Results tagged ‘ Albert Pujols ’

Yankees should be forbidden from crossing the MA state line…

 

Right player, wrong uniform…

The acquisition of reliever Mark Melancon by the Boston Red Sox reminded me of how much I dislike seeing former Yankees in Boston gear.  At one time, Melancon was mentioned as the possible successor to future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera.  He did not fulfill his promise with the Yankees and was subsequently traded to the Houston Astros in the deal that brought present St Cardinals first baseman Lance Berkman to New York.  Melancon was forced into a closing role in Houston due to injuries, but he doesn’t project to be a closer for the Red Sox.  Time will tell if he can become Boston’s version of David Robertson.

With Alfredo Aceves already on the Boston pitching staff, that makes two Yankees on the roster with no Sox players on the Yankees roster.  Granted, it doesn’t hurt quite like it did when David Wells and David Cone pulled on the Sox cap after success in the Bronx, but still, I’d rather see ex-Yankees experience success away from the AL East.  There are 28 other teams that these players could have gone to.

From the Sox perspective, I am not sure that Melancon justified the cost.  I know that Jed Lowrie wasn’t the answer at short, but there was always something that I respected in the player, even as a member of an opponent.  I don’t know about the other player the Sox sent to Houston (pitcher Kyle Weiland), but it would appear to be a fairly high cost for a setup guy.  I just don’t see Melancon as Jonathan Papelbon’s replacement.

Maybe this trade turns out wonderfully for the Sox, maybe it doesn’t.  I guess baseball is a game of chances and as the saying goes ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’.  But I wish the Sox would quit loading up on Yankees (and Rays).  At least they replaced Lowrie with a former Twin and Cardinal (Nick Punto).

Never underestimate the power of the woman behind the man…

I am still in disbelief that Albert Pujols is no longer in St Louis, but after previously reading comments by Dodgers manager Don Mattingly that he felt Albert was frustrated with the Cardinals about the negotiations and the subsequent comments by his wife about how the Cardinals didn’t give Albert the proper respect, I can better understand why he would leave the organization that had meant so much to him for 11 years.  At this point, his present and future are associated with the Los Angeles Angels and he will be the face of the organization.  I doubt Angels fans are missing Mark Teixeira too much these days.

Turning nothing into something…

I am still amazed that former Yankees reliever Jose Veras brought the Pittsburgh Pirates the Milwaukee Brewers former third baseman Casey McGahee.  McGahee has his issues, but Veras was a disaster for the Yanks.  I know that he pitched effectively before his gradual descent in pinstripes but I cringed every time he entered a game during his final season in the Bronx.

C’mon, the weather really isn’t that bad…

I was listening to MLB Radio the other night when they mentioned that the Minnesota Twins had signed former Oakland A’s (and Marlins) outfielder Josh Willingham.  One of the guys, I don’t remember which one, then proceeded to bash Minnesota for its weather.  Granted, I am a new arrival to Minnesota and I did not experience the 87 inches of snow last winter, but I have yet to complain about Minnesota weather.  Actually, I have enjoyed the change of seasons after life in California where there are only two seasons (warm and not so warm).  I wore my winter coat one week last year and that’s when I went back East to New York.  I’ve been wearing that coat since early November this year and I love it.  I am disappointed that they are now saying that we won’t have a White Christmas in Minneapolis.

Back to Willingham, I am sad that it means the end of the Twins career for Michael Cuddyer.  It’s too bad that the Yankees don’t have a role for a guy like that.  Mr. Versatility.  It doesn’t sound like the Phillies or the Red Sox are options for him at this point, but I was fearful to see him on either of those rosters.  He may not be THE guy, but he is the type of guy that helps win championships.

Nevertheless, welcome to Minneapolis, Mr. Willingham!

50 years brings total futility; this must be what it feels like to be a Cubs fan…

My first year living in Minnesota has been a disaster as far as being a fan of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings.  1983 was a miserable year with horrific coach Les Steckel and the franchise’s worst record in its history.  This year, the record of futility may be eclipsed by the current squad.  I feel bad for coach Leslie Frazier.  I like him, but there is no patience when it comes to the NFL.  I read an article about how the Vikings would have been better off if they had just stayed with Mike Tice after the Wilf’s bought the team.  As it stands, I’d prefer to see Frazier get at least another year, but if he is cut loose, I would not be opposed to someone like Brian Billick.  I was frustrated with him when he was the Vikings offensive coordinator, but he was a good coach in Baltimore.  I doubt the Vikings would be competitors for someone like Bill Cowher.  I could definitely see Cowher going to the Miami Dolphins if he decides to return to coaching, especially if Carl Peterson takes over the leadership of the team.  Cowher was an assistant for Kansas City, Peterson’s former team, prior to coaching the Steelers.

