Results tagged ‘ Cardinals ’

Aren’t the Yankees supposed to rule the Winter Meetings?…

Wow…

After more than a year of speculation and news about the Albert Pujols contract negotiations, he shocks the world and accepts Arte Moreno’s $250 million to go to Anaheim.  I guess you can blame the Yankees for this one.  Don’t they always get the blame?  If the Yanks hadn’t gone on a spending binge several years to secure the services of then-Angels first baseman Mark Texeira, the Los Angeles Angels would not have been in the market for a top shelf first baseman.  Albert, of course, is more than top shelf, he is THE top shelf.  Still, I was surprised by the move.  The Angels have Mark Trumbo returning, a player they control, and a healthy Kendrys Morales.  I am sure that there are other areas of the team that could have used upgrades.

The Angels did follow up immediately with the signing of top free agent pitcher C.J. Wilson.  I had a feeling that Wilson would be headed to the West Coast despite the Miami Marlins pursuit of the former Texas Ranger.  He leaves the top of the rotation for perhaps the #3 or #4 slot with the Angels.  The Philadelphia Phillies have been recognized for the best rotation, but the Angels cannot be too far behind with Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana and now Wilson leading the rotation.  I don’t know who the #5 starter is for the Angels off the top of my head, but does it really matter?  You could probably go grab Mark Langston out of retirement and throw him in the rotation…it wouldn’t matter.

This has to be a reactionary move by owner Arte Moreno.  The Los Angeles Dodgers are primed to re-capture the LA market once a reputable, financially-sound owner or ownership group takes control of the team.  After being considered the class of the AL West for years, the Angels have become an understudy for the Texas Rangers.  Today’s moves clearly re-establish the Angels as the class of the AL West, and perhaps of the American League.

I do feel bad for the St Louis Cardinals and their fans.  As an iconic player, the fans deserved to see Albert play his entire career in St Louis.  Stan “The Man” Musial is beloved to this day, and Albert is the first Cardinals player that could have rivaled Musial after his playing days are over.  Now, Albert will never be automatically thought of as a Cardinal.  He’ll carve out a legacy as an Angel, and will give us reasons to remember him in Anaheim.  A very disappointing day for the Cardinals.  No offense to Lance Berkman, but that’s a big drop-off from Albert.

The Miami Marlins had looked like the crown prince of the Winter Meetings with their acquisitions of Heath Bell, Jose Reyes, and Mark Buehrle, but they were torched on the last day by the Angels.  It’s been a good off-season for the Angels, who earlier picked up a new backstop in Chris Iannetta.

Meanwhile, I can hear crickets at Yankee Stadium…

A little bit of nothing…

The Yankees did win the posting for Japanese infielder Hiroyuki Nakajima, but based on the reports I’ve read, the Yankees will have difficulty signing him.  The leading speculation is that he’ll return to Japan for another season and then sign with the Boston Red Sox next winter.  That would really stink if the Yankees lost a prospect to their bitter rival.  But from Nakajima’s perspective, Boston could offer him a starting role at shortstop (something the Yankees could not do) and their manager has tremendous experience with Japanese players.  The posting I want the Yankees to win is for pitcher Yu Darvish, but reports indicate the Yankees interest is lukewarm.  Of course, that could always be a ploy to help keep posting bids down, but the lukewarm comments certainly proved to be accurate for the Yankees interest in C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehrle.

I remain hopeful that the Yankees have started the groundwork for a successful acquisition of a pitcher like Gio Gonzalez, John Danks, or Kyle Drabek.  Brian Cashman may feel that he doesn’t need to do anything with a 97-win team, but I heard a GM on MLB Radio say that if you’re standing pat, you are getting worse.  I agree that you need to consistently seek upgrades and for the most part, the Yankees stood pat last season.  Catcher Russell Martin was huge, but at the time of the signing, it was very low key.  Same with the signings of Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon.  It’s been a very long time since Yankees fans have had a reason to feel great excitement and joy for a player acquisition like the Angels experienced today.  Meanwhile, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter are getting older and certainly not better…

I know, we’re Yankees fans, we want it all…

Go New York!…

Now that the NBA is back, I am at the crossroads.  I’ve been a Los Angeles Lakers fan in recent years, primarily because of my appreciation for Kobe Bryant as a player.  But as funny as this sounds as a Yankees fan, I am tired of backing a team that is always expected to win and often does.  I want a team that has suffered so that when the team does win, there is greater satisfaction.  As a result, I am switching my allegiance to a team that has my favorite player, Amare Stoudemire as well as my second favorite player, Carmelo Anthony…the New York Knicks.

First year in Minnesota, worst year in the history of the franchise…

Despite my relocation to Minnesota, I remain committed in my support of the NHL’s San Jose Sharks.  And despite their 2-10 record, I am still a Vikings fan.  On the bright side as a Vikings fan, I won’t have to wait long to find out who the Vikings select in the NFL Draft in April 2012.  At this point in the season, you’re pulling for losses, hoping the team can overtake the Indianapolis Colts for the worst record.  But of course, that’s a moot issue if the Colts can’t win a game. This is probably one of the first years ever that I’ve accepted and embraced that the Green Bay Packers will win the Super Bowl.  It’s easier to say that when your team was left for dead long ago.

I need one of my teams to step forward and win a championship.  It’s been a drought since 2009, and I need something to cheer about!

–Scott

The best of a bad situation for the Red Sox Nation…

 

Bobby Valentine’s hire…

I am still surprised that the Boston Red Sox ownership and management team did not have a clear plan of succession when they failed to back former manager Terry Francona at the end of the season.  Sure, Francona left on his terms but the lack of support had as much to do with the decision as anything.  So, if ownership felt that they wanted a change, they should have had a short list of potential replacements in mind.  Theo Epstein moved more quickly in Chicago when they named Sox candidate Dale Sveum as their manager.  The Sox search just felt “messy” to an outsider like me.

