9 weeks.

 

Meanwhile, the negative reports for Roger Clemens keep coming in.  Now, Brian McNamee is saying that he injected Clemens with drugs in the Jacuzzi at Yankee Stadium.  At this point, I fully believe that McNamee is telling the truth.  From my perspective, what Clemens has done is far worse than anything A-Rod did.  

 

 

Okay, maybe that’s not Clemens, but it could be!  ;)

 

I used to feel that Clemens would be a shoo-in for first ballot Hall of Fame.  Now, I don’t believe he should ever get in (not even posthumously).  

 

Aside from Barry Bonds, Yankees who have taken steroids seem to get triple the press magnification than players from other teams.  I realize that New York City is THE major market, but I’d have to believe that steroids found their way into other locker rooms and no team was immune.  

 

Examples should be made of the so-called liars like Clemens and Bonds.  I will always have more respect for those who step forward and admit their indiscretions and crimes than I will for those who continue to deny their guilt.  

 

Yankees Happenings

 

CC Sabathia didn’t last long today as he gave up 5 runs on 6 hits, and didn’t make it out of the second inning in the Yankees 7-4 loss to the Detroit Tigers.  One of the hits was a home run by former Yankee Gary Sheffield.  Ouch! 

 

Meanwhile, Joba Chamberlain pitched much more effectively than he did his previous outing in Tuesday night’s 7-1 win over the Cincinnati Reds.   He allowed one run on three hits, striking out three and walking none, in two innings of work. 

 

Sounds like GM Brian Cashman is content to start the season with Cody Ransom as the starting third baseman.  “I’m not optimistic about doing anything,” Cashman said.  “I’m not going to be proactive in trying to do something.  If something presents itself that makes sense, which is not realistic, then maybe it will be somebody different.  I think our answer is here in camp.”  Of course, you never know if that is talk to downplay any sense of desperation on the Yankees’ part or if Cashman is truly intending to stand pat.  My guess is that there isn’t anything that makes sense and it’s not worth parting with a blue-chip prospect at this point.  Now, if Ransom gets off to a very slow start…

 

Alex Rodriguez left a voice mail message for Manager Joe Girardi on Tuesday night that said, “I’m doing well.”  I am hopeful that it means the recovery will be closer to six weeks than nine weeks!  

 

It’s not Yankees news, but for everything negative about Manny Ramirez, there is no question that he is in a league of his own when it comes to hitting.  I noticed these comments by Donnie Baseball, the Dodgers hitting coach.  “By 8 [a.m.], he’s in the cage.  He’ll only take 30 to 35 balls, but he’s almost perfect with them.  He does it slow.  He doesn’t rush.  He’s not firing ball after ball.  He takes his time with each swing.  It’s like each swing is a whole at-bat.  He thinks about what he wants to do and then he thinks about what he just did.  Every swing he takes with a purpose.  And he doesn’t talk much when he’s hitting.  But if he doesn’t like one, he’ll ask what you think he did.”  I don’t condone how Manny treated the Boston fans or the organization, or how he quit on his teammates, but I respect his ability to hit.  That was the only reason that I wanted the Yankees to sign him.  

 

The Sharks Win, The Sharks Win, TTTHHEEE SHHHAARRRKKKS WIN!

 

Okay, they blew a three-goal lead but the San Jose Sharks finally won last night, beating the Minnesota Wild, 5-4, in overtime.  Wins have been hard to come by for the Sharks in recent weeks, so I’ll take any victory that I can. 

 

 

“We won finally and that’s a real good thing,” said Sharks coach Todd McLellan.  “But I’m disappointed in the way we carry ourselves.  I’d like to see some guys step up and swing the bat.  I want to see guys take the challenge on a little bit more.” 

 

It was the Sharks first victory in five games.

 

I am hopeful that the victory will reignite some momentum for the Sharks as they continue the drive for the post-season.

Random Thoughts for a Tuesday…

A-Rod Surgery – The Day After…

 

By all accounts, the surgery performed on Alex Rodriguez’s hip for the torn labrum by Dr. Marc J. Philippon was successful.  Alex should be able to resume playing in 6-9 weeks.

