Results tagged ‘ Brian Cashman ’
What to believe?…
Admittedly, I am concerned with the Yankees’ desire to get under $189 million in payroll by 2014, and what it will mean to the team in the long run. Granted, many teams would love to struggle with the wherewithal to afford a payroll of $189 million, but the Yankees have $30 million tied up in annual salary to Alex Rodriguez and he’s hardly the player he once was. As it stands, the Yankees need to find a quality, effective third baseman to play behind a guy who absorbs so much of the team’s payroll budget. So, how much do the Yankees actually have to pay just to cover third base? Obviously, the answer is a lot more than $30 million.
Granted, the Yankees are not about to become the new Minnesota Twins or Kansas City Royals, but to those teams’ defenses, they have better minor league systems at the moment (particularly the Royals). In a statement of the obvious, the quickest way to reduce payroll is to replace highly paid, unproductive veterans with cheap, inexpensive young talent. While there is quality youth in the Yankees’ farm system, most are at the lower levels. The highly rated AAA prospects have stalled for various reasons, like Manny Banuelos and his Tommy John surgery. A trade for young, inexpensive talent is not out of the question, but so far this off-season, the Yankees have been very quiet. I do understand it when GM Brian Cashman says that you have to a tortoise and a hare. Striking too quickly can be more expensive in some situations. It is a never-ending balancing act. Strike quick when you must, lay in the weeds when you can.
Is it time for Romine?…
While I am disappointed to see catcher Russell Martin depart (signing a two year contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates), I realize that I won’t miss his .211 batting average. At times, he was a force in the lineup with his bat, but other times, he completely disappeared. The only downside is the lack of replacement talent at the major league level. I do not feel that perennial backups Chris Stewart or Francisco Cervelli are starter material. After a lost year due to injury, all indications are that Austin Romine needs another year of AAA seasoning. At this point, I am probably with those who feel Romine should be given a legitimate shot at the job in spring training. He has the pedigree (his father is former Red Sox player Kevin Romine) and he is 24 years old. If he is healthy, he deserves a shot and certainly has more upside than the other catchers on the roster.
Regarding the loss of Martin, Cashman’s quote was “This isn’t something that caught us off-guard”¹. Clearly, the Yankees have already identified a plan of action in the event Martin left. But it will probably fall into the tortoise category.
Maybe Jenny Craig should be hired as a second bench coach…
This past week also brought forward a photo of a seemingly overweight Derek Jeter. Staying with quotes from Brian Cashman, “It’s probably a wrinkle in the shirt”². Hmmm, right…
INF PHOTO, New York Daily News
I have no reason to believe that Derek Jeter will not arrive at spring training in shape, but it’s tougher as you get older and having a foot in a cast is not ideal for physical workouts. So, I guess that quality, effective third baseman we need for third had better be able to play short too.
Now playing in right field…
The Yankees have chosen not to be players for any major free agents. It doesn’t mean that I think they should throw millions at Josh Hamilton, but they do need to find a quality replacement for departing right fielder Nick Swisher. Plugging in an aging veteran is not the answer. Hamilton is not old, but there are lower risk and lesser paid options available.
The sleeping giant or the ‘Feeble 40’?…
Brian Cashman says, “We’re still capable of a lot. People should be leery of us and afraid of us, as if we’re the stalking horse”³. I really hope so, but it appears to me that the 2013 roster will feature highly paid but underproductive veterans, supplemented by waiver signings and minor leaguers. That might be a bit extreme, but it does feel that way at the moment. I do not want to take away anything from the recent re-signings of Andy Pettitte, Hiroki Kuroda and Mariano Rivera, but the fact remains that all three are at the tail end of their respective careers. They’ll be serviceable major league players in 2013, and perhaps will shine at times, but they need help. “40” is not necessarily the new “30”.
With the baseball winter meetings next week, we should start to see some moves unfold. The Yankees need to strengthen their roster and put a team on the field next year that is capable of overcoming the Detroit Tigers (among other teams). They also need to somehow excite the fan base. George Steinbrenner felt like the master showman at a Barnum and Bailey Circus, whereas Hal Steinbrenner comes across as a nebbish bookworm (even if he really is not). Yes, Yankee fans are spoiled but it’s also one of the largest fan bases if not the largest. Rupert Murdoch would not have invested so much money into the YES Network if he believed the team was headed for a downward spiral. But the truth remains that if left unchanged, the current roster is no better than third in the AL East and perhaps headed for worse in 2014 when guys like Pettitte, Kuroda and Rivera are settling into their retirement homes and the team makes the moves necessary to come in under the $189 million wire.
Despite my pessimistic comments, I do believe that the Yankees will do the right thing in the end. I am confident the team that takes the field next April will be one capable of competing with the league’s best. I guess maybe I always preferred the hare over the tortoise…
¹ Source: The New York Post
² Source: The New York Daily News
³ Source: The LoHud Yankees Blog
Dollars to donuts…
Joel Sherman has a good post today with his Hardball Blog in The New York Post entitled “’What would George do?’ among questions in Yanks’ $189M quest”.
I do not dispute the reasons for why the Yankees are financially motivated to get under the $189M threshold given the reduced tax penalties it will create for future years in addition to the savings in 2014. But can the Yankees maintain a championship caliber club in their quest to reconcile the bottom line? Something’s got to give, and I am fearful that it will be the quality of the Yankee clubs put on the field in the next few years.
That sounds kind of ridiculous to say when other clubs have proven you can succeed with lesser dollars, but in Tampa, for example, it was years of high draft picks that filled the cupboards with premier players like Evan Longoria and David Price. I see the same thing happening in Kansas City as they’ve been building solid, young talent. The Yankees, on the other hand, have been picking at the bottom end of rounds for years and there have been more than a few misses along the way. There has been a renewed emphasis on the farm system in recent years, however, it is still not within the upper echelon among the other clubs.
This paragraph in Joel Sherman’s post cuts to the heart of the problem:
“The aging/diminishing Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira plus the roughly $11 million each team is charged for a benefits plan costs about $84 million toward the luxury tax each season. That would give the Yankees roughly $105 million to complete a contender in 2014. But say Robinson Cano gets $22 million a year. Now it is $83 million for everything else. That is doable, but less so after a year in which the Yankees’ farm system regressed horribly, potentially derailing the expected pipeline of lower-cost talent.”
