August 2011

A couple of wins in Boston would be nice for the road team…

  

Have Gun (partially loaded), Will Travel…

Headed to Boston with minus a few bullets…

With the injuries to Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter, the Yankees are certainly in a precarious situation as they head for Boston after wrapping up the O’s series in Baltimore tonight.  A-Rod was sent to New York have a MRI on his thumb, and he’ll re-join his teammates at Fenway Park.  The results were negative, however, it doesn’t sound like he’ll play in the Sox series so the focus will definitely be on Eric Chavez and Eduardo Nunez.

Jeter fouled a pitch off his right kneecap in the first game of Sunday’s double header, so he should be back on the field when the team arrives in Beantown.

The Red Sox have their own challenges, with Kevin Youkilis on the DL.  But even without Youk, the Red Sox boast three legitimate AL MVP Candidates in Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Adrian Gonzalez.  If the Yankees are to stop Boston’s run of success against them, the guys from the bench will need to be the difference makers.  Plus, some good pitching always helps.  I haven’t seen the starting rotation for the series yet, although I know that CC Sabathia is starting on Tuesday.  I suppose that means the other starters will be A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes, neither of whom instill great confidence, particularly when the opposing match-up’s will be Josh Beckett and Jon Lester (John Lackey faces the Yanks on Tuesday night so that’s probably the only matchup that favors the Yanks in the series).

Where are those darned reinforcements? Signed, General Custer…

The August trading deadline has been very quiet, and of course, I am not expecting any moves by the Yankees.  I still wish the team would move to get a clutch bat for the bench (someone like Hideki Matsui or Johnny Damon) but all indications are the Yankees will stand pat like they did at the July trading deadline.

Love means never having to say you’re Sori…

So, David Robertson is arbitration eligible at the end of the season?  The Yanks would be wise to lock him up to a deal before arbitration hearings.  He always seems to be in the most precarious situations yet, time and again, he comes through in big spots.  The way he struck out three batters in the 8th inning on Sunday night with the bases loaded was vintage D-Rob.  His 8th inning success definitely has me wondering what the Yanks will do with Rafael Soriano for the next couple of years…

He makes the world taste good…

I remember a few years ago when there were predictions that Curtis Granderson could hit 40 home runs playing at Yankee Stadium.  I thought those were aggressive remarks, but here he is on the verge of hitting that plateau.  Every one points to the adjustment he made with input from batting coach Kevin Long last August, but it’s clear he has become a complete hitter since that time.  It is ironic that one of the trading pieces, pitcher Ian Kennedy of the Arizona Diamondbacks, is leading the NL in wins.  Kind of makes one wish that the Yankees had traded Phil Hughes instead of Kennedy.  Still, the trade has worked out for all three teams involved (Arizona, Detroit, and the Yankees).  What?  Curtis Granderson just struck out in the game against the Orioles with Brett Gardner in scoring position?  The bum!  ;)  Just kidding…

They’re just games…

This is a big week for the Yankees with the Boston series so they’ll definitely be challenged.  It doesn’t get any easier after Boston because the Toronto Blue Jays will be coming to the Bronx for a weekend series, and the Jays have definitely played the Yanks tough this year.  Do we really have to pin our hopes on A.J. Burnett?  Really?…  L

Have a safe and enjoyable week!

–Scott

 

 

 

 

 

Right on Target…

 

The weather is Minnesota was beautiful…

Last Sunday, I attend a simply great baseball game.  Well, outside of a few harmless errors and miscues.  As a resident of Minneapolis, Minnesota, I went to Target Field and saw the Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins, 3-0.  It was a great afternoon for baseball (temperature in the upper 70’s, with lots of sun).

The game was a pitcher’s duel in the early going.  I was surprised when the Twins pulled starter Nick Blackburn in the second inning despite not giving up any runs, but later heard that he had been injured.  The Twins bullpen did a good job until the 7th inning when Curtis Granderson hit an inside-the-park home run.  I was watching him run between second and third, and his stride is so long that he almost looks like he is going slow motion.  There wasn’t much hesitation as he rounded third and headed home.  I always cringe when players go in for headfirst slides but Curtis slide his hand across home plate before the ball arrived and the Yanks were up 2-0.  In retrospect, the Twins outfielders blew the play when both the right and center fielders went to the wall on Granderson’s hit ball which bounced off the wall.  One of the outfielders should have backed up the other, but that’s the hazard of fielding a young, inexperienced outfield.

