Results tagged ‘ Boston ’
Is that Hal saying “I told you so”?…
That’s the one word which comes to mind when I think of the Yankees’ team play so far in the still very young 2013 season.
Sure, the Yanks have lost a few games they should have won but a week into May and the Yanks stand at 18-12. They are just a game and a half behind AL East Leader Boston entering tonight’s play. Maybe the bigger surprise is that the pitching-rich Tampa Bay Rays at 14-16 and “everbody’s pre-season favorite”, the Toronto Blue Jays, are 11-21. I fully expect changes in the AL East standings as the season progresses but given the hand the Yankees were dealt, they’ve fared much better than expected.
I should be happy that Alex Rodriguez has started his rehab in Tampa, which has included some light hitting. But of all the injured players, A-Rod is the one that I am not looking forward to returning. I was hopeful that Kevin Youkilis would have a ‘comeback player of the year’ type of season but it was not meant to be as Youk found his usual spot on the DL. His injury prompted the Yankees to acquire Colorado Rockies third baseman Chris Nelson to back up former Rockie Jayson Nix. I honestly cannot say which player I’d prefer at third as neither excites me but I’d still rather see them play than A-Rod.
I assume Curtis Granderson will be the first of the injured to return. I don’t think anyone expects him to slide back into centerfield but his presence will create challenges for Manager Joe Girardi to find at-bats for Vernon Wells, Brett Gardner, and Ichiro Suzuki. There’s no way that Travis Hafner is giving up DH with his play. I feel bad for Brennan Boesch as I like having him on the team.
Mark Teixeira should be back in the not-so-distant futre. Lyle Overbay is certainly not the player Tex is but Overbay has given the Yanks some early clutch hits that Tex, a notorious slow starter, never could have.
With Derek Jeter out until after the All-Star Break, and Eduardo Nunez proving to be no more capable than a spare, the Yanks do need to bring in a veteran shortstop to plug the hole until DJ is ready to return.
Since it is apparent that Austin Romine is only in New York to “watch”, I’ll be glad when Francisco Cervelli is able to come back and take starts aways from the offensively-challenged Chris Stewart.
I am worried about CC Sabathia’s drop in velocity, like everyone else, and Andy Pettitte’s recent struggles. There are no great starters waiting the wings. But in the pen, I was pleased with the 3-up, 3-down debut inning by Preston Claiborne. In his first major league appearance, he pitched two shutout innings in Sunday’s loss to the Oakland A’s. He certainly did his part to ensure the Yanks were in the position to win the game in the bottom of the 9th. It was not to be, but through no fault of Preston’s.
How do you teach Greatness?…
I remember when I first heard that Mariano Rivera would be 43 at the end of his current deal. I was worried that he’d be unable to sustain his level of superiority. But, man, was I ever so wrong! Rivera has long been my favorite active Yankee but time catches up with all…or does it? Mo continues to astound at his age and has proven that if he wanted to continue to play beyond this season, millions (dollars and fans) would be waiting for him. A true legend in our lifetime…
A very good day in April…
I was very skeptical when former Miami Dolphins GM Rick Spielman took over as the GM for the Minnesota Vikings, but draft after draft, he has proven to be very astute. Going into the 2013 NFL Draft, I had hoped for a play-making wide receiver in the first round. When the Vikings first selection came up at #23, they had no choice but to take DT Sharrif Floyd. Floyd had been a top 5 pick in many mock drafts and it was a position of need. At #25, I was hoping for either the play-making wide receiver or a hard-hitting middle linebacker. The Vikings went with Xavier Rhodes, a cornerback, and it was hard to argue the selection given his height and talent to play with the division’s big receivers. I felt that the Vikes had missed the opportunity to get a legitimate #2 receiver to go with free agent signee Greg Jennings, but then it was announced that the Vikings had thrown a plethora of picks at the New England Patriots to get the #28 spot which they finally used to grab the play-making wide receiver (Cordarrelle Patterson). In my years in Dallas, I always remember former head coach of the Cowboys, Jimmy Johnson, talk about “playmakers”. In the 2013 Draft, Rick Spielman nailed three in the first round.
I’ve always liked Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, but I knew his days were numbered when the Vikings burned a pick on a punter. The NFL can be a cold, hard business and it is always evitable that someone will lose their job to a younger, cheaper talent. I cannot find fault in the Vikings decision to part ways with Kluwe but I thank him for his time in Minnesota. He is a good punter and he won’t be unemployed for long. Now, if new punter Jeff Locke can have a rookie season like kicker Blair Walsh did last year…
With Matt Cassel now on the roster as the backup QB, the pressure will be squarely on Christian Ponder’s shoulders. Even if Cassel’s time in KC was less than stellar, I am sure the coaching staff won’t hesitate to pull Ponder if he continues to regress. I liked the Vikings free agent signing of former Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg. His senior season was a disappointment, but he was a big-time talent during his junior year. I am hopeful that he can excel in his opportunities in front of Head Coach Leslie Frazier and his staff.
My heart goes out to Boston…
I have posted on this blog since prior to the Boston Marathon so I am late to the party to add my comments. However, my heart goes out to all those who were impacted directly or indirectly by the tragic deeds of heartless terrorists. I will never understand what drove Tamerlan Tsarnaev to his horrific actions or why he chose to ruin his brother’s life in convincing him to participate. Running in the Boston Marathon has long been a personal goal and it will not dissuade me achieving that goal one day. I have many friends in Boston and the heart of the city is incredibly tough and resilient. You don’t have to love the Red Sox to love Boston. Boston, in my opinion, is the premier city in America. They will persevere and they’ll never let anyone take their city. Boston Strong, to the end…
The House that Hal…allowed deferred maintenance…
The season is fully underway and the DL is standing room only. 2013 did not get off to a great start with the season series opening loss to the Boston Red Sox, in Yankee Stadium no less. It was par for the course after an off-season that was satisfying, apparently, for Yankee ownership but not for its fans.
