Delaying the usual slow April start until May…
At the end of April, the New York Yankees, at 14-9, were atop the AL East Standings, one game ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays. The Boston Red Sox, then 11-15, occupied the cellar and were 4 ½ games behind the Yanks.
I knew the Sox had too much talent to stay down for long and it was only a matter of time until they would begin their charge. I had hoped it would take several months to snap out of their funk but Boston has been the best team in baseball in May with a 19-7 record so far this month. They are five full games better for the month than the next best AL East rival, the Toronto Blue Jays. The Yankees, at 12-14 for the month, have been the worst in the division.
For the overall standings, the Yankees, along with the Rays, are just a couple of games behind Boston. The Red Sox have clearly asserted their superiority and their arrival at the top of the division will most likely be a lengthy stay. I recognize that Boston will go through its own peaks and valleys, but I hope the Yankees can keep it close until the team can potentially bring in reinforcements for the second half. With the trading deadline still two months away, an extended Yankees losing streak would be devastating.
The ‘needs’ list keeps growing…
Sadly, the team needs more than a single bona fide #3 (or better) pitcher for the starting rotation. The bridge to Mariano Rivera has been tenuous at best with Rafael Soriano’s health (or lack thereof) and the failures of others like Boone Logan and Luis Ayala. Nick Swisher, despite his home run today, is playing his way out of New York as he has not hit well enough for the Yankees to pick up his option after the season. Last year’s magic in Swisher’s bat seems to have departed.
Paul J. Bereswill/AP
The Yankees have lacked the key clutch hits of late. The spots where Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon, Melky Cabrera et al used to pick up late, game-winning hits now seem to be routine outs. Lately, the Yanks have been scoring a few runs early and then try to hold off the opponent’s late rally. The formula seems to end in failure more times than not, or so it seems even if it’s not true.
Curtis Granderson has been great but he can’t do it all by himself. The Yankees seem to have gotten old very quickly. The team needs a jumpstart. It could be in the form of Alex Rodriguez or Robinson Cano getting hot and carrying the team on their backs or it could be a trade although a trade is still a longer term proposition at this point. I guess these are the days when manager Joe Girardi has the opportunity to prove he is one of the best managers in baseball.
Boston Bruins versus Vancouver Canucks
Congratulations to my friend Julia, of Julia’s Rants. Her Boston Bruins have made it to the NHL’s Stanley Cup Finals. The failure of my team, the San Jose Sharks, to beat the Western Conference Champion Vancouver Canucks prevented a potential wager between Julia and me. As it stands, I find myself pulling for the Bruins to win the championship and avenge the Sharks’ loss.
John Tlumacki/Globe Staff Photo
Mike Brown and Los Angeles Lakers…
I am not sure what I think about the selection of Mike Brown as the new coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. I guess going from the legendary Phil Jackson to anyone is going to be a steep drop-off. Brown did enjoy some success in Cleveland and he certainly has the credentials and ability to succeed. Hopefully this turns out to be a good hire for the Lakers.
When will it be time for football?…
While I think it is great to see QB Christian Ponder talking with high school kids, I really wish that he was getting ready for the upcoming season with the Minnesota Vikings. I am so ready for the NFL and the Players Association to end the lockout and give us our football…
Mei-Chun Jau/St. Paul Pioneer Press
Riding in Grand Style!
The nice thing about the way Curtis Granderson is playing? I have not heard a single word this season about regrets for sending Austin Jackson and Phil Coke to the Detroit Tigers and Ian Kennedy to the Arizona Diamondbacks for the Grandy Man.
Granderson continues to amaze and impress me as he launched his 16th home run of the season today against the New York Mets. It’s too bad the rest of the team hasn’t taken his offensive queue. He is clearly the team’s MVP at this point in the season. I don’t expect that to last the entire season as Robinson Cano will re-establish himself as the team’s best player at some point. But I am very proud of the work that Granderson has done with hitting coach Kevin Long, and I am very pleased he is wearing pinstripes.
What, no home runs?
