Results tagged ‘ Hal Steinbrenner ’

We were once only one game away from the Sox?…

 

The 10-Game Roll…

Back when the Yankees were struggling, I knew in the back of my mind that it wasn’t anything that a 10-game winning streak couldn’t fix.  Well, the Yankees have done just that with tonight’s victory over the Atlanta Braves.  Just like last year, interleague play has proven to be the Yankees’ friend.  Although the team hadn’t enjoyed a 10-game winning streak for a few seasons, they did rise up to the challenge of interleague play last year and this year, well, they’ve been nearly invincible.  Not bad for a team with questions throughout the starting rotation and perhaps its most valuable pitcher (Mariano Rivera) lost for the season.

Improved starting pitching from #2 through #5 has been the key.  Of course, the resurgence of former retiree Andy Pettitte has been crucial, but Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova have all been raised the level of their play.  This sure beats last year when you could count on an implosion every fifth start by A.J. Burnett.  To Burnett’s defense, he has been very good for the Pittsburgh Pirates, proving that some guys are better served away from baseball’s main stage.  There was never any doubt about Burnett’s arm so he just needed a place to get his head straight.  But I digress.  I prefer Hiroki Kuroda over Burnett, even though Kuroda has had a few clunkers of his own.  Kuroda has always mixed in a few stellar starts and seems to finally be getting a grasp of life in the American League East. 

Hats off to Cashman…

Why can’t every trade work out as nicely as the one that brought Curtis Granderson to New York?  After a slow start in the Bronx during his first year, Grandy has been nothing short of a superstar since.  Time and again, he is getting a key hit and propelling his team to victory.  The price of the trade was high, and the players going the other direction have fared nicely in their new surroundings, but the trade was worth it. 

The personality alone is worth a few million…

With this being Nick Swisher’s walk year, it is assumed that he’ll move on after the season but I really hope that the Yankees find a way to bring his excitement and energy back to the Bronx next season.  With the Los Angeles Dodgers’ re-signing of potential free agent Andre Ethier, the free agent market won’t yield anyone of Swisher’s caliber.  Sure, you can have Vernon Wells or Alfonso Soriano for a bag of peanuts and a boatload of cash, but I’d rather take Swish. 

No recollection of who he played for between the Blue Jays and Astros…

So, Roger Clemens has been found not guilty.  Good for him.  Do I want to remember his Yankees legacy now that he is a free man?  Sorry, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.  Let Clemens be remembered as a Red Sock, Blue Jay, or Astro.  I really don’t want to see Clemens at any future Old Timer’s games at Yankee Stadium unless he is buying a ticket. 

Git ‘er done!…

Note to Hal Steinbrenner:  Break team tradition and get Robinson Cano signed to an extension.  The key is the Yankees’ MVP, and he deserves a contract that rewards a player of his caliber.  It is unfortunate that the Yankees have so many dollars going to third base when their success or failure hinges on second base.  If they were on opposing teams, there’s no way that I’d trade Robinson Cano for the combination of Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter…

Spending the end of July in the Hamptons…

If the Yankees are players at the trading deadline, I am not sure that they’ll focus on.  An outfielder given the slow return of Brett Gardner?  Another starting pitcher?  But if so, who do you move out of the rotation?  Last year, I was surprised when the team stood pat but this year, they probably don’t have any choice.  I think any moves will only be secondary in nature, such as another bullpen arm or some other auxiliary type of player.

Farewell to a beloved city…

My time in Minneapolis is coming to an end, unfortunately.  I have really enjoyed my short stay in the city and I was graced with an incredibly mild winter so I leave with great memories and much sadness.  Living in downtown Minneapolis, with a view of Target Field, was an incredible experience.  I am returning to Northern California.  No views of any baseball stadiums (Oakland, no thanks; San Francisco, too expensive), so I’ll just have to deal with BART to find my way to games.  As much as people in Minnesota complain about the winters, I am sure that I will be glad to be spending my Decembers and Januarys in NoCal but I definitely leave with mixed feelings.  A new job opportunity pulled me back to CA, but I can’t say that I am overly excited about the move (location; not job).  I loved Minneapolis so I leave with a heavy heart…

–Scott

$189 Million by 2014 or bust…

 

His accounting degree was the first tip-off…

So, it’s true that the fiscal conservative in Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner is coming to the forefront.  It’s clear that the Yankees have shown considerable restraint in their financial decisions in recent years and none more evident than this off-season when the Yankees watched and let others pay exorbitant dollars for free agent talent.  It was widely rumored that the Yankees have their eye on 2014 and the desire to get their payroll under the $189 million threshold for luxury tax purposes.  But now that Hal Steinbrenner is on record for the stated goal, it will be interesting to see how this plays out in the next few years.