The series loss cost me my latest wager with former MLB Blogger Julia’s Rants. As a penalty for the loss, I have to read Terry Francona’s autobiography and provide Julia with my report. Had the Yankees won, she would have had to read Driving Mr Yogi, but it was not meant to be. I have the Francona book and I need to open it but I guess I can procrastinate for another day.
Fortunately, after the series loss to the Red Sox and one to the Detroit Tigers, the Yankees have started to right the ship. After tonight’s win over the Baltimore Orioles (which, by the way, included a triple play), the Yanks finally have a winning record for the season at 5-4.
Nevertheless, the injury concerns persist. While the news lately has been positive about Mark Teixeira and his ability to return on or around May 1st, Andy Pettitte has postponed his next start due to back spasms. This is unfortunate as Andy has been stellar out of the gate. Hopefully, it is just a temporary setback and not indicative of a season long affliction.
I am not ready to climb on the ‘old guys are good’ bandwagon, but Vernon Wells and Travis Hafner have played better than I had anticipated. The key is continuance and consistency so we’ll see. Check back with me in June or July. In a scenario where Wells and Hafner continue to hit, it will be interesting to see what the Yankees do when Curtis Granderson returns. It’s fairly evident that the odd man out would be Ichiro Suzuki.
It was tough to see two games in Cleveland get rained out considering the Yankees did not have any further trips to Cleveland scheduled this year. So, later on what would have been an off-day, they’ll have to play a double-header. Hopefully it doesn’t come at a time when the team desperately needs a break. I guess it could be worse. I saw that tonight’s game in Minneapolis was in the 30’s. Minnesota-cold is beyond cold in other parts of the country. But throwing that aside, I do miss Minneapolis. It was a wonderful city to live in…at least from my perspective.
As tough as the Yankees’ schedule is for April, I wouldn’t be surprised if they got swept at the end of the month by the Houston Astros…
How to destroy $147 million with a single shoulder blow…
I feel bad for Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. Thanks to the stupidity of San Diego Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin, the Dodgers loose their $147 million investment (Zack Greinke) for eight weeks with a broken collarbone as a result of last night’s melee. As if the pressure wasn’t already intense on Donnie Baseball, the loss of an ace will certainly hurt. It’s rather disgusting that Quentin can get off with an 8-game suspension when he costs the Dodgers several months of one of their key pitchers. I can completely understand why the Chicago White Sox ditched Quentin.
Random Pinstripe Thoughts…
Nothing against Lyle Overbay but I suspect his Yankees career will be fairly short. Francisco Cervelli has done better than I had expected…so far. I am still a proponent for getting Austin Romine into the position when he’s ready but I don’t think Cervelli has been a drop-off from his predecessor, Russell Martin. I was glad to see Clay Rapada clear waivers and re-sign with the Yankees. I am in favor of a long-term Yankees tour for Brennan Boesch. Eduardo Nunez is not the solution for a post-Derek Jeter tenure. Give Robinson Cano his money. If Travis Hafner can hit like he did against his former team in other games, I will consider him an upgrade over former DH Raul Ibanez. If not, why is Ibanez in Seattle? Kevin Youkilis is as tough as advertised. I can see why the Red Sox fans loved the guy.
Baseball, I am glad it’s back…
Time to head North for the Bronx!…
As the Texas Rangers open the American League for business tonight against new AL tenant, the Houston Astros, everybody knows that baseball doesn’t really start until the Yankees play the Red Sox! But the wait wont’ be long as the Yankees open Yankee Stadium tomorrow against their long-time AL East rival, the Boston Red Sox. Granted, this is probably going to be a down year for both the Yanks and Sox, but still, it is an exciting rival and one that I look forward to every year.
This time of year, there’s always painful cuts so this year’s unfortunate parting of the ways is with lefty specialist Clay Rapada. Rapada had been a great find last season as one of those scrap heap signings that worked. He did his job and he did it well. There’s no doubt that the Yankees will be able to move Rapada to another team that will appreciate his talents. The Yankees certainly appreciated what he could do, but in the end, it was a game of numbers, options, and flexibility. For every player that did make the 2013 Yankees, you can certainly rationalize why each should be a part of the team.
But with Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, Phil Hughes, and Alex Rodriguez on the disabled list, there will be other notable moves as the Yankees clear space for the ones who return to health this season. But for now, this the 2013 Yankees:
Mariano Rivera (for the final time…sniff…sniff…)
I was a little surprised that Vernon Wells took number 12 to open the season. While he had stated that he’d get a lower number after taking #56 upon his arrival, 12 seems to be an odd choice. But then again, with so many retired numbers (and numbers on hold), there aren’t too many options. Conversely, Lyle Overbay took Hideki Matsui’s old number, #55, which seems better suited for an outfielder.
Everyone has to start somewhere…
Congratulations to Boston rookie Jackie Bradley, Jr. for making the Red Sox opening day roster and his starting assignment in left field tomorrow in the Bronx. What a great way to kick off one’s career! Of course, I am hoping that his career firsts (home run, RBI, etc.) occur during Boston’s second series of the season, but it’s exciting to see young, talented players embark on what could be a great career.
