Results tagged ‘ A's ’
Sayonara, old friends…
This was a sad week for former Yankees stars as Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon were designated for assignment by their respective teams (Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Indians). Matsui has subsequently been released and Damon’s release is imminent. I doubt that either player will be picked up at this point in the season so it is most likely the sunset of both careers.
For Matsui, I think his original plan was to only play in the United States for three years but I am grateful that he extended his stay. He may not have been the “monster” player that he was in Japan (a/k/a Godzilla), but he knew and understood the power of the timely hit. Time and again, Matsui had a key hit to propel the Yanks to victory. He always seemed to rise to the occasion in the intense Boston-New York wars. In terms of character, he could easily stand in the same room with guys like Derek Jeter.
It hasn’t been fun watching Matsui wear Angels, A’s, and Rays jerseys, but he will always be Yankee.
As for Damon, it is ironic that a player who played such a key role in the Red Sox breaking ‘The Curse of the Bambino’, plus the entire Caveman image, could become a valued Yankee. Unlike Matsui, I won’t view Damon as a “Yankee” given his long tenure and success with other teams, but for his time in New York, he showed nothing but class and dignity. Like Matsui, he was a clutch player who seemed to excel in the bright lights.
Introducing Billy Beane’s latest star pitcher…
With the apparent end of two great careers this week, I saw the opposite on a plane trip from Portland, OR to Oakland on Thursday. The guy I was sitting next to was excited to be flying to Oakland to see his son, Dan Straily, make his major league pitching debut for the A’s on Friday night. He was proud to say that his son led all of baseball in strikeouts, and talked about the hard work his son had accomplished to get to this point. For the game, Straily didn’t figure in the decision, but his performance was a success:
The A’s won the game, 5-4, in 15 innings. I am sure that we’ve not seen the last of Mr. Straily. Here’s hoping this is the start of a long and memorable career for Straily, his father and the rest of their family.
When in doubt, pick up a Pirate…
While the trading deadline was very active compared to recent years, it was another quiet period for the Yankees. As the now fiscally conservative Yankees had been preaching, they did not make any moves for expensive, short-term rentals. They picked up a need (third baseman Casey McGehee) to ensure that backup third baseman Eric Chavez is not over exposed to playing time while starter Alex Rodriguez is on the DL. It’s a shame that Chavez is such an injury risk at this stage of his career, but I agree that it is best to limit his playing time for the good of his long-term health.
I thought the Yanks might try to make a move for a pitcher (someone like Ryan Dempster or Matt Garza) but it was clear that they would not overpay. Time will tell if they made the right decisions, but I still have concerns about the team’s offense in the play-offs when every pitcher they face will be a #1 or #2 starter. But September should see the return of top pitcher Andy Pettitte and a fresh Alex Rodriguez so perhaps those will be the team’s noteworthy “acquisitions” that boost team momentum.
Magic seems to be enjoying his new hobby…
The Los Angeles Dodgers have clearly re-emerged as a force in baseball with the new ownership group as they were the most active team in acquiring upgrades over the past couple of weeks (Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino and Joe Blanton). I guess they’ve gotten over the reign of Frank McCourt and have shown that they are back in the game. The San Francisco Giants are a strong team, but I think the Dodgers’ moves will help propel them past the Giants to the NL West pennant. Good for Dodgers manager Don Mattingly who remains one of my favorite guys in Major League Baseball.
Nothing but crickets…
I was surprised the Boston Red Sox didn’t make any moves. If there was a team that I had expected to make noise at the trading deadline, it was the Sox. I don’t think they should give up quality guys like Jacoby Ellsbury or Jon Lester, but there were moves they could have made to give the team a jolt. I may not be a fan of the Red Sox so I might be biased in making this comment, but I hope that this is a ‘one and done’ season for Boston manager Bobby Valentine.
We’ve moved into August and the Yankees hold a 6 ½ game advantage at the moment, but admittedly, it’s hard to get comfortable when that team in the rear view mirror is the Tampa Bay Rays. The next couple of months should be interesting. Let’s win this thing!…
Playing better while waiting for an old friend…
With news that Andy Pettitte will be starting on Sunday against the Seattle Mariners, it’s good to see the Yankees starting to play with more consistency. It’s no coincidence that the Yankees better play of late comes during a month when Robinson Cano’s bat has started to heat up. He is essential to the team’s success given an inability to consistently depend upon Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez.
CC Sabathia was in prime form against David Price and the Tampa Bay Rays as the Yanks took the final game of the series this week, and 2 of 3 from the Rays after getting swept in the season opening series in St. Petersburg. I realize that David Robertson was not available to pitch on Friday night after his previous workload, but Rafael Soriano’s performance in saving the game does help illustrate the Yankees might be better served by having Soriano close and returning Robertson to his highly successful setup role.
I am not ready to condemn Robertson for the failed save that gave the Rays their only win of the series, but Soriano simply has much more experience closing games. Robertson is great in the 7th and 8th innings, and perhaps he’ll be a future All-Star closer. But for now, I’d rather go with experience at the end of the game and ensure that the 7th and 8th innings are covered. It’s tough because I think very highly of Robertson, but his ability to weave in and out of trouble plays better in the earlier innings than it does the 9th. Soriano is being paid like a closer, and it would be easier to fill his setup role than it is Robertson’s.
