November 2009

Life Is About Choices…

Doc or Josh…

 

 

Joel Auerbach/US Presswire

 

 

 

 

To repeat as World Champions, the Yankees clearly have to upgrade the middle of their pitching staff.  No offense to Andy Pettitte, but going into the play-offs with a three man rotation is not the recipe for continued success…especially if Bud Selig is successful in shortening the off-days during play-off series.  At this point in his career, Andy is better served by bringing up the rear of the rotation.  So, if the Yankees decide to pursue a frontline starter to go with CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, should they go after Roy Halladay of the Toronto Blue Jays or Josh Johnson of the Florida Marlins?

 

 


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Pitcher to pitcher, it’s easy to say that the choice should be Roy Halladay.  He is arguably the best pitcher in the American League, and he knows how to win in Boston, New York, Baltimore, Tampa and Toronto.  He is not intimidated by the Los Angeles Angels, and at 32, he is primed for a few more years of dominance.

 

 

89778752, Sports Illustrated/Getty Images /Sports Illustrated

 

 

But if it were my decision, I’d have to go with Josh Johnson.  I know that he doesn’t have Doc’s resume, and there is the age old argument that National League pitchers struggle in the American League.  However, it goes beyond just Johnson’s age (he will be 26 next season).  After undergoing Tommy John surgery in mid-2008, he is 22-6 since his return and according to FanGraphs, he ranked third in average fastball velocity this past season with 95.1 mph (behind Ubaldo Jimenez and Justin Verlander).  He enjoyed a very fine 2009 season, going 15-5, with 3.23 ERA.  He struck out 191 batters in 2009 innings.  He will continue to get better, and will soon be an elite ace if he’s not already there.

 

 

APTOPIX Braves Marlins Baseball 

 

 

Probably the bigger reason I’d pursue Johnson is that either pitcher is going to require a hefty bounty in return.  There is no doubt that the Yankees will lose the likes of Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain, and other high level talent to make a trade.  Realistically, if we are going to lose those guys, I’d rather see them pitching in the National League instead of right here in the AL East.   The counter-argument is that some team is going to pay the Blue Jays a very high price, so they’ll walk away with a much stronger team either way.  But still, I am not prepared to see Joba Chamberlain pitching for the Jays.  The AL East should be very competitive next year.  Aside from the Yankees and Red Sox, you know that the Tampa Bay Rays will be a force to be reckoned with.  The fine young talent in Baltimore is finally starting to gel and should result in a much improved Orioles squad.  So, if the Jays are smart about the pieces they receive in a Halladay trade, there will be no pushovers in the division.

 

 

Nick Markakis #21 of the Baltimore Orioles hits a home run in the fourth inning against the New York Yankees at Camden Yards April 8, 2009 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Nick Markakis

Greg Fiume/Getty Images 

 

 

The Yankees have A.J. Burnett locked up for four more years so I am not concerned about him.  However, CC Sabathia still has the right to opt out of his contract after two more years so I think it would be wise for the Yankees to go with the younger option so that they can build a cornerstone for future years.  I don’t think CC will opt out, however, as long as it exists as a possibility, it has to be considered.  Much can happen in two years.

 

 

 

 

So, I say go with Josh Johnson and send the premium Yankee talent to the National League…even if that means Doc Halladay calling Fenway Park “home”.  Yankees manager Joe Girardi is familiar with Johnson from his year as the Marlins manager in 2007, so it would aid Johnson’s transition to the Bronx.

 

 

AP 

 

 

There is a question of whether the Marlins organization will be willing to part with Johnson, but it should be interesting to see what develops in the coming weeks…

 

 

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Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

 

 

 

But tonight, I choose to see Kelly Clarkson…  :)

 

 

 

Ladies and Gentlemen…would you please rise…

 

The end of an era…

 

Bob Sheppard tells MLB.com that he's officially calling it a career after over 50 years as the public address voice of the Yankees.

Simmons/NY Daily News

 

The “Voice of God” has finally called it a career.  Bob Sheppard, 99, announced earlier today that he was finally retiring since he no longer had the stamina needed to return to his job as the PA announcer at Yankee Stadium.  Sheppard was last heard “live” at the old Yankee Stadium in 2007.

 

 

 

Health issues have kept Sheppard from returning the last couple of years, and at his age, he finally decided that he’ll never be strong enough to resume his duties.  Paul Olden, who took over for Sheppard, will continue as the Yankees PA announcer.

 

 

Sheppard began his career at Yankee Stadium on April 17, 1951.  It’s amazing how many great Yankee players have heard their names called by Sheppard.  Sheppard’s first game was the final opening day game for Yankee great Joe DiMaggio.

