Results tagged ‘ Hideki Matsui ’

The Title Defense Begins…

 

Now that CC is getting warmed up, Spring Training is officially underway…

 

 

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Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger

 

 

So far, Camp has been very quiet for Team World Champions.  Of course, that figures to change when position players report next week.  But it has been great to see the guys arriving in Tampa as they begin defense of their World Series championship.

 

 

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Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger

 

 

I always enjoy hearing about the players who re-committed themselves during the off-season, and arrive in camp in better shape than ever.  This year’s “Biggest Losers” are reliever Jonathan Albaladejo and right fielder Nick Swisher.  Both reported significantly lighter than we lost saw them in October.  I have been a bit concerned that Swisher will have difficulty matching last season’s success, but hopefully, the weight loss will help him build upon the success and we’ll continue to see the A’s version of Swisher and not the White Sox version.

 

 

After having his swing exposed during the postseason, Nick Swisher devotes offseason to rediscovering his hitting stroke.

Sipkin/News 

 

 

It’s evident the players have a great deal of respect for Andy Pettitte.  Andy could have had the perfect ending to a great career by riding off to the sunset after last year’s championship, but he decided that he is not ready to hang up the glove yet.  Obviously, I was disappointed when Andy admitted steroid use, however, throughout his career and including the time of the admission, Andy has handled himself with nothing but class and dignity.  CC Sabathia credited Pettitte for helping his transition, and I am sure that he’ll have a similar influence on Javier Vazquez as he re-adjusts to life with the Yankees.  I would have preferred if Andy had never left to play in Houston for three years, but conversely, the time away definitely gave Andy a different perspective and he clearly values his Yankees legacy now more than ever before. 

 

 

Andy Pettitte's outstanding season last year would have been a storybook ending. But, the New York Yankees ace isn't ready to hang up the glove just yet.

Antonelli/News

 

I saw the comment by Hideki Matsui on the Angels MLB.com website that although he feels physically strong, his knees aren’t 100%.  As tough as it was to see Godzilla leave, I think the Yankees made the right decision.  While I recognize that he may have a great 2010 season, sooner or later he’ll begin breaking down and missing more time.  Besides, there’s not much more that he could have done for a Yankees farewell than being named the World Series MVP. 

 

 

Yankees World Series MVP Hideki Matsui will wave goodbye to Big Apple.

Keivom/News

 

 

Speaking of ex-Yankees, Johnny Damon is now officially a member.  He signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Tigers for $8 million.  Damon will definitely be the poster child for negotiating failures, at least for the short term.  With better strategy, he could have secured a longer term deal for more money from the Yankees, but Damon and agent Scott Boras overvalued the market.  Of course, the Yankees quickly moved on.  I do not find fault with the Yankees approach because had they waited, they risked getting nothing.  As it stands, the Yankees offense should be fine with Nick Johnson, Randy Winn and Marcus Thames on-board.  I am still puzzled by the Tigers since they moved Curtis Granderson because of money, and he would have made less this year than Damon will cost them.  I guess Damon is an $8 million insurance policy as a hedge to see if Austin Jackson is capable of making the leap to the major leagues. 

 

 

Johnny Damon (AP)

AP

 

Another former Yankee, Chien-Ming Wang, signed with the Washington Nationals.  I am surprised that he went with the Nats.  Nothing against them, but I really expected to see Wang go with Joe Torre and the Los Angeles Dodgers.  They have a clear need for a fifth starter, and if healthy, Wang could have potentially filled the void.  Whatever happens, I wish Wang the best of luck…and health.  I hope he has learned to run the bases now that he’ll be hitting in the National League. 

 

 

Chien Ming-Wang

Scott Miller/Reuters

 

Now that Jose Molina is in Toronto, it sounds like manager Joe Girardi is going to make sure that Jorge Posada and A.J. Burnett work as a team this spring.  Hopefully, they’ll be able to build a good rapport.  If not, I hope that Francisco Cervelli is up to the challenge of being A.J.’s personal caddy.

 

 

AP

 

 

The Yankees will definitely encounter more than a few former players (and manager) during the upcoming season. 

