Results tagged ‘ Detroit ’

Season Ticket Holder for the Hot Stove League…

 

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?  ;)

–Scott

 

 

 

Somehow I knew it would end like this…

 

Sad but realistic…

Well, the Yankees lost a series that they could have and should have won.  I can’t say that I am as disappointed as I’ve been in past years during play-off failures as I recognized the team had its fatal weaknesses that would be exposed the deeper it got in the play-offs.  Clearly, starting pitching has been a problem.  CC Sabathia has been great, but he hasn’t been Justin Verlander- or Roy Halladay-great.  He is still the ace and legitimately so, but the weaknesses in the rotation behind him put more pressure on CC to be perfect.  That’s a tough for anyone.  Even if the Yankees had gotten past the Detroit Tigers, I am not so sure that they would have fared well against the Texas Rangers.

When the season began, I felt that on paper the Boston Red Sox had a superior team.  My picks for the World Series were the Red Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies.  I was wrong on both counts, but I felt that the Yankees weak rotation would put too much pressure on the hitters.  When the big bats go cold, there just haven’t been the consistent key hits off the bench.  There have been a few here and there, but nothing like the critical and timely hits that Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui used to deliver.  I was concerned that this would be the final fatal blow for the Yankees chances in 2011, and that’s exactly what happened.

At the trading deadline, I had hoped the team would at least make an attempt to acquire a clutch hitter if they weren’t able to find any pitching depth.  They stood pat and did nothing.  I agree that it was the right decision if the moves would have cost talent like Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances or Jesus Montero, but other teams found ways to spend a little to acquire a lot like the Tigers with their pickup of pitcher Doug Fister.

The priority move – sign Cash…

Although the 2011 season was a “failure” as per owner Hal Steinbrenner, I clearly hope the team decides to bring back GM Brian Cashman.  No one understands the Yankees or the city of New York better than Cash, and he’s still the right man for the job.  With so much to do in the off-season, the Yankees need to move quickly to sign Cash.  With CC likely to opt out of his contract, the Yankees will need to be equally as quick to renegotiate a replacement contract so that they can turn to ways to improve the team as opposed to sustaining the current depth of talent.  I would hate to see the Yankees lose other opportunities because they are too focused with the Cashman and Sabathia negotiations.  Last off-season, it appeared that the team was only capable of dealing with one issue at a time.  When they were chasing Cliff Lee, it seemed as though that’s all they did.  They let other matters sit, including the topic of Andy Pettitte, until Lee surprised everyone and returned to Philadelphia.  I am not quite sure why the organization is incapable of multi-tasking, but they do need to ‘divide and conquer’ if they intend to be the dominant force in 2012.

Looking forward to Jorge Posada Day…

Jorge Posada played very well in September and October, and he’s been a fantastic Yankee, but the time has come for him to go.  I hope that he decides to put the bat down and simply walks away.  I’d really hate to see him try to play again in 2012, which most likely would be with a different team.  His legacy is secured in Yankees history, and he’ll always be treated as royalty by the organization.  He was the greatest catcher since Thurman Munson, and he’ll certainly be remembered in the same room with Munson, Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra, and Elston Howard.

The “Opt-Out” I wish would happen…

How great would it be if Rafael Soriano opted out of his contract?  Sadly, that’s not going to happen and the Yankees are stuck with the guy who is trying to be the next Jose Veras rather than the next Mariano Rivera…

Bay Area Losses…

Northern California has certainly suffered great losses this week with the passing of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and now legendary Raiders owner Al Davis.   Davis is one of the guys that you just thought would live forever.  I am not a Raiders fan, but he revolutionized the game and was one of its most colorful characters.  I admired his strength and resolve, and it’s unfortunate that his final Raider seasons were filled with losses.  The game certainly won’t be the same without Davis…

–Scott

 

Here we are, Game 5 — Play Ball!…

 

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…

 

–Scott

 

 

Finally, A Series Win!…


Confidence restored…



 


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
games. 



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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.


–Scott



Let’s Kick It Into Gear…


I don’t get it…


IDK.JPG

 


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’. 



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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. 



New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia (l.) receives a hand pound from Derek Jeter during a seven-inning, nine strikeout outing that gave Sabathia his 16th win of the season.

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
history.



AP  

 

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…



Brett Favre

AP Photo/The Star Tribune, David Joles

 

–Scott

Move the Ghosts Aside, A New Yankee Centerfielder…

Anybody that played for the Mankato Moondogs is fine by me…

 

Moondogs.JPG

 

 

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.

  Granderson's acrobatic grab in July, robbing Boston of a home run, was the must-see clip of the summer.

