December 2010

A Reason To Be Grateful…


I have been a Yankees fan for exactly 36 years! 


How do I know?  I
became a Yankees fan the day that free agent pitcher Jim “Catfish” Hunter,
formerly of the Oakland A’s, signed with the New York Yankees.  The date was December 31, 1974.  Prior to the signing, like many other people,
I had been a fan of the Athletics.


Catfish Hunter

Sport/Getty Images


I was fairly young so my deep interest in baseball didn’t
really materialize until after I had become a Yankees fan.  Each year, from the 1975 season until about 1982,
I kept a scrapbook on the season.  I’d
record box scores and transactions, and would collect news clippings and
photographs. 

I think it was during the 1981 season that I showed my
scrapbook to then Yankee Oscar Gamble and he autographed it for me.  I still carry these scrapbooks around with me
although they’ve been packed in storage for years.  One of those days, I will pull them and
re-live those great seasons of Catfish, Thurman Munson, Ron Guidry, Sparky
Lyle, Rich Gossage, Graig Nettles, Willie Randolph, Chris Chambliss, Bucky
Dent, Reggie Jackson, Billy Martin, and others.


 


Becoming  a Yankees
fan was easy.  One of the very first
books I recall reading as a child was a biography about Lou Gehrig.  I was probably only 7 or 8 at the time and I
was so in awe of Gehrig and the history of the Yankees.  I am not sure why I didn’t become a Yankees
fan then, but at that point, Fran Tarkenton and the Minnesota Vikings were my
main spectator sports passion.  Baseball
did not really capture my attention until the personalities of the championship
Oakland teams of the early 70′s hit the scene.


Rollie Fingers

AP  


It is hard to believe that it’s been over 10 years since
Catfish passed away.  He was a great
Yankee and one of the best pitchers of his era. 
I will forever be grateful to him for bringing me with him to the
Yankees. 


88748041, Sports Illustrated/Getty Images /Sports Illustrated

Sports Illustrated/Getty Images


As for the current Yankees, not much has been happening
but that’s to be expected this time of year. 
Once we get past the holidays, I am sure that we will see movement on
the Andy Pettitte front (will he retire as currently expected by many?).  While no frontline starting pitcher looms on
the horizon, the Yankees can help minimize the deficiencies of the starting
staff by building a superior bullpen.  I
remain hopeful the team finds a way to bring reliever Rafael Soriano on board
to set up Mariano Rivera.  That would
allow David Robertson and Joba Chamberlain to focus on the seventh inning and
prior to really shorten up the games for the starters. 


Rafael Soriano, who is under contract only for this season, surprisingly became available from the Braves and cost the Rays only a prospect in their biggest offseason move.

Getty Images


I really cringed when I heard that Bartolo Colon was
saying that several teams were interested in him, including the Yankees.  That is definitely one signing that I do NOT
want to see!


bartolo_colon_with_dominican_team


Patience, patience, patience…I know, that’s what Brian
Cashman keeps saying.  So, we’ll see what
the new year brings us!




Happy New Year to everyone!  May 2011 be your best year yet!  J



–Scott


Ending the Year on a Down Note…


There has been no Yankees news this week as it appears
the team’s focus is on Thursday’s Pinstripe Bowl between Kansas State and
Syracuse…



It always concerns me when I hear that the team cannot
focus on pressing matters when there is a specific focus in another area.  Haven’t the Yankees heard of
multi-tasking?  Instead of worrying about
whether the Wildcats or the Orangemen will win the inaugural New Era Pinstripe
Bowl, I really wish resources were dedicated to finding a pitching staff that
can compete with the Boston Red Sox. 


Johnathan Papelbon  -

Chuck Solomon/SI


As it stands, the Boston Red Sox have to be the clear
favorite to win the AL East so that leaves the Wild Card up for grabs.  There will be no shortage of AL East
competition, without even getting into the other divisions.  Baltimore and Toronto both figure to be
improved, plus there’s no way that you can count out the Tampa Bay Rays.  Maybe in years past, you could pencil in the
Yanks for at least a Wild Card slot, but that’s certainly not going to be the
case in 2011.

