Results tagged ‘ Cliff Lee ’
It’s 613 miles to Detroit. We’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark, and we’re wearing sunglasses…hit it!…
Are you mocking me?…
The final series of the season has begun and the Yankees find themselves a game up on the Baltimore Orioles with two games to go in the battle for AL East supremacy. It’s been a dogfight since the O’s caught the Yankees earlier in the month, and the two teams have pretty much matched each other stride for stride since that time. Sunday, when the Yankees were trailing the Toronto Blue Jays 5-1 after the O’s had won was the first time that I legitimately felt the Yankees could end the day in second place for the first time since early in the season. Fortunately for me…and the Yankees, they fought back to emerge with a 9-6 victory.
A season of surprises…
After years of Yankees-Red Sox and most recently, Yankees-Red Sox-Rays, I never expected this to be the year that the Baltimore Orioles would emerge as the Yankees’ primary nemesis. Still, the Tampa Bay Rays are the team that scares me the most. With their pitching, they have the potential to go all the way if they make it. Granted, it’s clearly an uphill battle for them, but they are perhaps the hottest team in baseball right now with 11 wins in 12 games. Hopefully, the Oakland A’s will end the Rays’ quest but I’d like to see the Rays with an opportunity for at least one more night so they’ll play at the top of their game against the O’s again tomorrow night. If the A’s win against the Texas Rangers tonight, then it’s over for the Rays. I am thankful that the Rays’ run got started so late in the season. If it had occurred earlier, there’s little doubt they’d be bumping shoulders with the Yankees and O’s.
While I am surprised about the successful O’s season, I am flabbergasted by the dismal failure of the Boston Red Sox. This is a team that could have and should have won the AL East in 2011, but after tonight’s game, the team stands at 91 losses. It is the highest loss total since 1965 when they lost 100 games. There’s no threat of 100 losses, but this is clearly an inferior Red Sox team. I think they’ll be much improved in 2013 but the team has much to do in order to re-tool the once championship squad. In my opinion, Bobby Valentine has to go. He has contributed to the dysfunction of the 2012 season and while the losses may not be his fault, he is not the right man for the job. I do not necessarily think that John Farrell is, or that last year’s runner-up, Gene Lamont, should get the job. If I were the Red Sox GM, I’d probably go with a guy who has a great deal of minor league managerial experience but has never gotten the opportunity at the major league level, Ryne Sandberg. He’d be respected by the players and he has the ability to effectively communicate with the younger prospects.
I thought this would be the year the Toronto Blue Jays would take a step forward. If I would have had to choose between the O’s and the Jays at the start of the season, I probably would have taken the Jays. But I felt they regressed this year. Well, actually they did. Who knows how this plays out for John Farrell. It could be ownership is more willing to let him go to Boston, but of course, does Boston want him and is he truly the right fit? This remains to be seen. Nothing like some good old fashioned drama as we head toward the off-season.
As for the other races, I was disappointed to see the Chicago White Sox fade. I felt they had their division, but the talent of the Detroit Tigers persevered and thrust the team into the lead with a few games left. Out west, there’s no doubt the Texas Rangers were going to be the champion, but to put the A’s into the play-offs over the Los Angeles Angels was a surprise. Oakland’s pursuit of Yoenis Cespedes doesn’t look so far fetched now.
In the National League, I never would have predicted a division championship for the Washington Nationals. They earned and deserved it, but I didn’t foresee it. The awful season the Philadelphia Phillies experienced was a surprise. Hey, Cliff Lee, how does that decision to rebuke the Yankees feel now? I know, one season does not a mega-million contract make, but hey, this is baseball and it’s all about ‘what have you done for me lately?’. Congratulations to the Atlanta Braves for at least nailing the Wild Card slot.
The Cincinnati Reds were not a surprise, even playing in the same division as the St Louis Cardinals. This was destined to be a challenging year for the Cards with a new manager and first baseman. The Cardinals should still make the play-offs, but this division played out as expected.
The NL West is where I am perplexed. Although I currently reside in the Bay Area, my NL team is the Los Angeles Dodgers. This is primarily because of the manager (Don Mattingly). But after the expensive acquisitions late in the season (Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Brandon League and others), I really thought the Dodgers would be well poised to surge to the division championship. Of course, I fully underestimated the San Francisco Giants and their pitching staff. Tim Lincecum may have had his struggles this year, but I’d still hate to face him in October with all the chips on the table.
Welcome to the 2012 World Series…
As for my prediction of World Series participants, I am going to go with the Cincinnati Reds versus the Texas Rangers. The Reds, in my opinion, have a slight advantage over the Washington Nationals. Of course, I’ve underestimated the San Francisco Giants all season long so why should I change now? I know this is a Yankees blog and I should be ‘all in’ on another Yankees participation in the World Series. But I am just not convinced the team has the clutch hitting to succeed. Hey, I hope they prove me wrong, but I don’t really see anyone else emerging from the AL than the Rangers. I do not like the Rangers but I recognize that their hunger for a World Series championship remains and they have the talent to succeed. Best case scenario? The Yankees go to the World Series to face the San Francisco Giants and see how their hitters perform against former closer Dave Righetti’s aces.