Mark Teixeira followed with one of those line drive shots that never drop as the ball was deposited in the left field stands.

The Twins definitely had their chances.  At one point, they had men on second and third with no outs and couldn’t score.  David Robertson worked out of a jam in the 8th when the bases were loaded despite no balls leaving the infield.  There were miscues, like when a ball dropped between Nick Swisher and Curtis Granderson (you get it, no, you get it…) or A-Rod’s bobble of what should have been a routine fielding play.  Fortunately, the Twins couldn’t do anything with the opportunities, so the Yankees emerged the victor.  I had a decent seat (lower level, left field) but for the 9th inning, I moved over to the standing area behind the home plate lower level seats.  I had a perfect line to watch Mariano Rivera throw his cutter to catcher Russell Martin, and it was great to catch that view.  It was also nice to see Mariano walk off the field with another save…

I am always amazed at how many Yankees fans are in attendance on road games.  Not that I’d feel threatened in Minnesota, but it’s nice having “support” nearby!

So close yet so far away…

Monday night’s game was a disappointment.  After the Yanks fell behind 6-0, I wrote the game off.  But then, in the final two innings, the Yanks brought it to within one at 6-5, with the bases loaded.  I started to get excited about the potential huge comeback, but Nick Swisher hit a fly ball that was caught near the fence to end the game.  That was harder to accept than if the Yanks had just lost 6-0.  Then, of course, every time I looked at the TV, the loss was scrolling across the ticker on ESPN.  While A.J. Burnett is my personal favorite to be yanked (no pun intended) from the rotation, I realize that there are financial reasons for why that move won’t be made.  Therefore, the next to go would be Bartolo Colon.  I’d definitely take Freddy Garcia over Colon, and there is no way that Phil Hughes or Ivan Nova will be coming out of the rotation anytime soon.

Of course, as I sit here typing this blog, Nick Swisher has just hit a home run to put the Yanks up 2-1 over the Oakland A’s in the 6th inning.  Dude, where was that shot last night?…

Wasn’t he a Yankee for about 5 minutes a few years ago…

I saw the blurb today that the Yankees had claimed Chicago Cubs first baseman Carlos Pena on waivers.  Listening to comments from GM Brian Cashman, it doesn’t sound like the Yanks will do anything, but it would be nice to acquire Pena as an option at DH and a backup to Mark Teixeira.  He is definitely familiar with the AL East having played with the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays.  I don’t like Pena’s batting average, but his other stats are respectable.  The Yanks clearly need a clutch bat on the bench and perhaps Pena could be the guy if the Yanks and Cubs can work out a trade.

Fat, dumb, and happy…

Entering play tonight, the Yankees held an 8 ½ game lead over the Los Angeles Angels and Tampa Bay Rays.  While that’s certainly not insurmountable, it’s nice to have such a large cushion as we enter the final days of August.  Granted, I’d prefer to win the AL East, but then again, with the current play-off structure, it doesn’t really matter.  If the Yanks can keep the lead in the WC standings, they should be able to rest some guys in September to allow the team to head into October at full strength.  At this point, my biggest concern is getting a healthy Alex Rodriguez on the field.

Have a good night!

–Scott

Hey, this team’s not so bad after all!…

 

As the Fonz said, I am ‘wrrrro…, I am wwwrrroo..’…

I was a pessimist in spring training…a non-believer.  I didn’t think the Yankees could compete with the Boston Red Sox with their current roster after the off-season spurning by pitcher Cliff Lee.  At the time, the Yankees were trying to piece together a rotation that was void of both Lee and Andy Pettitte, who opted to retire.

At the trading deadline, the Yankees were silent while the Red Sox were busy acquiring infielder Mike Aviles from the Kansas City Royals and pitcher Erik Bedard from the Seattle Mariners.

Yet, on the morning of August 16th, the Yankees found themselves in a first place tie with the Boston Red Sox.  Not bad for a team that has been rated as inferior to the Red Sox by so many, including me.  It is no secret that the Red Sox have owned the Yankees in their head-to-head match-up’s but of course that doesn’t mean a thing in October.  Still, if the Yankees had been able to at least play .500 ball against the Sox, they’d have a fairly comfortable lead in the division.  That’s probably where Lee and Pettitte would have made a difference, but who knows, perhaps they could have been even worse.