While others prepare to exit, with a brief delay or two…
I saw that Jason Bay has made the Seattle Mariners as their fifth outfielder behind former Yank Raul Ibanez. I am glad for him. It’s hard not to feel bad for a guy who clearly made the wrong decision to go to the Mets when he left Boston a few years back. Nothing against the Mets, but it was the wrong park for Bay. It’s doubtful he’ll ever be anything close to what he was in Boston, but hopefully he can put together a few solid years in the Great Northwest before calling it a career.
He wore the pinstripes proudly…
I saw that Bullet Bob Turley died over the weekend. It was very sad to hear the news of his passing from liver cancer. He won 21 games in 1958, and lifted the Yankees in a come from behind World Series championship over the Milwaukee Braves. Another great Yankee passes but forever remains intertwined into the fabric of Yankee Stadium.
Wells, that was not quite the answer I was looking for…
I have never been a big fan of Los Angeles Angels outfielder Vernon Wells, and was one of many who quietly laughed when the Angels took his financial albatross of a contract off the hands of the Toronto Blue Jays. But I guess it is apparently better to have the last laugh and that would not be me. The move allowed the Blue Jays to re-group to the point that they now have arguably the best team in the American League East. And, as health would have it (or lack there of), the Yankees find they have the need to take what’s left of Wells off the Angels hand so that they can pay those hefty contracts belonging to Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. Granted, the Angels will be paying most of the freight to bring Wells to the Bronx (assuming the deal goes through as expected), but he has been the Crown Prince of Disappointment for so many years. Yes, he’s had a good spring, but so have a lot of guys who didn’t amount to a hill of beans in the big leagues.
At first I heard that the Yankees would be paying less than $10 million on the Wells contract which has $42 million more to go until it expires following the 2014. But the latest word has the Yankees paying up to $13 million which means it will probably be more like $15 million or more when the deal is finally announced.
With the opening day absences of Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark Teixeira, the Yankees need proven production in the lineup. Robinson Cano is only one man. There’s question marks at every turn, but the likelihood of Curtis Granderson’s return is far better than Mark Teixeira (who some say could miss the season). This means I would have preferred to see the Yankees allocate resources toward an alternative first baseman. The prospect of outfielder Juan Rivera playing first on a full or part-time basis is just not very satisfying for me.
But speaking of first base, the only talk I hear is the potential acquisition of first baseman Lyle Overbay from the Boston Red Sox. Overbay can opt out of his deal this week and that would put him at the forefront of Yankees’ attention.
None of these acquisitions will give anyone illusions of a championship.
At some point, the Yankees are going to have to just blow it up and start over…
This is the time of hard cuts. I saw today that the Cleveland Indians cut Daisuke Matsuzaka. Okay, I don’t consider that a hard cut, but there will be notable names mentioned in the coming days. It is hard to believe that the Yankees will be powering up Yankee Stadium just one short week from tomorrow. As for the Yankees, I remain hopeful that both Ben Francisco and Brennan Boesch will travel north with the club despite the apparent acquisition of Vernon Wells. While I’ve been pulling for Boesch, I have to say that Francisco has played well enough to start at least as part of a platoon. I seriously doubt that Travis Hafner and Kevin Youkilis will make it through the season injury-free so at some point, Wells will probably start to take the majority of the at-bats at DH.
I guess there should be plenty of drama this week as MLB teams shape up their opening day rosters.
It’s just a number…
As a Minnesota Vikings fan, I am still trying to wrap my head around Greg Jennings playing for the Vikings. After Darren Sharper, Ryan Longwell, and Brett Favre, I should be used to this. Jennings may not have the athleticism of departed slot receiver Percy Harvin, but if healthy, he is a weapon. It’s interesting that he selected #15. I can’t say that I can remember another Viking who wore the number although I am sure a few have. Of course, #15 for me is always going to be Thurman Munson but that’s a different sport. Greg Childs currently holds Jennings’ Packer number, #85. After missing his first season due to injury, I can’t say that his grasp on #85 is very strong. Perhaps Jennings is just biding his time until he can retrieve #85. Childs’ childhood friend and lifelong teammate, Jarius Wright, is clearly the favorite to fill Harvin’s role.
Part of me wants the Vikings to sign former Chicago Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, but of course, the sensible part of me only wants guys that can be part of the future as the door is starting to open for the Vikings again as a play-off contender. I would like to see the Vikings to find a way to bring Antoine Winfield back to purple and gold. I have faith in the younger guys and GM Rick Spielman has shown that he knows a thing or two about the NFL Draft so I am sure the secondary will be addressed next month. I am anxious to see what Josh Robinson is capable of, but it would be nice to have Winfield to help the transition.
I like the job that Leslie Frazier has done with the Vikings and I am hopeful that it will lead to a long-term contract.
Next month is a big sports month. Opening day in Major League Baseball and the NFL Draft. It should be a very fun time. And for my friends in the East and Midwest, it should mean a little less snow…
Team Question Mark…
It’s March 22nd and I am still waiting for that deal that instills confidence for the 2013 New York Yankees, but so far, it’s been like an unsuccessful Vegas weekend. I want to throw out the surgery recovery for Alex Rodriguez because I remain happy that he is not in the lineup regardless of the cost. Addition by subtraction. Sorry, I am just not a fan of the narcissistic one. Even with the injury risk, I prefer to see Kevin Youkilis man third base for the Yanks. But throwing that aside, the Yankees have lost Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira to injury. While both are expected to be back in May, there have been numerous professional reports that Teixeira could be lost for the year. The Yankees lost their backup first baseman when right fielder Nick Swisher signed with the Cleveland Indians.
