Results tagged ‘ Ian Kennedy ’

So Close Yet So Far Away…

Being Realistic…

Do I really think that 2013 is the year the Yankees win their 28th World Championship?  No, not really.  I think the off-season of inactivity proved to me that the magic wouldn’t be in the air.  The team started strong with the scrap-heap substitutions of Vernon Wells, Lyle Overbay, Kevin Youkilis and others, but as it stands today, the season is starting to play out as expected.  Following today’s loss (and series loss) to the Tampa Bay Rays, the Yankees are only 2 ½ games behind the Boston Red Sox, but my intuition tells me that the top 3 of the AL East will inevitably be the bottom 3.  The Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays are both starting to get their sea legs, and they, the Jays in particular, are starting to make their move.

I was listening to MLB Radio today and Joel Sherman made the comment that Phil Hughes has reached his ceiling…a .500 pitcher who’ll have some outstanding games but will threw in a few clunkers, with a 4.50 ERA.  I didn’t need to hear Joel’s words to know that Hughes needs a change of scenery.  I am not crazy about Ivan Nova but I’d prefer Nova over Hughes on an interim basis until Michael Pineda is finally able to take his spot in the rotation.  I am not exactly sure what Hughes can bring you in trade, but there are other ballparks that perhaps he’d excel and have an “Ian Kennedy”-like renaissance.  I’ve given up on it happening in the Bronx and hopefully Brian Cashman has too.

I don’t think the Yankees will win a championship with David Adams at third, but I still prefer him over Alex Rodriguez…

I am not sure what it will take for the Yankees to return to the World Series with the current construction of the roster.  It’s unfortunate that Mariano Rivera will not be able to ride out in a blaze of glory, but he’s been nothing short of spectacular in his final season.  Not too many guys can put up such a great season as their final journey after a long and lengthy ride.  He is, without a doubt, the greatest closer in Major League Baseball history.

It would be fun to see Zoilo Almonte to continue to hit.  The more the young guys produce, the more unlikely Curtis Granderson returns in 2014.  Even with Almonte’s success, I don’t see anyway the current Steinbrenner regime brings Grandy back next year.  That’s too bad, but I hope they don’t make the same mistake with Robinson Cano.  Cano is the one Yankee the Steinbrenners should open up the vault for.   But aside from Cano, the Yankees need to be looking into an exit strategy for Mark Teixera, Alex Rodriguez and even Derek Jeter.  While they need a superior outfielder to go with Brett Gardner and youth, the entire infield needs a makeover.

If it were my team, I’d look at CC Sabathia as no more than a #3 starter at this stage of his career, which means that I’d need a solid #1 and #2 fairly quickly.  I am not sure how the Yankees can produce those types of arms and I am not a proponent for depleting the farm system of talent in an attempt to bring an aged arm like Cliff Lee to New York.

So, all this leads me to believe that the Yankees should be sellers in July.  Yeah, the team is only 2 ½ games out of first place at the moment, but I realistically do not believe that the team has the horses to win in October.  At this point, I would not want to overpay just to bring further October disappointment.  I’d rather be well-stocked and in good position to contend in 2014 when potentially the team has a stronger chance to succeed.

Do you believe in miracles?  Not this year…

–Scott

 

 

Why waste the paper for the signing?…

 

No Hablo Red Sox…

I know that it was a “no-risk, why-not-take-shot minor league with a major league camp invitation” signing but something just struck me wrong with the addition of former Red Sox reliever Manny Delcarmen.  Over the past few years, I have admittedly built up some respect for the good Red Sox players.  I’d count Red Sox ace Jon Lester as one of my favorite pitchers, and I appreciate players like Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury.  I think Adrian Gonzalez is one of the premier sluggers in baseball and all things considered, the Red Sox got the better end of the deal when they lost out on Mark Teixeira to the Yanks and had to “settle” for Gonzalez in a trade with the San Diego Padres.  There are those Sox players that I dislike but know they are ‘gamers’ like Josh Beckett, but conversely, there are those guys that I just thought were bad baseball players.  I’d put Delcarmen in the latter category.

Delcarmen is the bullpen answer to A.J. Burnett.  In other words, the guy most likely to implode.  The Red Sox proved they held a similar opinion when they dumped Delcarmen on the Colorado Rockies in 2010.  Delcarmen failed to stick in the Mile High City, and bounced in the minor leagues last season with the Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners, accumulating a less than inspiring 5.59 ERA.  Odds are that he’ll never see the light of day at Yankee Stadium, but I think my tolerance quota for ex-Red Sox players in Yankees camp has been exceeded with Hideki Okajima, Delcarmen, and the possible signing of former Sox infielder Bill Hall.  I guess the Yankees brass wants to counteract the strong performance that Alfredo Aceves gave the Sox last year after being cut by the Yankees with a rejuvenated former Sox player in pinstripes.  If this was the objective (I know it wasn’t), then the Yankees should have signed DH David Ortiz before he accepted arbitration with the Sox.