With today’s win, the Yankees took 2 of 3 from the Mets after dropping the series opener. The Yanks trailed today’s game 3-1 until they broke out for 8 runs in the bottom of the 7th. It was nice to see the team explode for the offensive outburst without having to rely upon home runs to do it. The scoring plays came on three singles and a double.
Legends moving closer…
Derek Jeter picked up a couple of hits to move within 25 hits of 3,000. It is exciting to think that DJ will become the Yankee with 3,000 hits in their storied and illustrious history. Also, Mariano Rivera needs just one more appearance to become the 15th pitcher to appear in 1,000 games. But , according to the LoHud Yankees Blog, he will become the first pitcher to do it with one team.
Once a Bridesmaid, always a Bridesmaid…
My dreams of the San Jose Sharks making it to the Stanley Cup took a severe hit today as the Sharks lost 4-2 to the Vancouver Canucks to go down 3 games to 1 in the Western Conference Finals. It will be very difficult for the Sharks to dig out of their current hole against a team like the Canucks. I had really been hoping for the Sharks to make it to the Stanley Cup to play the Boston Bruins. After so many Yankees-Red Sox battles between me and Julia (of Julia’s Rants), it would have been nice to move our battles to the ice. At this point, Julia has a better chance of making it to the Stanley Cup as her Bruins are currently tied at 2 games with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Finals. Win or lose, I will continue to root for Julia’s team to make it to the championship series.
Where’s Michael Jordan when you need him? ;) j/k
In the NBA, I am pulling for the Dallas Mavericks and the Chicago Bulls. However, I recognize that a final with the Mavericks and the Miami Heat is the more probable outcome. I don’t want to take anything away from the very good Oklahoma City Thunder but I don’t see how Dallas loses their conference finals. As for Chicago and Miami, there’s obviously too much talent on the Heat to fail at this point. Chicago is definitely an up and coming team but this will not be their year…yet. Still, it would be nice to see an upset…
The end of the “Core”?…
The deterioration of two-thirds of the remaining “Core” is very disheartening. Both Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada have shown that it is time to pass the baton. With both, I am not sure how you can gracefully move on but as long as both are in the lineup, the Yankees are in an inferior position to both the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox.
Sadly, the day is going to come when Mariano Rivera just doesn’t have it anymore. Fortunately, he is not showing any signs of letting up and thankfully so since his closer-in-waiting, Rafael Soriano, is having a tough time staying healthy.
With players like Jeter or Posada, you’d like to think that they’d come to the realization that they are an albatross to the organization and would willingly step aside. But egos and money are not forgiving. At some point, the decisions will need to be made for the players. I think that DJ has a longer leash than Posada, who infuriated the organization with his behavior this past weekend. I’ve read that Posada has until about the All-Star Break to start hitting before the team explores other options. My sense is that this is not going to end well. As for DJ, I am sure that he’s secure the remainder of the year, but I really wonder what the future holds. Perhaps if the team is able to improve the offensive production in other areas, they can be more accommodating with Jeter’s reduced output. If this experience has proven anything to me, it is a renewed respect for GM’s like Theo Epstein who are not afraid to the cut the cords to star players sooner rather than later. Baseball is purely all about ‘what have you done for me lately’, and the Yankees do not owe Jeter, a future Hall of Famer and the last recipient of the #2 jersey at Yankee Stadium, anything. This is about wins and losses, and the Yankees should field the best shortstop in the organization, regardless of who that individual is.
A sad day for Twins baseball and all of MLB…
I was very sorry to see the passing of Minnesota Twins great Harmon Killebrew. Earlier in the week, I saw the comments that Harmon was no longer seeking medical treatment for his cancer but I never realized that we were just days away from his passing. Growing up in Iowa, I used to listen to Minnesota Twins games on a regular basis. Killebrew had retired by the time I was listening, but I clearly knew who he was and his stature in major league baseball. Frankly, I am surprised that I was never a Twins fan. Rod Carew was the star of the team in those days, and they routinely fielded quality teams as they do today. I guess they didn’t have that magical player on their active roster to endear me to the team. Instead, I latched onto Oakland A’s star pitcher Jim “Catfish” Hunter as my favorite player and of course when he left to sign with the Yankees on 12/31/74, my fate as a Yankees fan was sealed. Nevertheless, I am appreciative for what Killebrew meant to the Twins organization. He will be missed…
No more LeBron, please…
How sweet would it be if the Chicago Bulls ousted the Miami Heat from the NBA Play-offs?…
The closet door may be open, but the key to victory remains unchanged…
For the record, I have no issue with Phoenix Suns President Rick Welts coming out of the closet to announce that he is gay. His sexual preference has nothing to do with his ability to lead and develop a championship organization.
