Results tagged ‘ Brian Bruney ’

All Better!…

 

It was a dream…

 

 


Dream.JPG 

 

 

Yes, that’s it!  Wednesday and Thursday did not happen.  The Tampa Bay Rays didn’t come into the Bronx and spank for the Yankees for two days.  They didn’t race to their 30th win of the season and show a superior starting rotation , did they? 

 

 

Tampa's James Shields allows three earned runs in 7-1/3 innings against the New York Yankees.

Antonelli/NY Daily News

 

 

Maybe if I go back to bed, when I get up it will be Wednesday morning, the Yankees can re-do those two forgettable days.  Seriously, the Rays didn’t just beat the Yanks, they stomped them.  The final scores are deceiving (10-6 and 8-6) only because the Yankees made it close in the final inning of each game. 

 

The games told me that the Rays need to do something about their bullpen, but otherwise, they are a complete team.  Given the injury trouble the Yanks have encountered, it’s tough to compete with the Rays when you are playing at about 80% strength.  That’s not an excuse though because the Yankees starting pitching was just, well, bad.

 

 

Rays celebrate Yankees

Kevin R. Wexler/The Record

 

Hopefully, the Yankees can re-group and play more competitive baseball the next time they face the Rays.  This has been a tough stretch but it was bound to happen with the adversity the team has faced (injuries, playing every day, added pressure on schedule caused by rainout in Detroit and subsequent double-header, etc.).

 

In both games, the Yankees did try to launch 9th inning rallies, scoring 4 runs in the first game and 2 runs in the 2nd.  It was not quite enough, but at least the team showed fight until the end. 

 

 

 

Tonight, the Yankees were in Flushing Meadow to face the New York Mets at CitiField.  After facing the Rays and Red Sox, it is probably a welcome relief to see the Mets who have struggled this year. 

 

It was a great night for Javier Vazquez until a hand injury ended his night.  With, by far, his best performance of the season (6 innings of one hit, no run ball and 6 strikeouts), Javy picked up his third win of the season.  He was at home in a National League ballpark.  The argument is that he is a better NL pitcher than AL, and on this night, he proved it.  Hopefully, the hand injury is not serious, and this start catapults Vazquez back to respectability with Yankees fans.  I know that he can pitch so much better than what he has regardless of the stadium location, so if he can right himself mentally, he’ll be okay and will provide the lift the rotation needs. 

 

 

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Kevin P. Coughlin/McClatchy

 

 

In addition to Javy, the star of the game was a name not many people know,  Kevin Russo.  The infielder was recently called up from the minors, and his double in the 7th inning scored Nick Swisher and Francisco Cervelli.

 

 

 

 

 

I was a bit concerned when Joe Girardi called on Joba Chamberlain in the bottom of the 7th, but he did his job.  Joba, who I blamed for the losses to the Twins on Sunday and Red Sox on Tuesday, was very effective.  He went 1 2/3 innings and had three timely strike outs.  Now, Mariano Rivera is a different story.  He continues to struggle.  The shut-out was lost when Jason Bay and Ike Davis hit back-to-back doubles.  But he settled down to get David Wright on a ground out to end the game.  The Yankees won, 2-1.

 

The night was further enhanced by Boston and Tampa losses.  The Philadelphia Phillies beat the Red Sox, 5-1, while the Houston Astros defeated the Rays, 2-1. 

 

 

 

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Steven M. Falk/Philly.com

 

Speaking of the Red Sox, the Yankees have signed minor league utility player Jeff Natale who was drafted by the Red Sox in 2005.  The 27-year-old heads for Scranton/Wilkes Barre.  It was also interesting to see three former Yankee relievers in the transactions column within the past day.  Chad Gaudin was released by the Oakland A’s, who also outrighted Edwar Ramirez to AAA Sacramento, while the Washington Nationals placed Brian Bruney on waivers (which he has cleared).  From World Series ring to what have you done for me lately…hopefully, the guys will re-surface in the bigs in the not-so-distant future.

 

 

Michael Stobe/US Presswire

 

It’s almost over for my San Jose Sharks.  They lost tonight in overtime to fall down 3 games to none to the Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL Western Conference Finals.  I think I hear the fat lady warming up her vocal cords…  L

 

Nhat V. Meyer/Mercury News

 

 

 

So, Brett Favre has told the Southern Mississippi baseball team that he’ll return to the Minnesota Vikings if they make the College World Series.  Also, it was reported today that Brett had surgery on his left ankle and could be ready to play by training camp.  I’ve suspected all along that he’ll be back.  The team has been too nonchalant and these latest reports are signs that Brett intends to play.  It still remains to be seen, but it is looking like we’ll see an encore performance by #4 in purple and gold.  I am sure Tavaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels are thrilled…

 

 

Jeff Wheeler/Star Tribune

 

 

Hey Javy, nice job!  J

 

Yankee pitcher Javier Vazquez allows just one hit over six innings, while rookie Keven Russo (below) collects his two RBI on his first big-league hit Friday.

