CC Sabathia versus Justin
Larry W. Smith/EPA
Finally, Opening Day is upon
us! It has been a long and at times
disappointing off-season. Optimism
returned in Spring Training as there were a few success stories and
surprises. The pitching match-up for the
Yankees against the Detroit Tigers is perfect as I expect banner years by both
pitchers. They both will most likely be
finalists for the Cy Young Award at the end of the year if all goes right.
For Opening Day, here are the 2011 New York
Kevin Long, Batting Coach
Larry Rothschild, Pitching Coach
Mick Kelleher, First Base Coach
Rob Thomson, Third Base Coach
Tony Pena, Bench Coach
Mike Harkey, Bullpen Coach
Roman Rodriguez, Bullpen Catcher
1B – Mark Teixeira
2B – Robinson Cano
SS – Derek Jeter
3B – Alex Rodriguez
C – Russell Martin
RF – Nick Swisher
CF – Curtis Granderson
LF – Brett Gardner
DH – Jorge Posada
Bench – 1B/3B – Eric Chavez
Bench – 2B/SS/3B – Eduardo Nunez
Bench – OF – Andruw Jones
Bench – C – Gustavo Molina
1SP – CC Sabathia
2SP – A.J. Burnett
3SP – Phil Hughes
4SP – Ivan Nova
5SP – Freddy Garcia
Closer – Mariano Rivera
Setup – Rafael Soriano
RP – Joba Chamberlain
RP – David Robertson
RP – Boone Logan
RP – Bartolo Colon
RP – Luis Ayala
Several of the spots are held by injury replacements
(Molina for backup catcher Francisco Cervelli, and Ayala for reliever Pedro
Feliciano) so they’ll go down to the minors when the regulars return. I am sure that Freddy Garcia and Bartolo
Colon will be on short leashes, and it’s very possible that one of their spots
could be taken by Kevin Millwood should either one falter.
I am very pleased to see Eric Chavez on the
roster. It was a foregone conclusion
that he’d make the team after the spring he had, but going into camp, there
were certainly plenty of questions about his health and durability. I am sure that Jason Giambi has probably been
on the phone to his good buddy to let him know the inner workings of the
Yankees organization and the city of New York.
Congratulations to Manny Banuelos for winning the
James P. Dawson Award as the team’s outstanding rookie in camp. I am definitely looking forward to his
arrival in the Bronx, even if it is still a few years down the road.
Even though there were no major additions in the
off-season, I do like this year’s team.
The hiring of pitching coach Larry Rothschild was huge, and I think he’ll
be able to get into A.J. Burnett‘s head and rebuild the pitcher’s
confidence. I expect continued
progression from Phil Hughes, and if Ivan Nova continues to build upon his
outstanding spring, I think the Yankees rotation will be quite strong.
What can you say about the bullpen? They will definitely shorten games for the
As for the regulars, I expect Derek Jeter to
rebound from last year and put up his usual DJ-like numbers. Robinson Cano will continue his progression
of one of the game’s elite, and Alex Rodriguez looks charged and ready for a
fantastic season. I am expecting more
consistency and better timely hitting from Curtis Granderson this year, and if
Brett Gardner stays healthy, the outfield should be significantly
The health of Russell Martin is a concern,
particularly since neither Jesus Montero nor Austin Romine was able to prove
they are ready for the major leagues. If
the Yankees have to start Posada at catcher, it will definitely be a sign of
In my mind, the positives will outweigh the
negatives, and the Yankees will be in the hunt at the end.
Nevertheless, with all things considered, I do
think the league champions, as it stands right now, will be the Boston Red Sox
and the San Francisco Giants. A World
Series matchup would put the Sox over the Giants for the championship. This is not what I want, but rather, on
paper, it is the most logical conclusion.
Much can happen between now and October, and I certainly expect the
Yankees to acquire a #3 starter (or better) for the starting rotation by the
July trading deadline. I did like the
Philadelphia Phillies, but I think the loss of Chase Utley to injury and Jayson
Werth to free agency will be too much to overcome. Pitching staff to pitching staff, I like the
Giants rotation better than the Phillies.