I was reading MLB Trade Rumors and saw their column about
Unfinished Business: AL East” and have to admit that the Yankees entry
concerns me:


Yankees: starter, right-handed outfielder. The rest of the Yankees’
offseason centers on
 Andy Pettitte‘s decision, since that will determine whether Brian Cashman has to
pursue a
 Jeff Francis/Freddy Garcia type or rely on Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre. The team will likely add a fourth outfielder who bats right handed
and consider utility infielders and relievers.


At this point, it sounds more and more like Andy Pettitte
will be staying home in Deer Park, Texas for the season.  If that’s the case, any of the above options
spell doom for the Yanks.  I am not
convinced that A.J. Burnett will have a bounce back season so we are potentially
looking at a rotation that features only two (out of five) solid starters in CC
Sabathia and Phil Hughes.  Sorry, but
that’s just not going to get it done against the likes of the Red Sox, Rays,
Tigers, Twins, Rangers, Angels, A’s or even the Orioles. 


Matt Wieters and Brian Matusz - Baltimore Orioles v Texas Rangers

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images


If, somehow, the Yankees managed to get by all of the AL
teams to advance to the World Series, they’d be ousted by the Philadelphia
Phillies, San Francisco Giants, or Milwaukee Brewers. 

I hate to be so doom and gloom when spring training is
still several months away but it is discouraging to see the other strong teams
get stronger while the Yankees wither away. 
Unless you are 23 or 24, time is not your friend.  Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez are not going
to magically have their best seasons ever. 
Those days have come and gone. 

I do still think that Andy Pettitte will return although
the odds against it increase with each passing day.  If I was part of the organization for as long
and successful as Andy, it would be very hard to turn down the team’s appeals
for my return.  If they needed me, I’d be
there regardless of the personal sacrifices involved as long as I knew that I
could perform at a high level. 
Therefore, I’d be very surprised to see Andy turn his back on the
organization.  That’s why I think he’ll
give it one more year and then close the book.


Andy Pettitte Alex Rodriguez

AP


Even if Andy comes back, GM Brian Cashman has to do
more.  The setup combo of David Robertson
and Joba Chamberlain does not instill a great sense of confidence based on
their performance last year.  Plus, the
day will come when Mariano Rivera simply doesn’t have it anymore and the team
needs to be prepared.

How do you talk the Florida Marlins into trading Josh
Johnson or the Seattle Mariners out of Felix Hernandez?  I don’t know but that’s what Brian Cashman is
paid for…


cash-wad.jpg


–Scott


What Have You Done For Us Lately?…


It has not been the most joyous of baseball off-seasons
for Yankees fans…



One minute, the Yankees are in hot pursuit of the most
prized free agent, offering the most dollars and years, and the Red Sox are
watching their deal for Padres slugger Adrian Gonzalez start to collapse.  The next minute, the prized free agent is
securely in Philadelphia and the Gonzalez trade stabilized for the Sox, who
also slid game-changing outfielder Carl Crawford into their hip pocket.  The Yankees, meanwhile, will emerge from the
Hot Stove League without any premium free agents which almost never happens.



I have read articles telling Yankees fans to back away
from the ledge, but it is frustrating to see the team miss out on great
opportunities.  I agree that the team
shouldn’t make a move just for the sake of making a move, and recognize that a
potential trade now as opposed to later would wreak of desperation.  In that situation, there is a high
probability of the Yankees getting fleeced in a deal.  So, I agree that the best approach is to wait
and observe the market.  Still, the
Yankees do need to address the holes in the rotation.  I am okay with giving Ivan Nova a shot for
the #5 slot so long as there is a quality #4. 
But still, there needs to be competition in training camp.  In other words, Nova shouldn’t simply be
handed the job.  Hopefully, the #4 slot
will go to Andy Pettitte despite recent talk that he’s still leaning toward
retirement.  I really see Andy’s return
for one final season.  But if he does not
return, the Yankees will clearly need to unearth some potential gems on other
clubs. 

It was nice to hear that the Yankees had talked with
Johnny Damon, but I agree that his return does not make sense even if it would
have been a great “feel good” move. 
There was also the report that the Yankees had considered Manny Ramirez,
which, in my opinion, would be a huge mistake. 