The catching battle is between two perennial backup catchers. I fully expect Francisco Cervelli to win the job, but I do not have full faith and confidence in his ability as a starter. I am sure that Chris Stewart will see plenty of time behind the plate this year. I had quietly hoped that Austin Romine would surprise in training camp and claim the job, but now that he’s back in the minors, his arrival won’t come until later in the year and perhaps even next year. Meanwhile, I am hoping that top catching prospect Gary Sanchez can start to accelerate his development to hasten his arrival in the Bronx.
Despite Derek Jeter’s optimistic outlook, it’s unlikely that he’ll be ready on Opening Day so the Yanks will most likely open against the Boston Red Sox with Eduardo Nunez at short.
I am assuming that Ichiro Suzuki will be shifted to left to temporarily replace Granderson, so right field will most likely be a committee led by recent signee Brennan Boesch. I am hopeful the team also finds room for Ben Francisco, but neither bat will rival the production the Yanks received from Swisher.
Brett Gardner is coming off an injury-lost season so it’s not 100% that he’ll be the Gardy of old. So, the only “sure thing” in the Yankees lineup right now is second baseman Robinson Cano. Given his recent health history, I would certainly not label DH Travis Hafner as a sure thing. If the Yankees lost Cano, this season would be lost. As it stands, I still expect a late March trade to bring in a capable first baseman. Gaby Sanchez of the Pittsburgh Pirates is the name that comes to mind. There’s no way that it will be a frontline first bagger, not under the regime of Hal the accountant.
The Yankees are the oldest team in baseball and rarely has the oldest team succeeded. This will be a tough year. Yes, the Yankees will compete for a play-off spot but I do not see them repeating as AL East Champions. I know that Red Sox fans have been salivating all off-season (along with Rays and Jays fans).
At least I learned what a lisfranc injury is…
While I was pleased to hear the Yankees have re-signed former ace starter Chien-Ming Wang, he’s a bigger question mark than any of the current players on the team. The foot injury suffered against the Houston Astros years ago led to Wang’s subsequent departure for the Washington Nationals, and he really only enjoyed one reasonably healthy season while away. I seriously doubt that he’ll ever be the 19 game winner that he was a few years ago. He does give the Yankees some insurance to trade someone like David Phelps or Ivan Nova for a quality bat.
If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen…
I have been a Yankees fan for a number of years but this is clearly one of the most fragile times that I’ve experienced in recent memory. The Yankees are only an injury or two away from disaster. Sure, some players could step up and have career years but the range of potential success to non-success have never been wider. The pressure on Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman will be as high as it has ever been. It’s unfortunate that they are the front mean for Team Hal. I am not quite sure why the Yankees suddenly feel that they can be the AL version of the St Louis Cardinals. My favorite teams, in order, are the Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The pressure on Girardi and Dodgers manager Don Mattingly are higher than any other manager in baseball. Not that I am against a scenario that could ultimately bring Donnie Baseball to the Bronx as manager, but still, both men deserve better than the hands they have been dealt.
Maybe the Yanks should be spending some extra cash on PowerBall…
I get that $200 million is a lot of money, and the Yankees have been the only team to play in that neighborhood “salary-wise” until the Los Angeles Dodgers joined the party. But I am surprised to hear Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner making comments about the disbelief in fan reaction to the team’s non-activity outside of re-signing its key free agents. Yes, that point is huge. Re-signing Huroki Kuroda, Ichiro Suzuki and Andy Pettitte were essential to the team’s hopes for 2013 so I do not dispute the importance of the team taking care of those players. While I like the signings of 3B Kevin Youkilis and DH Travis Hafner, there are huge injury risks prevalent with both players. I could be wrong but I doubt either player gives the Yankees at least 140 games this year.
My point and frustration with the Yankees ownership is the loss of free agents catcher Russell Martin to the Pittsburgh Pirates and right fielder Nick Swisher to the Cleveland Indians. Catching is left to a couple of career back-ups, including one recently associated with PED rumors, unless touted prospect Austin Romine can step it up and make his presence felt in the Bronx sooner rather than later. In right field, the Yankees do have Ichiro but he’s not getting any younger. He certainly won’t provide the pop that Swisher could. He’ll make more happen on the base paths, but isn’t that what Brett Gardner is for? Sometimes, a team needs to make a move to excite the fan base. I do not equate that to throwing money away to satisfy the fans, but making calculated, smart moves that give the team something to build upon.
As it stands, the possibility the Yankees lose Robinson Cano to free agency is high. Yes, ownership makes the comments about how they want him to be a Yankee for life. However, I seriously doubt the organization is going to give an 8 to 10 year deal to a 30-year old veteran player even if he is the team’s best player. We have A-Rod to thank for making ownership a bit gun shy, and rightfully so. I think the single biggest detriment to keeping the Yankees from winning the World Series in the next few years is A-Rod. If you could take those dollars and invest them in better, cheaper resources, the team would be much stronger and the goal of coming in under $189 million next year would be possible.
