Results tagged ‘ Detroit ’
Going up or going down?…
About 20 games into the season and the Yankees are barely closer to first place than they are last place. Only two games separate the Yankees from the dismal start by the Boston Red Sox but of course the Sox are playing better as of late. It’s only April so at this point, the standings don’t really mean too much as the superior AL East teams will begin to separate themselves from the pretenders over the course of the next couple of months.
It was nice to see the Yankees pull off a walk-off win at Yankee Stadium last night against the team that seems to terrorize them in the play-offs in recent years, the Detroit Tigers. I am really surprised that Justin Verlander holds an 0-2 mark with 4.50 ERA for his career at the new Yankee Stadium. When he is on the mound, it is hard not to expect bad things for the home team. So, regardless of Verlander’s struggles at Yankee Stadium, it is still a great feeling to pick up a win on a night when he took the mound.
Cashman made the right decision…
Lately, there have been numerous columns and articles written about how disastrous the Yankees trade for Michael Pineda has become. I realize that he’s lost for the season due to his shoulder injury, but he is still a young and talented pitcher. I know there’s always a risk that he isn’t quite the pitcher was projected to be when he comes back, but I think it’s way too early to criticize the trade which sent talented hitter Jesus Montero to Seattle. Pineda’s injury was suffered on the Yankees’ watch and not while he was in Seattle, and there is still a good chance that he’s a strong, contributing part of next year’s rotation.
Phil Hughes is probably the beneficiary of Pineda’s injury as I feel that Freddy Garcia will be the odd man out when Andy Pettitte returns to the Bronx. Hughes hasn’t exactly pitched like he wants to stay, but I am not ready to see the Yankees banish him to Pittsburgh or someplace like that. Maybe I am an eternal optimist but I still believe that Hughes can prosper in New York.
I am a bit concerned by the uneven starts provided by new Yankee Hiroki Kuroda, but I think he’ll settle in and deliver consistent performances in the coming weeks and months. Yes, I do thank the lucky stars every day for CC Sabathia.
A sad day in the Yankees Universe…
I was saddened to hear the passing of Yankees great Bill “Moose” Skowron yesterday. He was part of the 1961 Yankees which will always be a special team in Yankees history for the famed M&M Boys (the year Mickey Mantle hit 54 home runs, and Roger Maris hit the then record 61 homers). But there’s no way either Mickey or Roger could have reached those heights without guys like Skowron on the roster.
Next stop, Superstardom…
Well, the Bryce Harper Show begins its maiden tour in Washington with the scheduled first start today for the ultra-hyped, super prospect National. Given that he was called up to take the roster spot of injured 3B Ryan Zimmerman, there’s always the chance that Harper goes back down when Zimmerman returns from the DL. But if Harper starts to hit like we know he will, it will be hard for the Nats to remove him from the roster. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. America loves superstars and Harper certainly has as much of a chance to be the best as anyone in the game today.
When Christian Ponder and Adrian Peterson are happy, so am I…
It’s only been three rounds, but I am pleased with the NFL draft selections made by the Minnesota Vikings. Prior to the draft, my preference for the Vikings #3 pick in the first round was USC OT Matt Kalil. There was talk that the Vikings were undecided among Kalil, CB Morris Claiborne, and WR Justin Blackmon, but in the end, it proved to be a smokescreen. I was a bit anxious when I first heard the Vikings had traded down with the Cleveland Browns, but it was clear that the Browns were going after RB Trent Richardson so there was no risk of losing Kalil off the board. At first, I didn’t understand the logic of the move, but clearly the Vikings (and GM Rick Spielman) had made the Browns fearful they’d trade down with another team which could potentially cost the Browns a shot at the premier running back in the draft. The move brought three late round picks to the Vikings and it didn’t cost them anything as they were focused on Kalil from the start.
I also like the Vikings’ subsequent picks (late first round selection of S Harrison Smith and early third round choice of speedy CB Josh Robinson). For a team that was desperate of upgrades in the secondary, they fared well. It would have been nice if Robinson were a bit taller, but his 4.33 speed at the Combines was unmatched. I think he’s good material for the coaching staff to mold for playing at this level. The Vikings have a plethora of selections today as Rounds 4-7 are completed, and I am sure that the defense will continue to get attention. I also expect the Vikings to choose a wide receiver, but I have no idea who they might target. Nevertheless, with Spielman’s decisions so far, I have no doubt that he’ll continue to bring talented playmakers to Minnesota.