 

Many people have questioned whether the Yanks really need to seek a replacement since A-Rod can conceivably be back in action after 23 games.  I say yes, because I feel an upgrade is necessary for the long haul…not just the first 23 games of the season.  Cody Ransom is labeled as a good defender, but he can’t hit for average although he does have some power. 

 

Kathy Willens/AP

 

I think the Yankees need someone who can fill in, provide good defense, and hit well enough to keep pitchers honest.  Alex will need more rest than in years past, and more rest for Derek Jeter is probably not a bad idea as he begins the downside of his career physically-speaking.

 

Someone did ask A’s manager Bob Geren if Bobby Crosby was being showcased at third base for the Yankees and he chuckled and replied “no”.  Bobby wants to play, and he probably sees third as his best option given the health of 3B Eric Chavez in recent years.  

 

So, maybe the best deal is no deal, but I sure wish I had more faith and confidence in either Cody Ransom or Angel Berroa…

 

Starting in Centerfield…

 

Granted, Brett Gardner hasn’t won the job yet, but he continues to impress in camp.  On Monday, he hit this third homer of the season (which leads the team). 

 

 

He continues to make things happen, and I’d be surprised to see Melky Cabrera to take the job from Gardner.  It’s definitely exciting to have his presence in the lineup. 

 

Michael Kay mentioned on a recent telecast that the Yankees haven’t had a weapon like this on the base paths since Homer Bush.  I agree…

 

Italy ousts Canada

 

Italy defeated Canada 6-2 on Monday to eliminate the Canadians from WBC play.  Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli was 0-for-3 with a walk for the Italians. 

 

 

I caught Mike Piazza’s comments about Cervelli this morning (no pun intended).  “He’s so talented back there, you can’t say enough,” Piazza said.  “He worked hard back there.  His enthusiasm, you could tell.”

 

“His enthusiasm from the start of the game was just sky-high.  He hustled.  He’s got an amazing arm.” Piazza went on to say. “I’m jealous – in a good way – because I see player with a great future ahead of him.  He’s going to get better with the bat.  He’s going to get a little quicker.”

 

He’s not the prospect that Jesus Montero is, but he’s a few years older (23) and closer to major league action.  I am anxious to see competition between Cervelli and Kevin Cash (and even Jose Molina) when he returns to Yankees camp after the conclusion of the WBC.

 

Just as I am concerned about back up support at third, I have the same concerns at catcher given Jorge Posada’s age and his return from injury last season.  At this point of his career, Jorge is not going to improve and will only continue to deteriorate.  It remains to be seen if he can continue to perform at the level he’s been accustomed to, but the odds are against it.  Jorge needs a solid backup who can spell him on occasion.  Perhaps it is Jose Molina, but I do feel that when you look at the players with greatest odds for getting hurt, Jorge is at or near the top.  Therefore, if Cervelli can continue to take his play to a higher level, he’ll have a say in the Yanks’ backup catching plans.

 

Odds and Ends

 

Mike Mussina was a visitor to Yankees camp today, and true to form, doesn’t regret the decision to retire.  He also turned down Manager Joe Girardi’s offer to wear a uniform for the day.  

 

Chris McGrath/Getty Images

 

Moose was a class act, and he’ll be missed.  He was, at times, misunderstood, but I always thought he was honest and straightforward.  

 

I saw Jake Peavy’s quote earlier in the week, and I am definitely glad that the Red Sox never became his destination.  “Boston was a place that I told the Padres I would certainly be interested in playing,” Peavy said Monday at the Team USA workout.  “I don’t know if there were any talks.  I gave the Padres a list and Boston was on that list.  Boston was a place I told the Padres I would be interested in playing at.  Set that straight for sure.”  Yikes!  To borrow the old adage, sometimes the best deal is the deal never made!  J

 

 

With the plethora of evidence building up against him, when is Roger Clemens going to come clean and admit steroids use?  For a guy I used to consider a hero, I am so disappointed…

 

 

I liked Randy Johnson’s description of Tim Lincecum as the fourth Jonas brother…

 

 

Okay, I find the headline of “U.S. teammate Dustin Pedroia thinks World of Derek Jeter” to be very disturbing!  There’s way too much love going around.  “They go at it constantly,” Chipper Jones said of Jeter and Pedroia.  “It’s fun when Yankees and Red Sox go at each other, because you know they’re going to hate each other in a month.”  Whew!  I needed that perspective.  Thanks Chipper! I was starting to get this visual image of Yankees and Red Sox players hugging each other and trading high 5′s before games… 

 

Preparation For The Great Showdown…

Victory is at hand…

 

“Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.”