 

 

 

I am very thankful that I was able to hear the great voice of Bob Sheppard at many Yankee games over the years.  Derek Jeter continues to play a recording of Sheppard’s voice at each at-bat, so his voice will continue to resonate throughout the new Yankee Stadium despite never having set foot there. 

 

Yankee Stadium Inaugural Game: 1st Yankee at bat Derek Jeter - Babe Ruth's bat by skyliner72. 

 

Bob Sheppard will always be remembered as one of the Yankee Legends.  I wish him much happiness and joy in his final years.

 

Bob Sheppard

 

Shelley Duncan has joined the rank of ex-Yankees.  He refused an assignment to AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre after being dropped from the Yankees 40-man roster.  I would like to see a team give Duncan the opportunity to play at the major league level.  He has earned the right with his play and work ethic.

 

Caffalo/NY Daily News 

 

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

 


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20 is the new 17…

When does age not matter?

 

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I guess it is when the Yankees sign a “prospect” who was suspended for claiming he was only 17 years old when he was actually 20.  Eladio Moronta, a Dominican outfield prospect, was suspended earlier this year for the age discrepancy, but was reinstated on September 28th.  He is 6’1″, 183 lbs, and has been compared to Raul Mondesi.

 

 

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It is not clear how Moronta fits into the Yankees system, particularly with Austin Jackson nearly major league ready.  But for a prospect who could have commanded a signing bonus in the millions, he was signed for only $570,000.  I could live rather comfortably on $570K, but for the Yankees, that’s a drop in the bucket.  Let’s hope the signing works out…

 

 

I have to admit that I am becoming a believer in Brett Favre.  I was very skeptical when he finally signed with Minnesota Vikings after a season of ‘is he retired?  Is he not?’.  I was ready to turn over the QB reins to Tavaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels.  Of course, had that happened, there is absolutely no way that the Vikings would have been 9-1, with a 3-game lead on the Green Bay Packers.

 

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Prior to Sunday, there was much talk about how that was the point in the season where Favre begin his fade with the New York Jets in 2008.  So what did Brett do on Sunday?  He threw for 4 TD passes and completed a career-high 88 percent of his passes as the Vikings defeated the Seattle Seahawks, 35-9.  So, I guess in the Vikings case, age does not matter.

 

 

The Boston Red Sox named DeMarlo Hale as their new bench coach, replacing Brad Mills who was named as manager for the Houston Astros.  As much as I hate to admit it, it was a good move.  The Red Sox promoted AAA Pawtucket manager Ron Johnson who will become the new first base coach.  Last year’s first base coach, Tim Bogar, moves to third, replacing Hale.  I have always admired Red Sox manager Terry Francona despite my dislike for anything-Red Sox.  He showed once again that he is a master tactician.  I think the Red Sox are building a great second or third place team for 2010!  ;)

 

Boston Red Sox's David Ortiz, right, talks to third base coach DeMarlo Hale during the ninth inning of the second game of a baseball doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox on Friday, Aug. 24, 2007, in Chicago. The Red Sox won 10-1.

AP

I kind of like the talk about the Yankees pursuing Florida ace Josh Johnson.  I’d prefer that to signing free agent John Lackey, even if we have to give up quality talent in return.  I think Josh as part of the trio with CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett would be the perfect formula for a 28th world championship.  Admittedly, it wouldn’t hurt to have Matt Holliday or Jason Bay in left field!  J

 

Athlon Sports

 

Congrats to St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols and Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer for their respective MVP awards.  They were both the obvious choices and I see a trip to Cooperstown, NY for both players.  Why does Derek Jeter always lose to the Twins?  At least the Yankees, as a team, don’t share the same problem.  Nevertheless, there is no doubt that the Yankees won the World Series because of Jeter.  He meant more to the team than Mauer would have.  That doesn’t mean that I think Jeter should have beaten Mauer for MVP (I don’t), but for the Yankees, Jeter was the MVP.

 

David Bergman/SI

 

Okay, when do the free signings start?…

 

Playing Musical Chairs…

Ready, set, go!…

 

 


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It’s the start of free agency, and teams now have the right to negotiate with available free agents as teams’ exclusive rights period ended Thursday night.  Of course, there were no significant signings on Friday, but activity should pick up in the coming weeks. 

