Results tagged ‘ A-Rod ’

Are Youk freakin’ serious?…

 

Sleeping with the Enemy…

News that the Yankees have signed veteran third baseman Kevin Youkilis have not been well received in the Yankees Universe…obviously.  Sure, there have been a few ex-Boston Red Sox players make their way to the Bronx but certainly none who have been as despised as Youk.  His crime?  Playing with passion and all-out perseverance to find ways to beat the Yankees.  He is one of those tough, gritty players that are relentless and when they smell blood, it’s over.  Youk has struggled with injuries in recent years and he had a falling out with former Sox manager Bobby Valentine, who has historically taken to gritty players.  I know, there is the stat line that he only got one hit in his final 59 at-bats with the Chicago White Sox last season.  Nevertheless, I am willing to give Youk a chance.

Admittedly, I am not an Alex Rodriguez fan and I am still bent the Yankees didn’t let him walk away when he opted out of his first mega contract.  But with third base possibilities such as Eric Chavez and Jeff Keppinger signing elsewhere, the Yankees had to do something given that A-Rod will be lost for most of the season due to his upcoming hip surgery.  Going to camp with Eduardo Nunez as the starting third baseman, given the team doesn’t have a starting catcher or right fielder, was not appealing in any way.  No one really knows how A-Rod will play next season when or if he returns, so odds are they need a solid third baseman for the entire season.  With Youk on board, the Yanks still need to get insurance at third in case Youk goes down.  But I think as long as he gets sufficient rest, he’ll stay healthy and be an effective part of the Yankees lineup.

When Youk homers for the first time against the Red Sox, I am sure that the Yankee cheers will come around.  Yankee fans love players who play with passion so long as the player is on their team.  It will always be hard to look at Youk and not think of the 2004 World Champion Red Sox, but he is not the same player he was then and this is a new chapter in his life.  When he walks away from the game, he will be remembered as part of the Red Sox organization but for a year or two, he can certainly make an effective contribution for the home team.

There are guys on the current Red Sox roster that I have great respect for, like Jon Lester and Dustin Pedroia.  Youk was one of those guys.  Sure, I hated the guy in difficult games between the Yankees and Red Sox, but I always had a quiet respect for him.  Of course, this could all be premature as Youk still has to pass a physical but I look forward to seeing what he can do in the Bronx sans the famed goatee.  It will also be interesting to see if the Yankees continue to hold #20 in reserve out of respect for Jorge Posada or if they assign it to Youk given it was his number in Boston and Chicago.  I suspect he’ll end up with something other than #20, but until it happens, you never know.

I saw a quote in George King’s column in The New York Post from Mariano Rivera that I agree with completely:  “Yankee (fans) didn’t like him but he was wearing a Red Sox uniform.  I can’t decide for them but he will be my teammate and I have to respect him for that.”  Youk is a Yankee, and like Mo, I respect him for that.

Ichiro, Part II…

All indications are the Yankees will be coming to terms with Ichiro Suzuki on a new deal to keep him in the Bronx.  The question is whether it will be one or two years.  At 39, I’d probably prefer a one year deal so that the team can reassess its options at the end of the year.  Every move has been made with the intent to get the payroll under $189 million by 2014 for luxury tax purposes and a second year for Ichiro would erode into the dollars available for any talent upgrades next off-season.

As it stands, I do not like an outfield of Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson and Ichiro, but I will be interested to see who they bring in as the fourth outfielder.  Perhaps that individual will solidify this outfield corps into a strong and powerful unit.  I am not opposed to trading Granderson and moving Gardner to center, but the Yankees would need to replace his offensive production elsewhere in the lineup.  All signs so far this winter indicate the Yankees will not do anything to the extreme.  Yes, they could still swoop in with a blockbuster trade, but I highly doubt it.  The sad part is the current Yankees roster is not as strong as last year’s squad, while the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox have clearly improved.  Tampa Bay may have traded a top starting pitcher in James Shields, but they picked up one of the best prospects in baseball in Wil Myers.  Tampa also seems to be able to pull aces out of their farm system every year so there’s no doubt they’ll find a capable replacement for Shields.  Baltimore hasn’t made any major moves but they still have the team to over-achieve.  I do not know what next year will bring.  The Yankees still have December and January to improve, but the likelihood diminishes with each passing day.  If the Yankees falter in 2013, what does 2014 look like?  I can’t see the team suddenly reversing course and going into “Dodger” mode to sign free agents.  I think the Yankees will remain competitive, but I am not convinced they have the horses to win the World Series.

Maybe the All-Star Game should be the Dodgers against everyone else…

My favorite National League team is the Los Angeles Dodgers, but I am struggling with the thought of cheering for the two highest payrolls in baseball.  My affection for the Dodgers is primarily because of my long-time hero, Don Mattingly, but the huge salary outlay by the Dodgers will create unrealistic expectations in Dodgerland and it will be tough for Donnie Baseball if the Dodgers struggle.  I remain hopeful that he’ll one day find his way back to the Bronx to manage, but I am not pulling for him to get fired next year.  I am not sure who I would pull for in the NL if not the Dodgers.  I live in the Bay Area so there’s always the San Francisco Giants, but they’ve won the World Series in two of the last three years and I don’t want to jump on the bandwagon.  My fallback has always been the St Louis Cardinals because that’s where I experienced attending my first major league baseball game as a teenager so many years ago.  I suppose that I’ll stick with the Dodgers as long as Mattingly is there, but Magic Johnson and company have certainly made it more challenging by their willingness to spend excessively.

Why does February 12th (when pitchers and catchers report) seem so close yet so far away?…

–Scott

 

The Hot Stove League Pre-Season is underway…

 

Yes, Brian, I want to believe…

“I am excited about the opportunities we have.”

I wish that I could say that was my quote, but unfortunately, I am not feeling as optimistic as GM Brian Cashman who spoke those words.

With the imminent departure of Nick Swisher, Rafael Soriano, and Hiroki Kuroda, combined with another year of age on Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter, the future is not looking so rosy at the moment.  For a team that needs to upgrade its rotation, losing Kuroda would clearly be a setback.  I remain hopeful that the team will re-sign him to a one year deal since he appears willing to accept a short-term contract and all signs indicated he enjoyed his time in New York.  I really do not expect the Yankees to re-sign either Swisher or Soriano.  It’s unfortunate as I’ve appreciated the positive impact that Swisher’s personality had on the Yankees’ “corporate” clubhouse culture.  As Soriano, the excessively fat contract for a set up guy paid dividends when Mariano Rivera was lost for the season and he superbly stepped in to give the Yankees a top closer as a brief trial with David Robertson.