As Luck would have it…
Like everyone else, I think that QB Andrew Luck has the potential to be one of the greats in the game but how much more difficult can it be to be replacing one of the greatest QB’s to play the game with added pressure of being the number one selection in the NFL Draft (along with the expectations that go with it)? If Luck succeeds, and I do not doubt that he will, he will prove, without a doubt, that he was the right choice to replace Manning. Luck, with a horseshoe on his helmet, seems like it was destiny. Meanwhile, I continue to “ponder” things in Minnesota…
Today, with Yankees-Tigers on tap and the conclusion of the NFL Draft, will be a fun day. Enjoy!
For away games, I prefer to see a Yankees pitcher on the mound for the last out…
Finally, the first win of the year has arrived. It was a bit delayed in coming, but alas, the victory came with the Yankees’ first game away from Tropicana Field. Hopefully, the Tampa Bay Rays’ home won’t become a house of horrors for the Yankees this season but it was clear for the first three games of the year that the Rays were the better team.
Still, despite the Yankees’ 0-3 record as they departed Florida (the same mark as the Boston Red Sox at the time of their departure from Detroit), I never felt the sense of doom and despair that usually accompanies losses. Sometimes, for whatever reason, the momentum of a series goes with one team. Sure, you can say better hitting and pitching will do it every time, but the Yankees could easily take the series they play against the Rays…or not. I don’t think the Yankees will sweep their latest opponent, the Baltimore Orioles, even though they’ve won something like 40 out of the last 55 games against them. But there is no doubt that the Yankees rotation will right the ship. In Minnesota, where the Twins also lost their opening series by sweep (to the Orioles) and now stand at 0-4 after a home opening loss to the Los Angeles Angels in Minneapolis, there is a sense of dread and gloom already.
While Boston matched the Yankees loss-for-loss, and finally last night, win-for-win, I haven’t sense of feeling of desperation from the Sox fans yet either. So, it’s clear in both New York and Boston that the fans expect their respective teams to perform (unlike those in the Gopher state). The main thing I hear from Boston fans is the overwhelming belief that Daniel Bard should be the team’s closer, not former Yankee Alfredo Aceves. I tend to agree as I’ve always felt that Aceves is better suited for long relief and spot starts.
Back to the Yankees, if you asked me who would pick up the first win among the quartet of CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova, there’s no question that I would not have picked Nova. I wasn’t crazy about the 10 hits he allowed, but he kept the O’s from scoring as they were only able to push 2 across home plate. I would never be foolish enough to expect Nova to be a front-of-the-rotation starter, but he is perfectly cast in the back of the rotation and I don’t care what he has to do as long as it produces W’s. With both Andy Pettitte and Michael Pineda looming on the horizon within the next couple of months, there are two starters who won’t be starting. If Nova can continue to produce, he increases the possibility that Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes are the odd men out.
Please tell me more about the medical insurance…
With so many closers on the DL (Drew Storen, Andrew Bailey, and Ryan Madson to name a few), it amazes me that not only has Mariano Rivera thrived at such a high level for so long, he’s done it without too much down time. It reinforces to me that he should be a first ballot Hall of Famer despite the Hall’s reluctance to bring closers into the fold. I am still amazed when I think that I was once disappointed that Mariano had been named closer after the departure of John Wetteland (I didn’t want Wetteland to leave via free agency). Instead, Mo has rewarded me by allowing me to witness one of the all-time Yankee greats. As a big fan of Lou Gehrig, I love the history and the tradition of the Yankees, and it’s reassuring to know that my grandchildren and their children will hear the name of Mariano Rivera.
A 5-day sabbatical and an apology is fine, but learn from the experience…
I am not quite sure what I think about the Ozzie Guillen fiasco in Miami with his pro-Fidel Castro comments. I do know that I do not feel he should lose his job so long as he shows remorse and learns from the situation. We all know that Ozzie is going to say whatever is on his mind and he’s not going to edit it first. He speaks to provoke reactions and I am not convinced that he always believes what he says. I know that’s no excuse for making insensitive comments in one of our country’s top Cuban communities. He needs to realize that his words can and will hurt. He now has a 5-game suspension to think about what he said. I don’t think it will put a muzzle on him as he is, after all, Ozzie and there’s no changing that. But I hope that he embraces Miami’s Cuban community and can show them he is on their side.
I know, sports history is littered with ruined careers thanks to misguided words. But I hope that we can find forgiveness for Ozzie so long as he doesn’t later give us a reason to regret it. I know that I will not always agree with Ozzie, but I respect him for being his own man. So, for those who say fire him, I say keep him.