Simmons/NY Daily News

First Departure from 2009 Championship Team…

Let the trading and signings begin!…

 

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The Yankees embarked on their 2010 off-season journey by dealing reliever Brian Bruney to the Washington Nationals for a player to be named (most likely the Nats’ first round pick in Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft).  Bruney has been a vital cog in the Yankees bullpen for the past few years, although there have been a few interruptions caused by injury.  I am not sure what I think about this one.  I have to believe that Brian Cashman has a motive for making the move.  It’s been said that Cash feels that Bruney’s role can be replaced by lower cost options, however, I liked the thought of having Bruney as a safety net for the bridge to Mariano Rivera should Phil Hughes make a successful transition to the starting rotation next season.  Or perhaps Cash has more grandiose plans that would keep Hughes as the Yanks’ primary setup man.  Regardless, Bruney will be missed, and I wish him the best of luck in the Nation’s Capitol.

 

Michael Strobel/US Presswire

Okay, you could say that Bruney is not the first player to depart given the number of players who are free agents.  However, none have signed with other clubs yet so Bruney is the first major departure from the 2009 Champions.

 

It was also announced that pitcher Andy Pettitte has decided to return in 2010.  Unlike last season, Andy was very quick to make the decision to return.  Of course, the team and Pettitte now have to agree on compensation so this could still be dragged out over the course of the next few weeks.  I am glad to see Andy’s return as that would be preferable over a gamble that someone like Randy Wolf could have a successful transition to the Bronx.  When he’s done, Andy will stand tall among the franchise’s best left-handed pitchers.  He may not reach the club’s win record for a southpaw, but he’ll be in the neighborhood.  If only he hadn’t left for the Houston Astros for three years…

 

 

So, the Los Angeles Angels are kicking the tires of Boston Red Sox outfielder Jason Bay.  If they allow Vladimir Guerrero to depart, it would make sense that the Angels pursue someone of Bay’s caliber.  If that happens, I’d have to believe that the Red Sox will become the odds-on favorite to land Matt Holliday as Bay’s replacement.

 

 

I just completed a very busy week, and it’s great to be home.  Last Sunday, I attended a Kelly Clarkson concert in San Jose.

 

 

 

I departed the next day for business meetings in New Jersey.  After the meetings, a number of my co-workers and I traveled to New York to see Rock of Ages on Broadway.  It was a terrific show, and the star, former American Idol finalist Constanine Maroulis, was phenomenal.

 

Rock of Ages' Constantine Maroulis on Groupies and Performing for Drinking Audiences

Getty Images 

 

From New York, I headed to Phoenix where I spent the weekend.  I went to Sunday night’s game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium.  The game was a disaster, as the Vikings fell to the Cardinals, 30-17.  However, the stadium was impressive.  Hopefully, Favre and Company will rebound for a strong finish to the season.  Everyone’s allowed a clunker or two, right?

 

Minnesota Vikings (4) Brett Favre and Arizona Cardinals (13) Kurt Warner after the Cardinals defeated the Vikings. The Cardinals won 30-17.

Rob Schumacher/Arizona Republic

 

Arriving back in San Jose, all the nearby mountains were snow-capped, which is a very rare sight in Silicon Valley.  It was a beautiful sight, and it was so good to be home!

 


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Phil’er Up!…

 

The Yankees continued their winning ways on Tuesday night despite Brian Bruney…

 

Sipkin/NY Daily News

 

After Alex Rodriguez had hit a two-run homer in the 7th inning to break a 3-3 tie with the Seattle Mariners, Bruney came on in the 8th inning and promptly surrendered the lead.  There was much controversy over whether Joe Girardi should have left Phil Hughes in the game.  Hughes had pitched a perfect 7th inning and given his current effectiveness, it would seem that he is ideally suited for setup work.  Nevertheless, the bullpen is stronger if Bruney is pitching right and the last thing that Girardi needs is more 8th inning controversy.  So, it was probably the right decision to go with Bruney despite the result.  Hughes is pitching great right now, as is Phil Coke, but there is no guarantee that will continue.

 

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images 

 

Bruney, of course, set himself up to get the victory, thanks to the Yankees’ late inning heroics.  Hideki Matsui led off the bottom of the 8th with a double.  Brett Gardner entered the game as a pinch runner for Matsui and advanced to third on a bunt single by Nick Swisher.  Melky Cabrera followed with a double to score Gardner.  Derek Jeter then singled to bring home both Swisher and Cabrera, giving the Yankees the final margin of victory, 8-5.

 

Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger

 

From there, it was up to the great Mariano Rivera who quietly eliminated the Mariners in the top of the 9th and earned his 501st career save.

