Results tagged ‘ Austin Jackson ’

The Carlos has landed…

 

Welcome to the Bronx!…

With one swing of the bat, Carlos Beltran has arrived as a Yankee.  On Friday night, with the Yankees down by one run and two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning, Beltran crushed his most important hit to date into the left center stands with two on to give the Yankees a 5-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles.

 

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi

Mark Bonifacio/New York Daily News

 

For many new Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka excluded, it takes a while to get acclimated to pinstripes.  I remember that it took Jason Giambi a season or so to really feel comfortable.  Brian McCann started his Bronx career a little on the slow side, and in many Fantasy Baseball rankings, his replacement in Atlanta and former backup, Evan Gattis was rated higher among catchers.  He delivered a key hit this past week to win a game and perhaps that was his “moment”.  He is starting to hit so there’s no reason not to believe that he’ll be an offensive force for the remainder of the season.  But Beltran came with high expectations even at his age.  Not to say that McCann didn’t, but perhaps the bar is a little higher for Beltran given his history in the City with the Mets.

 

Carlos B

 Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports

 

Ironically, Beltran may never have gotten his “moment” if not for a clutch RBI single by McCann in the prior at-bat.  The game had many heroes.  A diving stop by Jacoby Ellsbury that could have easily bounced past him to allow more Oriole runners to score in the late innings, David Huff limiting the O’s to one run in the top of the 9th after an error by Yangervis Solarte, and the very strong performance by Hiroki Kuroda.  Conversely, Solarte could have been the goat with the error, in combination with his inning ending at-bat with two on in the bottom of the 8th.  Nevertheless, at the end of the day, the Gatorade was dunked on Beltran and all was good in the Bronx.

If second basemen were as plentiful as catchers…

I like Francisco Cervelli as backup catcher given his versatility.  But it was still sad to see John Ryan Murphy sent down to AAA.  I know, he’ll get the chance to start every day, but I thought he did a great job backing up McCann.  I know that when the Yankees make a deadline move in July, it will almost certainly include one of the young catchers (Murphy or top prospect Gary Sanchez).   If the Yankees somehow swing a deal for David Price (unlikely in my opinion), Sanchez would have to be one of the pieces headed to Tampa.  But in other deals, it’s more likely that Murphy will go unless the Yankees move Cervelli.  Austin Romine seems to have become an afterthought.

Have bat, will travel…

I am glad to see that prospect Peter O’Brien is thriving.  Another catcher, he has been performing well at first base and is perhaps an option to replace Mark Teixeira at some future point if he doesn’t get moved in July.  Conversely, it is sad to see that talented prospect but oft-injured Slade Heathcott is dealing with, surprise, injuries…

 

Peter O'Brien hit a walk-off home run to score two runs and give Tampa the 6-5 win.

Mark LoMoglio/Yankees, via MLB.com

 

Sabathia, Nova and Pineda who?…

Hats off to the young Yankee pitchers.  Entering the season, the bullpen was perceived as a weakness but young arms Dellin Betances and Adam Warren have become go-to guys, and represent superior upgrades to guys like Joba Chamberlain and other former relievers.  But the biggest surprise is how well the replacement pitchers, Chase Whitley and David Phelps in particular, have performed.  Vidal Nuno has done a decent job but he is the top candidate to go to the pen or to AAA when CC Sabathia returns after the All-Star break.  It’s almost a given that the Yankees will pursue another starting pitcher in July but the reason the Yankees are buyers and not sellers is directly attributable to the support that Whitley and Phelps have provided for ace Masahiro Tanaka and Hiroki Kuroda.

The bearded brigade…

I am glad to see that Phil Hughes has found a home in Minneapolis but I am among those who believe his strong performance would not have happened in the Bronx.  I wish that he could have worked out for him, but he did need the change of scenery.  It wasn’t that long ago that Hughes, Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain were cited as the next great Yankee pitching hopefuls, and now they play in Minnesota, San Diego and Detroit, respectively.  The only one that the Yankees received a return for was Kennedy and in retrospect it was not for market value.  Kennedy went to the Arizona Diamondbacks and Phil Coke and Austin Jackson to the Detroit Tigers when the Yankees acquired Curtis Granderson.  Given that Granderson left as a free agent, the Yankees essentially have nothing left to show for the losses of the three former top prospects.