I am glad that baseball is finally underway. Now, if just a few more wins could follow….
Thanks for the memories…
Although Prince Fielder had other ideas, today was Jorge Posada Day. On a day when the Milwaukee Brewers’ talented free agent signed an unexpected 9-year, $214 million contract with his father’s former team, the Detroit Tigers, a Yankee Legend called it a career. So, while Tigers fans are rejoicing, the Yankees Universe is united in sorrow to see the end of a tremendous career.
It was time. Although I knew that Posada could still hit, he was ill at ease at DH and he was no longer the consistent clutch hitter that he had once been. He could have held on for a few more years in a more limited role, but I am grateful that he recognized that it’s best not to overstay your welcome. It would have been awful to see him put on a Rays, Marlins or Mets uniform. I am sure that we would have quietly supported him, but now this way, he bled pinstripes from beginning to end. I value and appreciate the untarnished career. Don Mattingly may call Dodger Stadium “home” these days, but he’s still a Yankee. The same holds true of Posada…once a Yankee, always a Yankee.
In the late 1970’s, my favorite Yankees were catcher Thurman Munson and closer Rich “Goose” Gossage. I truly did not believe that I’d ever see two players as great as those two legends. Of course, the great Mariano Rivera has eclipsed Gossage’s career, but Posada has certainly earned the right to stand in the same room with Munson, Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey and Elston Howard. It’s ironic that long-time projected replacement Jesus Montero and Posada officially exited the Yankees on back-to-back days, but the position seems to be in capable hands with Russell Martin until future star Gary Sanchez is ready for the major leagues.
I wish Jorge the very best in whatever he decides to do next. Selfishly, I’d like to see him stay in baseball as he’d make a great future manager. I love people who are passionate about what they do, and Jorge lived and breathed passion every day. He is the type of guy that you’d want to go to battle with so long as he was on your side. The immediate thought is probably to spend some quality time with his family, but hopefully, he’ll be back in Major League Baseball as a coach sometime in the not-so-distant future.
Hip, hip, Jorge! :)
If he is following his father’s footsteps, when does he become a Yankee?…
Speaking of Fielder, I was shocked when I heard that the Detroit Tigers had signed the prolific young slugger. There were constants reports of possible signings by the Texas Rangers and the Washington Nationals, and the occasional links to passive teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers, but I have to admit that I did not suspect the Tigers. Of course, I didn’t foresee the Angels signing Albert Pujols but I suppose when you are talking about $200 million, it’s probably best not to tip your hand.
Photo ops for game winning hits…is that too much to ask for?…
I thought the Yankees and the Tigers were searching the same pool for an effective, low-cost option to DH. While I wanted the Yankees to sign Johnny Damon, I knew that he had enjoyed his time in Detroit and there seemed to be some level of interest there. Obviously, the Fielder signing takes the Tigers out of the market for someone like Damon or Hideki Matsui. But based on comments that Yankees GM Brian Cashman made earlier in the week, it sounds like a free agent slugger is Plan B. Plan A apparently involves the trade for a young, controllable hitter. I am sure that type of move is predicated upon moving a contract like A.J. Burnett’s even if it means packing a few extra dollars in his suitcases. My fear is that a trade could cause the loss of someone like Dellin Betances or Manny Banuelos which I’d hate to see. I am not sure what quality hitter is available and the market seems to be drenched with potential salary dumps. I wonder if Cash has his eye on a certain player. Still, I’d go the cheaper route and sign Damon, Matsui, or Raul Ibanez to a short-term deal. If the team offense struggles early on, the Yankees could potentially make a move in July for a veteran hitter. I am not sure that there is a young position player out there with the potential of pitcher Michael Pineda that could be had for a relatively inexpensive cost.
My fear with the Yankees offense, while they have produced, is they do not strike fear in the hearts of opposing pitchers. When Robinson Cano is in the groove, he is as good as anybody in the game. I know that Curtis Granderson had a near-MVP season last year, but I’d be surprised if teams planned their strategy around him. Yes, Alex Rodriguez was once the best player in the game, but he is a couple years removed from domination. Injuries have held him back and while he certainly has the potential to have a few more power seasons, he carries a big “if”. It would be great if Mark Teixeira could get back to the hitter he was a couple of seasons ago. Up and down the lineup, outside of Cano, there are questions. I am pleased with Granderson but I want to see him do it again before he has my complete trust.
