Results tagged ‘ Carlos Pena ’

Disappointment replaced by Optimism…

 

After some thought, I’ve come around…

Now that I’ve had time to digest the Friday night whirlwind that brought pitchers Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda to the Bronx, my initial disappointment was evaporated.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the power potential of Jesus Montero, and I know full well that he’ll be as devastating against the Yankees as Jay Buhner was if not more.  But I recognize that from a position of need, a top of the rotation starter is better than a player without a position.

Ever since I first heard Jesus Montero’s name, it always included a statement that he’d eventually have to find a new position because he would outgrow catcher.  The obvious moves would be to either first base or left field, but last time I checked, both of those positions were occupied by long-term tenants.  Putting an offensive juggernaut at DH is great for offense but it does nothing to help with the defensive aspects of catching or learning a new position.  With Russell Martin in the fold for the foreseeable future, there was no way that Montero would gain the starting position at catcher.  Martin’s ability to handle the pitching staff is simply too important to the team even if his bat is nothing remotely close to Montero.

With Montero, I was always worried about the other young Yankee catchers.  Of course, there’s Francisco Cervelli on the active roster.  If Montero were to take the backup catching job, where would that leave Cervelli?  Most likely playing for the Twins, backing up oft-injured Joe Mauer or someone like that.  I like the defensive reports that I’ve heard about both Austin Romine and Gary Sanchez, but if their path was clogged by Martin and Montero, where did that leave them?  Sanchez needs more time in the minors, but Romine is nearing major league ready status.  With an injury or two, I fully expect him to get his chance to make an impression at Yankee Stadium in 2012.  The trade of Montero ensures that Romine will get his major league opportunity with the Yankees so that’s a good thing.  He doesn’t have Montero’s bat (who does?) but good defense is essential for championships.

Maybe just tell us who the Yankees haven’t talked to…

As for the DH slot, it seems like the Yankees have expressed interest in about everyone.  There have been reports they’ve spoken to the agents for Carlos Pena, Johnny Damon, and Hideki Matsui.  There are pros and cons with all three players, but whoever the Yankees bring on board will have to share time at DH with Alex Rodriguez, Andruw Jones, and Derek Jeter so I’d be okay with any of the three.  I’ve always liked the clutch bats of Damon and Matsui, and the swing for the fences power of Pena is nice even if the average is hovering slightly above the Mendoza line.  With all the reports that the Yankees only have a $1 million or two to spend on a DH, I half expect a report that they’ve talked to Reggie Jackson!  Okay, that might be a stretch, but I’d consider letting ‘all or nothing’ slugger Jorge Vazquez.  He does deserve a shot.  If not, the Yanks should cut him loose and let him pursue a team that will.

If Jorge Posada had embraced the DH role last year, he’d be on his way back to the Bronx for an encore performance…

Upon second thought…

As for the pitching staff, my initial prediction about the rotation order was flawed.  I recognize that Micheal Pineda is the clear #2 in the rotation.  I’ve seen Ivan Nova slotted at #4, but I’d still keep him at #3 at least until he gives reason to drop him in the order.  I think Kuroda is a great addition, but he has to adjust to the American League in the most difficult division, while moving from a pitcher’s ballpark to a park that is less forgiving.  So, I’d give Nova time for pinstripes served and put him ahead of Kuroda.  After the former Dodger, it’s anybody’s guess who will win out…Phil Hughes, my personal favorite; Freddy Garcia, probably the better choice among the pitchers in terms of consistency; and A.J. Burnett, the candidate for most likely to depart the Bronx if the Yanks can find a willing trade partner that wants Burnett…and a boatload of cash to pay that ridiculous salary.  What happens if either Manny Banuelos or Dellin Betances pitches “lights out” in training camp?  This is going to be an interesting battle.

He’s really a cousin of Alcides and Kelvim Escobar?…

Back to Friday night’s trade, I was a bit dismayed when I saw that pitcher Hector Noesi had been included in the trade.  I kept hearing that his ceiling was the back end of the rotation but there was something that I liked about the pitcher.  At first, I didn’t know anything about the “other” Mariner included in the deal, Jose Campos.  But since the initial report of the trade, I’ve come to realize that he has great potential.  At 19, he’s 6’4” and throws in the mid 90’s.  He’ll more than make up for Noesi and fits a better timeline in terms of being major league ready given the high level pitching prospects already in the organization (Banuelos and Betances, for example).  The Curtis Granderson trade has been labeled as a ‘win-win-win’ for all concerned.  Hopefully, this M’s-Yankees trade will meet a similar fate.