What’s with the former Yankees who feel the need to grow a beard when they leave New York?…

 

ESPN.com

 

I know the Yankees have history and tradition with their no facial hair policy, but I feel that it is something that the new Steinbrenner regime should consider relaxing.  Some guys just need a beard.  Sorry McCann…

No reminder needed, thank you…

I have to admit that I had almost forgotten about Alex Rodriguez (it was nice) until I heard his name yesterday after it was announced that he had dropped his lawsuit against the team’s doctor.  I don’t know what A-Rod has left in his bat but honestly I do not care.  I am not looking forward to his return next year and remain hopeful that the Yankees will find a way to sever ties.  But I know that’s wishful thinking on my part.  For now, I just have to enjoy that the team is doing fine without A-Rod and know that he is not missed.

 

alex rodriguez

–Scott

 

Baseball and bad decisions…

 

A swing and a miss, another miss, yet another miss…

This morning, I saw a post on the MLB Trade Rumors website (http://www.MLBTradeRumors.com) that asked the poll question of which MLB team had the best draft in 2002?  Of all the examples shown, no Yankees were anywhere to be found.  For a draft that started with Bryan Bullington and B.J. Upton, there was some great talent uncovered in the 2002 draft.  Jon Lester, Zack Greinke, Matt Cain, Prince Fielder, Cole Hamels, Joey Votto and a guy who would eventually find his way to the Bronx, Brian McCann, were among the great choices by their respective teams.  But sadly, not a single Yankee selection stuck that year.

Number 26 selection Phil Coke is a major leaguer but with the Detroit Tigers.  He had his moments in the Bronx but was never anything special and was sent to the Tigers as part of the Curtis Granderson-Austin Jackson trade.

But removing Coke, there are 50 rounds of names that Yankee Stadium never heard from.  I really do not recognize any of the names outside of the first round selection and that’s only because he was later the starting quarterback of the Cleveland Browns (Brandon Weeden).

I know that there are many sad tales among the 2002 draft picks, like 2nd round pick Alan Bomer, a pitcher, who reinjured his shoulder after a previous injury several years earlier, bringing an end to his major league hopes.

But it’s also a testament to the drafting ability of major league teams and 2002 was clearly not a good vintage for the Yankees.  I know the team’s re-focus on the minor league system didn’t occur until a few years later but hopefully barren draft years like 2002 are a thing of the past.  But looking ahead a few years, it’s not too pretty.

2003 really wasn’t much better with top pick third baseman Eric Duncan long gone from baseball.  The only name that stands out to me from that draft is Washington Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard.

2004 was the year the Yankees selected pitcher Phil Hughes and can only wonder what could have been.  Time will tell if he can fulfill his promise in the Twin Cities or if he was simply one of the most overhyped young players of our time.

For the Yankees, solid draft picks do not appear until 2005 which Brett Gardner and Austin Jackson were chosen.  Interestingly enough, the Yankees also chose pitcher Doug Fister that year but he opted to return to college for his final year, and was taken by the Seattle Mariners the next year.  Granted, Fister is currently on the Nationals’ DL, but he’d certainly look good in the Yankees rotation about now.

In 2006, the Yankees made some good choices, but it’s rather humorous that the first round pick went to Joba Chamberlain, a journeyman reliever for the Detroit Tigers, while current Yankees closer, David Robertson was selected in the 17th round.  Ian Kennedy and Zach McAllister were both chosen after Chamberlain, and they are solid starting pitchers for the San Diego Padres and Cleveland Indians, respectively.  Dellin Betances was also taken that year and after years of hype, he’s finally contributing as a force in the Yankees bullpen.  Mark Melancon, currently the closer for the Pittsburgh Pirates due to Jason Grilli’s injury, was also a draft selection.

Of the decisions the Yankees made regarding trades, the one I didn’t like was dumping McAllister.  He went to Cleveland in 2010 for Austin Kearns who only stayed in the Bronx for the remainder of the season.  That trade felt like the foolish ones that we had grown accustomed to in the 1970’s and 80’s.  McAllister is having a very solid year for the Indians and is another guy who would have looked great in the Yankees rotation.