 

 

Torre

LA Times

 

Hopefully, the “pies” will belong to the current Yankees and not the former crowd.  It should be a fun season, and I am looking forward to the renewed battle with Julia.  I was hoping that we’d have a few “warm-ups” during the Spring, but the Yankees and Red Sox are not scheduled to face each other until Opening Day.  Oh well, I am looking forward to starting the season 1-0.  Right, Julia?  ;)

 

 

Nick Swisher pie Yankees

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

 

 

This is off-topic, but now that American Idol has reduced the field to 24, my early favorite is Janell Wheeler…

 

 

 

 

But then again, Ashley Rodriguez does have a great voice…

 

 

 

 

 It should be a great Season 9 on American Idol!  Music and Yankees baseball…sounds like it will be a great summer to me!  If Julia doesn’t agree, this video says it all…

 

 

Godzilla, The End…

 

It has been a very powerful week…

 


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Meanwhile, back in the Bronx…

 


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The Yankees bid farewell to World Series MVP Hideki Matsui today when he signed with the Los Angeles Angels (one year, $6 million).  Clearly, if Matsui’s knees had held up, the ending would not have come like this.  The Yankees will miss his clutch bat.  Time and again, I can recall games where every bat was ice cold, but Godzilla still delivered the key hit to win the game.  He was always in the right place at the right time against the dreaded Boston Red Sox.  The Yankees haven’t fared well with Japanese players when it comes to pitchers (see Hideki Irabu and Kei Igawa), however, they struck gold with a position player.  Matsui arrived with much fanfare and was billed as Japan’s best player when he came to the United States.  Expectations were high, and I’d say that he delivered.  He was a class act and he will be missed.  I am not excited that he went to a bitter rival, however, he does deserve the opportunity to show that he can be a major contributor.  I wish him the best of luck in Southern California.

New Angels player Hideki Matsui shows off his new jersey for the cameras in front of Angels Stadium Wednesday.

Paul Rodriguez/The Orange County Register

 

Of course, this does prove that old Yankee outfielders don’t die, they just sign with the Angels…

 

 

It was a busy day for my friend Julia.  Her Red Sox announced the free agent signings of pitcher John Lackey and outfielder Mike Cameron today, and showed that GM Theo Epstein is truly a “man with a plan”.  I agree with Boston’s decision to cut ties with Jason Bay and move forward with Mike Cameron.  After all the reports about Bay, I’d have to say that I’d be very hesitant to sign him to a long-term deal.  I am glad that the Yankees are staying out of the negotiations for Bay at this point.  Let him go to the Mets.  As for Lackey, I wanted the Yanks to sign him to fill the #3 spot in the rotation.  Andy Pettitte did a great job last year, but I really think that he is no more than a #4 at this stage of his career.  Boston does have a very impressive rotation (Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Lackey, Tim Wakefield, Dice-K, and/or Clay Buchholz).  I really do not expect Buchholz to be on the Opening Roster since I feel the Sox will be successful in securing Adrian Gonzalez from the San Diego Padres for first base (sliding Kevin Youkilis to third) at a cost which will include Buchholz.  So, congratulations to Julia for a very successful week.  However, I will caution her that it is a long way from April 4th!  Much can happen between now and then…

 

 

From my perspective, I’d take a chance on a low-risk, high reward pitcher to fill the #3 in the Yankees rotation.  I like the rumors for either Ben Sheets or Justin Duchsherer.  I’d probably prefer Sheets because he has the stronger pedigree and an established relationship with CC Sabathia.  It’s always tough to transition from the National League to the American League, but a support system like CC would help.  However, I wouldn’t be disappointed if the team pursued Duchsherer.  Julia may brag about her rotation, however, I’d be okay going to battle with Sabathia, Burnett, Sheets/Duchsherer, Pettitte, and Hughes.  For the record, I have switched my position on Joba Chamberlain, and I now think his return to the bullpen would be the best fit for his talent and we knew all along that Phil Hughes is a starting pitcher regardless of his bullpen success.

 

William Perlman/The Star Ledger

 

So, this brings us to left field.  The latest reports have Johnny Damon expecting a $13 million per year payday.  Frankly, I am losing interest in retain Damon for 2010.  Mark DeRosa has been mentioned as a possibility, and I am okay with him as Damon’s replacement.  I do have concerns about Nick Swisher repeating his 2009 success, or Curtis Granderson learning to hit lefties, so the Yanks would probably be seeking a corner outfield upgrade at the July trading deadline.  However, in the interim, I would like the team for the first half of the season with Sheets or Duchsherer in the rotation and DeRosa in left.  I would certainly like the Yankees to become players for Matt Holliday but I just don’t think it will happen.

 

Jeff Roberson/AP

 

I do wish the Yankees would give the perception (right now) of being a proactive organization doing everything possible to ensure a repeat championship in 2010 rather than one mired in financial constraints.  Who knows if the reports of payroll cutting are real or just negotiating ploys, but the team needs to strike before all of the premium players are gone.  I’d also re-engage Florida to see if Josh Johnson could be had at the right price…

 

Alan Diaz/AP

 

