February 2011

He said what?…


I have to admit that I am embarrassed almost every time Hank
Steinbrenner
opens his mouth.  The latest
comments that seemingly were aimed at Derek Jeter although Hank denied it were
very inappropriate.  2010 was a
disappointing year with the way it ended, but it’s done.  There is nothing more that can be learned or
derived from the loss to the Texas Rangers. 
At this point, it doesn’t matter what happened leading up to that
series.  There are a variety of reasons
for why the Yankees lost, but in the end, they were outplayed by a better
team. 

Hank justified his ‘mansions’ comment by indicating he was simply using
it as a euphemism.   Personally, I think
Hal Steinbrenner is a euphemism for Hank but that’s another matter. 

Back in the days of George Steinbrenner and particularly during the
losing years of the late 1980′s, the Boss used to infuriate fans with his
remarks.  He seemed as though he was
always giving fodder to the press.  As
mad as everyone used to get, I always found an honest truth in George’s
words.  I could never condemn him even
when his popularity at Yankee Stadium was non-existent.  However, I have trouble finding the honest
truth in Hank’s words.  He comes across
as just an arrogant blow-hard.   No
wonder that the family felt that the role of managing general partner was
better suited for the younger Hal. 

To Hank’s defense, I do always believe that ownership has the right to
say whatever they’d like.  It’s their
money and their team.  But when it has
the potential to create a distraction for the team, then I get concerned.  That’s probably where I am right now with
Hank’s words.  There is no question that
the Boston Red Sox have the best team on paper. 
Hank doesn’t need to add to the adversity; he needs to help reduce or
eliminate the talent gap between the two teams.

From the sounds of it, Freddy Garcia is leading the pack for a spot in
the rotation.  I’ve been concerned about Garcia’s
history of poor springs as I’ve felt he had the most to offer in terms of the
competition for the two rotation spots. 
He won 12 games with the Chicago White Sox last year and if he can
duplicate the season again this year, I think the Yankees would be very
pleased.  No offense to Bartolo Colon,
but I really don’t want to see the team break camp with him in the rotation or
the final roster for that matter.  I was
always very pleased to hear that prospect Andrew Brackman has been turning
heads.  He is a top flight talent that
slid in the 2007 draft to the Yankees because of his injury history.  He may not be ready for the major leagues
straight out of spring training but odds are that he’ll experience his Yankees
debut at some point this season. 

Finally, I was saddened to hear that the St. Louis Cardinals have lost
ace Adam Wainwright for the season due to an elbow injury that will require
Tommy John surgery.  I’ve always had a
soft spot for the Cardinals since I saw my first major league baseball game at
the old Busch Stadium in St. Louis when I was a kid.  They are a classy organization with quality
fans.  Losing Wainwright severely
downgrades the Cards’ chances this season and that’s unfortunate.  Hopefully, there is someone in the
organization that is ready to step up their game to help provide a solid bridge
until Wainwright can return in 2012. 

I am ready for some baseball…

 

–Scott

The Red Sox…long on talent, short on hair…


While perusing enemy territory to see what’s going on with the competition, I couldn’t help but chuckle when I came across this photo from Boston Red Sox camp.  Working on a commercial for the Hair Club for Men, eh?  
1__1298328129_0535.jpg
The Boston Globe
It’s funny how the hairlines progressively recede as you look from bottom to top!  Too funny…

–Scott

And I thought all the sports talk about Jeter was bad…


I was disappointed to see no resolution for the Albert Pujols contract
negotiations with the St. Louis Cardinals. 
With the passing of Albert’s deadline, we’ll have to tolerate an entire
season of discussion regarding Albert’s future before the contract negotiations
resume after the season.  I may be a
die-hard Yankees fan, but I have no desire to see Albert play his career
anywhere except St. Louis. 


Albert Pujols - 2004

Scott Rovak/Getty Images


I really thought that the Cardinals organization would have put forth a
highly competitive offer prior to the deadline. 
It really makes me wonder why the Cardinals would invest $8 million in
former Yankee Lance Berkman who has clearly seen his better days rather than
look for a less expensive option with similar production to invest the Berkman
dollars toward the re-signing of Pujols. 
I realize that $8 million for one year is insignificant in terms of what
it would take to sign Pujols over 10 years but there are ways the organization
could subsidize the contract without sacrificing the team’s play-off
chances. 