Mo had also thrown out the first pitch so he opened and closed the game.  Very appropriate…

 

Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, left, congratulates closer Mariano Rivera last night after Rivera recorded his 501st career save. The Yankees defeated the Mariners 8-5. Kathy Willens/The Associated Press

Kathy Willens/AP

 

Joba Chamberlain continued to take heat for another underwhelming performance.  He pitched 5 1/3 innings and gave up 9 hits and 3 runs.  He also walked 3 batters and struck out 4.  He allowed a home run to the light-hitting Ronny Cedeno in the 3rd.  It’s tough to criticize.  On one hand, I recognize that he is not pitching as well as he could or should, but conversely, he is keeping his team in games (the Yankees are 10-5 in games started by Chamberlain).

 

Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger  

 

After the game, Joe Girardi offered this assessment of Chamberlain:  “He had too many long counts tonight. It seems like when he gets in the long counts, he slows down a little bit. And it seems to work against him … Joba is not what you would call an experienced big league starter. There’s some growing pains that you go through in learning how to pitch at this level.”

 

Sipkin/NY Daily News

Eric Hinske arrived in the Bronx today following the trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates.  His flight to New York last night was cancelled because of weather conditions, so he had to catch a flight to New York today.  Ramiro Pena was sent down to AAA-Scranton/Wilkes Barre to make room for Hinske.  He seems to be saying the right things:  “It’s awesome to get on a team like the Yankees.”  Hopefully, he fills the void that the Yankees need from the bench with corner infield and outfield support.

 

David Zalubowski/AP 

 

It was nice to see the Boston Red Sox blow a 10-1 lead and lose to the Baltimore Orioles, 11-10, on Tuesday night.  The loss allowed the Yankees to close the gap to 2 ½ games.  But earlier today, the tables were turned as the Red Sox overcame a 5-1 deficit to win 6-5 in extra innings.  So, Boston’s lead has been increased to 3 games pending tonight’s outcome.  Julia‘s favorite player, Julio Lugo, delivered the winning hit in the 11th inning.  Jonathan Papelbon became Boston’s all-time career saves leader with 133, breaking a tie with Bob Stanley.  It was his 20th save of the season.  Personally, I would have preferred another Orioles victory…

 

Brian Roberts

Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun

 

Oh well, let’s just focus on closing the gap back to 2 ½ games…

 

 

Go Yankees!

–Scott

A Win and a much needed Loss…

 

Like an old pair of shoes, Jose Veras has been tossed aside…

 

Old Shoes.JPG

 

With the return of Mo’s set up guy, Brian Bruney, the Yankees had to make a roster decision and it meant the end of the line for Jose Veras (who was DFA’d).  Veras could have protected his spot had he shown any flashes of his performance of last year, but it was not meant to be.  I wish him luck wherever he goes, and hopefully he’ll recapture the promise of a year ago in a less pressurized situation.

 

David L. Pokress/Newsday 

 

I wonder if Bruney got a congratulatory card from Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez for his return?

 

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Umm, probably not…

I am on a business trip to Denver, Colorado, so I am a little removed from the baseball action.  I know, the Rays are at Coors Field, and I can’t go…what’s wrong with that picture?

 


Coors Field.JPG 

 

By the way, I used to live two blocks from Coors Field.  I definitely miss those days! 

Nevertheless, the Yankees did play a game tonight.  The Washington Nationals are in the Bronx for a three-game series with the Yanks.  Everybody is quick to say that it will be a three-game sweep, but I don’t think it will be that easy.  The Yanks always have trouble against the teams they are supposed to beat, so I could see the Nats steal a win or two.  Fortunately, tonight was not the night for the Nats as they fell to the Yankees, 5-3.

 

Bill Kostroun/AP 

 

The Yankees led 2-0 until the 5th inning when Anderson Hernandez unloaded a three-run homer on CC Sabathia.  Of course, that provoked an email from Julia (“You are losing to the Nats????”.  But hey, 15-0 games are boring…or even the 8-2 yawner that the Red Sox put on the Florida Marlins.  With 21 come from behind wins, now 22, the Yanks came roaring back in the 7th inning against old friend Ron Villone.  Johnny Damon singled to open the inning, and he scored on Mark Teixeira’s double.  Following an A-Rod strikeout, Robinson Cano hit a double that scored Tex.  Cano was thrown out attempting to stretch the double into a triple.  Ramiro Pena added an insurance run in the 8th inning with a RBI single. 

Cano was clearly the star of the game as he went 4-for-4, with 2 RBI’s and a run scored.  He also shined defensively.

 

 

 

CC Sabathia (6-4) picked up the win, and Mariano Rivera earned his 15th save.  Brian Bruney made his first appearance following his stint on the DL, and came into the game during the 8th inning after CC walked another old friend, Nick Johnson.  That brought the Nats’ best hitter, Ryan Zimmerman, to the plate.  Hey Bruney, no pressure!

 

Stressed Cat.JPG

 

Fortunately, Zimmerman grounded out and the inning was over.  Welcome back, Bruney!  We don’t care what K-Rod says about you…you are the star of the 8th inning — exactly where we need you to be!