It would have been foolish for the Yankees to pursue Fielder. Even if they have the money, it just doesn’t make financial sense to tie the organization to the player for the next decade at that kind of money. It makes me sick to think the Yankees pay A-Rod more than the Angels pay Pujols or the Tigers will pay Fielder. When A-Rod leaves the ballpark, I bet he pops the Dire Straits’ Brother in Arms into his CD player, listening to “Money for Nothing”…
A Sad Day lies ahead…
It was mentioned today that Mariano Rivera might be the next Yankees great to call it a career, possibly as soon as the end of the upcoming season. I’m telling ya, that’s going to be a day that I cry like a baby. Rivera has been my favorite among current Yankees and it will be a tough day when #42 simply walks away. I am glad that 162 regular season games and a few play-off series in October stand in the way of that dreadful day.
If Everybody Cared…
This is off-topic, but I am excited to have a ticket to the upcoming Nickelback concert tour, Here and Now. This will be my third Nickelback concert in three years. So far, I’ve seen them in two outdoor amphitheaters (San Jose, CA and Concord, CA) but this time I will be seeing them inside (in May at Target Arena, home of the NBA’s the Minnesota Timberwolves). I have also enjoyed Seether and they will be one of the opening acts. It should be a great show!
Amare, Carmelo and Fid…together again…
My next event at Target Arena, which will be my first visit to the facility, will be to cheer on the New York Knicks when they come to Minnesota to play the T-Wolves in February. Hopefully, the Arena won’t be rocking like it will with Nickelback when the Knicks come to town. In fact, I hope it’s eerily quiet. Score one for the away team!
Wanted: Clutch Hitter – Only the experienced need to apply!…
Although there have not been any official explanations for the DH plans this upcoming season, there’s been reports that the Yankees are content with a rotation to include Alex Rodriguez, Andruw Jones and Derek Jeter, with Eduardo Nunez sliding around the infield filling the holes. My concern last season and it gave me a bad feeling heading into the play-offs that the Yankees had missed the clutch bats they enjoyed when Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui were on the roster. Damon’s home run in the 2004 ALCS helped propel the Boston Red Sox to a comeback victory over the Yankees, and propelled the Sox to their first World Championship since the days of Babe Ruth. I’ve heard minor league slugger Jorge Vazquez mentioned as a possibility, but I am with those who believe that he skills do not translate to the major league level.
In my opinion, the Yankees need to do something. I am not looking for a $10 million slugger who would command 90% to 95% of the DH at-bats. I am content with someone who could take the majority of the at-bats, allowing for the A-Rod/Jeter rotation, and would know and accept their role. That’s why I feel that either Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui would make complete sense. I know the Yankees want to limit their payroll at this point and I get that. But if the difference in making the World Series or not was an additional $5 million, would it not be worth it? Yeah, yeah, it’s not my money and $5 million is a lot of money. But when you are spending $210 million, what’s $215 million? Wouldn’t the return on a championship more than replenish the difference? The Yankees have options and I know that’s why they are not in a rush. I’ve even heard Raul Ibanez’ name mentioned and would agree that he would be a viable option. I guess I have greater affection for guys who have proven they can win in pinstripes.
It’s funny but the Philadelphia Phillies look like geniuses for signing Jim Thome early in the off-season. At the time, it looked like a bad fit. Maybe he stays with the Phillies, but they could actually move him for something at this point given the DH desperation that exists for a number of teams besides the Yankees (like the Detroit Tigers, for example). If GM Ruben Amaro could somehow swing Thome for a decent prospect, he’d build upon his legacy as a great general manager.
It will be interesting to see how the coming weeks play out, but the Yankees clearly need a guy who can come through in the clutch. Now more than ever…
If he is older than dirt, what does that make me?…
Congratulations to Jamie Moyer for his minor league contract with an invitation to spring training with the Colorado Rockies. I was really surprised when I heard that Moyer intended to make a comeback following his recovery. At 49, the odds are probably against him, but you have to love his no-quit mentality.
Sometimes good fans are the difference…
Similar congratulations go to reliever Joel Zumaya, who signed with a quality organization (the Minnesota Twins). Ironically, it was at Target Field where Zumaya’s elbow exploded a couple of years ago. I remember when he was hailed as THE flamethrower in the league, and was a huge part of the Detroit Tigers bullpen. It’s anybody’s guess what kind of pitcher he will be going forward, but it would be good to see him recapture success for an organization that deserves better than last year’s 99 losses. With the departure of Joe Nathan and the inconsistency of Matt Capps, there’s certainly going to be opportunity with the closing and set up roles for the Twins.