I checked the cities of Baltimore, Boston, and Tampa against Manhattan on a cost of living calculator and found that the equivalent salaries in New York would need to substantially greater to maintain the same cost of living. A Boston salary would need to be 63.10% greater, Baltimore 89.70%, and Tampa 145.28%. Okay, not every player will live in Manhattan and that’s probably an extreme, but it still shows on the affordability scale, it simply takes more dollars to live in New York than anywhere else. Other places like Florida and Texas have no state income tax. I am sure that when A.J. Burnett got to Pittsburgh, it wasn’t just the reduced spotlight that helped his successful turnaround, the realization of how much further his millions would go in the Steel City probably factored into the equation.
As it stands at the moment, it is very likely the Yankees enter the 2013 season as a weaker team than the one who was swept by the Detroit Tigers last month. I know, a lot can happen between now and then, but for the sake of this post, I have only the insight for where we stand today. I felt that it was essential for the Yankees to re-sign Hiroki Kuroda. As soon as there were indications that Kuroda would consider a one-year deal, the Yankees should have been aggressive in locking him up. But by delaying, the two LA teams are stepping up their pursuit and the area has an advantage given Kuroda’s familiarity and close ties to Southern CA. I believe that his wife and two daughters still reside in California. Losing Kuroda from the rotation will hurt. I am not convinced that David Phelps can match the level of performance that Kuroda achieved this past season.
The sooner the Yanks can move Alex Rodriguez to full-time DH will be better. They need a quality, front-line third baseman who can hit in the clutch. Sadly, there are not any high level prospects so free agency or a trade might be the only options. Given the former is probably not where the team intends to put its “limited” dollars, a trade is most likely the only solution. Of course, that will only deplete the Yankees of other young talent.
I guess Moneyball is alive and well and living in the Bronx. It is time for Brian Cashman to prove to the critics that he is a good general manager despite the Yankee resources. I do believe that he is so it will be interesting to see how the next few months unfold. I have read those who believe the Yankees will ultimately spend without regard to 2014, but given Hal Steinbrenner’s financial background, I see the team sticking to its plan. Time will tell if his stance is justified. Perhaps this is a radical, game-saving approach that will bring fiscal responsibility back into the game. Then again, maybe not…
Yes, Brian, I want to believe…
“I am excited about the opportunities we have.”
I wish that I could say that was my quote, but unfortunately, I am not feeling as optimistic as GM Brian Cashman who spoke those words.
With the imminent departure of Nick Swisher, Rafael Soriano, and Hiroki Kuroda, combined with another year of age on Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter, the future is not looking so rosy at the moment. For a team that needs to upgrade its rotation, losing Kuroda would clearly be a setback. I remain hopeful that the team will re-sign him to a one year deal since he appears willing to accept a short-term contract and all signs indicated he enjoyed his time in New York. I really do not expect the Yankees to re-sign either Swisher or Soriano. It’s unfortunate as I’ve appreciated the positive impact that Swisher’s personality had on the Yankees’ “corporate” clubhouse culture. As Soriano, the excessively fat contract for a set up guy paid dividends when Mariano Rivera was lost for the season and he superbly stepped in to give the Yankees a top closer as a brief trial with David Robertson.
If the Yankees could sign Joaquim Soria to a set up role, I do think it would help neutralize the loss of Soriano. There is also the possibility that reliever David Aardsma could move into the role, along with Robertson, if he successfully makes it back from his injury.
Replacing Swisher’s bat will be the tougher challenge. No offense against Torii Hunter, but signing him to be the new right fielder does not make me excited. I do like the talk of moving Brett Gardner to center and Curtis Granderson to left. Hopefully, the Yankees can bring Ichiro Suzuki back for another year. I am not sure what the best answer is for right. The best options are only available through trade.
I read this morning that the Boston Red Sox had signed Atlanta Braves’ backup catcher David Ross, whom the Yankees liked. I am surprised Atlanta let him get away given the health of starter Brian McCann, but it’s disappointing to see the Red Sox snatch away a player that could have helped the Yankees.
With a team that is trying so hard to reduce payroll by 2014 and one that devotes so much salary space to decreasingly productive guys like Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, I just don’t see Brian Cashman being successful playing “Moneyball”. When you consider how many dollars the Yanks have committed to A-Rod and his drain on the roster, it would appear to me that the team has less dollars to play with than any of their big city rivals if the end game is to avoid luxury tax and penalties in 2014.
Don’t get me wrong, I have been so appreciative of players like Jeter, Rivera and Andy Pettitte. But the fact remains that they will be another year older in 2013 and at some point, they will begin to break down. There doesn’t seem to be any high level prospects ready to step into their shoes. I wish there was a way the team could move A-Rod and his albatross contract but that’s unlikely to happen.
I remain hopeful that Brian Cashman is able to make a move this winter to improve the team. If the team stays status quo or struggles to replace those they will lose, I do not see the Yankees finishing any higher than third in the AL East next season. But, of course, if Hal Steinbrenner lets Cash make the moves necessary to position the team for 2013, then they’ll be in the thick of the pack at the top of the division.
Tino, Tino, Tino!…
I am happy to see Tino Martinez become hitting coach for the Miami Marlins. It is bittersweet to see him leave the Yankees organization, but much easier to see him go to his home state as opposed to being the hitting coach for the Boston Red Sox. The latter was a real possibility as the Sox had gotten permission to talk to Martinez, but fortunately, he opted to go help Mike Redmond turn around the Marlins. The Los Angeles Dodgers have been my favorite NL team in recent years due to manager Don Mattingly. I enjoy seeing my favorites do well, even if they can’t do it in the Yankees organization. Another example would be San Francisco Giants’ pitching coach Dave Righetti, fresh off his second World Series championship in three years. Tino is certainly in the same class with those guys, and will always be someone that I will root for. That’s why watching him go to Boston would have been so difficult.
