Results tagged ‘ Cliff Lee ’

Somehow I knew it would end like this…

 

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…

–Scott

 

Hey, this team’s not so bad after all!…

 

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…

–Scott

One month down, check!…


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


Cano.JPG

John Munson/The Star Ledger


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

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

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

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

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

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


Minnesota Vikings


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

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

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

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

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

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


–Scott

 

All I want for Christmas (err 4th of July) is a friggin’ pitcher…


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
innings…

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
fu
ture for
Minnesota…  D
oes 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
Stafford

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.  


Drew Weatherford, front, is competing with Christian Ponder, left, and D'Vontrey Richardson to start at quarterback.

AP


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…


–Scott

 

A Nice Start!…


It was great to see Mark
Teixeira
homer in the Yankees’ Opening Day win against the Detroit Tigers.  Hopefully, it is a sign that we won’t see the
April freeze this year with Tex.  He has
worked hard to try and overcome his history of slow starts.


Mark Teixeira watches his three-run homer on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium as the slugging first baseman tries to shake his usual slow start.

Sipkin/NY Daily News  

So far, I really like what I
have seen of catcher Russell Martin.  He
seems to have captured the respect of the pitching staff in a very short period
of time.  For as much as I feel pitching
coach Larry Rothschild will have a positive impact on A.J. Burnett, I cannot
underestimate what Martin will do for him also. 
I don’t know why the relationship between Burnett and Posada was never
an easy one, but it would be a terrific boon for the team should Burnett and
Martin click together.

Speaking of A.J., he goes
today against the Tigers so we’ll soon see…

What a great game for Curtis
Granderson
on Thursday!  He homered and
came up with a few defensive gems that made the highlight reels.  Last year, I had started to regret the trade
that sent Austin Jackson and Phil Coke to Detroit for Granderson, with Ian
Kennedy
going to Arizona.  But late in
the season, with a few adjustments, Curtis started to show us the player he
could be.  Some players take time to
adjust to New York, while others can slide right in (like Nick Swisher).  Granderson is probably more in the former
category, especially given the high expectations of the multi-player
trade. 

So, Cliff Lee pitches
tonight in Philadelphia against Wandy Rodriguez and the Houston Astros.  If he had joined the Yankees, he’d be
starting today against the Tigers.  It’ll
be hard not to wonder ‘what could have been’ this year when Lee starts.  That feeling will probably be present until
the Yankees can make a move to acquire another top flight pitcher.  I do know that I’ll be cheering for the
Astros tonight…

Although I am pulling for
Don Mattingly and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League, it was
horrible to hear about the Dodger fans that beat up the Giants fan in the
parking lot of Dodger Stadium after the season opener.  Obviously, the violence is not condoned by
the Dodgers, and Mattingly said it was crossing the line.  I know that I am always cautious about
wearing a Yankees hat in certain cities. 
For example, if I went to Fenway Park, I would not take any Yankees gear.  But that is a sad statement that you cannot openly
support your team without concern for your health and safety. 


–Scott


Grab a beer and take the mound…


When I was a kid, the
overweight, aging dude with the beer belly was the starting pitcher on the
local softball team.  Suddenly, I am
faced with the reality that the same guy may be starting for the New York
Yankees.  Yikes!



'BART' ATTACK: Bartolo Colon, who last pitched in the big leagues in 2008, will take the mound today in the Yankees' spring training opener against the Phillies.

Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post



I know that Bartolo Colon
has pitched well this spring, but c’mon. 
I’d rather see him resurrect his career in Kansas City, Seattle, or
Florida.  Heck, maybe even the Mets could
use the arm.  I know that Freddy Garcia
has been rather disappointing the last couple of starts, but I still think that
he’d be the most effective starter over the course of the season.  If the Yankees are concerned about Garcia,
then pull the trigger and sign Kevin Millwood to a major league deal.

My preference for the
rotation is clearly CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova and
Freddy Garcia, with the potential mid-season call-ups of Andrew Brackman or
Dellin Betances.  I’d love to have Manny
Banuelos but he needs to spend a few more years in the minors before he’s ready
to hit the show. 