Still, they probably did as well as they could with the hiring of Bobby Valentine.  There is no question that he is a superior tactician.  He is very passionate, which is an attribute that I have always admired.  I cannot say that I’ve been a Bobby V fan in my life.  I lived in Dallas during his years as the manager of the Texas Rangers.  But I respect his knowledge, skills and high desire to win.  At different points during the last few years, there have been times he has been mentioned as a possible Yankees manager.  You don’t have to like the guy personally if he can get the job done.  I think one of my friends referred to Bobby as “swarmy” and it’s a good description.  Nevertheless, I am sure that Bobby will prove himself worthy of the Red Sox Nation and they’ll love him.  Meanwhile, we’ll just continue our loathing of him which fits since he is now with a bitter rival.

I would like to see if Bobby can have a positive impact on pitcher Jon Lester.  Lester has been one of my favorite players, despite his uniform.  He is an ace, and capable of carrying the high expectations that go with it.  2011 was a regression year for Lester so hopefully he’ll get back on track in 2012 and clearly establish himself as the leader of the Red Sox rotation.

…and Terry Francona’s ire…

In recent years, I admittedly lessened my dislike for the Boston Red Sox and it was primarily because of my respect for manager Terry Francona.  In my mind, Joe Torre had been the model of a superior manager, and the Francona mold was in the same class.  I do not know the inner workings of the Red Sox organization, but I am still surprised that they didn’t support Francona based on comments Tito has made during interviews.  I was even more surprised to hear that he had to defend himself against questions about painkillers during his interview with the St. Louis Cardinals.  Here is a manager that won two World Series for an organization that had not won since 1918, or when Babe Ruth was still on the roster.  It’s incredible to think of how many Red Sox managers failed where Tito succeeded.  I think teams missed the boat in not aggressively pursuing Tito this off-season.  Hopefully, teams won’t make the same mistake next year.

All quiet on the Western front…

The days leading up to the Baseball Winter Meetings in Dallas seem so incredibly quiet compared to life under the Boss.  While I recognize that part of it is posturing by the Yankees to avoid overpaying for players, there is the realization that this is a different ownership group even if it is still “in the family”.  The Yankees did not really make any notable moves last season outside of signing catcher Russell Martin and bringing in pitchers Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon.  To fail to upgrade the team this year is a mistake in my opinion.  Last year’s roster was easily defeated by the Detroit Tigers in the play-offs.  While I realize that anything can happen in a short series, I didn’t have the sense or “feel” that the Yankees were going to prevail.  It almost seemed as though it was inevitable the Yankees would lose.  That’s a bad feeling.  The team needs bench or role players that can come through like Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui used to, and they need help at the top of the starting rotation behind CC Sabathia.

I hopeful that the team can re-sign Eric Chavez, Andrew Jones and Luis Ayala.  Chavez is a perfect fit behind Alex Rodriguez, assuming that he can stay healthy, and Jones was a great fourth outfielder if he is content with resuming that type of role for the upcoming season. Ayala seems to be garnering much attention with at least six teams interested.

I like the one rumor that I heard about the Yankees possibly being interested in Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Kyle Drabek.  He would definitely be a pitcher that I’d target if I were the GM.  As a fan, the trade of Doug Drabek hurt at the time and it hurt even more when Drabek went on to achieve great success with the Pittsburgh Pirates.  While acquiring Kyle Drabek has nothing to do with his father as he has great potential on his own right, it would be nice to have the son of Doug Drabek in the organization.  Interestingly, the Yankees had obtained Doug Drabek in a trade with the Chicago White Sox for shortstop Roy Smalley.  If they had held onto him that trade would have been remembered as one of the Yankees better trades.  As it was, the Yankees traded him to the Pirates for Rick Rhoden, who was serviceable but not great.

Of the free agent pitchers, I am still most interested in Mark Buehrle.  I think he’d fit perfectly into the middle of the Yankees rotation.  I like C.J. Wilson but I can understand the team’s apprehension given the dollars that have been mentioned to sign him.  If Yu Darvish is posted later this off-season, I really would like to see the Yankees be aggressive in pursuing him.  I am convinced that he’ll have greater major league success than Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka.  The negative is obviously the cost of the posting fee that it will take to get the job done.  The Red Sox paid over $51 million for the rights to negotiate with Dice-K, and apparently, it will take a similar if not higher number to land Darvish.

If the Yankees were to include outfielder Nick Swisher in a trade for a starting pitcher, they’d need to find a replacement.  As a fan, I am always on the lookout for the next Paul O’Neill type of trade to fill the void…acquiring a talented young outfielder with much promise who has yet fulfilled those expectations.  It’s a high risk move, but as in the case of O’Neill, high reward.  Curtis Granderson has thrived in a Yankees uniform despite the sluggish start, and it’s better to catch a player before he hits the upward arc of his career in terms of cost.  If the Yankees tried to acquire Granderson from the Tigers today, there’s no way that they could get it done with Ian Kennedy, Austin Jackson and Phil Coke (and that’s with Kennedy being mentioned in the NL Cy Young race this year).

Brace yourself, here comes Roller-Coaster Week!…

The upcoming week is always my favorite week of the off-season.  The Hot Stove League is at its pinnacle.  Even if the Yankees do not do anything, it is still a thrilling ride.  It’s fun to talk and think about all the potential possibilities, even as far-reaching as some may sound.  My primary wish is for the Cardinals to get their long-anticipated deal with Albert Pujols done so that we can move on to other storylines.  There’s no way that he is going to Chicago or Miami, and at the end of the day, he is and always will be a Cardinal.