When I first heard Friday’s pitching match-up was Seattle’s King Felix against Hiroki Kuroda, I wasn’t sure what to think. Felix Hernandez is among the best pitchers in baseball and Kuroda has been inconsistent since his arrival in the AL. But it turned out to be one of Kuroda’s better performances as the Yankees defeated the Mariners, 6-2. The game did see a home run from former Yankees prospect Jesus Montero. I hope this is not a sign of things to come. It was never fun watching Jay Buhner taunt the Yankees after they traded him to Seattle, and I was glad when Buhner finally retired. But now, with Montero in Seattle, it is Buhner revisited as I am sure he’ll become the latest Yankee killer.
I was relieved to see the Yankees option Eduardo Nunez to minor leagues after his continued errors. I am not sure what he can do to improve his fielding but I’d rather see him work on it in the minors rather than at Yankee Stadium. Nunez’s exit meant the return of Eric Chavez from the DL, which is good for Alex Rodriguez.
I am anxious to see what Andy Pettitte is able to do on Sunday. Based on his late start in the minors, he didn’t appear ready. But then again, with a professional like Pettitte, you can’t really judge his performance in a minor league game. Andy knows when he is ready and he would not have accepted the advancement back to the Bronx if he didn’t feel that he was ready for major league hitters. I was listening to John Smoltz on ESPN Radio today and he said that it would probably take 3-5 starts for Pettitte to get back up to speed. I am sure that Joe Girardi will have David Phelps on call during Pettitte’s starts in case he needs long relief, but I am hopeful that Andy can keep his team in games while he works his way back. At any rate, best of luck to Andy on Sunday!
Billy Beane’s working the bargain bin once again…
What’s Brandon Inge good for? All he does is hit grand slams! Seriously, it is good to see Inge start off his Oakland A’s career in grand fashion. I haven’t followed the Detroit Tigers closely this season but admittedly I was very surprised when Inge received his release from the Tigers. He had been such a mainstay in Detroit over the years, and was always there to fill a need. From afar, he seemed to be the consummate professional. After he was cut by the Tigers, I didn’t expect him to be unemployed for long and of course the A’s signed him shortly thereafter.
When I first heard this morning that Inge had hit a grand slam, I thought they were referring to the one a few days ago. But he had hit his second slam in three days on Friday. If getting hits had been a problem in Detroit this year, Inge doesn’t seem to have the same affliction in the Bay Area.
Hopefully, this is a start of good things for Inge in Oakland….
Role model for not how to act…
I have never been a fan of Josh Beckett. I may be a Yankees fan, but there are players on the Red Sox roster that I respect. Beckett just isn’t one of them. Beckett played a key role in the September swoon that cost the Red Sox a play-off spot last season and he showed no remorse for his actions. So, it should come as no surprise that Beckett was dismissive of the public’s negative perception of his decision to play golf after missing a start due to a lat muscle. Regardless of whether he was physically able to play golf is not the issue, it is the negative perception that it created in the minds of the Red Sox Nation as well as the rest of the country.
I agree with the backlash against Beckett. His comments after getting pummeled by the Cleveland Indians last night came across as very smug. His comment that he only gets 18 days off a year was ridiculous. If baseball isn’t important to him, then he should return his $17 million annual salary to the Red Sox. I just don’t understand why he couldn’t say something like he was physically feeling well enough to play golf and the golf swing had no impact on the muscle soreness that he had been experiencing, and he was sorry for putting himself ahead of the team. I know that’s just not Beckett’s personality, but these types of incidents are creating a wedge between Beckett and the RSN. I’ve heard some say that the next time Beckett racks up 13 strikeouts or throws a shutout, all will be forgiven. Perhaps there’s some truth to it, but I don’t see Beckett ever fully repairing the damage he’s done.
I am surprised that Bobby Valentine is not saying much, but then again, he probably learned his lesson after he made negative remarks about Kevin Youkilis. Or maybe Bobby doesn’t want to completely alienate his pitcher, given how critical he had been of Beckett when he was part of the media.
Beckett deserves much credit for the success the Boston Red Sox have enjoyed in recent years, but he is doing his best to put a sour note on his legacy.
After being sacked on third down, Vikes toss a Hail Mary…
Congratulations to the Minnesota Vikings and the city of Minneapolis, as well as Vikings fans everywhere, for the passage of the $975 stadium deal through the Minnesota House and Senate. This has been an incredible roller coaster ride for years. Just a couple of weeks ago, it looked as though all might be lost. Then , NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell came to Minnesota, and helped to reignite talks. The bill still has to be signed off by the governor, but that’s a foregone conclusion as he’s been in support of a new stadium. I am glad to see that the Vikings will be staying in Minnesota and won’t be a flight risk to Los Angeles.
