Results tagged ‘ Hideki Matsui ’

Disappointment replaced by Optimism…

 

After some thought, I’ve come around…

Now that I’ve had time to digest the Friday night whirlwind that brought pitchers Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda to the Bronx, my initial disappointment was evaporated.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the power potential of Jesus Montero, and I know full well that he’ll be as devastating against the Yankees as Jay Buhner was if not more.  But I recognize that from a position of need, a top of the rotation starter is better than a player without a position.

Ever since I first heard Jesus Montero’s name, it always included a statement that he’d eventually have to find a new position because he would outgrow catcher.  The obvious moves would be to either first base or left field, but last time I checked, both of those positions were occupied by long-term tenants.  Putting an offensive juggernaut at DH is great for offense but it does nothing to help with the defensive aspects of catching or learning a new position.  With Russell Martin in the fold for the foreseeable future, there was no way that Montero would gain the starting position at catcher.  Martin’s ability to handle the pitching staff is simply too important to the team even if his bat is nothing remotely close to Montero.

With Montero, I was always worried about the other young Yankee catchers.  Of course, there’s Francisco Cervelli on the active roster.  If Montero were to take the backup catching job, where would that leave Cervelli?  Most likely playing for the Twins, backing up oft-injured Joe Mauer or someone like that.  I like the defensive reports that I’ve heard about both Austin Romine and Gary Sanchez, but if their path was clogged by Martin and Montero, where did that leave them?  Sanchez needs more time in the minors, but Romine is nearing major league ready status.  With an injury or two, I fully expect him to get his chance to make an impression at Yankee Stadium in 2012.  The trade of Montero ensures that Romine will get his major league opportunity with the Yankees so that’s a good thing.  He doesn’t have Montero’s bat (who does?) but good defense is essential for championships.

Maybe just tell us who the Yankees haven’t talked to…

As for the DH slot, it seems like the Yankees have expressed interest in about everyone.  There have been reports they’ve spoken to the agents for Carlos Pena, Johnny Damon, and Hideki Matsui.  There are pros and cons with all three players, but whoever the Yankees bring on board will have to share time at DH with Alex Rodriguez, Andruw Jones, and Derek Jeter so I’d be okay with any of the three.  I’ve always liked the clutch bats of Damon and Matsui, and the swing for the fences power of Pena is nice even if the average is hovering slightly above the Mendoza line.  With all the reports that the Yankees only have a $1 million or two to spend on a DH, I half expect a report that they’ve talked to Reggie Jackson!  Okay, that might be a stretch, but I’d consider letting ‘all or nothing’ slugger Jorge Vazquez.  He does deserve a shot.  If not, the Yanks should cut him loose and let him pursue a team that will.

If Jorge Posada had embraced the DH role last year, he’d be on his way back to the Bronx for an encore performance…

Upon second thought…

As for the pitching staff, my initial prediction about the rotation order was flawed.  I recognize that Micheal Pineda is the clear #2 in the rotation.  I’ve seen Ivan Nova slotted at #4, but I’d still keep him at #3 at least until he gives reason to drop him in the order.  I think Kuroda is a great addition, but he has to adjust to the American League in the most difficult division, while moving from a pitcher’s ballpark to a park that is less forgiving.  So, I’d give Nova time for pinstripes served and put him ahead of Kuroda.  After the former Dodger, it’s anybody’s guess who will win out…Phil Hughes, my personal favorite; Freddy Garcia, probably the better choice among the pitchers in terms of consistency; and A.J. Burnett, the candidate for most likely to depart the Bronx if the Yanks can find a willing trade partner that wants Burnett…and a boatload of cash to pay that ridiculous salary.  What happens if either Manny Banuelos or Dellin Betances pitches “lights out” in training camp?  This is going to be an interesting battle.