While there are other guaranteed contracts, the most notable in 2014 will be Alex Rodriguez.  If he continues his deterioration as a star player, that $25 million in 2014 is going to look like a huge albatross.  I haven’t tallied the guaranteed dollars, but it’s clear that the next few years will see similar off-seasons like the one we just experienced.  No significant free agent signings, bargain basement ‘right before training camp’ deals like the one given to Raul Ibanez, and trades for young (and cheap) talent.  It will also mean the Yankees won’t overpay to retain talent, which probably shows the door to Nick Swisher.

Meanwhile, teams like the Los Angeles Angels and the Texas Rangers are profiting from regional TV deals (not to mention previous dollars they received through revenue sharing at the Yankees’ expense).  So, it will be other teams splurging on big talent, and the Yankees as a passive by-stander.  There is some logic in the team’s decision but I am concerned that it will bring an end to the winning run the Yankees have been on since the early 1990’s.  As a Yankees fan, the 1980’s were very difficult.  Yes, we were spoiled by George Steinbrenner’s win at all costs mentality, but 90 to 100 loss teams wearing the grand tradition of the pinstripes seems sacrilegious to me.  I am sure that the YES Network is not excited at that prospect either.  But if the stars, like A-Rod and Derek Jeter, continue to wither while eating up valuable salary dollars, the team is going to develop a Pittsburgh Pirates feel to it.  Very limited dollars to fill the holes.

In many respects, it is unfair that the salary threshold is equal among teams given the higher cost of living in New York, combined with the increased pressure that goes with playing on the biggest stage.  Once the ownership situation with the Los Angeles Dodgers is settled, there will be a slugfest in LA as the Dodgers spend to rebuild their legacy and prominence in the City of Angels.  Meanwhile, in New York, the Mets and Yankees will be scooping up the leftovers from the Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals.

Okay, I might be a bit pessimistic but there will be a number of very difficult decisions to be made between now and 2014 as the Yankees attempt to reach their goal.  If the Yankees win the 2014 World Series, then credit Hal Steinbrenner for being one of the greatest owners in Yankees history.  If not, how long will it take to recover?…

Open mouth, insert foot…

You know, I don’t really care what Bobby Valentine is saying in Red Sox camp.  I know that if he were the Yankees manager, he’d be making disparaging remarks about the Sox.  It just goes with the territory when it comes to Bobby V.  Whatever helps him get motivated.  Speaking of Red Sox managers, it was really weird seeing the ESPN clips of Terry Francona in Yankees camp, hugging Yankees and talking with Joe Girardi and his coaches.  Unlike Valentine, I have a great deal of respect for Terry Francona.  Regardless, the Bobby V ingredient should make the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry very spicy this year.  It kind of sets the stage for Joe Maddon and the Tampa Bay Rays to steal the show…

I’m sure that A-Rod wasn’t saddened by the news…

Since I am on the topic of the Red Sox, I should say congratulations to Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek, who announced his retirement today.  He was a hated players at times, but like Jorge Posada, his intensity was off the charts.  He is the kind of guy you hate on another team but you’d love to have him on your team.  I think his baseball career is only getting started as I see future success as a manager for him.  I could even see him being an eventual replacement for Bobby Valentine.  Regardless of what he decides to do, we haven’t heard the last of Tek.

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em…again…

Back to the Yankees, I am glad to see the return of third baseman Eric Chavez.  It took a long time…right up to the start of training camp…but it got done.  I liked Chavez in his years as an Oakland A, and while he isn’t the player he once was, he is a great role player and teammate.  He is also a very sorely needed third baseman given the fragility of the guy in front of him.  Yes, Chavez is an injury risk but if he can stay healthy, he’ll be an invaluable part of the 2012 Yankees.

The Seattle Mariners pipeline worked last time (Tino Martinez)…

I liked the Yankees signing of former Seattle Mariners closer David Aardsma.  I don’t think he’ll be in the running for Mariano Rivera’s replacement when THAT day comes, but it was a low risk, high reward signing.  Having 7th and 8th inning options in late summer of David Robertson, Rafael Soriano, Joba Chamberlain, and Aardsma is a manager’s dream.

Best wishes for a fast return…

Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery for former Yankees pitcher A.J. Burnett.  In a batting incident the other day, a failed bunt attempt led to a broken right orbital bone in his face.  I was frustrated with Burnett as a Yankees pitcher, but I’ll never dispute that he is a great guy and a terrific teammate.  I am hoping that the move to Pittsburgh allows Burnett to flourish and hope the latest injury is not a precursor of things to come.