It was a bit hard to imagine Zumaya throwing from the mound at Target Field this morning as the temperature reading in my car read -10 degrees in downtown Minneapolis. The weathermen were reporting that with the wind chill factor, it felt like -38. In weather like that, it’s hard to imagine that the lights of Target Field will be back on in just a couple of months. While I admit that the 16 degrees I experienced in Winnipeg, Manitoba a few weeks back felt much colder, there’s no question that in temps like this you just want to go from your heated house to your heated car to your heated work. This past summer, I was in Phoenix when it was in the 120’s. All things considered, I’ll gladly take -38 in Minneapolis as opposed to 122 degrees in Phoenix. I don’t care that it’s paradise in Arizona right now…
Back to the Yankees, I’ve wondered if some kind of deal involving the Chicago Cubs would work. The Yankees want to unload A.J. Burnett, and he’d clearly benefit from a change of scenery. He’d also be more effective in the National League at this point. I wouldn’t say that the pressure would be less in Chicago, but I think A.J. could more himself. Conversely, the Cubs have an albatross with Alfonso Soriano. Soriano could still be a fairly productive DH at this point in his career. Not that I want to give two rosters spots to over-paid, under-productive Sorianos but it would be a potential solution. I think I can speak for most Yankees fan when I say that we’ve rode the Burnett train about as far as we care to. Now that Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda have all but pushed Burnett out of the rotation, a win-win trade with the Cubs would certainly make sense.
Yeah, you and what bank?…
If I’m Cole Hamels, I am going for free agency in the fall of 2012. Don’t even talk to me about an extension! If the Texas Rangers will lay out $110 million for an unproven, albeit very highly talented, pitcher, there’s no question what a championship performer like Hamels can command on the open market.
I choose you, no, maybe you…
I am glad that Bartolo Colon was able to find a home with the Oakland A’s, but admittedly, I am glad that he is not returning for an encore performance in the Bronx. I am not quite sure with what happened between Colon and the Arizona Diamondbacks (he apparently agreed with them and then reneged, ala David Wells a few years ago), but I am sure he had his reasons for why Oakland was a better fit. But I guess those reasons didn’t include W’s…
Those pesky Nats!…
As for the ongoing Prince Fielder sweepstakes, I just wish the Washington Nationals would put one of those ridiculous Jayson Werth type contracts in front of him and get him signed. I’d be surprised if the Texas Rangers were financially able to sign both Yu Darvish and Fielder but stranger things have happened. I really don’t want to see Fielder in for Mitch Moreland on the defending AL Champions. I still think the Los Angeles Angels, thanks to Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, are a better team in the AL West, with or without Fielder on the Rangers, but I certainly do not want the potential roadblocks to a Yankees World Series getting stronger.
First base at Yankee Stadium will forever mean Lou Gehrig to me until the day I die, even if I didn’t personally get to see him play. For what I have seen, Don Mattingly is the epitome of greatness. I was a bit skeptical when Tino Martinez took over for Mattingly, but he played the position as well as anyone could have following the footprints of #23. I loved the signing of Mark Teixeira and he was a prime reason for the Yankees success in 2009, but after a couple of disappointing seasons with the usual stone cold starts, something has to give. Defense alone at first base is not enough. Not that I want to go back to the days of Giambi (great bat, not-so-great glove), but Tex needs to dedicate himself to an improved performance in 2012. I know that we’ll have to deal with the usual sluggish start, but he needs to show that he can be more like the 2009 Teixeira than the 2011 version.
Well, I am at this end of this post, but I see that GM Brian Cashman still has much work ahead of him before we start talking about games at Legends Field…
Waiting for the Hot Stove League to start…
I think the longest point in the off-season for a Yankees fan is from the day the team exits the play-offs until the conclusion of the World Series. The shorter that gap, the better. Unfortunately, it was not to be this year with the team’s departure after the opening series loss to the Detroit Tigers.
The saddest part of 2011 is that the Yankees could have beaten the Tigers, and I think they would have been very competitive with the new AL League champion Texas Rangers. Texas pulled the perfect play-off card in getting the unexpected wild card Tampa Bay Rays who had been left for dead by everybody except themselves. In the ALCS, they avoided the Yankees, or the top clubs that didn’t make the play-offs, the Red Sox and the Los Angeles Angels. I have long been in favor of expanding the divisional series from 5 to 7 games, and this year is just another reason why. The Yankees, with the best league record, were unable to start against the weakest team in the play-offs, the Rays, because they are from the same division. So, that pitted the Yankees against the stronger Tigers in a shortened series. I am not saying that the Yankees would have won it had the series been in the 7-game format, but at least it would yield a more truthful result.