He’s really a cousin of Alcides and Kelvim Escobar?…

Back to Friday night’s trade, I was a bit dismayed when I saw that pitcher Hector Noesi had been included in the trade.  I kept hearing that his ceiling was the back end of the rotation but there was something that I liked about the pitcher.  At first, I didn’t know anything about the “other” Mariner included in the deal, Jose Campos.  But since the initial report of the trade, I’ve come to realize that he has great potential.  At 19, he’s 6’4” and throws in the mid 90’s.  He’ll more than make up for Noesi and fits a better timeline in terms of being major league ready given the high level pitching prospects already in the organization (Banuelos and Betances, for example).  The Curtis Granderson trade has been labeled as a ‘win-win-win’ for all concerned.  Hopefully, this M’s-Yankees trade will meet a similar fate.

What would I expect Bobby V to say?…

Contrary to what Bobby Valentine may think, the Yankees are a better team today than they were last Thursday.  But, I recognize the Boston Red Sox are not done yet.  They signed former Dodger pitcher Vicente Padilla today (a guy I loathe personally) and there’s rumors they could go after Roy Oswalt if they can move payroll.  I still think Boston could be a player for Cubs starter Matt Garza given Theo Epstein’s knowledge of the Red Sox minor league prospects.  Whether Ben Cherington or rather Larry Lucchino would trade with Epstein is another matter.  Still, I think there are changes to be made on both the Yankees and Red Sox between now and training camp.  Last year, I saw a Red Sox friend predict 118 or 119 wins for Boston.  Teams look great on paper, but as they say, the ‘proof is in the pudding’!

Moneyball II, starring Jorge Garcia…

It’s hard to think of the Oakland A’s signing former Yankees starter Bartolo Colon as a low-cost, high reward “Moneyball” kind of move.  At 39, I don’t think there’s really any upside to Colon at this point and in my opinion, he’s not capable of sustaining a full season of starts.  I’d rather have Gio Gonzalez or Trevor Cahill in the rotation, but I guess since those are no longer options, they have to look at the scrap heap that served the Yankees so well last season.

Yes, I know the way to San Jose!…

Speaking of Oakland, I do hope they are successful in their desire to move to San Jose.  As a former San Jose resident, I think it’s very exciting for the city and its metro area to be on the verge of landing both the A’s and the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, to go with the NHL’s Sharks.  I saw that A’s owner bought the famed Hotel Sainte Claire in downtown San Jose.  He already owns one hotel in San Jose so I guess you can’t read too much into it, but he’s definitely positioning himself for the growth and excitement that San Jose could see in the coming years.  I’d be happy with a Stanley Cup Championship this year, but that’s a little off-topic…

I really don’t forsee another 99 losses when you place character first…

I was a little surprised to see the Minnesota Twins sign former Detroit Tigers flamethrower Joel Zumaya.  He suffered his devastating arm injury at Target Field in 2010.  So, in terms of Karma, you’d think that he’d avoid Target Field like the plague.   But I read comments in this morning’s paper about how he was touched by the reception he received from the Twins fans as he left the field that fateful day.  Stories like that certainly make me feel honored to be a Minneapolis resident, but I was still surprised by Zumaya’s decision.  I wish him the best as he begins the Comeback Trail.  Hopefully he can get back to the level he was before.  For the Twins, with Joe Nathan in Texas and Matt Capps scheduled to close games, they need Zumaya as the pitcher he once was and hopefully will be again.

When it’s tough being the son of Donnie Baseball, come home to the Bronx!…

Before I go, I want to say that I am really hopeful that the Yankees organization proves to be a blessing for former Dodgers prospect Preston Mattingly.  I’ve always heard what a great athlete he is/was when he was younger.  I don’t know what happened through his time in the Dodgers and Indians organizations and I realize that he is getting a bit long in tooth for a prospect, but I really hope that he can find some level of success with the Yankees.  It would be very cool to see Mattingly make a debut at Yankee Stadium at some point in the future.  Who knows if it is in the cards, but being a late bloomer is not outside of the realm of possibility when it comes to someone with his bloodline.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s hard to believe that we are just a month away from training camp.  I’m excited and looking forward to a great season.