I am adamant, and maybe not so much…

As for my other teams, I remain a devout San Jose Sharks fan and will be there when the Sharks come to St Paul, Minnesota to face the Minnesota Wild.  But I had to make a decision in the NBA.  I’ve been a Los Angeles Lakers fan the last few years, but I am tired of a team that is expected to win and often does (well, except for when it pertains to baseball!).  Amare Stoudemire has been my favorite player since his days in Phoenix and despite his injury history.  Carmelo Anthony was another favorite.  So, with those two headlining the New York Knicks, I really don’t have any choice but to become a Knickerbockers fan.  With the NBA, I have not maintained a constant loyalty to one team.  It’s moved as I’ve moved.  I started life as a Philadelphia 76ers fan in the days of Dr. J. (Julius Erving).  In my early 20’s, I moved to Dallas and become a Mavericks fan.  Later, I moved to Phoenix and became a Suns fan.  About 6 years ago, I moved to California and became a Lakers fan (sorry, I just couldn’t embrace the Golden State Warriors or the Sacramento Kings as a Northern CA resident).  Now, I am in Minnesota, but for whatever reason, I just can’t embrace the Minnesota Timberwolves.  So, it’s time to move my basketball allegiance to the Big Apple.  I am not really a fan of the New Jersey and soon to be Brooklyn Nets, so the stars were perfectly aligned for me to become a Knicks fan.  So, let it be…

By the way, where did 2011 go?…

–Scott

 

Aren’t the Yankees supposed to rule the Winter Meetings?…

Wow…

After more than a year of speculation and news about the Albert Pujols contract negotiations, he shocks the world and accepts Arte Moreno’s $250 million to go to Anaheim.  I guess you can blame the Yankees for this one.  Don’t they always get the blame?  If the Yanks hadn’t gone on a spending binge several years to secure the services of then-Angels first baseman Mark Texeira, the Los Angeles Angels would not have been in the market for a top shelf first baseman.  Albert, of course, is more than top shelf, he is THE top shelf.  Still, I was surprised by the move.  The Angels have Mark Trumbo returning, a player they control, and a healthy Kendrys Morales.  I am sure that there are other areas of the team that could have used upgrades.

The Angels did follow up immediately with the signing of top free agent pitcher C.J. Wilson.  I had a feeling that Wilson would be headed to the West Coast despite the Miami Marlins pursuit of the former Texas Ranger.  He leaves the top of the rotation for perhaps the #3 or #4 slot with the Angels.  The Philadelphia Phillies have been recognized for the best rotation, but the Angels cannot be too far behind with Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana and now Wilson leading the rotation.  I don’t know who the #5 starter is for the Angels off the top of my head, but does it really matter?  You could probably go grab Mark Langston out of retirement and throw him in the rotation…it wouldn’t matter.

This has to be a reactionary move by owner Arte Moreno.  The Los Angeles Dodgers are primed to re-capture the LA market once a reputable, financially-sound owner or ownership group takes control of the team.  After being considered the class of the AL West for years, the Angels have become an understudy for the Texas Rangers.  Today’s moves clearly re-establish the Angels as the class of the AL West, and perhaps of the American League.

I do feel bad for the St Louis Cardinals and their fans.  As an iconic player, the fans deserved to see Albert play his entire career in St Louis.  Stan “The Man” Musial is beloved to this day, and Albert is the first Cardinals player that could have rivaled Musial after his playing days are over.  Now, Albert will never be automatically thought of as a Cardinal.  He’ll carve out a legacy as an Angel, and will give us reasons to remember him in Anaheim.  A very disappointing day for the Cardinals.  No offense to Lance Berkman, but that’s a big drop-off from Albert.

The Miami Marlins had looked like the crown prince of the Winter Meetings with their acquisitions of Heath Bell, Jose Reyes, and Mark Buehrle, but they were torched on the last day by the Angels.  It’s been a good off-season for the Angels, who earlier picked up a new backstop in Chris Iannetta.

Meanwhile, I can hear crickets at Yankee Stadium…

A little bit of nothing…

The Yankees did win the posting for Japanese infielder Hiroyuki Nakajima, but based on the reports I’ve read, the Yankees will have difficulty signing him.  The leading speculation is that he’ll return to Japan for another season and then sign with the Boston Red Sox next winter.  That would really stink if the Yankees lost a prospect to their bitter rival.  But from Nakajima’s perspective, Boston could offer him a starting role at shortstop (something the Yankees could not do) and their manager has tremendous experience with Japanese players.  The posting I want the Yankees to win is for pitcher Yu Darvish, but reports indicate the Yankees interest is lukewarm.  Of course, that could always be a ploy to help keep posting bids down, but the lukewarm comments certainly proved to be accurate for the Yankees interest in C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehrle.

I remain hopeful that the Yankees have started the groundwork for a successful acquisition of a pitcher like Gio Gonzalez, John Danks, or Kyle Drabek.  Brian Cashman may feel that he doesn’t need to do anything with a 97-win team, but I heard a GM on MLB Radio say that if you’re standing pat, you are getting worse.  I agree that you need to consistently seek upgrades and for the most part, the Yankees stood pat last season.  Catcher Russell Martin was huge, but at the time of the signing, it was very low key.  Same with the signings of Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon.  It’s been a very long time since Yankees fans have had a reason to feel great excitement and joy for a player acquisition like the Angels experienced today.  Meanwhile, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter are getting older and certainly not better…

I know, we’re Yankees fans, we want it all…

Go New York!…

Now that the NBA is back, I am at the crossroads.  I’ve been a Los Angeles Lakers fan in recent years, primarily because of my appreciation for Kobe Bryant as a player.  But as funny as this sounds as a Yankees fan, I am tired of backing a team that is always expected to win and often does.  I want a team that has suffered so that when the team does win, there is greater satisfaction.  As a result, I am switching my allegiance to a team that has my favorite player, Amare Stoudemire as well as my second favorite player, Carmelo Anthony…the New York Knicks.