What would I expect Bobby V to say?…

Contrary to what Bobby Valentine may think, the Yankees are a better team today than they were last Thursday.  But, I recognize the Boston Red Sox are not done yet.  They signed former Dodger pitcher Vicente Padilla today (a guy I loathe personally) and there’s rumors they could go after Roy Oswalt if they can move payroll.  I still think Boston could be a player for Cubs starter Matt Garza given Theo Epstein’s knowledge of the Red Sox minor league prospects.  Whether Ben Cherington or rather Larry Lucchino would trade with Epstein is another matter.  Still, I think there are changes to be made on both the Yankees and Red Sox between now and training camp.  Last year, I saw a Red Sox friend predict 118 or 119 wins for Boston.  Teams look great on paper, but as they say, the ‘proof is in the pudding’!

Moneyball II, starring Jorge Garcia…

It’s hard to think of the Oakland A’s signing former Yankees starter Bartolo Colon as a low-cost, high reward “Moneyball” kind of move.  At 39, I don’t think there’s really any upside to Colon at this point and in my opinion, he’s not capable of sustaining a full season of starts.  I’d rather have Gio Gonzalez or Trevor Cahill in the rotation, but I guess since those are no longer options, they have to look at the scrap heap that served the Yankees so well last season.

Yes, I know the way to San Jose!…

Speaking of Oakland, I do hope they are successful in their desire to move to San Jose.  As a former San Jose resident, I think it’s very exciting for the city and its metro area to be on the verge of landing both the A’s and the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, to go with the NHL’s Sharks.  I saw that A’s owner bought the famed Hotel Sainte Claire in downtown San Jose.  He already owns one hotel in San Jose so I guess you can’t read too much into it, but he’s definitely positioning himself for the growth and excitement that San Jose could see in the coming years.  I’d be happy with a Stanley Cup Championship this year, but that’s a little off-topic…

I really don’t forsee another 99 losses when you place character first…

I was a little surprised to see the Minnesota Twins sign former Detroit Tigers flamethrower Joel Zumaya.  He suffered his devastating arm injury at Target Field in 2010.  So, in terms of Karma, you’d think that he’d avoid Target Field like the plague.   But I read comments in this morning’s paper about how he was touched by the reception he received from the Twins fans as he left the field that fateful day.  Stories like that certainly make me feel honored to be a Minneapolis resident, but I was still surprised by Zumaya’s decision.  I wish him the best as he begins the Comeback Trail.  Hopefully he can get back to the level he was before.  For the Twins, with Joe Nathan in Texas and Matt Capps scheduled to close games, they need Zumaya as the pitcher he once was and hopefully will be again.

When it’s tough being the son of Donnie Baseball, come home to the Bronx!…

Before I go, I want to say that I am really hopeful that the Yankees organization proves to be a blessing for former Dodgers prospect Preston Mattingly.  I’ve always heard what a great athlete he is/was when he was younger.  I don’t know what happened through his time in the Dodgers and Indians organizations and I realize that he is getting a bit long in tooth for a prospect, but I really hope that he can find some level of success with the Yankees.  It would be very cool to see Mattingly make a debut at Yankee Stadium at some point in the future.  Who knows if it is in the cards, but being a late bloomer is not outside of the realm of possibility when it comes to someone with his bloodline.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s hard to believe that we are just a month away from training camp.  I’m excited and looking forward to a great season.

 

–Scott

Right on Target…

 

The weather is Minnesota was beautiful…

Last Sunday, I attend a simply great baseball game.  Well, outside of a few harmless errors and miscues.  As a resident of Minneapolis, Minnesota, I went to Target Field and saw the Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins, 3-0.  It was a great afternoon for baseball (temperature in the upper 70’s, with lots of sun).

The game was a pitcher’s duel in the early going.  I was surprised when the Twins pulled starter Nick Blackburn in the second inning despite not giving up any runs, but later heard that he had been injured.  The Twins bullpen did a good job until the 7th inning when Curtis Granderson hit an inside-the-park home run.  I was watching him run between second and third, and his stride is so long that he almost looks like he is going slow motion.  There wasn’t much hesitation as he rounded third and headed home.  I always cringe when players go in for headfirst slides but Curtis slide his hand across home plate before the ball arrived and the Yanks were up 2-0.  In retrospect, the Twins outfielders blew the play when both the right and center fielders went to the wall on Granderson’s hit ball which bounced off the wall.  One of the outfielders should have backed up the other, but that’s the hazard of fielding a young, inexperienced outfield.