I don’t want to dissect the Roy Halladay trade to the Phillies, but I am surprised that the Philles gave up both Cliff Lee and Kyle Drabek to secure Doc’s services.  Granted, Roy Halladay is arguably the best pitcher in baseball but how could he outperform the brilliant performance given by Cliff Lee in a Phillies uniform?  I know that Lee will be demanding outrageous monies at the end of his contract next year, and the Phillies felt that they needed to re-tool after relinquishing great talent like Drabek for Doc.  But wow, what a rotation it would have been featuring Halladay, Lee, and Cole Hamels.  Plus, J.A. Happ is still in the rotation.  I’d rate this trade better for the Seattle Mariners and the Toronto Blue Jays than the Phillies.  I might even say the Oakland A’s emerged stronger with their acquisition of Michael Taylor for a player caught in a glut of corner infielder/DH types (Brett Wallace).  As a Yankees fan, I am glad to see Halladay exit the AL East.  However, it won’t be long before we hate to face Kyle Drabek…

 

SI

 

Meanwhile, back at Yankee headquarters…

 


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Out with Old, In with the New…

 

It has been a very busy week for the almighty¹ Yankees…

 


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¹Word ‘almighty’ is for the exclusive benefit of my friend Julia!  ;)

 

ARRIVED

Curtis Granderson

The blockbuster trade of the Winter Meetings saw the arrival of Curtis Granderson as the newest centerfielder for the New York Yankees. 

The price tag was very high and the Yankees lost a great opportunity to market “Ajax” but who knows if Austin Jackson will ever be the player that Grandy is today.  Maybe he’ll be better but it probably won’t happen for several years.  The Yankees have a window of opportunity right now and the heart of the team is not getting any younger.  It is critical for the Yanks to infuse young, quality talent into the lineup now, not later.  Grandy will be 29 on Opening Day and he can be expected to hold his position through the retirement of Derek Jeter and beyond.

I am looking forward to watching Grandy in the Bronx.  One of my personal favorites in the ‘Wow’ factor (off the field exploits aside) was Darryl Strawberry.  I am hopeful that Grandy will bring that level of excitement and energy to the team and that he’ll quickly become a fan favorite.

 

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Jamie Hoffmann

The former Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder was selected first in Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft by the Washington Nationals and was immediately dealt to the Yankees as compensation for the trade that sent reliever Brian Bruney to the Nats.

Hoffmann, a former hockey player, will compete for the 25th spot on the Yankees roster.  Since Hoffmann will have to be offered back to the Dodgers if he fails to stick on the Yankees major league roster, I fully expect the Yankees to move either Melky Cabrera or Brett Gardner if Hoffmann shows anything during spring training.  You can make an argument for why the Yanks should keep either Cabrera or Gardner but Cabrera clearly has the highest trade value.

Hoffmann, 25, made his major league debut with the Dodgers on May 22nd.  Two days later, he got his first major league hit, a two-run bomb off Matt Palmer and the Angels in Anaheim.  Hopefully, it is a great sign of things to come…

 

Los Angeles Dodgers' Matt Kemp (27) congratulates teammate Jamie Hoffmann (30) on his two-run home run during the second inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels, Sunday, May 24, 2009, in Los Angeles.

 

AP

Andy Pettitte

Okay, it’s not really an arrival.  However, it is a big deal that Andy and the team agreed on a one year deal so quickly after Andy announced his decision to play at least another year.  We didn’t need another Brett Favre-like situation this off-season.  Welcome back, Andy!

 

Andy Pettitte Alex Rodriguez

AP

 

DEPARTURES

This could be called the ‘You’ll get your ring when we come to a city near you’ category…

Brian Bruney, to the Washington Nationals for the first pick in the Rule 5 Draft (Jamie Hoffmann).

Austin Jackson and Phil Coke to the Detroit Tigers, and Ian Kennedy to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Detroit’s Curtis Granderson.

 

Jerry Hale/MiLB.com

 

FREE AGENTS

Johnny Damon, unsigned.  Talks with the Yanks have continued but the team is unwilling to go beyond two years.  At this stage of his career, Damon has to get all he can get since this may be his last major league contract.  I want Damon back, however, I am supportive of the team’s position.

 

AP 

 

Hideki Matsui, unsigned.  Almost certain not to return unless the Yankees fail to sign Damon, Godzilla would be a good fit in the Bay Area if the Oakland A’s could unload Jack Cust.

 

 

Jose Molina, unsigned.  I am ready for Francisco Cervelli to back up Jorge Posada, with Jesus Montero possibly in the mix.  The Yankees do need to reduce their payroll and this is an area that they can still get value at a cheaper price.

Xavier Nady, unsigned.  Personally, I would try to bring the X-Man back to the Bronx.  But I recognize that he is not in the team’s plans, and it is virtually certain that he’ll sign elsewhere (perhaps with the Braves).

Jerry Hairston, Jr.  A good complimentary player but his role can be easily replaced by Ramiro Pena.