 

–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

 

One month down, check!…


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


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John Munson/The Star Ledger


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

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

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

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

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

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


Minnesota Vikings


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

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

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

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

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

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


–Scott

 

Martin to New York!…


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



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


russell-martin.jpg

Larry Goren/Icon SMI


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


NY Daily News


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

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



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


AP  


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



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

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


Chris Sweda/MCT


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



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



–Scott


Yankee Homers Cure All…

 

I’ll take a split…

 

 


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Fortunately for the Yankees, they emerged victorious today against the Los Angeles Angels to split the two game series.  The mediocre pitching line continued, albeit with no injuries, but the Yankee bats were active enough to ensure sufficient runs by the time the Angels recorded their last out in the top of the 9th inning. 

 

 

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William Perlman/The Star Ledger

 

Javier Vazquez gave up 9 hits and 5 runs in 5 innings, but it was enough to earn his 8th victory (against 7 losses).   The key hit was a pinch hit three-run homer in the 7th by Colin Curtis.  Robinson Cano and Juan Miranda also homered in the game, but Alex Rodriguez did not so he remains at 598 home runs.  Curtis was an interesting story as he entered the game after Brett Gardner was thrown out of the game while batting.  So, the strike count stood at two before Curtis even got warmed up.

 

 

Angels Yankees Baseball 

 

 

Vazquez, with the victory, has defeated all 30 major league teams.

 

 

Angels Yankees Baseball 

 

 

Playing against the Yankees definitely helped Hideki Matsui break out of his slump.  He had only hit only one home run since June 7th before playing the Yankees.  In the two game series, he homered in each game.  I am okay with Godzilla getting his hits so long as they aren’t the game winners.  Fortunately, they weren’t either day. 

 

 

matsui-japanese-every-ang

Paul Rodriguez/The Orange County Register

 

 

The Yankees split the season series with the Angels, 4-4, and won’t see them again unless they meet in the play-offs.   The Yankees now await the arrival of the Kansas City Royals.

 

Happy Birthday to CC Sabathia, who celebrated his 30th birthday today!

 

 

 

Joel Sherman ran a piece in his New York Post column this morning where he speculated that Yankees manager Joe Girardi could be a potential target for managerial vacancy created with the Chicago Cubs when Lou Piniella announced that he would be retiring at the end of the season.  I completely agree with his analysis.  I’ve always considered Girardi to be a “Chicago” guy.  He was born and raised in the area, as was his wife, and he started professional baseball with the Cubs and played there again after he left the Yankees. 

 

 

 

 

It started me to think who the Yankees would turn to if the worst case scenario played out (Girardi leaving at the end of the season, which is, by the way, the expiration of his current contract).  The first guy I thought about for the position was Don Mattingly.  Mattingly is the assumed replacement for current Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre.  However, Torre still hasn’t decided if he’ll manage next year, and of course, the whole situation with the Dodgers ownership (the McCourt divorce situation) could create the right circumstances to woo Mattingly back to New York. 

 

 

 

 

But when I turned on ESPN this morning, they were showing the highlights of last night’s Dodgers-Giants game where Mattingly had assumed management of the team after both Joe Torre and bench coach Bob Schaefer had been ejected.  In the 9th inning, with closer Jonathan Broxton on the mound, Mattingly went out to pay a visit.  As he started to walk away, he decided that he wanted to say something else to Broxton and turned back around.  He realized that he had made a mistake when the umpires were saying “no” but by then, it was too late.  When he made the about face, it counted as a second trip to the mound so he had no choice but to pull Broxton.  George Sherrill was brought in and the Dodgers let a 5-4 lead slip away as they ultimately lost the game 7-5.  Now, I agree, the faux paux would not be reason to avoid hiring Mattingly but the timing couldn’t have been worse (at least for me). 

 

 

Jeff Chiu/AP

 

It’s tough.  As much as I like Mattingly, I am not sure that I am a proponent for a rookie manager.  I think the year in Florida as the Marlins manager was invaluable for Joe Girardi.  He is a better manager today for the experience.  Same with Terry Francona in Boston.  He is one of the best managers in baseball, and I think it can be directly attributed to his learning opportunity with the Phillies.  For the Cubs, I still think Ryne Sandberg is the best fit for the organization.  But if you were the owner of the Cubs, would you want a Triple A manager who has never managed in the bigs or a highly prepared and accomplished major league manager with a World Series resume?  There are just not that many attractive managerial candidates in my opinion.  I am sure that Bobby Valentine will re-surface at some point, as well Buck Showalter, but neither of those guys excite me.  If the Steinbrenner Family is smart, they’ll take care of Girardi and never let him have the chance to consider the Cubs.

