Results tagged ‘ Clay Buchholz ’

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

Time to look to October…

The 2011 AL East Division Champions…

 

Most importantly, congratulations to the New York Yankees for their AL East Division Championship.  They should have been AL East Champions last season but stumbled in the final days of the season to allow them to be eclipsed by the Tampa Bay Rays.  So, fortunately, the Yankees have returned to their rightful throne!  Well, at least for September.  Come October, nothing less than a World Series Championship is acceptable!

 

So, I was only half right…

 

Admittedly, I am surprised the way this season has played out.  At the beginning of the season, I had picked the Boston Red Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies as the World Series participants.  The Phillies still look like the odds-on favorite at this point given their stellar starting pitching, but the Red Sox have faded oh so quickly.  I remember listening to Sox fans who were predicting at least 114 wins or more for their revamped Red Sox, and while I openly scoffed at the notion, there was a part of me that was concerned that the Red Sox did have the necessary personnel to pull off a magical season.  The chances for the magical season faded quickly when pitcher Clay Buchholz was lost for the season, but the Red Sox had charged back after a sluggish start and were in the thick of things at the end of August.  Up to that point, the Red Sox had played the Yankees very aggressively with a significant advantage in the season series.  They showed they had the offense to destroy virtually any pitcher on any given night, and there is no doubt that Adrian Gonzalez is perfectly suited for Fenway Park.  But sadly for the Sox, the calendar turned to September and the deteriorated pitching staff started to show the stress and strain of the long season.  Still, I didn’t expect the free fall that has currently left the Sox tied with the Tampa Bay Rays for the Wild Card slot, while the Yankees have wrapped up the division championship and best record in the AL.  I never dreamed that the Yankees would be in position to walk to the finish line.

 

Pitching, pitching, pitching…

 

My lack of faith in the Yankees at the beginning of the season was due primarily to the pitching staff.  I was concerned about A.J. Burnett and his ability to bounce back from a disastrous season (and rightfully so).  I did not think the Yankees could replace Andy Pettitte with two scrapheap pitchers in Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon.  Plus, the Yankees were placing much emphasis on Phil Hughes who, despite his 18-win season, had not proven that he was a reliable and dependable starter.  Rounding out the rotation was a rookie pitcher (Ivan Nova), who had not even been mentioned in the same breath with Yankees prospects Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances.   With CC Sabathia followed by a cast of characters, I did not see how the Yankees could compete with the Red Sox and felt that the Wild Card was the team’s best hope.  Now, I am very delighted that I was wrong.  While Burnett and Hughes have been disappointments, Ivan Nova has been huge and is now the second best pitcher in the rotation.  Garcia and Colon have been terrific even if Colon seems to be wearing down at this point in the season.  Garcia is definitely a play-off caliber starting pitcher.  If the Yanks go with a four man rotation, then the 4th man should be Burnett.  But he’ll have a very short leash with Colon and Hughes potentially in the bullpen.

 

Don’t play Poker with Brian Cashman…

 

If I had been the GM, I am sure that I would have made some impulsive and regrettable move at the trading deadline.  GM Brian Cashman, on the other hand, stood pat and played with the hand he was dealt.  In retrospect, he looks like a hero (which includes his anti-Rafael Soriano stance in the spring).  I hope the Yankees do whatever it takes to ensure Cash’s return to the Bronx.  I am sure that there would be significantly less stress in Chicago with the Cubs or some other major league team, but nobody understands New York better than Cash.  I definitely think the Steinbrenners need Cashman more than he needs them.  Hopefully, they’ll recognize it and make sure that Cashman is re-signed.

 

Passing of the Guard…

 

If the Yankees have learned anything in September (aside from the importance of quality starting pitching in watching the Sox freefall), it’s that Jesus Montero is ready for The Show.  This does not bode well for Jorge Posada who is most likely playing his final year in Yankee pinstripes.  If he continues his career season, it will be tough to see him play in different team colors.  My only request would be for him not to go to Boston or Tampa.  It’s always tough to see players cross those lines, and if it were me, I’d retain the respect for the Yankees and walk away from the AL East.