 

The big three for the Yankees are obviously Andy Pettitte, Johnny Damon, and Hideki Matsui.  Regardless of what other moves the Yanks have in mind for their rotation, I feel very strongly they should bring back Andy assuming that he wants to come back for another season.  Had he not gone to Houston for three years, Andy would potentially be in position to challenge Whitey Ford for the Yankees record for most career wins (The Chairman of the Board holds the record with 236 wins, while Andy stands at 229 career wins with the Yankees and Astros).  Andy may never reach Ford’s Yankees record, however he still has the chance to reach the 200 win milestone wearing pinstripes, needing just 8 more wins.  I think Andy is very proud of his Yankees legacy, and I do expect to see him back in the Bronx next season.

 

 

Adrien Veczan/Reuters

 

 

I would like to see the team re-sign Johnny Damon.  The only thing about Damon that concerns me is his arm-strength in left field.  Otherwise, he is still playing the game like a young man despite his age (36).  He simply makes things happen and his double-steal in the World Series was classic but typical Damon-like.  The Yankees would be wise to allow Damon to return next year on a two year deal.

 

 

Elise Amendola/AP

 

 

As much as I like Hideki Matsui and how great his timely hits have been, I see this as the end of his career in the Bronx.  Since he’s limited to DH, he simply wouldn’t get enough at-bats in the coming seasons with the need to increase the DH rotation to include older players like Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez (to allow them more rest from playing the field).

 

 

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I am sad to see Xavier Nady go, but it doesn’t sound like there’s any interest on the Yankees’ part to bring him back.  Some team is going to get a high quality guy and if healthy, a productive player.  Of course, that means he’ll probably be signing with Boston any day now…  :(

 

 

 

 

 

The rumor mill regarding Roy Halladay is gaining steam once again.  A free agent after next season, it is very likely that the Toronto Blue Jays will move Doc this off-season rather than wait until the trading deadline.  The list of teams not interested in Doc is probably shorter than the list of team who are.  The Blue Jays will be able to get a King’s ransom for Halladay and it should set them up for a bright future.  Of course, the Yankees and Red Sox are always rumored to be in the mix, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Doc go to the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Assuming that Frank McCourt isn’t too distracted or financially drained by his divorce proceedings with wife Jamie, the Dodgers need a frontline ace to compete against the Philadelphia Phillies for supremacy in the National League.  The Dodgers have a window of opportunity so they should certainly make every attempt to secure the final pieces of the puzzle in what could be Joe Torre’s last hurrah.

 

 

 

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Wow, with 15 wins, Tim Lincecum captured the NL Cy Young Award for the second consecutive year?  I am not trying to take anything away from Lincecum (15-7, 2.48 ERA), but I was surprised.  I know and understand that win total is the one statistic that a pitcher has the least amount of control over, however, I thought that Adam Wainright of the St. Louis Cardinals was the deserving choice (he led the NL with 19 wins).  His ERA was slightly higher than Lincecum’s at 2.63, but it was still very good.  You could also argue that Chris Carpenter should have won, as he had a remarkable season (17-4, 2.24 ERA despite missing time with a pulled muscle in his side).  Wainright, 19-8, captured the most first place votes, but finished third behind Lincecum and Carpenter.  I can’t help but think that if Wainright had pitched for the Mets or the Dodgers, he would have won the award.  Even the local Bay Area press was surprised by Lincecum’s win.  I was listening to San Francisco sports talk radio on Friday, and all they could talk about was how long Lincecum’s hair was going to be by Opening Day next season.  Lincecum lead the league in strikeouts with 261, and was second in ERA and third in innings pitched.  If you ask Lincecum which stat is most important, it’s WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched).  Timmy finished fourth with a WHIP of 1.047 (behind Dan Haren, Carpenter, and Javier Vazquez).  I am not saying that Lincecum was a bad choice…it was simply unexpected, in my mind.

 

 

Seattle Times

 

 

Hey Julia, I enjoyed reading the Boston Globe this morning…”Out of Synch:  Magic’s Act Again Surprises Celtics”.  Very nice!

 

 

Happy Orlando Magic beat the Celtics in playoff rematch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orlando Sentinel

 

I am going to see a show by comedian Lisa Lampanelli tonight.  I don’t know anything about her except that she is the so-called “Queen of Mean”.  I found this review of Lisa’s show by Larry the Cable Guy:  “Front row tickets to Lisa’s show are $100, and obstructed view tickets are $150″.  I’ve heard she is very raunchy so I might want to get those obstructed view tickets!  ;)

 

 

 

No Royal Pains…

 

They got it right…

 

 

 

 

The homer pick was to go with CC Sabathia for the 2009 AL Cy Young Award.  However, it was clear that Zack Greinke of the Kansas City Royals is THE right choice.  He had an incredible season.  Imagine what he could have done playing for Boston or New York.  The win-loss record wasn’t spectacular (16-8), however, the 2.16 ERA and 242 strikeouts were.  It was a dominating season and Greinke was the class of the American League. 