Collaboration at its finest…
I was glad to hear that Minnesota Vikings QB Christian Ponder is seeking out the Vikings wide receivers for workouts and has plans to work with my favorite Viking, Percy Harvin. I was also glad to see Sidney Rice reach out to Ponder to express his willingness to participate. I don’t want the Vikings to lose Rice, but until the lockout is settled, it’s anybody’s guess what happens with Rice. He is clearly the greatest WR the Vikings have had since Randy Moss (the Dante Culpepper version, not last year’s). The NFL needs to put closure on the lockout and aggressively pursue resolution with the Player’s Association.
A toast to Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz…
I received my shipment of Jon Lester’s CabernAce and Clay Buchholz’s ChardonClay today. You can buy the wine at www.charitywines.com. For Clay’s wine, your contribution benefits Jimmy’s Fund, while Jon’s wine supports the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. I can’t think of a better way to enjoy fine wine while supporting two great causes!
Have a great night, everyone! J
Jorge Posada’s Meltdown…
MLBlogs decides to convert to Word Press over THE weekend that Jorge Posada decides to meltdown! Sheesh! After weeks of not much to write about, the most enticing piece of Yankees news comes at a time when we were unable to talk about it. Okay, I do applaud MLBlogs for upgrading our site, so we’ll forgive this one indiscretion.
Andrew Theodorakis/The New York Daily News
During Saturday night’s game when it was announced during the game that Jorge Posada, who had asked out of the lineup, would be addressing the media after the game, I was convinced that he was going to announce his retirement. Obviously I don’t know Jorge very well, because retirement is the furthest thing in his mind. Nevertheless, his latest action has ensured that 2011 will be his final season in pinstripes…regardless of whether intends to continue playing or not.
Please do not get me wrong. I’ve always appreciated Jorge’s intensity and passion, and how much he hates to lose. He has been a great Yankee for many years, and he certainly deserves to be in the same room with Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra, Elston Howard, and Thurman Munson. But I thought his reaction to batting 9th in the order Saturday night (asking out of the game) was completely inappropriate and it shows what is wrong with the 2011 Yankees. The Yankees are currently in a free fall, having lost 6 in a row after getting swept in Yankee Stadium by the Boston Red Sox and losing Monday night’s game to the Tampa Bay Rays.
It’s disappointing because the Yankees finally played April strong after years of slow starts. Of course, it is now all for naught as they’ve had an atrocious May. The signs were evident as the Yankees were winning by the home run in April and that’s not a sustainable winning strategy. I think the problems can be tied to three players…Posada, Derek and Nick Swisher. At some point, the Yankees have to break the Core and go younger. I really don’t think this team can afford both Posada and Jeter in the lineup unless one or the other starts to hit. Given the choice of the two, I’d prefer to see Derek Jeter stay. I don’t think the Yankees will release Posada, but he’s clearly a liability at this point.
Can we get to the Trading Deadline already?…
If Swisher doesn’t start hitting, the Yankees will be looking for an outfielder in addition to a left-handed starting pitcher at the trading deadline. I only hope that the team doesn’t fall too far out by then. The Rays are starting to separate themselves from the Yankees, and it won’t be long before they are passed by the Red Sox.
I don’t know what the best plan is, but clearly, GM Brian Cashman has his job cut out for him. With principal owner Hal Steinbrenner’s comment that the Yankees shouldn’t get swept at home even if they are playing the 1927 Yankees, his tolerance level is going to be very low. This will be a very critical year if Cashman and manager Joe Girardi intend to keep their jobs.