If catching is a debacle and the older Yankees show their age, this is going to be a very long season. Personally, I think this will be Manager Joe Girardi’s most challenging year. He’ll be riding the hot seat all year long, especially if the Yankees get off to a sluggish start in April. It is a given that Mark Teixeira’s bat won’t show up until around Memorial Day so I am fearful the team will become too dependent on guys like Youk and Hafner which could overexpose them and increase the likelihood of injury. Now would be the time for infielder Eduardo Nunez to step up in a huge way…
The argument can be made that every team in the AL East has the ability to play better than .500 ball, and all have the wherewithal to win the division outright. My guess, at this point, is the division goes to the Toronto Blue Jays, leaving the Yanks, Red Sox, Orioles and Rays to fight it out for a Wild Card spot.
But it’s a long season, and there is always the potential the Yankees do make the necessary moves to ensure a strong chance for October success.
The Giambino back in the AL…
I saw a report this morning that former Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi has signed a $750,000 minor league deal and invitation to training camp with the Cleveland Indians. It seems a bit strange to see Giambi on a team managed by Terry Francona, but if used in the right way, Giambi could help the Indians. As the Toby Keith song goes, “I ain’t as good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was”. While I think Giambi should have retired, I am sure that he’ll begin his coaching career soon enough and it’s not a bad idea to learn a trick or two from one of the better managers in baseball.
It’s just a number…
Although the Yankees active roster on MLB.com has not been updated, it looks like Kevin Youkilis is going to wear #36. I would have preferred to see the team dust off Jorge Posada’s #20 given that was Youk’s number in Boston. I am not trying to be disrespectful to Jorge, but I’ve never been a big fan of retired numbers unless the guy was an absolute legend like Babe Ruth or Lou Gehrig. Posada had a great career, but I simply do not put him in the same category with catching greats Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra or Thurman Munson. With all the retired and reserved Yankee numbers, it is inevitable that many players will be joining Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain in the 60’s or higher.
Time to head to Florida and Arizona…
With all the snow Boston has received this weekend, it’s hard to believe that baseball training camps start to open this week. It feels much more like baseball weather where I sit in California as temps are expected to reach the 70’s this week, but for my friends in Boston, I am hoping all are safe and warm. It was a good thing that Truck Day happened before the weather emergency. Even as a Yankees fan, I would never wish ill will on the Red Sox or their fans. As they say, you have to beat the best to be the best and I wouldn’t want it to be any other way.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…
I have tried. Honestly. I tried to give Alex Rodriguez the benefit of the doubt and I tried to be positive that he was on my favorite team. But with the latest swirling of PED use rumors, I’m done. A-Rod’s contract is the albatross of all albatrosses. He will single-handedly keep the Yankees from winning the World Series over the next couple of years because of how many salary dollars have to be steered his way. If he was still producing, it would be one thing. But he’s not. He is clearly a player in decline who will miss the entire 2013 season. He’ll be yet another year older in 2014, and it is highly unlikely that he’ll ever be a consistent threat at the plate.
For me, character is a very important component to building a successful team. When it comes to class and character, A-Rod has none. He is clearly a narcissistic player who prioritizes personal goals above team goals. Perhaps I am judging him too harshly, but the cons far outweigh the pros when considering his place on the Yankees roster. I am happier with an elder veteran, injury-risk third baseman like Kevin Youkilis than seeing A-Rod take the field.
As it sounds like A-Rod intends to keep playing after he recovers from his hip surgery, I am hopeful the Yankees can find a way to free themselves of the #13 baggage.
What, was Darryl Strawberry unavailable?…
With today’s announcement that the Yankees are nearing an agreement with former Cleveland Indians star Travis Hafner, it is hard to be enthused. This post certainly has a negative spin to it, huh? Well, anyway, Hafner has seen his better days and is no longer the feared hitter he once was. It would have been great to have had Hafner, Youkilis and Ichiro Suzuki in 2004 or 2005, but they just don’t look quite as good in 2013. Hafner can no longer play the field so the Yanks could easily have a glut of DH, no field type players if Youk or other older veterans become slowed by injury or for whatever reason. In spots, Hafner can probably look good but I am just not confident in the starting lineup’s ability to stay healthy.
I know the Yankees still have a very good offensive lineup and an effective starting rotation, but has the rest of the league passed them by? That’s a question that will have to be answered when the games begin, but the potential is certainly there.
This has been a long off-season without much to be excited about if you are a Yankees fan. I am hopeful that someone like catcher Austin Romine will step forward in spring training and prove that he’s ready for major league fastballs. I am anxiously looking forward to the arrival of outfielder Slade Heathcott but he’s still a year or two away.
The right way to kick off the season…
As a Yankees fan, it’s hard to like the Boston Red Sox. But I really like the excitement and energy that goes into their annual Truck Day when the equipment truck loads up and heads for Florida. It’s a great signal for the start of the upcoming season and it certainly helps get one into a baseball frame of mind after a winter of football and basketball. I’d say hockey but they decided to take most of the season off until the recent return. My Red Sox friends always get so jazzed this time of year and to a degree, I am envious.
End of the season celebration…
I am happy for Andy Pettitte that he will be able to end what will most likely be his final season with a series in Houston. It does seem strange that the Yankees would be playing the Astros at the end of September as opposed to the Red Sox or Rays, but this should be a fun season for Andy. I am also braced for what could be the final year for legendary closer Mariano Rivera. So if both Andy and Mo depart, it will be special to watch them this year. Those are two guys I hope are annual fixtures on Old Timer’s Day.