 

 

Ed Zurga/AP

 

Of course, “dessert” for Greinke is his upcoming nuptials this weekend to former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader Emily Kuchar.  Okay, Zack lives in a world that I will never know…

 

 

 

Congrats, Zack, on a tremendous season! 

 

 

 

I am not so sure that I like the Yankees very slow and non-reactionary approach to the early off-season.  I know that GM Brian Cashman is trying to see how many dollars in his wallet, however, the team is costing themselves money by not proactively seeking to retain certain free agents like Johnny Damon. 

 

IMAGES HAVE BEEN DIGITALLY DESATURATED) Johnny Damon #18 of the New York Yankees poses during Photo Day on February 19, 2009 at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Johnny Damon

Nick Laham/Getty Images 

 

The Yankees would be wise to start talking about an extension with Derek Jeter now rather than wait until the expiration of his current contract.  By waiting, it will most likely cost the team more than if they’d put forth the deal to secure Jeter’s pinstripe-only career.

 

 

 

Barton Silverman/The New York Times 

 

I was really shocked to hear that the only coach signed for next season is hitting instructor Kevin Long.  Even manager Joe Girardi is a lame duck with a contract set to expire after next season.  Maybe it’s just me, but it would be kind of nice to have a first or third base coach.

 

 

 

 

Maybe the Yankees have a grand master plan that will work to perfection.  They’ll walk off with top free agents John Lackey and Matt Holliday signed to very reasonable deals.  But then again, maybe they won’t and they’ll be scrambling to retain the likes of Sergio Mitre, who’s option they declined earlier today.

 

 

William Perlman/The Star Ledger 

 

Admittedly, I am a bigger fan of Theo Epstein’s quick-strike approach.  I’d rather make the moves with swiftness and confidence.  Act before your opponent has time to react.  Take a chance on the sleepers.  I dislike going into September of a pennant chase with Sergio Mitre as your fifth starter.  I know that you can’t have an All-Star at every position, however, there are a number of low budget moves the Yanks can make to strengthen the team for its defense of the World Series championship.  If he’s ready, I would like to see Austin Jackson in center, but that does mean the team needs proven production from the corners.  I liked Boston’s pickup of Jeremy Hermida and I think the Yankee scouts should be doing their homework on the next breakout players.  Last off-season, I would have loved to have acquired the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Andre Ethier.  Now, after the successful season he had in 2009, he’d be impossible to acquire.  But he could have been had pre-2009.  I know, I keep waiting for the next Paul O’Neill, however, those type of deals can be made.

 

 

Andre Ethier #16 of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks on from the dugout during a game against the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium on June 30, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.

Jeff Gross/Getty Images 

 

With the rumors of whether or not 2010 will be the final season for Dodgers manager Joe Torre, I do feel bad that he has to endure the divorce battle between Frank and Jamie McCourt.  There has been talk of contract negotiations between Torre and the team so hopefully the divorce situation won’t adversely impact Torre.  Ultimately, I am a fan of Don Mattingly as the next Dodgers manager, however, it should, respectively, be on Joe Torre’s terms.

 

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If the Yankees do non-tender Chien-Ming Wang, I do hope that they move quickly to sign him to an incentive-laden deal.  I still think that Wang can be the pitcher he was in 2006 and 2007.  I was frustrated last season, however, he clearly was not healthy.

 

 

Lucy Nicholson/Reuters 

 

I’ll be headed to Arizona in a few weeks to finally see Brett Favre play as the Minnesota Vikings take on the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale, AZ.  I haven’t seen the Vikings play (in person) for about 20 years.  The last time was against the Dallas Cowboys in Irving, Texas.  The Vikings won a shoot-out in overtime, 44-38.  A quick Google search tells me that it was 22 years ago on Thanksgiving Day.  Hopefully, December 6th in the Sonoran Desert will be equally exciting and with the same result!