I still like the possibility of signing Rays closer
Rafael Soriano.  I realize that Soriano
wants closer money and he probably wouldn’t be willing to take a setup position
even if he was satisfied with the contract. 
But it is very appealing to have a huge bridge to Mariano Rivera in
addition to having a backup closer if and when the day comes that Mo simply
does not have it anymore.  It will never
happen (signing Soriano), but it is nice to think about while it is still an
option.


Rafael Soriano

AP


The more I think about it, a trade for the Phillies Joe
Blanton might not be a bad idea.  He is
not a frontline starter (obviously), but he is steady and consistent.  He might be a good option until something
better surfaces.  If the Phillies are
looking for a top prospect, I’d pass. 
But if the cost is reasonable, it is a trade that the Yankees should
consider.


blanton.jpg

Getty Images


There has been so much speculation yet so little action.  Oh well, as Brian Cashman has put it, we need
to be patient. 



Santa Claus, can I have an ace starting pitcher for
Christmas?  ;)  Happy Holidays to everyone!  



–Scott



Looking Up at the Red Sox is not Fun!…


So far, it feels like the Yankees are on the outside
looking in for the Hot Stove League. 


 

Missing out on Cliff Lee, they’ve made some under the
radar moves, but that’s it.  The Boston
Red Sox, who potentially had a much stronger team than the Yankees LAST season
if not for the injuries, have significantly improved this off-season with the
additions of Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Bobby Jenks, Matt Albers and Dan Wheeler.
  At this point, I’d have to say that the
Red Sox are the favorites to win the American League Eastern Division.


Fans celebrate on Brookline Avenue near Fenway Park after the Boston Red Sox defeated the Colorado Rockies  to win the World Series.

Getty Images


Today, the Milwaukee Brewers stunned everyone by
acquiring Kansas City Royals ace Zack Greinke. 
After their earlier acquisition of former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher
Shaun Marcum, the Brewers now feature a very formidable trio of Yovani
Gallardo, Greinke, and Marcum.  Randy
Wolf is not a slouch at #4 so the Brewers certainly have a play-off contending
rotation. 


zack-greinke-kansas-city-royals-american-league-cy-young-award-1117.jpg

The Star-Ledger


There was no attempt by the Yankees to acquire Greinke,
and I have mixed feelings.  On one hand,
there is the doubt about whether or not he could have handled the pressure that
goes with playing in the Bronx given his prior anxiety problems.  Greinke didn’t shy away from New York when
the Yankees were rumored as a potential destination but family members
apparently echoed a different sentiment. 
I would certainly hate to give away the likes of Jesus Montero, Dellin
Betances, Eduardo Nunez, Manny Banuelos, and others for what could have been Ed
Whitson II or worse, A.J. Burnett II. 



If the Yankees get Andy Pettitte for one more season (and
it’s still a big IF), there are still so many questions about the rotation.
Andy is not getting any younger and his potential for injury is increased as
each year passes.  Ivan Nova was solid
during his brief audition, but he does not have a high ceiling as a
starter.  So, the only sure bets in the
rotation would be CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes. 
I expect Hughes to be stronger in 2011 than last year when he faded at
the end.  But I recognize that you have
to wonder what if he isn’t able to take it to another level like Sox starters
Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz have.  The
mention of Sergio Mitre in the starting rotation gives me reason for worry
before the first pitch of 2011 is even thrown.



There have been a number of reports that the Yankees
should pursue Felix Hernandez, but those are simply pipe dreams.  There is absolutely no way that the Seattle
Mariners are going to trade King Felix. 


mlb_a_hernandez_600.jpg


What’s left?  I am
not sure.  There is not really anything
out there that excites me.  But if the
Yankees do nothing, their best hope is a Wild Card slot and the worst case
scenario is potentially a 4th place finish.  I know, that’s a very pessimistic view, but
the Red Sox, at this point, are that much better and the other teams in the AL
East, except maybe the Tampa Bay Rays, have improved.  The Rays cannot be underestimated because
they’ve been able to replace veterans with youth, so there’s always the chance
they will be every bit as good in 2011 as they were last year when they won the
AL East. 