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.

 

AP

 

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

 


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Extending the Lead…

The Boston Red Sox lost…

 

 

Michael Dwyer/AP

 

Life is good.

 

Relax.JPG

 

Justin Verlander was throwing smoke today.  Not just in the 1st inning, but he was still hitting 100 mph with a couple of pitches to “future Yankee” Jason Bay in the 8th inning.  The Detroit Tigers were victorious in the game against the Red Sox that saw Verlander go 8 innings while giving up only 4 hits and no runs.  It was a very impressive performance and it couldn’t happen against a better team!  Right, Julia?  ;)

 

Michael Dwyer/AP

 

To the Red Sox’ defense, Clay Buchholz pitched a great game in a losing effort, and is a notable improvement over the departed John Smoltz (much to my chagrin).  Theo, can you bring Smoltzie back?

 

Michael Dwyer/AP

 

The Yankees closed out a very successful home stand against the Red Sox and the Blue Jays.  They could have (should have) won the first game against the Jays, but I think they were still coming down from the high of sweeping the Red Sox.  Nevertheless, they came back to win the next two games to take the series so all is good.

 

 

 

On the downside, the last victory against the Jays was a costly win.  Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Jorge Posada all suffered severe bruises.  DJ and A-Rod were hit by pitches, while Posada took a foul ball on his right hand.  Like Posada said, “I got hit everywhere.  It was like a boxing match.”

 

 

And, oh yeah, Mariano Rivera had a “cranky” shoulder and was unavailable.

 

 

 

It wasn’t a great way to start the road trip in Seattle.  Both A-Rod and Posada were out of the starting lineup for the opening game against the Mariners, however, Jeter was back in the lineup at the top of the order.

 

Elaine Thompson/AP 

 

I didn’t think that the acquisition of Jerry Hairston, Jr. at the trading deadline was significant, but I’d have to say that I was wrong.  In a short amount of time, he has proven to be an invaluable commodity and he’s playing third base tonight.  He’s a quality player, and has performed better than I had expected.  Even though he isn’t used as much, I’d also have to say that I am impressed with Eric Hinske.  The Yankees’ bench is definitely much stronger today than it was on June 1st.

 

Nam Y. Huh/AP 

As I finish this post, the Yankees have just beaten the Mariners 11-1 so they didn’t seem to be missing A-Rod and Posada too much.  Jeter and Matsui have home runs (Godzilla had 2), and Hairston had 2 RBI’s.  Hey, Julia, I wasn’t a math major in college, but I’d call it a 6 ½ game lead!  J

 

 

CC Sabathia picked up his 13th win while surrendering only three hits and one run in 8 innings, while striking out 10.  CC is definitely locked and loaded, and this is why Hal Steinbrenner signed off on the huge deal in the offseason despite budget constraints.  The pitcher the Yanks blew out was former Pirate Ian Snell.  Before the trading deadline, the Yanks had been scouting Snell, who was then with the Pirates’ AAA affiliate.  As the saying goes, sometimes the best trade is the one never made.

 

 

 

The Yankees still need to do something about the #5 slot in the starting rotation.  There are plans to insert Chad Gaudin for a start this week in order to skip Joba Chamberlain and limit his season innings.  But I am not expecting great things from Gaudin, who was 4-10 for the Padres this season.  In other words, note to Brian Cashman, try again…

 

 

The Tampa Tribune has settled on a name for the new Jeter mansion in Davis Islands, FL.  By way of an online poll, the winning name was St. Jetersburg.  I don’t even have to hear the other choices to know that they made the right selection.  The name is perfect.

 

 

I’d be remiss if I didn’t touch on this subject even though it’s off topic.  I can’t believe the Philadelphia Eagles signed Michael Vick.  I was listening to the guys on San Francisco’s sports talk radio station, KNBR, and they felt that Vick couldn’t have landed in a “softer” spot.  Personally, I think it was a bad decision for Eagles management.  I know that Donovan McNabb has had his share of critics, but he remains in the upper tier of NFL QB’s.  I know, it’s not like Vick is going to beat out McNabb, but his mere presence on the field shows that the Eagles will accept victories over moral responsibility.  Granted, I wasn’t an Eagles fan to begin with, but suffice to say that I am glad (and proud) that my team didn’t sign the morally corrupt Vick.  The only reason that Vick is asking for a second chance is because he got caught.  Good luck with that, Philly…

 

 

I know Julia, I saw that Tom Brady threw 2 TD’s…blah, blah, blah…  Go Vikings! 

 

 

 

 

 –Scott

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