Results tagged ‘ Boone Logan ’

And the WINNER is…

 

For months, the talk centered on prized Japanese pitcher Mashiro Tanaka.  He was highly touted as the most valuable free agent pitcher on the market.  Of course, his free agency began slowly when there was doubt if his Japanese team would allow him to be posted, particularly after the posting fee was capped at $20 million.  Nevertheless, Tanaka was subsequently posted, as we all know.

Almost immediately, the Yankees were regarded as the frontrunner.  But given that any team to offer to pay the $20 million posting fee, it opened the field to any team that wanted to make a run at the latest Japanese import.  Early on, there was talk that the Seattle Mariners would make a play for Tanaka.  It was said that the Los Angeles Dodgers would not be outbid, and the Chicago Cubs were completely enamored with the idea of Tanaka headlining their rotation.  The Los Angeles Angels and the Arizona Diamondbacks were other teams mentioned as strong possibilities.

I read that the Mariners were favorites because the team is predominantly owned by Nintendo and Los Angeles was cited because of its close proximity to Japan and its strong Asian community.  There was talk that some team would make a surprise late bid, kind of like what the Angels when they signed Albert Pujols.

I never really expected the Dodgers to be “all-in”.  They had their own pending free agent to be in Clayton Kershaw and they couldn’t make a ridiculously high bid without driving up their costs to retain Kershaw.  They subsequently re-signed Kershaw to a $215 million deal, but I still didn’t think they’d go hard after Tanaka.  I did think the Chicago Cubs were a strong challenger for Tanaka despite prior rumors that he preferred a coastal destination.  If I have learned anything with Major League Baseball, it’s to never underestimate Theo Epstein.

But fortunately, when Tanaka finally made his decision, he was a Yankee.  Almost instantly, the stories about his superior talent turned to questions about how he’ll make the adjustment to life in America and how he is a #2 or #3 starter at best.  Everyone is now quick to say that he does not have the talent of Yu Darvish, and I’ve seen the name “Kei Igawa” more than I’d care to in recent days.  But still, this was a move that the Yankees HAD to make.  With a weak farm system at the upper levels, they had no choice but to overpay for young pitching talent with solid upside.  With the hype surrounding Tanaka (who went 24-0 in Japan last year), he also represents a gate attraction.  With Tanaka in the fold, the Yankees become the second major league team to have two Japanese players in their starting pitching rotation (the first was the Dodgers with Hideo Nomo and Kaz Ishii).  If the Japanese media made it a circus following Hideki Matsui, they’ll have a field day following the trio of Tanaka, Hiroki Kuroda and Ichiro Suzuki.

The realist in me knows not to expect top of the rotation stuff from Tanaka.  I know the Yankees want more, but I’d be very satisfied if he could give the Yankees what Kuroda has for the last two years.  This is most likely Kuroda’s last year, and it is good that Tanaka will have a year to spend under Hiroki’s wing.  I think that will greatly aid his transition to the United States and MLB.

I thought that it would take a contract of 7 years, $140 million to sign Tanaka.  So, the Yankees did overbid in that regard.  Today I saw an article that one GM speculated the next highest bid were the Cubs and D-Backs at $120 million.  I really doubt the gap between the Yankees and the others was that great.  The same source mentioned the Dodgers were at $119 million which doesn’t make sense as everyone knew it would take $120 million plus to sign Tanaka.  My guess is the Cubs and Dodgers were in the vicinity of $140 million plus.  Not bad for a pitcher who has never thrown a major league pitch.

While I would still like to see an additional pitcher brought to camp, there is potential with a rotation that features CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Masahiro Tanaka, Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda or David Phelps.  If Pineda could possibly show the potential that caused the Yankees to trade for him (prior to the injuries), the rotation could be very strong.  While I would not be opposed to seeing Bronson Arroyo or Ubaldo Jimenez signed, I think the Yankees need to focus on the infield.  Yes, they’ve brought in San Diego’s Dean Anna, signed Kelly Johnson, Brian Roberts and Scott Sizemore, and still have Eduardo Nunez but there are too many questions.  What happens if Mark Teixeira struggles in his return, or Derek Jeter?  Neither of those positions are air tight without getting into the holes at second and third.  Jeter will be 40, and Teixeira is a notoriously slow starter.  April could be a very challenging month.

My preference would be to find a decent third baseman so that Kelly Johnson could be the primary second baseman.  But the team is probably enamored with the idea that Roberts is capable of rebounding from the injury filled years that have plagued him since 2009.  Scott Sizemore is nothing more than camp fodder.  One magazine I read said “But other than OK pop and a few walks, offers little even when healthy”.  Anna is nothing more than a potential reserve.