 

 

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EPA

 

The deaths in the Yankees family have, unfortunately, continued into this week.  The latest is the Yankees manager from the great 1961 season of Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris (the year that Roger hit 61 home runs and the Yankees won the World Series), Ralph Houk.  His World Series championships (he also won in 1962) were the last before the demise of the team under the ownership of CBS and before George Steinbrenner purchased the team.  He had taken over as the Yankees manager replacing Casey Stengel in 1960 after the Yankees had lost the World Series to the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Houk would manage until 1963, when he stepped into the front office.  He returned to managing the Yankees in 1966 and stayed through 1973, Steinbrenner’s first year.  I primarily remember Houk as the manager for the Detroit Tigers, although he did manage the Boston Red Sox at the end of his managerial career.  Houk apparently died today at his home in Winter Haven, FL of natural causes.  He was 90. 

 

 

 

–Scott

 

A Night to Forget…

 

So much for the idea of a day of rest doing some
good…



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After an off day on Monday to recover from the
events of the past week, the Yankees came out with a thud on Tuesday.  Facing bitter rival Los Angeles Angels, the Yankees
took an early 2-0 lead and closed the book on their offense, while the Angels
pounded out 10 runs to take the first game of the series.  It was another disappointing performance by
11-game winner Phil Hughes, who has looked pathetic since he was skipped in the
rotation back in June.  Of course, he was
also the loser in the All-Star Game.



The sixth inning is a telling snapshot of the New York Yankees' defeat. Starting pitcher Phil Hughes is pulled in the top half, then manager Joe Girardi (below) is ejected in the bottom of the inning.

Sipkin/NY Daily News

 

Hughes went 5 innings, and gave up 9 hits and 6
runs.  Maybe it’s just me, but that doesn’t
qualify as a quality start.  With A.J.
Burnett’s flare up, Andy Pettitte’s strained groin, and now the stinker laid by
Hughes, the last three games have been very disappointing from a pitching
standpoint.  And just think, we have
Sergio Mitre to look forward to on Saturday. 
Yippee ki-yay…

 

None of the other pitchers in tonight’s game fared
any better as the three relievers (Jonathan Albaladejo, Chan Ho Park, and Chad
Gaudin) all gave up at least a run.  For
Albaladejo, it is a disappointing start to his return to the majors.  For a guy who has been unhittable in the
minors (0.96 ERA with 31 saves), Albaladejo showed that he is still quite
hittable at the major league level. 
Hopefully, he’ll shake the nerves and show New York what he has been
showing Scranton/Wilkes Barre.  Park and
Gaudin are my favorites to be ex-Yankees should the team make any moves to
bolster the pen by the trading deadline.

 

No home runs for Alex Rodriguez so he stays at 598
home runs.  Congratulations to the Angels’
Hideki Matsui who did homer.  At least it
occurred in a rout and was not the difference maker. 

  


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William Perlman/The Star Ledger


If the Tampa Bay Rays win tonight, the
Yankees lead in the AL East will be cut to just 1 ½ games.  Cliff Lee would have really looked good in
pinstripes about now…



NS_10RangersA

Louis DeLuca/The Dallas Morning News

 

I am not enamored with the idea of using Sergio
Mitre as the replacement for injured starter Andy Pettitte.  Personally, I’d probably be more willing to
consider Dustin Moseley.  Mitre, or “Meat
Tray” as I frequently see his name on other blogs (a very appropriate nickname,
I might add), just isn’t the consistent starter that I’d like to see in that
spot.  Behind Moseley is Chad Gaudin,
although I’d be more inclined to try a minor league starter like Ivan Nova (7-2,
3.21 ERA, and 78 strikeouts in 103 2/3 innings for AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre).  Externally, I’d want a short term rental like
Ted Lilly or Jake Westbrook (guys who know New York) over long term
possibilities like Dan Haren or Roy Oswalt as I want the Yankees to be in good
position to go after Cliff Lee at season’s end. 