Good luck to Delcarmen, but I still hope that he finds success elsewhere.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Hendry…

I was surprised to hear that the Yankees had signed former Chicago Cubs GM Jim Hendry as a special assignment scout.  For one, the Yankees have a stable of up-and-comers in Billy Eppler and Damon Oppenheimer.  Eppler almost landed the GM job with the Los Angeles Angels before Jerry DiPoto was hired so he’s certainly a sought-after commodity.  I saw today that the Yankees added the title of Senior Vice President to Assistant GM Jean Afterman, while naming Eppler as an assistant GM.  I know that Afterman doesn’t have the authority of Brian Cashman but it’s weird that they are both SVP’s.  All things considered, Cash should be in line for a promotion to Executive Vice President since he is clearly above the other SVP’s.

Admittedly, I am leery about bringing in strong GM types like Hendry.  Sure, he has a wealth of knowledge, but this position allows him to learn the inner-workings of the Yankees organization.  I am sure that Arizona Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers used his brief time with the Yankees to identify pitcher Ian Kennedy as a trade target.  I realize that Kennedy brought Curtis Granderson to New York, but had the Yankees been able to include a different pitcher with qualifications below Dellin Betances or Manny Banuelos in the trade, how good would Kennedy have looked at the back end of the rotation instead of Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon?

Snow:  To be or not to be…

It’s hard to believe that tomorrow is February and the month that players report to training camp.  My first winter in Minnesota has been so incredibly mild.  I think there have only been two days of challenging driving conditions but even on those days, I still managed to travel without too many obstacles.  Of course, we could be engulfed in a blizzard while Robinson Cano is punching one over the Steinbrenner Field wall, but I am definitely excited for the return of the primary major sport.  No offense to the New England Patriots or the New York Giants, but pro football ranks second to America’s favorite pastime (in my opinion).  I’ll be more excited to see CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda standing side-by-side in camp than watching QB Tom Brady tell me via TV that he’s headed for Disney World.

Let it snow in Minnesota and let those Michael Pineda fastballs start popping Russell Martin’s mitt.  Life is good.  Now, about that DH position for the Yankees…

–Scott

 

The best of a bad situation for the Red Sox Nation…

 

Bobby Valentine’s hire…

I am still surprised that the Boston Red Sox ownership and management team did not have a clear plan of succession when they failed to back former manager Terry Francona at the end of the season.  Sure, Francona left on his terms but the lack of support had as much to do with the decision as anything.  So, if ownership felt that they wanted a change, they should have had a short list of potential replacements in mind.  Theo Epstein moved more quickly in Chicago when they named Sox candidate Dale Sveum as their manager.  The Sox search just felt “messy” to an outsider like me.

Still, they probably did as well as they could with the hiring of Bobby Valentine.  There is no question that he is a superior tactician.  He is very passionate, which is an attribute that I have always admired.  I cannot say that I’ve been a Bobby V fan in my life.  I lived in Dallas during his years as the manager of the Texas Rangers.  But I respect his knowledge, skills and high desire to win.  At different points during the last few years, there have been times he has been mentioned as a possible Yankees manager.  You don’t have to like the guy personally if he can get the job done.  I think one of my friends referred to Bobby as “swarmy” and it’s a good description.  Nevertheless, I am sure that Bobby will prove himself worthy of the Red Sox Nation and they’ll love him.  Meanwhile, we’ll just continue our loathing of him which fits since he is now with a bitter rival.

I would like to see if Bobby can have a positive impact on pitcher Jon Lester.  Lester has been one of my favorite players, despite his uniform.  He is an ace, and capable of carrying the high expectations that go with it.  2011 was a regression year for Lester so hopefully he’ll get back on track in 2012 and clearly establish himself as the leader of the Red Sox rotation.

…and Terry Francona’s ire…

In recent years, I admittedly lessened my dislike for the Boston Red Sox and it was primarily because of my respect for manager Terry Francona.  In my mind, Joe Torre had been the model of a superior manager, and the Francona mold was in the same class.  I do not know the inner workings of the Red Sox organization, but I am still surprised that they didn’t support Francona based on comments Tito has made during interviews.  I was even more surprised to hear that he had to defend himself against questions about painkillers during his interview with the St. Louis Cardinals.  Here is a manager that won two World Series for an organization that had not won since 1918, or when Babe Ruth was still on the roster.  It’s incredible to think of how many Red Sox managers failed where Tito succeeded.  I think teams missed the boat in not aggressively pursuing Tito this off-season.  Hopefully, teams won’t make the same mistake next year.

All quiet on the Western front…

The days leading up to the Baseball Winter Meetings in Dallas seem so incredibly quiet compared to life under the Boss.  While I recognize that part of it is posturing by the Yankees to avoid overpaying for players, there is the realization that this is a different ownership group even if it is still “in the family”.  The Yankees did not really make any notable moves last season outside of signing catcher Russell Martin and bringing in pitchers Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon.  To fail to upgrade the team this year is a mistake in my opinion.  Last year’s roster was easily defeated by the Detroit Tigers in the play-offs.  While I realize that anything can happen in a short series, I didn’t have the sense or “feel” that the Yankees were going to prevail.  It almost seemed as though it was inevitable the Yankees would lose.  That’s a bad feeling.  The team needs bench or role players that can come through like Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui used to, and they need help at the top of the starting rotation behind CC Sabathia.

I hopeful that the team can re-sign Eric Chavez, Andrew Jones and Luis Ayala.  Chavez is a perfect fit behind Alex Rodriguez, assuming that he can stay healthy, and Jones was a great fourth outfielder if he is content with resuming that type of role for the upcoming season. Ayala seems to be garnering much attention with at least six teams interested.