 

He surprised me yet again…

 

Count me as one of the skeptics in Ozzie Guillen’s decision to orchestrate his departure from the Chicago White Sox so that he could join the Florida Marlins.  While I realize that Guillen will sell tickets in Miami, I don’t see it as a good fit with ownership.  I am still not quite sure how someone could have issues with Joe Girardi, but fortunately, Miami did and he’s the highly successful manager of the Yankees.  But Joe is far less out-spoken than Guillen, so if Joe’s comments got him into trouble, what’s going to happen with Guillen who always openly and freely speaks whatever is on his mind.  I had always heard that White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf loved Ozzie like a son, so there’s no way the relationship in Miami will be anything comparable.  His on the field performance had better outweigh the baggage that comes with Ozzie as your manager.  He may regret taking the money and running…

 

Two game sabbatical from ‘Red Sox Suck!’…

 

With the Red Sox and Rays tied for the Wild Card tonight, I’ll have to go with the Red Sox as my preferred team to advance.  I don’t think the Sox will be the easier opponent in the play-offs but that doesn’t concern me.  I’ve always believed that you have to ‘beat the best to be the best’.  This comes down to respect and I simply respect the Red Sox more…

 

–Scott

The “Core”, sadly, has moved on…

The end of the “Core”?…

The deterioration of two-thirds of the remaining “Core” is very disheartening.  Both Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada have shown that it is time to pass the baton.  With both, I am not sure how you can gracefully move on but as long as both are in the lineup, the Yankees are in an inferior position to both the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox.

Sadly, the day is going to come when Mariano Rivera just doesn’t have it anymore.  Fortunately, he is not showing any signs of letting up and thankfully so since his closer-in-waiting, Rafael Soriano, is having a tough time staying healthy.

With players like Jeter or Posada, you’d like to think that they’d come to the realization that they are an albatross to the organization and would willingly step aside.  But egos and money are not forgiving.  At some point, the decisions will need to be made for the players.  I think that DJ has a longer leash than Posada, who infuriated the organization with his behavior this past weekend.  I’ve read that Posada has until about the All-Star Break to start hitting before the team explores other options.  My sense is that this is not going to end well.  As for DJ, I am sure that he’s secure the remainder of the year, but I really wonder what the future holds.  Perhaps if the team is able to improve the offensive production in other areas, they can be more accommodating with Jeter’s reduced output.  If this experience has proven anything to me, it is a renewed respect for GM’s like Theo Epstein who are not afraid to the cut the cords to star players sooner rather than later.  Baseball is purely all about ‘what have you done for me lately’, and the Yankees do not owe Jeter, a future Hall of Famer and the last recipient of the #2 jersey at Yankee Stadium, anything.  This is about wins and losses, and the Yankees should field the best shortstop in the organization, regardless of who that individual is.

A sad day for Twins baseball and all of MLB…

I was very sorry to see the passing of Minnesota Twins great Harmon Killebrew.  Earlier in the week, I saw the comments that Harmon was no longer seeking medical treatment for his cancer but I never realized that we were just days away from his passing.  Growing up in Iowa, I used to listen to Minnesota Twins games on a regular basis.  Killebrew had retired by the time I was listening, but I clearly knew who he was and his stature in major league baseball.  Frankly, I am surprised that I was never a Twins fan.  Rod Carew was the star of the team in those days, and they routinely fielded quality teams as they do today.  I guess they didn’t have that magical player on their active roster to endear me to the team.  Instead, I latched onto Oakland A’s star pitcher Jim “Catfish” Hunter as my favorite player and of course when he left to sign with the Yankees on 12/31/74, my fate as a Yankees fan was sealed.  Nevertheless, I am appreciative for what Killebrew meant to the Twins organization.  He will be missed…

No more LeBron, please…

How sweet would it be if the Chicago Bulls ousted the Miami Heat from the NBA Play-offs?…

The closet door may be open, but the key to victory remains unchanged…

For the record, I have no issue with Phoenix Suns President Rick Welts coming out of the closet to announce that he is gay.  His sexual preference has nothing to do with his ability to lead and develop a championship organization.

Collaboration at its finest…

I was glad to hear that Minnesota Vikings QB Christian Ponder is seeking out the Vikings wide receivers for workouts and has plans to work with my favorite Viking, Percy Harvin.  I was also glad to see Sidney Rice reach out to Ponder to express his willingness to participate.  I don’t want the Vikings to lose Rice, but until the lockout is settled, it’s anybody’s guess what happens with Rice.  He is clearly the greatest WR the Vikings have had since Randy Moss (the Dante Culpepper version, not last year’s).  The NFL needs to put closure on the lockout and aggressively pursue resolution with the Player’s Association.