I know the Yankees will be
players for a starting pitcher at the trading deadline but that’s too difficult
to predict at this point in time.  It
will really depend upon who has given up on the season by July. 

It’s really weird that
Gustavo Molina has emerged as the front-runner for the backup catching
position.  I had fully expected the Yanks
to break camp with Jesus Montero regardless of his offensive struggles this
spring.  Granted, Molina is a temporary
solution but it definitely shows the Yankees were right about signing Russell
Martin to be their catcher, rather than entrusting the starting role to
Montero.  I found it humorous that one
website described Molina as “not an authentic Catching Molina Brother”.  I do have to say that the question did cross
my mind!  LOL!

For as frustrated as Luis
Castillo may be about being dumped by the Mets, how can he be unhappy with the
gift horse that has potentially put him on the NL World Series team?  Also, speaking of the Mets, I am so glad the
Yankees chose not to pursue Oliver Perez. 
I didn’t think the Yankees would be foolish enough to go down that road,
but early speculation through the media indicated Yankee interest.  Fortunately, it was just a fictional
tale.  Good luck to the Nationals as they
look to resurrect Perez’s career. 

As much as I don’t want to
see the Phillies win the World Series (call it anti-Cliff Lee bias), I hate to
see Chase Utley start the season on the DL. 
I do wish him a speedy recovery and hope that he is back at Citizens
Bank Park sooner rather than later.

William Shatner is really 80
years old?  Wow.  Captain Kirk turned 80 on March 22nd.  A belated happy birthday! He was such a huge
part of my childhood but of course I was watching Star Trek through syndication
and not through the first run shows.  Although,
I admit, I could have watched the first run shows.  As a kid, I was always Kirk when we played
Star Trek in the neighborhood so I definitely have an appreciation and fondness
for William Shatner.



–Signed, a Yankees fan
wondering who our #5 starter will be…


A Newfound Respect and Appreciation for Levine…


I have to admit that I have never really taken the time to know or understand Yankees president Randy Levine.  I took a dislike to him without really giving him a chance to prove himself.  I don’t know if it was something he said or a certain look that he gave during a press conference or if I really had any reason at all.  But within the last couple of weeks, I have gained a newfound appreciation and respect for Levine.  A week or so ago, I was reading a column by one of the Yankees beat writers (I don’t recall which one) and it referenced that the writer had bumped into Levine and he made a comment about how easy and comfortable it is to talk with Levine.  Somehow, I had expected him to be “standoffish” and arrogant.  But today, when he stood up to Rangers owner Chuck Greenberg, he showed that he is the right man for the job.  


Greenberg recently commented about how his second visit to Cliff Lee in Arkansas distracted the pitcher who had seemed destined to sign with New York.  The distraction gave the Phillies enough time to slip in and seal the deal to return Lee to Philly.  In response, Levine called Greenberg “delusional” and made a comment about how he has been an owner for a few minutes and seems to know what everyone is thinking.  The comment about how he’d be impressed if the Rangers could get off “welfare” for three consecutive years was classic.  The Yankees subsidize the Rangers existence, but for whatever reason, Greenberg feels the need to bite the hand that feeds him.  Levine’s comments were very appropriate and I applaud him for the great defense of the Yankees and its fans.  

The funny thing about the spat with the Rangers is the ongoing flow of “love” the Yankees seem to say about the Boston Red Sox organization.  The most recent was Brian Cashman saying that the Red Sox had the best team.  Of course, in his classy and professional way, Red Sox manager Terry Francona said that the comments won’t give them any extra runs or help them win a lot of games.  I can’t believe that I despise the Rangers more than I do the Red Sox right now, but then again, it’s only January 28th so I’m sure that I’ll get my “Red Sox Hater” cap on between now and Opening Day…

Recent comments make me believe that Freddy Garcia wants to be a Yankee.  I am not sure if the team has the same interest, but I’d be happy to see them take a flier on Garcia or Tigers free pitcher Jeremy Bonderman.  The latter would be very ironic considering that the Yankees played a part in his trade from the Oakland A’s to Detroit in the deal that brought Jeff Weaver to New York.  Either Garcia or Bonderman would be an upgrade to either Bartolo Colon or Sergio Mitre.