I like the one rumor that I heard about the Yankees possibly being interested in Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Kyle Drabek.  He would definitely be a pitcher that I’d target if I were the GM.  As a fan, the trade of Doug Drabek hurt at the time and it hurt even more when Drabek went on to achieve great success with the Pittsburgh Pirates.  While acquiring Kyle Drabek has nothing to do with his father as he has great potential on his own right, it would be nice to have the son of Doug Drabek in the organization.  Interestingly, the Yankees had obtained Doug Drabek in a trade with the Chicago White Sox for shortstop Roy Smalley.  If they had held onto him that trade would have been remembered as one of the Yankees better trades.  As it was, the Yankees traded him to the Pirates for Rick Rhoden, who was serviceable but not great.

Of the free agent pitchers, I am still most interested in Mark Buehrle.  I think he’d fit perfectly into the middle of the Yankees rotation.  I like C.J. Wilson but I can understand the team’s apprehension given the dollars that have been mentioned to sign him.  If Yu Darvish is posted later this off-season, I really would like to see the Yankees be aggressive in pursuing him.  I am convinced that he’ll have greater major league success than Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka.  The negative is obviously the cost of the posting fee that it will take to get the job done.  The Red Sox paid over $51 million for the rights to negotiate with Dice-K, and apparently, it will take a similar if not higher number to land Darvish.

If the Yankees were to include outfielder Nick Swisher in a trade for a starting pitcher, they’d need to find a replacement.  As a fan, I am always on the lookout for the next Paul O’Neill type of trade to fill the void…acquiring a talented young outfielder with much promise who has yet fulfilled those expectations.  It’s a high risk move, but as in the case of O’Neill, high reward.  Curtis Granderson has thrived in a Yankees uniform despite the sluggish start, and it’s better to catch a player before he hits the upward arc of his career in terms of cost.  If the Yankees tried to acquire Granderson from the Tigers today, there’s no way that they could get it done with Ian Kennedy, Austin Jackson and Phil Coke (and that’s with Kennedy being mentioned in the NL Cy Young race this year).

Brace yourself, here comes Roller-Coaster Week!…

The upcoming week is always my favorite week of the off-season.  The Hot Stove League is at its pinnacle.  Even if the Yankees do not do anything, it is still a thrilling ride.  It’s fun to talk and think about all the potential possibilities, even as far-reaching as some may sound.  My primary wish is for the Cardinals to get their long-anticipated deal with Albert Pujols done so that we can move on to other storylines.  There’s no way that he is going to Chicago or Miami, and at the end of the day, he is and always will be a Cardinal.

My preferred landing spot for Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, if he decides to continue playing, is the Miami Marlins.  I do not want to see him go to the Mets, Red Sox, or any other AL East rival including the Tampa Bay Rays.

Good move, Bad move…

The Los Angeles Dodgers are my favorite National League team, although I do not have the passion for the team or the sense of loyalty that I hold for the Yankees.  My affection for them began when Joe Torre was named manager (previously I had considered the San Francisco Giants as my NL team) and it has continued with one of my all-time favorite players as the current Dodgers manager, Don Mattingly.  I am dismayed with the ownership situation and do not have any respect for Frank McCourt, but I am optimistic that the sale of the team will restore the luster of the storied franchise.

While it was good for the Dodgers to lock up outfielder Matt Kemp long-term, I do question the move to sign free agent pitcher Chris Capuano.  The cost was too great ($10 million for two years) for a journeyman pitcher who is average to average-minus with no upside.  If this move prevents free agent pitcher Hiroki Kuroda from returning, then it’s an even greater mistake.  I don’t know how much it will cost to sign Kuroda and I realize that he is 37, but he’s still a better pitcher than Capuano.

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out…

I was not excited when the Minnesota Vikings trade a 6th round draft pick to the Washington Redskins for QB Donovan McNabb before the season started, but I did realize the team needed a veteran presence.  McNabb was a failure for the Vikings, and I was glad to see the team finally cut bait with his release this past week.  I am not convinced he can thrive in any environment, contrary to what head coach Leslie Frazier may say.  I think the Vikings simply found out what the Philadelphia Eagles knew and what the Redskins found out last season.  He’s done.  I was pleasantly surprised to see QB Sage Rosenfels return as the third string QB after his release from the Miami Dolphins.  It’s not that I expect Rosenfels to take any regular season snaps this time around, but he’s a good insurance policy and allows the Vikings to continue to use second string QB Joe Webb in a variety of roles.

It’s tough when your favorite football team is playing so bad that you actually hope for losses to ensure a high draft pick.  The Vikings are only two games behind the Indianapolis Colts in the sweepstakes for Stanford QB Andrew Luck.  I am a fan of Vikings QB Christian Ponder, but even I would gladly take Luck over Ponder.  So, with the Denver Broncos playing the Vikings today, all I can say is ‘Go Tim Tebow!’ as a way to bring good “Luck”!…

–Scott

First Place, but hardly reason to gloat…

 

I am an Iowa Hawkeyes fan, I am used to build up then disappointment…

It’s ironic that the Yankees currently hold the lead in the American League East since it has seemed as though the Boston Red Sox and their fans have had more reason to gloat this year.  Every time I get excited about the Yankees, they do something to temper the excitement.  Headed in September, the team was playing at an incredibly high level, with solid pitching from the entire rotation including A.J. Burnett (well, one start).  During the first two games of a four game set with the Baltimore Orioles and the manager I love to hate, Buck Showalter, the Yankees looked like they could hang with the Philadelphia Phillies in a 7-game play-off series.