Speaking of hitting coaches, I am hopeful that manager “wannabe” Jason Giambi decides to take the hitting coach position with the Colorado Rockies. Maybe he is not ready to hang up his bat just yet, but I think he would be a very positive addition to Walt Weiss’s staff and it would put him on the path of eventually reaching his goal to be a manager. While I was surprised to see the Rockies go with Weiss as manager over Matt Williams, I recognize that Weiss knows the Rockies organization and they know him. If he surrounds himself with the right coaching staff, I think Weiss can be highly successful in Colorado.
The Dodgers quest to overtake the Giants…
Regressing back to the Dodgers but staying on the theme of hitting coaches, I was mildly surprised by Mark McGwire’s decision to move from the Cardinals to the Dodgers. I know that McGwire is a Southern CA guy, but still, the Cardinals were his organization. Maybe that’s why it is best to move to another organization so that your legacy as a player is the primary association. Granted, McGwire does not have the untarnished reputation like Mattingly had in New York, but hopefully it works out for Big Mac. Performance-enhancing drugs or not, the guy knows how to hit.
It’s funny, particularly given my long history of being a Yankees fan, but I am a little put off by the free spending ways of the new Dodgers ownership group. While I believe that you have to spend to put a quality team on the field, spending frivolously seems excessive. For the Yankees, I only need to use A-Rod as the example. Over $30 million in one season devoted to a player whose skills are rapidly eroding. $30 million would go a long way toward bringing in multiple quality…and productive…players. The Dodgers should no qualms about picking up the contracts of Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford when it remains to be seen if they can rise to the current level of their contracts. It looks like high stakes poker to me with much potential for disaster.
In a couple of weeks, the Hot Stove League should start heating up and it will be interesting to see what form this off-season takes. I am cautiously optimistic, but understand that it’s very possible the Yanks go into next season hoping some young guys from the farm system are ready to take it to the next level. I guess I now know what it’s like to be a fan of the Minnesota Twins or Kansas City Royals…
The only non-dramatic series of the 2012 post-season…
Sadly, the 2012 season is over for the New York Yankees. But admittedly, I did not feel the team had the horses to win the World Series this year. I know, any team can get hot and take the championship (i.e., 2011 St Louis Cardinals), but the team’s hot and cold hitting pattern bothered me. As the saying goes, “good pitching beats good hitting” so the Yankees’ hitting problems are magnified in the play-offs as they continually face #1 or #2 type starters. If Robinson Cano had gotten hot, maybe it would have been different but no one rose to the challenge in the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers.
The ALCS loss by sweep was painful. For me, it probably ranks with the 1976 World Series when they were swept by the Cincinnati Reds. If memory serves, they won the World Series the following two years so I guess there is hope for next year! Well, maybe not. But all things considered, I’d rather be embarrassed on the ALCS stage than the World Series. That’s probably awful to say because who wouldn’t want their team in the World Series and I am no different. But I wouldn’t want to see the Yankees looking as pathetic in the World Series as they did in the ALCS if that makes any sense.
The 2013 season – optimism or pessimism?…
On the heels of Derek Jeter’s successful ankle surgery that will have him out for 4-5 months, there are reports that CC Sabathia will be consulting with Dr. James Andrews for his ailing left elbow. Apparently, the ligament is intact so there’s hope that either rest or minor surgery to shave the bone spur in his left elbow will be the cure. This definitely bears close watching over the course of the next few months. If CC is unavailable to pitch in 2013, the Yankees would be lacking a legitimate #1 starter. I have not heard how Michael Pineda has been doing, but he’ll be expected to help fill the void in the rotation regardless of what happens to CC, assuming that he is healthy. This was a difficult year for young Yankees pitching prospects, with injuries to Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos, the latter of whom will be lost for 2013 due to Tommy John surgery.
The Yankees really need to do what it takes to ensure that Hiroki Kuroda returns for one more year, and hopefully, Andy Pettitte will decide to go for one more tour around the American League. With the Houston Astros moving to the American League in 2013, Andy would be assured of playing a few league games at home. It would be a great farewell tour with Andy pitching in Houston while standing on the mound with the interlocking N-Y on his hat.
Another year in, and I still don’t know what the Yankees have with Phil Hughes. At times, he is so promising, but others, such a disappointment. I am not sure that he can be trusted to be anything more than a #5 starter with his inconsistency. The Yankees have tough decisions to make on both Hughes and reliever Joba Chamberlain, two pitchers who have seemingly been intertwined since they arrived in New York.
I am concerned about Alex Rodriguez and the huge adverse impact of his contract on the team. The production no longer matches the pay, and of course, the pay prevents those dollars from being spent more wisely. The Yankees will have to settle for “less” in other areas, which will further handicap the team’s productivity. If the Yankees can find a way to move A-Rod, regardless of the cost, I would be in favor of it. I’ve never been a big A-Rod fan, and I would prefer to see his association with the Yankees eliminated.
I want the Yankees to re-sign Robinson Cano, but if the cost is a 10-year, behemoth mega-million contract, I am not so sure the team should go down that road. I am tired of these long-term deals where the player only performs to the level of the contract for the first few years. Cano’s silent bat in the play-offs also was a red flag for me. It’s disappointing because Cano has been one of my favorite players, but the future of an organization should not be tied to one or two players. The St Louis Cardinals are an organization that always seems to make the right decisions for the good of the team, and it has worked out well for them. They are a win away from the World Series despite letting one of the best hitters in baseball walk away last winter.
I do not want to be disrespectful of Derek Jeter and I recognize that he had a great 2012 season, but the fact remains that he’ll be a 39-year-old shortstop coming off ankle surgery heading into next season.
When the Yankees signed Mark Teixeira, it looked like a great signing…much better than the previous first base commitment to Jason Giambi. But after a great 2009 season, Teixeira has not been the feared hitter that I thought he would be. He has been great defensively, but never delivers the key, clutch hit. Those ice cold starts to begin seasons are getting longer and longer.
I do believe the Yankees need to re-sign catcher Russell Martin. I’d also like to see them either invest in a stronger back-up catcher or commit to Francisco Cervelli over Chris Stewart.