I am happy that the recent news about Andy Pettitte’s possible return has been positive but c’mon, let’s have the news of the decision.  Please don’t let me know the groundhog before Andy announces whether or not he is going to retire!

I am glad the Yankees signed Russell Martin and I am looking forward to seeing if he can restore his promise in New York, but I’d have to say that I am starting to get excited about the impending arrival of Jesus Montero and his bat.  I know that Montero’s emergence will probably mean the end of Jorge Posada’s career with the Yankees but it is getting close to baton time.

–Scott

What Have You Done For Us Lately?…


It has not been the most joyous of baseball off-seasons
for Yankees fans…



One minute, the Yankees are in hot pursuit of the most
prized free agent, offering the most dollars and years, and the Red Sox are
watching their deal for Padres slugger Adrian Gonzalez start to collapse.  The next minute, the prized free agent is
securely in Philadelphia and the Gonzalez trade stabilized for the Sox, who
also slid game-changing outfielder Carl Crawford into their hip pocket.  The Yankees, meanwhile, will emerge from the
Hot Stove League without any premium free agents which almost never happens.



I have read articles telling Yankees fans to back away
from the ledge, but it is frustrating to see the team miss out on great
opportunities.  I agree that the team
shouldn’t make a move just for the sake of making a move, and recognize that a
potential trade now as opposed to later would wreak of desperation.  In that situation, there is a high
probability of the Yankees getting fleeced in a deal.  So, I agree that the best approach is to wait
and observe the market.  Still, the
Yankees do need to address the holes in the rotation.  I am okay with giving Ivan Nova a shot for
the #5 slot so long as there is a quality #4. 
But still, there needs to be competition in training camp.  In other words, Nova shouldn’t simply be
handed the job.  Hopefully, the #4 slot
will go to Andy Pettitte despite recent talk that he’s still leaning toward
retirement.  I really see Andy’s return
for one final season.  But if he does not
return, the Yankees will clearly need to unearth some potential gems on other
clubs. 

It was nice to hear that the Yankees had talked with
Johnny Damon, but I agree that his return does not make sense even if it would
have been a great “feel good” move. 
There was also the report that the Yankees had considered Manny Ramirez,
which, in my opinion, would be a huge mistake. 

I still like the possibility of signing Rays closer
Rafael Soriano.  I realize that Soriano
wants closer money and he probably wouldn’t be willing to take a setup position
even if he was satisfied with the contract. 
But it is very appealing to have a huge bridge to Mariano Rivera in
addition to having a backup closer if and when the day comes that Mo simply
does not have it anymore.  It will never
happen (signing Soriano), but it is nice to think about while it is still an
option.


Rafael Soriano

AP


The more I think about it, a trade for the Phillies Joe
Blanton might not be a bad idea.  He is
not a frontline starter (obviously), but he is steady and consistent.  He might be a good option until something
better surfaces.  If the Phillies are
looking for a top prospect, I’d pass. 
But if the cost is reasonable, it is a trade that the Yankees should
consider.


blanton.jpg

Getty Images


There has been so much speculation yet so little action.  Oh well, as Brian Cashman has put it, we need
to be patient. 



Santa Claus, can I have an ace starting pitcher for
Christmas?  ;)  Happy Holidays to everyone!  