It seems like the season just started but now just two games separate us from the 2012 post-season. The race to the World Series begins…
I thought I was supposed to wear the white uniform!…
In recent years, it has seemed as though no Yankee trade sneaks up on you. Even with Curtis Granderson, there were rumors swirling around before the deal was finally consummated. It has seemed like the press has been tapped into GM Brian Cashman’s inner thoughts. But admittedly, the Ichiro Suzuki trade surprised me.
Years ago, this would have been a headline deal but it’s now obviously the acquisition of a former great player in the twilight of his career.
In recent weeks, I had seen other owners in fantasy leagues start to drop Ichiro from their rosters. I had not been keeping up with his stats but I knew he was no longer the player he once was. But if anything, Derek Jeter has shown what goes down does not necessarily have to stay down. Some are suggested that Ichiro will be revitalized in the midst of a pennant race and the spotlight of New York. Maybe so, maybe not. But if you asked me if I prefer Ichiro in the outfield over DeWayne Wise or exposing Andruw Jones or Raul Ibanez to too much play, the answer would be, without hesitation, yes. I was a bit disappointed when I first heard the news of the trade as visions of Shane Victorino or Denard Span were dancing in my head. Yet, the realist in me knows that the cost to acquire either of those players would have exceeded the reward. On the other hand, Ichiro is simply a rental for the remainder of the season. He’ll be a free agent in the off-season so he’ll hand left field back to Brett Gardner when he departs the Stadium in October.
I remember the thrill of seeing my first game at Safeco Field. The player I was most interested in seeing was Ichiro and he did not disappoint. He came through with a few clutch hits and showed why he has been one of the better players over the past decade. The Yankees have missed a clutch bat so hopefully a revitalized Ichiro means that they’ll have the “pest” they need at the plate and on the base paths.
I know that the pitchers the Yankees gave up were not top shelf talent (D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquahar) but they have the chance to be good major league pitchers. I always hate to see good talent leave, especially if Ichiro’s days in pinstripes do not go beyond the next couple of months. I always remember how much I hated watching Jay Buhner punish the Yankees while wearing a Mariners uniform and wondering what could have been if the Yanks had held on to him. Now, with former top prospect Jesus Montero in Seattle, there are multiple players in the Great Northwest who could haunt their former team. The Mariners go for 20-something former Yankees while the Yankees go for almost 40-something ex-Mariners. I think the M’s have the better business formula even if it isn’t showing up in wins quite yet.
Now that I’ve gotten over the shock of the trade, I will admit that it is nice to see Ichiro in a Yankees uniform. It will be even better if he can get on base with consistency and make crossing home plate a common occurrence.
If there’s one thing about the trade that struck me as unusual, it is the consummation of the deal prior to the start of the Yankees-Mariners series in Seattle. The trade guaranteed the Mariners fans would be subjected to watching the first three games of Ichiro’s post-Seattle career in an opposing uniform. Not any uniform but the most hated and despised uniform in most parts of the country outside of NYC. The Yankees apparently had conditions Ichiro had to agree to (batting in the bottom of the order, moving to left, and accepting an outfield rotation to get the bats of Jones and Ibanez into the lineup). So, perhaps the Yankees had the upper hand in this deal and argued that it had to happen sooner rather the later. For the Mariners, the motivation is clearly to move on and to further develop their further stars.
After the Cliff Lee debacle when he went to the Texas Rangers for Justin Smoak after the Yankees thought they had acquired him, I really didn’t think the Yankees would forgive the Mariners and their general manager. But after the Michael Pineda and Ichiro deals, there is no evidence of hard feelings. Cliff Lee just wasn’t meant to be a Yankee. He proved that with his own decision to rebuke the team to re-sign with the Philadelphia Phillies. Lee is a good pitcher but some guys weren’t meant for Broadway.
The question now is if the Yankees are done dealing before the trading deadline. With the returns of Joba Chamberlain and Andy Pettitte looming on the horizon, perhaps they are the moves that can catapult the Yankees to the World Series. I can’t really think of another move the Yankees need to make other than further enhancing an already good bullpen. Sure, if the Philadelphia Phillies called to say that they’d trade Roy Halladay for Ivan Nova, you’d pull the trigger, but seriously, that’s not going to happen.
For the lack of better words, Ouch!…
After moving back to the Bay Area and living in what is described as A’s territory, it was really tough to see the Yankees swept in four games against the upstart A’s. While the Yankees hold a 7 game lead, the race is far from over. I still expect the Tampa Bay Rays to make a run, and of course, I am always fearful the Boston Red Sox make some major moves that propel them back into contention. I’d be foolish to underestimate Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles. So, every day, Brian Cashman needs to be trying to find ways to improve the team. The nice thing is that I know he is.