Don’t trip on the snow rounding first…

It is hard to think of baseball when it is snowing.  Snow has been a rare commodity in Minnesota this year, but we received slightly more than a dusting this week.  Living by Target Field, it’s strange to see the stadium and the surrounding snow while thinking that Joe Mauer and company are practicing to get ready to make the trip home to Minneapolis.  I have already bought my tickets for when the Red Sox and Yankees come to town, however, the Yankees don’t arrive in Minneapolis until late September.  I hope that AL East will be decided in the Yankees favor by that time…

Names I’ve known all of my adult life, and in some cases, when I was just a Daydream Believer…

Whitney Houston, Gary Carter and now Davy Jones?  This has not been a fun couple of weeks…

 

–Scott

GM Cashman has total control, except when he doesn’t…

I said ‘NO’, oh, by the way, here’s a $30 million contract for you…

There is still not much to write about in the Yankees Universe.  There’s a report that Managing GM Hal Steinbrenner has talked with super agent Scott Boras about pitcher Edwin Jackson, but other than that, not much to talk about.  Given that Steinbrenner orchestrated the signing of reliever Rafael Soriano last season (much to the disagreement of GM Brian Cashman), it would be interesting to hear what Cash has to say about Jackson.  Universally, any team would be happy to sign Jackson on a short term, but a longer term deal is perceived as problematic.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out.  The Yankees need a solid #2 or #3 pitcher in addition to the current roster, but it is not worth the price of paying Jesus Montero and/or Manuel Baneulos.

Personally, I would not be opposed to Jackson in the rotation as I feel that pitching coach Larry Rothschild would be a very strong influence on the pitcher.  He certainly has the potential of being better than anything in the rotation outside of CC Sabathia.

It’s a given that the Yankees need to do something.  I think standing pat is the wrong approach.  It would most likely ensure a second or third place finish behind the Boston Red Sox and/or Tampa Bay Rays.  They need to improve the rotation.  There are too many question marks attached to Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter will be another year older.  The Yankees need a pitcher other than Sabathia that is completely capable of shutting down the opposition.  Jackson can be that guy.  I don’t like the idea of “saving your bullets” for another off-season in terms of projected free agents.  In 2013, A-Rod and Jeter will be another year older and further from their prime.  Why couldn’t have George Steinbrenner instilled this win at all costs mentality in his sons?  Okay, fiscal responsibility is a good idea, but the Yankees need to ensure that they can withstand improved Red Sox, Rays and Blue Jays squads.

Preston Baseball?…

I like the Yankees’ signing of former Los Angeles Dodgers prospect Preston Mattingly.  Granted, Donnie Baseball is one of my all-time heroes.  But I’d like to see what the Yankee coaches and instructors can do with the former first round pick.  He certainly has the pedigree to succeed.  But time will tell if he can be Ken Griffey, Jr… or Pete Rose, Jr.  His current path leans toward the latter, but he is only 24 years old.  This goes into the category of ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’.  For Preston’s sake, I hope that he succeeds in the organization that his father starred.

It was only $35.5 million…

I really feel bad for former Philadelphia Phillies closer Ryan Madson.  Once rumored to be close to a 4-year, $44 million contract with the Phillies, he signs with the Cincinnati Reds for a one year contract at $8.5 million.  He’ll close for a fraction of the money that the Yankees pay 7th inning guy Rafael Soriano.  The hope, obviously, is that liquidity will return to the closer market during the next off-season so that Madson can capture a lucrative long-term deal.  I don’t know what went wrong with his negotiations with the Phillies and what led to their acquisition of former Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, but he’ll long wonder what could have been.

We’ll give you over $50 million, but we’d really prefer to keep his salary at a couple mil…

For as much as the Texas Rangers bid for Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish, I will be very surprised if they fail to come to contract terms with Darvish returning to Japan.  But at this point in the negotiations, you have to wonder if that’s not the likely outcome.  It would be interesting to see Darvish on the open market after next season.  I wonder if that would change the Yankees interest level…

Wanted:  Snow…

It’s hard to believe that pitchers and catchers will be reporting to camp next month.  I’ve been in Minnesota all winter long hoping for snow…and being sadly disappointed.  At least the opening of baseball camps gives me something to be excited.  I am looking forward to the debut of the 2012 Yankees!  Bring it on!…

–Scott

 

Not your Daddy’s Yankees…

 