–General George Patton, Jr.

 

I have figured it out!  I have found Julia’s (of Julia’s Rants) weakness! 

 

It’s her Achilles Heel!

 

 

It’s her Kryptonite!

 

 

It’s Samson with a haircut!

 

 

Peter Paul Rubens, Samson and Delilah 1609 – 10 National Gallery, London

 

I can trash talk all I want, and then play the Toby card…

 

Toby Keith.

Universal

 

That’s all it takes…a simple photo of Toby Keith and she forgets she’s a Red Sox fan and has trouble remembering her own name!  ;)  The “battle” begins on April 24th (three game series between the Red Sox and Yankees), but it is never too soon to start building one’s arsenal.

 

A preview of the Great Showdown is coming this Friday (Friday the 13th no less!).  The game will be played at Ft. Myers.  I have not made any bets with Julia about the game, but if the Red Sox win, I will include a positive write-up about a Red Sox player in subsequent blogs.  The margin of victory will determine how many blogs I have to swallow my pride.  If the Red Sox win by 3, then I’d have to include the positive player reference in each of the next three blogs.  If the Yankees win, I propose that Julia has to write one blog about her favorite Yankees player (with no negative comments or references to the Red Sox).

 

Speaking of Julia, she’s planning a get-together in Boston for a pre-Opening Day celebration on Sunday, April 5th.  I am seriously considering making the trip.  A little reconnaissance before the Great Showdown is probably not a bad idea! It’s a little scary traveling so deep into enemy territory, but it should be a lot of fun.

 

Why can’t we all just get along?…

 

 

Courtesy Boston.com

 

Well, I guess if Joba can do it, so can I…

 

Surgery Day for A-Rod

 

Shortly, Dr. Marc Philippon will be performing the surgery to repair A-Rod’s torn labrum in Vail, CO.  

 

Since A-Rod is not scheduled to return until the second month of the regular season, does that make him the new Mr. May?  Just wondering…

 

 

It would be tough for me to be in Vail and not be able to ski.  But then again, I don’t have a torn labrum, nor do I have a $275 million contract…

 

 

As for potential replacements, there seems to be more talk among us fans than the Yankees organization itself.

 

According to Dick Kaegel of MLB.com, the Royals and Yankees deny any talks involving Mark Teahen.  “They’re saying it on ESPN, but there’s nothing on our end,” said a Royals official. 

 

I remain steadfastly in Blake DeWitt’s corner.  I think he would be a great addition to platoon with Cody Ransom at third, and would provide great depth upon A-Rod’s return.  

 

Dr. Marc Philippon indicated that the odds of A-Rod playing through the entire regular season upon his return are in the “85-90 percent” range.  

 

It is the margin of doubt that leads me to believe that the Yankees have to do something to reinforce their options for third base.  

 

While Johnny Damon may feel that Cody Ransom is “probably the best athlete on this team”, the career journeyman, 33, with 183 major league at-bat’s in 6 MLB seasons, is not exactly who I would want to entrust the keys to the kingdom to.  You don’t go out and buy a stable of Ferrari’s to be protected by a Yugo…

 

 

I realize that the Yankees cannot be hasty in any decisions. Teams are probably lining up, hoping to capitalize on the Yankees’ potential desperation.  

 

I am sure that Brian Cashman will do the right thing for the organization before the team takes the field on Opening Day. 

 

Perhaps the best deal is no deal at all (if the price is simply too high), but with questions in other areas, I am hopeful that something surfaces which makes sense for the Yanks to pursue.