Open the Cooperstown doors now…
I think I read recently that Mariano Rivera would like to make his return in September rather than next spring. While I doubt he’ll be able to do it, I wouldn’t be surprised if he did. He is clearly one of the most gifted athletes of our time. He is my favorite current Yankee and he’ll be on the fast track to Cooperstown when he retires. I am sure that his spot in Memorial Park has already been reserved, along with Derek Jeter’s. It would have been great to watch guys like Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle play, but I am glad that I lived in the Rivera/Jeter era. I look forward to telling my grandchildren that I saw the game’s greatest closer play. As a kid, I thought Rich “Goose” Gossage was the greatest closer. I never realizvbbbbb
But are they Yankees fans?…
I am the proud owner of two rescue kittens named Nathalia and Sophie. They are sisters and at times, they are the synchronized twins. Two American Shorthairs, both black and one with with a white undercoat, they have proven their love of baseball. During the recent Yankees-Red Sox series in Boston, the sisters were engrossed in watching the game, just like their roommate (me). I love this pic…
And the winner is…
The next week should be fun as teams race against the trading deadline. Maybe it will be quiet, maybe not. I fully expect the Red Sox and in particular, GM Ben Cherington, to make a bold move. I respect Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster for preferring to pitch for the Los Angeles Dodgers over the Atlanta Braves (I should qualify that by saying my favorite NL team is the Dodgers). The Tigers have been active as evidenced by their recent acquisitions of Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante. I saw tonight that the Pittsburgh Pirates were close to acquiring Wandy Rodriguez, who has long been on the radar for both the Yanks and Red Sox. I almost missed the trade of Astros closer Brett Myers to the Chicago White Sox. I think the Sox have the market cornered on goatees.
I am still missing Minneapolis but I am enjoying this baseball season. Life is good.
P.S. Looking for some great photos? Check out Erik van den Ham’s website,
If you can beat Boston and Tampa Bay, we want you!…
The Yankees’ season of uneven play continues. They go to Oakland and sweep the A’s, and then lose a series to the Angels of Los Angeles but located in Anaheim or whatever they are called these days. Granted, the Angels have always been a thorn in the Yankees’ side, but they started the season slowly so there was hope it would continue through the series with the Yankees. Alas, it was not meant to be. At the least the Yankees salvaged the final game of the season. It is always good to win the get-away game regardless of the outcome of the prior games in the series.
Given the Yankees had pinned much of their 2012 hopes on starting pitcher Michael Pineda (lost for the season due to injury), it is not a surprise that trade rumors are starting to surface. I saw one today about interest in Matt Garza of the Chicago Cubs. I’ve always liked Garza, and even if his time in Chicago has not been stellar, the guy knows how to pitch in the AL East. He’s not going to be the second coming of Roy Halladay, but he would be an effective choice. I would think that a trade for Garza, among other highly touted prospects, would include either Phil Hughes or Ivan Nova. I couldn’t see the Cubs making the trade for prospects only. I also couldn’t see the Yankees trading Hughes given his recent strong performances. But including Nova would cost greater minor league talent to be included. What I don’t want to see is a trade for the Astros’ Wandy Rodriguez. He has had a decent season so far, but the AL East is a different animal and I’d rather have someone with proven experience.
I saw a comment on one of my recent posts that Yankees fans needed to get over losing Cliff Lee. Huh? Where did that come from? Yes, I would have liked to have signed Lee, but he obviously preferred to return to Philadelphia. There’s nothing wrong with his choice. I’ve moved on, and I think other Yankees fans have too. Just because we are concerned about the state of the current starting rotation has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not we lost out on Lee.
Youk, the star of Chavez Ravine…
I saw today that the Boston Red Sox are trying to move Kevin Youkilis in a move that would not qualify as a surprise. Will Middlebrooks has shown that he is major league ready and the earlier confrontation in the media between manager Bobby Valentine and Youk shows that the clutch hitter supreme might be better suited in a different uniform. Given the Los Angeles Dodgers are my favorite NL team, I am hopeful that the Dodgers will acquire Youk for manager Donnie Baseball. I’d really hate to see the Sox trade Youk to the Rangers and only strengthen what has been the AL’s best team.
Leave it to Santana to say “f” Mets history…
About a week ago or so, I was listening to the guys on MLB Radio talk about how the New York Mets did not have a no-hitter despite having no-hitter king Nolan Ryan on their roster at one time. But of course all good things must end as Johan Santana threw a no-no tonight. Congratulations to Santana as it has been a tough road since he left the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, it must be a…
I am a big fan of David Robertson, but I am hopeful that manager Joe Girardi keeps Rafael Soriano in the closer role and returns Robertson to his key setup position. Robertson is the best setup guy in baseball in my opinion. Sori has showed signs of his dominance several seasons back as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays as the team’s closer. He’s no Mariano Rivera, but I think Robertson-Soriano provides the Yanks with the best case scenario all things considered.
Have a great weekend, everyone! J
Uneven start to the 2012 season…
I guess the season opening series sweep by the Tampa Bay Rays set the tone, but this has been a hot and cold season thus far. The New York Yankees followed the Rays series with their own sweep of the Baltimore Orioles, but they’ve struggled against the Minnesota Twins in the Bronx. Given how the Yankees have owned the Twins in recent years and the fact the Twins were a 99 loss team last year with no notable improvements, it seems odd that the Yankees are fighting to salvage the fourth game of the series with the Twins and at least earn a split.
Now you see him, now you don’t…
I was excited last week when Hiroki Kuroda pitched a gem, but after getting pounded by the Twins yesterday , he’s had more bad starts than good. It’s only three starts in, and I am sure that Kuroda will not be A.J. Burnett Revisited, but I’d prefer the ratio of good starts to bad to be reversed. I can’t imagine what it would be like to change leagues, especially for a foreign player. There is a difference in pitching in the AL versus the NL, and it would seem, to a novice like me, that it would be more enjoyable to pitch in the National League given the lack of a DH.