The Nats should have an excellent chance for victory on Wednesday with Chien-Ming Wang on the mound…

 

 

It’s sure is starting to sound like Brett Favre will be wearing Purple this fall.  He is definitely making much reference to the fact that no one remembers that Vince Lombardi ended his career as Head Coach of the Washington Redskins.  All I can say is that I am glad my childhood idol, Fran Tarkenton, retired with the Vikings.  I don’t know what I would have thought if he had played with the Green Bay Packers during his final year, but I have to believe that it would have changed my perception of Sir Francis…

 

 

Oh, by the way, CONGRATULATIONS to the new NBA Champions, the Los Angeles Lakers! 

   

 

Paul Rodriguez/Orange County Register 

 

Now, if the Yankees can only win the World Series…

 

–Scott

Keeping Pace With the Red Sox…

It’s too bad that Joe Mauer is just one man…

 


JMauer.JPGCredit:  Elliott Mann’s blog, elliottmann.org

He almost single-handedly rallied the Minnesota Twins in the 9th inning against the dreaded Boston Red Sox.  Unfortunately, Mauer’s two-run homer in the bottom of the 9th left the Twins a run short in their eventual loss to the AL East Leader.

 

AP/Hannah Foslien 

 

So, the Yanks remain one game behind the Red Sox in the AL East standings thanks to their 11-1 victory over the Texas Rangers in Arlington.

So much for dealing with the pressure of facing the Texas crowd for the first time since admitting using performance enhancing drugs while a member of the Rangers.  A-Rod responded by going 5-for-5, with 2 runs scored and 4 RBI’s.  He was booed very loudly each time he came to the plate.  I guess it didn’t phase him…

 

Getty Images/Ronald Martinez 

 

Former Ranger Mark Teixeira also joined the act, going 2-for-4, with 3 runs scored and 2 RBI’s. 

 

Teixeira TX.JPG

Getty Images 

 

Phil Hughes, who most likely will be sent to Triple A-Scranton/Wilkes Barre when Chien-Ming Wang is ready to take his place in the starting rotation, pitched an outstanding game.  He went 8 innings, and only gave up 3 hits and no runs.  He struck out 6.  Hughes is starting to pitch to his ability and potential.  Assuming that Wang successfully retakes his position, I think Hughes’ performance makes it unlikely that Andy Pettitte will  be back in 2010.

 

Getty Images/Ronald Martinez 

Alfredo Aceves gave up a 9th inning homer to the very hot Nelson Cruz (5 homers in his last 6 games) to spoil the shutout.

 

Foxsports.com 

 

It is an excellent start to the road trip for the Yankees.  Texas has been very strong out of the gate this year, and it has been due, in large part, because of pitching.  The Yankees will have their hands full in this series, and I expect that the remaining games in this series will be very tight.  But for one day, it was nice to have the game firmly in control from the start.  Despite not gaining on ground on Boston, the Yankees did move into second place with the victory, thanks to the Baltimore Orioles’ 4-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.  So, now only the Boston Red Sox stand in the way in the battle for first…

 

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The bald head didn’t work.  Setup man Brian Bruney is headed back to the DL as he continues to experience elbow pain.  The Yankees will make a roster move on Tuesday.  Hopefully, Edwar Ramirez will get the call as I’d really like to see him re-establish himself as a key member of the bullpen.  It is very unfortunate about Bruney but hopefully the doctors will be able to isolate the cause of the pain and take the necessary corrective action so that Bruney can be back at full strength in the not-so-distant future.

 

AP/Ben Margot

You never want to see anyone get hurt, so it was unfortunate to see Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Akinori Iwamura go down for the season with a torn ligament in his knee.  He was playing very well, but no one should weep for the Rays as they have very capable (and talented) replacements waiting in the wings.  I wish Iwamura a healthy and speedy recovery, and look forward to his successful return in 2010.

 

AP 

I was glad that the Red Sox quickly dismissed the Washington Nationals’ offer of Nick Johnson for Manny Delcarmen.  Johnson has had an excellent start to his season, and it’s good to see him healthy again.  But I am not exactly enamored with seeing yet another once promising Yankees prospect end up at Fenway Park, ala Mike Lowell.  Personally, I’d like to see Johnson in San Francisco since they could really use his bat.

 

UPI/Kevin Dietsch 

 

But as for Red Sox players who want to be Yankees?  I am down with that!  Hey Jason, you’d look great in pinstripes!  Did you want me to have Brian Cashman bring over a contract for you to sign with that pen?  ;)

 

Post Gazette/Matt Freed

 

Coming Up Aces…

So THIS is what it feels like to have an ace?

 


Aces.JPGWow, CC Sabathia and his big time stuff!  Very nice…

McIsaac/Getty Images

It has been quite awhile since the Yanks have had a true ace, and it is great.  The Yanks were locked in a tight game at the Stadium last night against the Orioles until the Yankees broke the game open in the late innings.

