The Yankees starting center fielder is…
TBA on Thursday. Seriously? The word is that manager Joe Girardi will announce his starting center fielder on Thursday. He had been toying with playing Granderson in left and Brett Gardner in center, but c’mon, there is really no choice but to start Granderson in center. The higher risk player is Gardner, and if he fails in center, it would be tougher to move Granderson from left to center than it would be to just find a replacement left fielder assuming that Gardner is named to start in left as expected. I suspect that Randy Winn will see a fair amount of playing time, as will Marcus Thames if he makes the roster…and starts to hit (something that he has been unable to do this spring).
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Everyone was amazed with the switch-pitching of prospect Pat Venditte this week. The 24-year-old has no hope of making the final roster, and I’ve always heard that he is not a legitimate major league prospect, but it was still an interesting story. I enjoyed reading the rules about ambidextrous pitchers. I am sure that they had to blow off the dust to find these:
MLB Rule 8.01 (f), regarding ambidextrous pitchers
A pitcher must indicate visually to the umpire-in-chief, the batter and any runners the hand with which he intends to pitch, which may be done by wearing his glove on the other hand while touching the pitcher’s plate. The pitcher is not permitted to pitch with the other hand until the batter is retired, the batter becomes a runner, the inning ends, the batter is substituted for by a pinch-hitter or the pitcher incurs an injury. In the event a pitcher switches pitching hands during an at-bat because he has suffered an injury, the pitcher may not, for the remainder of the game, pitch with the hand from which he has switched. The pitcher shall not be given the opportunity to throw any preparatory pitches after switching pitching hands. Any change of pitching hands must be indicated clearly to the umpire-in-chief.
I am still very skeptical if Venditte will ever make the major leagues, but I wish him much luck and success in his journey. It would be tremendous to have a weapon that could turn around hitters without a pitching change.
Noah Addis/The Star Ledger
Phil Hughes found out that he’ll be staying in Tampa for an extended spring training, with a first start not scheduled until April 15th. The Yankees do not need a fifth starter during the first couple of weeks of the season, and there had been talk that Hughes would be sent down to AAA until he was needed. This is probably a better and palatable solution for Hughes. Once you’ve made it to the Show, it’s kind of hard to step back a level regardless of the circumstances.
What are the odds of hitting your mother in the stands with a foul ball? That’s exactly what happened to the Minnesota Twins’ Denard Span today in the Twins’ 4-2 victory over the Yankees. He hit a foul ball that struck his mother in the collarbone. The hardest part for Span was watching his mother cry, but fortunately, she’s okay. That was definitely a very scary and ironic story…
The Toronto Blue Jays pinned the first loss as a Phillie on former ace Roy Halladay today in the Jays’ 5-2 win over Philadelphia. Okay, it wasn’t an official loss, but still, there was a bit of irony that the first “loss” would come against the Jays.
Gene J. Puskar/AP
The Phillies decision to go with Doc over Cliff Lee looks much stronger given the recent health challenges Lee has experienced. I still think they should have tried to find a way to keep both, but admittedly, I do not know enough about the team’s finances or infrastructure to know if that was even a possibility. Speaking of the Phils, nothing against Jamie Moyer, but I am a bit surprised that the team would go for a 47-year-old as their fifth starter over a solid 25-year-old Kyle Kendrick. Maybe Kendrick is not quite ready, but I would think his upside is much stronger. I guess there’s a reason they call the NL the “senior circuit”….