If the Yankees could sign Joaquim Soria to a set up role, I do think it would help neutralize the loss of Soriano.  There is also the possibility that reliever David Aardsma could move into the role, along with Robertson, if he successfully makes it back from his injury.

Replacing Swisher’s bat will be the tougher challenge.  No offense against Torii Hunter, but signing him to be the new right fielder does not make me excited.  I do like the talk of moving Brett Gardner to center and Curtis Granderson to left.  Hopefully, the Yankees can bring Ichiro Suzuki back for another year.  I am not sure what the best answer is for right.  The best options are only available through trade.

I read this morning that the Boston Red Sox had signed Atlanta Braves’ backup catcher David Ross, whom the Yankees liked.  I am surprised Atlanta let him get away given the health of starter Brian McCann, but it’s disappointing to see the Red Sox snatch away a player that could have helped the Yankees.

With a team that is trying so hard to reduce payroll by 2014 and one that devotes so much salary space to decreasingly productive guys like Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, I just don’t see Brian Cashman being successful playing “Moneyball”.  When you consider how many dollars the Yanks have committed to A-Rod and his drain on the roster, it would appear to me that the team has less dollars to play with than any of their big city rivals if the end game is to avoid luxury tax and penalties in 2014.

Don’t get me wrong, I have been so appreciative of players like Jeter, Rivera and Andy Pettitte.  But the fact remains that they will be another year older in 2013 and at some point, they will begin to break down.  There doesn’t seem to be any high level prospects ready to step into their shoes.  I wish there was a way the team could move A-Rod and his albatross contract but that’s unlikely to happen.

I remain hopeful that Brian Cashman is able to make a move this winter to improve the team.  If the team stays status quo or struggles to replace those they will lose, I do not see the Yankees finishing any higher than third in the AL East next season.  But, of course, if Hal Steinbrenner lets Cash make the moves necessary to position the team for 2013, then they’ll be in the thick of the pack at the top of the division.

Tino, Tino, Tino!…

I am happy to see Tino Martinez become hitting coach for the Miami Marlins.  It is bittersweet to see him leave the Yankees organization, but much easier to see him go to his home state as opposed to being the hitting coach for the Boston Red Sox.  The latter was a real possibility as the Sox had gotten permission to talk to Martinez, but fortunately, he opted to go help Mike Redmond turn around the Marlins.  The Los Angeles Dodgers have been my favorite NL team in recent years due to manager Don Mattingly.  I enjoy seeing my favorites do well, even if they can’t do it in the Yankees organization.  Another example would be San Francisco Giants’ pitching coach Dave Righetti, fresh off his second World Series championship in three years.  Tino is certainly in the same class with those guys, and will always be someone that I will root for.  That’s why watching him go to Boston would have been so difficult.

Coach Giambino…

Speaking of hitting coaches, I am hopeful that manager “wannabe” Jason Giambi decides to take the hitting coach position with the Colorado Rockies.  Maybe he is not ready to hang up his bat just yet, but I think he would be a very positive addition to Walt Weiss’s staff and it would put him on the path of eventually reaching his goal to be a manager.  While I was surprised to see the Rockies go with Weiss as manager over Matt Williams, I recognize that Weiss knows the Rockies organization and they know him.  If he surrounds himself with the right coaching staff, I think Weiss can be highly successful in Colorado.

The Dodgers quest to overtake the Giants…

Regressing back to the Dodgers but staying on the theme of hitting coaches, I was mildly surprised by Mark McGwire’s decision to move from the Cardinals to the Dodgers.  I know that McGwire is a Southern CA guy, but still, the Cardinals were his organization.  Maybe that’s why it is best to move to another organization so that your legacy as a player is the primary association.  Granted, McGwire does not have the untarnished reputation like Mattingly had in New York, but hopefully it works out for Big Mac.  Performance-enhancing drugs or not, the guy knows how to hit.

It’s funny, particularly given my long history of being a Yankees fan, but I am a little put off by the free spending ways of the new Dodgers ownership group.  While I believe that you have to spend to put a quality team on the field, spending frivolously seems excessive.  For the Yankees, I only need to use A-Rod as the example.  Over $30 million in one season devoted to a player whose skills are rapidly eroding.  $30 million would go a long way toward bringing in multiple quality…and productive…players.  The Dodgers should no qualms about picking up the contracts of Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford when it remains to be seen if they can rise to the current level of their contracts.  It looks like high stakes poker to me with much potential for disaster.

In a couple of weeks, the Hot Stove League should start heating up and it will be interesting to see what form this off-season takes.  I am cautiously optimistic, but understand that it’s very possible the Yanks go into next season hoping some young guys from the farm system are ready to take it to the next level.  I guess I now know what it’s like to be a fan of the Minnesota Twins or Kansas City Royals…

–Scott

 

Over-promise and under-deliver…

The only non-dramatic series of the 2012 post-season…

Sadly, the 2012 season is over for the New York Yankees.  But admittedly, I did not feel the team had the horses to win the World Series this year.  I know, any team can get hot and take the championship (i.e., 2011 St Louis Cardinals), but the team’s hot and cold hitting pattern bothered me.  As the saying goes, “good pitching beats good hitting” so the Yankees’ hitting problems are magnified in the play-offs as they continually face #1 or #2 type starters.  If Robinson Cano had gotten hot, maybe it would have been different but no one rose to the challenge in the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers.

The ALCS loss by sweep was painful.  For me, it probably ranks with the 1976 World Series when they were swept by the Cincinnati Reds.  If memory serves, they won the World Series the following two years so I guess there is hope for next year!  Well, maybe not.  But all things considered, I’d rather be embarrassed on the ALCS stage than the World Series.  That’s probably awful to say because who wouldn’t want their team in the World Series and I am no different.  But I wouldn’t want to see the Yankees looking as pathetic in the World Series as they did in the ALCS if that makes any sense.

The 2013 season – optimism or pessimism?…

On the heels of Derek Jeter’s successful ankle surgery that will have him out for 4-5 months, there are reports that CC Sabathia will be consulting with Dr. James Andrews for his ailing left elbow.  Apparently, the ligament is intact so there’s hope that either rest or minor surgery to shave the bone spur in his left elbow will be the cure.  This definitely bears close watching over the course of the next few months.  If CC is unavailable to pitch in 2013, the Yankees would be lacking a legitimate #1 starter.  I have not heard how Michael Pineda has been doing, but he’ll  be expected to help fill the void in the rotation regardless of what happens to CC, assuming that he is healthy.  This was a difficult year for young Yankees pitching prospects, with injuries to Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos, the latter of whom will be lost for 2013 due to Tommy John surgery.