 

Yankees Win

 

I know, I know…spring games mean nothing.  Still, it was nice to see the Yankees pick up a 12-3 win against the Tigers.  

 

A.J. Burnett tossed two scoreless innings, but more impressively, Phil Hughes followed with three hitless innings and four strikeouts.  

 

Audrey C. Tiernan/Newsday

 

The Yankees are now 4-5-1.

 

On a side note, Team USA advanced to the second round of the World Baseball Classic with a 15-6 win over Venezuela. 

 

It seems so strange to see Jeter as a teammate of Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youklis.  I guess that just goes to show I need to make the trip to Boston next month…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A-Rod Has Decided…

The A-Rod Decision

You CAN have your cake and eat it too!

Regarding A-Rod’s torn labrum, his options are:

1.      Attempt to play with rest and rehabilitation, and have surgery after the season.

2.      Have the full surgery now, and miss the next 4 months.

3.      Quit baseball (oops, where did that one come from?).

4.      Less invasive surgery now, with shorter recovery period, followed by full surgery at the end of the season.

According to Pete Abraham of the LoHud Blog, A-Rod has decided upon the fourth option.  Dr. Philippon met with the press this morning, and according to Pete Abe, A-Rod has an impingement (which means bone is striking bone). 

Dr. Marc Philippon, M.D.

Steadman Hawkins Clinic, Vail, CO

 

The initial surgery to be performed on Monday will fix the labrum.  Following the season, Alex will undergo full surgery to repair the bone deformity.  Recovery time for the initial surgery is expected to be 6-9 weeks. 

According to Pete Abe, this should put A-Rod back on the field by the end of April.

Great scoop, as usual, Mr. Abraham!

 

The Replacements

I still think the Yankees would be smart to secure a solid replacement at third for A-Rod.  I am not fully confident in Cody Ransom’s ability to adequately fill in at third.  Some have suggested a platoon, and I could buy into that with the right platoon partner.  

There are countless names being bantered about.  The latest I’ve seen is the Royals’ Mark Teahen.  Teahen, 27, hit .255 with 15 home runs and 59 RBI’s last season.

AP/Charlie Riedel

 

Another possibility is Oakland A’s shortstop Bobby Crosby.  With the A’s signing of Orlando Cabrera, Crosby is the odd man out.  He doesn’t want to fill a utility role, and would like the opportunity to start.  Of course, the downside is that he has never played third, and of course, when A-Rods returns, he would be pushed into a utility role.

AP

I still like the Dodgers’ Blake DeWitt.  He, too, was pushed out of a starting position when the Dodgers signed Orlando Hudson to play second.  I lived in Los Angeles last season, and had the opportunity to watch a number of Dodgers games, and I liked the attitude and determination I saw with the player.  Of course, whether the Dodgers would part with him is another story.

 

Regardless of what happens, the Yankees need to make sure that they have a solid plan in place in the event that A-Rod’s recovery is slower than expected or if he suffers any setbacks.

 

Terrell Owens is a Bill

I was very surprised to see that the Buffalo Bills had signed Terrell Owens to a one year, $6.5 million contract.  I did not think that would be a move they’d make, but I know that they’ve struggled with receivers opposite Lee Evans. 

It will be interesting to see how Owens interacts with QB Trent Edwards, but this marriage seems to be like one of those poorly thought out Britny Spears type of wedding decisions.

britney-spears.jpg britney spears picture by emigrestudio 

I was reading Kevin Cusick’s “The Loop:  3/08/09″ in the Pioneer Press (www.twincities.com), and he put it best:

“The Buffalo Bills signed T.O. to a one year deal Saturday.  Living in Buffalo should extinguish what’s left of Owens’ “25 million reasons to live”.”

Too funny!  I am not trying to knock Buffalo (I used to live there myself about 25 years ago), but I just can’t see this working out. 

My brother is a die-hard Bills fan, so I’ll be interested in seeing what his reaction is.   Of course, he’s the obnoxious ‘my team is best’ kind of fan, so he’ll probably just say that Super Bowl dreams have returned to Buffalo. 

But I think team chemistry is one of the most important attributes of a successful team, and the Bills have assured themselves chemistry will not be a component of the 2009 team. 