Catching and the outfield is set, but there is still work to be done in the infield and in the bullpen.  I agree with the choice to anoint David Robertson as the closer, but there needs to be an insurance plan in place.  Grant Balfour would have been a great option but he is now a Tampa Bay Ray once again.  I don’t want Fernando Rodney, but the Yankees need someone who is capable of closing games if Robertson is not up to the task.  If Boston can find an elite closer as their fourth choice last year, there are potential arms that can be found.  I really hated to see the departure of Boone Logan.  Not much has been written about it, but I can only hope that Matt Thornton is a capable, albeit older, replacement.  I know the team has long admired lefty Cesar Cabral so perhaps this is Cabral’s year to take it to the next level.  I’d also like to see Dellin Betances take advantage of his opportunity and become a force in the pen.  I guess every team thinks they can follow the Tampa blueprint for bullpen success given how the Rays are always able to craft something out of nothing.

With pitchers and catchers reporting to training camp in a few weeks, I am sure that the transaction wires will be busy as teams, and most notably the Yankees, look to create playoff caliber rosters.

For the Yankees, while it will be great to see Brian McCann show up to become his orientation with the Yankee pitchers, the cameras and the reporters will be flocked around #19, Masahiro Tanaka, as he begins his pinstriped career.  Time to build upon last year’s 85 wins and return the Yankees to October baseball.  With the commitment the Yankees have shown this off-season, it’s clear their last move was not their “last” move.

Go Yankees!

–Scott

For the 2014 Yankees, there is still much work to do…

 

The highs and lows of the Hot Stove League, thus far…

For Yankees fans, the off-season started nicely.  After early speculation that manager Joe Girardi might jump to the Chicago Cubs, he re-signed a long-term deal with the Yankees and expressed it was his desire to remain in New York.  All good.

Then, Derek Jeter quickly signed a one year deal with negotiations that where smooth, quick and efficient (unlike the prior Jeter negotiations).  It remains to be seen if we’ll get the Jeter of 2012 or the injured, aging 2013 model, but there’s no question that Jeter must finish his career in pinstripes.  I don’t think Derek would want to go anywhere else at this point anyway, but still, he is the face of the franchise and he’ll forever be remembered as one of its legends.  In the distant future, when the old greats from the 50’s Dynasty era are gone (Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford, among others), it will be guys like Jeter that maintain the honor and tradition in baseball’s most storied franchise. 

The Yankees struck fast in signing free agent catcher Brian McCann after last year’s parade of backups in the starting role.  It gives the team its first legitimate starter at the position since Russell Martin left, and the best offensive bat at the position since Jorge Posada retired.  This is a move that places backup catchers Francisco Cervelli, J.R. Murphy, and Austin Romine in a better position to succeed.  At first pass, I expect Cervelli to take the backup job in spring training but the other two are capable.  On the days that McCann slides to DH, the catching position will be capable hands.

Next came a big surprise.  I honestly did not see the Yankees signing centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury.  While I have been a fan of Ellsbury’s work, it didn’t seem to be a great need for the team.  Brett Gardner has been an effective centerfielder, and has the speed to burn.  Still, Ellsbury’s signing upgrades the position and allows the Yankees to slide Gardner to left where he a defensive upgrade over Alfonso Soriano.  The concern here is that by making Soriano the full-time DH, it does limit the DH opportunities for Derek Jeter and Brian McCann.  Soriano’s bat is still very valuable, and it’s much needed in the lineup. 

Then came the bittersweet day of Friday, December 6th.  The night before, there had been reports that second baseman Robinson Cano had flown to Seattle, but in the morning, the early reports indicated that talks had stalled or perhaps even ended.  It gave a brief ray of hope that he’d come back to the Yankees, but those hopes were soon dissolved when it was reported Cano had agreed to a 10-year $240 million deal with the Mariners.  While it’s tough to lose a great player, perhaps the team’s best, it is simply too hard to justify those numbers.  I have enjoyed the early 30’s version of Cano at second, but in his late 30’s and early 40’s, the prospect doesn’t look too promising at $24 million per year.  That’s a huge chunk of any team’s overall payroll.  I think of when Chase Utley was the premier second baseman, but now, with injuries, he has become a shell of what he once was.  What happens if Cano does not age well?  I guess I am not a gambling man and would prefer that the M’s take that bet.  $240 million can be better spent by spreading it over multiple positions rather than locking it into only one.

This is where I find Robinson Cano to be extremely selfish.  You can’t begrudge anyone from wanting as much money as they can get, but this is a team game and every team has a budget…even the Yankees.  If it were me, I would have taken the Yankees offer of 7 years at $175 million because the average annual salary was stronger and I’d know that the team would be more flexible in other areas by not being locked into so many years.  For those additional three years, it would be up to me to perform and if so, there would be a reward.  It also would have kept the Yankee legacy intact and ensured a potential place among the team’s legends.  But now, Cano is just another player who took the money and ran.  He proved that money is more valuable than wins, and money is more important than helping build a strong supporting cast of quality players.  That doesn’t mean Seattle doesn’t have quality players, they do, but they are a long way from contending.  It is very possible that when they are ready to contend, Cano has started his career regression due to age that’s inevitable for everyone. 