Odd men out…
As it stands right now, I think that both Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia are pitching their way out of the rotation to make way for the eventual returns of Andy Pettitte and Michael Pineda. I expect Hughes to be moved to the bullpen, but I am not sure what will happen with Garcia. I don’t really see him going to the pen if Hughes goes there, and of course, he’s not going to the minor leagues. Best case scenario is a trade to bring in a player with potential. It obviously wouldn’t be a high ranked prospect, but rather something of a gamble with upside.
What have you done for me lately…
I feel bad for Francisco Cervelli sitting in AAA simply because he had options, but I have to say that I was impressed when no-hit back up catcher Chris Stewart had 3 RBI’s the other night. Stewart is clearly on the roster because of his defense but his bat has never scared anybody. It still won’t, but it’s always good to mix in a hit or two.
I didn’t watch the game but the match-up of Cliff Lee and Matt Cain last night in San Francisco was stellar. I was going to say that the game featured two of my favorite pitchers, but I am still a bit miffed at Cliff Lee for his rejection of the Yankees a couple of seasons back. Tim Lincecum gets the press in San Francisco, but I’ve always appreciated Matt Cain. If I owned a baseball team, he would be one of the guys that I’d target for acquisition. I’ve always admired his competitiveness. The marquee match-up didn’t disappoint as Cain went 9 innings, allowing no runs, and Lee went an almost unheard of 10 innings. Neither pitcher gave up a run. A more startling statistic is that Lee only threw 102 pitches and Cain 91. Neither pitcher figured in the outcome as the San Francisco Giants defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 1-0 in 11 innings. But there is no doubt that was the season’s prime pitching duel so far. Kind of makes me wish that I had been sitting in AT&T Park last night.
The Grandy Man can…
As I am sitting here typing this blog, Curtis Granderson has hit three home runs in the first four innings of tonight’s game against the Twins. Yes, I think Grandy has settled into the Bronx. As the song goes, with a slight variation, the Grandy Man can ‘cuz he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good. Yes, he does. I remember being disappointed that the Yankees gave up Austin Jackson, Ian Kennedy and Phil Coke for Granderson, but even though Kennedy has prospered in the Sonoran Desert, I am glad the trade was made. Grandy is a class act and probably the closest to Derek Jeter in terms of quality of character.
Will Los Angeles continue to take the best of Minnesota?…
As a resident of Minneapolis and a lifelong fan of the Minnesota Vikings, I am very disappointed in the recent chain of events in the Vikings’ efforts to secure a new stadium. A state legislative committee nixed the Vikings’ plan and it is looking like the subject will be tabled until 2013. The Minnesota legislature goes on break in a week so they are running out of time to take action with the stadium issue. There hasn’t been any threats of relocation but they are starting to rumble to the surface. The Vikings have passed the lease expiration of the Metrodome, so relocation is a genuine threat. Based on reports, the Vikings will not tolerate delay until 2013 so this situation is critical. I heard today that the NFL is coming to Minnesota in an effort to break the impasse. But the odds of the Los Angeles Vikings becoming a reality have to be increasing. This is very disappointing. For me, I am not a native Minnesotan, so I’ll stay with the Vikings regardless of what happens, but they belong in Minnesota. You would think that the city of Minneapolis would have learned something with the Lakers…
Well, what would we do if sports weren’t available to frustrate us?…
What he said was telling…
A.J. Burnett’s words upon his arrival in Bradenton for training camp with the Pittsburgh Pirates told me all that I needed to know. The Yankees made the right decision. It’s not like I needed any reassurance, as I’ve felt for a long time that a change of scenery would be the best case scenario for Burnett. But reading his words, “Going back to the NL, where I can hit and run the bases, and get the joy back in the game” showed that he was never going to repeat his 2009 success in pinstripes or be the pitcher he was in 2008 with the Toronto Blue Jays.
One day, he is among several others in competition for the #5 spot in the rotation and the next, he’s a frontliner. The difference and perhaps why he’ll succeed as a Bucco are the lower expectations. I am not from Pittsburgh and I cannot speak for Pirates fans, but somehow, I don’t think they have the same ‘World Series or bust’ mentality of Yankees fans. I have always respected Burnett’s arm, and I like the guy from what I’ve seen in interviews. He has a reputation for being a stand-up guy and of course he brought a lighter air to the stuffy Yankee corporate clubhouse environment. Hopefully, if anything, his sense of humor and camaraderie will prevail among his former teammates.
It would have been interesting to see what Burnett could have done at the back of the Philadelphia Phillies rotation given his close relationship with Doc Halladay, but Pittsburgh is the best spot for Burnett to focus on his game.
For once it was young guys leaving Pittsburgh instead of the other way around in a Yankees-Pirates trade. Time will tell if Diego Moreno and Exicardo Cayones can make the Show, but it would be nice to see former Pirates prospects excel in New York after so many years of the opposite situation.
Time to face the music…Exit the Sandman…
Speaking of words, it definitely sounds as though we may be witnessing the final year of a legend. While Mariano Rivera hasn’t admitted that this is his last season, it would appear that his decision of ‘when’ has already been made. So, it fells into what he didn’t say, and that tells me that he is prepared to ride off into the sunset. Mo is already a legend and will leave the game of baseball as the greatest closer in major league history. I have dreaded this day for a number of years but obviously it eventually has to happen. I just don’t see Mo as a guy who hangs on and can’t let go. I also don’t want to see an erosion of his amazing talent so I’d prefer that he walked away while he was still at or near the top. Along with Derek Jeter, they are a pair assured of entry into the Hall of Fame. While closers have generally had to wait for extended periods to gain entry, I doubt Mo will suffer the same fate.