But alas, all good things must end, and the Yankees promptly lost two consecutive extra-inning affairs with the O’s.  Fortunately, the Red Sox were struggling with the Toronto Blue Jays, losing 2 of 3, so the Yanks didn’t lose any ground (they currently lead the Sox by 2 ½ games).

For the record, I don’t take any joy in the health issues surrounding Josh Beckett and Kevin Youkilis.  I’d rather beat a Red Sox team at full strength than one depleted by critical injuries.

Many Yankees fans are probably already counting on the AL East Flag, but like last year, I know how easy it can slip away and of course a 2 ½ game lead is nothing on September 9th.  The Sox have plenty of time to make up the difference and they are certainly a team capable of getting on a roll.  That’s why I consider those two O’s losses as lost opportunities.  It doesn’t get any easier for the Yanks as they are now in Anaheim to face the Los Angeles Angels.  Tonight, they are pitted against Jered Weaver who is arguably the best pitcher in the American League not named Justin Verlander.  Plus, the Yankees generally do not fare well on those West Coast swings.  So, the Red Sox certainly have a golden opportunity to re-take the AL East.

Hip-hip, Jorge!…

While I am one that feels this should be the last year in the Bronx for Jorge Posada (almost a virtual certainty given how well Jesus Montero has performed), I do hope that he gets his moment in Yankee Stadium like Paul O’Neill did when the fans started chanting his name.  Posada can leave knowing that his name will rank up there with Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey, Elston Howard, and Thurman Munson.  It will be odd seeing Posada in a different uniform if he chooses to play next year, and I definitely hope that he is not one of those who travel north to Boston.  I’d rather see him play for the Tampa Bay Rays.  Best case scenario would be the National League, but I doubt he’d switch leagues at this late juncture in his career.  Of course, his catching days are behind him so a team with a DH is where he is best suited.  I am sure that he’ll be more prepared for DH next season.

Random thoughts…

I am ready for the Scott Proctor reunion to end…

So, how can we convince some team to offer Rafael Soriano a ridiculous amount of money to walk away from his contract with the Yankees after the season?  Sadly, I think he’ll be a Yankee for all three years…

Tell me again why we kept Phil Hughes and traded 19-game winner Ian Kennedy?  Okay, I can’t fault the Yankees on this one as I was ready for Kennedy to leave and he probably would not have achieved the same level of success in the pressure cooker known as New York…

Funny how Derek Jeter drop-kicked Minka Kelly on the eve of her becoming a national sex symbol with the new Charlie’s Angels TV series.  When you are DJ and you can have any girl in the world, why settle for one?  I am sure that he has no shortage of friends, and he can certainly buy a few if he needs them…

When I saw the photo of Cameron Diaz “pregnant” (costuming for a movie), my first thought, thinking it was real, was definitely about Alex Rodriguez and additional future child support payments.  But fortunately, A-Rod has been able to afford “protection” and he doesn’t have to worry about any unexpected A-Rod, Jr’s in the world…

Are you ready for some football?…

Getting a little off-topic, it was disappointing to see that Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning had to undergo a second surgery on his neck that will keep him out of action for 2-3 months, if not all season.  Some are saying that he should just retire rather than risk further injury, and I’d certainly agree that he doesn’t have any more to prove.  He’ll definitely go down in history as one of the great ones.  Kerry Collins has a good knack for being in the right place at the right time…

Two years ago, as a Vikings fan, I had to learn to root for a former hated quarterback (Brett Favre).  Now, as a former resident of the Philly area who witnessed the fan apathy toward Donovan McNabb, I have to pull for him as the QB of my team.  I am a fan of Christian Ponder, and I suspect that he’ll get his opportunity to take a few snaps at some point in the season.  Actually, I hope McNabb proves me wrong and leads the Vikings to the promised land.  But I see this as just another attempt to capture glory from a faded star…

I keep hearing how great it is that LB Erin Henderson has landed a starting role with the Vikings (alongside his brother, E.J.) as an undrafted free agent.  But in the year of his draft, I was somewhat surprised that he did go undrafted.  It was evident that he was a quality player at Maryland, and I would have thought some team would have taken a shot in the later rounds.  Just as I liked Erin that year, I like RB Caleb King this year.  He didn’t make the final cut when the team pared its roster to 53 players, but he was retained on the practice squad.  Hopefully, a position on the roster will materialize before some other team realizes the diamond in the rough…

If I am Mike Shanahan, and my choices for starting QB are Rex Grossman and John Beck, I am retiring to see what NBC Sports has to offer…

As a resident of Minnesota and the city of Minneapolis, I am really hopeful that the city will find a way to step forward to retain the Vikings.  Presently, the proposal is for a new stadium in Arden Hills, and I know the ownership group is highly in favor of the area.  I’d really like to see the Vikings stay in Minneapolis with the Twins and the Timberwolves.  The options are either the existing Metrodome/Mall of America Field area or the Farmer’s Market.  I’d prefer the latter.  But all things considered, I would accept Arden Hills over Los Angeles.   Whatever it takes, I hope Minnesota does the right thing to retain the Vikings.  It would be horrific for the Land of 10,000 Lakes to lose a second professional team to the city of Los Angeles…