Cano has carried the “lazy” rap for years.  While he is an exciting player at times, it was frustrating when he didn’t hustle.  I think of someone like Dustin Pedroia, whose motor is always running.  He creates opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t be there because he is alert and proactive.  He seizes the opportunities and takes advantage of them.  That’s what winning ball players do.  Cano is not that guy.  I have never thought of him as a team player, and I didn’t view him as a player who helped raise the performance level of those around him.  Rest assured the Yankees will miss his offensive production at the position.  At this point, I have no idea who will be the second baseman in 2014.  Kelly Johnson seems better suited to help replace Alex Rodriguez at third base, in a platoon situation.  Omar Infante signed a four year deal with the Kansas City Royals, and Brandon Phillips is starting the downward slide that comes with age.  David Adams, a young player who had the talent but couldn’t show it at the major league level during brief auditions, was non-tendered and is now a Cleveland Indian.  It looks as though the Yankees will fill second base with a bargain basement fill-in, much like they did last year with first and third bases.  I wish the organization was better stocked with up and coming second base talent, but that does not appear to be the case.  I personally thought Infante would have been the best short-term option, but the Yankees allowed them to get beat by the Royals in signing the player.  You know it’s an odd year when the Yankees get beat in free agency by both the Royals and the Mariners.

But enough about Cano, he is gone and so is his Yankees legacy.  

Around the same time as the news had broken about the former second baseman signing with Seattle, it was reported that starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda had signed a new one year deal with the team.  This was very good news to hear.  Kuroda is much needed, and I am grateful that he chose to delay his return to Japan by a year or head back to his home in Southern California.  So, Cashman has filled 200 of the 400 innings he previously stated were needed this off-season. 

After the tumultuous events of the day, news broke on the evening of December 6th that the Yankees had signed outfielder Carlos Beltran.  At 36, he is no longer the player he once was, but he is a “gamer” or as George Steinbrenner would say, a warrior.  Even an aging Beltran is an upgrade over an even older Ichiro Suzuki or the outfielder still primarily funded by the Los Angeles Angels, Vernon Wells. 

But after the three free agent signings, the news has mostly been about departures.  Phil Hughes was the first to depart, signing a three year deal with the Minnesota Twins.  It was probably a good move for Hughes.  Minnesota will be less pressurized and he should have the opportunity to flourish, much like Carl Pavano was able to resurrect his career in Minneapolis after leaving New York.  I certainly did not expect the Yankees to re-sign Hughes after the season he had last year, but I thought he’d go to Southern California and saw the San Diego Padres as a good fit.  Nevertheless, Minneapolis is a fun city and it’s a good ballpark. 

A couple of other notable defections occurred in the bullpen, where Joba Chamberlain signed a one year deal with the Detroit Tigers and Boone Logan went for three years with the Colorado Rockies.  Of the two, it is Logan that I really hated to see leave.  He was a trusted left-handed reliever, but it really didn’t seem like the team made much of an effort to retain his services.  They obviously had other priorities, but I suppose the Yankees are hopeful that a less expensive options like Cesar Cabral will step up to fill Boone’s role.  It was a foregone conclusion that Joba had thrown his last pitch for the Yankees.  But admittedly, I was surprised he went to Detroit.  There are worse things to do than to go to a team that is probably the best one in the American League right now, but I thought that Joba would go to the Kansas City Royals since it is closer to his hometown roots.  The one year deal does give him an opportunity to try and restore the promise he once had with the Yankees.  Plus, if he wins a World Series, it will help give his career a further boost. 

The Yankees also lost last year’s starting catcher when they traded Chris Stewart to the Pittsburgh Pirates.  This move was a given after the McCann signing combined with the surplus of backup catchers. 

For as crazy as December started for the Yankees, the week of the baseball winter meetings was extremely quiet.  The Yankees still have much work to do.  On paper, after consideration of all plusses and minuses, they are not noticeably better than last year’s 85 win team.  They still need a quality starting pitcher, a second baseman, and bullpen help.  Brian Cashman has his work cut out for him between now and spring training.

I honestly do not know where the Yankees will go from here.  I’d like to see the free agent signing of a pitcher like Matt Garza, but so far, the Yankees have not been one of the team’s linked to the pitcher.  Same with Bronson Arroyo, who is certainly capable of eating a large number of innings as a #4 starter.  For second base, the latest reports have the Yankees interested in Darwin Barney of the Chicago Cubs but I have no idea what he would cost in terms of talent in a trade.  I will feel much better about the 2014 Yankees once the additional starting pitcher and second baseman are in the fold, but at least it is reassuring to know that Hal Steinbrenner wants to win as much as the rest of us do.

Happy Holidays!