A toast to Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz…

I received my shipment of Jon Lester’s CabernAce and Clay Buchholz’s ChardonClay today.  You can buy the wine at www.charitywines.com.  For Clay’s wine, your contribution benefits Jimmy’s Fund, while Jon’s wine supports the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.  I can’t think of a better way to enjoy fine wine while supporting two great causes!

Have a great night, everyone!  J

–Scott

Yeah, I was afraid so…


So, was the injury to Eric Chavez unfortunate or
inevitable?  Sadly, it’s a little of both…


Chavez.JPG

Kim Klement/US Presswire


I enjoyed watching Chavez
rebound his career with the Yankees, but I was always concerned that he was
just a play away from the DL.  That time
finally reared its ugly head when Chavez fractured his foot.  Hopefully, best case scenario proves out…Chavez
wears the protective boot for two weeks and is ready to begin rehabilitation
play soon over.  On the bright side, the
injury is unrelated to past injuries so this should not be a recurring theme
(hopefully).

I was surprised that the
Yankees brought up Ramiro Pena
instead of Jorge Vazquez.  I had really thought that Vazquez would get
the first call if/when Chavez went down. 
I realize that he isn’t on the 40-man roster, there was talk of the
Yankees making a move with minor league infielder Kevin Russo.  The Yanks did
DFA Russo today, but they signed Cleveland Indians cast-off Jess Todd, a reliever, to take his
place on the 40-man roster.  I don’t know
much about Todd but he has gotten off to a poor start with the AAA Columbus
Clippers.  He does have strikeout
potential so I am sure that his youth (he is only 25) and pedigree (a former
second round draft pick for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2007) were factors that
led to the Yanks decision to take a bite. 

Unfortunately, the move
keeps Vazquez at AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre. 
All he has done this year is hit (9 homers, 27 RBI’s, .300 BA).  I am sure that he’s wondering what it takes
to crack the bigs.  At age 29, he’s not
getting any younger.

After losing the four game
series to the Detroit Tigers, the Yankees look to rebound tonight in Arlington,
Texas against the Rangers.  I’ve been
concerned about the Yankees reliance on the home run and lack of timely
hits.  So far, the pitching had been
compensating for the hitting deficiencies but it’s impossible to ask the
pitchers to continually walk a line with no margin for error. 

Congratulations to the Los
Angeles Dodgers’ Andre Ethier as he
extended his hitting streak to 30 games tonight against the New York Mets.  Ethier is now just one game from tying the
franchise mark which was set by Willie
Davis
in 1969.  I like Ethier’s
approach which was typified by his pre-game comment that he is “not losing a
wink of sleep about it”.  Ethier has been
one of my favorite Dodgers on a team managed by perhaps my all-time favorite
living ballplayer so it’s a great situation all the way around.  I continue to cheer for Ethier with each hit.


Andre Ethier high fives Don Mattingly.JPG


I am a fan of the Los
Angeles Lakers but I don’t like their current situation…down 2 games to zero
and in Dallas tonight to play Game 3. 
Plus, Ron Artest has been
suspended for one game so that’s one less bullet in the gun.  The Lakers will be hard pressed to win in
Dallas.  It looks like destiny is removing
the barriers for Team LeBron.  I know,
Chicago and Dallas are formidable opponents, but I really thought that either
the Lakers or the Boston Celtics would be able to stop the Miami Heat.  So far, the Celtics have done nothing against
the Heat and the Lakers have put themselves in a life support situation.

My friend Julia, of Julia’s Rants, attended a charity event
this week that featured the release of two new wines…Clay Buchholz ChardonClay and Jon
Lester
CabernAce.  Clay’s 2009
Chardonnay benefits Jimmy’s Fund, while Jon’s 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon benefits
the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. 
Count me in as I’ve bought both wines. 
More info can be found at charitywines.com.

Clay BuchholzClay Buchholz

–Scott

Take two aspirin and call me in the morning…


It was a great win by Freddy
Garcia
on Saturday (six innings, two hits and no runs) in the Yankees’ 5-2
victory over the Texas Rangers.  The
superlatives about Garcia poured in after the game including one comment that
compared Garcia to David Cone in terms of the latter pitcher’s ability to find
ways to win when he didn’t have his best stuff. 


Freddy Garcia gets a pat on the back from Yankees captain Derek Jeter for a job well done.