CC gave up a first inning run to stake the O’s to an early 1-0 lead, but that was quickly erased in the bottom of the frame by an Alex Rodriguez two-run homer.  Isn’t going out on a limb to say that the hip is not bothering A-Rod?  If he keeps this up for a few more games, he’ll be challenging Donnie Baseball’s club record for consecutive games with a home run. 

 

And of course, Mark Teixeira is no longer ‘The Ice Man Cometh’ as he has shown all he needed was A-Rod to cover his back in the lineup.  Tex was responsible for helping break the game open in the 7th inning with a two-run homer, which was also included a bases loaded double by Derek Jeter and a few Oriole miscues. 

 

 

Mark Teixeira talks about Alex Rodriguez being back
http://tribeca.vidavee.com/advance/vidavee/playerv3/vFlasher_debug.swf?p19=movie1242866207432&p2=off&p3=off&p4=50&p5=off&p7=on&p8=off&p31=on&p22=http%3A%2F%2Fanalytics.tribeca.vidavee.com%2Fvanalytics%2Fgateway%2F&p13=no&p16=v3AdvInt_nj.swf&p17=http%3A%2F%2Ftribeca.vidavee.com%2Fadvance%2Fvidavee%2Fplayerv3%2Fskins%2F&p11=0&p15=http%3A%2F%2Ftribeca.vidavee.com%2Fadvance%2FvClientXML.view%3FAF_renderParam_contentType%3Dtext%2Fxml%26showEndCard%3Doff%26link%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fvideos.nj.com%2Fstar-ledger%2F2009%2F05%2Fmark_teixeira_talks_about_alex.html%26vtagView%3Don%26skin%3Dv3AdvInt_nj.swf%26autoplay%3Doff%26loadStream%3Doff%26width%3D470%26height%3D266%26vtag%3Dyes%26startVolume%3D50%26hidecontrolbar%3Dno%26textureStrip%3Dyes%26displayTime%3Dyes%26volumeLock%3Doff%26watermark%3Dyes%26dockey%3DC20300D3EBA8E3ABFFA3EB9F177C71E3&p21=http%3A%2F%2Ftribeca.vidavee.com%2Fadvance%2Fvidavee%2Fplayerv3%2Fjs%2FFlashProxyLoader.js&p18=timeDisplay%3Dyes%3Bwatermark%3Dyes%3BshareWidgets%3Don%3BtextureStripe%3Dyes%3BvtagDisplay%3Dyes%3BshowEndCard%3Doff%3Blink%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fvideos.nj.com%2Fstar-ledger%2F2009%2F05%2Fmark_teixeira_talks_about_alex.html

 

Video by Marc Carig/The Star Ledger

 

But it wasn’t needed as CC brought his A-game, and didn’t give up any more runs after the lone run in the first.  Brian Bruney (what’s up with the bald head?) and Brett Tomko closed out the game in relief of CC to preserve his three-hit masterpiece.

Michael Stobe/US Presswire

The Yankees’ winning streak now stands at 7 games.  The Yanks remain in third place, one game behind the Boston Red Sox and 3 ½ behind the Toronto Blue Jays as both of those teams also won.  Correction:  The Red Sox won, beating the Jays.  Thanks for catching the error in my ways, Julia!  ;) 

Phil Hughes is the starter tonight, and I suspect that this will be his last Yankee performance before another trip back to Scranton (regardless of how well he pitches tonight due to the impending return of Chien-Ming Wang). 

The New York Daily News reported yesterday that the Los Angeles Dodgers may be on the schedule for a trip to the Bronx in 2010.  I hope it comes true as it would be great to see Joe Torre make a farewell visit before he calls it a career…

Hey Julia, don’t worry about Jason Bay.  He’ll be fine as a New York millionaire!  You guys need to worry about replacing Big Papi.  If Jason hasn’t re-signed with Boston yet, why can’t he sign with the Yankees in the off-season?  It’s possible.  The Yankees, more than likely, will let Johnny Damon walk at this point in his career.  They need a top outfielder, and Matt Holliday, a potential free agent target, has struggled in the AL this year.  So, why not Bay?  It could happen…

 

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Jason, while Julia is busy giving fruit baskets to Theo, this is for you…

Money.JPG

 

After Rainout, All Things Good…

The first game of the Yankees home series against the Oakland A’s was postponed due to rain, and will be made up in July.  Fortunately, there was much better weather on hand for Tuesday.

The Yankees emerged victorious, with a 5-3 victory.  Andy Pettitte (2-0) was the winning pitcher, and most notably, he did not give up any home runs.  Johnny Damon hit the day’s only home run in the ballpark which has become a launching pad in its short history due to the apparent wind tunnel.  Brian Bruney was touched for a run, but he and Mariano Rivera successfully closed out the game…as usual.

John Munson/The Star-Ledger

It was nice to see Jason Giambi do good…but not too good.  He had a hit and a run scored, but no homers or RBI’s.  Brett Gardner also made a leaping catch to take away a potential base hit.  I won’t mind seeing Giambi hit some home runs in this series, so long as the Yanks have a comfortable lead, of course.