The Yankees really need to do what it takes to ensure that Hiroki Kuroda returns for one more year, and hopefully, Andy Pettitte will decide to go for one more tour around the American League.  With the Houston Astros moving to the American League in 2013, Andy would be assured of playing a few league games at home.  It would be a great farewell tour with Andy pitching in Houston while standing on the mound with the interlocking N-Y on his hat.

Another year in, and I still don’t know what the Yankees have with Phil Hughes.  At times, he is so promising, but others, such a disappointment.  I am not sure that he can be trusted to be anything more than a #5 starter with his inconsistency.  The Yankees have tough decisions to make on both Hughes and reliever Joba Chamberlain, two pitchers who have seemingly been intertwined since they arrived in New York.

I am concerned about Alex Rodriguez and the huge adverse impact of his contract on the team.  The production no longer matches the pay, and of course, the pay prevents those dollars from being spent more wisely.  The Yankees will have to settle for “less” in other areas, which will further handicap the team’s productivity.  If the Yankees can find a way to move A-Rod, regardless of the cost, I would be in favor of it.  I’ve never been a big A-Rod fan, and I would prefer to see his association with the Yankees eliminated.

I want the Yankees to re-sign Robinson Cano, but if the cost is a 10-year, behemoth mega-million contract, I am not so sure the team should go down that road.  I am tired of these long-term deals where the player only performs to the level of the contract for the first few years.  Cano’s silent bat in the play-offs also was a red flag for me.  It’s disappointing because Cano has been one of my favorite players, but the future of an organization should not be tied to one or two players.  The St Louis Cardinals are an organization that always seems to make the right decisions for the good of the team, and it has worked out well for them.  They are a win away from the World Series despite letting one of the best hitters in baseball walk away last winter.

I do not want to be disrespectful of Derek Jeter and I recognize that he had a great 2012 season, but the fact remains that he’ll be a 39-year-old shortstop coming off ankle surgery heading into next season.

When the Yankees signed Mark Teixeira, it looked like a great signing…much better than the previous first base commitment to Jason Giambi.  But after a great 2009 season, Teixeira has not been the feared hitter that I thought he would be.  He has been great defensively, but never delivers the key, clutch hit.  Those ice cold starts to begin seasons are getting longer and longer.

I do believe the Yankees need to re-sign catcher Russell Martin.  I’d also like to see them either invest in a stronger back-up catcher or commit to Francisco Cervelli over Chris Stewart.

I had great respect for Eric Chavez when he was the starting third baseman for the Oakland A’s early in his career, and I’ve thought he was a great role player for the Yankees over the last couple of seasons.  But now is the time for the Yankees to move on and find a strong, reliable third base option to spot A-Rod (or replace him if they can somehow find a way to move A-Rod to Miami or Phoenix).

In the outfield, I am hopeful the healthy return of Brett Gardner will be a positive.  I have mixed feelings about re-signing Ichiro Suzuki.  I thought he rebounded to have a very productive end of the season, but the Yankees are too full of guys nearing or at 40 years of age.  A healthy Gardner can replace what the Yankees have in Ichiro…well maybe not the hitting ability, but all other components of his game.  I like Curtis Granderson and even though he underperformed in the play-offs, I would still like to see his return.  I’ve been a big fan of Nick Swisher, and have appreciated how his personality lightens the Yankees clubhouse.  But right field is an area in need of improvement.  If the Yankees can get Swisher to re-sign for a reasonable amount of dollars and years, maybe it makes sense to bring him back.  But if his expectation is 5-7 years at dollars approaching $100 million, then the team should let him walk.

I am not in favor of bringing either Andruw Jones or Raul Ibanez back.  Ibanez had some tremendous hits in the play-off series against the Baltimore Orioles, but the Yankees need to strengthen their bench with younger players who have greater upside.

I am glad to see the Yankees commit to both GM Brian Cashman and Manager Joe Girardi for the 2013 season.  I think both, if given the resources and support, can bring the team back to championship level.  At this point, the Yankees seem to be in an inferior position to the last place Boston Red Sox in terms of roster flexibility.  The Sox ability to unload dead contracts on the Los Angeles Dodgers late in the season was huge.  Now that the Sox have their guy as manager (John Farrell), there’s no doubt that we’ll see an improved Red Sox team next season.  If the AL East was highly competitive in 2012, it will be even more so in 2013.  The difference between first and last place could be which team makes the best decisions this off-season.  The margin for error will be less than it has ever been.

I hate to be so doom and gloom, but the Yankees have much work ahead of them.  Despite baseball’s highest payroll, they have a team comprised of older ballplayers that are experiencing the inevitable declines in production.  The dollars committed to unproductive players like A-Rod and Teixeira are an albatross for a team that wants to reduce its payroll by 2014 to avoid excessive financial penalties.  The Yankees do have the talent in the front office and certainly the resources to persevere so how they navigate the next few months will determine if the Yankees are a team of promise and destiny at the start of the 2013 or just another aging ball club that has seen its better years.

A fan of whatever team plays the Tigers…

Despite being an American League fan, it will be hard for me to cheer for the Detroit Tigers in the World Series.  With the Cardinals holding a 3-2 advantage against the San Francisco Giants heading into tonight’s NLCS Game 6, my preference is for the Giants to somehow find a way to overcome.  But if they are unsuccessful and the Cards advance to face the Tigers, I will pull for St Louis.  Residing in the Bay Area, the Giants are a “hometown” favorite for me; while the Cardinals are a “sentimental” favorite (my first major league baseball game as a kid was in St Louis).  Plus, as a fan of the Minnesota Vikings and San Jose Sharks, it would be tough for me to pull for any city that boasts the Lions or the Red Wings.

At this point, I am ready for the Hot Stove League to begin…

–Scott

Belated Congratulations for the AL East Championship…

 

All hail the Champions…

A quick post to congratulate the New York Yankees for winning the American League East Division Championship on the last day of the season.  Thanks to the Baltimore Orioles’ loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, the division was a foregone conclusion when the Yankees completed their thrashing of the Boston Red Sox.  Still, I am glad that the team won on the day they clinched the division.  A loss on “clinching day” always seems so cheap.

Although it was disappointing the Yankees let a large lead slip, they definitely went into ‘bend but not break’ mode as they held at least a share of first throughout the O’s challenge in the final month of the season.  It was a constant back-and-forth…tied, then Yanks ahead, and then tied again.  But in the end, the team persevered.

