Results tagged ‘ Carl Crawford ’

The Hot Stove League Pre-Season is underway…

 

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.

Coach Giambino…

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…

–Scott

 

Chavez Ravine to the Bronx!…

 

Chavez Ravine to the Bronx reminds me of Tommy John for some reason…

Welcome to New York, Hiro!  It was a terrific debut at Yankee Stadium for #2 starter Hiroki Kuroda, as he shut down the Los Angeles Angels, 5-0 in the team’s 2012 home opener.  The Angels, historically, play the Yankees very well in New York, so Kuroda’s performance was significantly more impressive than if it had come against a team like the Minnesota Twins.  Obviously, the former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher is not going to pitch like this every time out, but I do feel more confident in the #2 slot in the rotation than I did when it was held by A.J. Burnett.

The game also marked the 630th home run by Alex Rodriguez, which tied him with his former teammate, Ken Griffey, Jr.  The script couldn’t have been written any better for a marvelous day in New York.

A proud day for a Yankees legend and his father…

It was also a very classy move to have Jorge Posada throw out the first pitch, which is the good karma that set the stage for the wonderful day.  I am sure that it was a thrill for Jorge to throw the pitch to his father.  I lost my own father as a child, but who doesn’t love the scene in Field of Dreams when Kevin Costner plays catch with his father.  It has to be an absolute thrill, and I am sure that it was for Jorge as his father was able to take the field at Yankee Stadium.  I had heard the Yankees wanted Mariano Rivera to catch Posada’s throw, but Jorge wanted his dad.  You certainly cannot find fault in his decision.  Mariano’s day will come.  Both players have reservations for Monument Park.

DL-R-Us…

I was sorry to see the injury suffered by Jacoby Ellsbury of the Boston Red Sox.  The word is that he’ll be out 6-8 weeks with the shoulder injury he suffered during Boston’s home opening day win over the Tampa Bay Rays.  Boston may be a fierce rival, but I take so satisfaction in seeing the loss of one of their better players.  To be the best, you have to beat the best which means that I want Boston and Tampa to have their best players on the field.  The Red Sox probably have more dollars committed to guys on the DL than the team payrolls for a number of teams in major league baseball, with the likes of John Lackey, Dice-K, Carl Crawford, Andrew Bailey, and Bobby Jenks currently disabled.

Hopefully, Ellsbury will make a smooth and speedy recovery, and will be back on the field soon.

The team name on Damon’s jersey should come with Velcro…

I know it’s a paycheck but it seems like Johnny Damon will have played with every team in the AL by the time he’s finished.  He’s been with so many teams, I honestly can’t say what team he should be remembered for.  Maybe Boston because of the Caveman look and helping them secure their first World Series win in a century, maybe the Royals because that’s where he got his start, who knows.  I can’t look at him and say that ‘he’s forever a Yankee’ because his time was too brief and now it’s too watered down with other teams.  Damon as a Cleveland Indian just seems strange.  If Cleveland is out by July, I am sure that Damon will be moved to a contender, adding yet another team.  Or Damon doesn’t get enough at-bats and opts out of his Cleveland deal, and heads elsewhere.  Regardless, he just seems like a rent-a-player at this point.  Maybe MLB should incorporate 10-day contracts like the NBA…

Purple People are better…

I am looking forward to the upcoming NFL Draft.  The Minnesota Vikings, with the third selection and the top two picks already pre-determined, have some tough choices to make.  I’ve been in favor of OT Matt Kalil, but an argument can be made for WR Justin Blackmon or CB Morris Claiborne.  I thought it was interesting when Colts owner Jim Irsay made comments that teams interested in QB Ryan Tannehill should talk to the Vikings about their #3 pick.  I have not followed the story closely enough to understand his motivation, but I’d prefer to see the Vikings hang on to the pick (despite the opportunity to add more picks) given the strength of the talent available.  I am sure the Miami Dolphins are drooling over the idea of nabbing Tannehill so I guess it would depend upon how desperate they are to make a move.  Unless the Vikings are overwhelmed, I want to see Kalil, Blackmon or Claiborne wearing purple at a mini-camp coming soon.

Actually, it’s hard to believe that we are already starting to talk about football again.  It seems like the season just ended.  But then again, it’s hard to believe that the 2012 MLB Season is well underway.  It should be a fun sports year for all…

–Scott

 

The Yankees did what?…

 

Yankees sign top free agent…

Well, it wasn’t exactly Prince Fielder but I’ve felt all off-season that re-signing Andruw Jones was important for the 2012 Yankees.  In this off-season of inactivity, I was concerned that the Yankees would let Jones slip away to a team like the Boston Red Sox or the Texas Rangers.  There’s no question that Jones is NOT the player that he used to be (that’s a given), but he fills a valuable fourth outfielder role and I prefer him over Justin Maxwell, Chris Dickerson, or Melky Mesa.