On the bright side, I was pleased that my team, the Minnesota Vikings, went on record prior to the Owens signing to say that they had no interest in T.O.  Of course, Brad Childress saw the cancerous effect T.O. had on a team during his days on Andy Reid’s staff in Philadelphia.  But still, I am appreciative that I’ll never be forced to root for T.O. 

I guess we’ll be seeing a lot of scenes like this during the upcoming season:

 

Hopefully, the Yankees will keep me pre-occupied through at least October and spare me from having to endure TV shots like this… 

A-Rod Is Yesterday’s News…

The A-Rod Story Continues

 

As if we haven’t dealt with enough about Alex Rodriguez, the latest news is that he has a torn labrum in his hip.  The Yankees have indicated that he will attempt to play this offseason with rest and rehabilitation.  If that’s unsuccessful and surgery becomes necessary now rather than at the end of the season, he’ll miss at least four months.

 

 

Ken Rosenthal, senior baseball writer for FOXSports.com is predicting that this could be the beginning of A-Rod’s breakdown and the Yanks are obviously on the hook for the remainder of his 10-year, $275 million contract which runs through 2017.

 

Many people have drawn a parallel between A-Rod and Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell regarding the torn labrum.  Lowell attempted to play out last season with the same injury before the pain became too unbearable.  “I don’t want to play like I did the last two months,” Lowell said.  “That’s not really playing.  I was so focused on something else besides playing.  It sucked the joy out of it for a little while.  We were winning and everything, so that’s fine.  But you want to feel like you have all your abilities in place.”  And that’s coming from someone who didn’t have to deal with the ramifications of admitted steroids use, an affair with Madonna, and an inability to tell a consistent story.

 

I do not think A-Rod’s psyche is strong enough to endure the multiple distractions, and he’d be better served by pursuing the surgery now rather than later.  But then again, I am guessing that Brian Cashman feels that he can find someone capable of replacing A-Rod’s October production should the Yanks make the play-offs (that would just be the ability to go 0-for-5, with a bases-loaded game-ending strikeout in a pivotal play-off game, right?). 

 

As for replacements, I am obviously not enamored with the thought of either Cody Ransom or Angel Berroa filling in at third.  The Yankees would be better served by seeking a quality replacement.  Even if A-Rod attempts to play, having a strong Plan B in place would help give him more periods of rest throughout the course of the season. 

 

All things considered, I am not that disappointed at the prospect of losing Rodriguez for the season.  After the ordeal of the past few months, a season with no A-Rod is sounding very appealing.  Of course, there’s a hole at third, but I don’t think the Yankees necessarily need a superstar to fill the void.  A capable performer with decent defensive skills would fit nicely.  A lot of names have been tossed around by the media, and I would gladly consider someone like the Dodgers’ Blake DeWitt (as suggested by SI’s Jon Heyman). 

 

Ric Francis/AP

 

The Great Showdown

 

As you may have read on Julia’s Rants, the “Great Showdown” is coming to Fenway Park next month.  Julia and I have made a bet regarding who will win the Yankees-Red Sox series to be played April 24th, 25th, and 26th.  It goes without question which team I am pulling for.  Of course, if the Yankees lose, author Jane Heller will take away my Yankees fan membership for jinxing the team.  It’s probably not a good sign that I was pulling for Dean Martin in the 1973 movie “Showdown” with Rock Hudson.  Nevertheless, I am moving forward with the duel against Julia. 

 

 

 

I agree with Julia on a number of things:

 

She’s a fan of the great Toby Keith…

 

 

She likes the music of Kenny Chesney…

 

 

 

 

The City of Boston is very beautiful…

 

 

 

Anything Irish is great…

 

 

She shares a great passion for football, and we’ve both been fans of Randy Moss (albeit at different points of his career)…

 

 

She loves hockey…

 

 

 

 

But I draw the line at two things…Pink Hats and the Red Sox!