I am the gift that keeps on giving to my friend Julia…
Having lost the weekend series against the Red Sox to my friend Julia (of Julia’s Rants), there will be a bottle of Rodrigue Molyneaux’s Cabiovese (75% Sangiovese and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon) on its way to the East Coast. Enjoy the wine, Julia. Yes, I am getting tired of losing these wagers but I am convinced ‘what goes around, comes around’. In other words, my turn will come.
Wow, did you see that?…
I participated in the 100th Bay to Breakers 12K Run in San Francisco on Sunday. Being San Francisco, you’re assured of seeing about everything and Sunday was true to form. This was my 4th time participating in the event, and it wasn’t my best time but I still had a great time figuratively speaking. I didn’t wear a costume and, unlike quite a few people, I kept my clothes on but I can say that ‘people watching’ was at its finest.
Anna Vignet/The San Francisco Chronicle
Who is Amaury Sanit?
The newest Yankee is a
31-year-old career minor league reliever who was most recently with AAA
Scranton/Wilkes Barre. A Cuban emigrant,
he is also the same pitcher that was suspended for 50 games in 2010 after
testing positive for a banned performance enhancing drug. Infielder Ramiro Pena was sent down to make room for Sanit. Pitcher Jess
Todd, recently signed after being cut by the Cleveland Indians, was
released to clear space on the 40-man roster for Sanit.
Despite giving up three runs
in 4 2/3 innings of work tonight, Sanit provided length after Ivan Nova
imploded (giving up 4 runs in the 2nd and 2 more in the 4th). So much for the quality Nova starts…
The Yankees have a tough
stretch coming up as they face the Boston Red Sox and then the Tampa Bay
Rays. For the three-game series against
the Sox this weekend, I have made yet another wager with Julia of Julia’s Rants. At stake is a bottle of wine. If the Sox win, I will give Julia a bottle of
a Sangiovese-Cabernet Sauvignon blend (aptly named Cabiovese) from a fantastic
boutique winery in Northern California’s Livermore Valley, Rodrigue Molyneaux
Winery (www.rmwinery.com). The wine, which is 75% Sangiovese and 25%
Cabernet, was aged for 12 months in American Oak. The blend of the Sangiovese’s high acidity
with the Cabernet’s tannin structure makes for an incredibly smooth wine. Of course, the Sox won’t win so I’ll just
drink the Cabiovese myself! If I win,
then Julia has to pick a wine from the New England region to send to me. Somehow, I just don’t think that’s going to
compare with Livermore Valley! ;)
As a Lakers fan, it was sad
to see the season come to an abrupt end at the hands of a sweep by the Dallas
Mavericks. It’s ironic that the Lakers
were defeated by Dallas given that I was a Mavericks fan for the 14 years I
lived in the city, but that was long ago.
When I was a Mavericks fan, Rolando
Blackman was the star and Roy
Tarpley was the problem child. It
was also pre-Mark Cuban. My biggest disappointment with the Lakers
loss is that Phil Jackson deserved a
better farewell. Still, he leaves as
perhaps the premier coach in NBA history.
I wish the Zen Master the very best for whatever he decides to do next. I’d like to see Phil stay connected with the
NBA so a TV role would be fantastic unless he aspires to be an exec with a
team. It would be great for us as fans
to experience the wit and wisdom of the legendary coach.
My other sports team, the
NHL’s San Jose Sharks, is also having its own set of problems. Once possessing a commanding 3-0 series lead
against the storied Detroit Red Wings, the Sharks face a do-or-die situation
tonight in Game 7. The Sharks are the
more talented team, but time will tell if talent will prevail or if it will be
the gut, guile and determination of a championship Detroit squad.