 

It is bittersweet to see Lou Piniella announce his
retirement after fours years as the manager of the Chicago Cubs.  If Sweet Lou’s availability had coincided
with Joe Torre’s departure, I am convinced there was a good chance that he
could have been the current Yankees manager rather than Joe Girardi.  I am happy the way it worked out, but still
it would have been good to see Lou enjoy success in Pinstripes for one last
time. 



'Steinbrenner's Brown Shirts' Lou Piniella of the Yankees barrels into Sox catcher Carlton Fisk as he blocks the plate, and in the ensuing fight, Mickey Rivers sucker punches Sox pitcher Bill Lee and Graig Nettles throws Lee to the ground. Lee tears ligaments in his shoulder and is out two months; after the game he calls Yankee manager Billy Martin 'a Nazi' and the Yankees 'Steinbrenner's Brown Shirts.''

UPI

 

For as many years as Lou played (18), it’s hard to
believe that he has managed longer (22) . 
He had the misfortunate of managing the Yankees when George Steinbrenner
was his most volatile, not a good combination considering Lou’s temper.  Lou managing for Hal Steinbrenner would have
yielded an entirely different result.   I
don’t know what life after baseball will mean for Lou, but hopefully #14 will
be a fixture at future Yankees Old-Timers Games.   I wish Lou the very best in his final season
with the Cubs. 



loucelebrates

 


As for a Cubs replacement, I have to believe that
favorite Ryne Sandberg is a shoo-in given his history with the organization and
status as manager for the team’s AAA in Des Moines, Iowa.  It would be like Don Mattingly being named
manager for the Yankees, which of course will never happen since Donnie
Baseball will be the next Los Angeles Dodgers manager but it would certainly
have that type of impact.  




–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

Thus Endeth The Streak…

 

He gave up two home runs and a total of four runs, and four walks over 5 1/3 innings…

 

 


Wondering.JPG 

…and got the win.  Unfortunately, it was Scott Kazmir of the Los Angeles Angels and not Javier Vazquez of the New York Yankees.  Javy had worse line (5 hits, 5 runs and 3 walks in 3 2/3 innings).  This isn’t exactly what GM Brian Cashman was looking for when he traded for Vazquez in the off-season.  Perhaps the Yankees should have stayed with a ‘been there, done that’ approach and left Vazquez in Atlanta.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know who’ll get the biggest boos when the team returns to Yankee Stadium.  Javy is now 1-3 for the season, with an ERA of 9.00, after today’s 8-4 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.

 

 

vasquez.jpeg

Jacob de Golish/Getty Images

 

The loss also ended the Yankees streak of series wins to start the season.  Tied with the 1926 Yankees for the best start to the season with series wins, the 2010 missed a chance to take the record for themselves.  The Angels took two of three, also winning Friday night’s game.  The only Yankees win was Saturday’s 7-1 win behind a terrific performance by Andy Pettitte. 

 

 

Yankees Angels Baseball

 

If Vazquez has competition for boos at home, it will come from reliever Damaso Marte.  The game was still close (5-4) with Marte on the mound today.  With Yankee killer Kendry Morales at the plate, manager Joe Girardi thought about lifting Marte.  He left the dugout but changed his mind on the way to the mound and turned around.  Morales subsequently pounded a three-run homer to give the Angels their margin of victory.

 

 

Yankees Angels Baseball

 

If I can take away any positives from today’s game, it was that Angels DH Hideki Matsui did not collect his 1,000th career hit against his former team.

 

 

 

Godzilla.JPG

Andrew Gombert/EPA

 

 

I am sure that somewhere far, far away, someone is enjoying the Yankees loss on her birthday…

 


Julia.JPG 

 

Happy Birthday to my friend, Julia!  By the way, how did the Celtics and Red Sox do for you today?  ;)  Sports aside, I hope it was a great day for you!

 

 

Happy Birthday 1.JPG

 

I felt Friday night’s collision at home between Mark Teixeira and Angels catcher Bobby Wilson was clean albeit quite unfortunate.  It left Wilson with an ankle injury and a concussion.  Baseball can be a violent game and Teixeira was focused on scoring.  I know that there is probably no one who feels worse about what happened than Teixeira.  Well, perhaps Wilson himself.  Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery by Bobby Wilson!