If Albert does become a free agent after the season, I agree with those
that say the Chicago Cubs would make a very strong play for the future Hall of
Famer.  Nothing against the Cubs, but I’d
hate to see that happen.  It’s not unlike
Brett Favre and his decision to play for the Minnesota Vikings after a Hall of
Fame career with the Green Bay Packers. 
Granted, they were separated by Favre’s one year in New York with the
Jets but his decision to play for the Vikings did adversely impact the way he
is viewed by the Packers fans.  Perhaps
Favre will be able to salvage a relationship with the Packers fans but he’ll
never hold the stature of former Packer QB Bart Starr or current Green Bay QB
Aaron Rodgers now that he has won a Super Bowl in Green Bay.  Albert deserves an untarnished legacy and he
should be remembered the way that Stan Musial is when his playing days are
over.  Hopefully, the Cardinals
organization will use the days and months between now and the end of the season
to sharpen their pencil…

I wish reliever Neal Cotts the best of luck in his attempt to come back
from injuries.  The Yankees released him
today after reviewing the results of his physical.  I had hoped Cotts would experience a re-birth
under his former pitching coach, Larry Rothschild, but it was not meant to
be.  Hopefully, this does not mean the
end of Cotts career but wherever he goes and whatever he does, I wish him the
best.

I had hoped that reliever Brian Schlitter would clear waivers and return
to Yankees camp but he was selected by the Yankees latest nemesis, the
Philadelphia Phillies.  Losing Schlitter
wasn’t so bad since he probably would not have found a spot in the bullpen, but
losing him to the Phillies was bittersweet. 
It used to be that my second favorite is any team that beats the Boston
Red Sox.  My new second favorite team is
now any team that beats the Phillies.  In
a Phillies-Red Sox World Series, I would pull for Boston and that’s something
that I thought I’d never do…

Personally, I want a Yankees-Dodgers World Series!  A Bay Area resident, I am withdrawing my NL support for the Giants and aligning myself with the Don Mattingly-led Dodgers.  There is no way that I could root against my baseball idol from younger days…unless he is playing against the Yankees, of course.  Granted, I am not crazy about the whole Frank McCourt divorce situation and the Dodgers don’t have the Giants pitching staff but I have faith in Donnie Baseball…


–Scott

 

Welcome 2011 New York Yankees!…

It’s been a combination of both a long and a short winter and now “spring” is officially upon us as Yankees pitchers and catchers report to Tampa on Monday…

George M. Steinbrenner Field
There are many questions to be answered in training camp, and it remains to be seen who will fill the last two spots in the starting rotation.  The bench will look different with Andruw Jones in for Marcus Thames who signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and a potential role for former Oakland A’s great Eric Chavez.  
With Jorge Posada now the full-time DH, the catching position be headed up by Russell Martin but it’s anybody’s guess who will back him up (Francisco Cervelli, Jesus Montero, or Austin Romine?).  I do think now is the time for Montero but if the Yankees decide to break camp with him on the major league roster, what does that mean for Cervelli?
I am intrigued by the Yankees potential interest in pitcher Kevin Millwood.  I keep hearing stories that he’s about ready to sign with the Cleveland Indians, then stories surface about the Yankees interest.  As a player in the latter stages of his career, I’d think that winning starts to become an overwhelming factor so I’d have to believe that if all things are equal, the Yankees would be more attractive to Millwood than the Indians.  Nothing against the Indians, but I do not see them contending for the World Series this year.  
The Boston Red Sox still have the best team on paper and a signing of someone like Millwood is not going to change that fact.  But I am still not going to concede the AL East or the World Series to the Red Sox just yet.  I want to see what the Yankees roster looks like on July 31, 2011, and where they are in the AL East standings.  This season is going to be a battle, but I wouldn’t want it any other way…
–Scott

Maybe I should sign with Boras…

All hail the Sultan of $$$$$$$$$$$$…


deadspin.com


Unfortunately, the Yankees are going to be seeing super agent Scott
Boras more than they’d like given his newest clients are Robinson Cano and Nick
Swisher.  I have to admit that I was
dismayed to see the two Yankees sign on with Boras because it will mean the
potential for contentious negotiations in the not-so-distant future.  It also felt like the chances the players
stay in the Bronx behind their current deals lessened substantially when I
heard the news. 

From the players’ standpoint, Boras makes complete sense.  He has shown an uncanny knack for getting the
most for his clients (sometimes in seemingly impossible situations).  While I may not like Boras personally, he is
clearly on a different level than most agents. 
I can only hope that it does not eventually lead to Cano’s departure.