Mark Teixeira followed with one of those line drive shots that never drop as the ball was deposited in the left field stands.

The Twins definitely had their chances.  At one point, they had men on second and third with no outs and couldn’t score.  David Robertson worked out of a jam in the 8th when the bases were loaded despite no balls leaving the infield.  There were miscues, like when a ball dropped between Nick Swisher and Curtis Granderson (you get it, no, you get it…) or A-Rod’s bobble of what should have been a routine fielding play.  Fortunately, the Twins couldn’t do anything with the opportunities, so the Yankees emerged the victor.  I had a decent seat (lower level, left field) but for the 9th inning, I moved over to the standing area behind the home plate lower level seats.  I had a perfect line to watch Mariano Rivera throw his cutter to catcher Russell Martin, and it was great to catch that view.  It was also nice to see Mariano walk off the field with another save…

I am always amazed at how many Yankees fans are in attendance on road games.  Not that I’d feel threatened in Minnesota, but it’s nice having “support” nearby!

So close yet so far away…

Monday night’s game was a disappointment.  After the Yanks fell behind 6-0, I wrote the game off.  But then, in the final two innings, the Yanks brought it to within one at 6-5, with the bases loaded.  I started to get excited about the potential huge comeback, but Nick Swisher hit a fly ball that was caught near the fence to end the game.  That was harder to accept than if the Yanks had just lost 6-0.  Then, of course, every time I looked at the TV, the loss was scrolling across the ticker on ESPN.  While A.J. Burnett is my personal favorite to be yanked (no pun intended) from the rotation, I realize that there are financial reasons for why that move won’t be made.  Therefore, the next to go would be Bartolo Colon.  I’d definitely take Freddy Garcia over Colon, and there is no way that Phil Hughes or Ivan Nova will be coming out of the rotation anytime soon.

Of course, as I sit here typing this blog, Nick Swisher has just hit a home run to put the Yanks up 2-1 over the Oakland A’s in the 6th inning.  Dude, where was that shot last night?…

Wasn’t he a Yankee for about 5 minutes a few years ago…

I saw the blurb today that the Yankees had claimed Chicago Cubs first baseman Carlos Pena on waivers.  Listening to comments from GM Brian Cashman, it doesn’t sound like the Yanks will do anything, but it would be nice to acquire Pena as an option at DH and a backup to Mark Teixeira.  He is definitely familiar with the AL East having played with the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays.  I don’t like Pena’s batting average, but his other stats are respectable.  The Yanks clearly need a clutch bat on the bench and perhaps Pena could be the guy if the Yanks and Cubs can work out a trade.

Fat, dumb, and happy…

Entering play tonight, the Yankees held an 8 ½ game lead over the Los Angeles Angels and Tampa Bay Rays.  While that’s certainly not insurmountable, it’s nice to have such a large cushion as we enter the final days of August.  Granted, I’d prefer to win the AL East, but then again, with the current play-off structure, it doesn’t really matter.  If the Yanks can keep the lead in the WC standings, they should be able to rest some guys in September to allow the team to head into October at full strength.  At this point, my biggest concern is getting a healthy Alex Rodriguez on the field.

Have a good night!

–Scott

Glass Half Full to Glass Half Empty…

 

Thud!…

 

 


Thud.JPG 

 

The Yankees played a hard fought series in Boston, and escaped with two out of three despite their “pathetic and embarrassing”¹ play.  They had a day off and traveled to St. Petersburg, Florida to face their other primary AL East rivals, the Tampa Bay Rays. 

 

Tampa Bay Rays Franchise Fitted Baseball Cap

 

With Javier Vazquez on the mound, it looked as though the Yankees would stack up very nicely against David Price and the championship-contending Rays.  Staked to an early 2-0 lead, Vazquez promptly gave it up in the bottom half of the 4th inning.  Former Yankee Carlos Pena tied the score with a two-run homer, and Jason Bartlett had a two-run double in the 5 run inning.  Another former Yankee, Dioner Navarro, hit the single that put the Rays in the lead.  Those would be the only runs that Price would need enroute to the Rays’ third victory of the season.

 

 

Photo

AP 

 

Marcus Thames made his second start of the season in left (in place of starter Brett Gardner), and Mark Teixeira continued his traditional ice cold start.  After four games, he is 0-for-16 which matches the worst hitless start of his career.  Let’s hope that he ends the streak on Saturday.