My preferred landing spot for Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, if he decides to continue playing, is the Miami Marlins.  I do not want to see him go to the Mets, Red Sox, or any other AL East rival including the Tampa Bay Rays.

Good move, Bad move…

The Los Angeles Dodgers are my favorite National League team, although I do not have the passion for the team or the sense of loyalty that I hold for the Yankees.  My affection for them began when Joe Torre was named manager (previously I had considered the San Francisco Giants as my NL team) and it has continued with one of my all-time favorite players as the current Dodgers manager, Don Mattingly.  I am dismayed with the ownership situation and do not have any respect for Frank McCourt, but I am optimistic that the sale of the team will restore the luster of the storied franchise.

While it was good for the Dodgers to lock up outfielder Matt Kemp long-term, I do question the move to sign free agent pitcher Chris Capuano.  The cost was too great ($10 million for two years) for a journeyman pitcher who is average to average-minus with no upside.  If this move prevents free agent pitcher Hiroki Kuroda from returning, then it’s an even greater mistake.  I don’t know how much it will cost to sign Kuroda and I realize that he is 37, but he’s still a better pitcher than Capuano.

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out…

I was not excited when the Minnesota Vikings trade a 6th round draft pick to the Washington Redskins for QB Donovan McNabb before the season started, but I did realize the team needed a veteran presence.  McNabb was a failure for the Vikings, and I was glad to see the team finally cut bait with his release this past week.  I am not convinced he can thrive in any environment, contrary to what head coach Leslie Frazier may say.  I think the Vikings simply found out what the Philadelphia Eagles knew and what the Redskins found out last season.  He’s done.  I was pleasantly surprised to see QB Sage Rosenfels return as the third string QB after his release from the Miami Dolphins.  It’s not that I expect Rosenfels to take any regular season snaps this time around, but he’s a good insurance policy and allows the Vikings to continue to use second string QB Joe Webb in a variety of roles.

It’s tough when your favorite football team is playing so bad that you actually hope for losses to ensure a high draft pick.  The Vikings are only two games behind the Indianapolis Colts in the sweepstakes for Stanford QB Andrew Luck.  I am a fan of Vikings QB Christian Ponder, but even I would gladly take Luck over Ponder.  So, with the Denver Broncos playing the Vikings today, all I can say is ‘Go Tim Tebow!’ as a way to bring good “Luck”!…

–Scott

If Hot Stove League has opened, when do the Yankees play?…

 

With the Boss, we OWNED November…

Life under Hal Steinbrenner is certainly different than it was under the Boss.  In the old days, the Yankees would already be dominating the news in November.  At the very least, their name would be attached as a strong possibility for every elite free agent.  These days, the Miami Marlins, Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers and even the Houston Astros have garnered more press time.

As for the obvious options, I do think the Yankees would be foolish to join the chase for free agent pitcher C.J. Wilson.  I like Wilson as a starter, but he’s not worth the cost.  I still prefer Mark Buehrle because it wouldn’t take as much money and even if he’s not flashy, Buehrle gives you innings and is very consistent.  After life on the A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes Roller Coasters, I’d gladly accept some consistency in the middle of the rotation.  As for trade targets, I’d love to get Matt Cain but I don’t think the San Francisco Giants will trade him.

Now that Eric Chavez has indicated he wants to play in 2012, I hope the Yankees can find a way to bring him back for a second year in pinstripes.  It’s interesting that the team has acknowledged they may have been better off playing Chavez at third in the play-offs instead of the less-than-100% Alex Rodriguez.  A healthy A-Rod is critical for next season and someone like Chavez, assuming he can also stay healthy, is the perfect backup because he can be a very effective starter in spots.  At some point, A-Rod will probably see more time at DH than third, but that’s not going to happen next year.  Chavez is a good bridge to the point the Yanks need  a new full-time third baseman.

Sleep deprived Houstonians…

I think the announced move of the Houston Astros to the American League in 2013 makes sense.  I understand the negatives….they’ll lose the Central Time Zone rivalries with the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs and will play more games on the West Coast…but I think they’ll develop good rivalries with the AL CST teams.  As for the time zone differences, they still have it better than the three hour time zone differences the AL East teams face on their West Coast trips.  I realize that those are not in-division games, but all things considered, having balanced leagues for scheduling purposes is important.  Plus, it didn’t seem fair that the AL West had only four teams while the other divisions had five.  I never fully understood why Milwaukee was moved from the AL to NL and I did think they probably should have been the team to move back to the AL, but clearly the MLB team owners used the sale of the Astros as leverage to force the move.

New meaning to ‘one and done’…

Of the other changes, I am not sure what I think about the addition of a second wild card team, and moving to a one game wild card play-off.  I didn’t like the current system that did not differentiate between winning the division or getting into the play-offs as the Wild Card (except for home field advantage).  But a one game play-off?  That doesn’t really seem fair either.  I know that the argument is to win the division and not put yourself in the wild card, but it doesn’t seem fair that one wild card team could finish 5 or 6 games ahead of the second team, but then lose out by virtue of a single off night.  I know, ‘don’t put yourself in that position’ but still…  Nevertheless, I am sure that this change will motivate teams to continue striving for the division championship and not mail it in once the wild card is secured.

I thought they put their pants on just like I do…

I think the right choices were made for the AL and NL Cy Young Awards…Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw, respectively.  How scary is it that Kershaw’s only 23?  Donnie Baseball has to be very happy with the top of his rotation.  I am looking forward to the announcement of the MVP Awards, and I am in the category of those who believe that pitchers should not be considered for the award.  Obviously, I am pulling for Curtis Granderson in the AL, but even if a Yankee wasn’t up for consideration, I’d feel the same way about no pitchers for the award.  The Cy Young is a pitcher’s MVP award.