When I read that the Red Sox were potentially interested in Jones, I was worried that it would drive up his price tag (which was probably the prime reason for the Red Sox “interest”).  But the base salary of $2 million (with additional incentives that could push the package to $3.4 million) was very reasonable for Team Suddenly Frugal.  The Yanks have a good outfield with Curtis Granderson, Brett Gardner and Nick Swisher, but Jones allows the Yankees to play match-ups and move guys around.  Plus, if any of the aforementioned starters spend any time on the DL, Jones is certainly a capable fill-in.

Wanted:  Non-starting starting third baseman…

Now that the outfield depth has been filled, I am anxious to see what the Yankees do about the mandatory need to acquire a strong backup for third base.  I remain in favor of the return of Eric Chavez, but regardless of what happens, the Yankees need a proven performer that does not weaken the team during the inevitable A-Rod absences.

Yeah, that’s the ticket…

It’s too bad that MLB teams don’t get a mulligan for bad contracts.  They should give every team a one player exemption that could be called the “Stupidity Clause”.  Given A-Rod’s $30 million annual salary with $5 million production, the Yankees could get a waiver for luxury tax on the bulk of A-Rod’s salary.  Same goes for the Angels and Vernon Wells, the Cubs and Alfonso Soriano, or the Red Sox and Carl Crawford (although CC does have the ability to re-earn his money).  It does stink knowing how much the Yankees will be paying A-Rod and Derek Jeter in several years in terms of the return.  I remain hopeful that Derek Jeter will depart gracefully when he realizes that his performance is not equal to his compensation.  But I know that A-Rod is into his contract for every undeserved cent.

Hats off to a rival…

In a statement of the obvious, I knew that Mark Melancon was not destined to be the closer for the Red Sox when they acquired the former Yank from the Houston Astros.  This week’s acquisition of Andrew Bailey by the Sox from the Oakland A’s was a solid move.  Bailey, a native Easterner, will thrive in Boston.  He matches Jonathan Papelbon in ability, and exceeds him in character and integrity.  The risk with Bailey is his health, but the Sox do have relievers with closing experience in Melancon and Bobby Jenks.  While I don’t think that the Bailey acquisition is the big bold move I’ve been expecting from new Boston GM Ben Cherington, it is certainly one that improves the team.

Not looking forward to the day…

With the surplus of closer talent available this off-season, I hope that it is a similar environment when the ‘Greatest Closer Who Ever Lived’ decides to take his ageless arm and signature cutter home to Panama.  I like Derek Jeter but I will be ready for the day when a younger, talented option becomes available.  I will cry the day Mariano Rivera walks off the mound for the final time.  I loved Goose Gossage as the Yankees closer, but it took so many years for an equal (or in this case, greater) replacement to emerge.  There’s always been something so magical about a great closer.  I grew up watching the wild antics of the Mad Hungarian, Al Hrabosky, in St. Louis, so the role of the closer became the “it” position for me at a very early age.  There’s nothing better than a game-ending punch-out with high intensity.

Game plan:  Success!…

Well, as 2011 comes to a close, I want to wish everyone a very Happy and Joyous New Year!  May your dreams come true and your happiness reach heights never before imagined!  It will be a fun and rewarding new year, and I’m glad you are here…

–Scott

Bad Day for Baseball…

 

The Pride of the Red Sox…

I am sure that there are Yankee fans rejoicing tonight at the news the Boston Red Sox and manager Terry “Tito” Francona have mutually decided to part way.  There is no rejoicing on this Blog.  I have a great deal of respect for Tito and he was/is arguably one of the best managers in baseball.

When Joe Girardi was named manager of the Yankees, I was a bit disappointed.  Of course, I’ve been a huge fan of Don Mattingly since he came up through the Yankees farm system and he was my favorite choice for manager despite his lack of managerial experience.  I liked Girardi the player, but he was never one that I was able to fully embrace.  I was concerned about the red flags that he exhibited during his year of managing the Florida Marlins and didn’t think that he’d be able to make the transition to the ‘Bright Lights, Big City’.  I was envious of the Red Sox and their manager because he was the standard that I wanted Girardi to achieve.  To Joe’s defense, he has but he is still not quite on the same level as Tito.

When the Red Sox first hired Tito, I simply viewed him as a Philadelphia Phillies reject.  To me, he hadn’t proven himself as a manager and it was hard for me to take him seriously (kind of reminds me what I felt when the Yankees named Joe Torre as their manager).  For years, the Red Sox had brought in guys that I just viewed as the manager of THAT team.  None were able to capture my respect and admiration, and that includes Don Zimmer who I didn’t develop respect for until years later as a Yankees coach.  But Tito was different.  In 2003, the Red Sox lost a heartbreaker in the ALCS, thanks to Aaron Boone’s home run.  Yet, the following year, the Sox were back.  Even though his team fell down 3 games to none, they stayed calm and persevered toward the AL Championship, and the first World Series Championship since 1918.  He was responsible for the end of the phrase “Curse of the Bambino”.  He followed up with another World Series Championship in 2007, making him the most successful manager in the modern history of the Red Sox.