 

AP

 

 

Odds & Ends

 

Kudos to the Dallas Cowboys for finally taking a stand against players of questionable character.  After years of letting performance take precedence over character, I am glad to see that Jerry Jones has boldly released WR Terrell Owens and S Roy Williams.  Say what you will about the Arizona Cardinals, but owner Bill Bidwell has generally drafted based on character and is not shy about cutting loose a mistake regardless of talent.  Their approach resulted in a Super Bowl appearance this year.  As much as my favorite team, the Vikings, need a wide receiver, there is absolutely no way that I’d ever condone the signing of Owens.  I want to experience what a Super Bowl championship would feel like, but not like that…

 

 

 

I was sad to see that it’s “Sun-down” in Phoenix.  There had been hope that Amare Stoudemire would be able to recover from surgery to repair a torn retina in time to return for the play-offs if the Suns make it.  However, that possibility has been ruled out by his doctor, who indicated that the healing is excruciatingly slow and delicate.  It doesn’t look like Shaq will get a chance for another ring.

 

NBAE/Getty Images

 

Happily, it’s Friday night!  It’s great that the weekend has arrived, but we do lose an hour on Sunday morning at 2 am due to daylight savings time.  I guess it puts me one hour closer to the duel…

The Man-Ram Negotiations…

Longest Records

Gunsmoke holds the record for the longest running TV Series.  It aired on CBS for 20 years, from 1955 to 1975…

The Simpsons, which debuted in 1990, is the longest running animated series.  It was recently renewed for at least two more seasons which will make it the longest running TV Series…

The longest running TV Show is Meet The Press, which went on the air November 6, 1947…

The longest running marathon is the Boston Marathon, which has been run for 112 years…

AP

The longest running Broadway Show is The Phantom of the Opera, which opened January 26, 1988…

The longest recorded duration for balancing on one foot is 76 hours and 40 minutes.  This was accomplished by Arulanantham Suresh Joachim at Vihara Maha Devi Park Open Air Stadium in Sri Lanka from May 22, 1997 to May 25, 1997…

On a related note, Manny Ramirez has finally re-signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers…

 

The deal is at $45 million for two years.  Manny will get $25 million for the 2009 season and has until November to decide whether to void the second season, which calls for $20 million.  There is some deferred money involved despite Scott Boras’ reluctance to accept same.  The deal also includes a full no-trade provision.

This ordeal might have been just as excrutiating as long season’s debacle with the Packers and Brett Favre.

But at least it’s done, and Manny can take his bat and dreadlocks to Arizona.  But considering that Derek Lowe is in Atlanta, Brad Penny is in Boston and Clayton Kershaw is not quite ready to reach for his potential, Manny should have the month of October off to contemplate his future…

 

A-Rod, Repeat After Me, “No Comment”…

According to MLB.com, Alex Rodriguez was reaping praise about the New York Mets’ very talented shortstop Jose Reyes, and he made a comment that he wished Reyes was on the Yankees.  Of course, the comment slams not just one but two players…shortstop Derek Jeter and leadoff hitter Johnny Damon.

After weeks of listening to Alex say the wrong things, maybe he should consider saying nothing…

Where is Agent Smith when you need him?  ;)

Then again, you can’t always believe what Alex says…

 

Coke, It’s The Real Thing…

After watching Phil Coke pitch this spring, I am very impressed.  His fastball is only 92 to 94 MPH, however, it looks faster…deceptively faster. 

It definitely makes me appreciate that he was not included in the Pirates trade that brought Xavier Nady to the Yankees. 

I am looking forward to watching Coke out of the bullpen for the entire season this year.  I am with the majority that believes the Yankee bullpen will be very solid this year (with or without Joba Chamberlain serving in a setup role). 

I suspect that Joe Girardi will be reaching for a Coke quite often this season…

A Yankee Remembered…

Another Loss from the Yankee Dynasty Years…

 

Another lesser known but important Yankee passed away this week.  Tom Sturdivant, who was a member of Yankee teams that played in three consecutive World Series from 1955 through 1957, has died at age 78.  The cause of death was not immediately known.