–Scott

 

Trying to be optmistic, but failing miserably…

 

The Boston Massacre or the Bronx Massacre?…

Since the games are being held in the Bronx, I suppose the Boston Red Sox kill of any Yankee play-off aspirations should be called the Bronx Massacre.  Unfortunately, the high hopes coming off the sweep of the Chicago White Sox were dashed as the Sox are definitely now on the other foot.

Thursday’s game was disappointing as the Yankees launched a valiant rally only to lose a game they were within one strike of winning.  The defeat came with none other than the legendary Mariano Rivera on the mound.  Friday night, it was the Yankees who built the large early lead, but the Red Sox stormed back and thrashed the Yankees.  Although Boone Logan gave up the key grand slam, I blame Phil Hughes for changing the momentum of the game.  Today’s game (Saturday) is still underway but the team is getting royally throttled at the moment (12-3 in the 5th inning).  The Yankee pitching staff has not shown the ability to get Red Sox hitters out during this series so I have no reason to expect the team to rally from the latest hole (either today’s game or the season).  If they lose today’s game as expected, they’ll be 11 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East standings.  The races for the Wild Card spots are still within reach but the Yankees aren’t playing like a team that wants to win.  They still have one more series against the Red Sox (in Boston) and if they can’t beat the Sox in the Bronx, they certainly are not going to win in Beantown.

This has been a very weird season as a Yankees fan.  The team did nothing to improve upon last year’s squad and simply filled key roles with bargain basement replacements.  Alfonso Soriano is the only quality acquisition, but he is an aging player with a large salary.  It’s not exactly like it was a brilliant acquisition for GM Brian Cashman.  The Chicago Cubs were glad to part with Soriano even if they are still picking up a large part of his compensation.  I’ve been reading many articles that talk about the great managing job Joe Girardi has done this season, but no one is saying the same about Cashman.  The unknown variable is that we do not know the restraints he is under from Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner.  If you are under standing orders that you cannot increase salary, it’s not exactly like you are going to go out and land a Giancarlo Stanton or Cliff Lee.  But it’s odd watching the Pittsburgh Pirates being more aggressive in the addition of reinforcements (i.e., Justin Morneau, Marlon Byrd and John Buck) than the Yankees.  A few key “stronger” players here or there could have meant the difference in the current Wild Card standings and the Yankees wouldn’t be on the outside looking in.

The only guarantee is that there will be changes in the off-season.  At this point, I have to believe that the departure of Cashman is a possibility.  I do not expect Joe Girardi to be going anywhere but this team will look radically different, particularly if the Yankees do not re-sign impending free agent Robinson Cano.  I am not sure what to expect with the 2014 Yankees.  I don’t know if optimism will be part of the equation and if we will be looking at another “patched-together” squad of expensive, deteriorating older players and cheap free agent acquisitions of players released from their current clubs.  The Yankees need to get younger but is this going to take a season or two, or years.  The decisions being made by Hal Steinbrenner will impact the Yankees for years to come.  Time will tell if he is making very astute and winning decisions to set up future success, or if he is ensuring that this time period will be the 1980’s re-visited.

If somehow the Yankees manage to salvage the 2013 season and grabbed a Wild Card spot, I seriously doubt they’d be able to do anything with it.  Hopefully, the Steinbrenner family is able to do something to return optimism to the Bronx in the not-so-distant future.

Pondering the Quarterback situation…

As a long-suffering Minnesota Vikings fan, the hope is that this is the year QB Christian Ponder “figures it out”.  He is a talented and intelligent guy, and there’s no reason for him not to become the answer for the Vikings if he chooses to be.  How many guys would like to have Adrian Peterson in the backfield, Greg Jennings out wide, and Kyle Rudolph at tight end?  Ponder has the weapons and he has the physical tools to succeed.  It is all up to him.  If the Vikings have to make the move to replace Ponder with backup Matt Cassel, then the team is sunk.

Last year was a pleasant surprise but it will be more challenging this year with the more difficult schedule.  I do wish that Adrian Peterson would let go of the dream to reach 2,500 rushing yards in a season.  I would not want to see him at such risk for injury nor would I want an individual goal to become superior to the team’s goals.

The Vikings start the season against the Detroit Lions, a team that knows a thing or two about having huge offensive weapons.  The young Vikings secondary will have to show that they are ready for the big time as it doesn’t get any easier in the coming weeks.  It’s too bad that, so far, the team hasn’t been able to get former starter Antoine Winfield to come out of retirement.  Josh Robinson is fast, but we’ll see if he can keep up with Megatron…

Hockey’s around the corner…

Soon, the San Jose Sharks will join the Minnesota Vikings as “distractions” for me during this disappointing MLB campaign.  I am looking forward to a full season of NHL Hockey rather than last year’s strike-shortened version.  I am still having a tough time thinking of the HP Pavilion or “Shark Tank” as the SAP Center.    While it is called S-A-P and not the word “sap”, how long before the latter becomes the norm if the team fails to succeed?