I fully expect improved performances by the Buck
Showalter-led Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays, so 2011 may be the
toughest year yet in baseball’s toughest division. 


Buck Showalter

Mark Goldman/Icon SMI


Of the moves the Yankees have made, I do like the
acquisitions of catcher Russell Martin and reliever Pedro Feliciano.  I also think the Yankees should pony up and
pay closer dollars to free agent reliever Rafael Soriano unless they can entice
the Royals to continue their rebuilding by unloading Joakim Soria.  I know that Mariano Rivera had a great 2010,
but let’s face it, he will be 41 years old next season.  At some point, even Hall of Famers begin to
fade.  The Yankees need to be prepared by
having a closer-in-waiting.  Given the
shortcomings in the starting rotation, a superior bullpen is a must.


Rafael Soriano has coverted 23 of 24 save opportunites in his first season with Tampa Bay.

Tampa Tribune


I can only hope that GM Brian Cashman is actively working
this holiday season and will be at work tomorrow morning dialing his fellow GM’s
for his Christmas wish list.  If he’s
home enjoying his family, that’s sweet, but it spells doom for the Yankees in
2011.  Just sayin’….



–Scott



A Bad Day at Black Rock…

 

It was a sad day with news of the passing of two legends…


Sad Day.JPG


I was saddened to hear that Hall of Famer Bob Feller had
passed away.  While not unexpected, it
was still the loss for baseball’s legacy. 
I was too young to have ever watched Feller pitch, but I could identify
with him having grown up in a small Iowa farming community. 


3238567, Getty Images /Archive Photos

Getty Images


His three no-hitters included one in Yankee Stadium in
1946.

Feller had the personality traits of my grandmother…cantankerous,
honest to a fault, and a complete disregard about what others may have thought
about him/her.  Of the stories I heard
today, I liked the one about when he bought a new furnace at the age of
90.  Apparently, he was arguing over the length
of the warranty (wanted a 15 year warranty rather than 10 years).  His wife tried to reason with him by saying
that either way, the furnace was going to outlive him.  Yet, Feller simply reiterated that he wanted
15 years.  You gotta love his fight and
determination!  It is a sad day for the
Cleveland Indians organization and an ever sadder day for the baseball
world.  He’ll be missed…

Today also saw the loss of movie director/producer Blake
Edwards.  He made many great movies but
for me, the most notable was the Pink Panther series with Peter Sellers.  He was married to legendary actress Julie
Andrews for over 40 years.  Thanks Blake
for bringing us a lifetime of great memories!

Now, back to baseball and the Yankees.  Of course, not much has happened since I last
wrote.  The Yankees officially announced
the signing of catcher Russell Martin to a one year deal for $4 million with
incentives.  It was also disclosed that
he needs knee surgery but it is considered minor and he’ll be ready to go after
three weeks following the surgery on Monday. 
Of the two up and coming Yankee prospects at catcher, I can see the
argument for Austin Romine given the greater defensive potential than super
prospect Jesus Montero.  I don’t want to
see Montero traded given the power of his bat, but I am warming up to the idea
if it means bringing a #2 starter to the Yankees rotation.  Romine is the son of a former Red Sox (Kevin
Romine) but he does appear that he’ll be a better catcher than Montero but
obviously won’t have similar offensive production.  The wild card is catching prospect Gary
Sanchez who is not as advanced as either Romine or Montero, but is certainly as
gifted.


Gary Sanchez is looking to play in U.S. soon  


The Yankees have two very strong pitching prospects in
Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos.  I’d really
hate to see the Cliff Lee snub result in the loss of either prospect.  I like Betances but I am very intrigued by
Banuelos, a lefty.  I’d also like to see
Andrew Brackman succeed in pinstripes. 
But, all things considered, the Yankees do have the prospects to make a
notable trade.  For whom, that’s anyone’s
guess.  Personally, I would prefer to
target a 25 year old who is on the verge of a breakout season rather than trade
for a 32 or 33 year old starter who has probably seen his better days.  This is why Justin Masterson of the Cleveland
Indians stands out to me.  As a former
Red Sox pitcher, it would be so great to see him realize major league success
in the Bronx.


justin masterson.jpg

Chuck Crow/The Plain Dealer

Admittedly, I am not very optimistic about the Yankees
signing of onetime super prospect Mark Prior. 
Now, just a body for the bullpen, he has potential but I am trying to
keep expectations low. 