Win or lose, this should be a tremendous baseball
season for all of us! Go ahead, throw
the first pitch…
With the selections of Ivan
Nova and Freddy Garcia as the #4 and #5 starters in the Yankees rotation, I
think that manager Joe Girardi made the right choices (even if those were
really the only viable options).
J. Meric/Getty Images
I agree with those who
speculate that Bartolo Colon is better suited to be the long man in the
pen. Given his physical conditioning,
there are clearly concerns about his stamina.
His arm may be alright but that wouldn’t get him through long
innings. The trade of Sergio Mitre to
the Milwaukee Brewers opens the way for Colon to make the Yankees roster.
I am not sure what I think
about the Yankees signing pitcher Kevin Millwood to a minor league deal. I realize that he is strictly an insurance
policy, but I’d really like to see one of the younger guys, like Andrew
Brackman, Hector Noesi, or Dellin Betances, get the opportunity should Nova or
Garcia falter. Millwood is probably just
coverage for the next month, while the prospects will be options later in the
The Yankees gave Chris
Dickerson, the outfielder they acquired in the Mitre trade, Darryl Strawberry‘s
old jersey number (39). Those are big
shoes to fill. I love great home run
swings and for as many sluggers that have come through the Bronx, few can
compare to the swing that Straw had.
Dickerson is not a home run guy, so we won’t be seeing #39 swinging for
the fences. But the number did bring
back some great memories of Strawberry at the plate. Dickerson was the player the Reds sent to the
Brewers last summer in the deal that brought Jim Edmonds to Cincinnati. He turns 29 on April 10th so he is
no longer really considered a prospect, but I’d like to see him carve out a
role on the team. With Curtis Granderson
hurting, the Yankees will definitely need help in the outfield and Andruw Jones
can’t do it all by himself.
With all the talk about
catchers Francisco Cervelli, Jesus Montero, and Austin Romine, it’s strange
that Gustavo Molina has emerged as the frontrunner to capture the backup
catching position behind starter Russell Martin. I suspect that Cervelli will take the
position once he is healthy but I am disappointed that neither Montero or
Romine could hit well enough to stay on the major league roster. I know that it just means their arrivals are
simply delayed. Hopefully, they can draw
positives from the heavy focus this spring and use it to power forward when
their next opportunity comes.
I was surprised that Baltimore
Orioles manager Buck Showalter took potshots at Derek Jeter and the Boston Red
Sox. I would have expected better from
Showalter, but I can honestly say that I have never missed him from the day he
left the Yankees.
It’s hard to believe that
Opening Day is next week! I am so glad
that the season is finally upon us. Win
or lose, it should be a great year!
When I was a kid, the
overweight, aging dude with the beer belly was the starting pitcher on the
local softball team. Suddenly, I am
faced with the reality that the same guy may be starting for the New York
Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post
I know that Bartolo Colon
has pitched well this spring, but c’mon.
I’d rather see him resurrect his career in Kansas City, Seattle, or
Florida. Heck, maybe even the Mets could
use the arm. I know that Freddy Garcia
has been rather disappointing the last couple of starts, but I still think that
he’d be the most effective starter over the course of the season. If the Yankees are concerned about Garcia,
then pull the trigger and sign Kevin Millwood to a major league deal.
My preference for the
rotation is clearly CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova and
Freddy Garcia, with the potential mid-season call-ups of Andrew Brackman or
Dellin Betances. I’d love to have Manny
Banuelos but he needs to spend a few more years in the minors before he’s ready
to hit the show.
I know the Yankees will be
players for a starting pitcher at the trading deadline but that’s too difficult
to predict at this point in time. It
will really depend upon who has given up on the season by July.
It’s really weird that
Gustavo Molina has emerged as the front-runner for the backup catching
position. I had fully expected the Yanks
to break camp with Jesus Montero regardless of his offensive struggles this
spring. Granted, Molina is a temporary
solution but it definitely shows the Yankees were right about signing Russell
Martin to be their catcher, rather than entrusting the starting role to
Montero. I found it humorous that one
website described Molina as “not an authentic Catching Molina Brother”. I do have to say that the question did cross
my mind! LOL!