Joe says it so it must be true!…
So now even manager Joe Girardi is expressing interest in a left-handed bat! Joe’s joined the club of us overly intelligent, know-more-than-Brian Cashman fans! LOL! Just kidding. But it is interesting to see a key Yankee figure express the need for additional help. With free agents Raul Ibanez (wow, I almost typed Mondesi!), Hideki Matsui, and Johnny Damon lurking on the sidelines, GM Brian Cashman recently indicated the Yankees would pursue help via trade.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Obviously, the Yankees need to unload a pitcher. With three starters vying for the #5 spot in the rotation (Freddy Garcia, A.J. Burnett, and Phil Hughes), it’s clear that this is going to end badly for one or two pitchers. All things considered, I think you have to put Phil Hughes in the rotation. The Yankees HAVE to prove that 2010 was not a fluke (or not). Plus, Hiroki Kuroda, at 37, is not destined to be a long-term Yankee. Sure, the Yanks could go hard after Cole Hamels or Matt Cain as a replacement following the 2012 season but I still subscribe to the ‘dance with the one who brung ya’ theory. Well, at least until he proves us wrong. I know, the leash is overly long, but Hughes is still young, and he can still be a force in the rotation. He’d certainly be cheaper than either Hamels or Cain in the foreseeable future.
So, where does that leave Burnett and Garcia? I think Garcia is the best option to plant in the bullpen as the long man and #6 starter in the event of injury in the rotation…at least until Dellin Betances and/or Manny Banuelos are ready later in the year. This means shipping Burnett and lots of money to another team is probably best case scenario. Trading Hughes would be foolish since the return, following his poor 2011 season, would be under market value. Plus, Hughes has more long-term value to the team than Burnett. There’s no way the Yankees re-sign Burnett at the expiration of his contract. He’ll see the same door as Jason Giambi with a slight push from behind.
But, and that’s a big but, what does Burnett bring in trade? He is not going to bring a young slugger, that’s for sure. More than likely, it would only be someone else’s albatross, ala Alfonso Soriano. I still think one of the available free agents is the best option for the left-handed bat, but I am sure whatever move Cashman makes will be the best one for the organization.
Wanted: Someone who’s butt can withstand splinters…
As for the additional infield bench support to accompany Eduardo Nunez, I still would really like to see the return of Eric Chavez even though Bill Hall’s name has been mentioned more frequently as of late.
“Buck, we really need to be the focus of the tabloids”…
I have to admit that I am surprised to see the teams mentioned as possibilities for Manny Ramirez. No, I don’t want Man-Ram calling 161st and River home, but the teams mentioned…Oakland A’s, Baltimore Orioles, and Toronto Blue Jays…seem like odd fits for a guy that has to spend 50 games on the suspended list. With the emphasis on youth in Oakland and Baltimore, I’d question whether having Manny on the team is worth it in terms of the negative impact he can have. Younger players are far more impressionable, and no team, even the Blue Jays, need a distraction. Maybe Manny can still swing it. I acknowledge that he was once the most feared hitter in the AL, but I don’t think he’ll ever be close to the hitter he once was. Age sucks, but it happens to us all…
A funny thing happened to the Phillies on their way to the World Series…
Edwin Jackson to the Washington Nationals on a one-year deal was a good move for the Nats. Outside of the New York Mets, the NL East is a scary division. Yeah, the Philadelphia Phillies have the Big 3 (Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels), but there are too many other question marks to make them the clear favorite. I don’t think the Miami Marlins will win the division but they’ll make noise. The Braves, the Nats. That’s a tough division. Then, there’s the Mets…
With a New York-Boston Super Bowl upon us, it’s weird that I, as a Yankees fan, find myself on the Boston side of the battle. That seems so wrong on so many levels. But it is what it is…go Patriots!
Wanted: Clutch Hitter – Only the experienced need to apply!…
Although there have not been any official explanations for the DH plans this upcoming season, there’s been reports that the Yankees are content with a rotation to include Alex Rodriguez, Andruw Jones and Derek Jeter, with Eduardo Nunez sliding around the infield filling the holes. My concern last season and it gave me a bad feeling heading into the play-offs that the Yankees had missed the clutch bats they enjoyed when Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui were on the roster. Damon’s home run in the 2004 ALCS helped propel the Boston Red Sox to a comeback victory over the Yankees, and propelled the Sox to their first World Championship since the days of Babe Ruth. I’ve heard minor league slugger Jorge Vazquez mentioned as a possibility, but I am with those who believe that he skills do not translate to the major league level.
In my opinion, the Yankees need to do something. I am not looking for a $10 million slugger who would command 90% to 95% of the DH at-bats. I am content with someone who could take the majority of the at-bats, allowing for the A-Rod/Jeter rotation, and would know and accept their role. That’s why I feel that either Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui would make complete sense. I know the Yankees want to limit their payroll at this point and I get that. But if the difference in making the World Series or not was an additional $5 million, would it not be worth it? Yeah, yeah, it’s not my money and $5 million is a lot of money. But when you are spending $210 million, what’s $215 million? Wouldn’t the return on a championship more than replenish the difference? The Yankees have options and I know that’s why they are not in a rush. I’ve even heard Raul Ibanez’ name mentioned and would agree that he would be a viable option. I guess I have greater affection for guys who have proven they can win in pinstripes.
It’s funny but the Philadelphia Phillies look like geniuses for signing Jim Thome early in the off-season. At the time, it looked like a bad fit. Maybe he stays with the Phillies, but they could actually move him for something at this point given the DH desperation that exists for a number of teams besides the Yankees (like the Detroit Tigers, for example). If GM Ruben Amaro could somehow swing Thome for a decent prospect, he’d build upon his legacy as a great general manager.