All my rowdy friends are coming over tonight, but I’ll just listen to Beethoven…

The Miami Marlins make a big splash to create perhaps the best Marlins squad since 2003 in signing Heath Bell, Mark Buehrle, and Jose Reyes.  The Los Angeles Angels rock the largest Hispanic community in the United States by nabbing #1 Baseball Superstar Albert Pujols.  Oh yeah, they also picked up former Ranger ace C.J. Wilson along the way.  Even the Boston Red Sox, in a season of chaos with the prolonged managerial search, managed to do SOMETHING with the acquisition of former Yankees reliever Mark Melancon from the Houston Astros for shortstop Jed Lowrie and minor league pitcher Kyle Weiland.  Meanwhile, at Yankee Stadium, nothing…

I know, how do you improve upon a 97-win team?  Baseball is a game of constantly trying to improve.  A little here, a little there…a big splash here, a big splash there.  This off-season the Yankees haven’t fallen into any of those categories.  They haven’t even moved to re-sign outfielder Andruw Jones or third baseman Eric Chavez which, in my mind, are important cogs for the 2012 team.

The team with the most money is…

Tonight’s wait is to hear whether the Toronto Blue Jays or the Texas Rangers have won the bidding for Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish.  In the days of George Steinbrenner, the Yankees would have been the highest bidder and there would have been no speculation about who placed the highest bid (through a few “unnamed sources” within the Yankees organization).  I am not saying that it is prudent to spend $50 million plus just to have the right to talk to Darvish, nor do I feel the Yankees made a bad decision by not going after him harder.  But this is definitely a different Yankees ownership and one that is not particularly fond of footing the bill for the other owners through luxury tax payments.  It’s too bad the Yankees have so much wrapped up in Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter.  A-Rod, in particular, is not the player he once was and no longer worthy of his behemoth contract.  I’ll give Jeter the benefit of the doubt since he did finish 2011 strongly.

If the Yankees are gauging what they need to do by the Boston Red Sox or the Tampa Bay Rays, they’re severely underestimating the Toronto Blue Jays.  The Yankees had trouble with that team last year, and the 2012 Jays will only be stronger (with or without Darvish).

If you’re not winning, you’re losing…

This has been a tough sports year for me.  The Yankees felt like a team with shortcomings entering October and it revealed itself in the play-offs against the Detroit Tigers.  They are still essentially the same team, minus a few players.  There’s nothing to lead me to believe that the World Series is in their immediate future.  Meanwhile, my pro football team, the Minnesota Vikings, continues their march to become the worst team in professional football (only one game separates them from the Indianapolis Colts and the right to draft future NFL superstar QB Andrew Luck).  I am sure that even Peyton Manning is a Vikings fan these days.  It really stinks when you hope your team loses so that they can place higher in the draft.

I am not a Minnesota Twins fan, but I do live within view of Target Field so it’s been tough watching local favorites Michael Cuddyer (Rockies) and Jason Kubel (D-Backs) sign elsewhere.

Clearly, I am someone that needs a ‘pick me up’ in sports.  I want to see a player acquisition that I am excited about.  Someone that brings energy, drive and commitment to the team, and helps them reach just a little bit further…

I will say that the Yankees should not trade Jesus Montero regardless of whether it could bring Gio Gonzalez to the Bronx.  I’d love to see Gio in pinstripes, but I think that Montero has a chance to be a special talent.  You just don’t let guys like him get away, even if it means no acquisitions this off-season.

Is that too much to ask?  Sometimes I wish Hank Steinbrenner’s impulsiveness would prevail over Hal Steinbrenner’s calculated intellect.  Fiscal responsibility, with a dash of insanity.  C’mon, we were “raised” by George Steinbrenner.  Weren’t you too, Hal?…

At least somebody is doing something…

Recently, I changed my NBA allegiance from the Los Angeles Lakers to the New York Knicks.  I’ve been thinking about this move for several years, but adding Carmelo Anthony to Amare Stoudemire was the clincher.  The latest news has the Knicks signing Baron Davis.  As a former Bay Area resident, I was saddened when Davis left the Golden State Warriors to join the Los Angeles Clippers.  He was perhaps the most popular basketball player in the area.  I have a great deal of respect for him, and it’s tremendous that he and I have come together on the same team.  I know Baron is hurt so his Knicks debut will be delayed, but I really like the off-season moves the Knicks have made.  I’d be foolish to think that they are suddenly a NBA finals team, but they are definitely getting better.

Meanwhile, at Yankee Stadium, just crickets…

 

–Scott

If Hot Stove League has opened, when do the Yankees play?…

 

With the Boss, we OWNED November…

Life under Hal Steinbrenner is certainly different than it was under the Boss.  In the old days, the Yankees would already be dominating the news in November.  At the very least, their name would be attached as a strong possibility for every elite free agent.  These days, the Miami Marlins, Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers and even the Houston Astros have garnered more press time.