First year in Minnesota, worst year in the history of the franchise…

Despite my relocation to Minnesota, I remain committed in my support of the NHL’s San Jose Sharks.  And despite their 2-10 record, I am still a Vikings fan.  On the bright side as a Vikings fan, I won’t have to wait long to find out who the Vikings select in the NFL Draft in April 2012.  At this point in the season, you’re pulling for losses, hoping the team can overtake the Indianapolis Colts for the worst record.  But of course, that’s a moot issue if the Colts can’t win a game. This is probably one of the first years ever that I’ve accepted and embraced that the Green Bay Packers will win the Super Bowl.  It’s easier to say that when your team was left for dead long ago.

I need one of my teams to step forward and win a championship.  It’s been a drought since 2009, and I need something to cheer about!

–Scott

The best of a bad situation for the Red Sox Nation…

 

Bobby Valentine’s hire…

I am still surprised that the Boston Red Sox ownership and management team did not have a clear plan of succession when they failed to back former manager Terry Francona at the end of the season.  Sure, Francona left on his terms but the lack of support had as much to do with the decision as anything.  So, if ownership felt that they wanted a change, they should have had a short list of potential replacements in mind.  Theo Epstein moved more quickly in Chicago when they named Sox candidate Dale Sveum as their manager.  The Sox search just felt “messy” to an outsider like me.

Still, they probably did as well as they could with the hiring of Bobby Valentine.  There is no question that he is a superior tactician.  He is very passionate, which is an attribute that I have always admired.  I cannot say that I’ve been a Bobby V fan in my life.  I lived in Dallas during his years as the manager of the Texas Rangers.  But I respect his knowledge, skills and high desire to win.  At different points during the last few years, there have been times he has been mentioned as a possible Yankees manager.  You don’t have to like the guy personally if he can get the job done.  I think one of my friends referred to Bobby as “swarmy” and it’s a good description.  Nevertheless, I am sure that Bobby will prove himself worthy of the Red Sox Nation and they’ll love him.  Meanwhile, we’ll just continue our loathing of him which fits since he is now with a bitter rival.

I would like to see if Bobby can have a positive impact on pitcher Jon Lester.  Lester has been one of my favorite players, despite his uniform.  He is an ace, and capable of carrying the high expectations that go with it.  2011 was a regression year for Lester so hopefully he’ll get back on track in 2012 and clearly establish himself as the leader of the Red Sox rotation.

…and Terry Francona’s ire…

In recent years, I admittedly lessened my dislike for the Boston Red Sox and it was primarily because of my respect for manager Terry Francona.  In my mind, Joe Torre had been the model of a superior manager, and the Francona mold was in the same class.  I do not know the inner workings of the Red Sox organization, but I am still surprised that they didn’t support Francona based on comments Tito has made during interviews.  I was even more surprised to hear that he had to defend himself against questions about painkillers during his interview with the St. Louis Cardinals.  Here is a manager that won two World Series for an organization that had not won since 1918, or when Babe Ruth was still on the roster.  It’s incredible to think of how many Red Sox managers failed where Tito succeeded.  I think teams missed the boat in not aggressively pursuing Tito this off-season.  Hopefully, teams won’t make the same mistake next year.

All quiet on the Western front…

The days leading up to the Baseball Winter Meetings in Dallas seem so incredibly quiet compared to life under the Boss.  While I recognize that part of it is posturing by the Yankees to avoid overpaying for players, there is the realization that this is a different ownership group even if it is still “in the family”.  The Yankees did not really make any notable moves last season outside of signing catcher Russell Martin and bringing in pitchers Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon.  To fail to upgrade the team this year is a mistake in my opinion.  Last year’s roster was easily defeated by the Detroit Tigers in the play-offs.  While I realize that anything can happen in a short series, I didn’t have the sense or “feel” that the Yankees were going to prevail.  It almost seemed as though it was inevitable the Yankees would lose.  That’s a bad feeling.  The team needs bench or role players that can come through like Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui used to, and they need help at the top of the starting rotation behind CC Sabathia.

I hopeful that the team can re-sign Eric Chavez, Andrew Jones and Luis Ayala.  Chavez is a perfect fit behind Alex Rodriguez, assuming that he can stay healthy, and Jones was a great fourth outfielder if he is content with resuming that type of role for the upcoming season. Ayala seems to be garnering much attention with at least six teams interested.

I like the one rumor that I heard about the Yankees possibly being interested in Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Kyle Drabek.  He would definitely be a pitcher that I’d target if I were the GM.  As a fan, the trade of Doug Drabek hurt at the time and it hurt even more when Drabek went on to achieve great success with the Pittsburgh Pirates.  While acquiring Kyle Drabek has nothing to do with his father as he has great potential on his own right, it would be nice to have the son of Doug Drabek in the organization.  Interestingly, the Yankees had obtained Doug Drabek in a trade with the Chicago White Sox for shortstop Roy Smalley.  If they had held onto him that trade would have been remembered as one of the Yankees better trades.  As it was, the Yankees traded him to the Pirates for Rick Rhoden, who was serviceable but not great.

Of the free agent pitchers, I am still most interested in Mark Buehrle.  I think he’d fit perfectly into the middle of the Yankees rotation.  I like C.J. Wilson but I can understand the team’s apprehension given the dollars that have been mentioned to sign him.  If Yu Darvish is posted later this off-season, I really would like to see the Yankees be aggressive in pursuing him.  I am convinced that he’ll have greater major league success than Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka.  The negative is obviously the cost of the posting fee that it will take to get the job done.  The Red Sox paid over $51 million for the rights to negotiate with Dice-K, and apparently, it will take a similar if not higher number to land Darvish.