 

 

 

 

The previous week will start with a Kelly Clarkson concert (oh yeah!) and will also include a Broadway play in New York City, so here’s hoping for a GREAT week for ME!  J

 

 


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Life is Better…When You Are a Yankees Fan…

 

Yankees fans are everywhere…

 

 

Even the Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre admittedly that he was pulling for the Yankees during the World Series.  Okay, maybe he has good reason, but you can find us Yankee fans in the most unlikely places.  Don’t look now, but the person standing next to you could be a Yankees fan!  ;)

 

 

Of course, in a championship year, that’s the problem.  Suddenly, everyone is a fan.  In the down years, not many people admitted they were Yankees fans.  I have stood by the team through thick and thin, but I recognize that the good times have outweighed the bad times.  As a lifelong fan of the Minnesota Vikings, I knew the heartbreak of championship losses (four Super Bowl losses in the Joe Kapp/Fran Tarkenton eras).  The Vikings have never won a championship and they haven’t been in the Super Bowl since that dreadful 32-14 loss to the Oakland Raiders on January 9, 1977.  I am still haunted by the visions of Brent McClanahan’s fumble, Willie Brown’s 75-yard interception return for a touchdown, and Chuck Foreman sitting on his helmet with a blank expression at the end of the game.

 

 

 

Anyway, I digress.  “Yankees fan” Joe Torre was in New York for his annual Safe at Home foundation benefit dinner, and he indicated he was pleased the Yankees won the World Series.  That was good to hear, particularly considering that he would have every reason to hold bitterness against the Steinbrenners and Yankee top brass for how the end of his managerial reign was handled.  Don’t worry Joe, we would have pulled for you had the situation been reversed.

 

 

 

It does sound like Joe wants to continue to manage beyond 2010.  He is still having fun, but I still think his wife will eventually help him realize that it’s time to step aside and turn over the team to Donnie Baseball.  So, I guess the question is how many World Series championships can Joe Girardi win before Joe Torre retires?  ;)

 

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John Munson/The Star Ledger 

 

I was sad to hear the situation in Texas with former Yankees closer John Wetteland.  The initial reports came out that he was hospitalized for depression and attempted suicide.  His employer, the Seattle Mariners (where he is bullpen coach), stated that the hospitalization was due an elevated heart rate.   Wettleland has since been released from the hospital but regardless of what happened, I hope that he gets the care and treatment that he needs. 

Watching Mariano Rivera set up Wettleland in 1996 was a thrill, and I remember being a bit unsure when the team made Rivera the closer following Wetteland’s free agent departure that winter.  Wetteland was a great Yankee, even if his stay was short.  He deserves much happiness and success, so I hope all goes well in his world.

 

 

Did you see that Derek Jeter has a cameo appearance on Will Ferrell’s next film, “The Other Guys” which also stars Mark Wahlberg?  I guess he’s starting to contemplate a career post-Yankees.  But of course, the Yankees have a few more championships to win before that happens!

 

 

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Hey Derek, stick with the day job!  ;)

 

–Scott

 

 

 

Why Do We Always Worry About THEM?…

 

How can we enjoy the Championship off-season when the Red Sox are just so darn busy?…

 

 

The champagne on the Yankee Stadium clubhouse floor hadn’t dried when it was announced that the Red Sox had acquired promising outfielder Jeremy Hermida from the Florida Marlins.  Hermida, 25, has underachieved in Miami but something tells me that he is about to blossom in Beantown.

 

Roger Williams/UPI 

 

As expected, the Red Sox exercised the option for Victor Martinez, the 2010 starting catcher and they re-signed the ageless Tim Wakefield for two years.  The team did not pick up the option of former starting catcher Jason Varitek, however, I fully expect him to exercise his player option for a return in 2010 to back up Martinez.  I agree with Julia that Tek is a manager in waiting so I see next year as a transition year to coaching.  It would not surprise me at all to see him on Terry Francona’s staff in 2011.

 

Bob Breidenbach/The Providence Journal 

 

As much as I would like to see Jason Bay sign with the Yankees, I fully expect him to return to Boston.  I think the Yankees need a solid addition for the outfield, but I do not expect them to pursue either Bay or Matt Holliday.  I’d like to see them pursue someone like Jeremy Hermida…oops, too late!  Nevertheless, I am sure that there are other deals that could be made under the radar for a potential horse.

 

AP 

There have been rumors that Boston will acquire San Diego Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.  That’s a deal, if it happens, which would not surprise me and would significantly strengthen the Sox.

 

Adrian Gonzalez

Brad Mangin/Sport Illustrated 

 

That, in turn, could force the Yanks to be major players for Angels starter John Lackey.  Imagine Lackey as the #2 starter behind CC Sabathia, sliding A.J. Burnett to third.  That would be a top trio in baseball, and one that would virtually guarantee a return to the post-season next year.

 

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William Perlman/The Star Ledger 

 

I hope this off-season does not turn into another Brett Favre-like ordeal with pitcher Andy Pettitte.  If Andy wants to come back for at least one more year, and I think he does, the Yanks should move quickly to wrap him up on a one year deal.  The Red Sox showed Tim Wakefield much respect by how quickly they tore up his contract and signed him to a new two-year deal.  The Yankees need to give Andy the same respect.