 

Kathy Willens/AP 

 

OTHER MOVES

The Yankees are not expected to tender a contract to pitcher Chien-Ming Wang so he’ll become a free agent later today (midnight ET).  It’s unfortunate that it has come to this with the former 19-game winner.  He was perhaps the Yankees most valuable starting pitcher until that fateful day running the bases in Houston several years ago.  I suspect that he’ll be a strong candidate for Comeback Player of the Year so some team is going to get lucky by taking a chance on Wang.  Hopefully, the Yankees will find a way to bring him back but for now, he’ll be up for grabs…

 

Al Messerschmidt/Getty

Former Yankee, and the Opening Day starting third baseman, Cody Ransom has been invited to camp with the Philadelphia Phillies as a non-roster player.

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As a California resident, this joke by Conan O’Brien bears repeating since it is oh, so true!

‘Los Angeles was hit by a massive storm that caused power outages and freeway closures.  Meteorologists predict that the storm will head east next week where it will be known as rain.’ 

…or something like that!  Nevertheless, it is an accurate description of life in California!

Too funny!

 

 

 

 

Last Link to Lou Gehrig Passes Away…

The oldest Yankee legend has passed away…

 

 

 

 

Tommy Henrich, 96, a Yankees outfielder in the 30′s and 40′s, died yesterday in Dayton, Ohio.  Henrich was part of a tremendous outfield trio in the late 40′s that included Charlie Keller and Joe DiMaggio. 

 

 

 

 

In Game 1 of the 1949 World Series, Henrich hit the first game-winning home run in Series history in a 1-0 victory over Don Newcombe and the Brooklyn Dodgers.  Henrich, like many of the players from his era, missed three years due to military service during World War II. 

 

 

 

 

Henrich, a five time All-Star, played 11 seasons and hit 183 home runs.  His career batting average was .282.  He retired following the 1950 season.  During his career, Henrich was part of seven World Series Championships.

 

He was nicknamed “Old Reliable” by the great Yankee broadcaster Mel Allen due to his knack for coming up with clutch hits in big games.  On a sad note, Henrich was the final surviving teammate of the legendary Lou Gehrig and the last member of the 1938 World Champions.

 

 

 

 

 

An autographed picture of Henrich has long been one of my prized possessions.  In Yankees history, he ranks as one of my personal favorites.  I never got to meet Henrich, but he will be missed. 

 

 

 

 

The Yankees did not offer arbitration to any of their free agents.  So, Andy Pettitte, Johnny Damon, and Hideki Matsui are free to sign with any team without compensation to the Yanks.  I understand the reasons (they couldn’t take the chance that any of the players accept arbitration), but it does feel that the bonds to the players have lessened considerably.  I still think that Andy Pettitte will come back on a one year deal, but I am getting pessimistic that Damon will return.  It was a given that Matsui most likely will not be back.

 

 

 

 

With the talk of Boston’s interest in Matt Holliday, it will be interesting to see if that sparks any Yankee interest in Jason Bay.  If both Damon and Matsui leave, the Yankees will lose a tremendous amount of production that needs to be replaced. 

 

 

Jason Bay's three-run home run in the first plates David Ortiz and puts the Red Sox up in the first inning.

 

Antonelli/New York Daily News

 

 

Derek Jeter was named Sport Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year.  Surprisingly, he is the first Yankee to win the award in its 56 year history.  It was a great year for the Yankee captain, and of course, just another noted achievement, in what is becoming a long list of achievements, for the future plaque that will be placed in Monument Park when DJ retires.  Congratulations to Derek for the well-deserved honor and recognition!

 

 

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The New York Jets brought in Yankees manager Joe Girardi to teach QB Mark Sanchez how to slide?  Seriously?…

 

 

GROUND ATTACK: The Jets reached out to the world champion Yankees to send someone to give quarterback Mark Sanchez (6) some tips on how to slide. The Yankees responded by sending manager Joe Girardi (inset).

 

New York Post

Playing Musical Chairs…

Ready, set, go!…

 

 


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It’s the start of free agency, and teams now have the right to negotiate with available free agents as teams’ exclusive rights period ended Thursday night.  Of course, there were no significant signings on Friday, but activity should pick up in the coming weeks. 

 

The big three for the Yankees are obviously Andy Pettitte, Johnny Damon, and Hideki Matsui.  Regardless of what other moves the Yanks have in mind for their rotation, I feel very strongly they should bring back Andy assuming that he wants to come back for another season.  Had he not gone to Houston for three years, Andy would potentially be in position to challenge Whitey Ford for the Yankees record for most career wins (The Chairman of the Board holds the record with 236 wins, while Andy stands at 229 career wins with the Yankees and Astros).  Andy may never reach Ford’s Yankees record, however he still has the chance to reach the 200 win milestone wearing pinstripes, needing just 8 more wins.  I think Andy is very proud of his Yankees legacy, and I do expect to see him back in the Bronx next season.

