Results tagged ‘ Cliff Lee ’
I waited for the Baseball Winter Meetings with so much
anticipation and in the end, it was a week of disappointment.
Of course, the Yankees were solely focused on one
objective (Cliff Lee) and it is clear that Lee is in no hurry to decide where
he’ll be pitching in Game 1 of the play-offs next fall.
Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger
While the Yankees waited and then finally made their
offer to Lee, the nemesis Boston Red Sox were very active in acquiring the long
anticipated first baseman Adrian Gonzalez of the San Diego Padres. I am not quite sure how they were able to
pull off the deal without the inclusion of a single major leaguer but the
Padres did get highly touted pitching prospect Casey Kelly and first baseman
Anthony Rizzo. They also acquired
outfield prospect Reymond Fuentes, cousin to the Mets’ Carlos Beltran and a
player to be named later. Gonzalez is a
huge acquisition for the Sox. As Don
Mattingly said, Gonzalez has a perfect swing for Fenway Park and he’ll be a
beast in their lineup.
The Red Sox also pulled off a major surprise when they
signed former Tampa Bay Ray Carl Crawford.
The off-season rumors had the Red Sox in pursuit of either Jayson Werth
(who subsequently signed the incredulous deal with the Washington Nationals) or
Crawford. However, after the Gonzalez
acquisition, it appeared that Crawford was headed for the Los Angeles
Angels. The move was a good one for the
Sox although they’ll pay a hefty premium with the extension for Gonzalez along
with the contract for Crawford. It will
be interesting to see how this plays out for the other Red Sox outfielders. Ryan Kalish proved that he is a major
leaguer, so it would seem that somebody will depart in a trade for potentially
a catcher (Kalish, Jacoby Ellsbury, or Mike Cameron?).
Prior to the moves, I thought the Red Sox had the best
combination of pitching, hitting and defense in the division. Throw in Crawford and Gonzalez and there
seems to be a bit of a gulf between the Sox and the Yankees (and Rays). At the moment, the Yankees have only one
surefire ace to throw at the Red Sox (CC Sabathia). Behind CC is Phil Hughes. Sure, Hughes is capable to shutting down the
Sox but he does fall into the category of ‘you never really know for sure if he’s
going to have his best stuff’. After
that comes A.J. Burnett and for the moment, Ivan Nova. That’s it.
Clearly, the Yankees pitching staff needs much work between now and
Which of course leads us back to Cliff Lee. This off-season is all about Lee. The Yankees have made a huge offer for Lee (a
menu of 5, 6 and 7 year deals). The
Texas Rangers countered with a menu of their own offers and owner Chuck
Greenberg even flew to Arkansas to personally deliver the offers, bringing
along billionaire partner Ray Davis.
The Rangers have the wherewithal to pay Lee, although I’d
have to believe that a 7 year deal would hurt the Rangers for more than it
would the Yankees. Greenberg was
optimistic about the talks yesterday but I can’t tell if it is legitimate or
I am biased (of course), but if I was Cliff Lee, I would
look at this decision as how you want to be remembered in baseball long after
you are gone. To succeed in New York
gives players lasting celebrity. Paul O’Neill
will always be so beloved in New York, along with Tino Martinez and others,
even though they didn’t start their careers with the Yankees. At old-timer games, you see guys like Goose
Gossage and next year, Lou Piniella. If
you asked me to name former Rangers, I’d be hard-pressed to come up with a list
of the Hall of Famers. I lived in Dallas
during the days of Jim Sundberg, Nolan Ryan, Steve Buechele and Larry Parrish,
but I couldn’t tell you where they are today (well, except for Nolan of
course). Being a former Texas Ranger is “nice”,
but forgettable. Being a former New York
Yankee is first class celebrity status, especially if you win. If Lee is as competitive as I think he is, he’ll
view the challenge of the improved Boston Red Sox squad as an opportunity to
shine. Texas may have been in the World
Series last year, but will they be a powerhouse for the next 7 years? Tough to tell. With the Yankees, you always know that
ownership is committed to fielding the best possible team. As a player, I would want to be in the
environment of the team who expects nothing less than the World Series every
Quality of Life? I
agree that Texas probably wins. The cost
of real estate is substantially less, and there is no state income tax. Lee can live in a mansion with acreage and
drive to/from the stadium with an easy commute.
In New York, you’re going to pay a premium for housing and the commute
won’t be easy. But c’mon, there is
nothing like the city of New York. I am
a small town Midwesterner, yet I think New York City is the greatest city in
the world. I love the energy and
excitement of the city. I’ve lived in
Dallas. It’s a fun town, no doubt. But it’s not New York. If I’m Cliff Lee, the decision is easy. I’d be on the phone asking Brian Cashman
where to sign…
George McNish/The Star Ledger
I found it very interesting that the Yankees picked two
players in the Rule 5 Draft. They lost two
players including pitcher George Kontos but they acquired an Angel and a Red
Sock. The Angel is pitcher Robert
Fish. I don’t know anything about Fish
and more than likely he’ll be offered back to the Angels, but you gotta love
his name. I am sure that the TV and
radio announcers would love to say how Joe Girardi is “bobbin'” for Fish when
he goes to the bullpen. Turpen is a
pitcher the Red Sox acquired for one of the two Ramon Ramirezes they had on
their roster (don’t ask me which one it was!).
I doubt that Turpen sticks but he was potentially on the list of players
for the player to be named later in the Gonzalez deal. So, if the Yankees made the selection to
spite the Red Sox, I am cool with it! J
I think the Yankees play for former Los Angeles Dodgers
catcher Russell Martin is a good one. I’ve
always liked Martin, and I think the combination of him and Jesus Montero would
be a good one. Hopefully, Martin doesn’t
get spooked by the presence of Montero and decide to sign elsewhere, like
Boston. I am hoping that Joe Torre and
Don Mattingly told enough great Yankee stories last year to entice Martin to pursue
a Yankee career!