Where are you, Optimism?  I miss you…  ;)

–Scott

 

What happened to the Yankees’ Arms Surplus?…

 

Locked and not loaded?…

Worst case scenario seems to be playing out with news that Michael Pineda’s shoulder is cause for concern.  Everybody has wondered who would be the odd man out of the rotation, given the strong spring performances by Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes. There’s been talk of moving either of those two or Ivan Nova to the bullpen, but all things considered, that’s not an ideal spot for any of the three.  I was hopeful that Yankees could find some trade value in Garcia to move him and make room for the others, given that Andy Pettitte looms on the not-so-distant future.  Yesterday, there were indications that Michael Pineda needed to have a strong performance to nail down his much anticipated spot in the rotation.  I didn’t watch the game, but I checked the box score in later innings with the score tied 7-7 only to see that Pineda had given up 6 runs in the first two innings.  Not exactly a strong performance.  Then, this morning, there were reports about Pineda’s shoulder.  He’ll be going for a MRI, but this could get worse, much worse.

Hopefully, the problems with the shoulder are minor and Pineda can recuperate with some rest.

Even though the Yankees ultimately won the exhibition match-up with the Phillies, it was a very costly game with the possible injury to Pineda, as well as reliever Cesar Cabral (elbow).  Both injuries make Joe Girardi’s decisions for the starting rotation and second lefty in the pen much easier.  At this point, it would appear that the rotation will be CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes, and Freddy Garcia.  There could be some shuffling of the last three, dependent upon who’s ready when based on how they’re currently lined up with their respective pitching schedules.  If Cabral is out, it opens the door for Clay Rapada to take the second lefty role behind top lefty Boone Logan.

I prefer striking out the opposing team…

I didn’t fully understand the move with Russell Branyan.  He was released from his minor league deal, and then re-signed to a new minor league deal at a savings of $100,000 to the Yankees.  The money would seem inconsequential, so I wonder if there had been an opt-out clause or something else in the contract that would have been triggered causing the need for the re-negotiation.  It’s not exactly like I’m expecting much from Branyan at this point of his career.  It’s hard to get expected about high strikeout guys like Branyan, but of course, the Yankees added to the fodder with the signing of Jack Cust.  I do not see either as a viable alternative to what the Yankees already have.

Is bashing the Yankees the only way to be beloved in New England…

Enough about the recent tie between the Yankees and Red Sox recently.  I don’t blame Joe Girardi for his decision not to play extra innings in their game with the Red Sox, resulting in a tie.  After the game, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine ripped the Yankees, saying that it cost a minor league pitcher, Clayton Mortensen, his opportunity to impress in an effort to make the team.  Subsequently, Mortensen has been making disparaging remarks about Girardi and the Yankees.  Seriously?  The guy’s career is going to be determined by one inning of pitching in a meaningless exhibition game?  Yeah, it was the Yankees, but guys don’t make major league rosters just because they play the Yankees well.  I think the other teams in the league have something to say about it.  If Valentine felt that Mortensen had a legitimate shot to make the roster, then he would create the opportunity in the spring schedule to showcase Mortensen.  His only opportunity to impress the Red Sox wasn’t that meaningless game with the Yankees.  For so much ink to be devoted to the unhappiness of Valentine and Mortensen is absolutely ridiculous.

There’s room in the Bronx for Maxwell…

I am hopeful the Yankees find room on the roster for outfielder Justin Maxwell.  Hopefully, with fourth outfielder Andruw Jones slated to share some DU time with Raul Ibanez, there will be the need to carry a fifth outfielder.  I like Maxwell’s athleticism in the outfield, and he is a good role player.

Have Bat, Will Travel…

Speaking of Ibanez, he is finally starting to hit, but I still can’t get his slow start with the Phillies last year out of mind.  I know that he had decent numbers by the end of the year, but I don’t like streaky players and at 40, Ibanez is not going to improve with age.  It’s too bad that Jorge Posada was not able to more fully embrace the DH role.  If he had, he probably would not have been put in the position of having to retire in the off-season.  But that’s water under the bridge, so I hope the Yankees find a suitable and consistent bat at DH as early in the season as possible.  If Ibanez surprises me, and is the guy, so be it.  Just be prepared to bring the bat every day, that’s all I ask.

Finally…

Good luck to Joba Chamberlain on his recovery.  I do hope that he is able to achieve his goal of pitching this season.  Who knows if he’ll ever be the pitcher we thought he would be, but we surely won’t know if he’s not pitching…

Well, the new baseball season is upon us.  Best of luck to everyone and their respective teams.  At this moment, we all have the chance for October glory.  Well, not really, but the standing don’t know any differently.  May the best team win!

–Scott

Take two aspirin and call me in the morning…


It was a great win by Freddy
Garcia
on Saturday (six innings, two hits and no runs) in the Yankees’ 5-2
victory over the Texas Rangers.  The
superlatives about Garcia poured in after the game including one comment that
compared Garcia to David Cone in terms of the latter pitcher’s ability to find
ways to win when he didn’t have his best stuff. 