I will never find fault with the decision to trade Ian Kennedy even though he almost won the Cy Young after leaving the Yankees.  I just never found him to be a good fit in New York.

2007 was another disappointing draft year as the Yankees really only have catcher Austin Romine, currently at AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre, to show for it.  Top pick Andrew Brackman was coming off a major injury at the time of the selection and was never able to find his way back.

As I advance to 2008, it’s disappointing to see how poor, outside of 2006, the draft has been for the Yankees.  Atop the list in ’08 is a pitcher the Yankees were unable to sign and who is now entrenched in the starting rotation for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Gerrit Cole.  Talk about another guy who would have been a brilliant option for the Yankees rotation.  What could have been…

This really shows how incredibly difficult it is to determine those who will be able to achieve results and success at the Major League level.  It also shows how many people fail to find their way for whatever reasons.

It’s a small wonder that the Yankees have had to spend so much in the free agent market to ensure the team remains competitive.  In a statement of the obvious, the Yankees would be smart to improve the quality of their scouting and development to ensure that the older players are replaced by younger, cheaper talent with high ceilings.

The Tampa Bay Rays and Kansas City Royals are solid teams because of their drafting ability.  For the Yankees, they are successful despite it.  I get why owner Hal Steinbrenner believes in the power of the farm system.  This is not rocket science.  Sustainability will only be maintained through youth and controlling costs.

Stupid is as stupid does…

The fans of the Boston Red Sox took great delight when Michael Pineda was tossed from a Yankees-Red Sox game last week due to the blatant smear of pine tar on his neck.  After the fiasco caused during his previous start against the Red Sox in Yankee Stadium (“brown dirt”), he had to have known he would be under the magnifying glass.  Yet, he risked detection by continuing the use of pine tar and ended up applying a more generous amount than he had intended to.  So, Boston manager John Farrell had absolutely no choice but to call out Pineda.  This is one instance where I felt the Red Sox were 100% correct in a controversial decision involving the Yankees.  Pineda’s 10-game suspension hurts the Yankees, at a time when they’ve already lost starter Ivan Nova for the season due to an elbow injury that requires Tommy John surgery.

For a rotation that looked so strong and full of promise for a few starts, the Yankees now have to replace both Nova and Pineda, plus the top of the rotation has been questionable at times with CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda.  The only source of consistency has been Masahiro Tanaka, who faces an incredibly difficult challenge today against the Los Angeles Angels and the likes of Albert Pujols and Mike Trout. 

Baseball is a team-first sport and Pineda made a “me-first” decision.  I hope that he learns a valuable lesson during his suspension and comes back with choices that are for the good of the team.

For the record, I do believe that Major League Baseball should allow pine tar to some degree for gripping purposes only in colder temps.  But until the rules are changed, it’s a violation and should be handled accordingly.  Baseball has been tolerant of discreet behavior regarding its use, but to blatantly violate the policy warrants the appropriate punishment until such a time the rules are changed.

 

–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

A Nice Start!…


It was great to see Mark
Teixeira
homer in the Yankees’ Opening Day win against the Detroit Tigers.  Hopefully, it is a sign that we won’t see the
April freeze this year with Tex.  He has
worked hard to try and overcome his history of slow starts.


Mark Teixeira watches his three-run homer on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium as the slugging first baseman tries to shake his usual slow start.

Sipkin/NY Daily News  

So far, I really like what I
have seen of catcher Russell Martin.  He
seems to have captured the respect of the pitching staff in a very short period
of time.  For as much as I feel pitching
coach Larry Rothschild will have a positive impact on A.J. Burnett, I cannot
underestimate what Martin will do for him also. 
I don’t know why the relationship between Burnett and Posada was never
an easy one, but it would be a terrific boon for the team should Burnett and
Martin click together.

Speaking of A.J., he goes
today against the Tigers so we’ll soon see…

What a great game for Curtis
Granderson
on Thursday!  He homered and
came up with a few defensive gems that made the highlight reels.  Last year, I had started to regret the trade
that sent Austin Jackson and Phil Coke to Detroit for Granderson, with Ian
Kennedy
going to Arizona.  But late in
the season, with a few adjustments, Curtis started to show us the player he
could be.  Some players take time to
adjust to New York, while others can slide right in (like Nick Swisher).  Granderson is probably more in the former
category, especially given the high expectations of the multi-player
trade. 