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
There’s still a lot of work to be done between now and
spring training so hopefully things start to fall into place soon. Okay Cliff, the next move is up to you…
Waiting for the Baseball Winter Meetings to start seems
like an eternity. The meetings are next
week, but this week has been relatively slow aside from today’s free agent
signing of Adam Dunn by the Chicago White Sox (nice pickup, by the way). When I woke up, I was met with the headline
of ‘Yankees Re-Sign Sergio Mitre’.
Unfortunately, that did little to excite me…
I am not a “Meat Tray” fan, but for some reason, manager Joe
Girardi has been in his corner since his days as manager of the Florida
Marlins. Conversely, the Yankees
non-tendered Dustin Moseley today which I thought was a mistake. Moseley proved to be very capable as a spot
starter and bullpen arm. I realize that
if the Yankees sign Cliff Lee and Andy Pettitte returns (which everyone
expects), then Ivan Nova becomes the “#6” starter. Also, re-signing Mitre had an impact. But, still, it was a mistake to let go of
Andrew Burton/Getty Images
The Yankees decision to non-tender pitcher Alfredo Aceves
surprised me somewhat. However, when I
heard that he had re-injured himself this off-season in a freak accident (bike
accident), I realized that it would probably be best for him to start over
somewhere else. The Yankees did tender
the guys that really mattered (Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan, and Phil Hughes).
The Yankees quietly signed relief pitcher Buddy Carlyle
who is returning from Japan. Carlyle
underachieved during his previous major league stint, most recently with the
Atlanta Braves in 2009. Nevertheless,
you can never have enough fodder for the bullpen during spring training. As the Tampa Bay Rays showed last year, you
never know what you might find (stellar setup artist Joaquin Benoit).
I was pleased to see the Derek Jeter negotiations take a
positive turn this week. Jeter and his
agent Casey Close were smart to engage the Yankees in Tampa. There has been no negative comments made by
either side this week and it appears the Yankees are willing to increase their
offer while the Jeter side is willing to reduce their demands. Everybody knows this marriage will continue
so there was no sense airing the dirty laundry in the difficult
negotiations. Hopefully, they’ll come
to an agreement sooner rather than later so that we can move on to more
important things…like signing Cliff Lee!
Speaking of Jeter, it’s funny how much attention this has
gotten. Troy Tulowitzki, arguably one of the greatest shortstops in the game
today, signs a huge long-term extension and it gets marginal print. DJ, a soon-to-be 37-year old, past his prime,
shortstop garners national attention.
The photos of Jeter in other uniforms were particularly humorous. I’m sure that Julia loved Red Sock Jeter…
The Beckett Blog
While I saw that Zack Greinke might be willing to waive
his no-trade clause for the Yankees, I’d have to say that I still prefer Cliff
Lee. I know that Cliff will soon be 32
and Greinke is about 6 years younger, but the difference is that I know Cliff
can handle New York. Plus, he would only
cost money whereas Greinke would cost quality prospects plus money in the
long-term. I want to see Jesus Montero
as the Yankees starting catcher in 2011 so I am hopeful that the Yankees aren’t
faced with a scenario where they “need” to acquire Greinke.
Can I wake up to the headline ‘Yankees Re-Sign Rivera’
P.S. I have to show this video clip. The veteran on the left, Fang Wong, is my wife’s uncle and he is one of the greatest people I’ve met in my life. His strong sense of humor doesn’t show through but I can assure you he is one of the funniest and most intelligent guys I’ve met. Plus, he is a die-hard Yankees fan…
Next week (the Baseball Winter Meetings) is my favorite
time of the off-season. Like the trading
deadline in July, each day of the meetings bring anticipation and the hope that
your team can improve themselves in some way.
For this year’s Yankees, it will hopefully bring pitcher Cliff Lee to
the Bronx and perhaps bring an end to the impasse between the team and star
shortstop Derek Jeter.
Today was an interesting day with reports that the Texas
Rangers had approached free agent pitcher Andy Pettitte. Subsequently, the Rangers were denying those
reports. However, I wonder if the “rumor”
had been strategically placed in the media by the Rangers or an alliance to
tweak the Yankees. Pettitte is already
on record saying that if he plays, it will be with the Yankees or no one. If his only attraction was to play in Texas
to be closer to home, then maybe I could be convinced that the Rangers rumor
has legs. However, at this stage of Andy’s
career, it is simply whether or not he wants to stay home with his family with
no baseball distractions or play one more year with the Yankees to build upon
his legacy. The three years in Houston
already cost him the status of the greatest lefthander in Yankees history. At this point, he is playing for the way he
wants to be remembered (if he decides to play).
There was also a report that the San Francisco Giants, on
a day that saw shortstop Juan Uribe sign with the division rival Los Angeles
Dodgers, had reached out to the agent of Derek Jeter. Financially-speaking, there is no way the
Giants can compete with the Yankees offer.
Yes, they have the money, thanks to the World Series championship, but
it would be foolish on their part to invest that kind of money in an aging
shortstop when the money could be better spent in other areas to improve the
team in its 2011 title defense.
For as loud as the Jeter negotiations have been, there
has hardly been a peep about the Yankees negotiation with closer Mariano
Rivera. Tonight, the Toronto Sun is
reporting the parties are close to an agreement that will pay Mo $17 million
next year. There is still a question
about whether it will be for one or two years.
Every time I hear those kind of dollars, it always makes me remember
when George Steinbrenner said that he’d never pay a pitcher a million dollars a
year. I think that was the year Ron
Guidry had to settle for $900,000.
One Yankees is gone.
The Florida Marlins signed former Yankees pitcher Javier Vazquez. I saw one headline that said the Marlins
stole Vazquez from the Yankees, but of course, the team made no effort to
re-sign Javy after the very disappointing 2010 campaign. Early last season, one writer called Javy a
National League pitcher and I have to agree.