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images


I do not doubt Garcia’s
ability.  I can recall many times over
the years when Garcia completely shut down the Yankees.  It didn’t matter if he had been struggling at
the time or was fighting some ailment. 
He always seemed to shine in the most difficult moments.  My concern with Garcia is his ability to
sustain the effectiveness he showed yesterday. 
There’s no doubt, in my mind, that we’ll see Kevin Millwood and/or
Carlos Silva in the rotation at some point. 

I am not trying to be
pessimistic, but rather just a realist. 
With Phil Hughes on the DL, it is not an automatic that he’ll regain his
velocity by simply receiving rest and treatment.  A.J. Burnett showed that he is still
vulnerable after giving up two home runs in one inning against the Baltimore
Orioles last week after pitching so well in the prior six innings.  We’ll have the opportunity to see what
Bartolo Colon can do, but my concern about him is not with his arm.  His weight and ability to stay healthy are
the key issues.

It was disappointing to hear
that reliever Pedro Feliciano will need season-ending surgery.  Given that lefty Damaso Marte is also on the
shelf, the Yankees will need to find another lefty to complement Boone
Logan. 
Unfortunately, the rest of the
league knows that and they’ll be looking for a King’s ransom in any potential
trade.

At this point in the season,
it’s nice to see the Yankees in first place with an 8-5 mark, while the Boston
Red Sox sit in last place at 3-10. 
However, with just under 150 games still remaining, I would be very
foolish to think that the current standings will stay unchanged.  The Red Sox will figure it out and they’ll be
an offensive force through the summer.  I
am concerned that the key reason the Yankees have been winning is their home
run production (24 homers in 13 games). 
Hopefully, they’ll begin to find other ways to win as the season
progresses. 

It bothers me that the
Boston Red Sox will avoid a luxury tax penalty by delaying the announcement of
Adrian Gonzalez‘s extension until this week. 
Perhaps they did the same thing with Clay Buchholz, but the Gonzalez
signing was a foregone conclusion.  It
was obvious that the Sox had reached an agreement with Gonzalez before the
start of the season.  It was clear they
simply circumvented the system to avoid paying the additional tax.

To go a bit off topic, I am
excited about the upcoming NFL Draft despite the current lockout.  I remain hopeful that the owners and players
will reach an agreement before the loss of any games.  With the draft, I really hope the Minnesota
Vikings can find a quarterback.  However,
their draft position at #12 is not ideal for their search for a franchise QB.  The top tier QB’s, like Blaine Gabbert and
Cam Newton, will be gone and it will be too early to take somebody like Jake
Locker
.  It will be interesting to see
what the Vikings can do.  The Vikings
chief rival, the Green Bay Packers, seem to have a knack for finding QB’s.  They coaxed one great season out of Don
Majkowski
.  They traded for Brett Favre after
they missed out on the opportunity to draft Troy Aikman.  They drafted Aaron Rodgers despite having
Favre and a few other highly touted former college QB’s on the roster.  Hopefully, the Vikings can replicate the
Packers blue print to find their next great QB…

–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

 

Your Attention Please…A Yankee Great Remembered…

The “Voice of God” has been silenced…



Bob Sheppard Yankees

Chris Faytok/The Star Ledger

 


The voice of Yankees Stadium, Bob Sheppard, has
passed away at the age of 99.  Sheppard’s
health did not allow him to handle the PA duties at the new Yankee Stadium, so
he will forever be linked as a part of the old Yankee Stadium which ended its
run following the 2008 season. 
Sheppard’s last game was September 17, 2007.

 

Paul Olden has been the PA announcer since the team
opened the new Yankee Stadium in 2009, however, Derek Jeter has continued to
use a recorded tape of Sheppard’s voice to announce his plate appearances.  He’ll continue the practice even though
Sheppard has departed.

 

I am glad that I had the numerous opportunities to
hear Sheppard’s voice at the old Stadium. 
He will always be a huge part of Yankees history, and his voice will
live on.