It sounds like trade talks between the Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers are heating up again involving Mike Lowell. Lowell is a favorite of my good friend Julia, but he is a man without a position thanks to the Sox free agent acquisition of third baseman Adrian Beltre. If Boston is going to pay a significant portion of his salary anyway, you’d think they would just keep him to strengthen their bench. Nevertheless, it would seem this is a trade rumor that will happen. So, Julia, I dedicate this song to you…
In the eyes of a ranger,
The unsuspected stranger
Had better know the truth of right from wrong,
Cuz the eyes of a ranger are upon you,
Any wrong you do he’s gonna see,
When you’re in Texas look behind you,
Cuz that’s where the rangers are gonna be
Good luck to Mike wherever he lands. He is the consummate team professional and he’ll be a valuable cog on any roster. Admittedly, I’d prefer to see him on anyone’s roster other than Boston’s…
Jim Davis/Boston Globe
It’s hard to believe that the 2010 season is almost upon us. This is a great time. Every team is equal, and every fan is hopeful that this will be the year. Best of luck to everyone for what I hope will be a truly fantastic baseball season regardless of the outcome. Well, for me, a 28th Yankees World Championship would be good! J
Less than a week until the Yankees travel to 4 Yawkey Way…
My nemesis last year was Julia of Julia’s Rants. The season started so great for her as the Boston Red Sox took the first eight games of the season series against the Yankees. For a time, it seemed as though the Yankees would never get a win. But then along came August, and the tide turned. Led by hip-rejuvenated Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees captured all but one of the remaining games in the series enroute to their 27th World Championship.
There was hope that Julia and I could face one another in the ALCS but John Lackey and the Los Angeles Angels had other ideas. Of course, after the season, Theo and the Red Sox decided that if you can’t beat him, sign him as they inked Lackey to a five-year deal to be their number 2 starter. I know that Josh Beckett is the ace of the staff, but if I were building a franchise, I’d pass on Beckett and Lackey and go with Jon Lester.
Barry Chin/Boston Globe
Still it was gratifying to beat Julia and to enjoy the success of a championship season (my seventh as a Yankees fan). Conversely, I am 0-for-lifetime as a fan of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings. If only Brett Favre had just tucked the ball and ran…
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Here we are ready for a new season, and the battle between Julia and I gets off to a very early start. I was listening to an interview with Boston beat writer Ian Browne and someone asked him if it was too early for Yankees-Red Sox. His response was that it could be January 19th and a foot of snow on the ground and it wouldn’t be too early. Precisely! Granted, it’s your final record that determines whether you’ll see October, but the Yankees measure themselves against the Red Sox. There is much more satisfaction in beating Boston than there is in beating, say, Kansas City. The wins are measured the same, but still a win against the Royals just doesn’t have the same meaning. I don’t want to offend my friends in Tampa because I know the Rays have the talent to win it all so this is not about disrespect. However, the rivalry between the Rays and Yankees just isn’t as deep and heated as it is against the Red Sox. There was a day that I despised the Baltimore Orioles like no other, so I am sure that the tide will eventually turn. However, right now, as it has been for most of the past decade, baseball doesn’t get any better than Yankees-Red Sox. As a Bay Area resident, I’ve been to Giants-Dodgers games, but they just don’t compare.
For our first wager, Julia and I have agreed to a book report assignment. The winner gets to send a book of his/her choice (I know, the winner pays…go figure). If the Yankees win, Julia gets to read and write a book report on the following book:
Don’t click…this was just a cut and paste from Amazon.com! The real thing will be making the trip to the Boston metro area to see my friend Julia! I chose this book because it had special meaning to me. 1947 was the year that my late father graduated from high school, and it was the dawn of the great Yankees dynasty of the early 50′s. If I could go back in time, 1927 would be my first choice so that I could watch the greatest Yankees team of all-time. But for a second choice, given all of the great Yankees clubs in the past, 1947 would be next. The team didn’t realize that it was on the verge of the greatest success in baseball history and it would have been fun to see the excitement and enthusiasm of those early years.
Yeah Joe, you can smile a little larger! You’ll be getting over on that dude next to you!
If I lose (c’mon, Carsten Charles Sabathia, don’t let me down!), I will have to read one of Julia’s favorites:
I like Julia’s essays, so I am pulling for my favorite MLB Blogger! Go Julia! Lose to the Yankees and write that book report! As Rob Schneider would say, ‘C’mon, you CAN do it!’.
Courtesy: Julia’s Rants
Congratulations to Ian Kennedy for being named to the starting rotation for the Arizona Diamondbacks. I was very frustrated at times with Kennedy and his attitude when he was with the Yankees, but I do hope that he finds success. It wasn’t that long ago when his name was mentioned in the same breath as Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes. Also, hats off to the Detroit Tigers newly named starting center fielder Austin Jackson. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy seeing Curtis Granderson in center field for the Yankees. But I will also wonder ‘what could have been’ with Ajax. He made me a believer with the way he tattooed a home run a couple of years ago in spring training. Granted, he is not a home run hitter, but he has that “it” quality people talk about. Having Johnny Damon as your personal mentor is not a bad thing so long as Damon doesn’t wear that freakin’ 2004 ring!