Freddy Garcia gets a pat on the back from Yankees captain Derek Jeter for a job well done.

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images


I do not doubt Garcia’s
ability.  I can recall many times over
the years when Garcia completely shut down the Yankees.  It didn’t matter if he had been struggling at
the time or was fighting some ailment. 
He always seemed to shine in the most difficult moments.  My concern with Garcia is his ability to
sustain the effectiveness he showed yesterday. 
There’s no doubt, in my mind, that we’ll see Kevin Millwood and/or
Carlos Silva in the rotation at some point. 

I am not trying to be
pessimistic, but rather just a realist. 
With Phil Hughes on the DL, it is not an automatic that he’ll regain his
velocity by simply receiving rest and treatment.  A.J. Burnett showed that he is still
vulnerable after giving up two home runs in one inning against the Baltimore
Orioles last week after pitching so well in the prior six innings.  We’ll have the opportunity to see what
Bartolo Colon can do, but my concern about him is not with his arm.  His weight and ability to stay healthy are
the key issues.

It was disappointing to hear
that reliever Pedro Feliciano will need season-ending surgery.  Given that lefty Damaso Marte is also on the
shelf, the Yankees will need to find another lefty to complement Boone
Logan. 
Unfortunately, the rest of the
league knows that and they’ll be looking for a King’s ransom in any potential
trade.

At this point in the season,
it’s nice to see the Yankees in first place with an 8-5 mark, while the Boston
Red Sox sit in last place at 3-10. 
However, with just under 150 games still remaining, I would be very
foolish to think that the current standings will stay unchanged.  The Red Sox will figure it out and they’ll be
an offensive force through the summer.  I
am concerned that the key reason the Yankees have been winning is their home
run production (24 homers in 13 games). 
Hopefully, they’ll begin to find other ways to win as the season
progresses. 

It bothers me that the
Boston Red Sox will avoid a luxury tax penalty by delaying the announcement of
Adrian Gonzalez‘s extension until this week. 
Perhaps they did the same thing with Clay Buchholz, but the Gonzalez
signing was a foregone conclusion.  It
was obvious that the Sox had reached an agreement with Gonzalez before the
start of the season.  It was clear they
simply circumvented the system to avoid paying the additional tax.

To go a bit off topic, I am
excited about the upcoming NFL Draft despite the current lockout.  I remain hopeful that the owners and players
will reach an agreement before the loss of any games.  With the draft, I really hope the Minnesota
Vikings can find a quarterback.  However,
their draft position at #12 is not ideal for their search for a franchise QB.  The top tier QB’s, like Blaine Gabbert and
Cam Newton, will be gone and it will be too early to take somebody like Jake
Locker
.  It will be interesting to see
what the Vikings can do.  The Vikings
chief rival, the Green Bay Packers, seem to have a knack for finding QB’s.  They coaxed one great season out of Don
Majkowski
.  They traded for Brett Favre after
they missed out on the opportunity to draft Troy Aikman.  They drafted Aaron Rodgers despite having
Favre and a few other highly touted former college QB’s on the roster.  Hopefully, the Vikings can replicate the
Packers blue print to find their next great QB…

–Scott

 

 

The Perfect Formula…

 

8th inning relief…



 


I was so relieved (no pun intended) when the
Yankees went with David Robertson and Boone Logan in the 8th inning
as a bridge between Javier Vazquez and Mariano Rivera in New York’s 3-2 win
over the Cleveland Indians.  Both Robertson
and Logan did their respective jobs with no drama (unlike recent escapades with
Joba Chamberlain). 

 

This game was about redemption.  Javier Vazquez continued to show that he has
moved well past his early season struggles and has perhaps shaken, for the now,
the tag that he is purely a NL pitcher. 
Of course, he hasn’t pitched a big game yet, but he continues to pitch
very solidly while the other starters have taken their turns with issues.  Hopefully, this is the Javy that we’ll see
now through October.



Theodorakis/NY Daily News

 

As recent as this weekend, Curtis Granderson was
viewed as a failure in New York. 
Everyone has waited for Curtis the Tiger to show up, and finally, in the
last couple of games, he has.  On Sunday,
in the Yankees’ 12-6 romp over the Kansas City Royals, Grandy had two home
runs.  Tonight against the Indians, and
unlike Alex Rodriguez, he hit another one. 
With the homer, Grandy finally broke into double digits with his 10th
of the season.  It is a far cry from the
guy who was predicted to hit 40 home runs in New York but still, it is great to
finally see Granderson as an offensive force in the lineup.  As with Vazquez, Grandy is a key to the
second half.