I saw that Buddy Ryan was delaying surgery (he has been diagnosed with cancer…again) so that he could witness the Week 1 match-up between Rex Ryan and the New York Jets and Rob Ryan and the Dallas Cowboys.  I am hopeful that he’ll see a Jets victory, but then again, the Cowboys have always been my second favorite team so I won’t be disappointed if Tony Romo and company pull out the victory.  Buddy apparently has a history of beating cancer so hopefully this is just another one of those dominating Ryan situations…

I know that I kept jumping back to the Vikings (hey, I am a Vikings fan!), but I have to say that I really like what I’ve seen from new head coach Leslie Frazier.  I have not always been a big fan of the team’s coach.  When you grow up with Bud Grant as the man, it’s hard to see others in the role.  The worst, of course, was Les Steckel, but there have been varying degrees over the years.  I did like Mike Tice but recognize that he was limited from a coaching perspective.  Leslie Frazier is the first coach since Grant that I’ve been able to fully embrace.  I hated to see the Vikings lose former defensive coach Mike Tomlin when he was named coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and I felt the Vikings were facing the same situation with Frazier (just like they had with Tomlin and Tony Dungy in previous years).  Fortunately, the Vikings canned Brad Childress (sorry Brad!) and promoted Frazier to the top job.  I was slow to accept Joe Girardi as the Yankees manager (I was a Don Mattingly supporter), but today, there’s not really anyone that I’d rather see as manager of the Yankees.  I feel the same way about Leslie Frazier.

We are now in the midst of perhaps one of the best sports months of the year.  It is the pennant race in baseball, and the opening of the NFL Season.  Granted, my focus is on baseball, but it will still be fun to watch some football this Sunday.  Down, set, 247, 247, hutt, hutt…

–Scott

 

 

A couple of wins in Boston would be nice for the road team…

  

Have Gun (partially loaded), Will Travel…

Headed to Boston with minus a few bullets…

With the injuries to Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter, the Yankees are certainly in a precarious situation as they head for Boston after wrapping up the O’s series in Baltimore tonight.  A-Rod was sent to New York have a MRI on his thumb, and he’ll re-join his teammates at Fenway Park.  The results were negative, however, it doesn’t sound like he’ll play in the Sox series so the focus will definitely be on Eric Chavez and Eduardo Nunez.

Jeter fouled a pitch off his right kneecap in the first game of Sunday’s double header, so he should be back on the field when the team arrives in Beantown.

The Red Sox have their own challenges, with Kevin Youkilis on the DL.  But even without Youk, the Red Sox boast three legitimate AL MVP Candidates in Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Adrian Gonzalez.  If the Yankees are to stop Boston’s run of success against them, the guys from the bench will need to be the difference makers.  Plus, some good pitching always helps.  I haven’t seen the starting rotation for the series yet, although I know that CC Sabathia is starting on Tuesday.  I suppose that means the other starters will be A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes, neither of whom instill great confidence, particularly when the opposing match-up’s will be Josh Beckett and Jon Lester (John Lackey faces the Yanks on Tuesday night so that’s probably the only matchup that favors the Yanks in the series).

Where are those darned reinforcements? Signed, General Custer…

The August trading deadline has been very quiet, and of course, I am not expecting any moves by the Yankees.  I still wish the team would move to get a clutch bat for the bench (someone like Hideki Matsui or Johnny Damon) but all indications are the Yankees will stand pat like they did at the July trading deadline.

Love means never having to say you’re Sori…

So, David Robertson is arbitration eligible at the end of the season?  The Yanks would be wise to lock him up to a deal before arbitration hearings.  He always seems to be in the most precarious situations yet, time and again, he comes through in big spots.  The way he struck out three batters in the 8th inning on Sunday night with the bases loaded was vintage D-Rob.  His 8th inning success definitely has me wondering what the Yanks will do with Rafael Soriano for the next couple of years…

He makes the world taste good…

I remember a few years ago when there were predictions that Curtis Granderson could hit 40 home runs playing at Yankee Stadium.  I thought those were aggressive remarks, but here he is on the verge of hitting that plateau.  Every one points to the adjustment he made with input from batting coach Kevin Long last August, but it’s clear he has become a complete hitter since that time.  It is ironic that one of the trading pieces, pitcher Ian Kennedy of the Arizona Diamondbacks, is leading the NL in wins.  Kind of makes one wish that the Yankees had traded Phil Hughes instead of Kennedy.  Still, the trade has worked out for all three teams involved (Arizona, Detroit, and the Yankees).  What?  Curtis Granderson just struck out in the game against the Orioles with Brett Gardner in scoring position?  The bum!  ;)  Just kidding…

They’re just games…

This is a big week for the Yankees with the Boston series so they’ll definitely be challenged.  It doesn’t get any easier after Boston because the Toronto Blue Jays will be coming to the Bronx for a weekend series, and the Jays have definitely played the Yanks tough this year.  Do we really have to pin our hopes on A.J. Burnett?  Really?…  L

Have a safe and enjoyable week!

–Scott

 

 

 

 

 

A Nice Start!…


It was great to see Mark
Teixeira
homer in the Yankees’ Opening Day win against the Detroit Tigers.  Hopefully, it is a sign that we won’t see the
April freeze this year with Tex.  He has
worked hard to try and overcome his history of slow starts.