If the Yankees were to include outfielder Nick Swisher in a trade for a starting pitcher, they’d need to find a replacement.  As a fan, I am always on the lookout for the next Paul O’Neill type of trade to fill the void…acquiring a talented young outfielder with much promise who has yet fulfilled those expectations.  It’s a high risk move, but as in the case of O’Neill, high reward.  Curtis Granderson has thrived in a Yankees uniform despite the sluggish start, and it’s better to catch a player before he hits the upward arc of his career in terms of cost.  If the Yankees tried to acquire Granderson from the Tigers today, there’s no way that they could get it done with Ian Kennedy, Austin Jackson and Phil Coke (and that’s with Kennedy being mentioned in the NL Cy Young race this year).

Brace yourself, here comes Roller-Coaster Week!…

The upcoming week is always my favorite week of the off-season.  The Hot Stove League is at its pinnacle.  Even if the Yankees do not do anything, it is still a thrilling ride.  It’s fun to talk and think about all the potential possibilities, even as far-reaching as some may sound.  My primary wish is for the Cardinals to get their long-anticipated deal with Albert Pujols done so that we can move on to other storylines.  There’s no way that he is going to Chicago or Miami, and at the end of the day, he is and always will be a Cardinal.

My preferred landing spot for Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, if he decides to continue playing, is the Miami Marlins.  I do not want to see him go to the Mets, Red Sox, or any other AL East rival including the Tampa Bay Rays.

Good move, Bad move…

The Los Angeles Dodgers are my favorite National League team, although I do not have the passion for the team or the sense of loyalty that I hold for the Yankees.  My affection for them began when Joe Torre was named manager (previously I had considered the San Francisco Giants as my NL team) and it has continued with one of my all-time favorite players as the current Dodgers manager, Don Mattingly.  I am dismayed with the ownership situation and do not have any respect for Frank McCourt, but I am optimistic that the sale of the team will restore the luster of the storied franchise.

While it was good for the Dodgers to lock up outfielder Matt Kemp long-term, I do question the move to sign free agent pitcher Chris Capuano.  The cost was too great ($10 million for two years) for a journeyman pitcher who is average to average-minus with no upside.  If this move prevents free agent pitcher Hiroki Kuroda from returning, then it’s an even greater mistake.  I don’t know how much it will cost to sign Kuroda and I realize that he is 37, but he’s still a better pitcher than Capuano.

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out…

I was not excited when the Minnesota Vikings trade a 6th round draft pick to the Washington Redskins for QB Donovan McNabb before the season started, but I did realize the team needed a veteran presence.  McNabb was a failure for the Vikings, and I was glad to see the team finally cut bait with his release this past week.  I am not convinced he can thrive in any environment, contrary to what head coach Leslie Frazier may say.  I think the Vikings simply found out what the Philadelphia Eagles knew and what the Redskins found out last season.  He’s done.  I was pleasantly surprised to see QB Sage Rosenfels return as the third string QB after his release from the Miami Dolphins.  It’s not that I expect Rosenfels to take any regular season snaps this time around, but he’s a good insurance policy and allows the Vikings to continue to use second string QB Joe Webb in a variety of roles.

It’s tough when your favorite football team is playing so bad that you actually hope for losses to ensure a high draft pick.  The Vikings are only two games behind the Indianapolis Colts in the sweepstakes for Stanford QB Andrew Luck.  I am a fan of Vikings QB Christian Ponder, but even I would gladly take Luck over Ponder.  So, with the Denver Broncos playing the Vikings today, all I can say is ‘Go Tim Tebow!’ as a way to bring good “Luck”!…

–Scott

The Improbable Championship…

 

The 2nd winningest team in baseball history…

Congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals for their World Series championship over the Texas Rangers.  It was a thrilling World Series, especially the three home run game by Albert Pujols and the edge-of-your-seat Game 6 that saw the Cards eliminate two 2 run deficits with two outs and two strikes in the 9th and 10th innings.  The Cardinals now have 11 World Series Championships, only 16 more needed to catch the Yankees…

2005 Astros and 2010 Yankees were nice, but…

A year after experiencing play-off failure with the Yankees, Lance Berkman achieved his first championship and played a significant role for the team.  I wish the Yankees could have seen the Berkman that played in 2011, rather than the 2010 version, but it wasn’t meant to be.  Berkman made the right choice in selecting the Cardinals over the Rangers in the off-season.

Remember me?…

I kept wondering how Arthur Rhodes felt after spending the majority of the 2011 season with the Rangers before being released in August, only to sign with the Cardinals and help them to the championship over his former team.  Sweet vindication…

I liked the Cowboys, Mavericks and Stars…

I lived in Dallas for 14 years, however, I could never embrace the Rangers.  I am not quite sure why.  I don’t care for the Arizona Diamondbacks after living in Phoenix, but I can attribute that to how rudely fans treated me during the 2001 World Series.  I am not a rude, “in your face”, obnoxious type of fan, but that’s how I was treated simply for wearing a Yankees cap.  Still, I am not sure why the Rangers bother me, but I just am not a fan.  I would prefer to see any of the AL West teams succeed over the Rangers.  So, I did take some satisfaction that the Rangers were SO CLOSE, but ultimately SO FAR AWAY in their quest for the organization’s first championship.  Of course, they’ll be a contender again next year so I recognize that their time may still come.

A signing that makes sense…

It was good to hear that the Yankees and GM Brian Cashman have apparently agreed on a new three year deal that will be announced on Monday.  Wrapping up Cashman before the expiration of his contract was essential for the Yankees to have a successful off-season.  Next up is re-signing CC Sabathia before he exercises his opt-out by midnight on Monday.  I really do not want to see CC hit the open market because it will take away the Yankees focus in finding other pieces to the puzzle.