It will be interesting to see how the coming weeks play out, but the Yankees clearly need a guy who can come through in the clutch. Now more than ever…
If he is older than dirt, what does that make me?…
Congratulations to Jamie Moyer for his minor league contract with an invitation to spring training with the Colorado Rockies. I was really surprised when I heard that Moyer intended to make a comeback following his recovery. At 49, the odds are probably against him, but you have to love his no-quit mentality.
Sometimes good fans are the difference…
Similar congratulations go to reliever Joel Zumaya, who signed with a quality organization (the Minnesota Twins). Ironically, it was at Target Field where Zumaya’s elbow exploded a couple of years ago. I remember when he was hailed as THE flamethrower in the league, and was a huge part of the Detroit Tigers bullpen. It’s anybody’s guess what kind of pitcher he will be going forward, but it would be good to see him recapture success for an organization that deserves better than last year’s 99 losses. With the departure of Joe Nathan and the inconsistency of Matt Capps, there’s certainly going to be opportunity with the closing and set up roles for the Twins.
It was a bit hard to imagine Zumaya throwing from the mound at Target Field this morning as the temperature reading in my car read -10 degrees in downtown Minneapolis. The weathermen were reporting that with the wind chill factor, it felt like -38. In weather like that, it’s hard to imagine that the lights of Target Field will be back on in just a couple of months. While I admit that the 16 degrees I experienced in Winnipeg, Manitoba a few weeks back felt much colder, there’s no question that in temps like this you just want to go from your heated house to your heated car to your heated work. This past summer, I was in Phoenix when it was in the 120’s. All things considered, I’ll gladly take -38 in Minneapolis as opposed to 122 degrees in Phoenix. I don’t care that it’s paradise in Arizona right now…
Back to the Yankees, I’ve wondered if some kind of deal involving the Chicago Cubs would work. The Yankees want to unload A.J. Burnett, and he’d clearly benefit from a change of scenery. He’d also be more effective in the National League at this point. I wouldn’t say that the pressure would be less in Chicago, but I think A.J. could more himself. Conversely, the Cubs have an albatross with Alfonso Soriano. Soriano could still be a fairly productive DH at this point in his career. Not that I want to give two rosters spots to over-paid, under-productive Sorianos but it would be a potential solution. I think I can speak for most Yankees fan when I say that we’ve rode the Burnett train about as far as we care to. Now that Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda have all but pushed Burnett out of the rotation, a win-win trade with the Cubs would certainly make sense.
Yeah, you and what bank?…
If I’m Cole Hamels, I am going for free agency in the fall of 2012. Don’t even talk to me about an extension! If the Texas Rangers will lay out $110 million for an unproven, albeit very highly talented, pitcher, there’s no question what a championship performer like Hamels can command on the open market.
I choose you, no, maybe you…
I am glad that Bartolo Colon was able to find a home with the Oakland A’s, but admittedly, I am glad that he is not returning for an encore performance in the Bronx. I am not quite sure with what happened between Colon and the Arizona Diamondbacks (he apparently agreed with them and then reneged, ala David Wells a few years ago), but I am sure he had his reasons for why Oakland was a better fit. But I guess those reasons didn’t include W’s…
Those pesky Nats!…
As for the ongoing Prince Fielder sweepstakes, I just wish the Washington Nationals would put one of those ridiculous Jayson Werth type contracts in front of him and get him signed. I’d be surprised if the Texas Rangers were financially able to sign both Yu Darvish and Fielder but stranger things have happened. I really don’t want to see Fielder in for Mitch Moreland on the defending AL Champions. I still think the Los Angeles Angels, thanks to Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, are a better team in the AL West, with or without Fielder on the Rangers, but I certainly do not want the potential roadblocks to a Yankees World Series getting stronger.
First base at Yankee Stadium will forever mean Lou Gehrig to me until the day I die, even if I didn’t personally get to see him play. For what I have seen, Don Mattingly is the epitome of greatness. I was a bit skeptical when Tino Martinez took over for Mattingly, but he played the position as well as anyone could have following the footprints of #23. I loved the signing of Mark Teixeira and he was a prime reason for the Yankees success in 2009, but after a couple of disappointing seasons with the usual stone cold starts, something has to give. Defense alone at first base is not enough. Not that I want to go back to the days of Giambi (great bat, not-so-great glove), but Tex needs to dedicate himself to an improved performance in 2012. I know that we’ll have to deal with the usual sluggish start, but he needs to show that he can be more like the 2009 Teixeira than the 2011 version.
Well, I am at this end of this post, but I see that GM Brian Cashman still has much work ahead of him before we start talking about games at Legends Field…
After some thought, I’ve come around…
Now that I’ve had time to digest the Friday night whirlwind that brought pitchers Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda to the Bronx, my initial disappointment was evaporated. Don’t get me wrong, I love the power potential of Jesus Montero, and I know full well that he’ll be as devastating against the Yankees as Jay Buhner was if not more. But I recognize that from a position of need, a top of the rotation starter is better than a player without a position.
Ever since I first heard Jesus Montero’s name, it always included a statement that he’d eventually have to find a new position because he would outgrow catcher. The obvious moves would be to either first base or left field, but last time I checked, both of those positions were occupied by long-term tenants. Putting an offensive juggernaut at DH is great for offense but it does nothing to help with the defensive aspects of catching or learning a new position. With Russell Martin in the fold for the foreseeable future, there was no way that Montero would gain the starting position at catcher. Martin’s ability to handle the pitching staff is simply too important to the team even if his bat is nothing remotely close to Montero.