Nathan Denette/The Star-Ledger

On the good news front, right fielder Xavier Nady has been diagnosed with a ligament strain in his elbow and he won’t need season-ending surgery after all.  He is expected to miss six weeks.  All things considered, that’s great news!

Also, the Yanks announced that pitcher Chien-Ming Wang will miss his next start and will go to Tampa to pitch in an extended spring training game.  Wow, why didn’t I think of that??!!  Too funny!  But that is the ONLY solution that I could see when Wang stunk it up the last time he pitched.  Well, the other option was to put him on waivers…which obviously was not going to happen.  Hopefully, Wang will be able to work out his mechanics in Florida.

Wang had been scheduled to open the series in Boston on Friday night.  Instead, Joba Chamberlain will get the start.  I feel much better heading into the weekend showdown with Julia of Julia’s Rants

I don’t know what to say about my San Jose Sharks.  I am disappointed that they’ve lost the first two games of their series against the Anaheim Ducks.  The Ducks were playing much better at the end of the season than an eighth seed, while the Sharks were struggling.  The playoff series has been more of the same. 

Gary Reyes/San Jose Mercury News

Game 3 is tonight in Anaheim.  Obviously, this game is huge for the Sharks and will most likely determine if they can turn this series around.  I remain hopeful of a Sharks-Bruins Stanley Cup Final, but I recognize for I am failing my part of the equation.  Rest assured Julia, it is not a sign of things to come this weekend…

Go Yankees! 

–Scott 

 

Who is the Red Sox Fan talking to?…

You talkin’ to me?  You talkin’ to me?  You talkin’ to me?

 

 

 

Julia (of Julia’s Rants, or who I like to refer to as the one who will soon be wearing a pink Yankees hat) has called me out!  

 

 

One week from today, the Yankees will begin a three-day weekend series against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.  

 

Boston Globe

 

This represents the Great Showdown III between Julia and me.  We are 1-1 counting the two games in spring training (Showdowns I and II).  

 

It is her birthday weekend so I suppose she can have a victory on Saturday sandwiched by Yankee victories on Friday and Sunday.  The perfect solution!  It works for me!

 

Courtesy New York Post

 

Julia detailed the stakes of our latest wager on her Friday morning blog entitled “One Week“.  Here is an excerpt:

 

In summary our wager is:

1.Which ever team loses the series, that blogger needs to put up a Logo from the other team for that Monday April 27th.

2. The losing blogger will also need to write a positive blog about a player from the winner’s teams.  (Much like we did for our preseason wager.)

3.  Mark Newman, our fearless leader, has sweetened the pot with the following offer:

I will offer to throw in an MLB PRO BLOG template that day to sweeten the deal so that either Julia is a Yankees Pro Blogger or Scott is a Red Sox Pro Blogger. I also will offer to create an Honorary one-person category in that next week’s Latest Leaders showing off your new blog colors to further deepen the pain. hahahaha

 

 

In 1923, the Yankees opened the original Yankee Stadium, the House that Ruth Built, with a four game series against the Red Sox.  What was the result?  A four game sweep by the Bronx Bombers!  It is now 2009 and the year of a new Stadium.  Can history repeat itself?  Absolutely!  Julia, I am sorry that you’ll be so disappointed on your birthday weekend but you’ll look great in a pink Yankees hat!  J

 

THE SWEET TASTE OF VICTORY

 

Speaking of being victorious, the Yankees provided the first home win at the new Yankee Stadium today with a 6-5 win over the Cleveland Indians.

 

One of these years, Derek Jeter is going to begin showing his age.  This is not the year.  DJ provided the winning margin with a solo home run in the 8th inning, breaking a 5-5 tie.  It was a day of Yankee solo home runs as Johnny Damon, Mark Teixeira, Melky Cabrera and Robinson Cano each connected with no men on base.  

 

John O’Boyle/The Star-Ledger

 

Joba Chamberlain struggled and only made it into the 5th inning, surrendering 5 runs, with 5 walks.  He struck out four.  One of the hits was a home run by Mark DeRosa.  I am sure that all hearts in New York stopped when Joe Girardi opted to reach into the bullpen.  Fortunately, Phi Coke and Jonathan Albaladejo did their jobs before turning it over to the stellar duo of Brian Bruney (the winner, 2-0) and the great Mariano Rivera (3rd save).  The Indians did have a man in scoring position in the 9th, but Mo struck out DeRosa to end the game.

 

Mariano Rivera

 

Ah, the sweet sound of Frank Sinatra…

 

“Start spreadin’ the news, I’m leaving today

 I want to be part of it: New York, New York

 These vagabond shoes, are longing to stray

 Right through the very heart of it: New York, New York…”

 

SPEAKING OF NEW YORK

 

I have purchased the ticket for my first game at the new Yankee Stadium.  I will be attending a game during the early May series versus the Los Angeles Angels.  Fortunately, the cost was only of the double digit variety.  Of course, that probably means the view won’t be great, but this trip will be all about experiencing the sights and sounds of the entire stadium.  