For as frustrated as Luis
Castillo may be about being dumped by the Mets, how can he be unhappy with the
gift horse that has potentially put him on the NL World Series team? Also, speaking of the Mets, I am so glad the
Yankees chose not to pursue Oliver Perez.
I didn’t think the Yankees would be foolish enough to go down that road,
but early speculation through the media indicated Yankee interest. Fortunately, it was just a fictional
tale. Good luck to the Nationals as they
look to resurrect Perez’s career.
As much as I don’t want to
see the Phillies win the World Series (call it anti-Cliff Lee bias), I hate to
see Chase Utley start the season on the DL.
I do wish him a speedy recovery and hope that he is back at Citizens
Bank Park sooner rather than later.
William Shatner is really 80
years old? Wow. Captain Kirk turned 80 on March 22nd. A belated happy birthday! He was such a huge
part of my childhood but of course I was watching Star Trek through syndication
and not through the first run shows. Although,
I admit, I could have watched the first run shows. As a kid, I was always Kirk when we played
Star Trek in the neighborhood so I definitely have an appreciation and fondness
for William Shatner.
–Signed, a Yankees fan
wondering who our #5 starter will be…
Brian Costello of The New York Post has it exactly
right: “Welcome to the 2011 A.J. Burnett Show — where every
mistake he makes will feel like a precursor of doom, like discovering a zit and
worrying about it becoming a tumor.“
I heard that the Yankees had lost, 6-5, to the Toronto Blue Jays yesterday, my
thoughts went immediately to A.J. Burnett who gave up 4 runs (2 earned) in 4
innings of work. There was a sinking
feeling with the thought ‘here we go again’…
Burnett and the
Yankees took positives from the performance and I can only hope that they are
right. As unfair as it is, Yankee fans
will be less tolerant of any mistakes by Burnett than they will for any other
starting pitcher in the rotation which will most likely include either Bartolo
Colon or Freddy Garcia at the back end.
He’ll need to give the fans a reason to get back in his corner.
The story of the
Yankees’ signing of Dominican Republic prospect Juan Paniagua is
interesting. At first, I didn’t know
anything about Paniagua, but I’ve since found out that he had originally signed
with the Arizona Diamondbacks under a false name (Juan Collado). The contract was subsequently voided by MLB
and Paniagua was suspended for a year.
The move allowed Paniagua to parlay a $17K signing bonus with the
D-Backs into a $1.1 million signing bonus with the Yankees. It does seem odd that a player with
questionable ethics would be allowed to profit from situation regardless of
what type of talent he may have. It
remains to be seen if MLB will approve the Yankees deal or if Paniagua will
even be able to get into the country, but I am skeptical about the character of
the pitcher. I do not know the reason he
lied about his name and there is probably much more to the story, but it will
be interesting to see how this plays out.
I am glad to see
that the Yankees have invited Joe Torre back for Old Timer’s Day at Yankee Stadium
this year. It will be good to see Joe
don his #6 pinstriped jersey once again.
I admired his comment that he didn’t want to play in the Old Timer’s
game since he never played for the Yankees. It shows the respect that he has
for the Yankees and their great players. But he certainly deserves to stand on the same
field with other Yankee legends and hear his name announced to the Yankee
I was sorry to
see that former Oakland A’s outfielder Mitchell Page has passed away at age 59. I hadn’t followed his career when his playing
days ended, but apparently he was plagued by alcoholism in his failed attempt
at coaching in recent years. I haven’t
heard the cause of death, but it is so sad to see the players we cheer for
struggle so mightily later in life.
pre-season Yankees-Red Sox battle resumes on Monday as the New Yorkers travel
to Fort Myers to play Boston. The Red Sox won the first exhibition
meeting between the teams, and the odds are stacked against the Yanks as most
of the regulars stayed in Tampa.