A funny thing happened on the way to the World Series…

The big surprise to me on the last day of the season was the Texas Rangers’ failure to withstand a large charge by the Oakland A’s.  I remember looking at the standings in July and writing it off as a foregone conclusion that the Rangers would be the AL West champions.  In my mind, they were still the team to beat in the American League.  While I recognized the A’s had the spirited ‘don’t quit’ mentality, I still viewed them as inferior either the Rangers or the Los Angeles Angels.  This was a team that was throwing Triple A pitchers into the starting rotation in September.  All the way to Game 162, I fully expected the Rangers to take care of business.  But they failed, and were forced to play the one game Wild Card game against the Baltimore Orioles, which they subsequently lost.  Here was the team that was in my mind, the team most likely to go to the World Series and win it, yet they collapsed in the final two most critical weeks of the season.

The Rangers’ loss opens the door for all of the other AL play-off participants to advance to the World Series.  I can’t say there is a clear-cut favorite because even the Yankees, with the best record in the conference, have their share of questions.  The ALDS series format is odd given the first two games of the series will be held in the inferior team’s ballpark.  The Yankees are tied with the O’s late in Game 1 tonight but that always favors the home team with last at-bat.

It was real, it was fun, but it was not real fun…

I am not a Bobby Valentine fan, but I really do believe that firing Valentine was the best case scenario for the Boston Red Sox organization.  As a fan of an opposing team, I’d love for the dysfunction to continue, but the Red Sox fans deserve better.  I subscribe to the adage that ‘to be the best, you have to beat the best’ so I really hope the Red Sox can secure a manager who fits the organization and maximizes the potential and ability of its players.  I still think that recently named Phillies third base coach Ryne Sandberg would be an excellent fit, but maybe it is John Farrell despite the disappointing year in Toronto or other manager.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Respectful of the man who brought two World Championships to Boston…

Speaking of Boston, it was good to see former Red Sox manager Terry Francona return to the game as manager of the Cleveland Indians.  Even when he was the manager of the Red Sox, I had a great deal of respect for Tito.  I have long felt he was one of the game’s truly good guys.  Yes, that final year in Boston did get away from him, but there were so many factors and personalities at play, I feel it is unfair to pin all the blame on Tito.  I am looking forward to seeing what he can do in the Cleveland with his batteries recharged…

A few thoughts on the season…

  • Hey Albert, how did that first year in Los Angeles work out for ya?  Well, at least you have all those mega millions to enjoy your off-season while the team you bailed on continues the defense of its world championship…
  •  Miguel Cabrera has overcome those personal demons, I think…
  • Bryce Harper got the press, but Mike Trout is the stud…
  •  A.J. Burnett proved that he is the latest incarnation of Ed Whitson.  Wilt under the New York spotlight, but thrive in a smaller market with less glare…
  •  Melky Cabrera, disappointment is an understatement.  I respect the San Francisco Giants for their intention to cut ties with the Melk Man.  I really wouldn’t want to be the organization that extends him an olive branch.  In other words, I do not want to see Melky back in the Bronx.
  • How many more years are left on A-Rod’s contract?  Geesh, Jeter continues to pay dividends on his contract at age 38, while A-Rod just keeps making me think of that old Dire Straits’ tune “Money For Nothing”…
  • The Atlanta Braves may have made a quiet departure with their Wild Card loss to St. Louis, but there’s no question that the Braves will continue to be a force with those young pitchers…
  • Oh, Philadelphia Phillies, where for art thou?…
  • The American League Houston Astros?  That sounds so wrong!  But then again, I have finally accepted the Milwaukee Brewers as a National League team so I guess we’ll have to re-visit this in a few years…
  • Trade Ivan Nova and re-sign Hiroki Kuroda…that sounds like a good plan to me!…

I know there’s many more thoughts regarding the 2012 season, but these were a few that immediately came to mind.  It was a fun season and continues to be as we move forward in the AL and NL divisional series.  The idea of two Wild Card teams per league was a success, and win or lose, it was the right thing to do.  There was drama and intrigue up until the last day of the season, and no team “mailed it in”.  I still have too many questions about my own team to anoint them as the AL representative for the World Series.  As of the present moment, my best guess is a “Sparky Anderson” World Series…The Cincinnati Reds versus the Detroit Tigers.  Obviously, I’d prefer to see the Yankees and I hope they prove me wrong about their pitching and clutch hitting…

Ah, October baseball, I love this time of year!

 

–Scott

 

 

No Fan of DH by Committee…

 

All I want are a few home runs…

Lately, more has been written about the potential of the Yankees signing someone like Raul Ibanez to fill the void at DH.  Given all available options, he is probably as good as any, plus he most likely would understand his role if he was offered and accepted a contract with the Yanks.  He’s still got some pop in his bat, and he could occasionally take the field when/if needed.  I am not overly enthused about a former Phillie being on the team, but Ibanez is a former teammate of A-Rod’s from their Seattle days together.

It would be preferable to see a former Yank, i.e., Hideki Matsui or Johnny Damon, if for no other reason than what they’ve already accomplished in pinstripes.  I recognize that Ibanez might be the better fit in 2012, even if he is pushing 40.

In his days with the Montreal Expos, Vladimir Guerrero was one of my favorite players but at this point, I don’t really see him as an option.

He looks great…in a different uniform…

Whatever the Yankees do, I hope they are successful in moving A.J. Burnett.  This one is tough, because I was so in favor of his signing when he first came to the Yankees.  I always admired his arm when he played for the Florida Marlins and later with the Toronto Blue Jays.  He’s largely been a disappointment since the successful 2009 voyage.  There have been flashes of brilliance, but more times than not, his performances have ended on a disappointing note.  Some guys are better served in less pressurized environment, and Burnett would probably excel in a place like San Diego.  If Burnett doesn’t make the starting rotation, I think he would be a distraction to the team in the bullpen.  Therefore, best case scenario would be to move Burnett. Of course, that means he will be accompanied by lots of cash to pay his freight, but sometimes its addition by subtraction.  Sadly for Burnett, that time is now.

“Manny being Manny”…

As for the rotation, my preference is to give Phil Hughes the opportunity to either grab hold of his place on the team or perhaps prove that it is time for him to seek employment elsewhere.  If the latter situation occurs, Dellin Betances should be ready to step in to fill the void (or Freddy Garcia, if he is kept on the roster).  Manny Banuelos will probably make noise this year, but he’ll probably not surface on the major league level until late this year.  Now, if Banuelos comes to Tampa this spring with a ‘refuse to lose’ mentality and takes the job (much like Michael Pineda did last year with the Seattle Mariners), so be it.  Banuelos is the eventual star of the rotation, with Pineda.