So, Cliff Lee pitches
tonight in Philadelphia against Wandy Rodriguez and the Houston Astros.  If he had joined the Yankees, he’d be
starting today against the Tigers.  It’ll
be hard not to wonder ‘what could have been’ this year when Lee starts.  That feeling will probably be present until
the Yankees can make a move to acquire another top flight pitcher.  I do know that I’ll be cheering for the
Astros tonight…

Although I am pulling for
Don Mattingly and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League, it was
horrible to hear about the Dodger fans that beat up the Giants fan in the
parking lot of Dodger Stadium after the season opener.  Obviously, the violence is not condoned by
the Dodgers, and Mattingly said it was crossing the line.  I know that I am always cautious about
wearing a Yankees hat in certain cities. 
For example, if I went to Fenway Park, I would not take any Yankees gear.  But that is a sad statement that you cannot openly
support your team without concern for your health and safety. 


–Scott


Yet Another No-Name Pitcher…


I guess that A-Rod should have held one of those
homers in reserve for Sunday…



Good Bad Ugly.JPG

 


The Yankees couldn’t muster any offense against
Bryan Bullington and the Kansas City Royals as the former number
one Pittsburgh Pirates draft pick but still a no-name 29-year-old journeyman  earned his first major league victory in beating the Yankees
1-0.  



Bridget Wentworth/The Star Ledger



On the other side was loser A.J.
Burnett, who was magnificent if you throw out the first inning. 



Yanks blanked by Bullington, Royals, 1-0

John Rieger/US Presswire

 


On Saturday night, Alex Rodriguez homered three
times (the first time he has accomplished the feat since 2005).  However, the last homer merely padded the
score as the Yankees coasted to the 8-3 win. 
It’s too bad that he couldn’t have waited until Sunday to homer.  Any offense at all would have probably won
the game.  But like Derek Jeter said, the
way Bullington was pitching, there was no way they were going to beat him. 

 

The Yankees have been very pedestrian thus far in
August.  They are 6-8, and have been
underperforming in every series.  They
have the occasional outbursts like Saturday night, but they have not been able
to sustain any success.  If the Tampa Bay
Rays didn’t encounter their own struggles, they most likely would be in first
place today.  As it is, they are just one
game behind the Yankees after another solid performance by Jeremy Hellickson, a
native Iowan like myself.  If the Yankees
don’t kick it into gear soon, they’ll be left to fight for Wild Card
scraps.  The team is certainly capable of
getting on a roll and reeling off 10 straight victories, so the sooner the
better.

 

I was afraid that today was going to feature a
sluggish Yankee performance.  I was
reading the LoHud Yankees blog before the game, and they posted a report that
it was a lazy Sunday morning in the clubhouse with absolutely nothing going on.  To me, that translated to a lack of energy
and the team was just ready to board the plane to return home.  Unfortunately, it showed up in how they
played today against the Royals.  Nothing
against Bullington, he pitched a great game, but then again, he had a receptive
audience… 
L



 


Now, the Yankees head home to face former teammates
Johnny Damon and Austin Jackson, and the Detroit Tigers.  If they play like they played in Kansas City,
the results won’t be favorable.



Johnny Damon Detroit Tigers

AP

 

I am not a fan of the Boston Red Sox (obviously),
however, I am glad to see that Dustin Pedroia will return to second base for
the Sox on Tuesday night.  He will also
be celebrating his 27th birthday, so birthday wishes are in order
for the Sox warrior.  I certainly do not
want to see the Sox get on a roll, but it will be good to see Pedey back at
second for “those” guys.



David Ortiz (left) and Dustin Pedroia (right) celebrated Pedroia's first inning homer.

Jim Davis/Boston Globe

 


Somewhere my friend Julia is on vacation and loving
every minute of today’s Yankees loss…





 Enjoy Pedey’s birthday, Julia…


–Scott


Let’s Get Ready To Rumble!…

Less than a week until the Yankees travel to 4 Yawkey Way…

 

 


Fenway Park.JPG 

 

 

My nemesis last year was Julia of Julia’s Rants.  The season started so great for her as the Boston Red Sox took the first eight games of the season series against the Yankees.  For a time, it seemed as though the Yankees would never get a win.  But then along came August, and the tide turned.  Led by hip-rejuvenated Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees captured all but one of the remaining games in the series enroute to their 27th World Championship. 