When I look at the 2011 Red Sox, it is a team that should have prevailed.  They had a superior pitching staff, and the additions of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford made it a much better team than the 2010 version.  But the injuries, most notably, starting with starting pitcher Clay Buchholz and later Kevin Youkilis, were devastating.  That’s really beyond the control of the manager.  He has to play with the hand he has been dealt.  The Red Sox recognized the flaws in the starting rotation, yet the best they could do was former Seattle pitcher Erik Bedard.  Nothing against Bedard, but it has been years since he was considered a stopper due to injuries.  So, if there is any blame, it has to reside with GM Theo Epstein for failing to make the right move.  While Epstein made the unsuccessful Bedard deal, the Detroit Tigers made a deal with the same Mariners team to bring them a starting pitcher (Doug Fister) that is as responsible as any for the Tigers’ late season success.  Epstein was clearly outdone by Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski, and had he made the right move, the Red Sox would be playing Game 1 of the AL play-offs tonight and Tito would still be manager.

If I am Jerry Reinsdorf, I am already on the phone calling Tito’s agent.  He is the perfect choice to follow the highly volatile Ozzie Guillen for the Chicago White Sox.  Chicago has a sound and supportive ownership group and the team is willing to make the necessary moves for success.  I think it would be a great fit, although it would probably be better as a Yankees fan to see Tito in the National League.  Another option would be the Los Angeles Dodgers.  It’s not that I want to see Don Mattingly fired, but I think any change in ownership will also result in a change at the managerial level.  Regardless of where Tito goes, some team is going to  benefit greatly.  If he doesn’t take a managerial job and becomes an ESPN analyst, we still win because we’ll get a first-hand view of his wisdom and insight.

Tito, you were a worthy opponent and a great champion.  I wish you nothing but the absolute best in whatever the future holds for you.  We look forward to your next adventure!

–Scott

One month down, check!…


Usually, April has not been
kind to the Yankees.  So to finish the
month with a winning record and in first place is clearly an accomplishment.  After the Yankees were ripped in the
off-season for their failure to sign Cliff Lee while the Boston Red Sox were
signing Carl Crawford and trading for Adrian Gonzalez, the expectations were
greater in Beantown. As a result, there is a bit of satisfaction in the respective teams’ starts.  Perhaps it was a good
thing as the Yankees finally shook the April curse and controlled the month of
April instead of letting the month control them. 


Cano.JPG

John Munson/The Star Ledger


Boston, meanwhile, has
gotten off to a sluggish start, with a 13-15 mark entering play tonight.  I’d be a fool to think the Sox will continue
to underperform.  I have no doubt that
they will start clicking on all cylinders at some point, and I can only hope
the Yanks have built a sufficient cushion to withstand any Sox charge. 
Roster to roster (today), I’d still give the edge of the Sox over the
course of the full 162 game schedule.

I think the keys for the
Yankees to hold off the inevitable Sox charge will rest primarily with
pitching.  I’ve been pleased by what the
Yanks have gotten from Ivan Nova, Freddy Garcia, and Bartolo Colon, but I still
do not think that all three have the sustainability for the duration of the
season.

The health of Phil Hughes
will be a key determinant.  The recent
tests have been positive, but the fact remains that the Yankees are no closer
to getting Hughes on the mound than they were before.  What if he isn’t able to come back this
year?  What’s Plan B?  The Yankees already needed a #3 starter or
better when Hughes was in the rotation.  For
now, the Yanks have to hope that Nova, Garcia and Colon continue to perform
above expectations.

Count me as one of those who
believe that it is time to drop Derek Jeter down in the order.  His days as a lead-off hitter are over, and
it’s time to get Brett Gardner at the top of the order.  I realize that Gardner isn’t hitting, but I think
that leading off would revitalize his bat and of course his speed on the bases
with the guns coming to bat would be huge.

The Yanks could definitely
use timely hitting, but I fully expect the bats to come around.  I saw the highlights of last night’s game
showing Hideki Matsui hitting a game-winning home run for the Oakland A’s, and
thought to myself, yeah, we could use that…

With the 2011 NFL Draft
behind us, I am still pondering the Minnesota Vikings first round selection of
QB Christian Ponder.  There’s no doubt
that I would have loved to have DT Nick Fairley who went to the Detroit Lions
with the next pick.  However, the Vikings
had to emerge from this draft with a franchise QB.  Andy Dalton may turn out to be a great
quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals and Colin Kaepernick may do wonderful
things in the Golden Gate City, but all things considered, I am glad that
Ponder is in Minnesota.  There’s no doubt
that I would have preferred Jake Locker but the Tennessee Titans made that an
impossibility.  I had mixed feelings
about Blaine Gabbert, so short of Cam Newton and Jake Locker, I am satisfied
with Ponder. 


Minnesota Vikings


I’d be surprised if the
Vikings go to the training camp (assuming the lockout is lifted) with Ponder,
Joe Webb, and Rhett Bomar as the only QB’s. 
I fully expect them to pursue a veteran. 
I don’t think that Kevin Kolb would be worth the price since Ponder
should be ready to take over the position within a couple of years.  So, I guess it depends how cheaply the
Vikings can get someone like Carson Palmer, Donovan McNabb, or Vince
Young
.  It definitely makes me wish that
Sage Rosenfels was still on the roster. 