Striving to be regular contributors to the daily Transactions column…

I was surprised to see the Boston Red Sox trade starting shortstop Marco Scutaro to the Colorado Rockies.  It’s being said that the move was made to free payroll to sign a free agent pitcher like Roy Oswalt or Edwin Jackson.  Personally, I think it was a move to set up another move, in addition to rebuilding the rotation.  I would be surprised if the Red Sox broke camp with the tandem of Mike Aviles and Nick Punto as their starting shortstop.  I keep hearing that a trade for the Marlins’ Hanley Ramirez is out of the question, but somehow I could still see that happening.  Whatever happens, I do expect the Sox to break camp with a quality shortstop, in other words, someone not named Aviles or Punto…

The Prince of Bel Air?…

It’s too bad that the Los Angeles Dodgers are still an organization in a state of flux until new ownership can take over.  It would make so much sense for the Dodgers to go after free agent first baseman Prince Fielder, and it would be a move that would help begin the healing process for the Dodger fan base, who have suffered under the reign of Frank McCourt.  A lineup that includes Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Fielder would certainly steal some thunder from the Albert Pujols-led Angels.

Checkmate…

There’s still a lot of drama to unfold before pitchers and catchers report next month.  The Yankees and Mariners should finally be in position to announce the Jesus Montero-Michael Pineda trade early this week.  Hopefully, that will open the gridlock at DH and set the stage for other moves that will hopefully produce the 28th World Championship in franchise history.  Whatever happens, I am ready for some baseball…

–Scott

The Yankees did what?…

 

Yankees sign top free agent…

Well, it wasn’t exactly Prince Fielder but I’ve felt all off-season that re-signing Andruw Jones was important for the 2012 Yankees.  In this off-season of inactivity, I was concerned that the Yankees would let Jones slip away to a team like the Boston Red Sox or the Texas Rangers.  There’s no question that Jones is NOT the player that he used to be (that’s a given), but he fills a valuable fourth outfielder role and I prefer him over Justin Maxwell, Chris Dickerson, or Melky Mesa.

When I read that the Red Sox were potentially interested in Jones, I was worried that it would drive up his price tag (which was probably the prime reason for the Red Sox “interest”).  But the base salary of $2 million (with additional incentives that could push the package to $3.4 million) was very reasonable for Team Suddenly Frugal.  The Yanks have a good outfield with Curtis Granderson, Brett Gardner and Nick Swisher, but Jones allows the Yankees to play match-ups and move guys around.  Plus, if any of the aforementioned starters spend any time on the DL, Jones is certainly a capable fill-in.

Wanted:  Non-starting starting third baseman…

Now that the outfield depth has been filled, I am anxious to see what the Yankees do about the mandatory need to acquire a strong backup for third base.  I remain in favor of the return of Eric Chavez, but regardless of what happens, the Yankees need a proven performer that does not weaken the team during the inevitable A-Rod absences.

Yeah, that’s the ticket…

It’s too bad that MLB teams don’t get a mulligan for bad contracts.  They should give every team a one player exemption that could be called the “Stupidity Clause”.  Given A-Rod’s $30 million annual salary with $5 million production, the Yankees could get a waiver for luxury tax on the bulk of A-Rod’s salary.  Same goes for the Angels and Vernon Wells, the Cubs and Alfonso Soriano, or the Red Sox and Carl Crawford (although CC does have the ability to re-earn his money).  It does stink knowing how much the Yankees will be paying A-Rod and Derek Jeter in several years in terms of the return.  I remain hopeful that Derek Jeter will depart gracefully when he realizes that his performance is not equal to his compensation.  But I know that A-Rod is into his contract for every undeserved cent.

Hats off to a rival…

In a statement of the obvious, I knew that Mark Melancon was not destined to be the closer for the Red Sox when they acquired the former Yank from the Houston Astros.  This week’s acquisition of Andrew Bailey by the Sox from the Oakland A’s was a solid move.  Bailey, a native Easterner, will thrive in Boston.  He matches Jonathan Papelbon in ability, and exceeds him in character and integrity.  The risk with Bailey is his health, but the Sox do have relievers with closing experience in Melancon and Bobby Jenks.  While I don’t think that the Bailey acquisition is the big bold move I’ve been expecting from new Boston GM Ben Cherington, it is certainly one that improves the team.

Not looking forward to the day…

With the surplus of closer talent available this off-season, I hope that it is a similar environment when the ‘Greatest Closer Who Ever Lived’ decides to take his ageless arm and signature cutter home to Panama.  I like Derek Jeter but I will be ready for the day when a younger, talented option becomes available.  I will cry the day Mariano Rivera walks off the mound for the final time.  I loved Goose Gossage as the Yankees closer, but it took so many years for an equal (or in this case, greater) replacement to emerge.  There’s always been something so magical about a great closer.  I grew up watching the wild antics of the Mad Hungarian, Al Hrabosky, in St. Louis, so the role of the closer became the “it” position for me at a very early age.  There’s nothing better than a game-ending punch-out with high intensity.

Game plan:  Success!…

Well, as 2011 comes to a close, I want to wish everyone a very Happy and Joyous New Year!  May your dreams come true and your happiness reach heights never before imagined!  It will be a fun and rewarding new year, and I’m glad you are here…

–Scott

Maybe 3,000 hits is a distraction…

Life beyond 3,000 hits…

I hate to make any anti-Derek Jeter comments but I was fearful that the Yankees’ recent winning roll would get derailed by DJ’s return to the lineup.  Sure, the recent losses are not his fault, but for whatever reason, the team fared better when he was out of the lineup.  I didn’t like the errors made by Eduardo Nunez or Ramiro Pena, but Nunez in particular seemed to have a fresher bat.

 

Art by Scott Dalgleish, http://scottydal.deviantart.com/

 

 

I would like to see more batting orders in the second half of the season with Brett Gardner leading off.  I suspect that will happen anyway, but Jeter is clearly the focal point of baseball right now as he approaches 3,000 hits.

Will he get those 2 hits that he needs today against the Tampa Bay Rays?  He could, but I think it’s more likely that the 3,000th hit will come tomorrow.  Of course, I could be completely wrong and DJ might go 0-4 both days.