I had great respect for Eric Chavez when he was the starting third baseman for the Oakland A’s early in his career, and I’ve thought he was a great role player for the Yankees over the last couple of seasons. But now is the time for the Yankees to move on and find a strong, reliable third base option to spot A-Rod (or replace him if they can somehow find a way to move A-Rod to Miami or Phoenix).
In the outfield, I am hopeful the healthy return of Brett Gardner will be a positive. I have mixed feelings about re-signing Ichiro Suzuki. I thought he rebounded to have a very productive end of the season, but the Yankees are too full of guys nearing or at 40 years of age. A healthy Gardner can replace what the Yankees have in Ichiro…well maybe not the hitting ability, but all other components of his game. I like Curtis Granderson and even though he underperformed in the play-offs, I would still like to see his return. I’ve been a big fan of Nick Swisher, and have appreciated how his personality lightens the Yankees clubhouse. But right field is an area in need of improvement. If the Yankees can get Swisher to re-sign for a reasonable amount of dollars and years, maybe it makes sense to bring him back. But if his expectation is 5-7 years at dollars approaching $100 million, then the team should let him walk.
I am not in favor of bringing either Andruw Jones or Raul Ibanez back. Ibanez had some tremendous hits in the play-off series against the Baltimore Orioles, but the Yankees need to strengthen their bench with younger players who have greater upside.
I am glad to see the Yankees commit to both GM Brian Cashman and Manager Joe Girardi for the 2013 season. I think both, if given the resources and support, can bring the team back to championship level. At this point, the Yankees seem to be in an inferior position to the last place Boston Red Sox in terms of roster flexibility. The Sox ability to unload dead contracts on the Los Angeles Dodgers late in the season was huge. Now that the Sox have their guy as manager (John Farrell), there’s no doubt that we’ll see an improved Red Sox team next season. If the AL East was highly competitive in 2012, it will be even more so in 2013. The difference between first and last place could be which team makes the best decisions this off-season. The margin for error will be less than it has ever been.
I hate to be so doom and gloom, but the Yankees have much work ahead of them. Despite baseball’s highest payroll, they have a team comprised of older ballplayers that are experiencing the inevitable declines in production. The dollars committed to unproductive players like A-Rod and Teixeira are an albatross for a team that wants to reduce its payroll by 2014 to avoid excessive financial penalties. The Yankees do have the talent in the front office and certainly the resources to persevere so how they navigate the next few months will determine if the Yankees are a team of promise and destiny at the start of the 2013 or just another aging ball club that has seen its better years.
A fan of whatever team plays the Tigers…
Despite being an American League fan, it will be hard for me to cheer for the Detroit Tigers in the World Series. With the Cardinals holding a 3-2 advantage against the San Francisco Giants heading into tonight’s NLCS Game 6, my preference is for the Giants to somehow find a way to overcome. But if they are unsuccessful and the Cards advance to face the Tigers, I will pull for St Louis. Residing in the Bay Area, the Giants are a “hometown” favorite for me; while the Cardinals are a “sentimental” favorite (my first major league baseball game as a kid was in St Louis). Plus, as a fan of the Minnesota Vikings and San Jose Sharks, it would be tough for me to pull for any city that boasts the Lions or the Red Wings.
At this point, I am ready for the Hot Stove League to begin…
A funny thing happened on the way to the World Series…
While the Yankees have gotten good starting pitching, the one thing I knew they lacked will most likely be the reason that they will find themselves, once again, on the sidelines. Timely, clutch hitting. For whatever reason, when the Yankees bats go silent, bad things happen. After they were ousted last year by the Detroit Tigers, I felt the team needed to find some dependable, productive bats to help kickstart the offense during those lulls. The weakness does not get overly exposed in the course of a 162-game season, but in a short 7-game series, it most certainly does (particularly when your opponent is able to put baseball’s best on the mound for one or two appearances).
The Yankees made a few minor moves in the off-season, but nothing to help enhance the offense. Yes, they signed Raul Ibanez and he has had some great at-bat’s this post-season. But face it, he is not the player he was a few years ago with the Philadelphia Phillies. Ichiro Suzuki has been a positive but he was merely a replacement for what the Yankees had in Brett Gardner until he was injured.
When Robinson Cano is not hitting, there’s no one on the team that is capable of carrying the team on his back. A-Rod’s best days are clearly in the rear view mirror. Nick Swisher is a classic example of hot/cold, and Mark Teixeira is certainly not the feared slugger he used to be.
As I write this post, the Yankees trail the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS, 2 games to none. They are down 2-0 in the 5th, and Phil Hughes has left the game with a back injury. Justin Verlander is the opposing pitcher (and the aforementioned “baseball’s best”). The mountain the Yankees have to climb seems impossible from my vantage point. Prove me wrong, I’d love it. But the Yankees hitters just do not match up well against Detroit’s pitchers. I was enjoying it earlier in the season when it looked like the Chicago White Sox might win their division, but they faded and allowed the team I feared most to make the play-offs. Well, I feared the Tampa Bay Rays too, but started their late season rally too late.
Maybe Cherington was right to the blow up his roster…
The Yankees cannot go into the upcoming off-season with status quo in mind. With Alex Rodriguez’s contract now becoming a huge albatross, what can the team do to overcome? Derek Jeter had a great season until his ankle injury derailed him. Can he put up another successful campaign next year. I wouldn’t bet against him, but the realist in me knows that he’ll be a 39-year old shortstop. At some point, the skills do start to erode. If the Yankees decide that Robinson Cano is not worth a behemoth contract, how do they fill second? At what point does Mark Teixeira become a liability? Those long, slow starts are becoming longer and slower as the years go by. All those questions and we havn’t even gotten out of the infield.
The Yankees and GM Brian Cashman have many difficult decisions ahead. Putting the 2003 All-Star Team on the field is not the answer. We need the 2013 or 2014 All-Star Team! Okay, that’s not realistic, but the Yankees need players with talent, ability and lots of upside. And, oh yeah, lots and lots of pitching.
George, are you there?…
Given that Hank Steinbrenner’s fingerprints were on the re-signing of Alex Rodriguez, maybe the first action of the off-season should be to neuter Hank and leave the critical decisions to Hal Steinbrenner. Or better yet, seek a medium (is John Edward available?) to consult with the spirit of George Steinbrenner.