 

 

Adrien Veczan/Reuters

 

 

I would like to see the team re-sign Johnny Damon.  The only thing about Damon that concerns me is his arm-strength in left field.  Otherwise, he is still playing the game like a young man despite his age (36).  He simply makes things happen and his double-steal in the World Series was classic but typical Damon-like.  The Yankees would be wise to allow Damon to return next year on a two year deal.

 

 

Elise Amendola/AP

 

 

As much as I like Hideki Matsui and how great his timely hits have been, I see this as the end of his career in the Bronx.  Since he’s limited to DH, he simply wouldn’t get enough at-bats in the coming seasons with the need to increase the DH rotation to include older players like Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez (to allow them more rest from playing the field).

 

 

Stubblebine/Reuters 

 

I am sad to see Xavier Nady go, but it doesn’t sound like there’s any interest on the Yankees’ part to bring him back.  Some team is going to get a high quality guy and if healthy, a productive player.  Of course, that means he’ll probably be signing with Boston any day now…  :(

 

 

 

 

 

The rumor mill regarding Roy Halladay is gaining steam once again.  A free agent after next season, it is very likely that the Toronto Blue Jays will move Doc this off-season rather than wait until the trading deadline.  The list of teams not interested in Doc is probably shorter than the list of team who are.  The Blue Jays will be able to get a King’s ransom for Halladay and it should set them up for a bright future.  Of course, the Yankees and Red Sox are always rumored to be in the mix, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Doc go to the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Assuming that Frank McCourt isn’t too distracted or financially drained by his divorce proceedings with wife Jamie, the Dodgers need a frontline ace to compete against the Philadelphia Phillies for supremacy in the National League.  The Dodgers have a window of opportunity so they should certainly make every attempt to secure the final pieces of the puzzle in what could be Joe Torre’s last hurrah.

 

 

 

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Wow, with 15 wins, Tim Lincecum captured the NL Cy Young Award for the second consecutive year?  I am not trying to take anything away from Lincecum (15-7, 2.48 ERA), but I was surprised.  I know and understand that win total is the one statistic that a pitcher has the least amount of control over, however, I thought that Adam Wainright of the St. Louis Cardinals was the deserving choice (he led the NL with 19 wins).  His ERA was slightly higher than Lincecum’s at 2.63, but it was still very good.  You could also argue that Chris Carpenter should have won, as he had a remarkable season (17-4, 2.24 ERA despite missing time with a pulled muscle in his side).  Wainright, 19-8, captured the most first place votes, but finished third behind Lincecum and Carpenter.  I can’t help but think that if Wainright had pitched for the Mets or the Dodgers, he would have won the award.  Even the local Bay Area press was surprised by Lincecum’s win.  I was listening to San Francisco sports talk radio on Friday, and all they could talk about was how long Lincecum’s hair was going to be by Opening Day next season.  Lincecum lead the league in strikeouts with 261, and was second in ERA and third in innings pitched.  If you ask Lincecum which stat is most important, it’s WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched).  Timmy finished fourth with a WHIP of 1.047 (behind Dan Haren, Carpenter, and Javier Vazquez).  I am not saying that Lincecum was a bad choice…it was simply unexpected, in my mind.

 

 

Seattle Times

 

 

Hey Julia, I enjoyed reading the Boston Globe this morning…”Out of Synch:  Magic’s Act Again Surprises Celtics”.  Very nice!

 

 

Happy Orlando Magic beat the Celtics in playoff rematch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orlando Sentinel

 

I am going to see a show by comedian Lisa Lampanelli tonight.  I don’t know anything about her except that she is the so-called “Queen of Mean”.  I found this review of Lisa’s show by Larry the Cable Guy:  “Front row tickets to Lisa’s show are $100, and obstructed view tickets are $150″.  I’ve heard she is very raunchy so I might want to get those obstructed view tickets!  ;)

 

 

 

We are the Champions of the World!…

 

The 2009 World Champions!…

 

Nick Laham/Getty Images

 

I knew that Andy, at his best would give up about 3 or 4 runs, and I had a feeling that this would come down to the bullpen. 

 

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

 

On my FaceBook page, I started the day by posting this Bob Lemon quote:

“I’ve come to the conclusion that the two most important things in life are good friends and a good bullpen.”

Those words rang true as the game ultimately came down to the strength of the Yankees bullpen.  Damaso Marte did an outstanding job, but in the end, it was the legendary Mariano Rivera who delivered the 27th World Championship to New York.

 

Nick Laham/Getty Images

 

Deservedly so, Hideki Matsui was named the Series MVP.  At this point, I simply cannot imagine a scenario where the Yankees allow the clutch bat of Matsui to walk in the off-season.  More than likely, this means the end of Johnny Damon’s Yankee career.  But I fully expect to see Godzilla in Tampa next spring.