Andrew Mills/The Star Ledger/US Presswire
I was also glad to see Chad Gaudin land with the local Oakland A’s. It is his second go-around with the A’s, and I think he’ll thrive in their bullpen. I am only a BART trip away from the A’s Stadium, so I am sure that I’ll be there a time or two to see how he progresses in his return.
Is this really the last season of 24? Wow, those were eight fast years! On the bright side, you know that they can’t kill off Jack Bauer. Not with the proposed movie deals in the works…
How could Jesse James cheat on Sandra Bullock? I don’t get it. She is perhaps one of the most beautiful and inspirational actresses of my lifetime.
I know, I’m getting way off topic. Sorry. I’ll close with saying that I am pulling for Crystal Bowersox on American Idol! Go Crystal! Keep up what you are doing. You are special!
Joe Girardi went with the right choice…
Al Tielemans/Sports Illustrated
As expected, Phil Hughes was named to the Yankees starting rotation this week. While he may not have had the best spring of the contenders, he offers the greatest potential and we should look back in a few years with very appreciative eyes.
As soon as the move was announced, the blogs about how the Yankees have destroyed Joba Chamberlain started rolling in. I cannot say that the path Joba has taken has been the best for a young pitcher’s success, however, at the time of the original Joba Rules, he was compared to Boston’s Josh Beckett. He had pitched very effectively in the bullpen and it seemed as though he had the stuff to make the transition to staff ace. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, it was not meant to be. I truly believe the Yanks are better with Joba in the pen so long as he has a clearly defined 8th inning role setting up Mariano Rivera.
I knew that either Chad Gaudin or Sergio Mitre would be the odd man out. I had expected a minor trade of Mitre for a prospect. So I was a bit surprised when the Yankees placed Gaudin on waivers and subsequently gave him his outright release. Gaudin is young and talented enough to land on his feet. His stay in New York was short but he walks away with a ring.
After defeating the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series, the team became impossible to beat this spring. In five meetings, the Yankees were able to win only one game. Fortunately, they cannot take away the World Series championship for the ‘what have you done for me lately’ situation. Joe Girardi listened to me when I said he should choose Phil Hughes. Perhaps he should listen to me again…win World Championship #28!
It was a sad week with the removal of a significant part of the old Yankee Stadium.
Howard Smith/US Presswire
Derek Jeter wants to be a team owner? Well, he should certainly have the financial wherewithal if he has invested his money wisely. Still, it will be a sad day when Derek Jeter is associated with a team other than the Yankees. Hopefully, it won’t happen until after his playing days are over. I will always be a huge fan of Don Mattingly but the Dodgers uniform does consistently give me a jolt.
The Red Sox have announced their Opening Day starter so it will be Josh Beckett versus CC Sabathia. Hey Julia, are you ready? I am! Game on, my friend! P.S. You are going down…again!
Nancy Lane/Boston Herald
“To keep our focus toward change and behave like free spirits
in the presence of fate is strength undefeated.”
– Helen Keller
So much has been written about the vacancy in the Yankees’ starting rotation, but I still think it’s Phil Hughes’ job to lose…
The competition has been tough. The early leaders were Alfredo Aceves and Sergio Mitre, thanks to their consistently solid performances. However, in my mind, it’s always been Hughes. Aceves could go the entire spring without allowing an earned run and I’d still be behind Hughes for the 5th spot in the rotation. Aceves, for the record, was blasted for 5 runs in 4+ innings today in an 8-6 loss to the Houston Astros.
Keivom/NY Daily News
I know the Yankees invested much time trying to make Joba Chamberlain a starter. The “Joba Rules” date back to the Joe Torre era as the Yankees tried, albeit very cautiously, to build up Joba’s arm strength and stamina for 200 innings plus per season. But the truth is Joba is ideally suited for the bullpen. His make-up, demeanor, and approach is much more aggressive in a defined relief role. He has looked uncomfortable and at times lost as a starter.