With Montero, I was always worried about the other young Yankee catchers. Of course, there’s Francisco Cervelli on the active roster. If Montero were to take the backup catching job, where would that leave Cervelli? Most likely playing for the Twins, backing up oft-injured Joe Mauer or someone like that. I like the defensive reports that I’ve heard about both Austin Romine and Gary Sanchez, but if their path was clogged by Martin and Montero, where did that leave them? Sanchez needs more time in the minors, but Romine is nearing major league ready status. With an injury or two, I fully expect him to get his chance to make an impression at Yankee Stadium in 2012. The trade of Montero ensures that Romine will get his major league opportunity with the Yankees so that’s a good thing. He doesn’t have Montero’s bat (who does?) but good defense is essential for championships.
Maybe just tell us who the Yankees haven’t talked to…
As for the DH slot, it seems like the Yankees have expressed interest in about everyone. There have been reports they’ve spoken to the agents for Carlos Pena, Johnny Damon, and Hideki Matsui. There are pros and cons with all three players, but whoever the Yankees bring on board will have to share time at DH with Alex Rodriguez, Andruw Jones, and Derek Jeter so I’d be okay with any of the three. I’ve always liked the clutch bats of Damon and Matsui, and the swing for the fences power of Pena is nice even if the average is hovering slightly above the Mendoza line. With all the reports that the Yankees only have a $1 million or two to spend on a DH, I half expect a report that they’ve talked to Reggie Jackson! Okay, that might be a stretch, but I’d consider letting ‘all or nothing’ slugger Jorge Vazquez. He does deserve a shot. If not, the Yanks should cut him loose and let him pursue a team that will.
If Jorge Posada had embraced the DH role last year, he’d be on his way back to the Bronx for an encore performance…
Upon second thought…
As for the pitching staff, my initial prediction about the rotation order was flawed. I recognize that Micheal Pineda is the clear #2 in the rotation. I’ve seen Ivan Nova slotted at #4, but I’d still keep him at #3 at least until he gives reason to drop him in the order. I think Kuroda is a great addition, but he has to adjust to the American League in the most difficult division, while moving from a pitcher’s ballpark to a park that is less forgiving. So, I’d give Nova time for pinstripes served and put him ahead of Kuroda. After the former Dodger, it’s anybody’s guess who will win out…Phil Hughes, my personal favorite; Freddy Garcia, probably the better choice among the pitchers in terms of consistency; and A.J. Burnett, the candidate for most likely to depart the Bronx if the Yanks can find a willing trade partner that wants Burnett…and a boatload of cash to pay that ridiculous salary. What happens if either Manny Banuelos or Dellin Betances pitches “lights out” in training camp? This is going to be an interesting battle.
He’s really a cousin of Alcides and Kelvim Escobar?…
Back to Friday night’s trade, I was a bit dismayed when I saw that pitcher Hector Noesi had been included in the trade. I kept hearing that his ceiling was the back end of the rotation but there was something that I liked about the pitcher. At first, I didn’t know anything about the “other” Mariner included in the deal, Jose Campos. But since the initial report of the trade, I’ve come to realize that he has great potential. At 19, he’s 6’4” and throws in the mid 90’s. He’ll more than make up for Noesi and fits a better timeline in terms of being major league ready given the high level pitching prospects already in the organization (Banuelos and Betances, for example). The Curtis Granderson trade has been labeled as a ‘win-win-win’ for all concerned. Hopefully, this M’s-Yankees trade will meet a similar fate.
What would I expect Bobby V to say?…
Contrary to what Bobby Valentine may think, the Yankees are a better team today than they were last Thursday. But, I recognize the Boston Red Sox are not done yet. They signed former Dodger pitcher Vicente Padilla today (a guy I loathe personally) and there’s rumors they could go after Roy Oswalt if they can move payroll. I still think Boston could be a player for Cubs starter Matt Garza given Theo Epstein’s knowledge of the Red Sox minor league prospects. Whether Ben Cherington or rather Larry Lucchino would trade with Epstein is another matter. Still, I think there are changes to be made on both the Yankees and Red Sox between now and training camp. Last year, I saw a Red Sox friend predict 118 or 119 wins for Boston. Teams look great on paper, but as they say, the ‘proof is in the pudding’!
Moneyball II, starring Jorge Garcia…
It’s hard to think of the Oakland A’s signing former Yankees starter Bartolo Colon as a low-cost, high reward “Moneyball” kind of move. At 39, I don’t think there’s really any upside to Colon at this point and in my opinion, he’s not capable of sustaining a full season of starts. I’d rather have Gio Gonzalez or Trevor Cahill in the rotation, but I guess since those are no longer options, they have to look at the scrap heap that served the Yankees so well last season.