–Scott



Looking Up at the Red Sox is not Fun!…


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


 

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


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

Getty Images


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


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

The Star-Ledger


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



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



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


mlb_a_hernandez_600.jpg


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

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


Buck Showalter

Mark Goldman/Icon SMI


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


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

Tampa Tribune


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



–Scott



Martin to New York!…


Ah, there was a time when those words were such sweet
music to the ears!…



Granted, it was probably more like “Martin’s Back!” but
still, the name Martin and the city of New York is a great match.  The latest Martin to set foot on Broadway is
former Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Russell Martin.  In theory, he has been groomed for this
opportunity by the best…former Dodgers manager Joe Torre and former Dodgers hitting
instructor (now Dodgers manager) Don Mattingly. 
While he still has to pass a physical, Martin has apparently signed a
one-year contract with the Yanks.


russell-martin.jpg

Larry Goren/Icon SMI


Martin was one of the top catchers in the NL several
years ago but has regressed.  He suffered
a torn labrum in his right hip last August and missed the remainder of the
season.  I will be anxious to see what
Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long can do with Martin.  More than likely, Martin will be part of a
catching platoon with Jesus Montero, assuming the latter proves that he is
major league ready in spring training. 


NY Daily News


Martin will probably be the only guy on the roster with a
name this long:  Russell Nathan Jeanson
Coltrane Martin, Jr.
 Martin, born in East York, Ontario, will be 28
by the time the spring training games begin in February.

I like the move for Martin so long as it is not designed
to replace Montero so he can be used as a trading chip. 



It was disappointing to see Cliff Lee decide to return to
Philadelphia on a 5-year deal for less money than he was offered by the
Yankees.  I can’t blame Lee for choosing
a place that he is comfortable with, but I wish that he would have given New
York a chance.  I grew rather pessimistic
about the Yankees chances last week when the Lee camp did not jump on the
Yankees 7 year offer.  Like many, I
thought that he was headed back to the Texas Rangers so it was a bit of a shock
to hear that the mystery team was the Phillies.


AP  


All things considered, if Lee wasn’t going to go to New
York, I am glad to see him depart for the National League.  I am not excited about a rotation that
features Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels and now Cliff Lee, but that’s
only a concern if you make it to the World Series as an American League team
(nice problem to have).  The Rangers fans
are glad they didn’t lose out to the Yankees, but conversely, I am glad that
the Rangers and Nolan Ryan didn’t get one over on the Yanks.  Also, I am glad that Lee didn’t go to the
Angels or the Red Sox. 



As it stands, the Red Sox have enjoyed a hugely
successful off-season compared to the Yanks, but I would not underestimate
Brian Cashman and the Steinbrenner family. 
As for immediate focus, I think the Yanks need to make sure that they
have the arms in the bullpen and I’d really like to see the return of Kerry
Wood.  Of the remaining free agents,
there aren’t many that excite me.  Manny
Ramirez is still out there but he’s a liability in the field and the Yankees
have the DH role locked up with Jorge Posada.  
Manny’s bat is also not what it used to be and the Yankees don’t need
more ‘late thirtysomethings’ on the roster. 

I’d have to say that I am mixed on whether the Yankees
should pursue a trade with the Kansas City Royals for starter Zack
Greinke.  However, there will be
competition which of course drives up the trade demands so I am not sure that
avenue is the best given the uncertainty over whether Greinke could handle New
York (assuming he was willing to waive his no-trade clause to the Yankees).  I’d probably prefer signing Brandon Webb or
pursuing Mark Buehrle in a trade.  The
Yankees do have to do something about their starting rotation regardless of
whether Andy Pettitte returns or not. 
Right now the #4 and #5 starters appear to be Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre
based on the current roster which is not very appealing.  I am willing to give Nova a shot but if the
Yankees break camp with Mitre as their 5th starter, it’s going to be
a long season.


Chris Sweda/MCT


Why is it that Red Sox fans think the rivalry between the
Yankees and Red Sox is over on December 14th just because they didn’t
sign Cliff Lee?  As Brian Cashman
indicated on a conference call earlier today, patience is the key.  Somehow, I suspect the team that breaks camp
next spring will be able to compete with the newly enhanced Red Sox…



Congratulations to Hideki Matsui who signed a one year
deal with the Oakland Athletics.  As a
resident of the Bay Area, I am sure that Godzilla will be well received and he’ll
be a great stabilizing factor in the A’s lineup.  



–Scott


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