I am a former Dallas resident but not a Rangers fan…
I am not a fan of the Texas Rangers so it’s hard to feel any satisfaction in their team reaching the World Series for the second year in a row. However, my son is a Rangers fan and he’s certainly excited about the team’s success. We lived in the Dallas-Fort Worth area when my son was small, and after a Rangers game, we had gone to a nearby restaurant for dinner. There weren’t too many people in the restaurant at the time, and my son must have been about 2 or 3. On the other side of the restaurant, then Rangers pitcher Nolan Ryan was having dinner with his family. We told our son who was at the table, and a friend walked him over to the table to introduce my son to Nolan. My son was wearing a Rangers cap, so Nolan took it off and signed the bill of the cap. My son is now almost 22 years old, and he still has that signed cap with him. He remains a Rangers fan to this day, despite his dad’s loyalty to the Yankees.
The team with the second greatest World Series success…
While I think the World Series will be competitive this year, I still think the National League will emerge victorious again. I don’t really see the Milwaukee Brewers getting past the St. Louis Cardinals, so it should be the Cardinals in the World Series against the Rangers. It’s too bad the Cardinals don’t have Adam Wainwright in their rotation, but the team is certainly on a mission. I think the Cardinals will end the NLCS with a Game 6 win tonight in Milwaukee.
Strike quickly with full force and focus…
I am anxious for the World Series to conclude so that we can move on to the Hot Stove League. I really hope the Yankees can re-sign GM Brian Cashman to a new deal before the end of the month and before the start of the free agency period. This off-season is about timing and the Yankees need to move very quickly to secure Cashman and hopefully re-negotiate with CC Sabathia so that they can turn to free agency and the trade market with full and heavy focus. My wish list for the off-season is an improved starting rotation, strength on the bench, and perhaps a heavy hitter to offset the declining production from Alex Rodriguez in the batting order.
But I thought beer and hot dogs were part of baseball…
I am not quite sure what to make of the situation in Boston. I think former manager Terry Francona has taken too much blame, and I was a little surprised to see GM Theo Epstein leave his hometown and his favorite team to take over as GM of the Chicago Cubs. Granted, he’ll have greater authority in Chicago, and it would be tremendous to be the GM responsible for the first World Series victory for the Cubs after their historic drought. But it leaves Boston without a manager or a general manager. Obviously, when the Red Sox move Ben Cherington to GM, they’ll maintain the continuity and Ben will do a fine job. However, the Sox will definitely have a new look in 2012. It will be interesting to see what moves they make with the roster in the off-season if they intend to place greater priority in character. Jon Lester has been one of my favorite pitchers, so I am hopeful that he is surrounded by better influences going forward.
Missing the view…
Living in downtown Minneapolis, I have to admit that I miss seeing the lights of Target Field at night. It created a great view from my place, and there’s definitely a void now that the ballpark lights have been shut off until next spring. So, as a newcomer to Minnesota, the obvious question to me as how many inches of snow will I have to deal with before those lights come on again?
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…
The Yankees are playing an elimination game, so of course, I need something to take my mind off the game!
Maybe we’ll see the new White Sox manager run toward the Texas Rangers owner’s box in a fit of rage…
I was surprised to hear the announcement that former Yankees third baseman Robin Ventura had been named the manager of the Chicago White Sox. I think Robin’s a great guy and he should be a good manager, but he’s definitely the anti-Ozzie Guillen. I thought that Jerry Reinsdorf and company would go for a more experienced manager. Personally, Terry Francona would be at the top of my list but I am sure that Reinsdorf had good reasons for taking a chance with Robin.
I have not done any research to see what Ventura has been up to in recent years but hopefully he’s prepared for the rigors of managing in a big city with high expectations. If the Chicago Cubs somehow managed to land GM Theo Epstein and/or Terry Francona, it would put pressure on Ventura to produce quickly in the Battle of the Windy City.
Now you see them, now you don’t…
I was equally surprised to see the quick exit from the play-offs by the Tampa Bay Rays. After they successfully caught the Boston Red Sox in September and captured the Wild Card, I did think they were a team of destiny. They certainly have the starting pitching to contend, but it was not meant to be. Red Sox fans were so hoping for the ouster of the Yankees and Rays on the same night. Fortunately, they were disappointed. I really hope the Yankees get the chance to play the Texas Rangers in the ALCS to, hopefully, avenge the play-off loss last year. Texas has an incredible offensive machine, but they are not unbeatable.