Per the LoHud Yankees
Blog, the following players will not be making the trip to Fort Myers: Francisco
Cervelli, Russell Martin, Jorge Posada, Robinson Cano, Eric Chavez, Derek
Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Colin Curtis, Greg Golson and Andruw
Unfortunately for the
Yankees, both Boston newcomers Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford will be in the
Red Sox lineup. The pitching match-up
will feature former Yankees starter/reliever Alfredo Aceves versus Sergio
The regular Yankees
outfielders (Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson, and Nick Swisher) will be making
the trip, and will hopefully give the Yankees the offense they need to defeat
I realize that it is
only a meaningless exhibition game, however, I have placed another wager with
Julia of Julia’s Rants. Sorry, it’s just
too hard to let any Yankees-Red Sox game go by without a chance to fire a shot
at my friend from Boston! I guess she
and I are just starting to stretch ourselves out in anticipation of Opening
Day. For this game, the loser has to
sport the logo of the opposing team on their blog for one day (Tuesday, March
15, 2011). To take it a step further,
the loser also has to sport the Yankees or Red Sox logo for their FaceBook
profile photo for the same 24 hour period.
I don’t want to read
too much into Freddy Garcia‘s pathetic performance today. He gave up 4 runs on 6 hits, 2 walks and a
hit batter in 2 2/3 innings. I accept
that Garcia is historically a slow starter in spring training and do not feel
that today’s clunker should define whether or not he loses his grip on the 5th
spot in the starting rotation. I would
still prefer Ivan Nova and Garcia as the 4th and 5th
starters over any scenario that would allow either Mitre or Bartolo Colon into
I had hoped for a better
fate for Rule 5 draftee pitcher Daniel Turpen, but he never really had a chance
when the Yankees bolstered their bullpen (most notably the signing of former
Rays closer Rafael Soriano). Turpen was
returned to the Red Sox today. I do wish
him the very best, and I hope that he finds his way to the major leagues sooner
rather than later.
I feel bad for first
baseman Jorge Vazquez. He has done
everything to prove that he is ready for the major leagues now, but the Yankees
really need to go with former Oakland A’s third baseman Eric Chavez as their
backup corner infielder. I wish there
was a spot for Vazquez but there just doesn’t appear to be one (barring any
injuries, of course). I am sure that he’ll
see the pinstripes at some point this season.
I am definitely
looking forward to hearing some good old Frank Sinatra soon…
Can I say that I am quietly rooting against Bartolo
Colon? Sorry, but I just don’t want to
see the 5th spot in the starting rotation go to such a high
risk. I would never fool myself into
believing that a few good spring starts will lead to a replication of Colon’s
2005 Cy Young year with the Los Angeles Angels.
My personal preference is for the 4th and 5th
spots to go to Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia, respectively. It’s not outside of the realm of possibility
that both Colon and Garcia head north with the Yankees when camp breaks, but I
hope that it means Garcia is in the rotation and Colon is bumping shoulders
with Sergio Mitre in long relief.
Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger
I am not looking for Garcia to be a full season option. I’d really like to see one of the Killer B’s
(Andrew Brackman, Dellin Betances and Manuel Banuelos) step up at some point in
the season and prove they belong in the majors now. My favorite among the group is Brackman if
for no other reason that his age (25) and the fact that he’d have the maturity
to handle New York. My absolute favorite
among the group is Banuelos but I don’t want to see the Yankees rush him too
NY Daily News
Although the Yankees rotation looks questionable at this
point, there is definitely the potential that the staff will be among the
league’s best as the season progresses.
Either the Yankees will reach out at the trading deadline or one of the
Killer B’s takes it to the next level, but the end result will be a much closer
gap between the Red Sox rotation and the Yankees.
I am very pleased that Eric Chavez has done well so far in
camp. I am very hopeful that he, along
with Eduardo Nunez, nail down the infield bench roles for the team. I like what Jorge Vazquez has done, but
unfortunately, there just doesn’t appear to the room on the roster (barring
injury). It will be interesting to see
what Brian Cashman does with the excess talent (notably Vazquez and catcher
Francisco Cervelli…once the latter recovers from the foot fracture). Both have proven they are major league ready,
but if Chavez and Jesus Montero make the team, there won’t be any room for
Cervelli or Vazquez.