Don’t get me wrong…I like Jeter and what he has meant to the organization.  I will enjoy the day that they retire #2 and make the speeches at Yankee Stadium to induct a commemorative stone into Monument Park on his behalf.  But as great as it is to see a player spend his entire career with one organization, I can definitely see the downside which is the deterioration of the player’s skills and ability.

Don Mattingly was in a fast decline when he retired after the 1995 season, however, I don’t think that I was mentally ready for his departure.  Perhaps it was because I really wanted to see him win a championship.  But with DJ, he has the championships and will soon be the only player in Yankee history with 3,000 hits.  He has done everything you could ask for in pinstripes.  My only request is that he steps away from the field when he realizes that his skills have eroded to the point that he is a liability.  It’s not there yet, but the day is rapidly approaching.  As the saying goes, time stops for no one.

 

A tear in the team’s hopes…

I just read that Alex Rodriguez might have a meniscus tear in his right knee which could require surgery.  If Alex and the team decide now is the time for the surgery, it is speculated that he would miss a month.  That’s definitely not good news as the Yankees have fallen behind the Boston Red Sox in the standings.  I’d feel better if there was a healthy Eric Chavez on the roster but as it stands, it would be necessary for Eduardo Nunez to fill in at third.  A-Rod’s loss definitely weakens the Yankees and it puts some pressure on GM Brian Cashman to find a replacement third baseman (in addition to his search for pitching).

I do not know the ramifications of A-Rod playing through the injury, but I hope that he takes the path that leads to good health by September.  Of course, if the Yankees fall too far out, there won’t be an extended playing season this year.

 

 

What can we find at Nordy’s Rack?….

As far as moves the Yankees are looking at, it appears that there is a dearth of quality starting pitching available on the trade front.  The Yankees are apparently looking at relief pitching, like many other teams.  Reports have the Yankees interested in, among others, Sean Burnett of the Washington Nationals and Randy Choate of the Florida Marlins.  I have liked what Choate has done since he left the Yankees as he became a very solid lefty option for the Tampa Bay Rays and now the Marlins.  Burnett probably has the better potential at this point although I am not enamored by his 5.76 ERA.  But ERA can be deceiving and I don’t know the reasons behind Burnett’s number as I don’t follow the Nats.

These are the times that I am appreciative that Brian Cashman is the team’s general manager.  It is his job to find what ails the team and hopefully bring in the necessary chips to ensure that the team is playing meaningful baseball in October.  I am full confidence in his abilities and I’d never underestimate the power of his network throughout baseball.

This month should get very interesting as the days go by…

 

 

A sad day in baseball…

I would be remiss if I did not mention the tragedy in Arlington, Texas where the fan reaching for a ball thrown into the stands by Josh Hamilton fell to his death.  I have never caught a ball at a game, and I can remember as a kid how much I wanted to catch one during every visit to the old Busch Stadium in St. Louis.  I can see how the ball would become your prime focus.  The loss of the fan, Shannon Stone, was horrible by itself but it was made worse by the presence of his 6-year-old son.  I lost my father as a child but I wasn’t there when he died.  I simply cannot imagine how difficult it will be for Shannon’s son in the days and years ahead.  I definitely hope that he and his family are taken care of by the Texas Rangers organization and Major League Baseball.

Now there’s talk the players could be barred from throwing baseballs into the stands (they’d have to hand the ball to a fan or hand it to an usher who, in turn, would hand it to the fan).  While I am in favor of additional safety measures to prevent future unnecessary deaths like Shannon, I would hate to see the players lose the ability to toss a ball into the stands.

 

Texas Rangers’ Josh Hamilton...

Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers (AP Photo)

 

No, really, I don’t want to go to Phoenix…

When the All-Star Team was announced, I was excited about the number of Yankees making the team.  But it appears that many of them won’t be making the trip to Phoenix.  First, Mariano Rivera pulled out, and now, both Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez have withdrawn from the game.   I am still surprised that CC Sabathia did not make the team, but then again, I am okay avoiding the added wear and tear on his arm.  So, as it is, I will be cheering for Robinson Cano and Russell Martin.  As for A-Rod, it is a bit ironic that his All-Star replacement would be Boston’s Kevin Youkilis.  Former Red Sox third baseman Adrian Beltre (Texas) moves up to the starting position.

 

 

One week, everything can be coming up roses, and the next it is doom and gloom.  I guess that’s just life as a Yankees fan…

–Scott

 

 

And The Winner Is…Me!…

 

Another wager, another victory!…

 

 

I Win.JPG

 

Yet again, my friend, Julia of Julia’s Rants, came up on the short end of our latest wager.  After starting last year 0-8 against Boston, I was starting to wonder if the Yankees would ever beat the Red Sox.  Since then, the Yankees have dominated the series.  Regardless of the outcome of tonight’s game, the Yankees will have captured another series.  Since the beginning of the season, the Yankees have only lost one series (versus the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim).

 

Saturday, in a nationally televised game, the Yankees beat the Red Sox 14-3.  The game featured three home runs by first baseman Mark Teixeira (although I temper that somewhat by the fact that the last home run was off outfielder Jonathan Van Every who was brought in to save the arms in the pen).

 

 

Mark Teixeira home run congratulations Yankees Red Sox

Matthew Cavanaugh/EPA

 

 

CC Sabathia missed picking up the win by one out.  While facing Victor Martinez, who could have been the third out of the inning, the game was interrupted by a rain delay that ended the night for CC.  When the game resumed, Alfredo Aceves was on the mound and it was he who picked up the win. 

 

 

New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia drills Boston's Dustin Pedroia in the backside, sending the Red Sox a message on Saturday.

Sipkin/Daily News

 

The game marked several historic achievements.  Teixeira is the first Yankee since Lou Gehrig in 1927 to hit at least three home runs in one game against the Red Sox.  Also, catcher Francisco Cervelli, filling in for Jorge Posada, had 5 RBI’s, something that hasn’t been done by a Yankees catcher since the days of Yogi Berra.

 

 

 

 

Today, history was made in Oakland when pitcher Dallas Braden threw the first perfect game in A’s history since Jim “Catfish” Hunter did it in 1968.  Given that I credit Catfish Hunter for being a Yankees fan (I rooted for the A’s as a child until Hunter signed with the Yankees as a free agent in 1974), it was rather bittersweet to see his A’s record matched by, of all people, Dallas Braden.  Braden, president of the Anti A-Rod Club or so it seems, nearly walked the final batter as he worked a 3-1 count but a ground-out upheld the gem.  The victory was especially sweet since it came against the AL East leading Tampa Bay Rays.  It was rather ironic that Braden would help the man he bitterly opposes.  For the record, I was on Braden’s side of his beef with A-Rod, but Braden does need to let it go (as he made further comments about it this week).  Nevertheless, congratulations to Braden for a very fine performance. 