 

 

Sturdivant went 16-8 in 1956 and 16-6 in 1957.  He led the American League in won-lost percentage in ’57, and was second in ERA at 2.54.  He hurt his arm the next year, and was never the same.  He was subsequently traded to Kansas City in 1959.  He spent the remainder of his career, which ended in 1964, Boston, Washington, Pittsburgh, Detroit and the New York Mets.

 

Sturdivant was a member of the 1956 World Series rotation that threw five straight complete games, a feat that has not been matched since. The rotation consisted of Whitey Ford, Sturdivant, Don Larsen, Bob Turley and Johnny Kucks. 

 

Sturdivant evened the ’56 World Series at 2 games apiece on October 7, 1956, with a complete game 6-2 victory.  It set the stage for the next day when Don Larsen threw the only perfect game in World Series history.

 

In his final season, on May 31, 1964, Sturdivant combined with three other New York Met relievers to hold the Giants scoreless through 19 2/3 innings (in a game the Mets finally lost in the 23rd inning).

 

So Much For What’s His Name

 

Now that T.J. Houshmandzadeh has signed with the Seattle Seahawks instead of the Minnesota Vikings, it removes the pressure for me to learn how to pronounce his name.  Surely, there is some free agent Wide Receiver somewhere named Smith or Jones…

 

Actually, there are some quality wide receivers available, although nobody quite in T.J.’s category.  The Vikings still need a playmaker opposite Bernard Berrian.

 

The latest rumors indicate possible Vikings interest in Denver quarterback Jay Cutler.  Cutler, refusing to speak with Broncos management over their denial of trade discussions, may hasten his departure from Denver with his current stance.  Of course, it’s not exactly like he’s John Elway.  I am not sure that he has done enough in the league to warrant his obstinate approach regarding alleged trade rumors.  However, despite the Vikings acquisition of QB Sage Rosenfels, Cutler would be a very nice addition for the Vikings.

 

 

Odds & Ends…

 

On the heels of signing SS Orlando Cabrera, the Oakland A’s have inked Nomar Garciaparra.  “No-mah” will be the starting DL for the A’s…

 

See full size image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

QB Kurt Warner’s flirtation with the San Francisco 49ers reminds me of Timothy Hutton’s new TV series…“Leverage“.  Seriously, about 10 to 15 years ago, would a player have used to the 49ers to sign with the Cardinals?  Um, probably not…

 

Derek Jeter hit a two-run single in the third inning to help power Team USA past the New York Yankees today in exhibition play. Granted, Kevin Youklis also added a two-run single, but it was painful to see DJ represent the primary reason for a Yanks loss. He also scored a run on a based loaded error in the sixth inning by Angel Berroa.  

 

What’s with the influx of Baltimore Ravens to the New York Jets?  First, there was coach Rex Ryan.  Then, the Jets signed LB Bart Scott.  Now, they’ve reached an agreement with S Jim Leonhard.  If the exodus continues, I don’t think the Ravens will be a threat to prevent the Patriots from reaching the play-offs again anytime soon.

 

 

Randy Johnson pitched three scoreless innings, and struck out 7 of the 12 batters he faced in a Cactus League match-up between the San Francisco Giants and the Arizona Diamondbacks. Working out some anger management issues there, Randy?  The Giants won the game, 7-6.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What, Me Worry?…

Posada’s Shoulder

I have to admit that my biggest fear about the upcoming season is the health of an aging 37 year-old catcher’s surgically-repaired right shoulder. 

Jorge Posada sat out Saturday’s 7-3 exhibition loss to the Minnesota Twins due to shoulder soreness.  He downplayed the severity of the soreness after the game.  “I am not concerned at all.”  Posada said.  “I did something I wasn’t supposed to do and it’s sore.”

 

Courtesy Mad Magazine

Jorge is a competitive guy.  Once the regular season gets underway, he could either be tentative out of concerns for “over-doing” it or he could get caught up the heat of the moment and literally throw his shoulder out.  With Jorge’s competitiveness, I would suspect the latter to be a very real possibility. 

There is no Plan B.  Jose Molina is a good back-up but he has proven that he is not a starting catcher.  He cannot be depended upon over the long haul, nor is Kevin Cash a long-term solution.  There is hope in the farm system with Austin Romine and Jesus Montero, but neither guy is ready for major league action right now.  The Yankees need to develop a sound contingency plan for ‘what if’. 