Yes, I know the way to San Jose!…
Speaking of Oakland, I do hope they are successful in their desire to move to San Jose. As a former San Jose resident, I think it’s very exciting for the city and its metro area to be on the verge of landing both the A’s and the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, to go with the NHL’s Sharks. I saw that A’s owner bought the famed Hotel Sainte Claire in downtown San Jose. He already owns one hotel in San Jose so I guess you can’t read too much into it, but he’s definitely positioning himself for the growth and excitement that San Jose could see in the coming years. I’d be happy with a Stanley Cup Championship this year, but that’s a little off-topic…
I really don’t forsee another 99 losses when you place character first…
I was a little surprised to see the Minnesota Twins sign former Detroit Tigers flamethrower Joel Zumaya. He suffered his devastating arm injury at Target Field in 2010. So, in terms of Karma, you’d think that he’d avoid Target Field like the plague. But I read comments in this morning’s paper about how he was touched by the reception he received from the Twins fans as he left the field that fateful day. Stories like that certainly make me feel honored to be a Minneapolis resident, but I was still surprised by Zumaya’s decision. I wish him the best as he begins the Comeback Trail. Hopefully he can get back to the level he was before. For the Twins, with Joe Nathan in Texas and Matt Capps scheduled to close games, they need Zumaya as the pitcher he once was and hopefully will be again.
When it’s tough being the son of Donnie Baseball, come home to the Bronx!…
Before I go, I want to say that I am really hopeful that the Yankees organization proves to be a blessing for former Dodgers prospect Preston Mattingly. I’ve always heard what a great athlete he is/was when he was younger. I don’t know what happened through his time in the Dodgers and Indians organizations and I realize that he is getting a bit long in tooth for a prospect, but I really hope that he can find some level of success with the Yankees. It would be very cool to see Mattingly make a debut at Yankee Stadium at some point in the future. Who knows if it is in the cards, but being a late bloomer is not outside of the realm of possibility when it comes to someone with his bloodline.
It’s hard to believe that we are just a month away from training camp. I’m excited and looking forward to a great season.
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?…
Baseball’s not a slow game but the off-season is…
It’s Thanksgiving, and the Yankees’ big moves this week were to sign journeyman utility infielder Jayson Nix and last year’s Andy Pettitte stand-in, Freddy Garcia. While I recognize that the Yankees needed to bring Garcia back, I hope that it does not deter them in their search for a legitimate #2 or #3 starter to go behind CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova. I have not seen any updates on how potential talks are going with backup third baseman Eric Chavez, but hopefully, he’ll return to New York for one more season. At this point, I view Nix as spring training fodder that will be discarded by the time the team heads for the Bronx.
In recent weeks, I’ve heard the Yankees linked to potential trades for Jair Jurrjens of the Atlanta Braves and Gio Gonzalez of the Oakland A’s. My preference of the two is Gonzalez because of Jurrjens’ history of knee trouble. Gonzalez, ironically, has been involved in separate trades involving current Yankees players during his career (Nick Swisher, when he was traded from the A’s to the White Sox, and Freddy Garcia, when he was traded from the White Sox to the Phillies).
I am anxious for the Baseball Winter Meetings so that free agent and trade activity will begin to heat up. So far, the early winner of the Hot Stove League has to be the Philadelphia Phillies for no other reason than they’ve been aggressive while other teams have been idle. Jonathan Papelbon was a good choice for closer, especially when you have as much invested in the rotation as the Phillies do. Ryan Madson did a good job last year, but it’s really anybody’s guess if he would have enjoyed the same level of success this year since he simply does not have the history to support it…yet. I am not quite sure how Jim Thome fits in, but as a pinch-hitter off the bench, there’s certainly worse bats you could have.
The Texas Rangers also did a good job in picking up former Minnesota Twins closer Joe Nathan, even if it does come with significant risk. As long as they have a solid Plan B in place, Nathan could be a very pleasant surprise if he shows that he can still pitch at a very high level.
Who will be the Astros’ DH?…
It will probably be strange for the Houston Astros next season as they make their farewell from the National League. Andy Pettitte is probably wishing that this had happened during his playing days so that he could have been ensured of playing at home every season. I think Brad Mills is a good manager but it will be interesting to see if he is retained by new owner Jim Crane when the Astros enter the AL West in 2013. He certainly deserves the opportunity, but you have to wonder if he’ll be given sufficient time to succeed.
Happy north of the border or wishing that Yawkey Way was a daily routine…
It’s no secret that the Boston Red Sox would love John Farrell as their manager, but the Toronto Blue Jays were obviously unwilling to allow that to happen. Nevertheless, I wonder how Farrell feels. Is he happy and delighted to be in Toronto, or does he have an unfulfilled desire for the Sox? Speaking of the Sox, I just don’t see how Bobby Valentine and the city of Boston are a good fit. I don’t dispute that he’s a good manager, but eventually he wears out his welcome and the pressure of Boston is greater than Arlington, Texas or even Flushing Meadows, New York. I don’t really know anything about Torey Lovullo’s managing background and Gene Lamont seems like an uninspired choice so I can’t say who I think would be a great fit for the job. Admittedly, I am a fan of former manager Terry Francona, so it does seem that whoever takes his place is going to an inferior choice. If it were my decision, I’d probably go with someone who has strong ties to the organization already, like bench coach DeMarlo Hale. But Boston’s late season collapse effectively removed any September participants from consideration and perhaps wrongfully so. It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the course of the next few weeks.
My first year in Minnesota coincides with the Vikings’ worst year in their 50 year history…
With the Minnesota Vikings standing at 2-8 heading into this weekend’s play, the baseball off-season has already seemed so incredibly long and it hasn’t even really started yet…
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!