Mark Teixeira watches his three-run homer on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium as the slugging first baseman tries to shake his usual slow start.

Sipkin/NY Daily News  

So far, I really like what I
have seen of catcher Russell Martin.  He
seems to have captured the respect of the pitching staff in a very short period
of time.  For as much as I feel pitching
coach Larry Rothschild will have a positive impact on A.J. Burnett, I cannot
underestimate what Martin will do for him also. 
I don’t know why the relationship between Burnett and Posada was never
an easy one, but it would be a terrific boon for the team should Burnett and
Martin click together.

Speaking of A.J., he goes
today against the Tigers so we’ll soon see…

What a great game for Curtis
Granderson
on Thursday!  He homered and
came up with a few defensive gems that made the highlight reels.  Last year, I had started to regret the trade
that sent Austin Jackson and Phil Coke to Detroit for Granderson, with Ian
Kennedy
going to Arizona.  But late in
the season, with a few adjustments, Curtis started to show us the player he
could be.  Some players take time to
adjust to New York, while others can slide right in (like Nick Swisher).  Granderson is probably more in the former
category, especially given the high expectations of the multi-player
trade. 

So, Cliff Lee pitches
tonight in Philadelphia against Wandy Rodriguez and the Houston Astros.  If he had joined the Yankees, he’d be
starting today against the Tigers.  It’ll
be hard not to wonder ‘what could have been’ this year when Lee starts.  That feeling will probably be present until
the Yankees can make a move to acquire another top flight pitcher.  I do know that I’ll be cheering for the
Astros tonight…

Although I am pulling for
Don Mattingly and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League, it was
horrible to hear about the Dodger fans that beat up the Giants fan in the
parking lot of Dodger Stadium after the season opener.  Obviously, the violence is not condoned by
the Dodgers, and Mattingly said it was crossing the line.  I know that I am always cautious about
wearing a Yankees hat in certain cities. 
For example, if I went to Fenway Park, I would not take any Yankees gear.  But that is a sad statement that you cannot openly
support your team without concern for your health and safety. 


–Scott


Let’s Get Ready To Rumble!…

Less than a week until the Yankees travel to 4 Yawkey Way…

 

 


Fenway Park.JPG 

 

 

My nemesis last year was Julia of Julia’s Rants.  The season started so great for her as the Boston Red Sox took the first eight games of the season series against the Yankees.  For a time, it seemed as though the Yankees would never get a win.  But then along came August, and the tide turned.  Led by hip-rejuvenated Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees captured all but one of the remaining games in the series enroute to their 27th World Championship. 

 

 

AP 

 

There was hope that Julia and I could face one another in the ALCS but John Lackey and the Los Angeles Angels had other ideas.  Of course, after the season, Theo and the Red Sox decided that if you can’t beat him, sign him as they inked Lackey to a five-year deal to be their number 2 starter.  I know that Josh Beckett is the ace of the staff, but if I were building a franchise, I’d pass on Beckett and Lackey and go with Jon Lester. 

 

 

Barry Chin/Boston Globe

 

 

Still it was gratifying to beat Julia and to enjoy the success of a championship season (my seventh as a Yankees fan).  Conversely, I am 0-for-lifetime as a fan of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings.  If only Brett Favre had just tucked the ball and ran…

 

 

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Here we are ready for a new season, and the battle between Julia and I gets off to a very early start.  I was listening to an interview with Boston beat writer Ian Browne and someone asked him if it was too early for Yankees-Red Sox.  His response was that it could be January 19th and a foot of snow on the ground and it wouldn’t be too early.  Precisely!  Granted, it’s your final record that determines whether you’ll see October, but the Yankees measure themselves against the Red Sox.  There is much more satisfaction in beating Boston than there is in beating, say, Kansas City.  The wins are measured the same, but still a win against the Royals just doesn’t have the same meaning.  I don’t want to offend my friends in Tampa because I know the Rays have the talent to win it all so this is not about disrespect.  However, the rivalry between the Rays and Yankees just isn’t as deep and heated as it is against the Red Sox.  There was a day that I despised the Baltimore Orioles like no other, so I am sure that the tide will eventually turn.  However, right now, as it has been for most of the past decade, baseball doesn’t get any better than Yankees-Red Sox.  As a Bay Area resident, I’ve been to Giants-Dodgers games, but they just don’t compare.

 

 

 

 

 

For our first wager, Julia and I have agreed to a book report assignment.  The winner gets to send a book of his/her choice (I know, the winner pays…go figure).  If the Yankees win, Julia gets to read and write a book report on the following book:

 

 

Dawn of a Dynasty: The Incredible and Improbable Story of the 1947 New York Yankees

 

Don’t click…this was just a cut and paste from Amazon.com!  The real thing will be making the trip to the Boston metro area to see my friend Julia!  I chose this book because it had special meaning to me.  1947 was the year that my late father graduated from high school, and it was the dawn of the great Yankees dynasty of the early 50′s.  If I could go back in time, 1927 would be my first choice so that I could watch the greatest Yankees team of all-time.  But for a second choice, given all of the great Yankees clubs in the past, 1947 would be next.  The team didn’t realize that it was on the verge of the greatest success in baseball history and it would have been fun to see the excitement and enthusiasm of those early years. 