 

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

 

It was sad that George Steinbrenner could not be in attendance, but perhaps this championship was for Hal Steinbrenner.  In 1923, the original Yankee Stadium opened with a World Championship.  In 2009, it’s a new stadium but the same result.  What a way to christen the new home of Aura and Mystique! 

 

Nick Laham/Getty Images 

 

Manager Joe Girardi earned the number on his back, and he can always wear it with pride.  He personally delivered it to the fans of New York, and it will be great to see the parade return to the Big Apple. 

 

Al Bello/Getty Images 

 

Is there anyone who doesn’t believe that Mariano Rivera will be a first ballot Hall of Famer?  It has been tough for closers to gain entry to Cooperstown, but the legend of Mo Rivera will be long remembered.  He is the greatest closer in Yankee history, and certainly one of the best ever in Major League baseball.

 

Nick Laham/Getty Images

 

Going away from the Series, I have to say that I am glad the Yankees didn’t have to face Chase Utley more than they did.  The guy is a stud, and certainly one of the premier players in the game.  Cliff Lee also proved that he is truly an ace.  It’s not like he had anything to prove before the Series, but on the grandest stage of all, he showed that he is a champion.  There is no doubt that the Phillies will be back…

 

Nick Laham/Getty Images

 

A World Championship celebration in the Bronx…the way it was meant to be.  Life is good.

 

Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez score on Hideki Matsui's two-run double in the fifth as New York Yankees win their 27th championship.

Sipkin/NY Daily News

 

Hey Julia, I am ready for Opening Day 2010!  Bring on the Red Sox!  My friend, it is Game On!

 

 

We are ALL tied!…

I knew it!…

 

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

 

I was afraid that Cliff Lee would dominate the Yankees in Game 1 of the World Series.  He has always pitched very well against the Yanks, and he won the very first game in the new Yankee Stadium in April while a member of the Cleveland Indians.

 

Associated Press

 

Lee’s performance was masterful and he deserves all accolades for a job well done.  Of course, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have Chase Utley as your second baseman.

 

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

 

The Phillies’ 6-1 victory took away home field advantage from the Yankees and leveled and the playing field.

I was stunned at the trading deadline when the Phillies acquired Lee from the Indians.  Everybody had been talking about Roy Halladay of the Toronto Blue Jays and the Phillies quietly dropped an ace into their starting rotation.  I had wanted the Yankees to upgrade the #5 pitching slot.  They did acquire the San Diego Padres’ Chad Gaudin but I’d hardly call that a major move.  Even the Los Angeles Angels were able to acquire a stud for their rotation with the acquisition of the Tampa Bay Rays’ Scott Kazmir.  The Philles had signed free agent Pedro Martinez a few days earlier.  Pedro was another pitcher that I felt the Yankees should have pursued, but they were never a player.  I can so clearly remember hoping that the moves wouldn’t come back to haunt the Yankees.  Well, it is now October, and the moves are staring us straight in the face…

 

Cat-CatStaringFirstToBlinkLoses.jpg Cat - Cat Staring, First To Blink Loses image by Fredcat

 

Fortunately, Game 2 was a reversal of fortune.  Early on, it was a great pitching duel between the Yankees’ A.J. Burnett and the Phillies’ Pedro Martinez.  It had the “feel” of an old Yankees-Red Sox game.  Hmmm, I wonder what my friend Julia is doing these days?  Probably watching Celtic basketball.  Nevertheless, Burnett was stellar, while Pedro gave up homers to Mark Teixeira and later Hideki Matsui.

 

Chris McGrath/Getty Images

 

The Yankees added a run in the 7th inning before a botched call by the umpires cost the Yanks the possibility for more runs.  With one out (why the heck was Derek Jeter bunting with two strikes???!!!), Johnny Damon hit a liner at Ryan Howard.  The runner at first (Jorge Posada) had broken for second and would have made it safely on an errant throw.  However, the ump called it a double play when Posada was tagged since they ruled Damon had lined out to Howard.  Subsequently, replays showed that the ball had one-hopped into Howard’s glove so the runners should have been safe at first and second.  I hate it when the umpires are in position to decide a game…

 

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

 

Burnett was pulled after 7 magnificent innings.  Manager Joe Girardi wasted no time in going with legendary closer Mariano Rivera.  I thought it was a bit premature, but after a few bumps and bruises but no runs, the Yankees had emerged with a 3-1 victory.  The win tied the Series at one game apiece.

The Series now heads for Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia on Saturday.  Andy Pettitte versus last year’s post-season ace Cole Hamels.

 

 

For the record, sitting Nick Swisher was an excellent move even if Swish didn’t agree.  His bat could be likened to the Artic Front.  He was replaced by Jerry Hairston, Jr.