When the lockout is finally
resolved, I definitely hope the Vikings find a way to retain WR Sidney
Rice
.  I don’t want to lose free agent DE
Ray Edwards
, but I think that Rice would be much harder to replace.

I was glad to see the Tampa
Bay Rays activate 3B Evan Longoria for tonight’s game.  I may not be a Rays fan, but Longoria is
arguably the best third baseman in the league. 
Win or lose, I’d rather see Longoria in the Rays lineup than not. 

Congratulations to the Los
Angeles Dodgers’ Andre Ethier who has hit safely in 28 games entering play
tonight.  I am sure that this is a trip
down memory lane for manager Don Mattingly, who once had a consecutive home run
streak going.  I am sure that Donnie
Baseball has shared his insight into how to handle the pressure from the press
in these situations.  Ethier’s a great
guy and I’d definitely like to see him continue this streak.

The San Jose Sharks are up
2-0 in their series with the Detroit Red Wings, but who in the world can
possibly be comfortable with playing Game 3 in Joe Louis Arena?…

The Los Angeles Lakers lost
Game 1 to the Dallas Mavericks?  Really?  What are they trying to do?  Give a happy ending to the LeBron James
Championship Show?…


–Scott

 

All Hail the Red Sox Nation…


The first win of the season
goes to my friend Julia, of Julia’s Rants
Despite an 0-6 start to the season, the Boston Red Sox were able to
capture their first two wins of the season in this past weekend’s series
against the New York Yankees.


Red Sox.JPG


With the loss, I have to
write about what’s right with the Red Sox and what’s wrong with the Yankees.  So, here it goes…


Why the Boston Red Sox will win…

Pitching, pitching, pitching.  Say what you
will about Dice-K, but the Red Sox have, arguably, the best starting rotation
in the American League.  Jon Lester has
been one of my favorite pitchers and will be a Cy Young candidate when the
season is over.  Despite some early
season struggles, I definitely feel that Clay Buchholz is one of the up and
coming stars and will be solid over the course of the long season.  I know that the third starter, John Lackey,
has also struggled, but I feel very strongly that he’ll find his niche in
Boston and will consistently put the Sox in a position to win.  Josh Beckett, if he continues to pitch like
he did on Sunday, is back.  The Yankees
have a rookie in the 4th spot…the Sox have a former ace and one who
is capable of pitching like the elite pitcher he once was. 

You can say that the Yankees
have the better bullpen, but if Jonathan Papelbon falters, the Sox have several
fallback options in former Chicago White Sox closer Bobby Jenks and future
closer Daniel Bard.  They have reliable
arms in the pen, and have a proven long man in a guy the Yankees are well
familiar with (Alfredo Aceves).  The gap
between the Sox and Yankee pens won’t be as big as experts may believe,
especially since the Sox will be able to be more selective in relief with a
superior rotation that is able to go much deeper into games. 

Adrian Gonzalez.  Count me as one of those who
believe that Gonzalez will be a monster at Fenway Park.  He counteracts anything the Yankees have with
Mark Teixeira plus he has the intangibles.  
A few years back, I was constantly looking up to see the highlights of
David Ortiz with another walk-off home run. 
I fully expect Gonzalez to be that guy for the Sox, and he is going to
win games with both his bat and his glove. 

Disruption.  Once Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury get
going (it’s a question of when, not if), the Sox are going to be very
disruptive for opposing pitchers. 
Singlehandedly, they have the ability to change the complexion and
momentum of games. 

The forgotten hitter.  For all the
headlines the newest additions have gotten and the return of players who were
injured last year (like Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia), it is easy to forget that
this lineup still features third baseman Kevin Youkilis.  Youk is one of the best clutch hitters in
baseball, and teams will be so focused on stopping Crawford and Gonzalez that
they’ll lose sight of Youk…and will pay a high price for it. 

The dead will rise.  It is easy
for people to write off David Ortiz and Jason Varitek given their respective
ages, however, they are both consummate professionals who can still perform at
a high level.  Like the Toby Keith song
goes, ‘I may not be a good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was’.  There’s no doubt that these two will figure
prominently in Sox wins over the summer. 

The bench.  If there is anything I’ve learned about the
Sox, it is to never underestimate the power of Theo.  Time and again, names come out of nowhere to
lead the Sox to victory.  They had a
chance to catch the Yankees last September despite fielding a roster of
unknowns.  Even on Tuesday night’s game,
the first run of the game came courtesy of a home run by Darnell McDonald.  It wasn’t that long ago the Yankees wanted
Mike Cameron as their centerfielder, and here he is backing up the Sox
regulars.  I don’t care if the player’s name
is Dork Fumblefingers.  If he puts on a
Sox uniform, he is most likely going to hit game winning home runs and make
highlight reel catches in the outfield.