 

 

AP 

 

There was hope that Julia and I could face one another in the ALCS but John Lackey and the Los Angeles Angels had other ideas.  Of course, after the season, Theo and the Red Sox decided that if you can’t beat him, sign him as they inked Lackey to a five-year deal to be their number 2 starter.  I know that Josh Beckett is the ace of the staff, but if I were building a franchise, I’d pass on Beckett and Lackey and go with Jon Lester. 

 

 

Barry Chin/Boston Globe

 

 

Still it was gratifying to beat Julia and to enjoy the success of a championship season (my seventh as a Yankees fan).  Conversely, I am 0-for-lifetime as a fan of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings.  If only Brett Favre had just tucked the ball and ran…

 

 

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

 

Here we are ready for a new season, and the battle between Julia and I gets off to a very early start.  I was listening to an interview with Boston beat writer Ian Browne and someone asked him if it was too early for Yankees-Red Sox.  His response was that it could be January 19th and a foot of snow on the ground and it wouldn’t be too early.  Precisely!  Granted, it’s your final record that determines whether you’ll see October, but the Yankees measure themselves against the Red Sox.  There is much more satisfaction in beating Boston than there is in beating, say, Kansas City.  The wins are measured the same, but still a win against the Royals just doesn’t have the same meaning.  I don’t want to offend my friends in Tampa because I know the Rays have the talent to win it all so this is not about disrespect.  However, the rivalry between the Rays and Yankees just isn’t as deep and heated as it is against the Red Sox.  There was a day that I despised the Baltimore Orioles like no other, so I am sure that the tide will eventually turn.  However, right now, as it has been for most of the past decade, baseball doesn’t get any better than Yankees-Red Sox.  As a Bay Area resident, I’ve been to Giants-Dodgers games, but they just don’t compare.

 

 

 

 

 

For our first wager, Julia and I have agreed to a book report assignment.  The winner gets to send a book of his/her choice (I know, the winner pays…go figure).  If the Yankees win, Julia gets to read and write a book report on the following book:

 

 

Dawn of a Dynasty: The Incredible and Improbable Story of the 1947 New York Yankees

 

Don’t click…this was just a cut and paste from Amazon.com!  The real thing will be making the trip to the Boston metro area to see my friend Julia!  I chose this book because it had special meaning to me.  1947 was the year that my late father graduated from high school, and it was the dawn of the great Yankees dynasty of the early 50′s.  If I could go back in time, 1927 would be my first choice so that I could watch the greatest Yankees team of all-time.  But for a second choice, given all of the great Yankees clubs in the past, 1947 would be next.  The team didn’t realize that it was on the verge of the greatest success in baseball history and it would have been fun to see the excitement and enthusiasm of those early years. 

 

Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio - 1947 AL

AP

 

Yeah Joe, you can smile a little larger!  You’ll be getting over on that dude next to you!  :)

 

If I lose (c’mon, Carsten Charles Sabathia, don’t let me down!), I will have to read one of Julia’s favorites:

 

 

 

 

I like Julia’s essays, so I am pulling for my favorite MLB Blogger!  Go Julia!  Lose to the Yankees and write that book report!  As Rob Schneider would say, ‘C’mon, you CAN do it!’.  ;)

 

 

 

Courtesy:  Julia’s Rants

 

 

Congratulations to Ian Kennedy for being named to the starting rotation for the Arizona Diamondbacks.  I was very frustrated at times with Kennedy and his attitude when he was with the Yankees, but I do hope that he finds success.  It wasn’t that long ago when his name was mentioned in the same breath as Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes.  Also, hats off to the Detroit Tigers newly named starting center fielder Austin Jackson.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy seeing Curtis Granderson in center field for the Yankees.  But I will also wonder ‘what could have been’ with Ajax.  He made me a believer with the way he tattooed a home run a couple of years ago in spring training.  Granted, he is not a home run hitter, but he has that “it” quality people talk about. Having Johnny Damon as your personal mentor is not a bad thing so long as Damon doesn’t wear that freakin’ 2004 ring!  ;)

 

 

Andrew Mills/The Star Ledger/US Presswire

 

 

I was also glad to see Chad Gaudin land with the local Oakland A’s.  It is his second go-around with the A’s, and I think he’ll thrive in their bullpen.  I am only a BART trip away from the A’s Stadium, so I am sure that I’ll be there a time or two to see how he progresses in his return.