I am glad that George Steinbrenner has been able to watch the games at Yankee Stadium.  Given the decline in his health, you never know if this will be his final World Series appearance.  I hope not…

 

Kathy Willens/AP

 

“It’s great to see Pedro Martinez on the stage again” – ESPN Analyst Chris Berman

 

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

I don’t disagree, but I am still glad that he didn’t get the win…

In the post game press conference, Pedro said, “If I played for the Yankees, I’d be the King”.  The comment was made in response to the boos he received as he walked off the field, but he’s probably right…

I Know, It Was A Gimme…

Off to a great start…

 

Kathy Willens/AP

 

The Yankees, as expected, emerged victorious in Game 1 of the ALDS against the high flying Minnesota Twins.  Behind the frontline starting pitching of CC Sabathia, the Yanks took down the Twins, 7-2.

 

Kathy Willens/AP

 

The game started slowly with several passed balls and an early 2-0 lead for the sleep-deprived Twins.  But a two-run homer by Mr. November, Derek Jeter, tied the score in the 3rd and the Yanks were off to the races.

 

Julie Jacobson/AP

 

Hideki Matsui continued to show the Yankees might be making a mistake in allowing Godzilla and his creaky knees to walk at the end of the season.  Time and again, he has delivered the timely, clutch hits the team has needed.  He did not disappoint on Wednesday night as he came through with a two-run homer in the 5th inning.  Throw in a mixture of Phils (Hughes and Coke), a dash of Joba Chamberlain, and a touch of Mariano Rivera, and the Yankees had the ingredients for success.

 

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The series resumes on Friday night at Yankee Stadium.  Then, the series will move to Minnesota.  As a Vikings fan, I am used to pulling for the home team at the Metrodome, but for a few days next week, I may as well be a Packers fan because I definitely will not be pulling for soon-to-be ex-tenants.  Hopefully, the Yankees will be the team to end the Twins’ Metrodome stay…

 

To the Twins’ defense, they won an unlikely AL Central division championship in a 12-inning, highly intense play-off game against the Detroit Tigers, celebrated the victory, caught a flight to New York, and stood ready to play at Yankee Stadium less than 20 hours later.  I suspect we’ll see a more relaxed and resilient Twins squad on Friday.  The series is far from over despite the Yankees’ 8-0 record against the Twins this year.  I seem to remember what happened to another ballclub that had an 8-0 record against the Yankees earlier this season…

 

 

I had hoped for a Cardinals-Yankees World Series, but it looks as though the Cards will be making an early exit.  They held a 2-1 lead with two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning at Dodger Stadium today when Matt Holliday dropped a liner that would have been the game-ending third out.  It was not meant to be as the extra out allowed the Dodgers to score 2 runs, and steal the victory, 3-2.  The series moves to St. Louis with the Dodgers up, 2 games to none.  In a short series format, I simply do not see any way for the Cards to dig out of their self-imposed hole.

 

Mark J. Terrill/AP

 

Of course, it only proves to never underestimate the power of Joe Torre…

 

Matt Sayles/AP

 

There is a series in Philly as the Colorado Rockies tied the NLDS at one game apiece with a 5-4 victory over the Phillies today.  They defeated last year’s play-off ace, Cole Hamels.  Hamels left immediately after being pulled to be with his wife, who was delivering the couple’s first child.  All things considered, Cole can be excused for having other things on his mind.  The series resumes in Denver on Saturday.

 

Mel Evans/AP

This brings us to the Los Angeles Angels and Boston Red Sox.  Game 1 in Anaheim is underway, and the Angels hold a 3-0 lead in the 7th inning.  Ouch Julia!  What time is it in Boston?  ;)  It’s a long night for you unless Big Papi can bring the Sox back in the late innings.  Nevertheless, Julia and I have agreed to a final wager for what will hopefully be the final meeting between the Yankees and the Red Sox in the American League Championship Series.  Of course, there are obstacles in the way called the Angels and Twins that could derail our plans.  The winner will be decided by a) the team that advances the furthest into the play-offs, or 2) the winner of a possible head-to-head match-up in the ALCS.  The loser must post photos wearing the winning team’s hat and t-shirt, while holding a sign declaring that the winning team “is better”.  I’m ready, Julia!  How about you?

 

 

Back to the Yanks, Jorge Posada needs to back off his criticism of Jose Molina catching A.J. Burnett in Game 2.  Burnett and Molina have clicked and Jose helped A.J. end his summer slide in early September.  Jorge, bite your tongue and take one for the team…

 


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The Little Engine That Could…

 

Wow, the winner is….ME! 

 

 

When the season started and the Yankees promptly proceeded to drop the first 8 games of their season series to the Boston Red Sox, I was starting to develop an inferiority complex.  At every turn, Julia was emerging victorious and I was wearing pink Red Sox hats.  But finally the tide turned in early August.

 

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At the All-Star break, the Yankees trailed the Red Sox by four games.  They had been swept in their last series before the break by the Los Angeles Angels, and admittedly, I was a bit pessimistic.