AP Photo/Matt Slocum
Maybe this is not Mo’s final season, maybe it is. Regardless, I will value and appreciate every time he takes the mound…
Now, only the EZ acquisitions remain…
Welcome Raul Ibanez! The Yankees finally settled the left handed side of DH, and went with a proven slugger. Last year was bit of a down year for Ibanez but he still managed 20 homers. His new role, which will be more limited for him than in years past, should allow him to continue to perform well. A DH tandem of Ibanez and Andruw Jones should be a productive one, particularly given that they’ll be spelled from time to time by Alex Rodriguez. Maybe Raul will let Cliff Lee know that being a Yankee isn’t all bad…
With Ibanez on board, I really hope the Yankees can entice third baseman Eric Chavez to return. Nothing against Bill Hall or Eduardo Nunez, but I’d really prefer to see Chavez as the primary backup for those inevitable A-Rod absences. I know, I need more faith in A-Rod’s ability to stay healthy. I’d like nothing more than to see him prove me wrong and post a banner year. If 2012 continues to be ‘more of the same’ that we’ve seen in recent years, his behemoth contract is going to weigh more and more heavily on the team. Sadly, that’s not one that the Pirates or any other team can help with…
Wow, it’s actually kind of fun to have some Yankees stuff to talk about! I love talking baseball and see the photos from spring training, even if it is snowing outside while I write this post.
Joe says it so it must be true!…
So now even manager Joe Girardi is expressing interest in a left-handed bat! Joe’s joined the club of us overly intelligent, know-more-than-Brian Cashman fans! LOL! Just kidding. But it is interesting to see a key Yankee figure express the need for additional help. With free agents Raul Ibanez (wow, I almost typed Mondesi!), Hideki Matsui, and Johnny Damon lurking on the sidelines, GM Brian Cashman recently indicated the Yankees would pursue help via trade.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Obviously, the Yankees need to unload a pitcher. With three starters vying for the #5 spot in the rotation (Freddy Garcia, A.J. Burnett, and Phil Hughes), it’s clear that this is going to end badly for one or two pitchers. All things considered, I think you have to put Phil Hughes in the rotation. The Yankees HAVE to prove that 2010 was not a fluke (or not). Plus, Hiroki Kuroda, at 37, is not destined to be a long-term Yankee. Sure, the Yanks could go hard after Cole Hamels or Matt Cain as a replacement following the 2012 season but I still subscribe to the ‘dance with the one who brung ya’ theory. Well, at least until he proves us wrong. I know, the leash is overly long, but Hughes is still young, and he can still be a force in the rotation. He’d certainly be cheaper than either Hamels or Cain in the foreseeable future.
So, where does that leave Burnett and Garcia? I think Garcia is the best option to plant in the bullpen as the long man and #6 starter in the event of injury in the rotation…at least until Dellin Betances and/or Manny Banuelos are ready later in the year. This means shipping Burnett and lots of money to another team is probably best case scenario. Trading Hughes would be foolish since the return, following his poor 2011 season, would be under market value. Plus, Hughes has more long-term value to the team than Burnett. There’s no way the Yankees re-sign Burnett at the expiration of his contract. He’ll see the same door as Jason Giambi with a slight push from behind.
But, and that’s a big but, what does Burnett bring in trade? He is not going to bring a young slugger, that’s for sure. More than likely, it would only be someone else’s albatross, ala Alfonso Soriano. I still think one of the available free agents is the best option for the left-handed bat, but I am sure whatever move Cashman makes will be the best one for the organization.
Wanted: Someone who’s butt can withstand splinters…
As for the additional infield bench support to accompany Eduardo Nunez, I still would really like to see the return of Eric Chavez even though Bill Hall’s name has been mentioned more frequently as of late.
“Buck, we really need to be the focus of the tabloids”…
I have to admit that I am surprised to see the teams mentioned as possibilities for Manny Ramirez. No, I don’t want Man-Ram calling 161st and River home, but the teams mentioned…Oakland A’s, Baltimore Orioles, and Toronto Blue Jays…seem like odd fits for a guy that has to spend 50 games on the suspended list. With the emphasis on youth in Oakland and Baltimore, I’d question whether having Manny on the team is worth it in terms of the negative impact he can have. Younger players are far more impressionable, and no team, even the Blue Jays, need a distraction. Maybe Manny can still swing it. I acknowledge that he was once the most feared hitter in the AL, but I don’t think he’ll ever be close to the hitter he once was. Age sucks, but it happens to us all…
A funny thing happened to the Phillies on their way to the World Series…
Edwin Jackson to the Washington Nationals on a one-year deal was a good move for the Nats. Outside of the New York Mets, the NL East is a scary division. Yeah, the Philadelphia Phillies have the Big 3 (Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels), but there are too many other question marks to make them the clear favorite. I don’t think the Miami Marlins will win the division but they’ll make noise. The Braves, the Nats. That’s a tough division. Then, there’s the Mets…
With a New York-Boston Super Bowl upon us, it’s weird that I, as a Yankees fan, find myself on the Boston side of the battle. That seems so wrong on so many levels. But it is what it is…go Patriots!