 

Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio - 1947 AL

AP

 

Yeah Joe, you can smile a little larger!  You’ll be getting over on that dude next to you!  :)

 

If I lose (c’mon, Carsten Charles Sabathia, don’t let me down!), I will have to read one of Julia’s favorites:

 

 

 

 

I like Julia’s essays, so I am pulling for my favorite MLB Blogger!  Go Julia!  Lose to the Yankees and write that book report!  As Rob Schneider would say, ‘C’mon, you CAN do it!’.  ;)

 

 

 

Courtesy:  Julia’s Rants

 

 

Congratulations to Ian Kennedy for being named to the starting rotation for the Arizona Diamondbacks.  I was very frustrated at times with Kennedy and his attitude when he was with the Yankees, but I do hope that he finds success.  It wasn’t that long ago when his name was mentioned in the same breath as Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes.  Also, hats off to the Detroit Tigers newly named starting center fielder Austin Jackson.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy seeing Curtis Granderson in center field for the Yankees.  But I will also wonder ‘what could have been’ with Ajax.  He made me a believer with the way he tattooed a home run a couple of years ago in spring training.  Granted, he is not a home run hitter, but he has that “it” quality people talk about. Having Johnny Damon as your personal mentor is not a bad thing so long as Damon doesn’t wear that freakin’ 2004 ring!  ;)

 

 

Andrew Mills/The Star Ledger/US Presswire

 

 

I was also glad to see Chad Gaudin land with the local Oakland A’s.  It is his second go-around with the A’s, and I think he’ll thrive in their bullpen.  I am only a BART trip away from the A’s Stadium, so I am sure that I’ll be there a time or two to see how he progresses in his return.

 

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Is this really the last season of 24?  Wow, those were eight fast years!  On the bright side, you know that they can’t kill off Jack Bauer.  Not with the proposed movie deals in the works…

 

 


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How could Jesse James cheat on Sandra Bullock?  I don’t get it.  She is perhaps one of the most beautiful and inspirational actresses of my lifetime.

 

 


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I know, I’m getting way off topic. Sorry.  I’ll close with saying that I am pulling for Crystal Bowersox on American Idol!  Go Crystal!  Keep up what you are doing.  You are special!

 

 


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Move the Ghosts Aside, A New Yankee Centerfielder…

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

 

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Introducing the newest Yankee, centerfielder Curtis Granderson!  I have to admit that I was a bit reluctant when I saw the price tag (outfield prospect Austin Jackson and pitchers Phil Coke and Ian Kennedy).  I was looking forward to a career with Ajax in center, and I had grown very fond of bullpen specialist Coke over the course of the past season.  I wasn’t particularly enamored with Ian Kennedy’s attitude, but he did impress me with his return last season following surgery.  Nevertheless, I recognize that the Yankees are a better team today than they were yesterday.  Granderson hit 30 home runs with a home park that is pitching friendly.  Move him to the wind tunnel known as Yankee Stadium and this guy is going to be electric in center field.  He stole 20 bags this past season since he does have some speed.

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

John Grieshop/Getty Images

 

Granderson appeared in his first All-Star Game in 2009 and scored the winning run in the 8th inning following a triple.  This play was huge for the Yankees because it gave them home field advantage in the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies.  So, it appears that he was destined for pinstripes.

 

 

 

After dispatching valuable bullpen parts in Brian Bruney and Phil Coke, GM Brian Cashman needs to focus on rebuilding the bullpen.  However, starting pitching should be the next course of action.  I still think the Yankees need to address left field.  I am not a fan of moving Melky Cabrera to left.  I do not think he hits for the power that you need in left, particularly considering that Nick Swisher is average in right.  I’d either like to see the Yanks re-sign Johnny Damon, or look elsewhere for a new left fielder.  I would not be a proponent of moving Granderson to left either as I feel his speed is best served in center.

 

AP

 

This commentary may be a bit premature since the trade has not been officially confirmed, however, at this point, it appears that it is a foregone conclusion that it will be.  Interestingly enough, Granderson wears #28 for the Detroit Tigers.  The number is available with the Yankees, unless Joe Girardi decides to upgrade his number to the new goal.  So, perhaps Granderson is the missing link for World Championship #28.  Time will tell.  I have no problem with my friend Julia suffering another year of disappointment!  J

 


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No. 2 Is Just Fine…

When is Number 2 quite acceptable?…

 

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It’s not the Boston Red Sox who move closer to clinching at least a Wild Card berth.   It’s not the Yankees who lead the American League East by 6 games.  Finally, the Yankees number 2 starter, A.J. Burnett, has successfully righted the ship…

 

Chris Carlson/AP

 

After struggling in August, A.J. turned in his second consecutive solid start by pitching into the sixth inning, giving up 7 hits but only 2 runs.  He struck out 11 batters (just one shy of his season high).   The Yankees need an effective Burnett as they move into October, and his recent performances have shown that he is up to the task.  The Yankees made a 3-run 4th inning hold up today as they defeated the Angels, 3-2.

 

Chris Carlson/AP 

 

Following Burnett were a bevy of relievers, but the most notable was Ian Kennedy.  Kennedy entered in the 8th inning to make his 2009 season debut.  Kennedy had surgery for an aneurysm in his right armpit in May.  I am not so sure that I would have gone to Kennedy in a tight situation, with the Yankees leading by 1.  However, manager Joe Girardi must have felt that he had no choice due to a depleted pen.  Kennedy made it interesting with 2 walks and a hit batter to load the bases, but he avoided any damage by getting Erick Aybar to fly out ending the inning.  Congrats to Ian for a successful return.  I have been critical of Kennedy in the past, but he has the talent to succeed.