Terry Francona.  When the Sox lose, Francona
detractors seem to come out of the woodwork, but he is, in my opinion, the best
manager in baseball.  The only place with
greater expectations than New York might just be Boston, yet Terry is always a
show of class and his decision making skills show a deft understanding of now
and the future (i.e., the season).  He
garners the most of his roster, and I have no doubt that he’ll right the ship
despite the slow start to the 2011 season. 
With the Sox standing at 2-8 entering play tonight, people are quick to
say how poorly comparable teams have finished. 
I will argue that when the season is done, the Sox will be the model of
the franchise that was able to successfully overcome such a poor start.  In future years, when a team goes on a losing
streak to start the season, the media will be saying ‘but the 2011 Red Sox were
able to overcome…’. 

Theo Epstein, Larry Lucchino, and John Henry.  These
gentlemen took a franchise that was “cursed” from the 1923 trade that sent Babe
Ruth
to the Yankees, and eradicated the word “curse” from the Red Sox
vocabulary.  I also have not heard any
mention of Bucky Friggin’ Dent in several years.  These guys have successfully brought two
world championships to Boston, and there is no doubt that they’ll have a third
one in the not-so-distant future (much to my chagrin). 

The RSN.  The fan base for the Sox is the most
passionate and fervent of any that I’ve experienced.  I am not saying that Yankees fans aren’t
passionate, but Sox fans are like no other. 
They stuck by their team when championships were only something their
grandparents or great-grandparents had ever experienced.  Yankees fans get spoiled by championships in
almost every decade.  The Sox fans have a
greater understanding and appreciation of what it means to be a true
champion.  I am not one of them, but I
respect them. 


Why the Yankees won’t win…

Pitching, pitching, pitching.  As great as
CC Sabathia is, he is still not a sure thing. 
He has his moments where he struggles. 
I know, like all pitchers, but there is something special when a pitcher
like Roy Halladay takes the mound.  Win
or lose, you expect the team to win.  I
expect the Yankees to win when CC is on the mound, but it is not with the
confidence that I’d have if Halladay were a Yankee.  After CC, there is nothing but question
marks.  A.J. Burnett has pitched well to
start the season, but he always starts good. 
It is how he finishes.  If he
reverts to 2010 A.J., the Yankees are toast. 
Phil Hughes and the decreased velocity are a concern.  He finished poorly last season, and he has
yet to pitch lights out this year.  At
this point, I am really not sure what Hughes lies ahead.  After Hughes is a rookie, Ivan Nova, who has
pitched well, but how will he perform the second time around when opposing
lineups get used to him?  Can he make the
necessary adjustments?  As it stood, the
ceiling for Nova was much lower than it is for guys like Brian Matusz or Jeremy
Hellickson
(or even Michael Pineda).  Is
he in the rotation because he has the potential to be great or is it because
none of the other prospects are ready.  I
remain fearful that it’s the latter.  I’ve
heard that Nova’s future is in the pen, and that doesn’t bode well for the
rotation.  In the fifth spot, who
knows.  Freddy Garcia has yet to pitch
due to rain delays.  Bartolo Colon is
waiting in the wings if Garcia stumbles, as are Kevin Millwood and Carlos
Silva
None of the options instill
confidence.

The bullpen looks great on
paper, but already this season, there have been failures by Rafael Soriano and
Joba ChamberlainPedro Feliciano is on
the DL and I heard that he had a setback today. 
Luis Ayala is headed for the DL so the Yankees are already looking to
Scranton-Wilkes Barre for replacements. 
One of these years, Mariano Rivera is actually going to show his
age.  Will this be the year?

Aging lineup.  Mark Teixeira is already
31?  Seriously, we are already in the
midst of another April chill for Tex.  He
started strong this year (thanks to Opening Day in March), but he went 0-fer
against the Sox.  He was as much responsible
for me writing this post as anyone. 
Derek Jeter has continued to show his age and is providing evidence that
his down season in 2010 may be a sign of things to come.  Jorge Posada feels like a fish out of water
at DH.  He’s done at catcher so where’s
his long-term potential with this team? 
Alex Rodriguez looked great during spring training, but he is getting
older.  Question marks continue to dog
Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner.  The
Yankees are a great offensive club, but their hitters just don’t put fear in
you.  If they don’t hit, they can be beat
as Josh Beckett proved on Sunday night. 
In October, you’re facing the best pitchers in baseball.  If the Yankees can’t hit the best, they can’t
be the best.

The bench.  Don’t get me wrong…I love Eric Chavez and I
am glad that he’s a Yankee.  But I am
concerned that injuries may force the Yankees to play Chavez more than they
should, exposing him to potential injury. 
What if Derek Jeter is done?  Is
Nunez ready to take over at short?  I really
don’t expect this to be the year that Jeter goes south, but you have to
recognize that it could happen.  It
eventually happens to all superstars

Hank Steinbrenner.  Eventually,
Hank is going to make an impulsive move that he’ll regret.  I am sure that he has a Jay Buhner like trade
that he’ll force causing the Yankees to relinquish a prime prospect for an
aging past-his-prime veteran in an effort to shake things up.
 