Sad but realistic…
Well, the Yankees lost a series that they could have and should have won. I can’t say that I am as disappointed as I’ve been in past years during play-off failures as I recognized the team had its fatal weaknesses that would be exposed the deeper it got in the play-offs. Clearly, starting pitching has been a problem. CC Sabathia has been great, but he hasn’t been Justin Verlander- or Roy Halladay-great. He is still the ace and legitimately so, but the weaknesses in the rotation behind him put more pressure on CC to be perfect. That’s a tough for anyone. Even if the Yankees had gotten past the Detroit Tigers, I am not so sure that they would have fared well against the Texas Rangers.
When the season began, I felt that on paper the Boston Red Sox had a superior team. My picks for the World Series were the Red Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies. I was wrong on both counts, but I felt that the Yankees weak rotation would put too much pressure on the hitters. When the big bats go cold, there just haven’t been the consistent key hits off the bench. There have been a few here and there, but nothing like the critical and timely hits that Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui used to deliver. I was concerned that this would be the final fatal blow for the Yankees chances in 2011, and that’s exactly what happened.
At the trading deadline, I had hoped the team would at least make an attempt to acquire a clutch hitter if they weren’t able to find any pitching depth. They stood pat and did nothing. I agree that it was the right decision if the moves would have cost talent like Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances or Jesus Montero, but other teams found ways to spend a little to acquire a lot like the Tigers with their pickup of pitcher Doug Fister.
The priority move – sign Cash…
Although the 2011 season was a “failure” as per owner Hal Steinbrenner, I clearly hope the team decides to bring back GM Brian Cashman. No one understands the Yankees or the city of New York better than Cash, and he’s still the right man for the job. With so much to do in the off-season, the Yankees need to move quickly to sign Cash. With CC likely to opt out of his contract, the Yankees will need to be equally as quick to renegotiate a replacement contract so that they can turn to ways to improve the team as opposed to sustaining the current depth of talent. I would hate to see the Yankees lose other opportunities because they are too focused with the Cashman and Sabathia negotiations. Last off-season, it appeared that the team was only capable of dealing with one issue at a time. When they were chasing Cliff Lee, it seemed as though that’s all they did. They let other matters sit, including the topic of Andy Pettitte, until Lee surprised everyone and returned to Philadelphia. I am not quite sure why the organization is incapable of multi-tasking, but they do need to ‘divide and conquer’ if they intend to be the dominant force in 2012.
Looking forward to Jorge Posada Day…
Jorge Posada played very well in September and October, and he’s been a fantastic Yankee, but the time has come for him to go. I hope that he decides to put the bat down and simply walks away. I’d really hate to see him try to play again in 2012, which most likely would be with a different team. His legacy is secured in Yankees history, and he’ll always be treated as royalty by the organization. He was the greatest catcher since Thurman Munson, and he’ll certainly be remembered in the same room with Munson, Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra, and Elston Howard.
The “Opt-Out” I wish would happen…
How great would it be if Rafael Soriano opted out of his contract? Sadly, that’s not going to happen and the Yankees are stuck with the guy who is trying to be the next Jose Veras rather than the next Mariano Rivera…
Bay Area Losses…
Northern California has certainly suffered great losses this week with the passing of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and now legendary Raiders owner Al Davis. Davis is one of the guys that you just thought would live forever. I am not a Raiders fan, but he revolutionized the game and was one of its most colorful characters. I admired his strength and resolve, and it’s unfortunate that his final Raider seasons were filled with losses. The game certainly won’t be the same without Davis…
As the Fonz said, I am ‘wrrrro…, I am wwwrrroo..’…
I was a pessimist in spring training…a non-believer. I didn’t think the Yankees could compete with the Boston Red Sox with their current roster after the off-season spurning by pitcher Cliff Lee. At the time, the Yankees were trying to piece together a rotation that was void of both Lee and Andy Pettitte, who opted to retire.
At the trading deadline, the Yankees were silent while the Red Sox were busy acquiring infielder Mike Aviles from the Kansas City Royals and pitcher Erik Bedard from the Seattle Mariners.
Yet, on the morning of August 16th, the Yankees found themselves in a first place tie with the Boston Red Sox. Not bad for a team that has been rated as inferior to the Red Sox by so many, including me. It is no secret that the Red Sox have owned the Yankees in their head-to-head match-up’s but of course that doesn’t mean a thing in October. Still, if the Yankees had been able to at least play .500 ball against the Sox, they’d have a fairly comfortable lead in the division. That’s probably where Lee and Pettitte would have made a difference, but who knows, perhaps they could have been even worse.
Despite the team’s success, I still do not like the prospects for October against the Red Sox and the Texas Rangers. Like the Red Sox, the Rangers were able to add some quality arms to the bullpen when they picked up Mike Adams from the San Diego Padres and Koji Uehara from the Baltimore Orioles. I do not like moves for the sake of simply making a move so perhaps the Yankees did the best thing by standing pat. But the team still has too many shortcomings that can be exposed in a short series. Part of me pulls for a Bronx return by Hideki Matsui who has cleared waivers for the Oakland A’s. Matsui has shown there is still ‘clutch’ in his bat and used in the right spots, he could be a valuable weapon. The team is counting very heavily on the return of Alex Rodriguez, but they need a contingency plan. The DH spot has been weak, for the most part, with Jorge Posada and Eric Chavez. Granted, Posada had a recent 6 RBI game that that’s clearly an aberration at this point of his career. I haven’t seen too many timely hits off his bat this season.