 

Getty Images

 

Is this really the last season of 24?  Wow, those were eight fast years!  On the bright side, you know that they can’t kill off Jack Bauer.  Not with the proposed movie deals in the works…

 

 


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How could Jesse James cheat on Sandra Bullock?  I don’t get it.  She is perhaps one of the most beautiful and inspirational actresses of my lifetime.

 

 


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I know, I’m getting way off topic. Sorry.  I’ll close with saying that I am pulling for Crystal Bowersox on American Idol!  Go Crystal!  Keep up what you are doing.  You are special!

 

 


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Ex-Yankee Paranoia…

  

Unfortunately, Johnny Damon hasn’t forgotten how to beat the Yankees…

 

 

Tigers' Johnny Damon drives in a run with a second-inning single off New York Yankees pitcher Chad Gaudin on Saturday, March 13.  The Tigers won, 6-2.

Gene J. Puskar/AP

 

In Damon’s first appearance against his ex-mates, he hit an RBI single and a solo home run to power the Tigers to victory, 6-2, in Lakeland, Florida.  Hopefully, this doesn’t become a regular occurrence in Yankees-Tigers matchups.  Two of the hopefuls for the fifth spot in the starting rotation were the victims of Damon’s abuse.  Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre each gave up three earned runs in three and four innings of work, respectively.  Austin Jackson even got in on the action with some great defensive plays. 

 

 

A beautiful day for baseball at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Fla., as the Detroit Tigers hosted the New York Yankees on Saturday March 13.

Gene J. Puskar/AP

 

On the bright side, the Yankees also played the Baltimore Orioles in Tampa and won 5-3 behind the heroics of Jorge Posada.  Javier Vazquez was the starter and winner, but Alfredo Aceves continued to impress.  So, if Phil Hughes has competition for the starting rotation, I’d have to say that Aceves is the top contender at this point.  I am convinced that Joba Chamberlain is headed to the pen, and either Mitre or Gaudin (or both) will find themselves pitching elsewhere. 

 

New York Yankees pitcher Chad Gaudin throws against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning.

Gene J. Puskar/AP

 

Kei Igawa, perhaps the Yankees most disappointing free-agent signing in recent memory outside of anyone named Carl, saw his latest attempt to make the Yankees flame out.  He was one of nine players cut and re-assigned to minor league camp.  The other notable name, but not unexpected, was pitcher Andrew Brackman.   The odds have definitely been against Brackman but I hope he can persevere and pitch in the big leagues one day. 

 

 

Nick Latham/Getty Images

 

As a Minnesota Vikings fan, this has been a disappointing off-season so far.  Of course, there’s the inevitable ‘will he or won’t he’ retirement talk about Brett Favre.  If Favre does retire, it’s hard to get excited about the team’s offense being helmed by either Tavaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels.  We’ve already seen a great running back depart when Chester Taylor signed with the rival Chicago Bears.  The team wined and dined free agent LaDainian Tomlinson, but he left Minnesota for New York with no agreement.  Nothing against Minneapolis, but it’s hard to compete with the city of New York.  There’s no telling where LT will eventually land, but he would be a nice backup for Adrian Peterson.  So far, the Vikings biggest acquisition has been the free agent signing of long kicker Rhys Lloyd.  Hopefully, the Vikings will be able to make the necessary moves to ensure that their current championship quality window does not close without any hardware.  

 

 

LaDainian Tomlinson -

Peter Read Miller/SI

 

This has been an interesting year on American Idol.  I have seen most of my early favorites depart, so I’ve had to find new ones to back.  At this point, I am a fan of Crystal Bowersox and Lee Dewyze.  I am surprised at some of those who advanced to the Top 12 and some who didn’t, but the show should start heating up in the coming weeks.