I think I’ll go with Harbaugh…
I live in the Bay Area so I should be supportive of the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday’s Super Bowl, but I am really undecided. As a Minnesota Vikings fan, I do not have any attachments to the 49ers other than geographical location. As I study the teams, they seem evenly matched and both have exciting young quarterbacks. The Ravens have the added emotional incentive of the final game for future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis (yes, Denver, a team is finally throwing Lewis a retirement party). To me, it comes down to the coaches. I think Jim Harbaugh is a good coach, but coach-to-coach, brother-to-brother, I think John Harbaugh is the better coach. Jim may have had the more successful playing career, but there are not many guys that understand the game like John. I won’t be disappointed regardless of the result. Both teams are deserving of victory. There’s no one that I love to hate associated with this game, so it will be a good one to just watch and enjoy. But I give the edge to the Ravens because of John…
By the way, congratulations to Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph for being named MVP of the Pro Bowl. He can be a very effective weapon for QB Christian Ponder going forward. I always loved the relationship between former Dallas Cowboys QB Troy Aikman and TE Jay Novacek (or even the Patriots’ QB Tom Brady and TE Rob Gronkowski). Rudolph can be that type of guy for Ponder. If they are successful, maybe I can watch the Vikings in the Super Bowl for the first time since I was a kid…
Who needs Josh Hamilton or A.J. Pierzynski!…
Austin Romine and Ronnier Mustelier. Sometimes, the most meaningful additions to the major league roster are from within. That’s probably never been so important in the Bronx than it is now as the Yankees attempt to reduce their payroll to below $189 million by 2014. To accomplish the goal, the Yankees will need more than one or two low-cost, high reward type players on the roster.
I admit that I haven’t been watching the minor leagues as close as I probably should have. I’ve been aware of Romine, the son of former Red Sox player Kevin Romine. For years, his name was always mentioned in the same breath as Jesus Montero as the type two prospects at catcher. With the trade of Montero to Seattle last year, it helped clear the path for Romine. Now, among Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli, Romine represents the greatest upside even if he missed most of last year due to injury.
I have not been aware of Mustelier, a Cuban refugee the Yankees signed a couple of years ago. But all the guy has done is hit as he’s progressed through the Yankees’ system. He is a utility man that can play both corners, but I’ve seen speculation about him in right field too. He’s old for a prospect (27) but it doesn’t mean that he cannot seize an opportunity in spring training to make his imprint on the Yankees’ roster.
If both Romine and Mustelier grabbed key roles for the 2013 team, it will help the Yankees to focus on eliminating other parts of “fat” on the roster and hopefully upgrade the team with lower cost high-producing replacements. Easier said than done, which does lead me to believe the next couple of years will be ones of transition for the Yankees. I honestly cannot see them keeping up with the ‘Joneses’ (i.e., namely the Toronto Blue Jays, Tampa Bay Rays or even the Baltimore Orioles) with the current roster. This doesn’t mean that I envision 95-loss seasons in the immediate future. The Yankees still have too much talent on the roster. But it will be a dogfight for 90-win seasons if the team continues on its current path. A game or two here or there is the difference between making the play-offs as a wild card or staying home for October.
The strong get stronger, the Yankees get older…
As it stands, the most successful teams this off-season, in my opinion, have been the Los Angeles Angels and the Toronto Blue Jays. Of course, the Kansas City Royals added a great pitcher in James Shields even if it did cost their top prospect. The Texas Rangers will be strong again even if they lost Josh Hamilton. I fully expect them to find an adequate replacement for Hamilton between now and the start of the season. The bat won’t be as strong as Hamilton’s bat, but it will be a capable one, I am sure. In the AL East, I still expect the Tampa Bay Rays to be strong despite losing Shields. If I’ve learned anything in baseball, it is to never underestimate Rays manager Joe Maddon and GM Andrew Friedman. I assume that the Baltimore Orioles will be as strong as they were in 2012, and I expect an improved Boston Red Sox club under the new leadership of manager John Farrell.
With the strength of the Detroit Tigers and other teams, it’s almost impossible to predict who will be the winners next season. I’d like to say the Yankees will be one of the last teams standing, but everything would have to align perfectly for that to happen and I just don’t see it. As usual, I hope I am wrong and that the Yankees surprise me with their performance in ’13. Time will tell…
I still do not see the Steinbrenner family allowing the value of the franchise to erode. Either they make the necessary moves to ensure the continued competitiveness of the team or they sell. The latter is not such a bad idea if it would bring in aggressive new ownership. I cannot find fault with the current regime’s decision to cut payroll to reduce luxury taxes in future years, but the problem is too many bad decisions in the past (i.e., A-Rod’s contract). It feels like the Yankees are going ‘cold turkey’ with their new small market budget mentality. It would have worked better as a slower transition, but of course, the 2014 deadline does not allow for it.
Teams like the St Louis Cardinals have proven in recent years that you can win despite not having the best players or the highest payroll. I know that’s the model the Yankees would like to emulate. Going for the best players with inflated payrolls seems to be a ‘play for now’ approach with no sustainability. The key to long-term success is to develop a farm system that allows the introduction of young, low-cost talent every year (in other words, the Tampa Bay Rays). It’s just so hard as a Yankees fan to see the team go from one extreme to the other.