The Yankees are apparently working on a deal with former
Mets reliever Pedro Feliciano.  I like
the move.  I think that Feliciano would
be a great alternative for Boone Logan as the second lefty in the pen.  I saw that the Yankees were mentioned as a
possibility for Brian Fuentes, but I just wasn’t that impressed with Fuentes
during his stays in Anaheim and Minneapolis. 
I know the Yankees have long lusted after him dating back to his days in
Denver, but I’d rather go for a specialist like Feliciano. 


mets-pedro-feliciano.jpg

Chris Faytok/The Star Ledger


Now that Kerry Wood is close to re-signing with the
Chicago Cubs, the Yankees do need to find a reliable setup option to Joba
Chamberlain and David Robertson.  Wood
showed how great a solid and consistent setup option for closer Mariano Rivera
can be.  Given the weaknesses of the
starting rotation, the Yankees need to re-create the shutdown capability that
the Tampa Bay Rays had last year with Joaquin Benoit and Rafael Soriano.

The team is still in on former Red Sock Bill Hall, but I
fully expect him to go to the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

Of the remaining free agents, there is not much that
excites me.  It would be great to see the
addition of someone like Rafael Soriano but all indications are the Yankees won’t
pay closer dollars for a setup specialist. 
As each year passes, I do think that the Yankees need a
closer-in-waiting for Mariano Rivera as he will begin to falter at some
point.  This is why I think the Yankees
need to focus on one of those great Roberto Kelly-for-Paul O’Neill type of
trades.  Get the guy who is on the verge
of greatness and one who we will cheer when he takes the field for the final
time.   Easier said than done, but it can
be done.

If I were to believe the press clippings, the 2011 World
Series has already been determined (Boston Red Sox versus Philadelphia
Phillies).  But, sorry, I am not going to
concede.  Give Brian Cashman the time he
needs to assemble the 2011 Yankees.  I am
sure that we won’t be disappointed.  The
YES Network and Yankee Stadium are, of course, two very big beasts to
feed.  Fielding a middle division team
just won’t cut it…

Yankees win.JPG


–Scott


Martin to New York!…


Ah, there was a time when those words were such sweet
music to the ears!…



Granted, it was probably more like “Martin’s Back!” but
still, the name Martin and the city of New York is a great match.  The latest Martin to set foot on Broadway is
former Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Russell Martin.  In theory, he has been groomed for this
opportunity by the best…former Dodgers manager Joe Torre and former Dodgers hitting
instructor (now Dodgers manager) Don Mattingly. 
While he still has to pass a physical, Martin has apparently signed a
one-year contract with the Yanks.


russell-martin.jpg

Larry Goren/Icon SMI


Martin was one of the top catchers in the NL several
years ago but has regressed.  He suffered
a torn labrum in his right hip last August and missed the remainder of the
season.  I will be anxious to see what
Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long can do with Martin.  More than likely, Martin will be part of a
catching platoon with Jesus Montero, assuming the latter proves that he is
major league ready in spring training. 


NY Daily News


Martin will probably be the only guy on the roster with a
name this long:  Russell Nathan Jeanson
Coltrane Martin, Jr.
 Martin, born in East York, Ontario, will be 28
by the time the spring training games begin in February.

I like the move for Martin so long as it is not designed
to replace Montero so he can be used as a trading chip. 



It was disappointing to see Cliff Lee decide to return to
Philadelphia on a 5-year deal for less money than he was offered by the
Yankees.  I can’t blame Lee for choosing
a place that he is comfortable with, but I wish that he would have given New
York a chance.  I grew rather pessimistic
about the Yankees chances last week when the Lee camp did not jump on the
Yankees 7 year offer.  Like many, I
thought that he was headed back to the Texas Rangers so it was a bit of a shock
to hear that the mystery team was the Phillies.