As for the obvious options, I do think the Yankees would be foolish to join the chase for free agent pitcher C.J. Wilson.  I like Wilson as a starter, but he’s not worth the cost.  I still prefer Mark Buehrle because it wouldn’t take as much money and even if he’s not flashy, Buehrle gives you innings and is very consistent.  After life on the A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes Roller Coasters, I’d gladly accept some consistency in the middle of the rotation.  As for trade targets, I’d love to get Matt Cain but I don’t think the San Francisco Giants will trade him.

Now that Eric Chavez has indicated he wants to play in 2012, I hope the Yankees can find a way to bring him back for a second year in pinstripes.  It’s interesting that the team has acknowledged they may have been better off playing Chavez at third in the play-offs instead of the less-than-100% Alex Rodriguez.  A healthy A-Rod is critical for next season and someone like Chavez, assuming he can also stay healthy, is the perfect backup because he can be a very effective starter in spots.  At some point, A-Rod will probably see more time at DH than third, but that’s not going to happen next year.  Chavez is a good bridge to the point the Yanks need  a new full-time third baseman.

Sleep deprived Houstonians…

I think the announced move of the Houston Astros to the American League in 2013 makes sense.  I understand the negatives….they’ll lose the Central Time Zone rivalries with the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs and will play more games on the West Coast…but I think they’ll develop good rivalries with the AL CST teams.  As for the time zone differences, they still have it better than the three hour time zone differences the AL East teams face on their West Coast trips.  I realize that those are not in-division games, but all things considered, having balanced leagues for scheduling purposes is important.  Plus, it didn’t seem fair that the AL West had only four teams while the other divisions had five.  I never fully understood why Milwaukee was moved from the AL to NL and I did think they probably should have been the team to move back to the AL, but clearly the MLB team owners used the sale of the Astros as leverage to force the move.

New meaning to ‘one and done’…

Of the other changes, I am not sure what I think about the addition of a second wild card team, and moving to a one game wild card play-off.  I didn’t like the current system that did not differentiate between winning the division or getting into the play-offs as the Wild Card (except for home field advantage).  But a one game play-off?  That doesn’t really seem fair either.  I know that the argument is to win the division and not put yourself in the wild card, but it doesn’t seem fair that one wild card team could finish 5 or 6 games ahead of the second team, but then lose out by virtue of a single off night.  I know, ‘don’t put yourself in that position’ but still…  Nevertheless, I am sure that this change will motivate teams to continue striving for the division championship and not mail it in once the wild card is secured.

I thought they put their pants on just like I do…

I think the right choices were made for the AL and NL Cy Young Awards…Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw, respectively.  How scary is it that Kershaw’s only 23?  Donnie Baseball has to be very happy with the top of his rotation.  I am looking forward to the announcement of the MVP Awards, and I am in the category of those who believe that pitchers should not be considered for the award.  Obviously, I am pulling for Curtis Granderson in the AL, but even if a Yankee wasn’t up for consideration, I’d feel the same way about no pitchers for the award.  The Cy Young is a pitcher’s MVP award.

Trading Beer for Wind…

I was surprised to see Dale Sveum get the managing job with the Chicago Cubs.  It’s not that I don’t think he’ll make a good manager, but rather I thought he’d be a good fit for the Boston Red Sox.  I had been hoping that Terry Francona would get the Cubs job, and when he withdrew his name, I thought that Mike Maddux would be the next call.  I know that name withdrawals are usually prompted by behind-the-scenes conversations (Francona probably realizing that he wouldn’t get the job), but I think it’s a travesty that Tito won’t be managing in the big leagues in 2012…unless that was truly his choice.  If I owned a major league team, Tito would be at the top of my short list for managers.  He may have been the manager of my team’s most bitter rival but I have a great deal of respect for him.  It would have been great to see him manage the Cubs to a World Series Championship after ending Boston’s drought.

Joe Mauer, come back!…

I am still missing the lights of Target Field from my condo.  I can see the lighted field name sign, but there is just something about those stadium lights that give a magical feeling to the skyline of downtown Minneapolis.  I am looking forward to April when Jamey Carroll and the Minnesota Twins turn on the lights.  As for how the Twins do, they can lose 99 games 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

 

Maybe McCourt should have said ‘I don’t’…


It is weird starting off a
post without talking about the Yankees, but I was shocked to see Major League
Baseball announce that they are taking over the Los Angeles Dodgers.  They apparently will appoint a trustee to
oversee all aspect of the organization, including the day-to-day operations.  The Dodgers have been a mess since the
divorce between Frank and Jamie McCourt became public.  It’s too bad because the Dodgers were playing
toe-to-toe with the Philadelphia Phillies when the divorce fiasco began.