Despite the team’s success, I still do not like the prospects for October against the Red Sox and the Texas Rangers.  Like the Red Sox, the Rangers were able to add some quality arms to the bullpen when they picked up Mike Adams from the San Diego Padres and Koji Uehara from the Baltimore Orioles.  I do not like moves for the sake of simply making a move so perhaps the Yankees did the best thing by standing pat.  But the team still has too many shortcomings that can be exposed in a short series.  Part of me pulls for a Bronx return by Hideki Matsui who has cleared waivers for the Oakland A’s.  Matsui has shown there is still ‘clutch’ in his bat and used in the right spots, he could be a valuable weapon.  The team is counting very heavily on the return of Alex Rodriguez, but they need a contingency plan.   The DH spot has been weak, for the most part, with Jorge Posada and Eric Chavez.  Granted, Posada had a recent 6 RBI game that that’s clearly an aberration at this point of his career.  I haven’t seen too many timely hits off his bat this season.

GM Brian Cashman is making the usual comments that he does not envision any trading activity this month, but of course, you never really know what is up his sleeve.  So much of it has to do with posturing and trying to make the opposition believe that you aren’t desperate.

What have you done for me lately…

As for Posada, I am ready to cut ties.  He has been a long and faithful Yankee, and certainly a very passionate one.  However, I do not see a role on the 2012 Yankees for him.  At this point, he has become a liability, and if he wishes to extend his career, I am okay with it being in another uniform.  Hopefully, he doesn’t decide to go someplace like Boston, but I’d hope that he would make a respectful decision for the Yankees fans.  All things considered, I wish that he’d simply hang up the catcher’s mitt at the end of the season and call it a career but I don’t think that’s going to happen.  If I have to pick between Posada and Jesus Montero on the roster next year, Montero wins hands down.  Sorry, Jorge, but I am looking forward to your participation on Old Timer’s Day.

A quiet major milestone even if it was a booming blast…

Congratulations to Jim Thome for slugging his 600th home run against the Detroit Tigers last night.  It was an interesting stat that he was the first player to hit both his 599th and 600th home runs in the same game, and no one had ever hit his 600th in the next at-bat after 599.  Babe Ruth was the closest, needing two at-bat’s.  Thome’s march to 600 was one of the quietest milestone marches that I’ve experienced, and I even call Minneapolis home these days.  I’ve never thought of him as a superstar, but he has consistently been a home run producer for many years.  In my mind, he was never top shelf talent but he was always in the next tier and his career has spanned longer than many top shelf players.  Does that qualify for entry to the Hall of Fame?  It will be an interesting debate.  He is certainly not a first ballot shoo-in, but he’ll probably find his way eventually.

Time to see my guys…

The Yankees will be coming to the Twin Cities this week, so I’ll be at one of the games this weekend.  During my short time in Minneapolis, I have come to appreciate Target Field.  I am a fan of many of the newer ballparks, and I like some better than others.  But Target Field has a good feel to it, and I like its downtown location.  I intend to wear my Yankees cap, which might not be the best idea when walking downtown, but I am sure that I won’t be alone…

Waiting for the opportunity…

As a lifelong fan of the Minnesota Vikings, it was tough a few years ago when I had to adjust to the sight of longtime enemy Brett Favre in purple.  I actually did enjoy his first year, although the second one was a disappointment.  But it is probably harder for me to accept the sight of Donovan McNabb in purple.  Okay, I wasn’t one of those guys who booed when the Philadelphia Eagles selected McNabb in the draft over RB Ricky Williams, but I was never overly impressed with McNabb in his Philly days.  I even lived in the area during his final years with the Eagles, and perhaps my impression of McNabb is tainted by the bitterness that Eagles fans held toward him.  Yes, he won, but he never won the games that truly counted.  It’s a team sport so you can’t hang total blame on him, but he is just not someone that I’ve ever been able to embrace as one of the game’s best QB’s.  Maybe he will change my opinion of him.  I definitely think that he has something to prove after his disastrous year in Washington, and I won’t be surprised if he rises to the challenge.