 

 

Mark Teixeira

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

 

Monday the Yankees will head to Washington to meet with President Obama at the White House.  Then, it’s off to Baltimore for a three-game set in Oriole Park at Camden Yards.  At 12-6, the Yankees are in second place, 1 ½ games behind the Tampa Bay Rays….but 4 ½ games ahead of the fourth place Boston Red Sox.

 

Tim Wakefield tips his cap to the...

AP

 

The NFL Draft has finally concluded.  I am not a fan of the new format (Round 1 Thursday night; Rounds 2-3 Friday night; and Rounds 4-7 Saturday).  I definitely prefer the previous Saturday-Sunday format much better. 

 

As a fan of the Minnesota Vikings, I was a bit underwhelmed with this year’s draft.  With the 30th pick in the first round, I thought the Vikings were in great shape to draft Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen, but they opted to trade down with the Detroit Lions.  With the pick, the Lions were able to grab RB Jahvid Best who will definitely help improve Detroit’s running game.  In Detroit’s slot (second pick of the second round), the Vikings again passed on Clausen and went with Virginia cornerback Chris Cook.  Later in the second round, the Vikings traded up with the Houston Texans and drafted Stanford RB Toby Gerhart.  I can’t dispute the Vikings needed secondary help, and after losing RB Chester Taylor through free agency to the Chicago Bears, the Vikings needed a backup for Adrian Peterson.  But…

 

 

Tom Olmscheid/AP

 

I personally thought this would be a great year for the Vikings to draft a “Quarterback of the Future”.  Assuming that Brett Favre returns for at least one more year, he would have been the perfect mentor for a young QB.  The Vikings did draft a QB in the sixth round (Joe Webb from UAB), but he will most likely transition to Wide Receiver in the NFL (assuming he makes it, of course). The Vikings also signed undrafted free agent QB R.J. Archer of William & Mary but he’s nothing more than training camp fodder.  I guess I have something to look forward to in next year’s NFL Draft…

 

 

 

 

Hi Hideki, It Was Great To See You But…

 

Two out of three ain’t bad!…

 

 

2 out of 3.JPG

 

The trend continues.  The Yankees have played three series so far this young season, and have won two out of three in each.  The schedule makers were very unkind to the Yankees as they pitted their top 3 foes to start the season.  Fortunately, the results have been very favorable.  I realize that there are many games to be played but given the Yankees are historically slow starters, at least in recent years; this season has gotten off to a great start.

 

 

Slow.JPG

 

Tonight, despite an inability to get Hideki Matsui out, the Yankees prevailed against the Los Angeles Angels, 6-2.  The game saw the return of Angels starter Scott Kazmir (fresh off the DL) and starter-turned 8th inning setup guy-turned starter Phil Hughes.  The Yankees made it a short night for Kazmir (4 innings, 6 runs) but Hughes did struggle somewhat with his control as he gave up 5 walks and was gone in the 6th with no outs.  He did strike out 6 and only gave up 3 hits and 2 runs in picking up the win. 

 

 

Al Tielemans/SI

 

Robinson Cano was the star of the game with 2 tremendous home runs.  Derek Jeter also contributed with a homer and 2 RBI’s.  I don’t think Curtis Granderson will need an adjustment period.  He has already shown that he likes being a Yankee and his two triples tonight were fantastic.  Meanwhile, I am getting a bit tired of seeing goose eggs next to Mark Teixeira’s name but fortunately April will soon be over.  Mariano Rivera, as efficient as ever, came on to pick up his 4th save in relief of Joba Chamberlain.  I have to admit, there was some satisfaction that it was Bobby Abreu who grounded out to end the game.  A good win and a good series…

 

 

Yankees Mark Teixeira Angels

Tim Farrell/The Star Ledger

 

Now, the Yankees await the arrival of the Texas Rangers for a weekend series in the Bronx.  What can CC Sabathia do to follow up on the one-hit performance in his previous start?  All is well at 161st and River…

 

 

 

 