 

Fans fill up the hallway early as the gates are opened prior to the game between the Cleveland Indians and the Yankees in the home opener of the New Yankee Stadium. The Yankees got stomped 10-2 in their big loss.

 

I am excited and looking forward to the trip.  I have seen a number of the newer Stadiums so I am anxious to see how the new Stadium makes me feel when I first see it, breathe it, smell it, and touch it.  I distinctly remember my first trip to the old Stadium in 1987, and the chills I got as I realized I was on hallowed ground.  

 

 

I am also headed to Manhattan next week for a few days, and have successfully scored tickets to the Late Show with David Letterman.  

 

AP

 

It should be a lot of fun!  This will be my first visit to his show (or any talk show for that matter).  Other priorities include pizza in Greenwich Village and dessert at Serendipity 3! 

 

 

Outside of Letterman, as you can tell, this trip will be about the food!  Mmmm…

 

OTHER NOTES

 

  • The Yankees returned reliever David Robertson to AAA Scranton and recalled first baseman Juan Miranda as insurance for Mark Teixeira and Hideki Matsui (who has been limited to pinch-hitting due to pain in his knee).  What?  Did Joe Girardi forget how to spell Veras or Marte when he was trying to decide who to ship out?
  • Congratulations to the Seattle Mariners’ Ichiro Suzuki for breaking the record for most hits by a Japanese player.  He broke Isao Harimoto’s record of 3,085 hits.  I attended a game in Seattle the year Ichiro set the single season Major League record for hits, and he was amazing to watch (you can see it on TV, but it’s more magical in person).
  • The San Jose Sharks lost Game 1 of their NHL Western Conference play-off series against the Anaheim Ducks, 2-0.  The Ducks successfully shut down the Sharks’ power play.  When Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau get only one shot, you know you’re in trouble.  It was the first time that the Sharks had been shut out at home this season.  Game 2 is Sunday.  Hopefully the Sharks will get back on track.  Don’t they know I have a showdown waiting against Julia and the Bruins?…

 

Have a great weekend!

 

–Scott

 

 

The Next Great Yankee Closer…

Exit the Sandman…

 

Who will be the Yankees’ next great closer?  When the great Mariano Rivera finally decides to hang up his glove, everyone will be looking for the next great closer.  Granted, we may never see the likes of Mo again (at least not in our lifetime), but there are certainly a number of viable candidates to fill the void that will be created in the ninth inning of tight games.

 

The easy answer is to say Joba Chamberlain.  The debate continues to rage about whether Chamberlain is most valuable in the starting rotation where he will play in about 30-35 games, or in late inning relief where he would appear in 60-plus games.  While Joba’s injury late season did cause me to wonder if he was better suited for shorter stints, I do feel that he has the potential to be a frontline starter.  In the grand scheme of things, it is not economically feasible to spend $181 million to secure an ace.  It is much better to “grow your own”.  The Yankees have a two-time 19-game winner, who most likely would have won 19-20 games last season if not for the foot injury, and they’re paying him only $5 million this year.  Granted, that price will continue to go up, but the Yankees have been getting a great bargain for the past few years.  Meanwhile, CC Sabathia’s first year with the Yanks comes at a price of $23 million ($15 million base with $9 million signing bonus).  That’s big difference, particularly considering at the end of the year, there might be only a couple of wins that separate the two.  As Wang’s price goes up, it will be difficult to place high dollars in other key spots of the rotation.  So, Joba as a starter makes sense both economically and competitively.  The only thing that could cause me to rethink this position is if Phil Hughes pitches so well this spring that he makes it impossible to leave him out of the rotation. 

 

I was reading that Brian Bruney is an option.  I have to admit that I really didn’t know much about Bruney when he came to New York.  He had a few productive years with the Arizona Diamondbacks, and even saved 12 games (out of 16 games) in 2005.  In May 2006, he was designated for assignment and signed with the Yankees as a minor league free agent.  Bruney missed about three months last season after suffering a Lisfranc injury (similar to what happened to Chien-Ming Wang) in April.  But he returned in August and finished with a 3-0 record, 1.83 ERA in 32 appearances, and held hitters to a .153 average.  Since 2007, Bruney has lost about 40 pounds.  He appears to be in great shape to be a dominant 8th inning bridge to Mo Rivera, and he certainly has a closer’s mentality.

 

Brian Bruney will be a key cog in the Yankee bullpen this season.