Frank and Jamie McCourt

AP

Most likely, this will lead
to the eventual sale of the franchise so I hope that the next owner of the
Dodgers will bring the stability and the passion that the team sorely
needs.  There is something wrong in the
world when one of the most storied franchises in baseball becomes a daily
tabloid soap opera. 

The Dodgers situation
definitely makes me grateful that George Steinbrenner set up the succession of
power prior to his demise.  For years, it
seemed as though neither Hank or Hal had any interest in running the
Yankees.  For a time, it appeared that
the next managing general partner of the Yankees might be one of his daughter’s
husbands.  Given the subsequent divorces
they’ve experienced, I am so glad that they weren’t given the reigns only to
have the organization muddled in a divorce situation.  So, if anything else, I hope that Hal loves his
wife and she loves him.  Let’s keep the
Yankees in the Steinbrenner family for generations to come.

Speaking of the Dodgers, I
saw that Donnie Baseball turned 50 today. 
Both Donnie and I were born in the same year so my turn will be
following shortly.  It doesn’t seem that
long ago that I was watching a game where the Yankees first baseman #23 was
celebrating his 23rd birthday while playing a game.  I can still see that game in my mind.  The Yankees beat the Texas Rangers 4-1 behind
Ron Guidry.  Mattingly was 3-for-4.  It’s funny how that game sticks out in my
memory.  Perhaps it was because it was
the year of his number.  Whatever the
reason, I wish the Dodgers skipper a very happy and memorable 50th
birthday!

Tonight, the Yankees beat the
Toronto Blue Jays 6-2 behind the great pitching performance of Bartolo
Colon
.  I have been a Colon naysayer
since the Yankees signed him but it was a great first start.  I am concerned about his ability to sustain
it over the course of the season, but the guy definitely knows how to
pitch.  This is not the same guy that
failed during his days in Boston. 
Admittedly, I don’t want to go into October with Colon as the #3
starter, but for now, he is exactly what the doctor ordered. 


Yankeexs.JPG

Scott Halleran/Getty Images


The stat that really stands
out to me about tonight’s game is Curtis Granderson‘s sixth home run of
April.  I am very excited that he has
continued the great progress that he’s made in pinstripes.   His early tenure was painful but he’s become
a force in the outfield.  Given the
questions with Brett Gardner and Nick Swisher, it is great to see so hats off
to the Grandy Man!

Now if Derek Jeter could
just start hitting…

–Scott


He said what?…


I have to admit that I am embarrassed almost every time Hank
Steinbrenner
opens his mouth.  The latest
comments that seemingly were aimed at Derek Jeter although Hank denied it were
very inappropriate.  2010 was a
disappointing year with the way it ended, but it’s done.  There is nothing more that can be learned or
derived from the loss to the Texas Rangers. 
At this point, it doesn’t matter what happened leading up to that
series.  There are a variety of reasons
for why the Yankees lost, but in the end, they were outplayed by a better
team. 

Hank justified his ‘mansions’ comment by indicating he was simply using
it as a euphemism.   Personally, I think
Hal Steinbrenner is a euphemism for Hank but that’s another matter. 

Back in the days of George Steinbrenner and particularly during the
losing years of the late 1980’s, the Boss used to infuriate fans with his
remarks.  He seemed as though he was
always giving fodder to the press.  As
mad as everyone used to get, I always found an honest truth in George’s
words.  I could never condemn him even
when his popularity at Yankee Stadium was non-existent.  However, I have trouble finding the honest
truth in Hank’s words.  He comes across
as just an arrogant blow-hard.   No
wonder that the family felt that the role of managing general partner was
better suited for the younger Hal. 

To Hank’s defense, I do always believe that ownership has the right to
say whatever they’d like.  It’s their
money and their team.  But when it has
the potential to create a distraction for the team, then I get concerned.  That’s probably where I am right now with
Hank’s words.  There is no question that
the Boston Red Sox have the best team on paper. 
Hank doesn’t need to add to the adversity; he needs to help reduce or
eliminate the talent gap between the two teams.

From the sounds of it, Freddy Garcia is leading the pack for a spot in
the rotation.  I’ve been concerned about Garcia’s
history of poor springs as I’ve felt he had the most to offer in terms of the
competition for the two rotation spots. 
He won 12 games with the Chicago White Sox last year and if he can
duplicate the season again this year, I think the Yankees would be very
pleased.  No offense to Bartolo Colon,
but I really don’t want to see the team break camp with him in the rotation or
the final roster for that matter.  I was
always very pleased to hear that prospect Andrew Brackman has been turning
heads.  He is a top flight talent that
slid in the 2007 draft to the Yankees because of his injury history.  He may not be ready for the major leagues
straight out of spring training but odds are that he’ll experience his Yankees
debut at some point this season. 