 

 

Athletics Dallas Braden grandmother perfect game

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

 

The San Jose Sharks finally overcame their nemesis and advanced to the Western Conference Finals with a 2-1 Game 5 victory against the Detroit Red Wings.  First or second round failures have become commonplace for the Sharks in recent years so hopefully the team has shaken its demons and is a collision course with the Stanley Cup.  The team now awaits the winner of the Chicago Blackhawks-Vancouver Canucks series (Chicago leads 3 games to 2).

 

 

Josie Lepe/Mercury News

 

 

Back to the Yankees, they weren’t so fortunate in Boston tonight as Jon Lester was on his game and A.J. Burnett wasn’t.  A.J. gave up 9 runs in 4 1/3 innings (8 earned), meanwhile, Lester went 7 innings and only gave up 4 hits and 2 runs, while striking out 7. 

 

 

The Red Sox needed a strong start from Jon Lester to stop the bleeding.

Bill Greene/Globe Staff

 

 

So, congratulations to Julia for her victories today (the Celtics also won), and she was right, the Red Sox avoided the sweep.  But still the wager victory is mine and the series win goes to the Yankees, so until we meet again Julia!  By the way, don’t you have some shopping to do?….

The Monday Night Massacre…

Somehow I knew that tonight spelled disaster with Chien-Ming Wang on the mound against the Tampa Bay Rays’ Scott Kazmir. Wang hasn’t been right for some time, and I was fearful that he’d crater in tonight’s performance…and he did…and then some…

This might be the worst Yankees performance that I’ve ever seen…well, Game 6 of the 2001 World Series was pretty bad, but still… Wang gave up a total of eight runs in one inning plus, and has a lofty ERA of 28.93.

I wonder if Brett Tomko would have given up that grand slam to Carlos Pena? Hey, it’s easy to second guess when you’re a fan!

The final score was Rays 15, Yankees 5.  The 9th inning included a pitching stint by Nick Swisher, who had one of the better pitching lines of the night.

The Yankees played like little leaguers…

So, how much longer until A-Rod is ready to return? They really need to do something about third base. Cody Ransom is not the answer. Try Ramiro Pena, try Justin Leone, try Eric Duncan, try the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, but Ransom’s got to go…

What can you say with a game like this? It is miserable to watch, and of course, you want to say that hopefully they’ll learn something from this impending defeat. But what? It’s a loss, and there is nothing they can do about it. The Yanks fell to 3-4, but at least Boston lost too.  I don’t get mad with these types of games. The Yanks are notorious for throwing up a few clunkers each year, and this is just one of those times.  You just turn around and walk away…

On the bright side, tomorrow is a new day…and A.J. Burnett will be on the mound!

DISASTERS HAPPEN IN 3’S

They always say that disasters happen in 3’s…

First, we lost promising Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart.

AP

Now, two more legendary figures in Major League Baseball have passed away.

Shortly after lunch, word came that long-time Philadelphia Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas had died. He was in Washington preparing for the Phillies game against the Nationals and he collapsed in the broadcast booth. He taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

George Widman/AP

Harry the K was also well known for his voiceover work with NFL Films. The name may be unfamiliar to some, but the voice was known by all. Sadly and much too soon, he’s “outta here!”

 

Courtesy YouTube by Lahawk

For those who can remember 1976, who can forget the legendary antics of Detroit Tigers pitcher Mark “The Bird” Fidrych. With the curly blonde hair poking out of the Tigers hat, it became a familiar scene to see Fidrych talking to the baseball and the various other antics that he performed leading up to his pitches. None of it was contrived, and it was completely his free spirit.

Unfortunately, an accident at his Northborough, Massachusetts farm prematurely ended Fidrych’s life today. Shoulder and knee injuries prevented what could have been a great career, but for 1976, there were not many better players than Fidrych. He went 19-9 with 2.34 ERA, and had 24 complete games. That was a special season and he was so fun to watch. You didn’t have to be a fan of the Tigers to appreciate Fidrych.

The past week has been difficult, and we’ve lost three outstanding men that can never be replaced. They will all be missed…

A-ROD’S BACK ON THE FIELD

Alex Rodriguez reported to the Yankees minor league complex and participated in a 48 minute workout. He is looking to begin minor league rehab games in 7 to 10 days, and is taking one day at a time.

 

Alex Rodriguez works out after hip surgery
http://tribeca.vidavee.com/advance/vidavee/playerv3/vFlasher_debug.swf?p19=movie1239671319176&p2=off&p3=off&p4=50&p5=off&p7=on&p8=off&p31=on&p22=http%3A%2F%2Fanalytics.tribeca.vidavee.com%2Fvanalytics%2Fgateway%2F&p13=no&p16=v3AdvInt_nj.swf&p17=http%3A%2F%2Ftribeca.vidavee.com%2Fadvance%2Fvidavee%2Fplayerv3%2Fskins%2F&p11=0&p15=http%3A%2F%2Ftribeca.vidavee.com%2Fadvance%2FvClientXML.view%3FAF_renderParam_contentType%3Dtext%2Fxml%26showEndCard%3Doff%26link%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fvideos.nj.com%2Fstar-ledger%2F2009%2F04%2Falex_rodriguez_works_out_after.html%26vtagView%3Don%26skin%3Dv3AdvInt_nj.swf%26autoplay%3Doff%26loadStream%3Doff%26width%3D470%26height%3D266%26vtag%3Dyes%26startVolume%3D50%26hidecontrolbar%3Dno%26textureStrip%3Dyes%26displayTime%3Dyes%26volumeLock%3Doff%26watermark%3Dyes%26dockey%3D0FF08B11312045A04154BFC438DF6264&p21=http%3A%2F%2Ftribeca.vidavee.com%2Fadvance%2Fvidavee%2Fplayerv3%2Fjs%2FFlashProxyLoader.js&p18=timeDisplay%3Dyes%3Bwatermark%3Dyes%3BshareWidgets%3Don%3BtextureStripe%3Dyes%3BvtagDisplay%3Dyes%3BshowEndCard%3Doff%3Blink%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fvideos.nj.com%2Fstar-ledger%2F2009%2F04%2Falex_rodriguez_works_out_after.html

Courtesy The Star-Ledger

If I had hip surgery five weeks ago, I’d probably be in a little worse shape than A-Rod.