Trading Beer for Wind…

I was surprised to see Dale Sveum get the managing job with the Chicago Cubs.  It’s not that I don’t think he’ll make a good manager, but rather I thought he’d be a good fit for the Boston Red Sox.  I had been hoping that Terry Francona would get the Cubs job, and when he withdrew his name, I thought that Mike Maddux would be the next call.  I know that name withdrawals are usually prompted by behind-the-scenes conversations (Francona probably realizing that he wouldn’t get the job), but I think it’s a travesty that Tito won’t be managing in the big leagues in 2012…unless that was truly his choice.  If I owned a major league team, Tito would be at the top of my short list for managers.  He may have been the manager of my team’s most bitter rival but I have a great deal of respect for him.  It would have been great to see him manage the Cubs to a World Series Championship after ending Boston’s drought.

Joe Mauer, come back!…

I am still missing the lights of Target Field from my condo.  I can see the lighted field name sign, but there is just something about those stadium lights that give a magical feeling to the skyline of downtown Minneapolis.  I am looking forward to April when Jamey Carroll and the Minnesota Twins turn on the lights.  As for how the Twins do, they can lose 99 games again…

–Scott

 

 

Stage 1 of Operation Successful Off-Season is complete…

 

Whew…

After a season of ‘will he’ or ‘won’t he’ opt-out, CC Sabathia accepted the Yankees offer and I couldn’t be more pleased.  I am a bit concerned that CC’s weight will eventually prove to be a problem if he doesn’t get control of it, but clearly he is the Yankees best pitcher and the best hope for the next few years.

Since avoiding the opt-out only cost the Yankees $30 million (potentially $50 million if he is still at the top of his game at the end of the contract), it was clearly a bargain since they would have paid more to retain him had he hit the open market or perhaps they risked losing him altogether.  I know that CC’s decision to stay was not solely on his love for the city and organization, but I am glad that he’s a permanent Yankee with no opt-out looming on the horizon.

I was driving home from work on Monday evening when I heard the news of the signing on MLB Radio.  I had feared the worst so the news of his announcement on his website that he was staying was such an incredible relief.  I have felt that the key to a successful off-season is getting both Sabathia and GM Brian Cashman locked up before the start of the free agency period.  Mission accomplished.  I am not sure there’s much on the free agent market that can help the Yanks, but hopefully, the team will be able to make a trade or two to improve the quality of the rotation.

As good as Cash…

Speaking of Cashman, his re-signing was essential for organizational continuity.  I am not sure how long it takes a new GM to get acclimated to the job, but it would seem making your way in the Yankees Universe would take longer than usual.  I am sure that the Yanks would have looked in-house for candidates (such as Billy Eppler or Damon Oppenheimer) but the man for the job continues to be Cashman.  I am sure that he’s thought of what life would be with in a less stressful environment, but nobody is as suited for the Bronx as Cash is.  I thought it was an interesting stat that he’s been the Yankees general manager longer than anyone since Ed Barrow (1920-45).

The start of a new era…

After standing pat for the most part with last year’s roster, it will be interesting to see what the Yankees do this year.  I don’t expect them to go hog wild but they definitely need to get CC some help and they need a few clutch bats off the bench.  At some point, the Yankees will have to say goodbye to Jorge Posada who few people expect to be on the 2012 roster.  It is time for Jesus Montero to take up residence at Yankee Stadium and sadly that means there is no room for Jorge.  He will go down as a great Yankee, and he’ll be heavily cheered at future Old Timer’s Days.  My preference is for him to retire as a Yankee rather than to try and hang on for another year or so with another team.

Despite the Yankees decision to pick up his option, the odds of Nick Swisher still have to be mixed at best.  If the Yankees can pick up a better player for right, I am sure that they’d do it.  Swish’s personality would be missed but if he could be used, in part, to bring a frontline pitcher to New York, I’d be in favor of it.

Rafael Soriano decided against exercising his opt-out?  Big surprise…  L

You win some, you lose some…

I was disappointed to see the failure of Project Andrew Brackman.  When Brackman was drafted, it was clear the Yankees had been able to get him at the spot they drafted because Brackman needed Tommy John surgery.  I had really hoped that the pick would pay off and that Brackman would eventually be the top pitcher his potential screamed.  Sadly, it was never meant to be…at least in New York…as the Yankees declined his option, making the 25-year-old a free agent.

There are other teams besides the Yankees?…

I was shocked when I heard that the St. Louis Cardinals might have interest in Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon as a replacement for Tony LaRussa.  There’s no doubt that he’d be a great fit, but I just cannot see Tampa allowing Maddon to leave.  He has been great for the city and the team…much to my chagrin and to the dismay of my friends in Boston.  But I wouldn’t lose any sleep if Maddon does manage to get out of Tampa to take the Cardinals job.

I would really hate to see the Boston Red Sox get Michael Cuddyer…

–Scott

The Improbable Championship…

 

The 2nd winningest team in baseball history…

Congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals for their World Series championship over the Texas Rangers.  It was a thrilling World Series, especially the three home run game by Albert Pujols and the edge-of-your-seat Game 6 that saw the Cards eliminate two 2 run deficits with two outs and two strikes in the 9th and 10th innings.  The Cardinals now have 11 World Series Championships, only 16 more needed to catch the Yankees…

2005 Astros and 2010 Yankees were nice, but…

A year after experiencing play-off failure with the Yankees, Lance Berkman achieved his first championship and played a significant role for the team.  I wish the Yankees could have seen the Berkman that played in 2011, rather than the 2010 version, but it wasn’t meant to be.  Berkman made the right choice in selecting the Cardinals over the Rangers in the off-season.