Weren’t the Cardinals left for dead just a month or so ago?…
It is interesting that all division series, except Rangers-Rays, have gone the full 5 games. I don’t expect the St. Louis Cardinals to beat the Philadelphia Phillies, but they’ve certainly shown they can play on the same field. The Phillies remain the team I think will win the World Series, but I’d be foolish to underestimate the heart of the Cardinals. The Arizona Diamondbacks were able to dig out of a 0-2 hole against the Brewers, but I don’t really expect them to beat the Brewers in Milwaukee on Friday night. I think the NLCS will feature the Phillies and the Brewers, with the Phils advancing to the World Series.
The Vikings are dead…
Football has definitely not been fun this year as my team, the Minnesota Vikings, have lost all four games to open the season. Every game has been close, but the Vikings simply do not know either how to win or how to close out games. Is that the coach or the players? I really want to see Head Coach Leslie Frazier succeed, but I am not a big fan of QB Donovan McNabb (he will never again approach the success he enjoyed in Philly). Also, I was not a fan of Mike Singletary when he was coach of the San Francisco 49ers and now he has Leslie’s ear as his chief confidant and close friend. Perhaps Frazier would be better off without Singletary and with Christian Ponder as the starting QB…
Thanks for my iPod…
The Yankees and Detroit Tigers are getting ready to play Game 5 so I’d better cut this short. But before I go, I’d like to say my condolences to the family of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. His passing this week was difficult news to hear. Somehow it seems as though we’ve lost a great friend and the world will never be quite the same. He is missed by so many and rightfully so. When he stepped down as the CEO of Apple in late August, I didn’t realize that he was so close to the end. Nevertheless, he lived his life his way and on his own terms. He left a legacy for all of us to learn from. If we could accomplish 2% of what he did, we’d be wildly successful…
After the series opener loss to the Detroit Tigers,
I was a bit dismayed. The Yankees, the
team that started the year on a consecutive series win streak, hadn’t won a
series since late July after splitting a four game set with the Royals in
Kansas City. They returned to the Bronx
and promptly lost a disappointing game to the Tigers with Detroit ace Justin
Verlander looming the next day.
Fortunately, the Yanks beat Verlander and went on
to the win the next two games afterwards to take 3 of 4. The wins were definitely part of the Robinson
Cano Show as he homered in the three consecutive wins. Also, the bat of Curtis Granderson has come
to life since the adjustments he made with hitting coach Kevin Long. I was not an immediate believer in Austin
Kearns, but he has steadily begun to make an impact. With Alex Rodriguez nursing a sore calf and
Lance Berkman on the DL, it was imperative for some of the lesser known guys on
the roster to begin carrying their weight.
It couldn’t have happened at a better time as the Yankees are trying to
stave off the Tampa Bay Rays who they were tied with at the beginning of today’s
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
With September right around the corner, I am
concerned about pitching. The only
certainty is ace CC Sabathia. With A.J.
Burnett, you’re never really sure what you are going to get. Javier Vazquez has been pitching poorly
lately with reduced velocity. Dustin
Moseley is never going to overwhelm you, and Phil Hughes is rapidly approaching
an innings limitation. Andy Pettitte
remains on the DL after a setback, so there are a series of question marks with
the starting rotation. It is fortunate
that the bullpen has begun to gel with Kerry Wood, Joba Chamberlain, David
Robertson and Boone Logan pitching very effectively. The long men, Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre,
have performed well in their roles. The
Yankees certainly have the bats to win the division, but I obviously have less
confidence in the pitching. If healthy,
they’d be among the league’s elite. But
in their current state, I’d have to give the advantage to the Tampa Bay
Rays. As for the Red Sox, I can only
hope that Josh Beckett and John Lackey continue their season-long
struggles. With their injuries this
year, it’s amazing that they’ve remained within striking distance so they are
certainly a threat as the page gets ready to flip to September.
But for now, all is well in the Bronx. If the Yankees can get on a roll and win a
few series over the next couple of weeks, they should be in great shape for the
stretch run despite their issues and challenges.
I don’t get it…
On Monday, the Yankees are totally befuddled by Max
Scherzer, but on Tuesday, they defeat annual Cy Young contender Justin
Verlander. Monday’s game was so
disappointing. After a lethargic
performance the previous day against Bryan Bullington and the Kansas City
Royals, they continued the lackluster offensive ways against Scherzer
and the Detroit Tigers in losing 3-1.
The losing pitcher was Javier Vazquez. While only giving up 2 runs, he threw a
startling 106 pitches in just four innings.