I will admit that Javier Vazquez has had a rough start in his reunion with the Yankees.  He is 0-2 with a 9.82 ERA.  However, I am not so sure he deserved to be booed as he walked off the mound during Wednesday’s 5-3 loss to the Angels.  I’d really like to see a few more starts before fans rush to judgment.  If you want a player to be the best that he can be, boos and cat calls are probably not the answer.  Save those for Fenway Park or Tropicana Field.  In Yankee Stadium, the fans should be united in their support of the players.  If a player is bad or ill-suited for New York so be it, but 2 games does not a season make!  Back off and give Javy some room.  He’ll be fine…

 

 

Javier Vazquez leaves in seventh inning as boo birds reign then sees Alfredo Aceves make things worse by allowing inherited runner to score.

Antonelli/News

 

 

Today was Jackie Robinson Day around Major League Baseball as players honored the late Dodgers great by wearing his jersey number (42) which was previously retired throughout baseball except for those players who wore the number at the time. 

 

 

Barton Silverman/The New York Times

 

The last player to wear 42 in either league is, of course, the great Mariano Rivera.  As Mo so eloquently put it, “It’s a privilege, an honor to be the last one to wear 42; it’s a blessing for me.  I definitely have a job to do to represent him well.”  Mo, I think you’ve succeeded.  Here’s to Jackie Robinson and how he changed baseball for the better.

 

 


Jackie Robinson.JPG

 

 

The Winning Tradition…

 

The rings of Champions…

 

 

arodring.JPG

William Perlman/The Star Ledger

 

For the 28th time, the Yankees celebrated by receiving the rings for their 2009 World Championship.  It was a very special day as the guest of honor was seated on the opposing team’s bench.  Hideki Matsu, the World Series MVP, was very well received by the Yankee Stadium crowd.  It was the exact setting that I had hoped he would receive.  His hits, time and again, were huge, and he clearly was one of the primary reasons the Yankees emerged victorious.  Congratulations to Godzilla for well deserved honor and recognition, and thanks for the memories. 

 

 

Hideki Matsui

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images 

 

It was indeed a special day at Yankee Stadium, but there was a game to be played.  For the past few years, the Los Angeles Angels have had the Yankees’ number.  But the domination was finally halted in the American League Championship Series.  Regardless of how this series plays out, the Angels no longer have the aura of invincibility as they strolled into the Bronx. 

 

 

Defeated.JPG

 

Andy Pettitte was magnificient.  He pitched even better than I had expected.  Andy pitched six innings, giving up five hits and no runs.  He also had six strikeouts with three walks in picking up the victory, his first of the season.  If this truly is Andy’s final year, he is showing that he is a man for the ages.  When he departs Yankee Stadium for the final time, he’ll be able to hold his head high despite what may have happened in the past.  He has been a very worthy Yankee and I am glad that he has been a significant part of the team for the past decade (despite the three year hiatus in Houston).

 

 

Barton Silverman/The New York Times

 

Nick Johnson got the scoring going with a home run in the first inning.  Surprisingly, it was the first run scored by the Yanks in the first inning this season.  I think Nick will find Yankee Stadium to his liking this year!

 

 

 

 

 

Derek Jeter put the Yanks up by two in the third inning with his first homer of the season.

 

 

Derek Jeter's single scores Curtis Granderson in the fourth as the New York Yankees hold off the Angels, 7-5, in the home opener.

Sipkin/News

 

 

The Yankees took a 7-1 lead into the 9th inning.  Former Yankee Bobby Abreu made it interesting with a grand slam off David Robertson to cut the Yanks’ lead to 7-5. 

 

 

Angels fall to Yankees, 7-5, despite a last-inning rally

  

 

LA Times

 

But the great Mariano Rivera came in to save the day for the third time this season.  Robertson has definitely been struggling, so he had better find his 2009 form quickly or he will be calling Scranton/Wilkes Barre “home”.  

It was an exciting day for the sellout crowd of 49,293.  The day started with a special ring for owner George Steinbrenner, before the on-the-field festivities began, and it ended with a Yankees victory, their fifth in seven games.  A memorable and enjoyable day for all…

 

 

Barton Silverman/The New York Times

 

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