It’s disappointing to watch the Yankees underperform on their way to a quick exit from the ALCS. Every divisional series went 5 games, and the NLCS has some fire to it. Meanwhile, the Yankees choke. C’mon, prove me wrong, I dare you…
I thought I was supposed to wear the white uniform!…
In recent years, it has seemed as though no Yankee trade sneaks up on you. Even with Curtis Granderson, there were rumors swirling around before the deal was finally consummated. It has seemed like the press has been tapped into GM Brian Cashman’s inner thoughts. But admittedly, the Ichiro Suzuki trade surprised me.
Years ago, this would have been a headline deal but it’s now obviously the acquisition of a former great player in the twilight of his career.
In recent weeks, I had seen other owners in fantasy leagues start to drop Ichiro from their rosters. I had not been keeping up with his stats but I knew he was no longer the player he once was. But if anything, Derek Jeter has shown what goes down does not necessarily have to stay down. Some are suggested that Ichiro will be revitalized in the midst of a pennant race and the spotlight of New York. Maybe so, maybe not. But if you asked me if I prefer Ichiro in the outfield over DeWayne Wise or exposing Andruw Jones or Raul Ibanez to too much play, the answer would be, without hesitation, yes. I was a bit disappointed when I first heard the news of the trade as visions of Shane Victorino or Denard Span were dancing in my head. Yet, the realist in me knows that the cost to acquire either of those players would have exceeded the reward. On the other hand, Ichiro is simply a rental for the remainder of the season. He’ll be a free agent in the off-season so he’ll hand left field back to Brett Gardner when he departs the Stadium in October.
I remember the thrill of seeing my first game at Safeco Field. The player I was most interested in seeing was Ichiro and he did not disappoint. He came through with a few clutch hits and showed why he has been one of the better players over the past decade. The Yankees have missed a clutch bat so hopefully a revitalized Ichiro means that they’ll have the “pest” they need at the plate and on the base paths.
I know that the pitchers the Yankees gave up were not top shelf talent (D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquahar) but they have the chance to be good major league pitchers. I always hate to see good talent leave, especially if Ichiro’s days in pinstripes do not go beyond the next couple of months. I always remember how much I hated watching Jay Buhner punish the Yankees while wearing a Mariners uniform and wondering what could have been if the Yanks had held on to him. Now, with former top prospect Jesus Montero in Seattle, there are multiple players in the Great Northwest who could haunt their former team. The Mariners go for 20-something former Yankees while the Yankees go for almost 40-something ex-Mariners. I think the M’s have the better business formula even if it isn’t showing up in wins quite yet.
Now that I’ve gotten over the shock of the trade, I will admit that it is nice to see Ichiro in a Yankees uniform. It will be even better if he can get on base with consistency and make crossing home plate a common occurrence.
If there’s one thing about the trade that struck me as unusual, it is the consummation of the deal prior to the start of the Yankees-Mariners series in Seattle. The trade guaranteed the Mariners fans would be subjected to watching the first three games of Ichiro’s post-Seattle career in an opposing uniform. Not any uniform but the most hated and despised uniform in most parts of the country outside of NYC. The Yankees apparently had conditions Ichiro had to agree to (batting in the bottom of the order, moving to left, and accepting an outfield rotation to get the bats of Jones and Ibanez into the lineup). So, perhaps the Yankees had the upper hand in this deal and argued that it had to happen sooner rather the later. For the Mariners, the motivation is clearly to move on and to further develop their further stars.
After the Cliff Lee debacle when he went to the Texas Rangers for Justin Smoak after the Yankees thought they had acquired him, I really didn’t think the Yankees would forgive the Mariners and their general manager. But after the Michael Pineda and Ichiro deals, there is no evidence of hard feelings. Cliff Lee just wasn’t meant to be a Yankee. He proved that with his own decision to rebuke the team to re-sign with the Philadelphia Phillies. Lee is a good pitcher but some guys weren’t meant for Broadway.
The question now is if the Yankees are done dealing before the trading deadline. With the returns of Joba Chamberlain and Andy Pettitte looming on the horizon, perhaps they are the moves that can catapult the Yankees to the World Series. I can’t really think of another move the Yankees need to make other than further enhancing an already good bullpen. Sure, if the Philadelphia Phillies called to say that they’d trade Roy Halladay for Ivan Nova, you’d pull the trigger, but seriously, that’s not going to happen.
For the lack of better words, Ouch!…
After moving back to the Bay Area and living in what is described as A’s territory, it was really tough to see the Yankees swept in four games against the upstart A’s. While the Yankees hold a 7 game lead, the race is far from over. I still expect the Tampa Bay Rays to make a run, and of course, I am always fearful the Boston Red Sox make some major moves that propel them back into contention. I’d be foolish to underestimate Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles. So, every day, Brian Cashman needs to be trying to find ways to improve the team. The nice thing is that I know he is.
Open the Cooperstown doors now…
I think I read recently that Mariano Rivera would like to make his return in September rather than next spring. While I doubt he’ll be able to do it, I wouldn’t be surprised if he did. He is clearly one of the most gifted athletes of our time. He is my favorite current Yankee and he’ll be on the fast track to Cooperstown when he retires. I am sure that his spot in Memorial Park has already been reserved, along with Derek Jeter’s. It would have been great to watch guys like Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle play, but I am glad that I lived in the Rivera/Jeter era. I look forward to telling my grandchildren that I saw the game’s greatest closer play. As a kid, I thought Rich “Goose” Gossage was the greatest closer. I never realizvbbbbb
But are they Yankees fans?…
I am the proud owner of two rescue kittens named Nathalia and Sophie. They are sisters and at times, they are the synchronized twins. Two American Shorthairs, both black and one with with a white undercoat, they have proven their love of baseball. During the recent Yankees-Red Sox series in Boston, the sisters were engrossed in watching the game, just like their roommate (me). I love this pic…
And the winner is…
The next week should be fun as teams race against the trading deadline. Maybe it will be quiet, maybe not. I fully expect the Red Sox and in particular, GM Ben Cherington, to make a bold move. I respect Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster for preferring to pitch for the Los Angeles Dodgers over the Atlanta Braves (I should qualify that by saying my favorite NL team is the Dodgers). The Tigers have been active as evidenced by their recent acquisitions of Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante. I saw tonight that the Pittsburgh Pirates were close to acquiring Wandy Rodriguez, who has long been on the radar for both the Yanks and Red Sox. I almost missed the trade of Astros closer Brett Myers to the Chicago White Sox. I think the Sox have the market cornered on goatees.