GM Brian Cashman is making the usual comments that he does not envision any trading activity this month, but of course, you never really know what is up his sleeve. So much of it has to do with posturing and trying to make the opposition believe that you aren’t desperate.
What have you done for me lately…
As for Posada, I am ready to cut ties. He has been a long and faithful Yankee, and certainly a very passionate one. However, I do not see a role on the 2012 Yankees for him. At this point, he has become a liability, and if he wishes to extend his career, I am okay with it being in another uniform. Hopefully, he doesn’t decide to go someplace like Boston, but I’d hope that he would make a respectful decision for the Yankees fans. All things considered, I wish that he’d simply hang up the catcher’s mitt at the end of the season and call it a career but I don’t think that’s going to happen. If I have to pick between Posada and Jesus Montero on the roster next year, Montero wins hands down. Sorry, Jorge, but I am looking forward to your participation on Old Timer’s Day.
A quiet major milestone even if it was a booming blast…
Congratulations to Jim Thome for slugging his 600th home run against the Detroit Tigers last night. It was an interesting stat that he was the first player to hit both his 599th and 600th home runs in the same game, and no one had ever hit his 600th in the next at-bat after 599. Babe Ruth was the closest, needing two at-bat’s. Thome’s march to 600 was one of the quietest milestone marches that I’ve experienced, and I even call Minneapolis home these days. I’ve never thought of him as a superstar, but he has consistently been a home run producer for many years. In my mind, he was never top shelf talent but he was always in the next tier and his career has spanned longer than many top shelf players. Does that qualify for entry to the Hall of Fame? It will be an interesting debate. He is certainly not a first ballot shoo-in, but he’ll probably find his way eventually.
Time to see my guys…
The Yankees will be coming to the Twin Cities this week, so I’ll be at one of the games this weekend. During my short time in Minneapolis, I have come to appreciate Target Field. I am a fan of many of the newer ballparks, and I like some better than others. But Target Field has a good feel to it, and I like its downtown location. I intend to wear my Yankees cap, which might not be the best idea when walking downtown, but I am sure that I won’t be alone…
Waiting for the opportunity…
As a lifelong fan of the Minnesota Vikings, it was tough a few years ago when I had to adjust to the sight of longtime enemy Brett Favre in purple. I actually did enjoy his first year, although the second one was a disappointment. But it is probably harder for me to accept the sight of Donovan McNabb in purple. Okay, I wasn’t one of those guys who booed when the Philadelphia Eagles selected McNabb in the draft over RB Ricky Williams, but I was never overly impressed with McNabb in his Philly days. I even lived in the area during his final years with the Eagles, and perhaps my impression of McNabb is tainted by the bitterness that Eagles fans held toward him. Yes, he won, but he never won the games that truly counted. It’s a team sport so you can’t hang total blame on him, but he is just not someone that I’ve ever been able to embrace as one of the game’s best QB’s. Maybe he will change my opinion of him. I definitely think that he has something to prove after his disastrous year in Washington, and I won’t be surprised if he rises to the challenge.
I am a fan of QB Christian Ponder. There’s no doubt that I wanted the team to draft Jake Locker, but it was not meant to be so Ponder is certainly the next best thing. Intellectually speaking, I think Ponder is at the head of the class and I look forward to seeing how he grasps the Vikings playbook. But, there’s no way that I think he is ready to start this year, particularly with the lockout shortened off-season. I think that Aaron Rodgers benefited greatly by sitting on the bench for those first few years, and the same holds true with Ponder. McNabb gives the Vikings the flexibility to allow Ponder to grow into the position…unless McNabb shows that Washington wasn’t a fluke. I am sure that we’ll see #7 line up behind center at some point in the regular season, but until then, I’ll be content with McNabb. Well, until he proves otherwise…
There were two Vikings that I really hated to see leave as free agents. WR Sidney Rice was one of my favorites, and he is now in Seattle with former Vikings QB Tavaris Jackson. I am not sure that Michael Jenkins or Bernard Berrian can be anything close to what Rice was, but I will say that WR Percy Harvin has been one of my favorite Vikings, if not the favorite. Now that his migraines appear to be behind him, I am looking forward to seeing if he can take it to the next level. The guy clearly has the talent and the heart to succeed. The other loss was LB Ben Leber who signed with the St. Louis Rams. But with Leber’s loss, it does create an opportunity for Erin Henderson to step into his shoes. I really like what I’ve seen from Erin, and it is a great story if he starts next to his brother, middle linebacker E.J. Henderson. But regardless of what the final roster looks like, I feel very confident in the decisions being made by head coach Leslie Frazier. I don’t want to diss former head coach Brad Childress, but this is the most confident that I’ve felt about a Vikings head coach in a very long time. I can never recall a time where I was content with the heads of both the Yankees and the Vikings but I am very comfortable with both Joe Girardi and Frazier. Now, let’s see if it equates to a few championships…
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.
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
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
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
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
This has not been a good
year for Yankees pitchers (or potential pitchers). First, prime free agent target Cliff Lee signed with the Philadelphia
Phillies. Then, Andy Pettitte decided it was time to stay home in Deer Park, Texas
to spend time with his family. And now, Phil Hughes is on the DL and it doesn’t
sound like he’ll be coming off any time soon.
Fortunately, the Yankees
have gotten very solid pitching from Ivan
Nova, Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon (much better than almost
anyone had expected). But from the ‘glass
is half empty’ approach, can they keep it up?