 

 

mtv.com

 

 

 

I am headed down to Burbank to see The Tonight Show with Jay Leno this week.  The scheduled guests are Terry Bradshaw and Kara DioGuardi. The musical guest is Ziggy Marley.  It should be a fun and energetic show to watch.  I am looking forward to it.  I was able to see The Late Show with David Letterman last year, so it will be fun to see how it compares to Leno.  Of course, from my perspective, I can’t wait until Conan O’Brien is back on the air…

 

 


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Out with Old, In with the New…

 

It has been a very busy week for the almighty¹ Yankees…

 


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¹Word ‘almighty’ is for the exclusive benefit of my friend Julia!  ;)

 

ARRIVED

Curtis Granderson

The blockbuster trade of the Winter Meetings saw the arrival of Curtis Granderson as the newest centerfielder for the New York Yankees. 

The price tag was very high and the Yankees lost a great opportunity to market “Ajax” but who knows if Austin Jackson will ever be the player that Grandy is today.  Maybe he’ll be better but it probably won’t happen for several years.  The Yankees have a window of opportunity right now and the heart of the team is not getting any younger.  It is critical for the Yanks to infuse young, quality talent into the lineup now, not later.  Grandy will be 29 on Opening Day and he can be expected to hold his position through the retirement of Derek Jeter and beyond.

I am looking forward to watching Grandy in the Bronx.  One of my personal favorites in the ‘Wow’ factor (off the field exploits aside) was Darryl Strawberry.  I am hopeful that Grandy will bring that level of excitement and energy to the team and that he’ll quickly become a fan favorite.

 

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Jamie Hoffmann

The former Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder was selected first in Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft by the Washington Nationals and was immediately dealt to the Yankees as compensation for the trade that sent reliever Brian Bruney to the Nats.

Hoffmann, a former hockey player, will compete for the 25th spot on the Yankees roster.  Since Hoffmann will have to be offered back to the Dodgers if he fails to stick on the Yankees major league roster, I fully expect the Yankees to move either Melky Cabrera or Brett Gardner if Hoffmann shows anything during spring training.  You can make an argument for why the Yanks should keep either Cabrera or Gardner but Cabrera clearly has the highest trade value.

Hoffmann, 25, made his major league debut with the Dodgers on May 22nd.  Two days later, he got his first major league hit, a two-run bomb off Matt Palmer and the Angels in Anaheim.  Hopefully, it is a great sign of things to come…

 

Los Angeles Dodgers' Matt Kemp (27) congratulates teammate Jamie Hoffmann (30) on his two-run home run during the second inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels, Sunday, May 24, 2009, in Los Angeles.

 

AP

Andy Pettitte

Okay, it’s not really an arrival.  However, it is a big deal that Andy and the team agreed on a one year deal so quickly after Andy announced his decision to play at least another year.  We didn’t need another Brett Favre-like situation this off-season.  Welcome back, Andy!

 

Andy Pettitte Alex Rodriguez

AP

 

DEPARTURES

This could be called the ‘You’ll get your ring when we come to a city near you’ category…

Brian Bruney, to the Washington Nationals for the first pick in the Rule 5 Draft (Jamie Hoffmann).

Austin Jackson and Phil Coke to the Detroit Tigers, and Ian Kennedy to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Detroit’s Curtis Granderson.

 

Jerry Hale/MiLB.com

 

FREE AGENTS

Johnny Damon, unsigned.  Talks with the Yanks have continued but the team is unwilling to go beyond two years.  At this stage of his career, Damon has to get all he can get since this may be his last major league contract.  I want Damon back, however, I am supportive of the team’s position.

 

AP 

 

Hideki Matsui, unsigned.  Almost certain not to return unless the Yankees fail to sign Damon, Godzilla would be a good fit in the Bay Area if the Oakland A’s could unload Jack Cust.

 

 

Jose Molina, unsigned.  I am ready for Francisco Cervelli to back up Jorge Posada, with Jesus Montero possibly in the mix.  The Yankees do need to reduce their payroll and this is an area that they can still get value at a cheaper price.

Xavier Nady, unsigned.  Personally, I would try to bring the X-Man back to the Bronx.  But I recognize that he is not in the team’s plans, and it is virtually certain that he’ll sign elsewhere (perhaps with the Braves).

Jerry Hairston, Jr.  A good complimentary player but his role can be easily replaced by Ramiro Pena.