Congratulations to former Dodgers assistant GM Kim Ng for
her new role with Major League Baseball (Senior Vice President for Baseball
Operations). She’ll report to former
Yankees and Dodgers manager Joe Torre. I’ve
read the news reports that Kim took the job with the hopes it will help propel
her to an eventual GM job. I have had
great respect for Kim since her days with the Yankees, and I am hopeful that
she does become the first woman GM in baseball.
Northwest Asian Weekly
I can’t help it but I am definitely pulling for the Los
Angeles Dodgers this year as my favorite NL team. Go Donnie Baseball!
And so the wagers begin…
With the Yankees 5-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Friday
night, Julia of Julia’s Rants scores the first victory of the season. Of course, all things considered, a
meaningless loss in March is hardly anything to fret about. But still, a win is a win, and I am obligated
to write a post about Red Sox manager Terry Jon Francona.
Jim Davis/Globe Staff
Julia did send me some information to help get a head
start: Born in Aberdeen, South Dakota on
April 22, 1959. So, is that it? Am I done writing about Francona? Sweet!
Seriously, when I was a kid, the Red Sox were so easy to
dislike because I did not have any sense of attachment to their players and
their manager was usually someone that I felt indifferent about. Darrell Johnson, Don Zimmer (sorry Zim!), Ralph Houk, John
McNamara, Joe Morgan, etc. The names
just ran together to me and had no particular meaning. It culminated in 2003 when Grady Little left
Pedro Martinez too long during Game 7 of the ALCS. It was a game that the Sox probably should
have won, but ultimately lost when Aaron Boone homered to advance the Yankees
to the World Series.
When Boston decided not to renew Little’s contract in the
off-season and chose to go with Francona, I probably had similar thoughts to my
perception at the time the Yankees announced “Clueless Joe” (a/k/a Joe Torre)
as their manager. Here was, in my mind
at the time, an unsuccessful major league manager the Sox think they can
re-cycle. Francona had been fired from
his only previous managing gig with the Philadelphia Phillies so I was very
quick to dismiss his hiring.
Boy, was I ever WRONG!
Putting everything known about Francona aside, all he has
done is win two world championships for an organization that could not win a
World Series since my grandmother was a teenager. He eliminated the phrase “Curse of the
Bambino” from the vocabulary of all baseball fans and has established the Red
Sox as one of the premier organizations in all of baseball.
Francona, the man, is perhaps one of the classiest acts in
major league baseball. To a fan of
Boston’s chief rival, Terry has been nothing short of the consummate
professional since his first day in a Red Sox uniform. He is always so humble, and his teams always
so prepared and unwilling to quit. He
has changed my perception of the Sox and has given me a reason…a very strong
reason…to hold the Sox in great respect.
I look forward to the day when Terry decides to step away from the game
so that I can go back to hating the Red Sox!
I remember Terry when he came up with the Montreal
Expos. He was not a great player and
only accumulated 16 home runs and 143 RBI’s in 10 seasons with 5 clubs. He did manage to pitch one game in 1989,
striking out Stan Javier.
His minor league managerial career began in 1991 with the
Chicago White Sox organization. He made
it to the big leagues as third base coach with Buddy Bell‘s 1996 Detroit
He spent four seasons as the Phillies manager from 1997 to
2000 but was fired after failing to finish higher than 3rd
place. In Philly, he did get the chance
to manage his future Red Sox ace Curt Schilling setting the stage for their
eventual and highly successful reunion.
When he was hired by the Red Sox, he had been the bench
coach for the Oakland A’s.
Terry and his wife Jaque live in Brookline,
Massachusetts. They have four child (one
boy and three girls).
For a largely undistinguished playing career, Terry is a
Hall of Fame manager in my opinion. I
may trash talk about the Red Sox but one thing is certain…I will never say a
bad word about the man who is arguably the best manager in baseball.
Julia, I am out!
Well, new year but same old battles. With the first Yankees-Red Sox match-up scheduled for Friday, it’s time to begin my annual grudge match with Julia of Julia’s Rants. For the latest wager, the loser of Friday’s spring training game has to post a blog about the opposing team’s manager. For me, if the Yankees lose, I have to write a post about Boston manager Terry Francona. Conversely, if the Red Sox lose, Julia will be writing about Yankees manager Joe Girardi.