Remember me?…

I kept wondering how Arthur Rhodes felt after spending the majority of the 2011 season with the Rangers before being released in August, only to sign with the Cardinals and help them to the championship over his former team.  Sweet vindication…

I liked the Cowboys, Mavericks and Stars…

I lived in Dallas for 14 years, however, I could never embrace the Rangers.  I am not quite sure why.  I don’t care for the Arizona Diamondbacks after living in Phoenix, but I can attribute that to how rudely fans treated me during the 2001 World Series.  I am not a rude, “in your face”, obnoxious type of fan, but that’s how I was treated simply for wearing a Yankees cap.  Still, I am not sure why the Rangers bother me, but I just am not a fan.  I would prefer to see any of the AL West teams succeed over the Rangers.  So, I did take some satisfaction that the Rangers were SO CLOSE, but ultimately SO FAR AWAY in their quest for the organization’s first championship.  Of course, they’ll be a contender again next year so I recognize that their time may still come.

A signing that makes sense…

It was good to hear that the Yankees and GM Brian Cashman have apparently agreed on a new three year deal that will be announced on Monday.  Wrapping up Cashman before the expiration of his contract was essential for the Yankees to have a successful off-season.  Next up is re-signing CC Sabathia before he exercises his opt-out by midnight on Monday.  I really do not want to see CC hit the open market because it will take away the Yankees focus in finding other pieces to the puzzle.

Plus another signing that would make great sense…

As for free agents, I do hope the Yankees pursue C.J. Wilson.  I recognize that he lost Game 7 of the World Series, however, he is a talented pitcher and I think that he’d excel under pitching coach Larry Rothschild.  A top three rotation of Sabathia-Wilson-Nova would be very competitive.  It’s too bad that Phil Hughes took such a step back this year, and that A.J. Burnett continues to under-achieve.  But I really do not want to go another year relying on the aging arms of Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon.  The Yankees have to improve the rotation, and I do not believe that Dellin Betances or Manny Banuelos are quite ready for the challenge yet.

Admittedly, a sense of relief…

Congratulations to Jerry DiPoto for being named the new GM of the Los Angeles Angels, but I still think it’s an injustice that Kim Ng doesn’t get stronger consideration.  She is as well qualified (if not more) than her male counterparts, and she’ll make a terrific GM one day.  If I owned a team, she’d certainly be on my short list of people to hire.  As for DiPoto, it had seemed like he was destined for the Baltimore Orioles just a few weeks ago.  I don’t think they’re top candidates, but I’d hate to lose either Billy Eppler or Damon Oppenheimer to an AL East rival.  So, hopefully, the O’s will either go with an internal candidate or select someone without ties to the Yankees.  I do hope that Eppler and Oppenheimer get recognized for their great contributions, but I’d prefer to see it happen outside of the division (well, except for the Rangers).

Have we seen the end of the term ‘Lovable Losers’ in Chicago?…

I have to admit that I am anxious to see how Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer put their stamp on the Chicago Cubs.  I hope it doesn’t involve signing free agent slugger Albert Pujols, whom I really hope finishes his career in St. Louis.  But someone like Prince Fielder might make great sense for the Cubs.  I am sure that they’d love to find a way to get out from under Alfonso Soriano’s contract.  While I can’t say that I am thrilled about Alex Rodriguez and view the weight of his contract as an albatross, the Yankees made the right decision in parting with the free swinging Soriano and of course it eventually opened a spot for the Yankees true MVP, Robinson Cano.  I expect Epstein to be aggressive and it will be interesting to watch the 2012 Cubs take shape.  I just don’t see how manager Mike Quade survives, but I could be wrong.  I believe that Ryne Sandberg would be the best field general for the Epstein regime.

My favorite NL team continues to be the Los Angeles Dodgers, primarily because of manager Don Mattingly, but I’ll definitely be pulling for the Cubs as well.  I would like to see them win a championship in my lifetime, well, so long as the opposing team is not the Yankees.

Bright Lights, Great City…

When the Minnesota Twins played their final home game at the end of the regular season, I knew that I was going to miss the magical lights of Target Field from my downtown Minneapolis home.  I don’t know why, but the lights were on at the stadium a few days ago and it is amazing how much they enhance the already beautiful Minneapolis skyline.  I am looking so forward to the lights next April.  However, I recognize that there is still about 50 to 80 inches of snow that stand between me and those lights.  Let the Hot Stove League begin…

 

–Scott

 

 

 

Watching CSI in October is so wrong…

 

What’s on TV?…

With the Yankees at home for the year and an AL team that I don’t care for still playing, I have to admit that I have not been watching the World Series this year.  Of course, that cost me the chance to watch history last night as Albert Pujols showed why he is a living legend with three home runs, ala Reggie Jackson.  Somehow that huge contract that he’ll get in the off-season just got a little bigger.  I am not saying that the Yankees should try to sign Albert (I’m satisfied with Mark Teixeira at first and feel that the money is better served for weaker areas like starting pitching), but the Yankees do need someone like that who is capable to singlehandedly taking over a game.  I have no doubt that Robby Cano is that type of player, but with the deteriorating skills of Alex Rodriguez, it puts so much pressure on the rest of the lineup to pick up the slack.

Back to Albert, I do hope that he continues his drive and helps deliver another world championship to the city of St. Louis.  As much as I would like Albert on my team, I really hope that the Cardinals do what it takes to keep him in the organization for the duration of his career.  To this day, Stan “The Man” Musial is still a huge part of the Cardinals and their history, and Albert would have that same impact for years to come.  If he departed and played a few years for, say, the Chicago Cubs, it would definitely taint his Cardinals legacy.