 

It’s incredible to think of the players that
Sheppard announced over the course of his career.  His first game was April 17, 1951, which,
ironically, was also Mickey Mantle’s first game.  Here is the box score from the game:

 

April 17, 1951 at Yankee Stadium

New York Yankees 5, Boston Red Sox 0

Red Sox

AB

R

H

RBI

Dom DiMaggio, cf

3

0

2

0

Billy Goodman, rf

3

0

1

0

Ted Williams, lf

3

0

1

0

Vern Stephens, 3b

4

0

0

0

Walt Dropo, 1b

4

0

1

0

Bobby Doerr, 2b

4

0

0

0

Lou Boudreau, ss

4

0

1

0

Buddy Rosar, c

2

0

0

0

Bill Wight, p

2

0

0

0

   Ellis
Kinder, p

0

0

0

0

   Charlie
Maxwell, p

1

0

0

0

   Mickey
McDermott, p

0

0

0

0

Totals

30

0

6

0

 

Yankees

AB

R

H

RBI

Jackie Jensen, lf

4

2

2

2

Phil Rizzuto, ss

3

1

0

0

Mickey Mantle, rf

4

1

1

1

Joe DiMaggio, cf

4

0

1

1

Yogi Berra, c

2

0

1

1

Johnny Mize, 1b

3

0

0

0

   Joe
Collins, 1b

0

0

0

0

Billy Johnson, 3b

2

0

0

0

Jerry Coleman, 2b

3

1

2

0

Vic Raschi, p

2

0

0

0

Totals

27

5

7

5

 

Boston Red Sox

0

0

0

 

0

0

0

 

0

0

0

-

 

0

New York Yankees

0

0

2

 

0

0

3

 

0

0

x

-

 

5

 

E-Boudreau (1). 
DP-Boston 2 (Wight-Boudreau-Dropo, Boudreau-Doerr-Dropo), New York 3 (DiMaggio-Mize,
Rizzuto-Coleman-Mize, Rizzuto-Coleman-Collins).  2B-NY Jensen (1, off Wight).  HR-NY Jensen (1, 3rd inning off
Wight, 1 on 1 out).  Team LOB-7.  SH-Raschi (1, off Wight), Rizzuto (1, off
Wight).  Team-2.  U-HP-Bill McGowan, 1B-Bill McKinley, 2B-Jim
Honochick, 3B-Hank Soar.  T-2:12.  A-44,860.

 

Red Sox

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

Bill Wight (L, 0-1)

5.0

7

5

5

2

1

Ellis Kinder

1.0

0

0

0

0

0

Mickey McDermott

2.0

0

0

0

0

1

Totals

8.0

7

5

5

2

2

 

Yankees

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

Vic Raschi (W, 1-0)

9.0

6

0

0

4

6

Totals

9.0

6

0

0

4

6


For Bob Sheppard’s final game, the Yankees won
again to bookend his legendary career with wins.

 

September 17, 2007 at Yankee Stadium

New York Yankees 8, Baltimore Orioles 5

Orioles

AB

R

H

RBI

Brian Roberts, 2b

4

2

2

0

Tike Redman, cf

5

1

2

1

Nick Markakis, rf

5

1

2

3

Miguel Tejada, ss

2

0

0

0

   Luis
Hernandez, ph

1

0

0

0

Kevin Millar, 1b

5

0

3

0

Aubrey Huff, dh

4

0

1

1

Melvin Mora, 3b

5

0

1

0

Ramon Hernandez, c

4

0

1

0

Jay Payton, lf

4

1

1

0

   Brandon
Fahey, lf

0

0

0

0

Totals

39

5

13

5

 

Yankees

AB

R

H

RBI

Johnny Damon, cf

4

0

0

0

Derek Jeter, ss

5

1

2

0

Bobby Abreu, rf

5

0

2

2

Alex Rodriguez, 3b

3

0

1

1

Hideki Matsui, lf

5

1

1

1

Jorge Posada, c

5

1

3

0

Jason Giambi, dh

1

2

0

0

   Shelley
Duncan, pr-dh

0

0

0

0

Robinson Cano, 2b

4

1

2

1

Doug Mientkiewicz, 1b

1

1

1

2

Totals

33

8

13

8

 

Baltimore Orioles

2

0

0

 

0

0

0

 

1

0

2

-

 

5

New York Yankees

0

2

1

 

2

0

2

 

0

1

x

-

 

8

 

2B-Roberts (41, off Hughes), Markakis (41, off
Hughes), Millar (25, off Hughes), Payton (21, off Ramirez), Huff (31, off
Rivera), Cano (37, off Cabrera), Abreu (36, off Hoey), Jeter (33, off
Birkins).  HR-Matsui (24, 3rd
inning off Cabrera, 0 on 2 out). 
RBI-Markakis 3 (103), Redman (13), Huff (69), Mientkiewicz 2 (18),
Matsui (95), Cano (85), Damon (59), Abreu 2 (98), Rodriguez (142).  S-Mientkiewicz.  SF-Rodriguez.  LOB-Balt 11, NYY 12.  SB-Redman (5).  DP-NYY 1 ( Cano-Mientkiewicz).  U-HP-Jeff Kellogg, 1B-Eric Cooper, 2B-Andy
Fletcher, 3B-Mike Reilly.  T-3:54.  A-52,548.