I am still missing Minneapolis but I am enjoying this baseball season. Life is good.
P.S. Looking for some great photos? Check out Erik van den Ham’s website, http://www.panoramio.com/user/62613. Excellent!
The 10-Game Roll…
Back when the Yankees were struggling, I knew in the back of my mind that it wasn’t anything that a 10-game winning streak couldn’t fix. Well, the Yankees have done just that with tonight’s victory over the Atlanta Braves. Just like last year, interleague play has proven to be the Yankees’ friend. Although the team hadn’t enjoyed a 10-game winning streak for a few seasons, they did rise up to the challenge of interleague play last year and this year, well, they’ve been nearly invincible. Not bad for a team with questions throughout the starting rotation and perhaps its most valuable pitcher (Mariano Rivera) lost for the season.
Improved starting pitching from #2 through #5 has been the key. Of course, the resurgence of former retiree Andy Pettitte has been crucial, but Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova have all been raised the level of their play. This sure beats last year when you could count on an implosion every fifth start by A.J. Burnett. To Burnett’s defense, he has been very good for the Pittsburgh Pirates, proving that some guys are better served away from baseball’s main stage. There was never any doubt about Burnett’s arm so he just needed a place to get his head straight. But I digress. I prefer Hiroki Kuroda over Burnett, even though Kuroda has had a few clunkers of his own. Kuroda has always mixed in a few stellar starts and seems to finally be getting a grasp of life in the American League East.
Hats off to Cashman…
Why can’t every trade work out as nicely as the one that brought Curtis Granderson to New York? After a slow start in the Bronx during his first year, Grandy has been nothing short of a superstar since. Time and again, he is getting a key hit and propelling his team to victory. The price of the trade was high, and the players going the other direction have fared nicely in their new surroundings, but the trade was worth it.
The personality alone is worth a few million…
With this being Nick Swisher’s walk year, it is assumed that he’ll move on after the season but I really hope that the Yankees find a way to bring his excitement and energy back to the Bronx next season. With the Los Angeles Dodgers’ re-signing of potential free agent Andre Ethier, the free agent market won’t yield anyone of Swisher’s caliber. Sure, you can have Vernon Wells or Alfonso Soriano for a bag of peanuts and a boatload of cash, but I’d rather take Swish.
No recollection of who he played for between the Blue Jays and Astros…
So, Roger Clemens has been found not guilty. Good for him. Do I want to remember his Yankees legacy now that he is a free man? Sorry, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Let Clemens be remembered as a Red Sock, Blue Jay, or Astro. I really don’t want to see Clemens at any future Old Timer’s games at Yankee Stadium unless he is buying a ticket.
Git ‘er done!…
Note to Hal Steinbrenner: Break team tradition and get Robinson Cano signed to an extension. The key is the Yankees’ MVP, and he deserves a contract that rewards a player of his caliber. It is unfortunate that the Yankees have so many dollars going to third base when their success or failure hinges on second base. If they were on opposing teams, there’s no way that I’d trade Robinson Cano for the combination of Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter…
Spending the end of July in the Hamptons…
If the Yankees are players at the trading deadline, I am not sure that they’ll focus on. An outfielder given the slow return of Brett Gardner? Another starting pitcher? But if so, who do you move out of the rotation? Last year, I was surprised when the team stood pat but this year, they probably don’t have any choice. I think any moves will only be secondary in nature, such as another bullpen arm or some other auxiliary type of player.
Farewell to a beloved city…
My time in Minneapolis is coming to an end, unfortunately. I have really enjoyed my short stay in the city and I was graced with an incredibly mild winter so I leave with great memories and much sadness. Living in downtown Minneapolis, with a view of Target Field, was an incredible experience. I am returning to Northern California. No views of any baseball stadiums (Oakland, no thanks; San Francisco, too expensive), so I’ll just have to deal with BART to find my way to games. As much as people in Minnesota complain about the winters, I am sure that I will be glad to be spending my Decembers and Januarys in NoCal but I definitely leave with mixed feelings. A new job opportunity pulled me back to CA, but I can’t say that I am overly excited about the move (location; not job). I loved Minneapolis so I leave with a heavy heart…
The season of “Win some, lose some”…
This season has had a strange aura to it. Maybe it was the loss of the legendary Mariano Rivera for the season due to the knee injury suffered in Kansas City. Maybe it is because of the anemic Yankee bats. Maybe it’s because Hiroki Kuroda is acting like the latest incarnation of the Yankee versions of Ed Whitson and A.J. Burnett. I am not quite sure, but the feeling is similar to last season’s play-off series against Detroit when it simply felt like the Tigers were going to win.
After Boston’s horrid start and despite the fact they are still in last place in the AL East, they actually have much greater momentum at the moment than the Yankees. Plus, they figure to get stronger as the injured players return to the lineup. At the moment, the Sox only trail the Yankees by one game, so given Boston’s momentum, it actually feels as though the Yanks trail the Sox.
I hate to sound so negative. Things always look so grim when the Yankees lose, and so happy and cheerful when they win. But it’s the inconsistency and the quiet bats against lesser known pitchers that concern me. Everyone always talks about the powerful Yankees offense and the pitching is viewed as the Achilles heel, so far, the offense has worried me more than the troubles of the pitching staff, most notably Kuroda and Ivan Nova (and of course the injuries in the bullpen).