I wanted him to succeed in New York, but I am just not convinced that
would ever happen. It’s too bad. I like Javy and I wish him the best in the
National League East. He certainly knows
the division from his days with the Atlanta Braves. The competition is steep but you have to like
the Marlins starting rotation. I am not
going to anoint them as the next World Series champion and they still have to successfully
replace the production of former second baseman Dan Uggla, but the Giants
proved that as long as you have pitching, nothing else really matters. I say that in jest but there is a certain
degree of truth assuming that you have the players capable of scoring runs and
playing defense. The Yankees pick up a
supplementary draft pick due the free agent loss since they offered Vazquez
arbitration (which he had agreed to decline).
I liked the Texas Rangers signing of catcher Yorvit
Torrealba. The Yankees will be in the
market for a strong backup catcher in light of the decision to permanently move
Jorge Posada to DH and make minor leaguer Jesus Montero the starter. At some point, Austin Romine will be in the
Bronx and perhaps the starting catcher, but I don’t think the Yanks can afford
to go into the season with both Romine and Montero on the roster. I like Francisco Cervelli but I don’t think
he’s the answer either. The Yankees need
to find a solid, veteran backup for Montero.
John Buck, who has since signed with the Marlins, and Torrealba are
certainly guys who could have fit the bill.
Now, the team will need to look at guys like Bengie Molina if they
decide to go externally for a backup.
Congratulations to all the former Yankees on the Hall of
Fame ballot. Of course, I’ll always pull
for my favorite living former Yankee, Don Mattingly, but I agree that his back
problems robbed him of the additional years he really needed for
induction. The other former Yanks
include Tino Martinez, Kevin Brown, Al Leiter, Fred McGriff (why did we trade
him again?), Raul Mondesi, John Olerud, Tim Raines, and Lee Smith. Of the group, Martinez was really the only
one who defined himself in pinstripes but I don’t see him making the Hall of
Fame. Sorry Tino, but I can assure you
that I was a huge fan every game you played for the Yankees.
Barton Silverman/The New York Times
I was very saddened today to hear the news of the passing
of former Yankees infielder Gil McDougald.
Growing up as a kid, I’d read about the great Yankees of the 1950’s
dynasty and they always included mention of McDougald. He only played for 10 years but they were
perhaps the greatest 10 years of Yankees history as he teamed with Mickey
Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, and Billy Martin to dominate the 50’s with 5
World Series championships. I remember
thinking as a kid how cool his name was.
I wish I could have seen those 50’s teams playing for Casey
Stengel. It would have been a great time
to be a Yankees fan.
There always seems to be a lull in baseball activity
following the conclusion of the World Series until the start of the baseball
winter meetings in early December. There
are generally a few free agent signings but generally not the top shelf talent
that is available. So, yesterday was a
fairly active day for the Yankees, all things considered.
The biggest news was the surprise announcement of the new
pitching coach. After continually
hearing the names of Mike Harkey, Scott Aldred, Gil Patterson and even Rick Petterson,
the Yankees named Chicago Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild to the
post. Rothschild’s name had not surfaced
in media reports and I was very pleased to see the hiring of a coach with his
experience and credentials. Rothschild
was the first manager for the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and has been with
the Cubs since 2002.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that A.J.
Burnett will be number one on Rothschild’s priority list. He has to figure out a way to restore Burnett’s
confidence and get him back to pitching like he did for the 2008 Toronto Blue
Jays and the 2009 Yankees. Joba
Chamberlain will also be on the priority list.
I have seen so many reports that Joba would be better served by a change
in scenery but I still think he can achieve success in New York. The continued progression of Phil Hughes is
another key for the 2011 season.
I think the Yankees would have been fine with someone
like Gil Patterson or Rick Petterson, but they are definitely better with
Rothschild. Good move by GM Brian
Cashman and Manager Joe Girardi. I
thought it was funny when I read Rothschild’s comments about the unique
interview experience but I am glad that Cashman made the applicants prove they
were up for the challenge.
There were a few roster moves as the Yankees released
bullpen pitcher Jonathan Albaladejo so that he could sign with a Japanese
club. He had a great AAA season this
year, but he didn’t really get much of an opportunity at the big league
level. I wish him the best with the
Yomiuri Giants and hope that it propels him to another big league opportunity
down the road.
The Yankees also acquired Atlanta Braves minor league
outfielder Cody Johnson for cash considerations. A former top draft pick (24th
selection in the first round in 2006), Johnson has power but also has a
tendency to strike out…a lot. It looks
like the Braves have given up on him, but he is still young enough (22) for the
Yankees to try and correct the deficiencies in his game. This looks like one of those low cost, high
reward moves that Boston GM Theo Epstein is so good about.
Mark Almond/The Birmingham News
In the other roster moves made yesterday, the Yankees
placed three Rule 5 draft eligible prospects on the 40-man roster to protect
them. Included were top prospects (Dellin
Betances, perhaps the best pitching prospect in the organization, and third
baseman Brandon Laird). In a breakout
season, Laird, brother of Detroit Tigers catcher Gerald Laird, had 25 home runs
and 102 RBI’s between AA and AAA this year.
The third prospect placed on the 40-man roster was reliever Ryan Pope.
There were also reports that the Yankees were making an
offer of three years at $45 million for Derek Jeter. I doubt DJ accepts the offer but I think it
is a very fair one. Signing elsewhere,
there is no way he would get more than $10 million per season, so overpaying by
$5 mil per year on a contract that will take DJ to nearly 40 years of age is
generous and cognizant of DJ’s contributions and value to the
organization. I keep hearing that he’ll
have to consider a position switch at some point, but where would you put him? I’d hate to lose an outfield position to a
player with declining skills. Would he
be better than Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson or Nick Swisher? That’s a tough question. Perhaps if you had a Justin Upton or Carl
Crawford in the outfield to go with Granderson, you could fill the other corner
outfield spot with Jeter.