Plus another signing that would make great sense…

As for free agents, I do hope the Yankees pursue C.J. Wilson.  I recognize that he lost Game 7 of the World Series, however, he is a talented pitcher and I think that he’d excel under pitching coach Larry Rothschild.  A top three rotation of Sabathia-Wilson-Nova would be very competitive.  It’s too bad that Phil Hughes took such a step back this year, and that A.J. Burnett continues to under-achieve.  But I really do not want to go another year relying on the aging arms of Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon.  The Yankees have to improve the rotation, and I do not believe that Dellin Betances or Manny Banuelos are quite ready for the challenge yet.

Admittedly, a sense of relief…

Congratulations to Jerry DiPoto for being named the new GM of the Los Angeles Angels, but I still think it’s an injustice that Kim Ng doesn’t get stronger consideration.  She is as well qualified (if not more) than her male counterparts, and she’ll make a terrific GM one day.  If I owned a team, she’d certainly be on my short list of people to hire.  As for DiPoto, it had seemed like he was destined for the Baltimore Orioles just a few weeks ago.  I don’t think they’re top candidates, but I’d hate to lose either Billy Eppler or Damon Oppenheimer to an AL East rival.  So, hopefully, the O’s will either go with an internal candidate or select someone without ties to the Yankees.  I do hope that Eppler and Oppenheimer get recognized for their great contributions, but I’d prefer to see it happen outside of the division (well, except for the Rangers).

Have we seen the end of the term ‘Lovable Losers’ in Chicago?…

I have to admit that I am anxious to see how Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer put their stamp on the Chicago Cubs.  I hope it doesn’t involve signing free agent slugger Albert Pujols, whom I really hope finishes his career in St. Louis.  But someone like Prince Fielder might make great sense for the Cubs.  I am sure that they’d love to find a way to get out from under Alfonso Soriano’s contract.  While I can’t say that I am thrilled about Alex Rodriguez and view the weight of his contract as an albatross, the Yankees made the right decision in parting with the free swinging Soriano and of course it eventually opened a spot for the Yankees true MVP, Robinson Cano.  I expect Epstein to be aggressive and it will be interesting to watch the 2012 Cubs take shape.  I just don’t see how manager Mike Quade survives, but I could be wrong.  I believe that Ryne Sandberg would be the best field general for the Epstein regime.

My favorite NL team continues to be the Los Angeles Dodgers, primarily because of manager Don Mattingly, but I’ll definitely be pulling for the Cubs as well.  I would like to see them win a championship in my lifetime, well, so long as the opposing team is not the Yankees.

Bright Lights, Great City…

When the Minnesota Twins played their final home game at the end of the regular season, I knew that I was going to miss the magical lights of Target Field from my downtown Minneapolis home.  I don’t know why, but the lights were on at the stadium a few days ago and it is amazing how much they enhance the already beautiful Minneapolis skyline.  I am looking so forward to the lights next April.  However, I recognize that there is still about 50 to 80 inches of snow that stand between me and those lights.  Let the Hot Stove League begin…

 

–Scott

 

 

 

Watching CSI in October is so wrong…

 

What’s on TV?…

With the Yankees at home for the year and an AL team that I don’t care for still playing, I have to admit that I have not been watching the World Series this year.  Of course, that cost me the chance to watch history last night as Albert Pujols showed why he is a living legend with three home runs, ala Reggie Jackson.  Somehow that huge contract that he’ll get in the off-season just got a little bigger.  I am not saying that the Yankees should try to sign Albert (I’m satisfied with Mark Teixeira at first and feel that the money is better served for weaker areas like starting pitching), but the Yankees do need someone like that who is capable to singlehandedly taking over a game.  I have no doubt that Robby Cano is that type of player, but with the deteriorating skills of Alex Rodriguez, it puts so much pressure on the rest of the lineup to pick up the slack.

Back to Albert, I do hope that he continues his drive and helps deliver another world championship to the city of St. Louis.  As much as I would like Albert on my team, I really hope that the Cardinals do what it takes to keep him in the organization for the duration of his career.  To this day, Stan “The Man” Musial is still a huge part of the Cardinals and their history, and Albert would have that same impact for years to come.  If he departed and played a few years for, say, the Chicago Cubs, it would definitely taint his Cardinals legacy.

If there are no concerns, why am I concerned?…

I keep hearing that there are no concerns about getting a new contract in place for GM Brian Cashman, but as each day passes and we draw closer to the end of the month, I do grow a bit more concerned.  Given how difficult the Derek Jeter negotiations were last year, what if the team tries to short pennies on Cash?  What is Plan B if Cashman opts to leave?  With Damon Oppenheimer and Billy Eppler talking to other teams, the best in-house talent could be gone.  I doubt if both of those guys leave and from the sounds of it, neither one is the leading candidate for the Angels GM job.  Still, a team could turn to one of them.  I’d really prefer to go to Oppenheimer or Eppler should Cashman leave in order to maintain the continuity within the organization.  That’s very similar to what the Red Sox will be doing by promoting Ben Cherington to GM to replace Theo Epstein.