I realize that Alex Rodriguez hit two home runs in tonight’s win over the Kansas City Royals, but one game does not a season make. It’s the timely clutch hitting on a consistent basis that is needed so desperately. Is the clutch hitter the team needs on the current active roster or is this a position Brian Cashman will need to focus on over the course of the next two months? Time will tell. I remember when Philadelphia Phillies GM Ruben Amaro said earlier in the season that he didn’t know if the Phillies would be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline. The same could still be said of the Yankees if they don’t start winning a few series along the way.
I could stand one of those ten game win streaks about now…
So long Kerry Wood…
Clearly, Kerry Wood will always be remembered as a Chicago Cub, but he does have Yankees alumni status due to his brief stint in the Bronx a few seasons ago. He never fulfilled the fans’ expectations, but he had, without a doubt, a quality major league career. He is not a future inductee to the Hall of Fame, but he’ll be remembered as a true professional and a great representative of the game. Although I had wanted the Yankees to re-sign Wood, I am glad that he was able to return home to the Cubs to finish his career. He will be forever linked to the organization and will be one of their greatest ambassadors in future years.
For me, this is bittersweet. I’ve been aware of Kerry since he was a high school pitcher in Texas. I never met him, but he was a very close friend of the son of a former co-worker. The co-worker’s son was a good high school athlete, and I remember major league scouts were scouting both him and Kerry at the same time. The co-worker always raved about her son (naturally) but the accolades from others centered on Kerry so you knew early on that he was destined for the major leagues. I can still recall when we found out that Kerry had been drafted by the Cubs. It was fun to follow his career from that point in time until his retirement this month.
I wish Kerry the very best as he moves into the next stage of his life. Thanks for the 20 strikeout game among many other outstanding performances, and thanks for being a quality individual and great role model for kids. Too bad there aren’t more guys in the big leagues like you…
Hello Andy Pettitte…
What can you say…simply outstanding. After one game to shake off the rust, he has pitched back to back stellar starts, vintage Andy Pettitte. For all the good things I said about Kerry Wood, I hold Pettitte, another Texan, in the same regard. Andy is why it is great to be a Yankees fan. He could lose the rest of his starts this year, and it wouldn’t diminish the high regard I have for the guy. I greatly admire players who take personal responsibility and accountability, and Andy’s been that guy from Day One. With the struggles of Kuroda and Nova, and the move of the ineffective Freddy Garcia to the pen, Andy has been the great stabilizer of the starting rotation. It was an awful feeling when Andy signed with the Houston Astros as a free agent and it was awful when he retired. But both returns have been invigorating even if the present team is a bit sluggish.
Andy may not make the Hall of Fame but he’s earned a spot in Monument Park. His name should be forever linked to the Yankees.
Going up or going down?…
About 20 games into the season and the Yankees are barely closer to first place than they are last place. Only two games separate the Yankees from the dismal start by the Boston Red Sox but of course the Sox are playing better as of late. It’s only April so at this point, the standings don’t really mean too much as the superior AL East teams will begin to separate themselves from the pretenders over the course of the next couple of months.
It was nice to see the Yankees pull off a walk-off win at Yankee Stadium last night against the team that seems to terrorize them in the play-offs in recent years, the Detroit Tigers. I am really surprised that Justin Verlander holds an 0-2 mark with 4.50 ERA for his career at the new Yankee Stadium. When he is on the mound, it is hard not to expect bad things for the home team. So, regardless of Verlander’s struggles at Yankee Stadium, it is still a great feeling to pick up a win on a night when he took the mound.
Cashman made the right decision…
Lately, there have been numerous columns and articles written about how disastrous the Yankees trade for Michael Pineda has become. I realize that he’s lost for the season due to his shoulder injury, but he is still a young and talented pitcher. I know there’s always a risk that he isn’t quite the pitcher was projected to be when he comes back, but I think it’s way too early to criticize the trade which sent talented hitter Jesus Montero to Seattle. Pineda’s injury was suffered on the Yankees’ watch and not while he was in Seattle, and there is still a good chance that he’s a strong, contributing part of next year’s rotation.
Phil Hughes is probably the beneficiary of Pineda’s injury as I feel that Freddy Garcia will be the odd man out when Andy Pettitte returns to the Bronx. Hughes hasn’t exactly pitched like he wants to stay, but I am not ready to see the Yankees banish him to Pittsburgh or someplace like that. Maybe I am an eternal optimist but I still believe that Hughes can prosper in New York.
I am a bit concerned by the uneven starts provided by new Yankee Hiroki Kuroda, but I think he’ll settle in and deliver consistent performances in the coming weeks and months. Yes, I do thank the lucky stars every day for CC Sabathia.
A sad day in the Yankees Universe…
I was saddened to hear the passing of Yankees great Bill “Moose” Skowron yesterday. He was part of the 1961 Yankees which will always be a special team in Yankees history for the famed M&M Boys (the year Mickey Mantle hit 54 home runs, and Roger Maris hit the then record 61 homers). But there’s no way either Mickey or Roger could have reached those heights without guys like Skowron on the roster.
Next stop, Superstardom…
Well, the Bryce Harper Show begins its maiden tour in Washington with the scheduled first start today for the ultra-hyped, super prospect National. Given that he was called up to take the roster spot of injured 3B Ryan Zimmerman, there’s always the chance that Harper goes back down when Zimmerman returns from the DL. But if Harper starts to hit like we know he will, it will be hard for the Nats to remove him from the roster. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. America loves superstars and Harper certainly has as much of a chance to be the best as anyone in the game today.
When Christian Ponder and Adrian Peterson are happy, so am I…
It’s only been three rounds, but I am pleased with the NFL draft selections made by the Minnesota Vikings. Prior to the draft, my preference for the Vikings #3 pick in the first round was USC OT Matt Kalil. There was talk that the Vikings were undecided among Kalil, CB Morris Claiborne, and WR Justin Blackmon, but in the end, it proved to be a smokescreen. I was a bit anxious when I first heard the Vikings had traded down with the Cleveland Browns, but it was clear that the Browns were going after RB Trent Richardson so there was no risk of losing Kalil off the board. At first, I didn’t understand the logic of the move, but clearly the Vikings (and GM Rick Spielman) had made the Browns fearful they’d trade down with another team which could potentially cost the Browns a shot at the premier running back in the draft. The move brought three late round picks to the Vikings and it didn’t cost them anything as they were focused on Kalil from the start.