Oh well, let’s see what happens when the players step onto the field…
Have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! J
Sleeping with the Enemy…
News that the Yankees have signed veteran third baseman Kevin Youkilis have not been well received in the Yankees Universe…obviously. Sure, there have been a few ex-Boston Red Sox players make their way to the Bronx but certainly none who have been as despised as Youk. His crime? Playing with passion and all-out perseverance to find ways to beat the Yankees. He is one of those tough, gritty players that are relentless and when they smell blood, it’s over. Youk has struggled with injuries in recent years and he had a falling out with former Sox manager Bobby Valentine, who has historically taken to gritty players. I know, there is the stat line that he only got one hit in his final 59 at-bats with the Chicago White Sox last season. Nevertheless, I am willing to give Youk a chance.
Admittedly, I am not an Alex Rodriguez fan and I am still bent the Yankees didn’t let him walk away when he opted out of his first mega contract. But with third base possibilities such as Eric Chavez and Jeff Keppinger signing elsewhere, the Yankees had to do something given that A-Rod will be lost for most of the season due to his upcoming hip surgery. Going to camp with Eduardo Nunez as the starting third baseman, given the team doesn’t have a starting catcher or right fielder, was not appealing in any way. No one really knows how A-Rod will play next season when or if he returns, so odds are they need a solid third baseman for the entire season. With Youk on board, the Yanks still need to get insurance at third in case Youk goes down. But I think as long as he gets sufficient rest, he’ll stay healthy and be an effective part of the Yankees lineup.
When Youk homers for the first time against the Red Sox, I am sure that the Yankee cheers will come around. Yankee fans love players who play with passion so long as the player is on their team. It will always be hard to look at Youk and not think of the 2004 World Champion Red Sox, but he is not the same player he was then and this is a new chapter in his life. When he walks away from the game, he will be remembered as part of the Red Sox organization but for a year or two, he can certainly make an effective contribution for the home team.
There are guys on the current Red Sox roster that I have great respect for, like Jon Lester and Dustin Pedroia. Youk was one of those guys. Sure, I hated the guy in difficult games between the Yankees and Red Sox, but I always had a quiet respect for him. Of course, this could all be premature as Youk still has to pass a physical but I look forward to seeing what he can do in the Bronx sans the famed goatee. It will also be interesting to see if the Yankees continue to hold #20 in reserve out of respect for Jorge Posada or if they assign it to Youk given it was his number in Boston and Chicago. I suspect he’ll end up with something other than #20, but until it happens, you never know.
I saw a quote in George King’s column in The New York Post from Mariano Rivera that I agree with completely: “Yankee (fans) didn’t like him but he was wearing a Red Sox uniform. I can’t decide for them but he will be my teammate and I have to respect him for that.” Youk is a Yankee, and like Mo, I respect him for that.
Ichiro, Part II…
All indications are the Yankees will be coming to terms with Ichiro Suzuki on a new deal to keep him in the Bronx. The question is whether it will be one or two years. At 39, I’d probably prefer a one year deal so that the team can reassess its options at the end of the year. Every move has been made with the intent to get the payroll under $189 million by 2014 for luxury tax purposes and a second year for Ichiro would erode into the dollars available for any talent upgrades next off-season.
As it stands, I do not like an outfield of Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson and Ichiro, but I will be interested to see who they bring in as the fourth outfielder. Perhaps that individual will solidify this outfield corps into a strong and powerful unit. I am not opposed to trading Granderson and moving Gardner to center, but the Yankees would need to replace his offensive production elsewhere in the lineup. All signs so far this winter indicate the Yankees will not do anything to the extreme. Yes, they could still swoop in with a blockbuster trade, but I highly doubt it. The sad part is the current Yankees roster is not as strong as last year’s squad, while the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox have clearly improved. Tampa Bay may have traded a top starting pitcher in James Shields, but they picked up one of the best prospects in baseball in Wil Myers. Tampa also seems to be able to pull aces out of their farm system every year so there’s no doubt they’ll find a capable replacement for Shields. Baltimore hasn’t made any major moves but they still have the team to over-achieve. I do not know what next year will bring. The Yankees still have December and January to improve, but the likelihood diminishes with each passing day. If the Yankees falter in 2013, what does 2014 look like? I can’t see the team suddenly reversing course and going into “Dodger” mode to sign free agents. I think the Yankees will remain competitive, but I am not convinced they have the horses to win the World Series.
Maybe the All-Star Game should be the Dodgers against everyone else…
My favorite National League team is the Los Angeles Dodgers, but I am struggling with the thought of cheering for the two highest payrolls in baseball. My affection for the Dodgers is primarily because of my long-time hero, Don Mattingly, but the huge salary outlay by the Dodgers will create unrealistic expectations in Dodgerland and it will be tough for Donnie Baseball if the Dodgers struggle. I remain hopeful that he’ll one day find his way back to the Bronx to manage, but I am not pulling for him to get fired next year. I am not sure who I would pull for in the NL if not the Dodgers. I live in the Bay Area so there’s always the San Francisco Giants, but they’ve won the World Series in two of the last three years and I don’t want to jump on the bandwagon. My fallback has always been the St Louis Cardinals because that’s where I experienced attending my first major league baseball game as a teenager so many years ago. I suppose that I’ll stick with the Dodgers as long as Mattingly is there, but Magic Johnson and company have certainly made it more challenging by their willingness to spend excessively.
Why does February 12th (when pitchers and catchers report) seem so close yet so far away?…
Thank you, Merci, Gracias, Grazie, Danke, ありがとう…
Yes, I admit it, I was worried that starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda was either going to sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers or head back to Japan to pursue his stated intent to finish his career in his home country. Pulling Kuroda out of the Yankees rotation was not a promising thought. Given CC Sabathia’s recent minor surgery, it is no sure thing that he’ll be Mister King of the Hill when the season rolls around. After CC, there is nothing but question marks. As it stands, the rotation would be Sabathia, Kuroda, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova and David Phelps. Nothing against the latter three, but all of them carry their own questions and concerns. The Yankees are not going after a prize free agent pitcher, so they would have been left to try and find a diamond in the rough. Fortunately, that’s no longer a concern, particularly if the Yankees get a return engagement from Andy Pettitte.