AP  


All things considered, if Lee wasn’t going to go to New
York, I am glad to see him depart for the National League.  I am not excited about a rotation that
features Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels and now Cliff Lee, but that’s
only a concern if you make it to the World Series as an American League team
(nice problem to have).  The Rangers fans
are glad they didn’t lose out to the Yankees, but conversely, I am glad that
the Rangers and Nolan Ryan didn’t get one over on the Yanks.  Also, I am glad that Lee didn’t go to the
Angels or the Red Sox. 



As it stands, the Red Sox have enjoyed a hugely
successful off-season compared to the Yanks, but I would not underestimate
Brian Cashman and the Steinbrenner family. 
As for immediate focus, I think the Yanks need to make sure that they
have the arms in the bullpen and I’d really like to see the return of Kerry
Wood.  Of the remaining free agents,
there aren’t many that excite me.  Manny
Ramirez is still out there but he’s a liability in the field and the Yankees
have the DH role locked up with Jorge Posada.  
Manny’s bat is also not what it used to be and the Yankees don’t need
more ‘late thirtysomethings’ on the roster. 

I’d have to say that I am mixed on whether the Yankees
should pursue a trade with the Kansas City Royals for starter Zack
Greinke.  However, there will be
competition which of course drives up the trade demands so I am not sure that
avenue is the best given the uncertainty over whether Greinke could handle New
York (assuming he was willing to waive his no-trade clause to the Yankees).  I’d probably prefer signing Brandon Webb or
pursuing Mark Buehrle in a trade.  The
Yankees do have to do something about their starting rotation regardless of
whether Andy Pettitte returns or not. 
Right now the #4 and #5 starters appear to be Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre
based on the current roster which is not very appealing.  I am willing to give Nova a shot but if the
Yankees break camp with Mitre as their 5th starter, it’s going to be
a long season.


Chris Sweda/MCT


Why is it that Red Sox fans think the rivalry between the
Yankees and Red Sox is over on December 14th just because they didn’t
sign Cliff Lee?  As Brian Cashman
indicated on a conference call earlier today, patience is the key.  Somehow, I suspect the team that breaks camp
next spring will be able to compete with the newly enhanced Red Sox…



Congratulations to Hideki Matsui who signed a one year
deal with the Oakland Athletics.  As a
resident of the Bay Area, I am sure that Godzilla will be well received and he’ll
be a great stabilizing factor in the A’s lineup.  



–Scott


Let’s Turn the Page to Next Week!…

I waited for the Baseball Winter Meetings with so much
anticipation and in the end, it was a week of disappointment.



Of course, the Yankees were solely focused on one
objective (Cliff Lee) and it is clear that Lee is in no hurry to decide where
he’ll be pitching in Game 1 of the play-offs next fall. 


Cliff Lee, pitching in World Series Game 1

Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger


While the Yankees waited and then finally made their
offer to Lee, the nemesis Boston Red Sox were very active in acquiring the long
anticipated first baseman Adrian Gonzalez of the San Diego Padres.  I am not quite sure how they were able to
pull off the deal without the inclusion of a single major leaguer but the
Padres did get highly touted pitching prospect Casey Kelly and first baseman
Anthony Rizzo.  They also acquired
outfield prospect Reymond Fuentes, cousin to the Mets’ Carlos Beltran and a
player to be named later.  Gonzalez is a
huge acquisition for the Sox.  As Don
Mattingly said, Gonzalez has a perfect swing for Fenway Park and he’ll be a
beast in their lineup.


agon.jpg

Seattle Times  


The Red Sox also pulled off a major surprise when they
signed former Tampa Bay Ray Carl Crawford. 
The off-season rumors had the Red Sox in pursuit of either Jayson Werth
(who subsequently signed the incredulous deal with the Washington Nationals) or
Crawford.  However, after the Gonzalez
acquisition, it appeared that Crawford was headed for the Los Angeles
Angels.  The move was a good one for the
Sox although they’ll pay a hefty premium with the extension for Gonzalez along
with the contract for Crawford.  It will
be interesting to see how this plays out for the other Red Sox outfielders.  Ryan Kalish proved that he is a major
leaguer, so it would seem that somebody will depart in a trade for potentially
a catcher (Kalish, Jacoby Ellsbury, or Mike Cameron?). 