 

Kathy Willens/AP 

 

OTHER MOVES

The Yankees are not expected to tender a contract to pitcher Chien-Ming Wang so he’ll become a free agent later today (midnight ET).  It’s unfortunate that it has come to this with the former 19-game winner.  He was perhaps the Yankees most valuable starting pitcher until that fateful day running the bases in Houston several years ago.  I suspect that he’ll be a strong candidate for Comeback Player of the Year so some team is going to get lucky by taking a chance on Wang.  Hopefully, the Yankees will find a way to bring him back but for now, he’ll be up for grabs…

 

Al Messerschmidt/Getty

Former Yankee, and the Opening Day starting third baseman, Cody Ransom has been invited to camp with the Philadelphia Phillies as a non-roster player.

*   *   *

As a California resident, this joke by Conan O’Brien bears repeating since it is oh, so true!

‘Los Angeles was hit by a massive storm that caused power outages and freeway closures.  Meteorologists predict that the storm will head east next week where it will be known as rain.’ 

…or something like that!  Nevertheless, it is an accurate description of life in California!

Too funny!

 

 

 

 

Move the Ghosts Aside, A New Yankee Centerfielder…

Anybody that played for the Mankato Moondogs is fine by me…

 

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Introducing the newest Yankee, centerfielder Curtis Granderson!  I have to admit that I was a bit reluctant when I saw the price tag (outfield prospect Austin Jackson and pitchers Phil Coke and Ian Kennedy).  I was looking forward to a career with Ajax in center, and I had grown very fond of bullpen specialist Coke over the course of the past season.  I wasn’t particularly enamored with Ian Kennedy’s attitude, but he did impress me with his return last season following surgery.  Nevertheless, I recognize that the Yankees are a better team today than they were yesterday.  Granderson hit 30 home runs with a home park that is pitching friendly.  Move him to the wind tunnel known as Yankee Stadium and this guy is going to be electric in center field.  He stole 20 bags this past season since he does have some speed.

  Granderson's acrobatic grab in July, robbing Boston of a home run, was the must-see clip of the summer.

John Grieshop/Getty Images

 

Granderson appeared in his first All-Star Game in 2009 and scored the winning run in the 8th inning following a triple.  This play was huge for the Yankees because it gave them home field advantage in the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies.  So, it appears that he was destined for pinstripes.

 

 

 

After dispatching valuable bullpen parts in Brian Bruney and Phil Coke, GM Brian Cashman needs to focus on rebuilding the bullpen.  However, starting pitching should be the next course of action.  I still think the Yankees need to address left field.  I am not a fan of moving Melky Cabrera to left.  I do not think he hits for the power that you need in left, particularly considering that Nick Swisher is average in right.  I’d either like to see the Yanks re-sign Johnny Damon, or look elsewhere for a new left fielder.  I would not be a proponent of moving Granderson to left either as I feel his speed is best served in center.

 

AP

 

This commentary may be a bit premature since the trade has not been officially confirmed, however, at this point, it appears that it is a foregone conclusion that it will be.  Interestingly enough, Granderson wears #28 for the Detroit Tigers.  The number is available with the Yankees, unless Joe Girardi decides to upgrade his number to the new goal.  So, perhaps Granderson is the missing link for World Championship #28.  Time will tell.  I have no problem with my friend Julia suffering another year of disappointment!  J

 


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The Thrill of Victory…

The fat lady sang…

 

Thanks to Reggie…I mean Austin…Jackson and his 8th inning grand slam, the Yankees were victorious in the Great Showdown, Part II.  The Yankees won what had been a very tight pitching duel, 7-1, thanks to the late inning heroics of the Bronx Bombers.  I think I am going to enjoy watching A.J. Burnett pitch this year, but more importantly, when is Austin’s ETA to the Bronx?  Wow, that shot was tattooed!

 

 

I guess I won’t be researching any Red Sox players tonight!  Hmmm, I wonder who is going to be writing all those Yankee blogs…

 

 

By the way, Julia (of Julia’s Rants) reduced my number of blogs to three Red Sox players despite my obligation for more in our previous match-up.  Therefore, I will extend the same courtesy.  She is limited to no more than three positive blogs about current or past Yankees players (or coaches).

 

Julia, this video is for you…

 

 

Until the Yankees and Red Sox meet again…

Well, at least I’ll have a few great blogs read between now and then!  :)

 

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