The off-season.  As difficult as last season was,
there is the potential that this off-season will be even more difficult.  CC Sabathia can opt out of his contract, as
can Rafael Soriano.  If the Yankees lose
Sabathia, they won’t be able to recover. 
As the season progresses, the Sabathia opt-out is going to get more and
more ink.  Hopefully, it doesn’t become a
distraction.

Who knows that the 2011
season holds in store for the Yankees and the Red Sox, but I can assure you,
that both teams will be in the thick of things come September.  I will never be fooled by Boston’s slow start.  This is a very dangerous team and one that
can never be underestimated. 

Clearly, I want the Yankees
to win, and I am hopeful they will, but Boston, even at 2-9, is still the best
team in the American League from top to bottom. 
That may change by the trading deadline, but as it stands today, the Sox
are still a team capable of 100 wins.

Julia, I’m out…

–Scott

 

Looking Up at the Red Sox is not Fun!…


So far, it feels like the Yankees are on the outside
looking in for the Hot Stove League. 


 

Missing out on Cliff Lee, they’ve made some under the
radar moves, but that’s it.  The Boston
Red Sox, who potentially had a much stronger team than the Yankees LAST season
if not for the injuries, have significantly improved this off-season with the
additions of Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Bobby Jenks, Matt Albers and Dan Wheeler.
  At this point, I’d have to say that the
Red Sox are the favorites to win the American League Eastern Division.


Fans celebrate on Brookline Avenue near Fenway Park after the Boston Red Sox defeated the Colorado Rockies  to win the World Series.

Getty Images


Today, the Milwaukee Brewers stunned everyone by
acquiring Kansas City Royals ace Zack Greinke. 
After their earlier acquisition of former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher
Shaun Marcum, the Brewers now feature a very formidable trio of Yovani
Gallardo, Greinke, and Marcum.  Randy
Wolf is not a slouch at #4 so the Brewers certainly have a play-off contending
rotation. 


zack-greinke-kansas-city-royals-american-league-cy-young-award-1117.jpg

The Star-Ledger


There was no attempt by the Yankees to acquire Greinke,
and I have mixed feelings.  On one hand,
there is the doubt about whether or not he could have handled the pressure that
goes with playing in the Bronx given his prior anxiety problems.  Greinke didn’t shy away from New York when
the Yankees were rumored as a potential destination but family members
apparently echoed a different sentiment. 
I would certainly hate to give away the likes of Jesus Montero, Dellin
Betances, Eduardo Nunez, Manny Banuelos, and others for what could have been Ed
Whitson II or worse, A.J. Burnett II. 



If the Yankees get Andy Pettitte for one more season (and
it’s still a big IF), there are still so many questions about the rotation.
Andy is not getting any younger and his potential for injury is increased as
each year passes.  Ivan Nova was solid
during his brief audition, but he does not have a high ceiling as a
starter.  So, the only sure bets in the
rotation would be CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes. 
I expect Hughes to be stronger in 2011 than last year when he faded at
the end.  But I recognize that you have
to wonder what if he isn’t able to take it to another level like Sox starters
Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz have.  The
mention of Sergio Mitre in the starting rotation gives me reason for worry
before the first pitch of 2011 is even thrown.



There have been a number of reports that the Yankees
should pursue Felix Hernandez, but those are simply pipe dreams.  There is absolutely no way that the Seattle
Mariners are going to trade King Felix. 


mlb_a_hernandez_600.jpg


What’s left?  I am
not sure.  There is not really anything
out there that excites me.  But if the
Yankees do nothing, their best hope is a Wild Card slot and the worst case
scenario is potentially a 4th place finish.  I know, that’s a very pessimistic view, but
the Red Sox, at this point, are that much better and the other teams in the AL
East, except maybe the Tampa Bay Rays, have improved.  The Rays cannot be underestimated because
they’ve been able to replace veterans with youth, so there’s always the chance
they will be every bit as good in 2011 as they were last year when they won the
AL East. 

I fully expect improved performances by the Buck
Showalter-led Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays, so 2011 may be the
toughest year yet in baseball’s toughest division. 


Buck Showalter

Mark Goldman/Icon SMI


Of the moves the Yankees have made, I do like the
acquisitions of catcher Russell Martin and reliever Pedro Feliciano.  I also think the Yankees should pony up and
pay closer dollars to free agent reliever Rafael Soriano unless they can entice
the Royals to continue their rebuilding by unloading Joakim Soria.  I know that Mariano Rivera had a great 2010,
but let’s face it, he will be 41 years old next season.  At some point, even Hall of Famers begin to
fade.  The Yankees need to be prepared by
having a closer-in-waiting.  Given the
shortcomings in the starting rotation, a superior bullpen is a must.


Rafael Soriano has coverted 23 of 24 save opportunites in his first season with Tampa Bay.

Tampa Tribune


I can only hope that GM Brian Cashman is actively working
this holiday season and will be at work tomorrow morning dialing his fellow GM’s
for his Christmas wish list.  If he’s
home enjoying his family, that’s sweet, but it spells doom for the Yankees in
2011.  Just sayin’….