I have to admit that it looks strange to see former Oakland A’s third
baseman Eric Chavez in Yankees gear. 
Chavez was always an Athletic that I held high regard for, but as with
former Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra, injuries have taken their toll on a
once outstanding career.  I am really
pulling Chavez and I hope that he earns a bench role for the Yankees (even at
the expense of Ramiro Pena).  I’d like to
see Chavez backing up the corner positions, with Eduardo Nunez covering the
middle infield positions. 


Chavez n Swish.JPG

daylife.com


Of the other players in camp on minor league deals, I’d say that I am
most supportive of former Chicago White Sox pitcher Freddy Garcia.  If the Yankees don’t trade for a starting
pitcher or sign someone like Kevin Millwood, I’d like to see Garcia earn a spot
in the rotation ahead of Sergio Mitre and the other cast of characters.  While I recognize that the other spot will
most likely go to Ivan Nova, I am very intrigued by Hector Noesi and I am
looking forward to seeing what he can do in camp.  Of the younger guys, I most excited about lefty
Manny Banuelos but he is still a few years away from the majors.

It was tough to see Alfredo Aceves sign with the Boston Red Sox.  I know the Yankees were interested in
bringing Aceves back, but Boston’s willingness to extend a major league
contract was the difference maker. 

It’s hard to believe that pitchers and catchers report on Monday but I’m
ready for the new season.  I still think
that the Boston Red Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies have the best teams on
paper but there’s still a lot that can happen between now and October.  And, oh yeah, they still have to play the
games…


–Scott


 

Andy will be missed…so will the pitcher…


A day after Andy Pettitte’s retirement announcement, it is sad to think
that he’ll no longer be part of the team. 
As much as I would have liked him back, I didn’t want him to return if
there was any doubt in his mind so all things considered, the retirement was
probably the best thing for both Andy and the team.  If he had any doubts in his mind entering the
season, he most likely would not have performed at the level we’ve been
accustomed to over the years. 


Andy Pettitte dealt the Yankees starting rotation a crucial blow with his retirement (below) and he seemed sincere, but he may have left the door open for a comeback at Friday's press conference.

Sipkin/News

I will miss the personal attributes that went with being Andy
Pettitte.  He was universally respected
and from afar it was apparent that he was a man of high integrity and very
respectful of others.  I had admiration
for the way he was non-judgmental and would form his own opinions and beliefs
regardless of how others felt.  I
recognize that Andy admitted steroid use, but it is a testament to the man that
he did come clean with full honesty and disclosure.  Never for a minute have I believed Andy
misled or was less than honest with the fans. 
He is a class act and will be hard to replace on the team without even
getting into what he meant to the team as a player and pitcher. 

While I am hopeful that Andy stays in baseball in some capacity, it
really sounded like he was closing the door on life in baseball after his playing
days.  I think he’d make a terrific
pitching coach if he ever wanted to get back into the game once his children
are older.  He has so much to offer
younger players, and particularly those who are not as naturally gifted as
someone like Stephen Strasberg or Tim Lincecum. 

I can still remember when Don Mattingly wore #46 before taking #23, but
I hope that Donnie Baseball was the last player to wear the number before or
after Andy.  Andy deserves his place in
Monument Park and I look forward to the day of his induction.


98730903, Sports Illustrated/Getty Images /Sports Illustrated

Getty Images


When you hear the pitching options available to the Yankees, it is
rather disappointing.  I am not looking
forward to the back end of the rotation being filled by Sergio Mitre, Bartolo
Colon, Freddy Garcia, and/or Ivan Nova. 
While I wouldn’t mind either Garcia or Nova in the #5 spot, I am hopeful
that the #4 starter is not on the roster right now.  Ideally, I’d like a #3 starter in front of
A.J. Burnett, but again, the options just don’t look that appealing.  Even the San Francisco Chronicle was speculating
if the Yankees would look at taking Barry Zito and his mammoth contract off
their hands.  Please, I hope not.  I still think that the best case scenario, if
they could convince Cleveland to trade him, is to acquire Fausto Carmona.  I really think that Carmona could flourish
under CC Sabatia’s wing.  Okay, best case
scenario is actually Seattle’s Felix Hernandez, but I don’t see any way to
convince the Mariners to trade him.  So,
Carmona represents the best realistic option.

The Yankees training camp is going to be filled with former major league
stars.  The latest to sign a minor league
deal is former Oakland A’s slugger Eric Chavez. 
I’ve always liked Chavez as a player but injuries have definitely taken
their toll in recent years.  It would be
great to see him excel at a reserve role behind Alex Rodriguez and Mark
Teixeira, however, I am not expecting a lot. 
Hopefully, Eric will surprise me. 
The Yankees are also bringing in former Los Angeles Dodgers infielder
Ronnie Belliard.  It will be interesting
to see if these players motivate Eduardo Nunez and/or Ramiro Pena to take their
game to the next level. 