In another transaction this week, the Yankees made their
first trade with former Yankees consultant and new Arizona Diamondbacks GM
Kevin Towers. They shipped first baseman
Juan Miranda, who was out of options, to the D-Backs for pitcher Scott
Allen. I saw one report that called him “Scottie”. I really hope that he doesn’t go by that
name. It sounds like a little black dog
to me, or at the very least, the chief engineer on the Starship
No movement on the Cliff Lee front, but I don’t think
anyone expects him to sign until the baseball winter meetings or later. Next week will probably be very quiet from a
baseball perspective, but hopefully, the Hot Stove League will start cranking
up by the first of December. I am very anxious
to see who makes the trip to Tampa for spring training in February. It would be nice to see a Yankees limo
waiting at the Tampa airport for an incoming flight from Little Rock, Arkansas…
I fully expect the Yankees to re-sign Derek Jeter…
There has been much speculation about DJ’s next deal and
if the Yankees would truly let #2 walk away or if they could afford to from a
historical perspective. It is not
outside of the realm of possibility for the Yankees to decide they’d be better
off putting the dollars in a younger talent.
However, I really do not expect that to happen.
I do think that it is important to see DJ record his
3,000th hit in pinstripes, although I agree if his play continues to
erode in 2011, it will be time to begin the search for his long-term
replacement. Frankly, I don’t think he
is done and I fully expect a few more strong seasons of play before the sunset
begins. Granted, they may not be
All-Star caliber but DJ can still man short on a championship squad. But obviously they’ll need a strong back-up
when training camp breaks next Spring.
Hopefully, Derek’s deal will include a role with the
organization when his playing days are over.
I do not know what he intends to do in his post-playing days but he is a
face of the organization and the continued association between the two parties
is mutually beneficial for all.
Here’s hoping the Yankees can come up with a creative
contract that entices DJ to finish his career with the Yankees while not
causing the Yankees to seek improvements in other areas due to financial
constraints. Life under Hal Steinbrenner
is different than life under George, and the Yankees won’t throw dollars at a
player simply because they can like they did in the old days.
As for the Cliff Lee chase, I am not sure what I
think. As much as I would like Cliff on
the Yankees, I definitely do not underestimate the Texas Rangers. When you read about Cliff Lee and his
Arkansas roots, it is clear that he is not a “me-first” kind of guy. On one hand, playing in Texas would be good
for him due to its close proximity to his home.
But conversely, if he signs a big deal with the Rangers, he will be THE
GUY in Texas. Success and failure will
be attributed to him. Whereas, signing
in New York, although he’d be on baseball’s biggest stage, he’d line up as the
#2 starter behind CC Sabathia. So, there
would actually be less pressure in New York, as hard as that is to
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
The Yankees clearly need to improve their starting
rotation if they intend to succeed next season.
I expect CC to come back strong, but after that, the rotation is a
question mark. Phil Hughes has to take
it to the next level so the new pitching coach, whenever he is announced, will
have two major projects in Hughes and A.J. Burnett. I read the comments made by Andy Pettitte
where he said that he hasn’t decided yet and is enjoying being home in Deer
Park, Texas right now. He went on to say
that if he does play, it will only be for one more season and only for the
Yankees. At this point, I do think he’ll
come back for that final season. But if
not, I am prepared to accept Ivan Nova as the #5 starter. So this winter, the key is clearly coming up
with an ace to team with Sabathia.
From the sounds of it, the next pitching coach is the
current highest priority. Bullpen coach
Mike Harkey, Triple A pitching instructor Scott Aldred and former Yankees
pitcher Gil Patterson have been mentioned.
I am probably leaning toward Patterson, who is currently a pitching
coordinator in the Oakland A’s organization.
Nevertheless, I certainly would not be displeased to see Harkey get the
job. I don’t know much about Aldred but
I am sure that GM Brian Cashman and Manager Joe Girardi will make the right
choice. Maybe they consider hiring two…one
exclusively for A.J. Burnett!
At this point in his career, I’d probably prefer to see
the Yankees sign Mariano to a short-term deal.
He showed no effects of age last season, but the day will come when he
no longer has it. Ask Trevor
Hoffman. It would be sad seeing Mo
bounce around with a few teams at the end of his career. I’d prefer to see him step away on his own
terms when the time comes. Until then, I
do hope that it is in pinstripes.
I am completely in favor of the Yankees plan to move
Jorge Posada to full-time DH. I think he
still has a productive bat that can be enhanced by avoiding the rigors of
catching. Plus, it is time to see what
Jesus Montero and Austin Romine can do.
It will be interesting to see what the Yankees do with
the bullpen. Now that Kerry Wood has
been cut loose and will most likely sign a deal to be a closer elsewhere, the
Yankees need to ensure that they have choices in training camp for the bridge
to Mo (beyond Joba Chamberlain and other in house options like David
Robertson). Both are certainly capable
pitchers and I’d like to see one of them step forward in training camp. But there definitely needs to be a safety
net, plus an option for a back-up closer given Mo’s age.
This will be a critical off-season for the Yankees. The moves they make with Jeter, Rivera and
Posada have to be made with the future in mind.
Plus, they need to give the team a starting rotation that can shut down
hot hitters in October (unlike this past season). But getting to October will be
challenging. A healthy Boston team has
to be viewed as the favorite. GM Theo
Epstein has already been active in picking up former Florida Marlins pitcher
Andrew Miller. A former top draft pick,
Miller hasn’t succeeded yet, but he is still young enough to achieve his
potential. The Tampa Bay Rays should be competitive
but they are a bit of a wild card until we have an idea of what their 2011 team
will look like. I fully expect improved
play from the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles, both teams with quality
managers and strong young talent. I have
no doubt that Brian Cashman will continue racking up frequent flyer miles and
hotel award points as he looks to improve the 2011 squad…
But considering that he is the general manager of the New York Yankees, Brian knows the score. The moves he makes now must ensure success in October 2011. Nothing else matters.