In the back of mind, I did feel that Kuroda would stay in New York due to a sense of unfinished business. In his final season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, I remember he had veto power on trades and he made a comment that he wanted to finish the season with the guys he started the year with. He struck me as a loyal and honorable player with those remarks, and despite rumors he left money on the table from other prospective clubs, he made the decision to return to New York on a one-year, $15 million deal. This may be his second and final season with the Yankees, but he’s certainly proven to me that he has a great deal of integrity with a genuine respect for the game which places him among the upper echelon of guys who have put on the pinstripes.
Thanks, but don’t let the door hit you on the way out…
As for the other two notable Yankee free agents (Rafael Soriano and Nick Swisher), I am indifferent about who they sign with. I would prefer to see neither player sign with an AL East club, but then again, they have to find the best deal for them wherever that may be. I saw some speculation that the Boston Red Sox might go after Swisher, but after their signing of former Oakland A’s outfielder Jonny Gomes today, I wonder if it lessens their interest in Swish. I am concerned about right field, but I have to trust that GM Brian Cashman has a plan. His trade for Swisher a few years ago was inspired, and I am sure they’ve scoped the league for players who are long on talent but have underperformed to this point. Logan Morrison of the Miami Marlins is one player who immediately comes to mind.
Player most likely to replace A-Rod during the inevitable DL stint…
Once we get past Thanksgiving and to the Baseball Winter Meetings, we should start to get a better idea of what the Yankees game plan for 2013 looks like. I am sure that there will be late moves in January or early February, but at some point, the Yankees have to do something to improve their roster. Complacency in the AL East will only buy you last place.
There hasn’t been much talk about catching, but I wonder who’ll be the backstop in 2013. Russell Martin has not been a priority so the potential increases every day that someone steps forward with a reasonable offer that entices Martin to bite. I get the sense that if he is healthy, Austin Romine may see some time behind the plate. It’s too bad Gary Sanchez is still so far away in the minor leagues.
I was surprised to see the Toronto Blue Jays bring back former manager John Gibbons, but then again, they brought back Cito Gaston for a second tour of duty (when he replaced Gibbons a few years ago). Gibbons must be jazzed about getting control of his old team combined with the influx of great talent through the trade with the Marlins that brought Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson and Emilio Bonificio to Ontario. Of course that adds pressure to the job due the increased expectations. I was still surprised that the Jays didn’t try to keep Torey Lovullo (who followed John Farrell to Boston) given the recent trend to go with younger, unproven managers (ala Robin Ventura, Don Mattingly, Walt Weiss, Mike Redmond, etc.). Not that Gibbons is old (he is only 50), but he does kind of have that ‘been there, done that’ stigma attached to him.
Why did I tell Boston to shove it?…
Speaking of the Marlins, I wonder how their new hitting coach Tino Martinez feels about the team now. He signed with the Marlins just prior to the blockbuster trade, so the roster looks completely different now than it did when he joined Miami. He’ll have his work cut out for him as the Marlins unveil a largely unknown roster when play resumes in April.
Hal, Rupert Murdoch on Line 1…
Now that the News Corporation has acquired a 49% stake in the YES Network, I wonder how much influence Rupert Murdoch will have on the Steinbrenner family. The YES Network is dependent upon the success of the Yankees, and if Hal’s imposed budgetary constraints on the Yankees result in diminished performance, how loud does Murdoch become? People will not pay premium dollars to watch a 70-win team on the field. The Steinbrenner family insists this is not a prelude to the possible sale of the Yankees, but then again, Hal and Hank were always reluctant to join the team’s management when their dad was alive and healthy. For years, it seemed like a Steinbrenner son-in-law had more interest than a blood-born Steinbrenner (outside of George, of course). If someone told me that I could make billions, I am sorry but I’d have to let go of my affection for the Yankees. If Hal is so focused on the bottom line, I believe that inevitably he’ll seek to cash out when the team is at an optimum potential sales price.
The next couple of years will be very pivotal years for the Yankees franchise.
Who died and made you George Steinbrenner?…
The Los Angeles Dodgers remain my second favorite team (otherwise known as my favorite National League team), but I maintain my reservations that they want to become the new “Yankees”. It is not outside of the realm of possibility that they’ll surpass the Yankees in total annual salaries. Yes, I am tired of simply buying players. I do like the good old fashioned trade to help subsidize home-grown talent. For years, that was the Dodgers’ business model and it is one that has helped propel the San Francisco Giants to two World Championships in three years. I remain a devout Don Mattingly fan, but I hope that the organization is not creating expectations so great that Donnie Baseball can’t survive. Then again, there is the scenario that the Yankees and Dodgers regress, and both Joe Girardi and Mattingly are fired, setting up the potential return to New York for the now experienced manager Mattingly.
I want to wish everyone a very happy and enjoyable Thanksgiving! May it be a time of peace, joy, and robust memories for all of you and your respective families. Of course, in Dallas, it will only be memorable if the Cowboys win, but everywhere else, I hope everyone is grateful and thankful for life and what life has to offer. Be well and enjoy!…