 

 


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The weekend games will pit CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett as the rotation begins its second go-around this young season.  I am expecting a much stronger start from Sabathia than we saw in Boston, and the same with Burnett.  They’ll face Wade Davis and James Shields, respectively.

 

 

Lynne Sladky/AP

 

On the bright side, the Boston Red Sox lost too as the Kansas City Royals rallied for two runs in the bottom of the 8th to win 4-3.  It was a great start by the ageless and reliable Tim Wakefield, but once again, the bullpen was the Achilles heel for the Red Sox.

 

 

Red Sox Royals Baseball.jpg

AP

 

¹I found Umpire Joe West’s comments about the Yankees and Red Sox as “pathetic and embarrassing” to be, well, pathetic and embarrassing.  His frustration was over the slow play of the opening series between the two teams.  In my opinion, West should voice any concerns he has internally within his own organization and not air the negative comments publicly.  I am biased and if I were a San Francisco Giants fan, I’d vehemently disagree, but there’s nothing like baseball’s best rivalry, the Yankees and the Red Sox.  I am a Minnesota Vikings fan, and I dislike the Green Bay Packers.  I am a San Jose Sharks fan and I dislike the Anaheim Ducks.  I am a Los Angeles Lakers fan and I dislike the Boston Celtics.  But there is simply nothing like Yankees-Red Sox.  Right Julia?

 

 

Keith Srakocic/AP

 

Speaking of the Vikings, the wait for Brett Favre continues.  It is a given that Favre won’t make any decisions that would actually require him to show up for training camp, so this is going to be long and drawn out once again.  It’s frustrating because it is very hard for me to get excited about either Tavaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels at quarterback.  It’s rumored that the Vikings are taking a look at Tim Tebow.  However, he is a major project and many think he’ll never succeed at the pro level.  On the plus side, his former teammate Percy Harvin is on the Vikings and it would ease Tebow’s transition.  We’ll see how this plays out.  I definitely agree that the Vikings need to be thinking about the quarterback of the future regardless of what Favre may do.  I’d love for the Vikings to pick Jimmy Clausen in the NFL Draft, but he’ll be long gone by the time the Vikings select unless they can move up.

 

 

Jimmy Clausen

Joe Raymond/AP

 

Both the Sharks and the Lakers are set to play in their respective sports’ play-offs.  I am hopeful that this is the year for Joe Thornton and company.  For the Lakers, it’s ‘here we go again’ with Andrew Bynum unavailable until the play-offs due to injury.  Unfortunately, that’s an all too familiar song, but hopefully he’ll be ready to play once the play-offs do start.  If both teams could play and beat Boston, I’d be a very happy man.  Of course, that would mean championship series for both, but hey, so long as WE win, what does it matter?  ;)

 

 

 

 

The Yankees quietly picked up former San Diego Padres outfielder Chad Huffman on waivers and assigned him to AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre.  Huffman was placed on waivers to make room for Matt Stairs (hasn’t he played for like every major league club?).  I didn’t think much of the move when I first saw it, but later I saw comments about how frustrated fans were and how they saw the fingerprints of Kevin Towers all over this one.  Towers, the former Padres GM, is now a special consultant for the Yankees.  It would appear that the Padres had hoped Huffman would clear waivers for a minor league assignment but were, perhaps, thwarted by their former general manager.  I saw these comments about Huffman by Padres assistant Paul DePodesta and it makes me a little jazzed about the pickup (and not so disappointed that the Yankees had to return Rule 5 pickup Jamie Hoffmann to the Dodgers): 

“We lost the player. And, he’s a pretty good one. Chad was a 2nd round pick in 2006 out of TCU and has been a successful minor league hitter throughout his pro career, posting an OPS over .800 in each season. While crushing lefties early in his career, Chad had his most successful year yet against RHP during his first season in AAA in 2009. He always controlled the strike zone and also hit for some power–a combination we like. We think he’ll be a good Major League hitter.

“This wasn’t an easy decision, as we feel good about our 40-man roster at this point. We talked about a number of different guys and worked through various scenarios–who had the best chance to clear waivers, what depth did we have, what depth did we anticipate needing during the year, etc.

“We hate to lose good players. Additionally, we hate to lose good people, and Chad is a tremendous clubhouse guy. Getting beyond the selfish aspect, we’re excited for Chad. We truly wish him the best with the Yankees and will be rooting for him to make it to New York and contribute to the big league team.”