0726granderson.JPG

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images 



Nick Swisher hit another home run.  I regret ever having preferred Xavier Nady
over Swish in right.  Swisher has been
terrific this season and with his 18th home run of the season
tonight, he is just a mere two homers beyond team leader Mark Teixeira.  Hey Swish, maybe you could give hitting
lessons to A-Rod!  ;)


I will also put both Robertson and Logan into the
redemption category.  Logan has seen his
share of the Bronx-Scranton/Wilkes Barre Shuttle, while Robertson has struggled
at times to match the success of last season. 
Tonight, they were perfect in the 8th when anything less
could have been disastrous given the one run margin.

 

It was nice that on a night when the big guys
(Jeter, Teixeira, A-Rod, and Cano) went a combined 0-for-14 with 3 strikeouts,
the Yankees could still emerge with the victory.   Some
great pitching, a few key hits, and Mariano Rivera are the perfect formula for
success!

 

Apparently, the Yankees made a big, but
unsuccessful, push for Royals closer Joakim Soria.  Soria would have made a great bridge to
Mariano Rivera, but it doesn’t appear that the two teams match up
trade-wise.  The Yankees were rumored to
be the frontrunners for Cliff Lee and Dan Haren, yet they lost out on both
pitchers.  I was more disappointed about
Lee, who I am still hopeful the Yankees will pursue in the off-season.



Cliff Lee (Photo: The Canadian Press)

The Canadian Press  

 

I had mixed feelings about Haren, and I felt that
his salary would have been problematic in the Yanks’ chances to pursue Lee
during free agency.  So, all things
considered, I am glad to see him go to the Los Angeles Angels.  I don’t think the Angels will catch the Texas
Rangers so it will be an uphill battle for the Angels to make the
play-offs.  Of the remaining pitchers on
the market, I’d probably rather go after someone like Ted Lilly than Roy
Oswalt.  Lilly is a good pitcher and
knows how to pitch in New York. 



 


This week should be interesting with all the trade
speculation and actual trade results as we move toward the end of the
week.  Of course, this is probably another
case of ‘all bark, no bite’ as the speculation will exceed the actual
results.  With so many teams unwilling to
add to payroll, there should still be decent trading activity in August as
players clear waivers.   Still, I am
anxious to see what player will get the tag of being the first post-George Steinbrenner
Era Yankee. 


In a note of good news, manager Joe Girardi has
announced that Dustin Moseley will start Thursday’s game in place of Sergio
Mitre.  I am anxious to see what Moseley
can do in his first start for the Bronx Bombers.  Anything has to be an upgrade over Meat Tray…



Dustin Moseley Dustin Moseley #40 of the New York Yankees delivers a pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays on July 17, 2010 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.

Mike Stobe/Getty Images

 

I know that everyone is entitled to their opinion,
but I’d like to say that Bill “The Spaceman” Lee is a jerk.  According to the USA Today Sports Weekly, Lee
told WMUR-TV (New Hampshire) “As far as Steinbrenner’s passing…good”.  He went on to say, “If hell freezes over, he’ll
be skating”.  Hey Lee, how did you enjoy
that World Series Championship?  Oh yeah,
you never won one!  





–Scott


So Close Yet So Far Away…again…

A wasted Phil Hughes performance…

 

From the movie, Hangover

 

Hughes did his part.  Unfortunately, no one else did.  Pitching into the 6th inning with only one run allowed, Hughes saw a potential victory evaporate in the hands of relievers Boone Logan and David Robertson.

 

 

 

Thanks, in part, to a throwing error by Jorge Posada in the 8th, and a subsequent hit by Cesar Izturis, the Baltimore Orioles had the insurance run they would need to hold off a late rally by the Yankees.

 

A fielder’s choice groundout by Alex Rodriguez in the 9th inning ended the game after two runs had scored in the inning to bring the Yanks within one run, 5-4.  The blazing hot Robinson Cano was left standing in the on-deck circle.

 

 

Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post

 

This was a very disappointing performance by the Yankees, who have been very uninspired of late in losing four of the last five games.  Not even a Monday trip to Washington to meet President Barack Obama helped motivate the squad. 

 

 

Obama Yankees Baseball

AP 

 

After a terrific start, the Yankees are now 12-7, 2 ½ games behind the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East.  The Boston Red Sox have won two straight to pull within 3 games of the Yankees and into third place.

 

 

Clay Buchholz

 

Boston Globe

 

In typical Curt Schilling fashion, controversial remarks were abound as he indicated Yankees pitcher Javier Vazquez was not an American League guy.  Manager Joe Girardi defended Vazquez.  “Guys are asked to analyze situations, and so they make their analysis.  We still believe Javy’s going to be successful, and he’s going to pitch at a very high level for us.”  I hope Joe’s right, but I have to admit I had the same reservations when I first heard the Yankees had re-acquired Vazquez.  His greatest successes have come in Montreal and Atlanta, both National League cities.  I am still hopeful Javy will succeed in the Bronx but the concerns and fears will remain until he proves me wrong…

 

 

The Yankees are bringing pitcher Javier Vazquez back to the Bronx...