 

Andy Pettitte, Angels, Yankees, pitcher

Jae C. Hong/AP

 

I saw that the Los Angeles Dodgers announced that Joe Torre’s staff would return intact for 2010.  It will be Torre’s final year on his current contract, although I read he is in negotiations for a new contract.  During his final years, I remember always hearing how his wife wanted him to retire and spend time with their daughter.  Here we are years later and the daughter is getting older.  Yet, Torre continues to manage.  Maybe he just can’t get managing out of his blood.  I hope it is something more like that than possible revenge against the Yankee brass or the desire to prove that he can win without the support of the Steinbrenner’s money.  I don’t want to take away from Don Mattingly but if he wants to be a future manager, is hitting coach the right spot?  I have always heard that Bench Coach or Third Base are better positions for future managers.  I still think that Donnie Baseball will replace Torre as Dodgers manager, however, it looks like it may be a few more years.

 

Don

latimes.com

 

Pedro Feliz may have hit a home run in Game 4 of the World Series, however, it didn’t take the Philadelphia Phillies long to say goodbye to their third baseman.  Thanks for all you do Pedro, but don’t let the door hit you on the way out!

 

AP

 

Why is my worst fear that the Yankees will be staring at Roy Halladay on the mound when April 5, 2010 rolls around?  I hope not, but of course, I am sure that a certain Red Sox blog will be gleefully delighted…

 

Paul Battaglia/AP 

A Trip Down the Canyon of Heroes…

 

I wish we could do this more often…

 

Josh Haner/The New York Times

 

Those were the words of Yogi Berra as he travelled down the Canyon of Heroes yesterday during the Yankees Parade in New York City.

 

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I am right there with ya, Yogi!  Let’s do it again next year!

 

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Andrew Mills/The Star Ledger

 

Yankee Fans Celebrate Their 2009 World Series Champions

Jennifer Brown/The Star Ledger

 

Friday was the day for Yankees fans all over the World.  Of course, most of us couldn’t make the trip to the City, but about two million fans lined the streets as the floats bearing the Yankee players made their way down Manhattan.

 

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Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post 

 

When the season started, who would have thought this would have been possible?  A-Rod was on the DL after undergoing hip surgery, so the starting third  baseman was Cody Ransom.  The bullpen was imploding regularly, led by Jose Veras.  Mark Teixeira forgot his bat in Tampa.  And there were regular calls for the head of manager Joe Girardi.  Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that little 0-8 start against the guys from Beantown.  Nevertheless, Alex Rodriguez returned in May and the team, figuratively and literally, never looked back.  When Boston was winning their championships, they displayed a ‘don’t quit’ mentality, and that was never more evident for the Yankees than this season.

 

The third baseman's huge hit ties the game up at 3 and the game heads into the 12th.

Antonelli/NY Daily News 

 

The off-season acquisitions were tremendous.  I know, the jokes about the Yankees’ financial advantage have reverberated throughout the country.  I think Conan O’Brien’s line was “It’s amazing what hard work, determination and a half billion bucks will do for you!”.  While I agree that they have the revenue to keep the team competitive year in and year out, if you don’t spend the money on the right players, you will not win.  Every year is a challenge to put together the right mix of team chemistry.  Sometimes it is less about ability than it is cohesiveness.   GM Brian Cashman certainly deserves much credit for putting together the 2009 Yankees.  I am not sure that this could have happened a few years ago when there was a clear power struggle between the Yankees front office in New York and the group in Tampa, led by Mark Newman.

 

CC Sabathia (l.) celebrates with fans (and Mark Teixeira, r.) along Canyon of Heroes.

Kathy Willens/AP 

 

During the season, I felt the Yankees needed to make a move for a frontline starter and it was difficult to watch Cliff Lee go to Philadelphia and Scott Kazmir to the Angels.  But in the end, Cash was right to stand pat.  We didn’t give up any major talent, and now super prospect Austin Jackson stands ready in the wings to take command of center field.  A trade for a quality starting pitcher could have potentially cost the Yankees Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, A-Jax, or one of the other high level prospects that can contribute to Yankee success in 2010 or 2011.  So, thanks to Cash for executing a brilliant plan and sticking to it.  His perseverance guaranteed the trip down the Canyon of Heroes, and hopefully ensures that this will not be the last one for owner George Steinbrenner. 

 

George Steinbrenner with daughter Jessica at the Yankees' home opener.