Last week, I had the good fortune to travel to New
York on business. I delayed my return
home until Sunday so that I’d have a day to spend in the city…
There were really only two things that I really
wanted to do. One was to attend the New
York City Marathon Expo that was being held at the Jacob Javits Center on
Saturday, November 6th. The
other was to have dinner in Greenwich Village.
So, with some thought the night before, I embarked
on my journey when Saturday arrived.
First, I started the day by running on the hotel treadmill. 8 miles on a treadmill can be a long, long
experience, but it gave me some time to think about what I wanted to do. After my run, I got ready and headed out the
The first destination was to find H&H Bagels on
46th Street and 12th Avenue. I’ve been to other H&H Bagels locations
but I had not found this one before.
H&H Bagels has been featured on several TV shows, like Sex in the
City and Seinfeld, but, seriously, their bagels are tremendous. They’ve always been very fresh and
delicious. I have even gone as far as to
order two dozen bagels from H&H for shipment to California.
For this day, I purchased a blueberry bagel and a
bottle of orange juice. I walked over to
a nearby bench in close proximity to the USS Intrepid and enjoyed the bounty
from H&H Bagels. It was well worth
Next, I walked down to the Jacob Javits Center for
the ING New York City Marathon Expo. I
am a runner and although I’ve only run one marathon (2008 NYC Marathon), I do
have the ambition to run more. I had
intended to run in the 2009 NYC Marathon but a stress fracture in my leg forced
a hiatus from running that cost me to withdraw from both the San Francisco and
New York Marathons. 2010 has been about
trying to get back into running and I decided that I’d avoid trying a marathon
this year, however, 2011 is a different story.
I’ve already registered for the 2011 Los Angeles Marathon which will be
held on March 20, 2011. Still, the NYC
Marathon was such an incredible experience, it is something that I do want to
LA has a good route for their marathon. It starts with a run around Dodger Stadium,
heads through Hollywood and Beverly Hills and makes it way to Santa Monica and
the Pacific Ocean. I love that area, so
it will be a fun experience. But nothing
compares to New York. The marathon
starts in Staten Island and eventually makes its way through all five boroughs
before finishing in Central Park. To run
for 26.2 miles with New York crowds cheering you on for every step of the way
is phenomenal. Coming off the Queensboro
Bridge into Manhattan was probably one of my favorite spots. Well, the finish line was a welcome sight
Well, back to the Expo. I wanted to experience the marathon through
the Expo and did find a good running t-shirt and a back pack. However, I found that I was so envious of the
runners who had their entry packets in hand.
I definitely was wishing that I had been able to run this year’s
marathon. I walked the Expo for several
hours and then bought a sandwich for lunch.
Next, I did something that I’ve wanted to do for a
very long time. For all my trips to New
York, I’ve never gone to visit the grave of my idol, Lou Gehrig. Finally, I decided that today was the
day. So with just having the name of the
cemetery and name of the town, I hopped on the subway to Grand Central Station
and caught the Metro North Railroad Harlem Line to Valhalla, NY. From there, I walked a little under a mile to
the Kensico Cemetery. After walked the
cemetery and getting directions from other visitors, I found the grave. I was a bit surprised at how modest the
headstone was and for all I know about Lou, I didn’t know about the “typo” on
his headstone. The year of his birth is
erroneously shown as 1905 (he was born in 1903). But for as modest as the headstone was, the
location was so serene. I thought it was
the perfect place for burial and given its close proximity to Manhattan, I was
overtaken by the charm of the quaint, quiet town of Valhalla. Lou and Eleanor truly could not have picked a
better place to spend eternity. I sat at
the grave for awhile and just thought about the images of Lou that I’ve seen
and thought about what it must have been like to have watched him play
After leaving the cemetery, I had an hour to kill
before the train to Manhattan arrived.
By the train stop, there is a great restaurant/bar called The Valhalla
Crossing. It is inside an old train
station, and the ambiance of the establishment was first class, The service was probably one of the best I’ve
ever experienced. I could have stayed
there all night.
Heading back to Manhattan, there was just one more
thing on my to-do list. Dinner in
Greenwich Village. I took the train back
to Grand Central and then caught the Subway down to Greenwich Village. I did not have a particular restaurant in
mind (well, I had a couple but for this trip, I wanted to be open-minded). As I worked my way through Greenwich Village,
I stopped at my favorite coffee spot, the Porto Rico Importing Company at 201
Bleecker Street. It is the best way to
find coffee beans by the pound. When I
lived in Delaware, I would make a trip for no other reason than to go to Porto
Rico. Highly recommended.
As I continued my walk down Bleecker Street, I came
to Cornelia Street and remembered a Greenwich Village tour I had taken several
years ago. One of the stops was the
Cornelia Street Café. I remember
thinking at the time that it was someplace I’d like to have dinner. On this night, I thought my plan would be
rebuffed when the waiter asked me if I had reservations. Fortunately, there was a seat at the bar, so
I gladly accepted my option and had a great meal. It was fun listening to the couple next to me
talking about how their son would be running the New York City Marathon the
next day. It kind of brought the day
It was an incredibly enjoyable day in the city of
New York. The only thing better would
have been a 28th World Championship by the Yankees. Oh well, throw mega millions at Cliff Lee and
let’s crank up this machine for 2011!
By the way, I registered for the lottery for entry to the 2011 ING New York City Marathon! Wish me luck!
It seems weird that the Yankees season is over with
the World Series set to begin tonight.