I also like the Vikings’ subsequent picks (late first round selection of S Harrison Smith and early third round choice of speedy CB Josh Robinson). For a team that was desperate of upgrades in the secondary, they fared well. It would have been nice if Robinson were a bit taller, but his 4.33 speed at the Combines was unmatched. I think he’s good material for the coaching staff to mold for playing at this level. The Vikings have a plethora of selections today as Rounds 4-7 are completed, and I am sure that the defense will continue to get attention. I also expect the Vikings to choose a wide receiver, but I have no idea who they might target. Nevertheless, with Spielman’s decisions so far, I have no doubt that he’ll continue to bring talented playmakers to Minnesota.
As Luck would have it…
Like everyone else, I think that QB Andrew Luck has the potential to be one of the greats in the game but how much more difficult can it be to be replacing one of the greatest QB’s to play the game with added pressure of being the number one selection in the NFL Draft (along with the expectations that go with it)? If Luck succeeds, and I do not doubt that he will, he will prove, without a doubt, that he was the right choice to replace Manning. Luck, with a horseshoe on his helmet, seems like it was destiny. Meanwhile, I continue to “ponder” things in Minnesota…
Today, with Yankees-Tigers on tap and the conclusion of the NFL Draft, will be a fun day. Enjoy!
We took a mulligan on the first 21 rounds…
It amazes me when I look down this list of names…
Carl Everett, OF
Robert Eenhoorn, SS
Tate Seefried, 1B
Kirt Ojala, LHP
Richard Lantrip, INF
Sam Militello, RHP
Jalal Leach, OF
Tim Rumer, LHP
Matthew Terrell, OF
Darren Hodges, RHP
Richard Hines, RHP
Ron Frazier, RHP
Jeff Motuzas, C
Bo Siberz, RHP
Michael Smith, RHP
Ricky Ledee, OF
Bryan Faw, RHP
Bob Deller, OF
Brent Gilbert, RHP
Kevin Jordan, 2B
Keith Seiler, LHP
These are the players that the Yankees selected prior to Andy Pettitte in the 1990 MLB June Amateur Draft. Of course, Carl Everett’s name stands out but he achieved major league success elsewhere. I always had high hopes for Ricky Ledee, but he didn’t live up to the hype. I also liked Sam Militello, but if memory serves correctly, his career was ultimately derailed by injuries. But still, none of these players came close to matching Pettitte’s career. It is startling how many pitchers the Yankess took in front of Andy, including three left-handed pitchers. It’s also amazing to think that when this group was drafted, my now 22 year old son was only 6 months old.
I realize that Andy is nearly 40 years old, but all things considered, physically, he looks much younger. Took away the strands of gray in his hair and he’d still look 30. I am not trying to say that he is going to throw like a 30 year old, but I don’t feel the drop-off from 2010 is going to be as severe as some suspect. I remember when pitchers like David Cone and Roger Clemens were getting older. They were great pitchers but it felt like they were getting old. Somehow, Andy doesn’t project that same feeling. Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine may have his doubts about Andy’s comeback but I’d rather have Andy at the back end of the rotation than what Valentine will be putting out there. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. As the saying goes, “nothing ventured, nothing gained”.
Fragile: Handle with care…
I am not quite sure what to think about the news of Joba Chamberlain’s latest injury. Apparently, he suffered an ankle injury playing with his son that required surgery today. Expected to be back by June, this will obviously delay his return. It seems like the Yankees gave up too early on former pitcher Alfredo Aceves after he suffered two successive injuries that kept him off the field. I don’t know the exact details but the release of Aceves surprised me at the time and of course he found success in Boston. I hope the Yankees do not prematurely lose confidence in Chamberlain. I am not comparing Chamberlain’s situation to Aceves other than to emphasize that I hope the organization takes a tolerant and patient approach to see if Chamberlain can still become the pitcher we thought he would be.
Not only are you out, you’re outta here!…
Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi keep preaching patience with DH Raul Ibanez, but when it comes to that topic, my patience has worn incredibly thin. His lack of hits is troubling under any situation. Given the lineup also has a notoriously slow starting slugger at first base (Mark Teixeira), the Yankees can ill-afford multiple ice bats in April. The Yankees have the talent to acquire a younger, more productive hitter, and that’s definitely a road that I’d be exploring if I was the Yankees general manager. Of course, Brian Cashman is a better general manager that I’d ever be even in my own mind so I am sure this will play out exactly as Cash anticipates. Or at least I hope…
Peyton drinking the Orange Crush? At least he stayed with the horses…
Peyton Manning, the Denver Bronco. I am a bit surprised by his choice. Of course, it ended Tebow-mania in the Mile High City as the Broncos shipped #15 to the New York Jets. The Jets trade also surprised me given they already have Mark Sanchez. I had expected Tebow to go to Florida although I do recognize that the Jacksonville Jaguars are grooming Blaine Gabbert. It will be interesting to see how the Sanchez-Tebow situation plays out in New York. Maybe they can co-exist, but all things considered, this would be yet another surprise for me.
I thought it was a class gesture for former Broncos QB Frank Tripucka to relinquish his retired number 18 for Peyton to wear. Obviously, when Peyton retires, Tripucka will have to share the retired status with Manning. I’d like to see more retired players make those types of moves for certain players.
Think Ron Yary…
I am really worried the Minnesota Vikings are going to use the #3 pick on CB Mo Claiborne rather than stellar OT Matt Kalil. I know that Claiborne is a potential top 5 pick and the Vikings have a lousy secondary, but I just don’t see how you can pass up a franchise tackle who can protect Christian Ponder for years to come.
And then there was light…
Although we’ve been having summer like weather in Minnesota, it’s still hard to believe that the lights of Target Field will soon be illuminating downtown Minneapolis. As a downtown resident, I love the lights of the park which have been dark since last October. It will be fun to see them return in the near future. I only hope the Twins aren’t greeted with a heap of snow (which could happen in this part of the country). I am planning to attend my first 2012 game at Target Field in late April when the Boston Red Sox come to town. For three nights, I will be a Twins fan!