Antonelli/New York Daily News

 

A young player that is starting to draw attention is 23-year old Mark Melancon.  Mark missed the entire 2007 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow on October 31, 2006.  But he returned last season, and gradually worked his way up from Single-A Tampa to the Triple A-Scranton/Wilkes Barre.  Increasing his walk-to-strikeout ratio at each stop, Melancon finished 2008 with a total of 95 innings in 44 games, with a 2.27 ERA.  “His ball cuts, it sinks, it’s got late life to it,” manager Joe Girardi said.  “That usually translates into swings and misses, and not solid contact.”  More than likely, Melancon will begin the year with Scranton/Wilkes Barre, but it won’t be long until he receives the phone call from New York.

 

Reuters Pictures

 

One guy who has fallen off the map is J. Brent Cox.  When the Yankees drafted Cox (who followed Huston Street as the closer for the University of Texas Longhorns), I thought he had a chance to be Mo’s eventual successor.  But he has had a roller coaster ride with the Yanks, and doesn’t appear to possess the stuff necessary to close at the major league level. 

 

I know that it is difficult to think about a future without Mo Rivera in the bullpen, and he is coming off a great season.  But the fact remains that he is 39, and it would be difficult to assume that he’ll be an upper-tier closer by the time he reaches the number on his back.  I feel very blessed to have witnessed the Mariano Rivera era, and he is arguably the greatest closer in franchise history.  “The end is coming,” Rivera recently said.  “Sooner or late, it’s going to come.”

 

The Mets have shown that you can rebuild a bullpen with dollars, but the best closers are those who have been developed from within.  Well, aside from Goose Gossage…

 

When Mo does retire, his number will obviously be retired for Jackie Robinson.  But it should be a simultaneous ceremony to place Mo’s name in Monument Park along with Jackie’s.  Mariano deserves to stand shoulder to shoulder to Jackie Robinson…he would have made Jackie proud, and he has certainly made all of us very proud and appreciative. 

 

Time will tell if the next Yankee closer will be the next coming of Goose Gossage or just another Steve Farr, but unfortunately, it won’t be the next Mariano Rivera as the original is impossible to replicate.

 

 

 

Status Quo in Right Field

 

With the Atlanta Braves signing of free agent OF Garret Anderson, they’ve most likely been removed as the leading suitor for a potential trade involving either Xavier Nady or Nick Swisher. 

 

Based on the comments I’ve seen, Nady fully expects to be the starting right fielder and apparently no one has said there is an open competition for his spot.  However, Swisher should be able to make room for himself regardless of the outcome.  I had read that Swisher has a ‘Jack Black’ persona about him, and watching MLB Network’s ’30 Teams in 30 Days’ certainly gives an illustration of that playfulness.  I think his personality is good for the team, and it doesn’t come across as defiant or obstinate (like other past Yankees who shall remain nameless…err David Wells and Randy Johnson). 

 

 

 

My preference is still for Swisher to win the job outright, and then trade Nady.  But if the return is not sufficient, then the Yankees are better served by keeping both Nady and Swisher on the roster. 

 

I feel strongly that Swisher will rebound from last year’s .219 batting average.  He definitely has some power, as evidenced by 24 home runs despite the BA that came perilously close to the Mendoza Line.  Swisher is certainly capable to matching his 2006 performance when he hit 35 home runs with 95 runs batted in.  His average was only .254, but his OBP was .372, thanks to nearly one hundred walks.  So, while Nady may have the slightly higher batting average, Swisher gets on base more often and is more capable of “making things happen”. 

 

The One Day Flu

 

Saturday, I heard that CC Sabathia had cancelled his batting practice session and went home with the flu.  Although I had heard the session had been re-scheduled for Sunday, I didn’t really expect Sabathia to make a go of it.  Of course, that’s exactly what he did.  The guy’s clearly a “gamer” and has the heart of a David Cone.  Like Nick Swisher, I think that CC’s personality will be a huge asset for the Yankee Clubhouse.  Here’s hoping that CC gets the opportunity to throw the first pitch in October…

 

Go Jed Lowrie

 

In a couple of fantasy leagues I belong to, the primary shortstops were quickly taken while I focused on filling needs at other positions.  When I realized my weakness at short on one team, I selected Boston’s Jed Lowrie as my shortstop.  On another team, I selected Jed to fill a bench role.  So, I am not concerned about the Yankees center field battle between Brett Gardner (my favorite) and Melky Cabrera, I am most interested in the Red Sox shortstop competition between Lowrie and Julio Lugo.  Lugo has the unfair advantage of having $36 million reasons why he should start, but youth and excitement go with Lowrie.  So, hopefully Lowrie wins because my fantasy teams really need him (hey, why else would I be concerned about what happens in Boston?).

 

If Lowrie succeeds in taking Lugo’s job, third baseman Mike Lowell (drafted by the Yankees in 1995) would be the only infielder who didn’t come up through the Boston farm system.  Of course, when Youk slides to third to make room for first baseman Lars Anderson, it will be a completely homegrown infield. Holy Garciaparra! 

 

My new favorite player…

 

Jim Davis/Boston Globe

 

For my last fantasy draft, I went with Hanley Ramirez as my shortstop…

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