I am a fan of QB Christian Ponder.  There’s no doubt that I wanted the team to draft Jake Locker, but it was not meant to be so Ponder is certainly the next best thing.  Intellectually speaking, I think Ponder is at the head of the class and I look forward to seeing how he grasps the Vikings playbook.  But, there’s no way that I think he is ready to start this year, particularly with the lockout shortened off-season.  I think that Aaron Rodgers benefited greatly by sitting on the bench for those first few years, and the same holds true with Ponder.  McNabb gives the Vikings the flexibility to allow Ponder to grow into the position…unless McNabb shows that Washington wasn’t a fluke.  I am sure that we’ll see #7 line up behind center at some point in the regular season, but until then, I’ll be content with McNabb.  Well, until he proves otherwise…

There were two Vikings that I really hated to see leave as free agents.  WR Sidney Rice was one of my favorites, and he is now in Seattle with former Vikings QB Tavaris Jackson.  I am not sure that Michael Jenkins or Bernard Berrian can be anything close to what Rice was, but I will say that WR Percy Harvin has been one of my favorite Vikings, if not the favorite.  Now that his migraines appear to be behind him, I am looking forward to seeing if he can take it to the next level.  The guy clearly has the talent and the heart to succeed.  The other loss was LB Ben Leber who signed with the St. Louis Rams.  But with Leber’s loss, it does create an opportunity for Erin Henderson to step into his shoes.  I really like what I’ve seen from Erin, and it is a great story if he starts next to his brother, middle linebacker E.J. Henderson.  But regardless of what the final roster looks like, I feel very confident in the decisions being made by head coach Leslie Frazier.  I don’t want to diss former head coach Brad Childress, but this is the most confident that I’ve felt about a Vikings head coach in a very long time.  I can never recall a time where I was content with the heads of both the Yankees and the Vikings but I am very comfortable with both Joe Girardi and Frazier.  Now, let’s see if it equates to a few championships…

–Scott

Okay, I have an inferiority complex…

Another Boston Series, Another Series Loss…

The latest Yankees-Red Sox series showed that the Yankees are still inferior to the Sox…unfortunately.  The Yankees could have made a statement and reversed the trend of series failures against Boston by taking 2 of 3 from the Boys of Beantown.  Instead, Mariano Rivera and Phil Hughes let victory slip away and yet another series defeat to the Sox who re-captured sole possession of first place.

I can’t say the Yankees’ inactivity at the trading deadline was the wrong thing to do.  I don’t believe in making moves just for the sake of making a move, and it wouldn’t have been prudent to give up talent like Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, or Jesus Montero for a half-season rental.  I admire the job the Philadelphia Phillies did in filling the void in their offensive lineup by acquiring Hunter Pence from the Houston Astros.  The Texas Rangers did an excellent job repairing their bullpen with Mike Adams and Koji Uehara.  Boston was relatively inactive, acquiring only Erik Bedard and Mike Aviles, but all those teams had an eye for October.   I would have liked for the Yankees to make an improvement in an area of weakness, but the reality is that type of deal did not present itself to Brian Cashman.  So, congrats to him for standing pat.  Better to not make a move, than to make a move he’d regret.

Still, I am not sure the Yankees have the team to overpower the Sox in the AL Play-offs.  A stronger Rangers club will also be tough to beat.  In the NL, the Philadelphia Phillies will be hard to stop.  My early season World Series prediction was Boston versus Philadelphia (whoa, really stepping out on a limb with that one!) and it continues to stand.  Texas could get hot, but I really don’t see anyone beating Boston or Philly.

When the Yankees lost to the Red Sox on Sunday night, I didn’t blame Mariano Rivera or Phil Hughes.  Robinson Cano had the opportunity to drive in a few runs earlier in the game and failed to come through in the clutch.  CC Sabatha, Saturday’s starter, so dominant against the rest of the league, looked like the young Cleveland Indian pitcher who couldn’t beat the Boston Red Sox .  Still can’t.

When a bat goes dry…

But the biggest disappointment might be the fall of Jorge Posada.  His deterioration in his ability to catch seemed to be synchronized with his inability to hit major league pitching.  When they say that the DH helps extend playing careers, they weren’t talking about Posada.  There’s absolutely no way that he is on the roster in 2012.  He may be a great Yankee and he’ll be fondly remembered among the likes of Paul O’Neill, Bernie Williams, Tino Martinez, and others, but if he wants to extend his baseball career, it won’t be as a member of the New York Yankees.  It sucks watching great catchers get old.  Well, actually I take that back, I would have loved to watch Thurman Munson get old, but after so many years of clutch hits, it is sad to see that Posada’s bat has left him.

My only concern with Eric Chavez stepping into the DH role when Alex Rodriguez returns is the obvious health related concerns.  I am not sure if there is a quality bat on the market who has passed waivers but the Yankees would probably benefit if they could bring in some new blood with pop in the bat, particularly if the price is the right.  If that reasonably priced vet is Adam Dunn, then the best deal is the truly the best deal never made…

–Scott

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