I’d mention the Minnesota
Vikings to get a full representation for all of my teams, but of course with
the lockout, QB Christian Ponder is
probably sitting by the pool, sipping Mojitos…
Lastly, I will be participating
in the 100th running of the Bay to Breakers 12K Run in San Francisco
on Sunday. Being San Francisco, you see
about everything which is probably more than you ever wanted to, but it is
still a fun experience. From the
Embarcadero to the Pacific Ocean, the day is a thrill. There’s nothing like getting slapped by
hurled pancakes at the starting line, and of course, enduring the drive up the
Hayes Street Hill. But it’s always a
thrill to reach Golden Gate Park. This
will be my fourth time with the run, and the first in an odd year.
So, was the injury to Eric Chavez unfortunate or
inevitable? Sadly, it’s a little of both…
Kim Klement/US Presswire
I enjoyed watching Chavez
rebound his career with the Yankees, but I was always concerned that he was
just a play away from the DL. That time
finally reared its ugly head when Chavez fractured his foot. Hopefully, best case scenario proves out…Chavez
wears the protective boot for two weeks and is ready to begin rehabilitation
play soon over. On the bright side, the
injury is unrelated to past injuries so this should not be a recurring theme
I was surprised that the
Yankees brought up Ramiro Pena
instead of Jorge Vazquez. I had really thought that Vazquez would get
the first call if/when Chavez went down.
I realize that he isn’t on the 40-man roster, there was talk of the
Yankees making a move with minor league infielder Kevin Russo. The Yanks did
DFA Russo today, but they signed Cleveland Indians cast-off Jess Todd, a reliever, to take his
place on the 40-man roster. I don’t know
much about Todd but he has gotten off to a poor start with the AAA Columbus
Clippers. He does have strikeout
potential so I am sure that his youth (he is only 25) and pedigree (a former
second round draft pick for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2007) were factors that
led to the Yanks decision to take a bite.
Unfortunately, the move
keeps Vazquez at AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre.
All he has done this year is hit (9 homers, 27 RBI’s, .300 BA). I am sure that he’s wondering what it takes
to crack the bigs. At age 29, he’s not
getting any younger.
After losing the four game
series to the Detroit Tigers, the Yankees look to rebound tonight in Arlington,
Texas against the Rangers. I’ve been
concerned about the Yankees reliance on the home run and lack of timely
hits. So far, the pitching had been
compensating for the hitting deficiencies but it’s impossible to ask the
pitchers to continually walk a line with no margin for error.
Congratulations to the Los
Angeles Dodgers’ Andre Ethier as he
extended his hitting streak to 30 games tonight against the New York Mets. Ethier is now just one game from tying the
franchise mark which was set by Willie
Davis in 1969. I like Ethier’s
approach which was typified by his pre-game comment that he is “not losing a
wink of sleep about it”. Ethier has been
one of my favorite Dodgers on a team managed by perhaps my all-time favorite
living ballplayer so it’s a great situation all the way around. I continue to cheer for Ethier with each hit.
I am a fan of the Los
Angeles Lakers but I don’t like their current situation…down 2 games to zero
and in Dallas tonight to play Game 3.
Plus, Ron Artest has been
suspended for one game so that’s one less bullet in the gun. The Lakers will be hard pressed to win in
Dallas. It looks like destiny is removing
the barriers for Team LeBron. I know,
Chicago and Dallas are formidable opponents, but I really thought that either
the Lakers or the Boston Celtics would be able to stop the Miami Heat. So far, the Celtics have done nothing against
the Heat and the Lakers have put themselves in a life support situation.
My friend Julia, of Julia’s Rants, attended a charity event
this week that featured the release of two new wines…Clay Buchholz ChardonClay and Jon
Lester CabernAce. Clay’s 2009
Chardonnay benefits Jimmy’s Fund, while Jon’s 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon benefits
the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
Count me in as I’ve bought both wines.
More info can be found at charitywines.com.
Usually, April has not been
kind to the Yankees. So to finish the
month with a winning record and in first place is clearly an accomplishment. After the Yankees were ripped in the
off-season for their failure to sign Cliff Lee while the Boston Red Sox were
signing Carl Crawford and trading for Adrian Gonzalez, the expectations were
greater in Beantown. As a result, there is a bit of satisfaction in the respective teams’ starts. Perhaps it was a good
thing as the Yankees finally shook the April curse and controlled the month of
April instead of letting the month control them.