If there are no concerns, why am I concerned?…

I keep hearing that there are no concerns about getting a new contract in place for GM Brian Cashman, but as each day passes and we draw closer to the end of the month, I do grow a bit more concerned.  Given how difficult the Derek Jeter negotiations were last year, what if the team tries to short pennies on Cash?  What is Plan B if Cashman opts to leave?  With Damon Oppenheimer and Billy Eppler talking to other teams, the best in-house talent could be gone.  I doubt if both of those guys leave and from the sounds of it, neither one is the leading candidate for the Angels GM job.  Still, a team could turn to one of them.  I’d really prefer to go to Oppenheimer or Eppler should Cashman leave in order to maintain the continuity within the organization.  That’s very similar to what the Red Sox will be doing by promoting Ben Cherington to GM to replace Theo Epstein.

Can he replicate the success of Larry Lucchino?…

I do wish Theo Epstein and soon-to-be GM Jed Hoyer the best of luck in Chicago as they try to end the World Series drought for the Cubs.  I know that the road is much more difficult than it was when Epstein became the Red Sox GM, but I’ve certainly learned to never under-estimate Theo.  He has made his share of poor decisions (such as signing John Lackey), but that only means that he is not afraid of making difficult decisions.  Some will pan out, some will not.  I am sure that there are a few moves that Brian Cashman would like to undo.  But I’d rather see a GM make the bold moves and potentially uncover great talent and chemistry for the betterment of the team.  Given that Theo will be bringing a few of his guys to Chicago, I wonder when manager Mike Quade gets the ax.  It would be interesting to see if Theo and Jed would go for a top managerial candidate with Red Sox connections like DeMarlo Hale or go to a Cubs legend like Ryne Sandberg.  I think either move would be sound should they decide to part ways with Quade.

It’s only money…

Put me in the category of those who would like to see the Yankees pursue Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish.  I know that the past success of Japanese pitchers has been mixed, but I really feel that Darvish is a special talent.  He would like great in the middle of the rotation.  I am also anxious to see what pitcher Hector Noesi can do in winter ball.  As much as I thought Freddy Garcia did everything asked of him, I’d really rather see the Yankees develop a younger arm in the rotation.  Just like last year, A.J. Burnett will come to camp as a question mark.  Plus, there’s the potential that CC Sabathia opts out and takes an offer from another city despite how well he has adapted to New York.  I have come to not rely upon Phil Hughes, so that means the only certain reliable starter at the moment is Ivan Nova.  I would aggressively go after Rangers starter C.J. Wilson regardless of whether CC stays or goes.  I wish the Yankees could find a way to unload Burnett, but it’s probably not going to happen.  The Red Sox will probably have better luck getting rid of John Lackey.

You have the right to remain silent…

As a lifelong Minnesota Vikings fan, I’ve faced my share of disappointment over the years.  I have never had to deal with losing Super Bowls like I did as a kid, but that’s only because the team has never been back.  I think character is a quality component to building team chemistry and unity, and the Vikings have had more than their fair share of poor off the field decisions.  Now we have the latest news that starting cornerback Chris Cook is in jail for the weekend on domestic assault charges.   This is very disappointing news.

The Vikings certainly have their hands full this weekend as they will be facing the undefeated Green Bay Packers with a rookie QB (Christian Ponder) making his first NFL start.  It looks to me as if the deck has been stacked against Ponder, but hopefully, he’ll show why he was a surprise, but great, early selection in the first round of the last NFL Draft.

–Scott

 

 

 

 

 

Season Ticket Holder for the Hot Stove League…

 

Waiting for the Hot Stove League to start…

I think the longest point in the off-season for a Yankees fan is from the day the team exits the play-offs until the conclusion of the World Series.  The shorter that gap, the better.  Unfortunately, it was not to be this year with the team’s departure after the opening series loss to the Detroit Tigers.

The saddest part of 2011 is that the Yankees could have beaten the Tigers, and I think they would have been very competitive with the new AL League champion Texas Rangers.  Texas pulled the perfect play-off card in getting the unexpected wild card Tampa Bay Rays who had been left for dead by everybody except themselves.  In the ALCS, they avoided the Yankees, or the top clubs that didn’t make the play-offs, the Red Sox and the Los Angeles Angels.  I have long been in favor of expanding the divisional series from 5 to 7 games, and this year is just another reason why.  The Yankees, with the best league record, were unable to start against the weakest team in the play-offs, the Rays, because they are from the same division.  So, that pitted the Yankees against the stronger Tigers in a shortened series.  I am not saying that the Yankees would have won it had the series been in the 7-game format, but at least it would yield a more truthful result.

I am a former Dallas resident but not a Rangers fan…

I am not a fan of the Texas Rangers so it’s hard to feel any satisfaction in their team reaching the World Series for the second year in a row.  However, my son is a Rangers fan and he’s certainly excited about the team’s success.  We lived in the Dallas-Fort Worth area when my son was small, and after a Rangers game, we had gone to a nearby restaurant for dinner.  There weren’t too many people in the restaurant at the time, and my son must have been about 2 or 3.  On the other side of the restaurant, then Rangers pitcher Nolan Ryan was having dinner with his family.  We told our son who was at the table, and a friend walked him over to the table to introduce my son to Nolan.  My son was wearing a Rangers cap, so Nolan took it off and signed the bill of the cap.  My son is now almost 22 years old, and he still has that signed cap with him.  He remains a Rangers fan to this day, despite his dad’s loyalty to the Yankees.

The team with the second greatest World Series success…

While I think the World Series will be competitive this year, I still think the National League will emerge victorious again.  I don’t really see the Milwaukee Brewers getting past the St. Louis Cardinals, so it should be the Cardinals in the World Series against the Rangers.  It’s too bad the Cardinals don’t have Adam Wainwright in their rotation, but the team is certainly on a mission.  I think the Cardinals will end the NLCS with a Game 6 win tonight in Milwaukee.