When I was a kid growing up in Iowa, there was a cartoonist who worked
for The Des Moines Register that used to say it wasn’t an official World Series
unless the Yankees were in it. I have
always believed those words! 😉
Seriously, it is interesting that we finally have a
World Series with two teams that do not have a history of World Series success. For the Texas Rangers, they’ve never been to
the World Series, and for the Giants, they’ve never won a World Series since
they moved to San Francisco although they have made a couple of trips. Given that I live in the Bay Area and the
Giants have generally been my preferred NL team over the years, I’ll be pulling
for them tonight as they embark on Game 1 against the Rangers.
There are no active Giants players with ties to the Yankees
organization, however, the Yankees do have a presence through the coaching
staff and back office. The two most
notable individuals are GM Brian Sabean who started in the
Yankees front office working for George Steinbrenner and pitching coach Dave Righetti. I always chuckle when I think of Rags as a
pitching coach. Please don’t get me
wrong. I think he’s a terrific coach and
he was a great player, however, when he was young…before he “made it” to the
big leagues for good, he used to struggle with his control. So, he was the guy who needed such intensive
coaching and now he is the master. I
lived in Dallas for 14 years and during many of those years, Rags was the
Yankees closer. So, I have so many
memories of Rags closing out games in Arlington, Texas. So, in many ways, he’ll be returning to an
area that he is well familiar with and has enjoyed success. Hopefully, he’ll be able to pass on that
success to Tim Lincecum and company.
Some of the other names in the Giants organization
who have past connections to the Yankees:
Roberto Kelly, First Base
I remember being upset when the Yankees traded
Kelly to the Cincinnati Reds for Paul O’Neill.
Ha! I think that trade worked out
well for the Yanks. Sorry Roberto…
Hensley Meulens, Batting Coach
I remember when “Bam Bam” was a much-hyped
youngster with so much promise. He never
achieved success with the Yanks and was eventually sold to a team in Japan.
Henry Cotto, Coordinator,
Cotto was a bench player for the Yankees during the
lean years (1985 to 1987). I think of
him more as a Chicago Cub although he only played one year for them
(1984). He had an undistinguished career
but he definitely could run.
Lee Smith, Coordinator,
Lee is obviously better known for his great years
with the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals, but he was with the Yankees in
1993 toward the end of his career. He
was a late season pickup and did well during his short stint even though the
Yankees did not that year.
J.T. Snow, Special Assistant
Snow, the son of former Los Angeles Rams great Jack
Snow, was originally drafted by the Yankees.
But he was traded in the deal that brought Jim Abbott to New York. He had some productive years for the Angels
but he achieved his greatest success with the Giants.
Dick Tidrow, Vice President,
Tidrow is definitely one of the more notable
Yankees as he played a very prominent role in the Yankees bullpen during their
two championships in the late 70’s. As a
kid growing up, he and Sparky Lyle were the faces of the bullpen.
Fred Stanley, Director, Player
Another player from those World Championship clubs
of 1977 and 1978, “Chicken” backed up shortstop Bucky Dent and was a valued
reserve during those years.
Joe Lefebvre, Senior Adviser,
Drafted by the Yankees, he only played for the team
one year (1980) before moving on to the San Diego Padres and Philadelphia
Phillies. However, he did play a part in
helping the Yankees win the AL East Division that year. I remember 1980 as the year the Yankees won
103 games but lost to the Kansas City Royals in the play-offs resulting in the
firing of late manager Dick Howser (back when George had a very itchy trigger
finger when it came to managers).
This “prayer” was making its rounds on email
yesterday. I do not know who the author
ors, as we forgive those who home run against us. Lead us not into defeat, but help us beat the
Rangers…with the help of the Beard, the Buster and
the Dirty Dozen.
Here’s hoping the former Yankees enjoy a World
Series championship in 2010!
As for the Yankees, they are apparently negotiating
a new 3-year deal with manager Joe Girardi.
I am glad to see that they are working to resolve Girardi’s situation
quickly so they can focus on the critical needs of the team. GM Brian Cashman acted very swiftly in
announcing that pitching coach Dave Eiland would not return. I have no issues with the decision. The Yankees starting pitching underperformed
this year, and A.J. Burnett and Javier Vazquez were the biggest reasons
why. I also think that Phil Hughes was
capable of more than he showed down the stretch. I am not sure who’d be the best candidate to
replace Eiland. Hey, I’d love to see
Dave Righetti back in New York but unfortunately he’s not going anywhere. Hopefully, Cashman and Girardi will be very
selective about who they chose for the very important role.
I saw this morning that CC Sabathia will be having
minor knee surgery. While this procedure
does not sound serious, I hope it is not indicative of the start of future
problems associated with CC’s weight.
This does show how critical it is for the Yankees to secure another ace
for the staff. Like everyone else, I am
strongly in favor of signing free agent to be Cliff Lee, however, I am very
dismayed at the reports of the poor treatment his wife received from the
Yankees fans during the ALCS at Yankee Stadium.
That type of abuse is completely unacceptable and it is an embarrassment
to be associated with those types of Yankee “fans”. I use the term “fans” very loosely because
those idiots are very poor representation of “fans”.
Hopefully, this does not keep the Lee’s from
considering an offer to join the Yankees.
I know it will be a tough, uphill battle to sign Lee as it is, and they
certainly did not need ill-treatment by the fans to give Mrs. Lee a strong
reason for not wanting to come to New York.
I want the core Yankees to return (Derek Jeter,
Mariano Rivera, and Andy Pettitte).