Can he replicate the success of Larry Lucchino?…

I do wish Theo Epstein and soon-to-be GM Jed Hoyer the best of luck in Chicago as they try to end the World Series drought for the Cubs.  I know that the road is much more difficult than it was when Epstein became the Red Sox GM, but I’ve certainly learned to never under-estimate Theo.  He has made his share of poor decisions (such as signing John Lackey), but that only means that he is not afraid of making difficult decisions.  Some will pan out, some will not.  I am sure that there are a few moves that Brian Cashman would like to undo.  But I’d rather see a GM make the bold moves and potentially uncover great talent and chemistry for the betterment of the team.  Given that Theo will be bringing a few of his guys to Chicago, I wonder when manager Mike Quade gets the ax.  It would be interesting to see if Theo and Jed would go for a top managerial candidate with Red Sox connections like DeMarlo Hale or go to a Cubs legend like Ryne Sandberg.  I think either move would be sound should they decide to part ways with Quade.

It’s only money…

Put me in the category of those who would like to see the Yankees pursue Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish.  I know that the past success of Japanese pitchers has been mixed, but I really feel that Darvish is a special talent.  He would like great in the middle of the rotation.  I am also anxious to see what pitcher Hector Noesi can do in winter ball.  As much as I thought Freddy Garcia did everything asked of him, I’d really rather see the Yankees develop a younger arm in the rotation.  Just like last year, A.J. Burnett will come to camp as a question mark.  Plus, there’s the potential that CC Sabathia opts out and takes an offer from another city despite how well he has adapted to New York.  I have come to not rely upon Phil Hughes, so that means the only certain reliable starter at the moment is Ivan Nova.  I would aggressively go after Rangers starter C.J. Wilson regardless of whether CC stays or goes.  I wish the Yankees could find a way to unload Burnett, but it’s probably not going to happen.  The Red Sox will probably have better luck getting rid of John Lackey.

You have the right to remain silent…

As a lifelong Minnesota Vikings fan, I’ve faced my share of disappointment over the years.  I have never had to deal with losing Super Bowls like I did as a kid, but that’s only because the team has never been back.  I think character is a quality component to building team chemistry and unity, and the Vikings have had more than their fair share of poor off the field decisions.  Now we have the latest news that starting cornerback Chris Cook is in jail for the weekend on domestic assault charges.   This is very disappointing news.

The Vikings certainly have their hands full this weekend as they will be facing the undefeated Green Bay Packers with a rookie QB (Christian Ponder) making his first NFL start.  It looks to me as if the deck has been stacked against Ponder, but hopefully, he’ll show why he was a surprise, but great, early selection in the first round of the last NFL Draft.

–Scott

 

 

 

 

 

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


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


Albert Pujols - 2004

Scott Rovak/Getty Images


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

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

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

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

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


–Scott

 

Adding more fodder to the fire…

The crowd begins to gather…

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

Another Yankee Killer on the verge of Pinstripes…

The morning started with word that the Yankees were nearing a deal with outfielder Andruw Jones, but there have been no further updates.  I am sure the Yankees are actively working on their arbitration eligible players like Phil Hughes so that’s probably a bit of a distraction.  Nevertheless, I like the idea of signing Jones as the Yankees fourth outfielder.  He is not the player he once was, but the last two years he has averaged 280 at-bats and 18 home runs.  Not bad for a bench/role player…
AP/Jeff Chiu
With Marcus Thames apparently on the verge of signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers, I think Jones is a better version of Thames…well, at least one that can play the field.  I’ve wanted the Yankees to sign Jones the last two years but he signed with Texas in 2009 and the White Sox in 2010.  Perhaps the time is now for Jones to finally land in the Bronx.  
Andruw Jones watches his three-run home run in the third inning of Game 1 of the World Series against the New York Yankees in New York, in this Oct. 20, 1996 file photo. At right is Yankees catcher Jim Leyritz. The Atlanta Braves are cutting ties with  Jones, saying they can't afford to keep the perennial Gold Glove center fielder who's spent his entire career with the organization.
AP
I liked the Washington Nationals move to acquire Chicago Cubs starter Tom Gorzelanny today.  They paid a potentially hefty price, but Gorzelanny is a solid addition to the Washington rotation.  Only 28, he is the type of pitcher that I’d like to see the Yankees pursue for the hole(s) in their rotation.  I am not saying the Yankees should have pursue Gorzelanny, but I like the idea of pursuing a late 20′s pitcher that has not reached his potential.  I know, it’s chasing lightning in a bottle, but it would be great to accurately catch a pitcher on the verge on his breakout season.  
I was disappointed to see Jeff Francis sign with the Kansas City Royals but I can certainly understand his logic of pursuing an opportunity that should guarantee a spot in the rotation while playing with less pressure than say New York or Boston.   He has a chance to restore the promise he showed a few years ago with Colorado.  
When I think about who the Yankees should acquire, all roads keep leading back to Cleveland starter Fausto Carmona.  With CC Sabathia as Carmona’s mentor once again, I like the possibility and the promise that Carmona could bring to the rotation.  It’s certainly a better prospect than Sergio Mitre.  Ivan Nova is going to be a question mark going into the season.  The Yankees don’t need two question marks…
Chuck Crow/The Plain Dealer
I am prepared to see reliever Joba Chamberlain go in a trade for a starting pitcher.  The Yankees have a few pitching hopefuls that could potentially fill Joba’s role in the bullpen now that the Yankees have signed closing/setup specialist Rafael Soriano.  I know that he still has the chance to experience great success in the big leagues but I am starting to realize that he probably won’t be able to realize that potential in the Bronx.  More than likely, the Yankees would have to part with one of their catching prospects in any trade.  At this point, I am most fearful about losing Gary Sanchez even though he is not as advanced as Jesus Montero or Austin Romine.  Sanchez has the chance to be the best of the group.  There’s no doubt that Montero will be a great hitter, but questions remain about his defense.  Sanchez may not be the hitter that Montero is, but he appears to be a more complete player.  
Somehow, I think manager Joe Girardi is going to have a very fun time trying to decide what pitcher to bring in from the bullpen.  He’s going to have some options for almost any situation.  It sure beats the days of Jose Veras or Kyle Farnsworth.
To go a bit off topic, I was glad/relieved to see the retirement of QB Brett Favre today.  Hopefully, and finally, he’ll stay retired.  He should start looking into life-after-football opportunities.  If he decides to come back to play again, I definitely hope that his days in purple are over.  I don’t know who will be the 2011 Quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings, but at this point, I’d take Joe Webb over Favre any day.  I don’t want to see someone like Donovan McNabb come to Minnesota but hopefully the Vikings can find a solid QB option to allow Webb (and perhaps another young QB like Cam Newton) to grow and develop.
TSN.ca
Note to the St. Louis Cardinals:  Please do whatever takes to make Albert Pujols a lifetime Cardinal!
AP
Note to the Chicago Cubs:  I know you’re quietly building a play-off contending club, but I see what you’re doing!  Let the Cincinnati Reds and the Milwaukee Brewers get all the pre-season championship accolades.  The Cubs are shaping up as a clear surprise player for 2011.  GM Jim Hendry has to be congratulated for the moves that he’s made this off-season.
AP/David Kohl
–Scott
  