At this point, the Yankees cannot depend upon Vazquez for the duration
of the season. The inability to acquire
Cliff Lee is even more magnified today than it was the day Lee was dealt to
Texas. The Yankees don’t have a Jeremy
Hellickson in the farm system (at least not one that’s ready to make the impact
Hellickson can for the Tampa Bay Rays).
So, Monday’s loss, which allowed the Rays to tie the Yanks in the AL
East standings was definitely ‘advantage-Rays’.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Tuesday, CC Sabathia was on the hill but things
started poorly when former Yank Austin Jackson hit a lead-off homer. After that, CC settled in and earned his 16th
win despite another home run in the 7th (a solo dinger by Brandon
Inge) as the Yanks won, 6-2. They merely
kept pace with the Rays, who also won, along with the charging Boston Red Sox
who also emerged victorious.
Sipkin/NY Daily News
This game was about how much Brett Gardner means to
the Yankees offense when he is hitting.
As long as he can get on base, things happen. He scored a run in the bottom of the first on
Nick Swisher’s single, and he doubled in the 6th when any other
Yankee would not have made it past first base.
He subsequently scored on Derek Jeter’s single.
The Yankees have their share of injury woes, with
Alex Rodriguez and Lance Berkman in the dreaded DTD status. Despite the recent offensive woes, hopefully,
the team can build upon today’s win to put together a nice winning streak.
I would be remiss for not acknowledging the passing
of legend Bobby Thomson. What baseball
fan who appreciates the history of the game hasn’t heard the famed “Shot Heard ‘Round
the World”? His home run in the decisive
1951 play-off game with the Brooklyn Dodgers gave the New York Giants the NL
Pennant (“The Giants win the Pennant!
The Giants win the Pennant!”). The
team would go on to lose to the Yankees in the World Series, but there is no
doubt that Thomson’s home run was one of the greatest in major league
In my usual off-topic comment, it appears that
Brett Favre will be quarterbacking the Minnesota Vikings in 2010. He flew to Minnesota today, and an
announcement regarding his decision is forthcoming. However, close friend, kicker Ryan Longwell, is
saying that Favre has decided to return (surprise, surprise). The only person that’s probably disappointed
is Tavaris Jackson, but T-Jack should be ready if Favre falters. If I were the Vikings GM, I’d be on the phone
trying to deal QB Sage Rosenfels. I’d
like to see the Vikings give the third QB slot to rookie Joe Webb. Is it really time for football again? Wow, this has been an incredibly fast
off-season. It seems like just yesterday
that Favre should have just ran instead of trying to throw in the loss to the
New Orleans Saints…
AP Photo/The Star Tribune, David Joles
Anybody that played for the Mankato Moondogs is fine by me…
Introducing the newest Yankee, centerfielder Curtis Granderson! I have to admit that I was a bit reluctant when I saw the price tag (outfield prospect Austin Jackson and pitchers Phil Coke and Ian Kennedy). I was looking forward to a career with Ajax in center, and I had grown very fond of bullpen specialist Coke over the course of the past season. I wasn’t particularly enamored with Ian Kennedy’s attitude, but he did impress me with his return last season following surgery. Nevertheless, I recognize that the Yankees are a better team today than they were yesterday. Granderson hit 30 home runs with a home park that is pitching friendly. Move him to the wind tunnel known as Yankee Stadium and this guy is going to be electric in center field. He stole 20 bags this past season since he does have some speed.
John Grieshop/Getty Images
Granderson appeared in his first All-Star Game in 2009 and scored the winning run in the 8th inning following a triple. This play was huge for the Yankees because it gave them home field advantage in the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies. So, it appears that he was destined for pinstripes.
After dispatching valuable bullpen parts in Brian Bruney and Phil Coke, GM Brian Cashman needs to focus on rebuilding the bullpen. However, starting pitching should be the next course of action. I still think the Yankees need to address left field. I am not a fan of moving Melky Cabrera to left. I do not think he hits for the power that you need in left, particularly considering that Nick Swisher is average in right. I’d either like to see the Yanks re-sign Johnny Damon, or look elsewhere for a new left fielder. I would not be a proponent of moving Granderson to left either as I feel his speed is best served in center.
This commentary may be a bit premature since the trade has not been officially confirmed, however, at this point, it appears that it is a foregone conclusion that it will be. Interestingly enough, Granderson wears #28 for the Detroit Tigers. The number is available with the Yankees, unless Joe Girardi decides to upgrade his number to the new goal. So, perhaps Granderson is the missing link for World Championship #28. Time will tell. I have no problem with my friend Julia suffering another year of disappointment! J