My preference is for Aceves to resume his long relief role, Joba to set up Mariano Rivera (and spelling him on occasion), and Gaudin find his niche in the bullpen. Sergio Mitre has pitched well, but I’d try to trade him for a young prospect.
William Perlman/The Star Ledger
When making the decision for who will be the starter, you really have to project who has the best chance for long-term success. Regardless of who pitches the best in March, the winner needs to be someone who can give the Yankees the best chance for October success. The answer is obvious…Hughes.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Curtis Granderson was hit on the right hand in Friday night’s game, but it sounds like he’ll be fine and should be back in the lineup on Sunday. It’ll be just in time to see Phil Hughes nail the final spot in the starting rotation.
Julian H. Gonzalez/McClatchy
The talks of the Yanks’ interest in Joe Mauer reminds me of the talk we’ve heard in the past about the Yankees getting Carlos Beltran, Roy Halladay, Johan Santana, Matt Holliday, Aroldis Chapman et al. All smoke and no fire. As great as Mauer is, the Yankees do not need an injury risk at the catching position. I still think that Mauer will eventually land with the Boston Red Sox if the Minnesota Twins don’t re-sign him. Perhaps it will be a great move for the Sox, and Mauer will make fans forget Jason Varitek and Carlton Fisk. But I don’t he is a good fit for the Yankees. They’ll be fine with Jesus Montero, assuming that he doesn’t “out-grow” the position, as Jorge Posada’s eventual successor. If Montero does have to move because of his physical size, then I am willing to take my chances with Francisco Cervelli or Austin Romine.
Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger
I am amazed that Jamie Moyer, at age 47, is on the verge of nailing down a spot in the rotation for the championship-contending Philadelphia Phillies. He is definitely the Energizer Bunny…
Lori M. Nichols
Personally, I think the Washington Nationals should have kept super-prospect Stephen Strasburg in the major league starting rotation. Nevertheless, I don’t think he should buy a house or sign a long-term lease in Harrisburg, PA. He won’t be there long…
As you know, I am not a fan of the Boston Red Sox (regardless of how much my friend Julia would like for me to be). However, I do want to send my prayers and best wishes to Ryan Westmoreland, Boston’s 19-year-old outfield prospect, who underwent successful brain surgery last week. He faces a tough road and a long recovery, but at least the initial news was promising. Let’s hope the news continues on its current positive, upward trend. Regardless of whether he ever plays baseball again, I will always be a fan of his in whatever he does. I only hope that it will be nothing short of complete and absolute recovery. Ryan, we are all on your team!
Ruben W. Perez/The Providence Journal
When I saw that the University of Northern Iowa had defeated top-seeded Kansas in the NCAA Basketball Tournament, I could only think of one thing…never underestimate the power of an Iowan! Signed, an Iowan. J
I am headed to Dallas for the week on business. I pulled up the weather forecast and was shocked that it was snowing in Dallas on the first day of spring! Meanwhile, in Boston, it was 71 degrees today! What’s up with that? And why do I have to leave this gorgeous, sunny California weather?…
Is Robby Cano ready for the spotlight?…
Antonelli/NY Daily News
There has been much talk in recent days about Manager Joe Girardi’s expressed belief that Robinson Cano may be ready to move up to fifth in the batting order behind Alex Rodriguez. I agree with those who feel that 2010 will be a breakout season for Cano. So, I am in favor of the move. I do feel that Curtis Granderson will see marked improvement against lefties thanks to the tutelage of batting coach Kevin Long, however, it is now time for Cano to shine. I think Robby will prosper in the middle of the order, and A-Rod, Tex and others will be very appreciative…
Well, it appears that Alfredo Aceves has become the frontrunner for the back end of the starting rotation. I like Aceves and there is no question that he’s pitched marvelously this spring. He would be fine as the #5 starter, however, I still think the Yankees should give the job to Phil Hughes. If Hughes fails during the season, then switch to Aceves. Nothing against Ace, but I feel that Hughes has ‘front of the rotation’ stuff. He might not be the ace, but he can certainly be a solid #2 or #3 if he realizes his potential. Regardless of how this plays out, it appears that Joba Chamberlain is headed back to the pen and I think that’s a huge plus for the Yankees. As Julia Roberts would say, “HUGE!”…
The Yankees have experimented a couple of times with Curtis Granderson in left, and Brett Gardner in center. Assuming that Gardner can hit well enough to hold the position, that’s the alignment I like most (with Nick Swisher in right). But if Gardner fails, the next best thing would be Randy Winn in left, Grandy in center, and Swish in right. I like Gardner’s speed and how disruptive he can be on base, so hopefully, his bat catches up with the rest of his game this year.