Bazemore/AP

 

 

Hats off to San Francisco pitcher Jonathan Sanchez for outdueling the great Roy Halladay in the Giants’ 5-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies last night.

 

 

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez th... Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP

Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

 

 

 

 

You Traded Me for Randy Freakin’ Johnson?…

The answer to the question is an old friend from the past…

 

Bill Kostroun/AP

 

It was no secret that the Yankees were actively seeking to fill an open spot in the rotation and the word was that it would be accomplished by year end.  As it were, the Yankees wrapped the package up prior to Christmas.  The result is the return of Javier Vazquez….

When I first heard the deal, I was a little upset at what the Yankees gave up (Melky Cabrera, Michael Dunn, and Arodys Vizcaino).  However, after having time to let it sink in, I am okay with it so long as the Yankees can come up with a decent alternative for left field.  Brett Gardner is not an every day player, and at this point, neither is Jamie Hoffmann.  Perhaps Gardner can be part of a platoon, but the other half is not currently on the roster. 

Vazquez was a Yankee for one brief season.  But it was a very painful season.  For years, we had grown up knowing that the Boston Red Sox had been suffering from the Curse of Babe Ruth prior to our own births.  However, in 2004, the Red Sox finally shook the curse and defeated the mighty Yankees despite being down 3 games to none in the American League Championship Series.  The defining moment occurred in Game 7 when Johnny Damon hit a grand slam off Javier Vazquez.  The win propelled the Red Sox to the World Series and an eventual championship that could have belonged to the Yankees.  After the season, the Yankees packaged Vazquez in a deal to Arizona that netted Randy Johnson.  At the time, Vazquez didn’t want to leave the Yankees but “public opinion” was clearly against him and the Yankees fans didn’t cry too much as Vazquez headed for the Sonoran Desert. 

Nevertheless, spin forward 5 years, and Vazquez has proven consistency and durability.  2009 was perhaps his finest year with Atlanta Braves as he went 15-10 with a 2.87 ERA.  Injuries, including pink eye, kept 2009 from being even more successful.  When you are throwing around names like Ben Sheets, Justin Duchscherer, Aaron Harang, and others, I have to admit that Vazquez is the best case scenario.  Admittedly, I would have preferred a Bronx return by Ted Lilly but there probably wasn’t any way that the Chicago Cubs were going to let him go.  The Yankees tried hard for Cliff Lee, but the Phillies felt they needed to send Lee as far from Philly as they could given the backlash they’d receive by dealing him.  Understood.  So all things considered, Javier Vazquez as your number 4 starter is a pretty good situation.  I’d take Vazquez in a head-to-head match up against John Lackey so I think the move was a good counter to Boston’s free agent signing.

 

 

Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal Constitution

It is ironic that Damon’s departure is met by Vazquez’s return.  It is equally ironic that Vazquez and DH Nick Johnson will be teammates given they were once traded for each other.  Hopefully, this ends the Yankees’ attempt at a 2003-04 reunion tour.  We really don’t need to see a return performance by Jason Giambi.  Sorry, G, I loved you in pinstripes but that day has passed. 

 

AP 

 

The Yankees did manage to secure a bullpen part with the Vazquez trade.  They also acquired pitcher Boone Logan.  Gotta love the name.  Logan is a lefty but is probably more of a one batter specialist.  The Yankees are hopeful that Damaso Marte will continue at the level he displayed late in the season.  Logan was acquired by the Atlanta Braves in the same trade that brought Vazquez from the Chicago White Sox.  So, once again, Logan and Vazquez are intertwined…and hopefully the duo will prove to be very successful in the Bronx.  Vazquez is a free agent after 2010, so it’s possible that this is another one-and-done Yankee performance, but it is my hope that he proves he belongs in pinstripes.

 

 

The Yankees also signed free agent catcher Mike Rivera (formerly of the Milwaukee Brewers).  So long as Rivera is slotted for the third catching spot, I am okay with the move.  I feel that Francisco Cervelli deserves the primary shot to be Jorge Posada’s backup, but a veteran influence like Rivera can’t hurt.

 

 

So, now the question is what the Yankees will do about left field?  The Vazquez trade brings the payroll to nearly $200 million which is the alleged budget for 2010.  Perhaps they’ll need to offload Chad Gaudin and/or Sergio Mitre (among others), but room can be made for a capable left fielder.  Alas, it won’t be Matt Holliday or Jason Bay (or even Johnny Damon),  but I have confidence that GM Brian Cashman won’t leave the team shortchanged.

 

 

All these moves do have the potential of disrupting team chemistry so I am hopeful that the team is able to mesh in spring training.  From a character standpoint, I have no reservations with Curtis Granderson, Nick Johnson, or Javier Vazquez, so I think they’ll be fine.  But as they say, the proof is in the pudding…

 

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