The weather is Minnesota was beautiful…
Last Sunday, I attend a simply great baseball game. Well, outside of a few harmless errors and miscues. As a resident of Minneapolis, Minnesota, I went to Target Field and saw the Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins, 3-0. It was a great afternoon for baseball (temperature in the upper 70’s, with lots of sun).
The game was a pitcher’s duel in the early going. I was surprised when the Twins pulled starter Nick Blackburn in the second inning despite not giving up any runs, but later heard that he had been injured. The Twins bullpen did a good job until the 7th inning when Curtis Granderson hit an inside-the-park home run. I was watching him run between second and third, and his stride is so long that he almost looks like he is going slow motion. There wasn’t much hesitation as he rounded third and headed home. I always cringe when players go in for headfirst slides but Curtis slide his hand across home plate before the ball arrived and the Yanks were up 2-0. In retrospect, the Twins outfielders blew the play when both the right and center fielders went to the wall on Granderson’s hit ball which bounced off the wall. One of the outfielders should have backed up the other, but that’s the hazard of fielding a young, inexperienced outfield.
Mark Teixeira followed with one of those line drive shots that never drop as the ball was deposited in the left field stands.
The Twins definitely had their chances. At one point, they had men on second and third with no outs and couldn’t score. David Robertson worked out of a jam in the 8th when the bases were loaded despite no balls leaving the infield. There were miscues, like when a ball dropped between Nick Swisher and Curtis Granderson (you get it, no, you get it…) or A-Rod’s bobble of what should have been a routine fielding play. Fortunately, the Twins couldn’t do anything with the opportunities, so the Yankees emerged the victor. I had a decent seat (lower level, left field) but for the 9th inning, I moved over to the standing area behind the home plate lower level seats. I had a perfect line to watch Mariano Rivera throw his cutter to catcher Russell Martin, and it was great to catch that view. It was also nice to see Mariano walk off the field with another save…
I am always amazed at how many Yankees fans are in attendance on road games. Not that I’d feel threatened in Minnesota, but it’s nice having “support” nearby!
So close yet so far away…
Monday night’s game was a disappointment. After the Yanks fell behind 6-0, I wrote the game off. But then, in the final two innings, the Yanks brought it to within one at 6-5, with the bases loaded. I started to get excited about the potential huge comeback, but Nick Swisher hit a fly ball that was caught near the fence to end the game. That was harder to accept than if the Yanks had just lost 6-0. Then, of course, every time I looked at the TV, the loss was scrolling across the ticker on ESPN. While A.J. Burnett is my personal favorite to be yanked (no pun intended) from the rotation, I realize that there are financial reasons for why that move won’t be made. Therefore, the next to go would be Bartolo Colon. I’d definitely take Freddy Garcia over Colon, and there is no way that Phil Hughes or Ivan Nova will be coming out of the rotation anytime soon.
Of course, as I sit here typing this blog, Nick Swisher has just hit a home run to put the Yanks up 2-1 over the Oakland A’s in the 6th inning. Dude, where was that shot last night?…
Wasn’t he a Yankee for about 5 minutes a few years ago…
I saw the blurb today that the Yankees had claimed Chicago Cubs first baseman Carlos Pena on waivers. Listening to comments from GM Brian Cashman, it doesn’t sound like the Yanks will do anything, but it would be nice to acquire Pena as an option at DH and a backup to Mark Teixeira. He is definitely familiar with the AL East having played with the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays. I don’t like Pena’s batting average, but his other stats are respectable. The Yanks clearly need a clutch bat on the bench and perhaps Pena could be the guy if the Yanks and Cubs can work out a trade.
Fat, dumb, and happy…
Entering play tonight, the Yankees held an 8 ½ game lead over the Los Angeles Angels and Tampa Bay Rays. While that’s certainly not insurmountable, it’s nice to have such a large cushion as we enter the final days of August. Granted, I’d prefer to win the AL East, but then again, with the current play-off structure, it doesn’t really matter. If the Yanks can keep the lead in the WC standings, they should be able to rest some guys in September to allow the team to head into October at full strength. At this point, my biggest concern is getting a healthy Alex Rodriguez on the field.
Have a good night!
I have been a Yankees fan for exactly 36 years!
How do I know? I
became a Yankees fan the day that free agent pitcher Jim “Catfish” Hunter,
formerly of the Oakland A’s, signed with the New York Yankees. The date was December 31, 1974. Prior to the signing, like many other people,
I had been a fan of the Athletics.
I was fairly young so my deep interest in baseball didn’t
really materialize until after I had become a Yankees fan. Each year, from the 1975 season until about 1982,
I kept a scrapbook on the season. I’d
record box scores and transactions, and would collect news clippings and
I think it was during the 1981 season that I showed my
scrapbook to then Yankee Oscar Gamble and he autographed it for me. I still carry these scrapbooks around with me
although they’ve been packed in storage for years. One of those days, I will pull them and
re-live those great seasons of Catfish, Thurman Munson, Ron Guidry, Sparky
Lyle, Rich Gossage, Graig Nettles, Willie Randolph, Chris Chambliss, Bucky
Dent, Reggie Jackson, Billy Martin, and others.