It has been rumored for weeks but it was good to see Kevin Towers join the Evil Empire as a special assignment scout. I held Towers in high regard when he was GM of the San Diego Padres. There is no doubt he’ll get another GM opportunity but until then, the Yankees can leverage his talent, knowledge and expertise. It’s a win-win situation for both sides. Welcome to New York, Kevin! We’re glad to have you on our side!
Larry Goren/Icon SMI
My friend Julia alerted me to a sad story. Good for her; bad for me. I have always had much respect for Irish tenor Ronan Tynan. There was nothing like hearing his rendition of ‘God Bless America’ at Yankee Stadium. Dismissed by the Yankees in the post-season after he allegedly made anti-Semitic remarks, Ronan relocated to Boston earlier this month. At a gathering of Boston politicians on Sunday, Tynan pulled on a Red Sox jersey. I was dismayed at the news but I do hope that Ronan finds happiness and respect in Beantown. He’ll be missed…
Speaking of Julia, it seems that our first wager might involve a book assignment. If I were to lose…which of course won’t happen…I would have to read a Red Sox-themed book chosen by Julia. After reading the book within a preset time period, I would have to devote a blog to writing a review of the book. We’ll work out the details in the coming weeks but it should be a fun year in the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry. Well, at least until the Tampa Bay Rays kick both of our teams’ “arses”!
I was a bit disappointed when LaDainian Tomlinson spurned the Minnesota Vikings to sign with the New York Jets. However, how can I argue with LT’s logic when he says that he wants to live and win in New York City. That sounds like a terrific combination to me!
I went to see the Ides of March taping of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in Burbank, CA. It was a fun experience. I went to see The Late Show with David Letterman last May, and I’d have to say that The Tonight Show feels less like a cattle call than The Late Show. Also, Jay is much more personable than Dave, and more willing to laugh at himself. The Tonight Show set is also more intimate than The Ed Sullivan Theater. The wait was long (three hours) but it was worth it. The guests were Terry Bradshaw (so energetic and entertaining, as usual); Kara DioGuardi (much more beautiful and engaging than she appears to be on American Idol); and Ziggy Marley (he does his father proud!). The only thing that would be better? Why a repeat Yankees World Championship, of course!
William Perlman/The Star Ledger
Unfortunately, Johnny Damon hasn’t forgotten how to beat the Yankees…
Gene J. Puskar/AP
In Damon’s first appearance against his ex-mates, he hit an RBI single and a solo home run to power the Tigers to victory, 6-2, in Lakeland, Florida. Hopefully, this doesn’t become a regular occurrence in Yankees-Tigers matchups. Two of the hopefuls for the fifth spot in the starting rotation were the victims of Damon’s abuse. Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre each gave up three earned runs in three and four innings of work, respectively. Austin Jackson even got in on the action with some great defensive plays.
Gene J. Puskar/AP
On the bright side, the Yankees also played the Baltimore Orioles in Tampa and won 5-3 behind the heroics of Jorge Posada. Javier Vazquez was the starter and winner, but Alfredo Aceves continued to impress. So, if Phil Hughes has competition for the starting rotation, I’d have to say that Aceves is the top contender at this point. I am convinced that Joba Chamberlain is headed to the pen, and either Mitre or Gaudin (or both) will find themselves pitching elsewhere.
Gene J. Puskar/AP
Kei Igawa, perhaps the Yankees most disappointing free-agent signing in recent memory outside of anyone named Carl, saw his latest attempt to make the Yankees flame out. He was one of nine players cut and re-assigned to minor league camp. The other notable name, but not unexpected, was pitcher Andrew Brackman. The odds have definitely been against Brackman but I hope he can persevere and pitch in the big leagues one day.