 

Orioles

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

Daniel Cabrera (L, 9-18)

5.0

8

6

6

3

5

Jim Hoey

1.1

2

1

1

1

1

Kurt Birkins

1.1

3

1

1

3

1

Radhames Liz

0.1

0

0

0

0

0

Totals

8.0

13

8

8

7

7

 

Yankees

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

Phil Hughes (W, 5-3)

5.2

6

2

2

2

3

Edwar Ramirez (H, 3)

1.0

3

1

1

0

1

Luis Vizcaino (H, 13)

1.1

1

0

0

0

2

Kyle Farnsworth

0.2

2

2

2

1

0

Mariano Rivera (S, 30)

0.1

1

0

0

0

1

Totals

9.0

13

5

5

3

7

 


So long, Bob Sheppard.  Joltin’ Joe and the Mick are waiting for you
to announce their next game…

 

Hoff/NY Daily News



Saturday night, the Yankees lost a
heart-breaker.  On a night, when Cliff
Lee gave up 6 earned runs in the Baltimore Orioles’ pounding of the Texas
Rangers, 6-1, the man who was mentioned as the likely odd man out had the
Lee-to-the-Yankees trade been successful was stellar.  Javier Vazquez, who probably would have been
dealt to a National League club, went 7 innings and have up only 3 hits and no
runs.  He struck out 7 batters, while
only walking 2.  He left with a 1-0 lead,
however, his replacement, Joba Chamberlain promptly allowed a couple of hits, a
wild pitch, and an intentional pass to load the bases in the bottom of the 8th
for Jose Lopez.  Showing that the Yankees
bullpen is a much greater need for GM Brian Cashman than starting pitching,
Lopez delivered Chamberlain’s offering into the seats for a grand slam.   The Yankees tried to rally in the top of the
9th but they couldn’t come through. 
So, what should have been an awesome night for Vazquez turned into yet
another disappointing Joba performance. 



Joba Chamberlain Yankees Oakland cropped file

Kyle Terada/US Presswire

 


Fortunately, the team rebounded on Sunday to win
big, 8-2, behind CC Sabathia.  It was CC’s
12th win of the season (12-3) which matches Tampa’s David Price for
the league lead.  Sunday saw the Big 3 of
the AL East win (New York, Tampa and Boston), but the Yankees (56-32) hold a two-game
edge over the Rays.  The Red Sox are 5
games back.  I was glad to see the
Yankees end the first half on a positive note, particularly after Saturday’s
tough loss.  The second half starts off
as intensely as the first half when the Yankees welcome the Tampa Bay Rays to
Yankee Stadium on Friday night.  But for
a now, a few days off (well, at least for only about ‘half’ the team!). 



 


Well, it is time for my final “forced” spotlight on
a Boston Red Sox player (thanks to a wager loss to Julia of Julia’s
Rants
).  I thought about a paragraph for
Dice-K or John Lackey or Adrian Beltre or Victor Martinez, but I decided to go
with a player that will be a fixture in the Red Sox rotation for years to come…


 

#11      Clay
Buchholz

 


Charles Krupa/AP



Clay burst onto the major league scene in 2007 with
a no-hitter in just his second major league start.  On September 1, 2007, against the Baltimore
Orioles, he became the first Red Sox rookie to throw a no-hitter and just the
third major league pitcher to throw a no-hitter in his first and second start
since 1900. 



Boston Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz was hoisted up by catcher Jason Varitek after Buchholz pitched a no-hitter against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park last night, putting the perfect touch on a 10-0 victory.

Winslow Townson/AP

 

He was born in Lumberton, Texas, on August 14, 1984,
so he’ll just be 26 when his birthday rolls around next month.

 

Clay was drafted in 2005 as a supplement pick
received as compensation for the loss of free agent pitcher Pedro
Martinez.  I guess Pedro truly was the
gift that keeps on giving to the RSN. 