Most likely, there will be a few hiccups along the way. Considering the Yankees have to decide by
Sunday whether to call up Kevin Millwood
or release, my guess is that they’ll bring him up as the long man in the pen
and send Buddy Carlyle back to
Scranton-Wilkes Barre. Millwood would be
the first to start should Nova, Garcia or Colon suffer any setbacks. At this point, I don’t think the Yankees can
afford to let Millwood slip away.
As I write this post, I am
watching the 2011 NFL Draft. I am
waiting to see who the Minnesota Vikings select with the #12 pick. As it stands right now, the Buffalo Bills
just selected Marcell Dareus, DT
from Alabama with the #3 pick. I want
the Vikings to pick a QB of the future, so I am okay if they reach with their
pick or trade down to get their man. My
personal favorite for selection is QB Jake
Locker from the University of Washington.
We’ll see how the choice goes down later in this post. If the Vikings don’t get Locker, I’d like to
see them find a way to get Christian
Ponder or Andy Dalton. As a fan of the University of Iowa, I’d love
to see Ricky Stanzi get a shot but I
recognize his talent and potential is below the other name QB’s.
For as great as the Yankees
bullpen is supposed to be, it’s disturbing to see the breakdowns of Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera. It would
seem that pitching the 9th is more difficult than pitching the 8th,
but Soriano is making the 8th look the hardest. Mo recently went through a stretch of two
blown saves although he did right the ship against the Chicago White Sox on
Wednesday night. Hopefully, the guys in
the pen grow accustomed to their roles and manager Joe Girardi is able to resist the temptation to bring Mo in for
anything other than the 9th.
Although Mo leads the AL in saves with 8, it’s strange to see former
Yankees gasoline artist Kyle Farnsworth,
now Tampa Bay Rays closer, in the top 5.
Why do I cringe when I see Eric Chavez playing first base? I know that he can handle the position, but
after watching him with the Oakland A’s the last few years, it’s hard not to
think that the next play could be the one that puts Chavez on the DL…
We are through the first 5
picks of the NFL Draft and Blaine
Gabbert is still on the board. Why
is that important? Because as long as
Gabbert is on the board, Jake Locker
is only the 2nd best QB still available. Here’s to still hoping for Jake Locker in purple, but I can’t see
Gabbert getting by the San Francisco 49ers at #7.
It was strange to see the
Yankees score their first two runs of tonight’s game against the Chicago White
Sox without recording a hit against Sox starter Edwin Jackson (courtesy of four walks in the inning). With CC
Sabathia on the mound, I feel fairly confident that the Yankees will be
able to exit the four game series with a split.
Well, so long as Soriano and Rivera don’t implode in their respective
Surprise, the 49ers didn’t
go for Gabbert so perhaps it helps improve the chances for Locker in the Land
of 10,000 Lakes…
Ugh, the Tennessee Titans
just took Locker!
Wow, I don’t know what I
want the Vikings to do now. There’s no
way that Gabbert will still be available if the Vikings don’t try to move
up. It would be way too early to go
after Ponder so it would appear that the Vikes pick will most likely be a
defensive selection. Bummer for me…
This is how I felt many
years ago when the Titans took Steve
McNair when I was hoping that he’d fall to the Vikings. Drats, those Titans!
Meanwhile, on the Yankees
front, they seem to be having a good night as it is now 5-0 in the bottom of
the 5th inning. The sole
Yankees home run was by Brett Gardner
so maybe his bat is starting to come around.
It’s not that I’d expect Gardy to hit homers since that isn’t his forte,
but still, it’s nice to see him in the offensive mix.
The Yankees game is up to
7-0, and the only players without either a run scored or a RBI are Eric Chavez (two walks) and Jorge Posada. Speaking of Posada, I am not certain how long
the Yankees give Posada to start hitting.
His batting average stands at .134.
If I were the Yankees GM, it would be hard to resist the urge to recall Jorge Vazquez and insert him as a
part-time DH. Of course, I’d have
absolutely no idea who to send down to the farm so that’s why Brian Cashman has the job and I don’t.
Well, give Posada a RBI on a
walk. 8-0 Yanks in a 6-run 5th
(so far). So I guess that makes Chavez
the only one who hasn’t produced a run in this game.
It looks like the
Jacksonville Jaguars will take Blaine
Gabbert with their trade up with the Washington Redskins. So much for the QB for the future for
Minnesota… Does this mean that the Vikings QB will be
someone like Carson Palmer, Vince Young, or Donovan McNabb? Very
disappointing when you play in a division with Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler, and Matthew
My guess is that the Vikings
will make a play for Ponder or Dalton later in the draft. Man, I really wish that QB Joe Webb wouldn’t have engineered that
upset of the Philadelphia Eagles last year.
With the 12th
pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings take…QB Christian Ponder, Florida State.
Wow, as much as I wanted a QB and I thought that Ponder was the next
best option, #12 is probably a bit early.
But still, with the likes of Joe
Webb and Rhett Bomar as the only
QB options in Minnesota, I do like the upside of Ponder at the position. I just never expected Ponder to go that
early, especially with defensive greats like Nick Fairley and Da’quan
Bowers just sitting there for the taking.
Oh well, Go Seminoles!
Meanwhile, it is still 8-0
in New York in the bottom of the 6th. Oops, 9-0. Nice…