However, I do not feel that the Yankees should overpay to convince them
to stay. So, if it is time to sever
ties, I am prepared as I feel the money would be better served to help bring
younger, more talented (at this stage of their careers) to New York to help
pursue a championship in 2011. Of the
core, I think re-signing Mariano Rivera is the most vital. He is still performing at a top level,
although the Yankees would be well served to re-sign Kerry Wood if
possible. I don’t want Derek Jeter to
leave but at some point, he is going to start becoming a liability at
short. I’d rather see the team cut ties
before rather than after that happens. I
want Andy Pettitte to return, but I would not want to see high expectations
placed on him. Put him in the #4 or #5
spot in the rotation and be satisfied with the results if he decides to
return. I didn’t mention the last core
member, Jorge Posada, since he is still under contract. However, I am ready for a change at
catcher. Just like the Boston Red Sox
moved Jason Varitek to a reserve role, the Yankees should do the same with
Jorge. At 39, he is past his prime at
the catching position and now is the time for the highly heralded Jesus Montero
if he can show in spring training that he is ready for the job. If the Yankees do sign Cliff Lee, it would be
great to see Lee pitching to Montero since Montero would have been the cost of
a trade with Seattle to get Lee before they reneged and moved him to Texas.
As for the Hot Stove League rumors, I have to admit
that I am somewhat intrigued by the potential of bringing Jayson Werth to New
York to play right field. As much as I
like Nick Swisher, he is a streaky hitter and hasn’t shown the clutch bat in
October like Werth has. Of course, I
would love to have Carl Crawford in left, but I think right is a greater
need. I fully expect Brett Gardner to
continue to improve. Granted, he is no
Carl Crawford, but his speed is very disruptive on the bases and he showed a
much better ability to get on base this year.
Brian Cashman definitely has his work cut out for
him this off-season. It should be
Thus endeth the season…
Antonelli/NY Daily News
The Yankees were outplayed and outpitched by an
inferior Texas Rangers squad and it was very disappointing to watch. The truth is these Yankees have looked very
subpar since August. Their ALDS victory
over the Minnesota Twins was most likely a fluke given their dominance of the
Twins in recent years. The Yankee bats
were silent during the ALCS with the most visible being Alex Rodriguez. But I really think, as many do, the primary
problem was the lack of consistent and quality pitching.
Antonelli/NY Daily News
CC Sabathia had a few starts where he looked like
an ace, but he had more starts that looked very average. Unlike last year, there wasn’t a sense of
invincibility when CC took the mound…at least not like when Cliff Lee takes the
hill for the Rangers or Tim Lincecum for the San Francisco Giants or Roy
Halladay for the Philadelphia Phillies.
A.J. Burnett was an absolute disaster this
year. I am not sure what happened. He pitched so great for the Yankees in 2009
and for the Toronto Blue Jays the year before.
But this year, he was clearly gasoline on the fire. He needs to re-dedicate himself to his craft
this off-season to see if he can dig deep to re-find his talent.
I thought Andy Pettitte did a very good job this
year, but there was obviously much down time with the injury that put him on
the DL. At his age, there is no doubt
that we’ve seen the best of Andy. If
Andy doesn’t decide to retire in the off-season and returns to the Yankees next
year, I’d prefer they make him the #4 or #5 starter and accept whatever you can
get from him.
Phil Hughes is a primary key for future
success. He is another guy that needs to
find a way to take his talent to the next level. He has the stuff so he needs to find a way to
become the pitcher he is capable of becoming.
An 18-game winner, it’s been said that he was probably a 12-13 game
winner on any other team. That’s
probably true. As the pitcher who took
the loss that sent the Yankees home for the season, I hope that he is able to
harness the frustration into a desire to come back stronger than ever next
The trade for Javier Vazquez was clearly a
mistake. As much as I wanted Javy to
succeed in the Bronx, I was fearful when I first heard the Yankees had
re-acquired him. Those fears turned out
to be justified. A free agent, there is
no way the Yankees will attempt to bring him back.
I am not quite sure what the future holds, but the
Yankees need to find a way to improve the pitching staff. The obvious target is Rangers ace Cliff Lee,
a free agent at the end of the season.
However, the Rangers will be making a very hard run at him after the
World Series and of course he will have a sentimental attachment to being part
of a World Series club. So, I’d have to
believe, at this point, that the Rangers have the advantage over the Yankees in
Antonelli/NY Daily News
Another potential target is Kansas City Royals
starter Zach Greinke, who the Royals intend to move. Any way you slice it, GM Brian Cashman has his
work cut out for him this off-season if he intends to bring the Yankees back to
a championship-caliber club. Age is not
the Yankees friend and they cannot win again if they remain status quo.
As for the World Series, I still think the
Philadelphia Phillies are the favorite.
I realize they are down 3 games to 2 to the San Francisco Giants, a
situation the Yankees failed to overcome.
But the difference is the Phillies pitching staff and the fact that the
remaining games are in Philly. Don’t get
me wrong, I’d love to see the San Francisco Giants close out the series and
advance. I live in the Bay Area and many
of my friends are Giants fans. I am also
a fan of Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti and would like to see him working
with the Giants pitching staff in the World Series. So, I’ll be cheering for the Giants but I am
fully aware the NLCS is far from over.
Lea Suzuki/The Chronicle
Congratulations to the Texas Rangers for reaching
their first World Series. I lived in
Dallas for 14 years and it was clearly a town dominated by the Cowboys. The Rangers were never successful during my
years there and the fans didn’t have the passion for the team that I saw
watching the ALCS this year. So, it is
clear that the baseball fans in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex are starving
for a winner and now they have their chance.
I never became fond of the Rangers while living there, perhaps because I
always went to the games when the Yankees were in town so I was constantly
rooting against them. However, my son is
a Rangers fan so he’s excited. When he
was about 2 or 3 years old, we were in a restaurant near the ballpark in
Arlington, Texas after a Rangers game.
Nolan Ryan was pitching for the Rangers at the time, and he happened to
be in the same restaurant with his family.