Sports Illustrated/Getty Images


With all the attention that the Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles and
Tampa Bay Rays have gotten this off-season, the Toronto Blue Jays are
definitely flying under the radar with a team that is fully capable of
challenging in the division.  The AL East
is going to be a beast this year, and of course, it makes you wonder if
everyone will be beat each other up so badly that the Wild Card will come from
another division.  Boston does look like
the favorite, but it wouldn’t take too many injuries to bring them back to the
pack.  This should be a long, grueling
race for October…


–Scott


So, can CC go on two days rest?…

Farewell to a champion…
Andy Pettitte, Angels, Yankees, pitcher
Jae C. Hong/AP
Sadly, Andy Pettitte has decided it is time to stay in Deer Park, Texas during the spring.  I have to admit that I thought for sure that he’d be back for one final season.  We will find out more during Friday’s press conference, but I am fairly confident that the legal proceedings involving Roger Clemens had as much to do with Andy’s decision as other factors, like family, did.  This will be a very difficult few months for Andy, and an unfocused soon-to-be 39-year-old pitcher is not a good combination.  
Regardless of his reasons, Andy should be congratulated for a great Yankees career.  His three years in Houston were difficult as a fan but he showed his loyalty to the organization by returning to the Bronx.  
I am hopeful the Yankees find a way to keep Andy in the family, whether it is an invitation to coach during spring training in future years or a special assistant.  I’d like to see him stay involved with the organization in some manner.  
Andy will be missed, but hopefully, the Yankees have the closure they need to pursue a trade for a legitimate #3 starter.  
I was a bit disappointed to see that Lou Piniella has decided to be a special assistant for old friend Brian Sabean in San Francisco.  With the end of his managing career, I had hoped that he would find his way back to the Yankees organization.  It is amazing how many former Yankees are in the Giants’ back office (like Sabean, Dick Tidrow, J.T. Snow, pitching coach Dave Righetti, and others).  Sadly, I won’t be pulling for the Giants this year despite my status as a Bay Area resident.  With one of my all-time favorite Yankees set to begin his managerial career down in Los Angeles this year, it would be very difficult for me to pull for anyone in the National League besides the Dodgers.  Even with that mess of an ownership…
I liked the Yankees’ acquisition of former Washington Nationals outfielder Justin Maxwell.  It wasn’t that long ago he was a top prospect for the Nationals but he has not been able to fulfill his promise in the major leagues.  I am anxious to see if Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long can make a difference.  It would be great to see Maxwell flourish in the Bronx.  
Finally, back to Pettitte, I share the opinion of those who feel that he will not make the Hall of Fame.  I heard ESPNNewYork.com beat writer Andrew Marchand say today that Pettitte was borderline among the borderlines and I agree with his comment.  But he was a great Yankee and certainly deserves his place in Monument Park.
–Scott

Adding more fodder to the fire…

The crowd begins to gather…

Of course, the crowd is the wrong-side of 30 pitching club led by Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia.  I had been hoping for a younger pitcher with the potential for a breakout but rather we’ll see pitchers who were great…5-10 years ago.  Of the two, I liked Garcia better than Colon.  He won 12 games last year after a few unproductive years due to injury.  I am not convinced that Colon has anything left.  Fortunately, both contracts are minor league deals so there wasn’t a substantial commitment by the Yankees.  If it works, wonderful.  If it doesn’t, time to look for the next option.
I’d still like to see the Yankees pursue another starting pitcher with “promise”.  I recognize that they cannot acquire a frontline starter or a high end youthful starter at this point in the season but they should be able to uncover a diamond in the rough.  I wish that Dellin Betances or Manny Banuelos were closer to the majors, but I still think the Yankees could find a guy with the potential to make a difference.  
I wonder what’s taking the Yankees so long to announce the signing of outfielder Andruw Jones?  Word had leaked that the Yankees had signed Jones before the surprise announcement came out that the Tampa Bay Rays had signed the duo of Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez.  Both were introduced in Tampa today as the newest Rays but there has been nothing about Jones.  I know that one problem is the full 40 man roster and Jones addition means that someone has to be removed.  That move might be the reason for the delay, but it would be nice to put this one to bed.  I’d hate to see the Jones signing fall apart at this late hour when other prior options like Damon are off the board.
I’ve said it before but I really wish the St. Louis Cardinals would sign Albert Pujols…
But probably a greater concern, I wish Andy Pettitte would hurry up and make those flight reservations for Tampa…
–Scott
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