Strike quickly with full force and focus…

I am anxious for the World Series to conclude so that we can move on to the Hot Stove League.  I really hope the Yankees can re-sign GM Brian Cashman to a new deal before the end of the month and before the start of the free agency period.  This off-season is about timing and the Yankees need to move very quickly to secure Cashman and hopefully re-negotiate with CC Sabathia so that they can turn to free agency and the trade market with full and heavy focus.  My wish list for the off-season is an improved starting rotation, strength on the bench, and perhaps a heavy hitter to offset the declining production from Alex Rodriguez in the batting order.

But I thought beer and hot dogs were part of baseball…

I am not quite sure what to make of the situation in Boston.  I think former manager Terry Francona has taken too much blame, and I was a little surprised to see GM Theo Epstein leave his hometown and his favorite team to take over as GM of the Chicago Cubs.  Granted, he’ll have greater authority in Chicago, and it would be tremendous to be the GM responsible for the first World Series victory for the Cubs after their historic drought.  But it leaves Boston without a manager or a general manager.  Obviously, when the Red Sox move Ben Cherington to GM, they’ll maintain the continuity and Ben will do a fine job.  However, the Sox will definitely have a new look in 2012.  It will be interesting to see what moves they make with the roster in the off-season if they intend to place greater priority in character.  Jon Lester has been one of my favorite pitchers, so I am hopeful that he is surrounded by better influences going forward.

Missing the view…

Living in downtown Minneapolis, I have to admit that I miss seeing the lights of Target Field at night.  It created a great view from my place, and there’s definitely a void now that the ballpark lights have  been shut off until next spring.  So, as a newcomer to Minnesota, the obvious question to me as how many inches of snow will I have to deal with before those lights come on again?  ;)

–Scott

 

 

 

Here we are, Game 5 — Play Ball!…

 

The Yankees are playing an elimination game, so of course, I need something to take my mind off the game!  ;)

Maybe we’ll see the new White Sox manager run toward the Texas Rangers owner’s box in a fit of rage…

I was surprised to hear the announcement that former Yankees third baseman Robin Ventura had been named the manager of the Chicago White Sox.  I think Robin’s a great guy and he should be a good manager, but he’s definitely the anti-Ozzie Guillen.  I thought that Jerry Reinsdorf and company would go for a more experienced manager.  Personally, Terry Francona would be at the top of my list but I am sure that Reinsdorf had good reasons for taking a chance with Robin.

I have not done any research to see what Ventura has been up to in recent years but hopefully he’s prepared for the rigors of managing in a big city with high expectations.  If the Chicago Cubs somehow managed to land GM Theo Epstein and/or Terry Francona, it would put pressure on Ventura to produce quickly in the Battle of the Windy City.

Now you see them, now you don’t…

I was equally surprised to see the quick exit from the play-offs by the Tampa Bay Rays.  After they successfully caught the Boston Red Sox in September and captured the Wild Card, I did think they were a team of destiny.  They certainly have the starting pitching to contend, but it was not meant to be.  Red Sox fans were so hoping for the ouster of the Yankees and Rays on the same night.  Fortunately, they were disappointed.  I really hope the Yankees get the chance to play the Texas Rangers in the ALCS to, hopefully, avenge the play-off loss last year.  Texas has an incredible offensive machine, but they are not unbeatable.

Weren’t the Cardinals left for dead just a month or so ago?…

It is interesting that all division series, except Rangers-Rays, have gone the full 5 games.  I don’t expect the St. Louis Cardinals to beat the Philadelphia Phillies, but they’ve certainly shown they can play on the same field.  The Phillies remain the team I think will win the World Series, but I’d be foolish to underestimate the heart of the Cardinals.  The Arizona Diamondbacks were able to dig out of a 0-2 hole against the Brewers, but I don’t really expect them to beat the Brewers in Milwaukee on Friday night.  I think the NLCS will feature the Phillies and the Brewers, with the Phils advancing to the World Series.

The Vikings are dead…

Football has definitely not been fun this year as my team, the Minnesota Vikings, have lost all four games to open the season.  Every game has been close, but the Vikings simply do not know either how to win or how to close out games.  Is that the coach or the players?  I really want to see Head Coach Leslie Frazier succeed, but I am not a big fan of QB Donovan McNabb (he will never again approach the success he enjoyed in Philly).  Also, I was not a fan of Mike Singletary when he was coach of the San Francisco 49ers and now he has Leslie’s ear as his chief confidant and close friend.  Perhaps Frazier would be better off without Singletary and with Christian Ponder as the starting QB…

Thanks for my iPod…

The Yankees and Detroit Tigers are getting ready to play Game 5 so I’d better cut this short.  But before I go, I’d like to say my condolences to the family of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.  His passing this week was difficult news to hear.  Somehow it seems as though we’ve lost a great friend and the world will never be quite the same.  He is missed by so many and rightfully so.  When he stepped down as the CEO of Apple in late August, I didn’t realize that he was so close to the end.  Nevertheless, he lived his life his way and on his own terms.  He left a legacy for all of us to learn from.  If we could accomplish 2% of what he did, we’d be wildly successful…

 

–Scott

 

 