There are other uncertain positions on the team, such as center field and right field.  But in those situations, the Yankees have choices.  If the first choice doesn’t work out, they can still fall back to the other option and should be okay.  But with catching, they have a front line starter with average, capable back up support.  Take away the front line catcher, and there’s not much left.

I am hopeful that Brian Cashman is actively working to identify a solution.  There’s is too much riding on this season to depend upon Posada’s health at this stage of his career.  Theo Epstein is in a relative similar situation in Boston as Jason Varitek’s skills are declining with age.  It will be interesting to see whether Cash or Theo is more successful at addressing their team’s needs by the the end of spring training…

Ron Gardenhire’s Comments

I saw the comments by Ron Gardenhire yesterday where he felt that the Yankees weren’t done yet.  It was an apparent, but unsaid, reference to the Los Angeles Dodgers’ inability to re-sign Manny Ramirez. 

I honestly do not believe that the Yankees will enter the mix for Manny regardless of what happens with the Dodgers.  I would really believe the Giants would sign Manny before the Yankees would.  Contrary to public opinion, even the Yankees have a budget and they’ve been affected by the poor economy like every other team. 

I think it is more imperative for the Yankees to figure out solutions for other current weaknesses on the team before they enter the fray for Manny Ramirez. 

Would I love to see Manny in the Bronx?  Absolutely.  But looking at the whole picture, it does not make sense and there are still too many shortcomings in other areas that need to be addressed.

Jim Bowden Resigns…

Jim Bowden has finally stepped down as the GM for the Washington Nationals, and it is about time.  Regardless of whether he is innocent or guilty regarding the federal government’s investigation into skimming signing bonuses, he had become too much of a distraction for the Nationals.

Haraz Ghanbari/AP

When I first heard that Jose Rijo had taken a leave of absence (later fired) regarding the bonus given to the “prospect” with the falsified age, I wondered why the GM was not being held accountable.  It seemed as though Rijo was being made the scapegoat, and that responsibility rested higher within the organization. 

It wasn’t that long ago Bowden was mentioned as a possible successor for Brian Cashman (before he subsequently re-signed with the Yanks).  Now, Bowden is most likely done depending upon how the investigation turns out…

It’s a sad situation for an organization that deserves better.

Re-tooling the Vikings…

Okay, I was a little disappointed to see the Vikings miss out on QB Matt Cassel, but I do still believe that Sage Rosenfels was an upgrade over Gus Frerotte.  Had Cassel been dealt to the Vikings, he would have been the clear starter.  Rosenfels, on the other hand, will enter camp in competition with Tavaris Jackson.  I have not heard much about John David Booty, so I don’t know how his development is coming along or if he projects to anything more than a career as a backup. 

Somehow, Vikings backup QB’s have a tendency to go elsewhere and find new life (i.e., Rich Gannon).  Tyler Thigpen, who started for the Chiefs last year, is another example, although he’s been relegated to backup status with the Chiefs’ acquisition of Cassel. 

Nevertheless, I am hopeful that the Vikings cash savings with Rosenfels (instead of pursuing someone like Cassel) allows them to re-sign C Matt Birk. 

On Saturday, owner Zygi Wilf flew a private jet to Seattle to pick up WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh who had been visiting with the Seattle Seahawks on Friday.  Although I don’t know how to say or pronounce T.J.’s name, he would be a great addition for the Vikings, and a perfect complement to WR Bernard Berrian.  T.J. would potentally give the Vikings their first 90-catch WR since Randy Moss.

Prior to the free agency period, T.J. had mentioned the Vikings as a possibility.  “If I can play with Adrian Peterson, can you imagine what I would do getting 1-on-1 coverage with Adrian Peterson?”, he said.  “I am going to win 98.6% of the time with 1-on-1 coverage with him in the backfield.”

T.J. has apparently indicated that he’ll decide by tonight whether to stay in Cincinnati or sign elsewhere.  Here’s hoping that he is wearing Purple and Gold in the not-so-distant future…

 

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