–Scott



Let’s Turn the Page to Next Week!…

I waited for the Baseball Winter Meetings with so much
anticipation and in the end, it was a week of disappointment.



Of course, the Yankees were solely focused on one
objective (Cliff Lee) and it is clear that Lee is in no hurry to decide where
he’ll be pitching in Game 1 of the play-offs next fall. 


Cliff Lee, pitching in World Series Game 1

Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger


While the Yankees waited and then finally made their
offer to Lee, the nemesis Boston Red Sox were very active in acquiring the long
anticipated first baseman Adrian Gonzalez of the San Diego Padres.  I am not quite sure how they were able to
pull off the deal without the inclusion of a single major leaguer but the
Padres did get highly touted pitching prospect Casey Kelly and first baseman
Anthony Rizzo.  They also acquired
outfield prospect Reymond Fuentes, cousin to the Mets’ Carlos Beltran and a
player to be named later.  Gonzalez is a
huge acquisition for the Sox.  As Don
Mattingly said, Gonzalez has a perfect swing for Fenway Park and he’ll be a
beast in their lineup.


agon.jpg

Seattle Times  


The Red Sox also pulled off a major surprise when they
signed former Tampa Bay Ray Carl Crawford. 
The off-season rumors had the Red Sox in pursuit of either Jayson Werth
(who subsequently signed the incredulous deal with the Washington Nationals) or
Crawford.  However, after the Gonzalez
acquisition, it appeared that Crawford was headed for the Los Angeles
Angels.  The move was a good one for the
Sox although they’ll pay a hefty premium with the extension for Gonzalez along
with the contract for Crawford.  It will
be interesting to see how this plays out for the other Red Sox outfielders.  Ryan Kalish proved that he is a major
leaguer, so it would seem that somebody will depart in a trade for potentially
a catcher (Kalish, Jacoby Ellsbury, or Mike Cameron?). 


Carl Crawford

AP

Prior to the moves, I thought the Red Sox had the best
combination of pitching, hitting and defense in the division.  Throw in Crawford and Gonzalez and there
seems to be a bit of a gulf between the Sox and the Yankees (and Rays).  At the moment, the Yankees have only one
surefire ace to throw at the Red Sox (CC Sabathia).  Behind CC is Phil Hughes.  Sure, Hughes is capable to shutting down the
Sox but he does fall into the category of ‘you never really know for sure if he’s
going to have his best stuff’.  After
that comes A.J. Burnett and for the moment, Ivan Nova.  That’s it. 
Clearly, the Yankees pitching staff needs much work between now and
April. 

Which of course leads us back to Cliff Lee.  This off-season is all about Lee.  The Yankees have made a huge offer for Lee (a
menu of 5, 6 and 7 year deals).  The
Texas Rangers countered with a menu of their own offers and owner Chuck
Greenberg even flew to Arkansas to personally deliver the offers, bringing
along billionaire partner Ray Davis. 

The Rangers have the wherewithal to pay Lee, although I’d
have to believe that a 7 year deal would hurt the Rangers for more than it
would the Yankees.  Greenberg was
optimistic about the talks yesterday but I can’t tell if it is legitimate or
false optimism. 

I am biased (of course), but if I was Cliff Lee, I would
look at this decision as how you want to be remembered in baseball long after
you are gone.  To succeed in New York
gives players lasting celebrity.  Paul O’Neill
will always be so beloved in New York, along with Tino Martinez and others,
even though they didn’t start their careers with the Yankees.  At old-timer games, you see guys like Goose
Gossage and next year, Lou Piniella.  If
you asked me to name former Rangers, I’d be hard-pressed to come up with a list
of the Hall of Famers.  I lived in Dallas
during the days of Jim Sundberg, Nolan Ryan, Steve Buechele and Larry Parrish,
but I couldn’t tell you where they are today (well, except for Nolan of
course).  Being a former Texas Ranger is “nice”,
but forgettable.  Being a former New York
Yankee is first class celebrity status, especially if you win.  If Lee is as competitive as I think he is, he’ll
view the challenge of the improved Boston Red Sox squad as an opportunity to
shine.  Texas may have been in the World
Series last year, but will they be a powerhouse for the next 7 years?  Tough to tell.  With the Yankees, you always know that
ownership is committed to fielding the best possible team.  As a player, I would want to be in the
environment of the team who expects nothing less than the World Series every
year. 