Adding more fodder to the fire…

The crowd begins to gather…

Of course, the crowd is the wrong-side of 30 pitching club led by Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia.  I had been hoping for a younger pitcher with the potential for a breakout but rather we’ll see pitchers who were great…5-10 years ago.  Of the two, I liked Garcia better than Colon.  He won 12 games last year after a few unproductive years due to injury.  I am not convinced that Colon has anything left.  Fortunately, both contracts are minor league deals so there wasn’t a substantial commitment by the Yankees.  If it works, wonderful.  If it doesn’t, time to look for the next option.
I’d still like to see the Yankees pursue another starting pitcher with “promise”.  I recognize that they cannot acquire a frontline starter or a high end youthful starter at this point in the season but they should be able to uncover a diamond in the rough.  I wish that Dellin Betances or Manny Banuelos were closer to the majors, but I still think the Yankees could find a guy with the potential to make a difference.  
I wonder what’s taking the Yankees so long to announce the signing of outfielder Andruw Jones?  Word had leaked that the Yankees had signed Jones before the surprise announcement came out that the Tampa Bay Rays had signed the duo of Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez.  Both were introduced in Tampa today as the newest Rays but there has been nothing about Jones.  I know that one problem is the full 40 man roster and Jones addition means that someone has to be removed.  That move might be the reason for the delay, but it would be nice to put this one to bed.  I’d hate to see the Jones signing fall apart at this late hour when other prior options like Damon are off the board.
I’ve said it before but I really wish the St. Louis Cardinals would sign Albert Pujols…
But probably a greater concern, I wish Andy Pettitte would hurry up and make those flight reservations for Tampa…
–Scott

Another Yankee Killer on the verge of Pinstripes…

The morning started with word that the Yankees were nearing a deal with outfielder Andruw Jones, but there have been no further updates.  I am sure the Yankees are actively working on their arbitration eligible players like Phil Hughes so that’s probably a bit of a distraction.  Nevertheless, I like the idea of signing Jones as the Yankees fourth outfielder.  He is not the player he once was, but the last two years he has averaged 280 at-bats and 18 home runs.  Not bad for a bench/role player…
AP/Jeff Chiu
With Marcus Thames apparently on the verge of signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers, I think Jones is a better version of Thames…well, at least one that can play the field.  I’ve wanted the Yankees to sign Jones the last two years but he signed with Texas in 2009 and the White Sox in 2010.  Perhaps the time is now for Jones to finally land in the Bronx.  
Andruw Jones watches his three-run home run in the third inning of Game 1 of the World Series against the New York Yankees in New York, in this Oct. 20, 1996 file photo. At right is Yankees catcher Jim Leyritz. The Atlanta Braves are cutting ties with  Jones, saying they can't afford to keep the perennial Gold Glove center fielder who's spent his entire career with the organization.
AP
I liked the Washington Nationals move to acquire Chicago Cubs starter Tom Gorzelanny today.  They paid a potentially hefty price, but Gorzelanny is a solid addition to the Washington rotation.  Only 28, he is the type of pitcher that I’d like to see the Yankees pursue for the hole(s) in their rotation.  I am not saying the Yankees should have pursue Gorzelanny, but I like the idea of pursuing a late 20’s pitcher that has not reached his potential.  I know, it’s chasing lightning in a bottle, but it would be great to accurately catch a pitcher on the verge on his breakout season.  
I was disappointed to see Jeff Francis sign with the Kansas City Royals but I can certainly understand his logic of pursuing an opportunity that should guarantee a spot in the rotation while playing with less pressure than say New York or Boston.   He has a chance to restore the promise he showed a few years ago with Colorado.  
When I think about who the Yankees should acquire, all roads keep leading back to Cleveland starter Fausto Carmona.  With CC Sabathia as Carmona’s mentor once again, I like the possibility and the promise that Carmona could bring to the rotation.  It’s certainly a better prospect than Sergio Mitre.  Ivan Nova is going to be a question mark going into the season.  The Yankees don’t need two question marks…
Chuck Crow/The Plain Dealer
I am prepared to see reliever Joba Chamberlain go in a trade for a starting pitcher.  The Yankees have a few pitching hopefuls that could potentially fill Joba’s role in the bullpen now that the Yankees have signed closing/setup specialist Rafael Soriano.  I know that he still has the chance to experience great success in the big leagues but I am starting to realize that he probably won’t be able to realize that potential in the Bronx.  More than likely, the Yankees would have to part with one of their catching prospects in any trade.  At this point, I am most fearful about losing Gary Sanchez even though he is not as advanced as Jesus Montero or Austin Romine.  Sanchez has the chance to be the best of the group.  There’s no doubt that Montero will be a great hitter, but questions remain about his defense.  Sanchez may not be the hitter that Montero is, but he appears to be a more complete player.  
Somehow, I think manager Joe Girardi is going to have a very fun time trying to decide what pitcher to bring in from the bullpen.  He’s going to have some options for almost any situation.  It sure beats the days of Jose Veras or Kyle Farnsworth.
To go a bit off topic, I was glad/relieved to see the retirement of QB Brett Favre today.  Hopefully, and finally, he’ll stay retired.  He should start looking into life-after-football opportunities.  If he decides to come back to play again, I definitely hope that his days in purple are over.  I don’t know who will be the 2011 Quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings, but at this point, I’d take Joe Webb over Favre any day.  I don’t want to see someone like Donovan McNabb come to Minnesota but hopefully the Vikings can find a solid QB option to allow Webb (and perhaps another young QB like Cam Newton) to grow and develop.
TSN.ca
Note to the St. Louis Cardinals:  Please do whatever takes to make Albert Pujols a lifetime Cardinal!
AP
Note to the Chicago Cubs:  I know you’re quietly building a play-off contending club, but I see what you’re doing!  Let the Cincinnati Reds and the Milwaukee Brewers get all the pre-season championship accolades.  The Cubs are shaping up as a clear surprise player for 2011.  GM Jim Hendry has to be congratulated for the moves that he’s made this off-season.
AP/David Kohl
–Scott
  
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.