Nick Latham/Getty Images
As a Minnesota Vikings fan, this has been a disappointing off-season so far. Of course, there’s the inevitable ‘will he or won’t he’ retirement talk about Brett Favre. If Favre does retire, it’s hard to get excited about the team’s offense being helmed by either Tavaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels. We’ve already seen a great running back depart when Chester Taylor signed with the rival Chicago Bears. The team wined and dined free agent LaDainian Tomlinson, but he left Minnesota for New York with no agreement. Nothing against Minneapolis, but it’s hard to compete with the city of New York. There’s no telling where LT will eventually land, but he would be a nice backup for Adrian Peterson. So far, the Vikings biggest acquisition has been the free agent signing of long kicker Rhys Lloyd. Hopefully, the Vikings will be able to make the necessary moves to ensure that their current championship quality window does not close without any hardware.
Peter Read Miller/SI
This has been an interesting year on American Idol. I have seen most of my early favorites depart, so I’ve had to find new ones to back. At this point, I am a fan of Crystal Bowersox and Lee Dewyze. I am surprised at some of those who advanced to the Top 12 and some who didn’t, but the show should start heating up in the coming weeks.
I am headed down to Burbank to see The Tonight Show with Jay Leno this week. The scheduled guests are Terry Bradshaw and Kara DioGuardi. The musical guest is Ziggy Marley. It should be a fun and energetic show to watch. I am looking forward to it. I was able to see The Late Show with David Letterman last year, so it will be fun to see how it compares to Leno. Of course, from my perspective, I can’t wait until Conan O’Brien is back on the air…
Who’s the frontrunner?
Suddenly, Sergio Mitre is gaining the backing of the New York Press in his attempt to win the fifth spot in the starting pitching rotation. I still think the winner will ultimately be Phil Hughes, but he needs to show he belongs in the rotation now and forevermore.
Cataffo/NY Daily News
What happens if Mitre doesn’t win a starting role? With the many arms competing for spots in the pen, several with long relief experience, the best case scenario might be to showcase Mitre for other teams for a possible late spring training trade. Prospects are fine, but the Yankees need to parlay Mitre into potential for the future.
Keivom/NY Daily News
It was scary to hear the news that catcher Francisco Cervelli had been plunked in the head. I was in Arizona on a business trip and somewhat removed from sports news. I received an email from my good friend Julia, who expressed legitimate concern for a Yankee even though she dislikes anything Bronx-oriented. Thanks Julia! Cervelli may be ready to play by Friday and I am hopeful for a smooth and healthy return. Cervelli, and his attitude, are definitely why I am proud to be a Yankees fan. He’s a genuinely good guy and the team is placing great faith in his ability to backup Jorge Posada. At his advancing age, Posada will need more days off so the defensive-minded Cervelli will play a huge role for the 2010 Yankees.
I gotta admit that it was nice to see Nick Johnson in the lineup again. ..
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Today was a good day. Two wins. 7-5 over the World Series rival Philadelphia Phillies, and 6-0 against Team ex-Yankees, the Pittsburgh Pirates. Considering the recent string of losses, today was a day to enjoy. I still can’t figure out why the Red Sox aren’t on the spring schedule but two wins are two wins. Well, at least until Opening Day when we pick up our first official win!
I really hope the Minnesota Twins closer Joe Nathan is not seriously hurt. I am not a Twins fan but there is something right about baseball when the Twins are competing. The loss of Nathan would be huge so hopefully the news in the coming days will be positive for Nathan and the Twins.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Count me among those who think the Baltimore Orioles will be much improved this year. If the Orioles were a stock on the NYSE, I’d definitely rate them as a buy. Kevin Millwood is formidable at the top of the rotation, but Brian Matusz flat out scares me. The O’s are quietly assembling a championship club.
I thought the Hank Blalock signing was a solid move by the Tampa Bay Rays. The AL East is going to be a battleground this year. No team can afford to let up for any stretch of the schedule. I am very thankful that Doc Halladay is no longer pitching in Toronto. Here’s my first pass at a 2010 prediction for the AL East:
1. Yankees (of course!)
3. Red Sox (a disappointing year for the newcomers! )
5. Blue Jays
For some reason, I don’t think Julia will agree…