Becoming a Yankees
fan was easy. One of the very first
books I recall reading as a child was a biography about Lou Gehrig. I was probably only 7 or 8 at the time and I
was so in awe of Gehrig and the history of the Yankees. I am not sure why I didn’t become a Yankees
fan then, but at that point, Fran Tarkenton and the Minnesota Vikings were my
main spectator sports passion. Baseball
did not really capture my attention until the personalities of the championship
Oakland teams of the early 70’s hit the scene.
It is hard to believe that it’s been over 10 years since
Catfish passed away. He was a great
Yankee and one of the best pitchers of his era.
I will forever be grateful to him for bringing me with him to the
Sports Illustrated/Getty Images
As for the current Yankees, not much has been happening
but that’s to be expected this time of year.
Once we get past the holidays, I am sure that we will see movement on
the Andy Pettitte front (will he retire as currently expected by many?). While no frontline starting pitcher looms on
the horizon, the Yankees can help minimize the deficiencies of the starting
staff by building a superior bullpen. I
remain hopeful the team finds a way to bring reliever Rafael Soriano on board
to set up Mariano Rivera. That would
allow David Robertson and Joba Chamberlain to focus on the seventh inning and
prior to really shorten up the games for the starters.
I really cringed when I heard that Bartolo Colon was
saying that several teams were interested in him, including the Yankees. That is definitely one signing that I do NOT
want to see!
Patience, patience, patience…I know, that’s what Brian
Cashman keeps saying. So, we’ll see what
the new year brings us!
Happy New Year to everyone! May 2011 be your best year yet! J
Ah, there was a time when those words were such sweet
music to the ears!…
Granted, it was probably more like “Martin’s Back!” but
still, the name Martin and the city of New York is a great match. The latest Martin to set foot on Broadway is
former Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Russell Martin. In theory, he has been groomed for this
opportunity by the best…former Dodgers manager Joe Torre and former Dodgers hitting
instructor (now Dodgers manager) Don Mattingly.
While he still has to pass a physical, Martin has apparently signed a
one-year contract with the Yanks.
Larry Goren/Icon SMI
Martin was one of the top catchers in the NL several
years ago but has regressed. He suffered
a torn labrum in his right hip last August and missed the remainder of the
season. I will be anxious to see what
Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long can do with Martin. More than likely, Martin will be part of a
catching platoon with Jesus Montero, assuming the latter proves that he is
major league ready in spring training.
NY Daily News
Martin will probably be the only guy on the roster with a
name this long: Russell Nathan Jeanson
Coltrane Martin, Jr. Martin, born in East York, Ontario, will be 28
by the time the spring training games begin in February.
I like the move for Martin so long as it is not designed
to replace Montero so he can be used as a trading chip.
It was disappointing to see Cliff Lee decide to return to
Philadelphia on a 5-year deal for less money than he was offered by the
Yankees. I can’t blame Lee for choosing
a place that he is comfortable with, but I wish that he would have given New
York a chance. I grew rather pessimistic
about the Yankees chances last week when the Lee camp did not jump on the
Yankees 7 year offer. Like many, I
thought that he was headed back to the Texas Rangers so it was a bit of a shock
to hear that the mystery team was the Phillies.
All things considered, if Lee wasn’t going to go to New
York, I am glad to see him depart for the National League. I am not excited about a rotation that
features Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels and now Cliff Lee, but that’s
only a concern if you make it to the World Series as an American League team
(nice problem to have). The Rangers fans
are glad they didn’t lose out to the Yankees, but conversely, I am glad that
the Rangers and Nolan Ryan didn’t get one over on the Yanks. Also, I am glad that Lee didn’t go to the
Angels or the Red Sox.
As it stands, the Red Sox have enjoyed a hugely
successful off-season compared to the Yanks, but I would not underestimate
Brian Cashman and the Steinbrenner family.
As for immediate focus, I think the Yanks need to make sure that they
have the arms in the bullpen and I’d really like to see the return of Kerry
Wood. Of the remaining free agents,
there aren’t many that excite me. Manny
Ramirez is still out there but he’s a liability in the field and the Yankees
have the DH role locked up with Jorge Posada.
Manny’s bat is also not what it used to be and the Yankees don’t need
more ‘late thirtysomethings’ on the roster.
I’d have to say that I am mixed on whether the Yankees
should pursue a trade with the Kansas City Royals for starter Zack
Greinke. However, there will be
competition which of course drives up the trade demands so I am not sure that
avenue is the best given the uncertainty over whether Greinke could handle New
York (assuming he was willing to waive his no-trade clause to the Yankees). I’d probably prefer signing Brandon Webb or
pursuing Mark Buehrle in a trade. The
Yankees do have to do something about their starting rotation regardless of
whether Andy Pettitte returns or not.
Right now the #4 and #5 starters appear to be Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre
based on the current roster which is not very appealing. I am willing to give Nova a shot but if the
Yankees break camp with Mitre as their 5th starter, it’s going to be
a long season.
Why is it that Red Sox fans think the rivalry between the
Yankees and Red Sox is over on December 14th just because they didn’t
sign Cliff Lee? As Brian Cashman
indicated on a conference call earlier today, patience is the key. Somehow, I suspect the team that breaks camp
next spring will be able to compete with the newly enhanced Red Sox…
Congratulations to Hideki Matsui who signed a one year
deal with the Oakland Athletics. As a
resident of the Bay Area, I am sure that Godzilla will be well received and he’ll
be a great stabilizing factor in the A’s lineup.