 

He made his first start against the Los Angeles
Angels on August 17, 2007, and picked up the win in the Red Sox victory. 

 

His stay in the majors would be interrupted by
injury and several trips to the minors for the next couple of yeas.  He started 2009 at Pawtucket, and came up in
July and won a total of 7 games through the duration of the year. 

 

In 2010, he picked up where he left off, and was,
for a time, the leading Red Sox pitcher with 10 wins (10-4, 2.47 ERA).  He injured his hamstring running the bases in
San Francisco in late June that led to a trip to the Disabled List, but he is
expected to start in Boston’s first series following the All-Star Break.  He and Jon Lester form a very deadly duo in
the Red Sox rotation, and both should be stalwarts in the rotation for a very
long time. 

 

Here is Clay’s scouting report from
SoxProspects.com:

 

Scouting Report: Buchholz has a low-to-mid-90s four-seam fastball, a two-seam
fastball with decent movement, a slider, a hard 12-to-6 curveball, and a
changeup. His fastball typically sits around 91-94 mph, topping out at about 97
mph. However, he let loose at the end of the 2006 season, and his fastball sat
around 96 mph. His plus changeup is generally a straight change that sits
around 78-82 mph; he also throws a circle change.  His curveball, the best
in the organization, sits between 76-81 mph with a knee-buckling bite.  On
any given night, Buchholz’s curve or change can be unhittable, and he tends to
rely on whichever one is on as his out pitch throughout the game.  His
slider, while average to above average, is a bit behind his other secondary
pitches and sits in the low-to-mid-80s.  Mixes in all of his pitches
phenomenally.  Good demeanor on the mound.  Pitches well under
pressure, pitching coaches have said he has ice water running through his
veins.  Nice pick-off move.  He has struggled with consistency early
in his big-league career, but otherwise has ace makeup. Might need to add and
maintain some weight to endure a full major league season. In September
2007, in just his second career major league start, Buchholz threw a no-hitter
against the Baltimore Orioles.   In 2008, he had major struggles with
command and confidence, leading to lackluster results. Returned to form in 2009.

 

Clay’s name has been mentioned in the past with
possible trades for the likes of Roy Halladay and Adrian Gonzalez.  With consistency and good heath, Clay should
make himself ‘untouchable’ and I have no doubt he’ll reach his potential as a
future ace for the Red Sox.    



AP


Julia, with that, I am done!  :)


–Scott

So Close Yet So Far Away…again…

A wasted Phil Hughes performance…

 

From the movie, Hangover

 

Hughes did his part.  Unfortunately, no one else did.  Pitching into the 6th inning with only one run allowed, Hughes saw a potential victory evaporate in the hands of relievers Boone Logan and David Robertson.

 

 

 

Thanks, in part, to a throwing error by Jorge Posada in the 8th, and a subsequent hit by Cesar Izturis, the Baltimore Orioles had the insurance run they would need to hold off a late rally by the Yankees.

 

A fielder’s choice groundout by Alex Rodriguez in the 9th inning ended the game after two runs had scored in the inning to bring the Yanks within one run, 5-4.  The blazing hot Robinson Cano was left standing in the on-deck circle.

 

 

Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post

 

This was a very disappointing performance by the Yankees, who have been very uninspired of late in losing four of the last five games.  Not even a Monday trip to Washington to meet President Barack Obama helped motivate the squad. 

 

 

Obama Yankees Baseball

AP 

 

After a terrific start, the Yankees are now 12-7, 2 ½ games behind the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East.  The Boston Red Sox have won two straight to pull within 3 games of the Yankees and into third place.

 

 

Clay Buchholz

 

Boston Globe

 

In typical Curt Schilling fashion, controversial remarks were abound as he indicated Yankees pitcher Javier Vazquez was not an American League guy.  Manager Joe Girardi defended Vazquez.  “Guys are asked to analyze situations, and so they make their analysis.  We still believe Javy’s going to be successful, and he’s going to pitch at a very high level for us.”  I hope Joe’s right, but I have to admit I had the same reservations when I first heard the Yankees had re-acquired Vazquez.  His greatest successes have come in Montreal and Atlanta, both National League cities.  I am still hopeful Javy will succeed in the Bronx but the concerns and fears will remain until he proves me wrong…

 

 

The Yankees are bringing pitcher Javier Vazquez back to the Bronx...