 

 

But after the break, the Yankees quickly caught and passed the Red Sox.  Then, came the four game sweep at Yankee Stadium against the Red Sox in early August that stopped the losing streak.

 

Bill Kostroun/AP 

 

But the true test was the latest road trip.  The Yankees first headed for Seattle where they took 3 of 4 from the Mariners.  Next stop was Oakland.  Former Yankee Brett Tomko silenced the Yankee bats in the first game, but the Yanks came back to win the next two to take the series.  With a 5-2 road record, the Yankees headed for Boston.  The Sox had been playing very well, and the 30 inning scoreless streak against the Yankees earlier in the month seemed to be a distant memory. 

The Yankees took the first game at Fenway Park, but it wasn’t easy as ridiculous as it sounds.  With a 12-1 lead, I was actually fretful of a Sox comeback.  The Red Sox did starting scoring runs, but fortunately the Yanks stayed several steps ahead.  At one point, I had sent an email to Julia to tell her guys to quit scoring.  She didn’t listen.  With a 20-7 lead in the 9th inning, the Red Sox scored 4 runs to close the gap to 20-11, but that was it…finally.

 

Elise Amendola/AP

 

I knew that once the Yankees scored 20 runs, they were in trouble the next day.  Generally, whenever the Yanks have scored 20 or more runs in a game, they struggle offensively the next night.  I can really only recall one time that ever not being the case.  Unfortunately, it held the next day as the Red Sox thrashed the Yanks, 14-1.

 

Elise Amendola/AP

 

So, Julia and I went into the final game of the series tied.  I wasn’t overly optimistic given that Josh Beckett was on the mound.  But at least we had CC Sabathia on our side.  I recognize that CC has had his share of failures at Fenway Park, but in August, CC seems virtually unstoppable.  It wasn’t a great performance on Sunday, but he didn’t give up 5 home runs like Beckett.  Plus, he had Hideki Matsui on his side.  Matsui lived up to his nickname this series, “Godzilla”…

 

 

It was somewhat bittersweet given that this is perhaps his final year in pinstripes.  There is virtually no chance that the Yankees will re-sign Matsui so this is his farewell tour.  The Red Sox probably wish that he would have left a year earlier.

 

Charles Krupa/AP 

 

In the end, the Yanks had an 8-4 victory, and completed a 7-3 winning road trip.  They had taken the Red Sox in the latest series, with only one more remaining.  So, it means that my friend Julia will be posting a Pro-Yankee Top 11 List.  Plus, she must spend a day wearing a Yankees cap and provide photos to prove it.  A pink Yankees cap has been ordered through MLB.com, and is making its way to Boston.

New York Yankees Caroline Women's Cap - MLB.com Shop

Enjoy being a Yankees fan for a day, Julia!

 

 

 

…farewell until we meet again in September!  We’ll need to come up with a memorable wager since it will be the last hurrah of 2009…well, at least until the Yanks meet the Red Sox in the American League Championship Series!

With the Red Sox’ win tonight over the Chicago White Sox, the Yankees’ lead in the AL East stands at 7 games.  This one is far from over, but on August 24th, I like where the Yankees sit.

 

 

During the off-season, I liked the moves that Theo Epstein made for the Red Sox, including the one they didn’t make (Mark Teixeira).  Overall, I thought that Theo did a better job of filling the holes, while Brian Cashman was focusing on big game.  Even during the season, Theo has made some wise moves, such as the trade for Cleveland’s Victor Martinez.  John Smoltz didn’t pan out, but he was better suited for the NL anyway.  In the grand scheme of things, I’d rather have Clay Buchholz in the starting rotation than John Smoltz so it worked out for Boston.  I was frustrated when the Yanks’ biggest in-season moves were Eric Hinske, Jerry Hairston, Jr., and Chad Gaudin.  But the patience that Brian Cashman had (that I did not have) paid off as the bullpen solidified once Phil Hughes began his mastery of the 8th inning.  I guess that’s why Cash gets the big bucks, and I only sit and write about it.

 

 

I am still not convinced that the Yankees have the starting pitching to go deep in the play-offs unless A.J. Burnett steps up his game.  But the Yanks have the talent to get hot in late September/early October.  Frank Miller, a late cartoonist for The Des Moines (Iowa) Register, used to say that it wasn’t an official World Series if the Yankees weren’t in it.  I am thinking that it is time for an official World Series…

 

 

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Go Yankees!

–Scott

Extending the Lead…

The Boston Red Sox lost…

 

 

Michael Dwyer/AP

 

Life is good.

 

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

 

Michael Dwyer/AP

 

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

 

Michael Dwyer/AP

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

Elaine Thompson/AP 

 

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

 

Nam Y. Huh/AP 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 –Scott

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