Quality of Life?  I
agree that Texas probably wins.  The cost
of real estate is substantially less, and there is no state income tax.  Lee can live in a mansion with acreage and
drive to/from the stadium with an easy commute. 
In New York, you’re going to pay a premium for housing and the commute
won’t be easy.  But c’mon, there is
nothing like the city of New York.  I am
a small town Midwesterner, yet I think New York City is the greatest city in
the world.  I love the energy and
excitement of the city.  I’ve lived in
Dallas.  It’s a fun town, no doubt.  But it’s not New York.  If I’m Cliff Lee, the decision is easy.  I’d be on the phone asking Brian Cashman
where to sign…



George McNish/The Star Ledger


I found it very interesting that the Yankees picked two
players in the Rule 5 Draft.  They lost two
players including pitcher George Kontos but they acquired an Angel and a Red
Sock.  The Angel is pitcher Robert
Fish.  I don’t know anything about Fish
and more than likely he’ll be offered back to the Angels, but you gotta love
his name.  I am sure that the TV and
radio announcers would love to say how Joe Girardi is “bobbin’” for Fish when
he goes to the bullpen.  Turpen is a
pitcher the Red Sox acquired for one of the two Ramon Ramirezes they had on
their roster (don’t ask me which one it was!). 
I doubt that Turpen sticks but he was potentially on the list of players
for the player to be named later in the Gonzalez deal.  So, if the Yankees made the selection to
spite the Red Sox, I am cool with it! 
J


Robert Fish


I think the Yankees play for former Los Angeles Dodgers
catcher Russell Martin is a good one.  I’ve
always liked Martin, and I think the combination of him and Jesus Montero would
be a good one.  Hopefully, Martin doesn’t
get spooked by the presence of Montero and decide to sign elsewhere, like
Boston.  I am hoping that Joe Torre and
Don Mattingly told enough great Yankee stories last year to entice Martin to pursue
a Yankee career!


Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images


There’s still a lot of work to be done between now and
spring training so hopefully things start to fall into place soon.  Okay Cliff, the next move is up to you…


 

–Scott



Game 1 To The Other Guys…

 

On the bright side, the Yankees are still in first place…

 

 

 

 

Despite the loss to the Boston Red Sox on Friday night, the Yankees remain in first place, ½ game ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays who also lost (2-1 to the Toronto Blue Jays).  The team needs to relax, re-group and come back on Saturday with a vengeance. 

 

In tonight’s 6-3 loss, the Red Sox scored three runs, thanks in large part to an error by Francisco Cervelli (he dropped a pop-up that he should have handled).  Thanks to the extra out, the Red Sox were able to push across three runs before the last out of the inning.  It turned a 2-1 lead into a 4-2 deficit and with Clay Buchholz on the mound, the Yankees were never able to recover. 

 

 

17 SPYANKEES HINDASH.JPG

Saed Hindash/The Star Ledger

 

If there is one thing that stood out to me about Friday night’s game, it is the 12-pitch at-bat by Derek Jeter with two outs in the bottom of the 9th.  He battled and battled hard before eventually drawing a walk.  THAT exhibited the heart of a Lion.  It went for naught when Nick Swisher flied out to end the game, but it was a tremendous at-bat by the Captain.

 

Somehow, the Yankees need to get Lance Berkman untracked.  Lance went 0-for-4 and is now batting .105 since his arrival in the Bronx.  Hopefully,  he’ll have that defining moment with the Yankees and it will come sooner rather than later.  He can play a huge part in the stretch run for the Yankees despite the overall down year for him. 

 

It was good to hear that Andy Pettitte threw in the bullpen and is planning a late August return.  He threw 35 to 40 pitches and felt good.  He is planning to throw again on Sunday.  That’s good news, and he’ll be a welcome sight for the rotation when he is able to return.

 

After Season 1 of Curtis Granderson (so far), I’d have to say that I would be a proponent for the Yankees to move Granderson in the off-season and pursue Tampa Bay free agent-to-be Carl Crawford and slide Brett Gardner back to center.  Hopefully, Grandy can change opinions between now and the end of the season but he’s running out of time.

 

As for Derek Jeter, put me in the column that feels there is no way that the Yankees would let him leave.  Using Cal Ripken as an example (or Carl Yastrzemski), it is great that those guys were able to go an entire career in one uniform.  Watching the NFL’s Hall of Fame inductees, I still hate to think of Emmitt Smith, the Arizona Cardinal.  It’s great that if you think of Troy Aikman or Michael Irvin, you can only associate them with one team.  It’s bad enough when a great player puts on another uniform at the tail end of his career, but when they go to a bitter rival it’s worse.  Case in point is long-time hockey star Mike Modano of the Dallas Stars who recently signed with the Detroit Red Wings.  I realize that Detroit is home for Mike, but, still, the Red Wings are a bitter rival for the Stars.  Mike has been one of my favorite players for so many years, yet for his final season, I won’t be a fan.  I feel strongly that the Yankees will do whatever it takes to bring Jeter back for his final years.  Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and Yogi Berra are a few of the great franchise names and they wore only the pinstripes.  DJ deserves the same…

 

 

 

 

 

Lance Berkman, an all-time great for the Houston Astros, won’t get the chance to wear an Astros uniform from beginning to end, but I’d hate to see him bounce around with several teams at the end of his career.  I am pulling for him to hit well enough for the Yankees to re-negotiate his deal to ensure a return in 2011. 

 

Now, if Cliff Lee wants to change uniforms this off-season and put on pinstripes, I am okay with that…

 

–Scott

 

P.S. Hey Julia, tomorrow is a new day!  Go Yankees! 

 

 

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