If they’re saying it, it must be true!…

Rumors…


spreading rumors cartoons, spreading rumors cartoon, spreading rumors picture, spreading rumors pictures, spreading rumors image, spreading rumors images, spreading rumors illustration, spreading rumors illustrations

With nothing to talk about, the speculation continues
about what free agents the Yankees are looking at.  The latest has pitcher Justin Duchscherer and
outfielder Andruw Jones within the team’s sights…


Tony Gutierrez/AP


Andruw Jones Of White Sox Smiles After Infield Single

UPI/David Richard via Newscom

I like Duchscherer, although he has been beset with
injuries and depression in recent years. 
I recognize that he is considered an “average” pitcher, but he does know
how to win.  He’ll never be the second
coming of Chris Carpenter, but when the alternative at the 5th spot
in the rotation is Sergio Mitre, he’d be worth the shot.  I have quietly been hoping the Yankees would
sign former Rockies pitcher Jeff Francis but there has been no activity on that
front.  It wasn’t that long ago
(pre-Ubaldo Jimenez) that Francis was considered the ace of the Rockies
staff.  If the signing of Francis is not
meant to be, then I like Duchscherer over other options like Jeremy
Bonderman.  I like the addition of either
Francis or Duchscherer even if somehow and magically Andy Pettitte decides to
return for one last season. 

The other rumor has the Yankees considering outfielder
Andruw Jones.  I actually wanted the
Yankees to sign Jones last off-season. 
He ended up with the Chicago White Sox and hit 19 home runs.  I realize that he will never be the Atlanta
Braves’ version of Jones, but in the right role, he can excel.  I lived in the Los Angeles during his final
year with the Dodgers and it was pathetic to see Jones as a shell of what he
used to be.  Still, I think he’d be a
good fit as a role player for the Yankees. 
Jones could also step into left if either Brett Gardner or Curtis
Granderson missed any time due to injury. 

What can Larry Rothschild do to restore Joba Chamberlain’s
confidence?  With A.J. Burnett and Joba
at the top of his to-do list, I wonder if Larry fully understood what he was
getting himself into.  If he can somehow
turn both of these guys around, he will be a legend in Yankees history. 


Larry Rothschild, shown here with the Chicago Cubs, has been named the New York Yankees newest pitching coach.

David Zalubowski/AP


Speaking of Rothschild, the Yankees announced their 2011
coaching staff and the only change was Larry in for former pitching coach Dave
Eiland.  All things considered (and
nothing against Eiland), but I feel very good about the pitching being in the
hands of the long-time Cubs pitching coach. 
It’s also good to know that Tony Pena will return to his role as bench
coach for manager Joe Girardi.  I think
that’s a good pairing, even if Pena will have to coach against his son, Tony
Pena Jr., who is currently a member of the dreaded Boston Red Sox. 



There has been so much talk lately about the impending
free agency of St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols.  Personally, I do not want to see Albert in
anything other than a Cardinals uniform. 
Hopefully, the first ballot to be Hall of Famer and the Cardinals can
find a way to ensure that Albert stays in St. Louis for the duration of his
career.


Albert Pujols - 2004

Scott Rovak/Getty Images


There are going to be some really great pitching
performances in the National League this season.  Granted, the class of the rotations is the
Philadelphia Phillies, but so many teams have improved (like the Brewers, Cubs,
and Marlins to name a few).  Plus, let’s
not forget the solid starting five of the World Champion San Francisco
Giants.   Give me the #5 starter, Madison
Bumgarner, for the Yankees rotation…please!   