Finally, I was saddened to hear that the St. Louis Cardinals have lost
ace Adam Wainwright for the season due to an elbow injury that will require
Tommy John surgery.  I’ve always had a
soft spot for the Cardinals since I saw my first major league baseball game at
the old Busch Stadium in St. Louis when I was a kid.  They are a classy organization with quality
fans.  Losing Wainwright severely
downgrades the Cards’ chances this season and that’s unfortunate.  Hopefully, there is someone in the
organization that is ready to step up their game to help provide a solid bridge
until Wainwright can return in 2012. 

I am ready for some baseball…

 

–Scott

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!…


Understandably, the signing was met with mixed reaction by Yankees fans, but personally, I liked the move to sign Andruw Jones as the team’s fourth outfielder.



98486113, Sports Illustrated/Getty Images /Sports Illustrated
Brad Mangin/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

Marcus Thames came up with a few clutch hits last season but it was fearful to watch him play the outfield.  With Jones, the Yankees have someone that can spell all three outfield positions and can be counted on to provide adequate defense.  With the bat, when hitting in his spots, he can still perform as evidenced by his 19 home runs with the Chicago White Sox last season.  

I realize that Andruw is a shell of the superstar that he used to be despite being only 33, however, he is still young enough to turn it around for a few seasons if he can make a commitment to conditioning and the other factors that make older players like Alex Rodriguez or Derek Jeter successful.  I know, he’ll never hit 51 home runs again or even 30 or 40, but so long as he can hit a few clutch shots, I’ll be satisfied.  The Yankees are only paying him $2 million for one year…a far cry from the $18 million per season the Los Angeles Dodgers were paying him only a couple of seasons ago.  

The sad part of the season is that it meant the Yankees would not be pursuing Johnny Damon.  Jones had the advantage of being the better defensive player (at this stage of their respective careers) and that ensured him of the Yankees primary focus.  Damon, meanwhile, has signed with the Tampa Bay Rays where he’ll see greater playing time than he would have with the Yankees.  Aside from all the love and positive statements that Johnny will be professing about Tampa and the Rays, I wish him all the best.  


Johnny Damon Tigers Alex Rodriguez Derek Jeter Yankees
John Dunn/Newsday/MCT

Speaking of the Rays, they also signed Manny Ramirez as their DH.  I was a bit surprised by that move considering that the Rays have been so selective about bringing on quality, team-first guys.  Perhaps they feel that Damon will be able to keep Manny in check.  Or perhaps it really was just a move to help drive up attendance.  Either way, it is going to be hard to take the Rays as seriously as I have in the past.  It could be a long season in Florida or maybe the joke’s on us.  Time will tell…

Chicago White Sox DH Manny Ramirez talks with former Boston Red Sox teammate David Ortiz Saturday at Fenway Park.
Townson/AP

Back to the Yankees, they’ve made all the necessary moves…except the final one or two pieces…namely the #4 and #5 spots in the starting rotation.  When I heard that the Detroit Tigers had designated pitcher Armando Galarraga for assignment after signing free agent pitcher Brad Penny, I was a bit skeptical and leery of Armando.  However, after additional thought, he might be someone the Yankees should pursue.  So long as they don’t have to relinquish any top shelf talent, the gamble would be worth the risk.  He might blossom under the tutelage of pitching coach Larry Rothschild.  He is the type of pitcher that I’ve wanted the Yankees to acquire.  Someone who hasn’t quite fulfilled his promise or potential but who is still young enough to have that breakout season.  Maybe Armando is that guy…


Umpire Jim Joyce, pitcher Armando Galarraga, wire
Kirthmon F. Dozier/Detroit Free Press/MCT

If the Rafael Soriano signing was Hal Steinbrenner’s idea, hats off to him.  It was a bold move and I have been concerned that Hal, as an educated bean counter, would not make those seemingly crazy moves to improve the team.  I should qualify that by saying that I do not want to see another Ed Whitson or Steve Kemp signing, but you want an owner who sometimes sets aside rationale and conservative thought to go with a gut instinct.  When I first heard that the Yankees had signed Soriano, my immediate thought was that Hank Steinbrenner was behind the move.  Perhaps it was and he sold his brother on the idea, but if it was Hal’s idea, that’s even better.  As a fan, I do not view GM Brian Cashman any less than I did before.  Ownership always has the right to have the final say and of course it’s their money.  Brian does what is right for the organization.  The Steinbrenner family is responsible for ensuring a marketable and performing asset for the YES Network and their Yankee Stadium season ticket holders.  