Sipkin/NY Daily News 

 

A few memories from yesterday’s parade…

 

Hideki Matsui at parade 11-06-09

Jennifer Brown/The Star Ledger

 

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Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

 

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Kevin P. Coughlin

 

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Getty Images

 

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Victoria Will/New York Post

 

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Paul Martinka

Congratulations to the 2009 World Champions…

 

New York Yankees!

 

Mariano Rivera and the New York Yankees celebrate winning their 27th World Series championship, beating the Philadelphia Phillies in six games.

 

Sipkin/NY Daily News

 

In other notes, the Angels acted very quickly in re-signing former Yankee Bobby Abreu to a two-year $19 million deal.  It is a good move on their part.  He helped to energize an Angels line up that came within one team of making it to the World Series.

 

bobby-abreu.jpg 

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

 

The Red Sox were also very quick to make a move as they acquired young, under-achieving outfielder Jeremy Hermida from the Florida Marlins.  What, are the Marlins the minor league farm club for the Red Sox?  This is starting to feel like what the Kansas City A’s were to the Yankees back in the 50′s.  Nevertheless, Hermida is a former first round pick and is only 25.  The Red Sox gave up a couple of minor league pitching prospects but not any of their upper shelf talent.  This was a very good low-risk, high-reward move by Theo Epstein.

 

Lynne Sladky/AP

 

The Yankees primary concerns heading into the off-season will be the statuses of Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon, and Andy Pettitte.  Of the three, the only one I expect to return is Andy Pettitte.  I think Pettitte will take his usual time to decide if he’ll return but then he’ll sign a one-year deal somewhere around or after Christmas.  Matsui, the World Series MVP, and Damon are less certain.  Time and again, Matsui delivered the key hit to rescue the Yanks.  However, he is a liability in the field and the Yanks have too many DH-types.  I like Damon’s attitude and versality, however, I’d like to see someone with a stronger arm in left field.  You’ll never see Damon gun someone down at the plate, unless the runner is Drew Carey…

 

 

I think both Xavier Nady and Chien-Ming Wang are gone, although I do have reluctance in seeing both leave.

 

Kim Klement/US Presswire

 

 

In Los Angeles, it looks like Manny Ramirez will be back for another year with Joe Torre and the Dodgers.  Manny exercised his $20 million player option on Friday.  I think Manny has a lot to prove during the coming year.  I cannot say that I followed the team closely during the season, but it seemed to me that the Dodgers were a stronger unit while Manny was serving his 50-game suspension.  It will be interesting to see which Manny shows up in the spring.

 

 

The fourth-ranked University of Iowa Hawkeyes look to extend their streak against Northwestern.  I have been a Hawkeyes fan for as long as I can remember…I guess it’s a product of growing up in an Iowa farming community.   The stakes are very high for the 9-0 Hawks at this point in the season.  They lead the Big Ten, however, the Ohio State Buckeyes loom in the horizon.  The Buckeyes play the Penn State Nittany Lions in a very pivotal game this weekend, and then the Hawkeyes and Buckeyes will meet for the final regular season game.  I’ll be pulling for Penn State, but hopefully the Hawks can continue their ride in the driver’s seat.  Of course, they have been cursed by the cover of Sports Illustrated so I am a little uneasy…

 

 

Hey Julia, I was reading the Boston Globe and read something about the Boston Celtics getting “sunburned”.  I hope they’re okay!  LOL!  So much for the streak!  J

 

Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett, foreground, reacts to a foul called on him as Phoenix Suns forward Jared Dudley (3) looks on during the second half.

Associated Press

We are the Champions of the World!…

 

The 2009 World Champions!…

 

Nick Laham/Getty Images

 

I knew that Andy, at his best would give up about 3 or 4 runs, and I had a feeling that this would come down to the bullpen. 

 

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

 

On my FaceBook page, I started the day by posting this Bob Lemon quote:

“I’ve come to the conclusion that the two most important things in life are good friends and a good bullpen.”

Those words rang true as the game ultimately came down to the strength of the Yankees bullpen.  Damaso Marte did an outstanding job, but in the end, it was the legendary Mariano Rivera who delivered the 27th World Championship to New York.

 

Nick Laham/Getty Images

 

Deservedly so, Hideki Matsui was named the Series MVP.  At this point, I simply cannot imagine a scenario where the Yankees allow the clutch bat of Matsui to walk in the off-season.  More than likely, this means the end of Johnny Damon’s Yankee career.  But I fully expect to see Godzilla in Tampa next spring.