Works for me…  J

 

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P.S.  I am headed to Arizona for the week on business so I might not have any blog updates until after I return on Saturday, April 17th.  Let’s hope the Yankees get on a roll by that time! 

 

–Scott

 

 

I Can Now See October…

 

Okay, I feel better now…

 

Feeling Great.JPG

 

The Yankees cured my “momentary depression” by sweeping the Tampa Bay Rays in a Labor Day Doubleheader.  They took Game 1 behind CC Sabathia, 4-1.  CC didn’t figure in the decision, but he certainly continued his post-All Star Break brilliance and a possible march toward the AL Cy Young.  Personally, I hope it’s a march to the World Series but who am I?…

 

 

Munson WS Ring.JPG

Courtesy Hunt Auctions 

 

The game had been knotted at 1 for most of the game.  A-Rod had put the Yanks up early, but the Rays tied it.  It stayed that way until after CC departed.  But given the Rays now had to face Phil Hughes and Mariano Rivera, the stage was set for another late inning Yankees comeback.  They weren’t denied.  Robinson Cano broke the tie in the 8th inning with a sac fly.  The Yankees scored a couple of more runs in the inning to close the book on the scoring, but after that, it was Mariano Rivera, a/k/a game over…

 

Bill Kostroun/AP

 

Despite the no-decision, CC went 7 innings and gave up only 3 hits and one run while striking out 10 Rays batters.  He walked 4.  This is why the Yanks paid so heavily in the off-season…

 

CCs Contract.JPG

 

In the nightcap, an 8-run third inning ended any suspense or drama.  After that, it was evident that the Yankees would record their 89th victory of the season, matching last season’s win total.  It is very reassuring to know that the Yankees would have to go 0-23 to match last year’s record.  Of course, Julia is probably saying “It could happen!”…

 

 

The nightcap saw a return to dominance by A.J. Burnett, who had struggled in recent weeks.  In the 11-1 victory, A.J. went 6 innings and gave up 4 hits, 1 run, and 3 walks, with 8 K’s.  I am impressed with Yankees reliever Mike Dunn, who was called up last week.  I had heard comparisons to the Red Sox’ Daniel Bard, and I’d have to agree based on what I’ve seen so far.  Control is an issue, but he’ll overcome that with work and maturity.

 

 

 

A few notes regarding the Doubleheader…

Derek Jeter failed to get a hit in either game, so he remains 3 hits behind Lou Gehrig for the Yankees’ all-time career hits record.

 

Bill Kostroun/AP

 

Rays first baseman Carlos Pena is out for the season after breaking his finger in two places, thanks to a 95-mph CC Sabathia pitch.  It is a disappointing way to see the AL home run leader’s season come to an end, and I wish him the best for a successful offseason recovery and look forward to his return in 2010.  Pena ends the season with 39 HR’s and 100 RBI’s.  I hate to see injuries caused by Yankee pitching (the Toronto Blue Jays’ Randy Ruiz was hit in the face by Josh Towers on Sunday).  I do not feel that either pitch was intentional, but it is definitely the unfortunate part of the game.  No one wants to see anyone get hurt.  I have always heard that actor John Travolta is one of the nicest guys in Hollywood, but the same can be said about Carlos Pena in Tampa (or anywhere for that matter).

 

 

 

The doubleheader sweep gives the Yankees their largest lead of the season, 9 games over the Boston Red Sox. The magic number stands at 16.  Julia, I’m sorry, but I think I hear the fat lady singing…

 

Courtesy David Otto

 

For the remaining two games against the Rays, the Yankees will pitch Chad Gaudin on Tuesday and Joba Chamberlain on Wednesday.  The Rays will counter with David Price and Jeff Niemann, respectively.

 

Courtesy Yankees Magazine

 

After a year lay-off, I am looking forward to watching October baseball again…

 

 

Go Yankees!

 

P.S.  I am glad that the Minnesota Vikings were able to retain QB John David Booty on the practice squad after he cleared waivers.  Of course, any team is free to sign him, so hopefully, the Vikings will clear space on the 53 man roster to restore what Booty lost when the Vikings signed ancient Brett Favre.  Booty will be throwing touchdowns while Favre is searching for retirement homes, so hopefully, Booty’s greatest Viking days are yet to come…

 

Quarterback John David Booty #4 of the Minnesota Vikings prepares to throw against the Dallas Cowboys on August 28, 2008 at Texas Stadium in Irving, Texas.  The Cowboys won 16-10.

Brian Bahr/Getty Images North America

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