There weren’t too many people in the restaurant and my son was wearing a
Rangers cap we had bought at the game. My
son walked over to Nolan and asked for his autograph. Nolan took my son’s hat and signed his name
on the bill. He still has that hat today
and it has been a prized possession. It
solidified the Rangers as my son’s team of choice despite my numerous attempts
to make him a Yankees fan.
Antonelli/NY Daily News
Well, now that baseball is over for me, I’ll have
to look to my other teams for hope.
However, the prospects do not look good at this point. The Minnesota Vikings are struggling at 2-3
and have to play the Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots in the next two
weeks. Brett Favre has not been healthy
and is starting to look like a 41-year-old quarterback, not to mention the
recent text messages that have been a distraction. As for the San Jose Sharks, the season is
early but they just won their first game in the United States after a few
consecutive losses following the opening game victory in Stockholm. I think they’ll be there at the end but the
competition in the West is tough this year.
I always have the Los Angeles Lakers but they’ll have their share of
challenges this year too.
So, when do the baseball winter meetings start?…
Congratulations to the New York Yankees for their
ALDS series win over the Minnesota Twins!
Neil Miller/New York Post
I don’t know why the Yankees have enjoyed success
against the Twins. Perhaps it is why the
Toronto Blue Jays love playing the Yankees.
Some teams have other teams number and the Yankees certainly hold a psychological
edge over the Twins.
I’ve been reading many articles about which team
the Yankees would prefer facing in the American League Championship
Series. While I am still not convinced
that the Yankees have “it” this year to see them through a World Series that
most likely will feature a frontline rotation of Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and
Cole Hamels, the two potential AL contenders (Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers)
certainly have their own issues.
As for a potential ALCS opponent, I’d have to say
that I’d prefer to see the Tampa Bay Rays.
I don’t really want to see the Texas Rangers advance to the World Series
(not that I want to see the Rays go there either), but a series with the
Rangers would result in very bitter confrontations with Rangers ace Cliff
Lee. Win or lose, it could potentially
impact Cliff’s decision this offseason regarding where to sign (or
re-sign). CC Sabathia neutralizes the
advantage of David Price, and with the other starters rested, I like the team’s
chances against the other Rays starters.
Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants for
their NLDS ouster of the Atlanta Braves and future Hall of Fame manager Bobby
Cox. It was a tough fought series, and I
give the Giants credit for much heart in this series. They thrived on stellar pitching and used
small ball to topple the Braves and send Cox away at the end of the long and
successful managerial career. It was odd
seeing the final out recorded by former Yankee Melky Cabrera, who had seemed to
thrive in walk-off situations in 2009.
With the tying and winning runs on base, Melky hit a grounder to third
to end the game. With the series win in
Game 4, the Giants saved scheduled Game 5 starter Tim Lincecum for a first
round NLCS match-up against Roy Halladay and the Philadelphia Phillies. It should be a terrific pitchers’ duel…
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Well, with just one division series left to go, I
guess I’ll end with saying, ‘Go Rays!’…
I am pleasantly surprised at the Yankees’ success,
so far, against the Minnesota Twins…
I had been so disappointed with the team’s pathetic
September performance that saw them lose any chance of winning the AL
East. Within a matter of days or even
hours, they went from the possibility of the AL East Championship with home
field advantage to a road-traveling Wild Card team. It was hard to be excited about the start of
the play-offs with the team playing so poorly.
For the first two games of the ALDS series against the Twins, the
Yankees have risen to the challenge.
Granted, the Yankees have a history of success against the Twins, but I’d
be the first to say that past domination does not guarantee future domination. 2004 wasn’t that many years ago…
Vincent Laforet/The New York Times
While the Yankees have the series advantage and are
now headed for the Bronx to resume the series on Saturday night, the Twins are
far from out of it. If they can get
solid pitching and timely hitting in New York, they have a chance to take the
series back to Minnesota for the deciding Game 5. Outside of perhaps CC Sabathia, the Yankees simply
do not have a pitcher that is capable of putting up a Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee
type of performance. Even CC has his bad
days. But going into the play-offs, I
knew that the lesser guys would need to stand up and so far, Lance Berkman and
Curtis Granderson certainly have.
Sipken/NY Daily News
I am very surprised to see the AL East Champion
Tampa Bay Rays trailing their ALDS series to the Texas Rangers (down two games
to none). I realize that the Rays
struggled in September like the Yankees but I felt they were probably the best
team in the American League based primarily on their pitching staff. Like the Twins, the Rays can still get back
in the series but the Rangers have to like their chances.
There have been great pitching performances in the
National League with the no-hitter thrown by the Philadelphia Phillies’ Roy
Halladay and last night’s 14-strikeout, complete game shut-out thrown by San
Francisco’s Tim Lincecum in the Giants’ 1-0 victory over the Atlanta
Michael Macor/San Francisco Chronicle
Regardless of what happens, the League Championship
Series in both leagues should be very exciting this year. I still think the Phillies will win it all,
but the Yankees certainly have as much talent as anyone to get on a roll.
Going off-topic but staying with the ‘Minnesota to New York’ theme, I was very pleasantly surprised to
see the return of Randy Moss to the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings play the Jets in the Meadowlands on Monday night. I have retained my purple #84 jersey all
these years but never thought that I’d get a chance to wear it again. I knew that Randy had become quite vocal in
recent weeks about the lack of a contract extension and of course there was
last weekend’s blow-up with a coordinator.
Still, I did not expect the New England Patriots to trade Moss. The Vikings have clearly been missing Sidney
Rice who will be out until at least mid-season due to hip surgery. It will be interesting to see if chemistry
develops between Moss and QB Brett Favre.
It is going to be weird watching Moss catching passes from Favre after
all those years of playing against each other in the Packers-Vikings series.
At 1-2, the Vikings face a very challenging
October. After the game against the Jets, they will face the Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers and
New England Patriots to close out the month.
The team should definitely know where they stand by Halloween.