 

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

 

It was sad that George Steinbrenner could not be in attendance, but perhaps this championship was for Hal Steinbrenner.  In 1923, the original Yankee Stadium opened with a World Championship.  In 2009, it’s a new stadium but the same result.  What a way to christen the new home of Aura and Mystique! 

 

Nick Laham/Getty Images 

 

Manager Joe Girardi earned the number on his back, and he can always wear it with pride.  He personally delivered it to the fans of New York, and it will be great to see the parade return to the Big Apple. 

 

Al Bello/Getty Images 

 

Is there anyone who doesn’t believe that Mariano Rivera will be a first ballot Hall of Famer?  It has been tough for closers to gain entry to Cooperstown, but the legend of Mo Rivera will be long remembered.  He is the greatest closer in Yankee history, and certainly one of the best ever in Major League baseball.

 

Nick Laham/Getty Images

 

Going away from the Series, I have to say that I am glad the Yankees didn’t have to face Chase Utley more than they did.  The guy is a stud, and certainly one of the premier players in the game.  Cliff Lee also proved that he is truly an ace.  It’s not like he had anything to prove before the Series, but on the grandest stage of all, he showed that he is a champion.  There is no doubt that the Phillies will be back…

 

Nick Laham/Getty Images

 

A World Championship celebration in the Bronx…the way it was meant to be.  Life is good.

 

Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez score on Hideki Matsui's two-run double in the fifth as New York Yankees win their 27th championship.

Sipkin/NY Daily News

 

Hey Julia, I am ready for Opening Day 2010!  Bring on the Red Sox!  My friend, it is Game On!

 

 

Your Mission, Should You Chose to Accept It…

Here we go…

 

 The New York Yankees

 

Getty Images

 

The World Series hits the home stretch with a return to Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night.  Perhaps this is the way it was meant to be.  A championship in front of the home crowd instead of a slew of Phillie Phanatics…

 

 

 

 

It was a gamble to pitch A.J. Burnett on short rest.  CC Sabathia was one thing, but A.J. has proven this season that he is not CC.  A.J. relies too much on the perfection of his pitches, so when he’s off, he is really off…

 

 

 

Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

 

 

The result was a hole that the Yankees couldn’t dig out of, although to their defense, they tried.  I really thought they had a chance in the 9th inning of Game 5 until Derek Jeter hit into the double play. 

 

 

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images 

 

 

In the end, the two home runs by Chase Utley were simply too  much.  So, the Phillies emerged with the 8-6 victory to cut the Yankees’ Series lead to 3 games to 2.

 

 

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images 

 

The Yankees are gambling in Game 6 with Andy Pettitte on short rest.   With Andy, you are most likely not going to get a stellar performance.  It will either be an average performance with no more than 3 or 4 runs to keep the Yankees in the game, OR it will be a disaster like Game 6 of the 2001 World Series when Andy lost to the D-Backs, 15-2.  I was at the game, and accidentally dropped a beer in disgust (sorry to those of you who were around me!). 

 

 

81442113, Sports Illustrated/Getty Images /Sports Illustrated

Getty Images 

 

The Yankees need to go into the game with Plan A and Plan B.  Plan B should be to have Chad Gaudin ready to go in case Pettitte doesn’t have it.   I’d hate to be three or four innings in and down 7-0.  If it’s obvious that Andy doesn’t have it, manager Joe Girardi should be quick to make a change.  This is where a solid pitching acquisition at the trading deadline would have been huge.  Not that I think the Rays would have been agreeable to trading within the division, but having a Scott Kazmir at this point would probably be much preferable to pitching Andy on short rest.  Nevertheless, this is the hand that we have been dealt so it is up to the Yankees to make the most of it.

 

 

 

 

If Ryan Howard comes around, this Series is going to get ugly in a hurry.  They’ve got to continue to keep him off the bases, and they need to figure out how to stop Chutley.  They also need to keep the game close until they can get into the Phillies bullpen which is clearly a weakness.  This has been the season of walk-off’s for the Yankees so it’s time to finish the season with one…

 

 

 

Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post

 

Before the series is over, I do want to say that baseball is not the same without Harry Kalas.  The long-time Phillies announcer passed away earlier this season, and he is missed.  It is very unfortunate that he was unable to experience the back-to-back World Series for the Phillies.  Here is a quote from Wikipedia:

 

“Swing … and a long drive, and this ball is … outta here! Home run <insert player’s name here>.” 

 

I have been a fan of the University of Iowa since I was, as the saying goes, “knee-high to a grasshopper”.  Kalas was a 1959 graduate.  So, win or lose (hopefully lose!), this one’s for Harry…

 

 

 

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