Carl Crawford

AP

Prior to the moves, I thought the Red Sox had the best
combination of pitching, hitting and defense in the division.  Throw in Crawford and Gonzalez and there
seems to be a bit of a gulf between the Sox and the Yankees (and Rays).  At the moment, the Yankees have only one
surefire ace to throw at the Red Sox (CC Sabathia).  Behind CC is Phil Hughes.  Sure, Hughes is capable to shutting down the
Sox but he does fall into the category of ‘you never really know for sure if he’s
going to have his best stuff’.  After
that comes A.J. Burnett and for the moment, Ivan Nova.  That’s it. 
Clearly, the Yankees pitching staff needs much work between now and
April. 

Which of course leads us back to Cliff Lee.  This off-season is all about Lee.  The Yankees have made a huge offer for Lee (a
menu of 5, 6 and 7 year deals).  The
Texas Rangers countered with a menu of their own offers and owner Chuck
Greenberg even flew to Arkansas to personally deliver the offers, bringing
along billionaire partner Ray Davis. 

The Rangers have the wherewithal to pay Lee, although I’d
have to believe that a 7 year deal would hurt the Rangers for more than it
would the Yankees.  Greenberg was
optimistic about the talks yesterday but I can’t tell if it is legitimate or
false optimism. 

I am biased (of course), but if I was Cliff Lee, I would
look at this decision as how you want to be remembered in baseball long after
you are gone.  To succeed in New York
gives players lasting celebrity.  Paul O’Neill
will always be so beloved in New York, along with Tino Martinez and others,
even though they didn’t start their careers with the Yankees.  At old-timer games, you see guys like Goose
Gossage and next year, Lou Piniella.  If
you asked me to name former Rangers, I’d be hard-pressed to come up with a list
of the Hall of Famers.  I lived in Dallas
during the days of Jim Sundberg, Nolan Ryan, Steve Buechele and Larry Parrish,
but I couldn’t tell you where they are today (well, except for Nolan of
course).  Being a former Texas Ranger is “nice”,
but forgettable.  Being a former New York
Yankee is first class celebrity status, especially if you win.  If Lee is as competitive as I think he is, he’ll
view the challenge of the improved Boston Red Sox squad as an opportunity to
shine.  Texas may have been in the World
Series last year, but will they be a powerhouse for the next 7 years?  Tough to tell.  With the Yankees, you always know that
ownership is committed to fielding the best possible team.  As a player, I would want to be in the
environment of the team who expects nothing less than the World Series every
year. 

Quality of Life?  I
agree that Texas probably wins.  The cost
of real estate is substantially less, and there is no state income tax.  Lee can live in a mansion with acreage and
drive to/from the stadium with an easy commute. 
In New York, you’re going to pay a premium for housing and the commute
won’t be easy.  But c’mon, there is
nothing like the city of New York.  I am
a small town Midwesterner, yet I think New York City is the greatest city in
the world.  I love the energy and
excitement of the city.  I’ve lived in
Dallas.  It’s a fun town, no doubt.  But it’s not New York.  If I’m Cliff Lee, the decision is easy.  I’d be on the phone asking Brian Cashman
where to sign…



George McNish/The Star Ledger


I found it very interesting that the Yankees picked two
players in the Rule 5 Draft.  They lost two
players including pitcher George Kontos but they acquired an Angel and a Red
Sock.  The Angel is pitcher Robert
Fish.  I don’t know anything about Fish
and more than likely he’ll be offered back to the Angels, but you gotta love
his name.  I am sure that the TV and
radio announcers would love to say how Joe Girardi is “bobbin’” for Fish when
he goes to the bullpen.  Turpen is a
pitcher the Red Sox acquired for one of the two Ramon Ramirezes they had on
their roster (don’t ask me which one it was!). 
I doubt that Turpen sticks but he was potentially on the list of players
for the player to be named later in the Gonzalez deal.  So, if the Yankees made the selection to
spite the Red Sox, I am cool with it! 
J


Robert Fish


I think the Yankees play for former Los Angeles Dodgers
catcher Russell Martin is a good one.  I’ve
always liked Martin, and I think the combination of him and Jesus Montero would
be a good one.  Hopefully, Martin doesn’t
get spooked by the presence of Montero and decide to sign elsewhere, like
Boston.  I am hoping that Joe Torre and
Don Mattingly told enough great Yankee stories last year to entice Martin to pursue
a Yankee career!


Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images


There’s still a lot of work to be done between now and
spring training so hopefully things start to fall into place soon.  Okay Cliff, the next move is up to you…


 

–Scott



Killing Time Until Next Week…


Waiting for the Baseball Winter Meetings to start seems
like an eternity.  The meetings are next
week, but this week has been relatively slow aside from today’s free agent
signing of Adam Dunn by the Chicago White Sox (nice pickup, by the way).  When I woke up, I was met with the headline
of ‘Yankees Re-Sign Sergio Mitre’. 
Unfortunately, that did little to excite me…



I am not a “Meat Tray” fan, but for some reason, manager Joe
Girardi has been in his corner since his days as manager of the Florida
Marlins.  Conversely, the Yankees
non-tendered Dustin Moseley today which I thought was a mistake.  Moseley proved to be very capable as a spot
starter and bullpen arm.  I realize that
if the Yankees sign Cliff Lee and Andy Pettitte returns (which everyone
expects), then Ivan Nova becomes the “#6″ starter.  Also, re-signing Mitre had an impact.  But, still, it was a mistake to let go of
Moseley. 


Dustin Moseley - Detroit Tigers v New York Yankees

Andrew Burton/Getty Images


The Yankees decision to non-tender pitcher Alfredo Aceves
surprised me somewhat.  However, when I
heard that he had re-injured himself this off-season in a freak accident (bike
accident), I realized that it would probably be best for him to start over
somewhere else.  The Yankees did tender
the guys that really mattered (Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan, and Phil Hughes).

The Yankees quietly signed relief pitcher Buddy Carlyle
who is returning from Japan.  Carlyle
underachieved during his previous major league stint, most recently with the
Atlanta Braves in 2009.  Nevertheless,
you can never have enough fodder for the bullpen during spring training.  As the Tampa Bay Rays showed last year, you
never know what you might find (stellar setup artist Joaquin Benoit). 



I was pleased to see the Derek Jeter negotiations take a
positive turn this week.  Jeter and his
agent Casey Close were smart to engage the Yankees in Tampa.  There has been no negative comments made by
either side this week and it appears the Yankees are willing to increase their
offer while the Jeter side is willing to reduce their demands.  Everybody knows this marriage will continue
so there was no sense airing the dirty laundry in the difficult
negotiations.   Hopefully, they’ll come
to an agreement sooner rather than later so that we can move on to more
important things…like signing Cliff Lee!

Speaking of Jeter, it’s funny how much attention this has
gotten. Troy Tulowitzki, arguably one of the greatest shortstops in the game
today, signs a huge long-term extension and it gets marginal print.  DJ, a soon-to-be 37-year old, past his prime,
shortstop garners national attention. 
The photos of Jeter in other uniforms were particularly humorous.  I’m sure that Julia loved Red Sock Jeter…


The Beckett Blog


While I saw that Zack Greinke might be willing to waive
his no-trade clause for the Yankees, I’d have to say that I still prefer Cliff
Lee.  I know that Cliff will soon be 32
and Greinke is about 6 years younger, but the difference is that I know Cliff
can handle New York.  Plus, he would only
cost money whereas Greinke would cost quality prospects plus money in the
long-term.  I want to see Jesus Montero
as the Yankees starting catcher in 2011 so I am hopeful that the Yankees aren’t
faced with a scenario where they “need” to acquire Greinke.


AP


Can I wake up to the headline ‘Yankees Re-Sign Rivera’
tomorrow, please?…


Mariano Rivera, left, and Alex Rodriguez celebrate after the Yankees win game six of the ALCS.

Kathy Willens/AP


P.S.  I have to show this video clip.  The veteran on the left, Fang Wong, is my wife’s uncle and he is one of the greatest people I’ve met in my life.  His strong sense of humor doesn’t show through but I can assure you he is one of the funniest and most intelligent guys I’ve met.  Plus, he is a die-hard Yankees fan…


http://s0.videopress.com/player.swf?v=1.02

–Scott

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