I have to admit that I was pleased to see future Hall of
Fame closer Trevor Hoffman retire today. 
It fixes his save total at 601, and certainly makes it within reach for
also future Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera. 
With a two year contract and standing at 559 saves, there’s no reason in
the foreseeable future that Mo can’t erase the difference.   I think both Trevor and Mo should be first
ballot elections, although I’d admit that Lee Smith should go in before either
one.  With Mo, I have definitely been
grateful in recent years that I’ve been able to watch one of the all-time great
New York Yankees.  It’s a lengthy list
but Mo will exit at the head of the class for his position.  I am envious of anyone who actually saw my
idol, Lou Gehrig, play, but I’d also say that I’ve been very fortunate to see
Mo pitch.  It’s nice to know that when
#42 is retired at Yankee Stadium for Jackie Robinson, it will be shared by
Mo.  Nevertheless, I wish the very best
for Trevor Hoffman, who I hear is headed back to the San Diego Padres for their
front office.


Trevor Hoffman

AP


Finally, I wanted to say how much I miss former Yankees
beat writer/blogger, Peter Abraham.  I
keep up with him with Boston.com, and his latest post shows why he is simply
one of the best…if not the best.


 


Okay, one more thing. 
The loss of Dallas Green’s 9-year-old granddaughter, Christina Taylor
green, to the shooting in Arizona is devastating.  I can’t help but think of the great things
that she could have and most likely would have accomplished in her
lifetime.  It was a senseless tragedy and
we are clearly the worse for it. 
Somehow, the world is a lesser place today because of her loss.  I am also saddened for the others that lost
their lives, and I wish for a full and speedy recovery by Rep. Gabrielle
Giffords.  The restoration of her life
and career is so important to the balance of life…



-Scott


Time To Step It Up…

 

Whew, a series win!…



 


The Yankees were able to pull out a series win over
the Chicago White Sox, thanks to the great pitching of rookie Ivan Nova.  Nova, who won his first major league game,
went 5 2/3 innings, giving up only one run and give hits.  He walked one and struck out 7 White Sox
batters, and got help from the bullpen as the Yankees defeated the White Sox
2-1 on Sunday.



New York Yankees starter Ivan Nova shuts down the White Sox as the Bombers and Curtis Granderson (below) upend Chicago.

Huh/AP

 

The series started with a loss on Friday night, as
Chicago drubbed the Yanks, 9-4.  It was
another pathetic performance by A.J. Burnett, who is making the remaining years
on his contract look very painful for the Yanks at this point.  It’s a difficult situation because the
Yankees do need him to win in October, so it is imperative for A.J. to put
August behind him and return to pitching like he did late last year.



New York Yankees pitcher A.J. Burnett is 0-9 combined in the months of June and August.

Arbogast/AP

 


In Saturday’s game, CC Sabathia didn’t have his
best stuff but didn’t need it as the Yanks put their bats on display in the
12-9 win.  They had a big lead and had to
hold on late, but it still went in the win column. 

 

The series MVP was clearly Marcus Thames, who
homered three times in the series including two on Saturday and once on
Sunday.  He struck out in his only
appearance on Friday night, but clearly made up for it as he figured heavily
into both Yankee wins.  At a time when
Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Lance Berkman are on the sidelines, you need
for others to step up and Thames certainly answered the call.  



0828thames.JPG

Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/MCT



Other heroes of the past three days include Nova for his great pitching on
Sunday, Mariano Rivera for just being himself in picking up two saves, and 
Eduardo Nunez who had 4 RBI’s on Saturday. 



New York Yankees third baseman Eduardo Nunez gives thanks after hitting a two-run homer against the Chicago White Sox. Mark Teixeira (b.) is not sure whether he'll play Sunday with a bruised thumb.

Smierciak/AP

 


I wasn’t pleased to hear that Major League Baseball
is investigating Ivan Nova and pitcher Wilkin De La Rosa for allegedly
injecting each other B-12 shots at Double AA Trenton last season.  Hopefully, the investigation will prove no
wrongdoing on Nova’s part and the substance was purely B-12, which is not a
banned substance. 

 

It will be interesting to see what changes in the
rotation manager Joe Girardi makes upon the impending return of Andy
Pettitte.  Javier Vazquez and A.J.
Burnett are clearly the more accomplished and experienced starters, however,
they have been unable to match the recent consistency of Dustin Moseley and
Ivan Nova.   I remain hopeful that Vazquez and Burnett will
return to the success they achieved earlier in the season, but for now, it is
good to know that others are there to help the team during times of
trouble. 

 

Mark Teixeira has missed some playing time the past
few days with a bruised hand, but hopefully, he’ll be back when the Yankees
return to the Bronx on Monday night to face the Oakland A’s.  With A-Rod (and Lance Berkman) still
sidelined, the Yankees definitely need Teixeira’s bat in the lineup.  As the calendar prepares to change to
September, it’s time for the team to get on a roll and Tex is obviously a key
ingredient.

 

Congratulations to Albert Pujols for his 400th
home run last night.  He is definitely
moving into the land of Legends, and we’ll look back one day and be very
appreciative that we were able to see him play. 
As much as the media would love to see Albert play in New York, I feel
that it is only right for the St. Louis Cardinals to find a way to ink their
superstar to a long-term deal.  I
remember attending my first major league game as a kid at the old Busch Stadium
and running into former Cardinal great Stan Musial.  Musial means so much to the Cardinals
organization, and of course, Pujols is in the same category.  It would be wrong to see him wear anything
other than a Cardinals uniform.



Hitting .321 with 45 homers and 120 RBI through Wednesday's action, Albert Pujols is once again in the middle of the NL MVP race.

Scott Rovak/US Presswire

 


I can’t believe that I am actually pulling for the
Tampa Bay Rays to win tonight’s game against the Boston Red Sox (which would
keep the Yankees in a first place tie with the Rays).  But then again, there is simply no way to
pull for the Red Sox…

 



–Scott


 

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