Bazemore/AP

 

 

Hats off to San Francisco pitcher Jonathan Sanchez for outdueling the great Roy Halladay in the Giants’ 5-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies last night.

 

 

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez th... Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP

Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

 

 

 

 

Victory over the Red Sox…and Julia’s Rants…

 

I won?  I don’t know how to act…

 

 

Three games into a four game series and the wager is over.  With the Yankees’ three game win streak against the Boston Red Sox after an 0-8 season start, I can relax knowing that, for a few days, I can enjoy an advantage over Julia and her beloved Red Sox.  Of course, by next Monday or Tuesday, the Yankees success in the current series will be forgotten and the Red Sox will be charging ahead for the next match-up which begins in Boston on August 21st for a three game set.

 

 

Nevertheless, today was all Yankees.  I was unable to watch the game, but saw that CC Sabathia had a no-hitter going in the 5th inning.  I would not text or email anyone for fear of jinxing the no-no, but unfortunately, CC did allow a few hits.  He pitched into the 8th inning and did not allow a runner past second base.  He allowed only two hits and two walks, while striking out 9.  With the 5-0 victory, CC improved his record to 12-7.  He has clearly shown why he was signed to a huge contract in the offseason.  When the stakes are high, CC rises to the occasion and has given the Yankees the ace they’ve been lacking for so many years.

 

Frank Franklin II/AP 

 

With the win, the Yankees have improved their lead over the Red Sox to 5 ½ games (their greatest lead of the season).

 

 

 

Clay Buchholz did pitch effectively for the Red Sox.  He went six innings and gave up only two runs.  It was a tough luck loss for Buchholz but he showed enough to prove that he is ready to assume the role in the starting rotation that was vacated when John Smoltz was DFA’d.

 

Bill Kostroun/AP

Derek Jeter capped the Yankees scoring with a two-run homer in the 8th.

 

Frank Franklin II/AP 

 

It is hard to believe that the Yankees have held the Red Sox scoreless for 24 innings.  For whatever reason, this isn’t the same Red Sox squad that the Yankees faced and lost to earlier in the season.  More than likely, it is a momentary lull, much like the Yankees against the White Sox or earlier against the Angels.  I fully expect the Red Sox to rebound and they’ll be charging by the time the Yankees and Red Sox resume play at Fenway Park on August 21st.

 

Winslow Townson/AP

 

I realize that the tie-breaker for my wager with Julia is no longer a concern, but I’ll continue to post the totals through Sunday.  Hey, what can I say, the numbers look good to me and as they say, numbers don’t lie…

RUNNING TOTALS  (8/06 – 8/09) FOR TIE-BREAKER:

Runs

Red Sox                                  6

Yankees                                  20

 

Home Runs

Red Sox                                  2

Yankees                                  6

 

Wins

Red Sox                                  0

Yankees                                  3

 

Winner:                                 Scott!

 

Tomorrow’s pitching match-up has Jon Lester facing Andy Pettitte.  This will be a tough game for the Yanks…and Pettitte.  But with three wins, the Yankees no longer have a psychological disadvantage to Boston.  They now know that they can win (beat Boston), and that will go a long way as we move into the crunch months. 

 

Frank Franklin II/AP 

Today’s announced crowd was 48,796.  It was another sell-out, so the Yankees can thank John Henry for filling the seats and helping pay for the salaries of Sabathia, Burnett, and Mark Teixeira.

 

Frank Franklin II/AP

 

The Yankees did make a roster move today as they sent down Mark Melancon to AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre and recalled pitcher Josh Towers.  Apparently, Towers is out of options and will be DFA’d tomorrow to make room for pitcher Chad Gaudin who was acquired from the San Diego Padres.  If Towers clears waivers, he’ll head back to Scranton-Wilkes Barre.

 

thetimes-tribune.com

 

With last night’s game winning home run, Alex Rodriguez tied Harmon Killebrew for 9th place on the All-Time Home Run List with 573.  Next stop will be 8th place – Mark McGwire, 583 home runs.

 

 

As for tonight’s home run, Derek Jeter now has 12 home runs…one more than all of last season.  This has been a great year for DJ, particularly since it started with so much talk about how he was beginning his decline…

 

 

Hey Julia, the Yankees will be in Boston on August 21st.  Are you ready for another wager?  Why do I ask, of course, she’ll be ready and so to, I suspect, will the Red Sox.  But for now, scoreboard Yankees!…scoreboard ME! 

 

–Scott

 

 

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