–Scott

Help Wanted: Pitching…

 

Have arm. Will travel…

 

 


Arm.JPG 

 

 

Well, not me, but the Yankees will be looking for some arms after this weekend’s injuries to A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte.  Burnett should not miss any time after his boneheaded stunt on Saturday.  He was frustrated about giving up three runs after two innings, and proceeded to take his frustration out on double doors in the clubhouse.  The doors won as Burnett cut both hands on plexiglass lineup holders affixed to the doors.  On Sunday, Andy Pettitte went the more honorable injury route as he was actually hurt while playing the game.  He strained his left groin throwing a pitch to Kelly Shoppach in the 3rd inning after giving up back to back singles. 

 

 

Pettitte Yankees groin injury Gene Monahan

Zach Ornitz/The Star Ledger

 

There were no long man in the bullpen on Sunday thanks to Burnett’s episode on Saturday which required extended use of both Dustin Moseley and Chad Gaudin.  So, the first guy out of the pen on Sunday was potential 8th inning set up man David Robertson.  The pieced-together pitching staff worked well as the Yankees overcame an early 3-0 deficit against American League All-Star starting pitcher David Price to win 9-5. 

 

 

New York Yankees vs Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on July 18, 2010.

Zach Ornitz/The Star Ledger

 

 

The win gave the Yankees the series win against the Tampa Bay Rays, who had won Saturday’s game against Burnett, 10-5.

 

 

 

New York Yankees vs Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on July 17, 2010.

Zach Ornitz/The Star Ledger

 

After the Yankees had won on Friday night in a thrilling 5-4 victory against the Rays on a night the team gave tribute to public address announcer Bob Sheppard and owner George Steinbrenner, I knew the Yankes would have a tough time on Saturday and Sunday facing Jeff Niemann and David Price.  But if I had expected a pitcher to falter, it would have been Niemann and not Price so clearly the Yankees were fortunate that Price chose Sunday to have his worst start of the season. 

 

Sergio Mitre, who is nearing return from the Disabled List, will slide into Pettitte’s spot in the rotation for the foreseeable future.  It is anticipated that Pettitte will be out for 4-5 weeks.  Even though Burnett should be able to make his next start, the Yankees need to be prepared for the worst-case scenario so I am sure that Joe Girardi will have Dustin Moseley and Chad Gaudin again waiting in the wings.  I remember Moseley most as one of the guys that the Los Angeles Angels turned to after the death of Nick Adenhart last season.  It would be good to see him excel in his opportunity with the Pinstripers. 

 

After the missed opportunity for Cliff Lee, I did not expect the Yankees to pursue a starting pitcher prior to the trading deadline.  However, I do wonder if that will change now that Pettitte is out for a month and Phil Hughes will be nearing his innings ceiling later in the year.  The names on the market do not excite me (not like Cliff Lee did).  Perhaps someone like Ted Lilly would be a good short term option, but he is hardly the front of the rotation starter that Lee would have been.  The only guy I’d love to see in Pinstripes, outside of Lee of course, would be Florida’s Josh Johnson but I really doubt the Marlins would trade him.

 

Alex Rodriguez hit his 598th home run on Sunday (off Andy Sonnanstine on Sunday in the 7th inning). 

 

 

New York Yankees vs Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on July 18, 2010.

Zach Ornitz/The Star Ledger

 

The Yankees have a much-needed day off on Monday to recover from the events of the past week and the weekend tributes to two legendary men.  They’ll face the Los Angeles Angels beginning Tuesday in the Bronx as Hideki Matsui comes home to face his ex-teammates. 

 

 

 

Matsui.JPG

Kathy Willens/AP

 

 

In a game that George Steinbrenner had wanted to attend, the Yankees held their Annual Old-Timers Game on Saturday.  I have heard so many ex-player quotes about how well the Yankees and George in particular had treated the former Yankee players.  I hope the Steinbrenner Family keeps up the tradition with the same conviction and passion that George did.  I was saddened to hear that in addition to Steinbrenner, the Old-Timers Game was missing Yogi Berra who was hurt in a fall at his home.  The game is definitely not the same without #8 on the field so I look forward to his return next year.  For this year’s game, the Yankees celebrated the 1950 World Champions.  Like last year’s champions, the 1950 club defeated the Philadelphia Phillies to claim the championship. 

 

 

New York Yankees vs Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on July 17, 2010.

Zach Ornitz/The Star Ledger

 

 

It is tough to see George Steinbrenner go, but it is time to move on.  I look forward to the leadership of Hal Steinbrenner, and the rest of the Steinbrenner children, and I hope they share their father’s passion and commitment to the success of the New York Yankees. 

 

 

The New York Times

 

–Scott

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