I am sure that his superior physical conditioning has aided his recovery. Hopefully, there will be no setbacks as Alex’s continues his march for the Bronx.

Mark Teixeira was also at the minor league complex receiving treatment for his sore left wrist. He had a MRI which revealed no major issues. He thinks it would be a disappointment if he’s not back on the field Tuesday night.

NOTES

  • The Associated Press is reporting that former Yankees pitcher David Wells has signed a multi-year deal to be an analyst for TBS. C’mon, David, tell us what’s really on your mind!
  • Manny Ramirez is saying that he wants to play for the Cleveland Indians once more before he calls it a career? I bet that really endears him to the Dodger fans that have so fully embraced him despite his history in Boston. Nope, I’m not going to say it but I guess you could say that it is expected behavior.
  • The speculation of Pedro Martinez to the Los Angeles Angels makes sense. When I heard earlier that he was going to sign with Baltimore, it seemed very foolish if true. Fortunately, it was not. Pedro has the luxury of picking his spot (to a degree) and he still has what it takes to help a contender. No, the years as an ace are long gone, but he’s still a competitor who knows how to win.
  • Regardless of what he said about his hometown of Woodland, CA, Dustin Pedroia is not a jerk. Of course, I may feel differently after the Yankees play the Red Sox later this month. But for now, Pedroia doesn’t deserve death threats or the criticism that he’s received.
  • Julia, to answer your question, Wally has been wondering what the odor is above his head! Hmmm, he had better get used to it!

Goodnight, Everyone!

-Scott

A Devastating Injury for the Yanks!…

The injuries have mounted for many teams this spring.  We’re concerned about Joe Mauer in Minnesota (well, some of us more than others…LOL!)  and Cole Hamels in Philadelphia.  Justin Duchscherer of the A’s will start the season the DL after surgery on his elbow.  There are too many injuries, both big and small, to count…

A review of current headlines show that the Braves’ Brian McCann is still hurting from getting hit in the ring finger by a foul pitch in yesterday’s loss to the Yankees…

…to Angels pitcher John Lackey’s stiff forearm.

We’ve seen Jason Johnson in Yankees camp be diagnosed with eye cancer in the Yankees camp, and of course both Damaso Marte and Robinson Cano came back from the WBC hurting.

 

But is the biggest injury in Yankees camp the hip surgery performed on A-Rod’s torn labrum earlier this month?

 

WFAA.com

 

No, the most devastating injury in Yankees camp is…

 

 

…Derek Jeters’s pinkie! 

Stop the presses!

 

Call the ambulance…quick!  Emergency treatment is needed now!

 

 

Yankeeville hangs in the balance, awaiting news of DJ’s injured left pinkie…

 

www.opinionhead.com

 

Oh, he’ll play today against the Pirates? 

Well, Nevermind!…as Roseanne Rosannadanna would say…

 

 

TEIXIERA AND THE YANKS

In an interview with WFAN, it appears that Mark Teixiera’s signing with the Yankees wasn’t so improbable after all.  In words that are sure to infuriate both Angels and Red Sox fans, Tex clearly had the Yanks in his sights from the start.

AP 

It has been assumed that the Yankees came in with a late offer to swoop Tex away from the Red Sox.  However, it appears that this was destined to happen from the start as the Yankees were apparently the only team that complied with Teixeira’s request to keep negotiations confidential. 

As transcribed by Mike DiGiovanna in the Los Angeles Times:

“I always had the Yankees in my sights, and one thing my agent and I had asked every single team is, we’re not going to negotiate through the media, and we ask you not to. The Yankees were really the only team that did that. The other teams went out and told everybody their offers, told everybody that they talked to me, that they made this call, made that trip. The Yankees kept quiet. We talked all winter. When they were ready to make their final offer, it was a great offer, and my wife and I were excited about going to New York.” 

Teixiera was asked about the recruiting visit made to his Texas home by the Red Sox in December, and he responded: “I think in the end, it probably worked against them a little bit, because everyone thought the Red Sox were my No. 1 choice,” Teixeira said. “… The Yankees had a leg up all along.”

Regardless of how it went down, I will be glad to see Tex standing at first base for Opening Day at the new Yankee Stadium on April 16th.

Jared Max/WCBS

YANKEES NEWS

The Yankees will dedicate a new memorial for the victims of 9/11 today at Steinbrenner Field.  A piece of steel from the World Trade Center ruins was used to create the memorial which depicts the Twin Towers sitting on a Pentagon-shaped foundation.  The memorial sits on grass in tribute to United Flight 93 which crashed in Somerset County, PA.  It is a tremendous memorial that pays a great tribute to all those who lost their lives on that fateful day, and broke the heart of a nation.

Courtesy New York Yankees

According to many articles, it sounds as though the Yankees may opt to go with Jonathan Albaladejo in the bullpen, leaving long reliever candidates Brett Tomko, Alfredo Aceves, and Dan Giese on the outside looking in.  It’s unfortunate for Tomko, who has had a terrific spring, but the odds were stacked against him from the start since he is not on the 40-man roster.

Kathy Willens/AP

I had expected the Minnesota Twins to return Rule 5 draftee Jason Jones to the Yankees, but the teams opted to swap righthanders as the Yankees received 23-year-old Charles Nolte.  I don’t know anything about Nolte, but he’s three years younger than Jones.  He posted a 2.05 ERA in 44 Single A relief appearances last year, and had 75 strikeouts in 70 1/3 innings.    

With the attention that Ramiro Pena has drawn for his fielding prowess, is this the year that the Yankees start to experiment with Derek Jeter in an occasional start in other positions, like centerfield?  Given that there are other long-term solutions for centerfield to go with Brett Gardner (like potentially Jeter and the much anticipated arrival of Austin Jackson later this year or in 2010), I wonder if Melky Cabrera will become a trading chip at some point.  I am still not comfortable with the thought of Cody Ransom at third. 

Where’s Mike Pagliarulo when you need him? 

Former New York Yankees player Darryl Strawberry, left, waves to the crowd after sliding safely into third base ahead of the tag from Mike Pagliarulo during the Old Timer's game Saturday, July 7, 2007 at Yankee Stadium in New York.

Just kidding…

Speaking of Pena, it sounds as though he’s beaten out Angel Berroa for the infield utility spot.  I definitely feel for Joe Girardi.  He has some very difficult decisions in the coming days, and they are decisions that will dramatically shape the 2009 Yankees.  No pressure…

 

 

 

Meanwhile, I am trying to decide whether I want an apple or an orange.  Man, what a tough decision!  ;)

 

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