John Munson/The Star Ledger
Boston, meanwhile, has
gotten off to a sluggish start, with a 13-15 mark entering play tonight. I’d be a fool to think the Sox will continue
to underperform. I have no doubt that
they will start clicking on all cylinders at some point, and I can only hope
the Yanks have built a sufficient cushion to withstand any Sox charge.
Roster to roster (today), I’d still give the edge of the Sox over the
course of the full 162 game schedule.
I think the keys for the
Yankees to hold off the inevitable Sox charge will rest primarily with
pitching. I’ve been pleased by what the
Yanks have gotten from Ivan Nova, Freddy Garcia, and Bartolo Colon, but I still
do not think that all three have the sustainability for the duration of the
The health of Phil Hughes
will be a key determinant. The recent
tests have been positive, but the fact remains that the Yankees are no closer
to getting Hughes on the mound than they were before. What if he isn’t able to come back this
year? What’s Plan B? The Yankees already needed a #3 starter or
better when Hughes was in the rotation. For
now, the Yanks have to hope that Nova, Garcia and Colon continue to perform
Count me as one of those who
believe that it is time to drop Derek Jeter down in the order. His days as a lead-off hitter are over, and
it’s time to get Brett Gardner at the top of the order. I realize that Gardner isn’t hitting, but I think
that leading off would revitalize his bat and of course his speed on the bases
with the guns coming to bat would be huge.
The Yanks could definitely
use timely hitting, but I fully expect the bats to come around. I saw the highlights of last night’s game
showing Hideki Matsui hitting a game-winning home run for the Oakland A’s, and
thought to myself, yeah, we could use that…
With the 2011 NFL Draft
behind us, I am still pondering the Minnesota Vikings first round selection of
QB Christian Ponder. There’s no doubt
that I would have loved to have DT Nick Fairley who went to the Detroit Lions
with the next pick. However, the Vikings
had to emerge from this draft with a franchise QB. Andy Dalton may turn out to be a great
quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals and Colin Kaepernick may do wonderful
things in the Golden Gate City, but all things considered, I am glad that
Ponder is in Minnesota. There’s no doubt
that I would have preferred Jake Locker but the Tennessee Titans made that an
impossibility. I had mixed feelings
about Blaine Gabbert, so short of Cam Newton and Jake Locker, I am satisfied
I’d be surprised if the
Vikings go to the training camp (assuming the lockout is lifted) with Ponder,
Joe Webb, and Rhett Bomar as the only QB’s.
I fully expect them to pursue a veteran.
I don’t think that Kevin Kolb would be worth the price since Ponder
should be ready to take over the position within a couple of years. So, I guess it depends how cheaply the
Vikings can get someone like Carson Palmer, Donovan McNabb, or Vince
Young. It definitely makes me wish that
Sage Rosenfels was still on the roster.
When the lockout is finally
resolved, I definitely hope the Vikings find a way to retain WR Sidney
Rice. I don’t want to lose free agent DE
Ray Edwards, but I think that Rice would be much harder to replace.
I was glad to see the Tampa
Bay Rays activate 3B Evan Longoria for tonight’s game. I may not be a Rays fan, but Longoria is
arguably the best third baseman in the league.
Win or lose, I’d rather see Longoria in the Rays lineup than not.
Congratulations to the Los
Angeles Dodgers’ Andre Ethier who has hit safely in 28 games entering play
tonight. I am sure that this is a trip
down memory lane for manager Don Mattingly, who once had a consecutive home run
streak going. I am sure that Donnie
Baseball has shared his insight into how to handle the pressure from the press
in these situations. Ethier’s a great
guy and I’d definitely like to see him continue this streak.
The San Jose Sharks are up
2-0 in their series with the Detroit Red Wings, but who in the world can
possibly be comfortable with playing Game 3 in Joe Louis Arena?…
The Los Angeles Lakers lost
Game 1 to the Dallas Mavericks? Really? What are they trying to do? Give a happy ending to the LeBron James