 

Chris Carlson/AP 

Mariano Rivera came on in the 9th to close it out for his 42nd save.  With the victory, the Yankees took 2 of 3 games in Anaheim, and proved that they can win in the Angels backyard.  I was very worried about this road trip going in since the Mariners had a winning record and have historically played the Yankees very tough at Safeco Field and prior to this series, the Yankees had not won a game in Anaheim this year.  The Yankees did struggle in Seattle after Friday night’s walk-off homer by Ichiro, but the two wins in Anaheim salvaged a 3-3 record on the road trip.  All things considered, I am very happy with the result.

 

 

 

After losing ground over the weekend to the Red Sox, the Yankees were able to pick up one game during the Angel series.   Therefore, they head back to the Bronx for a weekend series against the Red Sox and a 6 game lead.  Mathematically, the Red Sox still have a chance to win the AL East, however, the odds are against them.  At some point, Red Sox manager Terry Francona will begin resting his regulars to get ready for, as Julia puts it, Soxtober.   It obviously won’t happen this weekend, but so long as the Yankees don’t get swept, I think they’ll take the AL East crown. 

 

 

The Yankees have possibly lost supersub Jerry Hairston, Jr.   Batting in the 7th inning, he felt something pop in his wrist and left the game.   He will be undergoing a MRI but it doesn’t sound good.   Ramiro Pena has quite possibly landed in the very high profile position as October approaches.  Maybe a call should be placed to Brian Doyle to be Ramiro’s private coach…

 

 

 

The Yankees have pushed CC Sabathia back by one day so that he properly aligns with the start of the play-offs.  Joba Chamberlain will take CC’s place as Friday night’s starter against the Red Sox and Jon Lester.  CC will pitch on Saturday.

 

I have to say that I get excited every time Brett Gardner gets on base.  He is simply the most exciting Yankee to watch on the base paths.  In Tuesday night’s game, he stole a base (on a pitch out) in the 9th inning and scored the winning run on Alex Rodriguez’s sacrifice fly.  Gardner, with a dirt stained jersey, is becoming common place, and he is always instrumental in making things happen.  He may not be a starter, but he is invaluable to the 2009 Yankees.   As A-Rod said, Gardner is a pain in the butt, and we wouldn’t want it any other way…

 

 

As the Boston Red Sox head for the Bronx, this weekend will pit…

I’m A Headline Guy

 

VS.

 

Julia’s Rants

We are ready to engage in our final match of the regular season.  After early season success, Julia has found the last couple of months to be very Yankee-oriented.  Let’s hope that trend continues.  Plus, Julia is just so good at writing about the Yankees.  We need to see more of the same!  J  Hey Julia, the time has arrived, Game On!

 

yankees.jpg image by Skee-Skee

 

For Julia, I am glad to see that one of her personal favorites, Tim Wakefield, will be starting next Tuesday night.  Wake has had a great season, but he has had some unfortunate setbacks health-wise that prevented this from being one of his most successful seasons.  He is a good guy, even if he plays for THAT team, and I do wish him the best for his next start.  This is a guy who was once cut by the Pittsburgh Pirates, but has carved out a tremendous career for the Red Sox.

 

AP 

So, now it’s time for the resumption of THE series.  Bring on the Red Sox.  We’re ready…

 

 

Go Yankees!

 

–Scott

Dead from New York, It’s Saturday Night!…

 

Friday night was so nice….dominating pitching performance…good defensive play…solid hitting…

New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez (right) receives congratulations from third base coach Rob Thomson after hitting a three-run home run against the Orioles at Camden Yards.

Gene Sweeney Jr/Baltimore Sun

None of that happened on Saturday night…

Orioles first baseman Aubrey Huff (right) receives congratulations from teammates Adam Jones (left) and Nick Markakis after hitting a three-run home run in the second inning.

AP

At first, it appeared that the rain might be a problem.  It had been fairly nice all day in Baltimore with partly cloudy to most cloudy conditions but no rain.  I arrived at Oriole Park early, and found the way to my seat. 

Then, the rain drops started fall.  They covered the field, and I wondered if it would be a repeat of my experience last weekend when I went to Yankee Stadium for the game that was rained out. 

 

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Fortunately, the rain never really materialized in a significant way, so they took the tarp off the field.  The rain did reappear briefly while they were pulling the tarp but it only caused a momentary delay.  The rain quickly stopped, and didn’t return the remainder of the night.  They rolled up the tarp, and the game began at its scheduled 7:05 pm.


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Perhaps a rainout would have been better…

The Yankees looked decent through one inning, and then it all collapsed in the second.  They looked like Keystone Cops as the Orioles sent 13 men to the plate, and scored 8 runs. 

Hughes is now the latest member of the Yogi Berra Club (that is, pitchers with ERA’s of 8 or more).  Unfortunately, there are too many members of the club at this point of the season.  The list includes Hughes, 8.49; Brett Tomko, 9.00 (who also gained entry last night in his first appearance as a Yankee); Damaso Marte, 15.19; Chien-Ming Wang, 34.50; and Anthony Cleggett, 43.20.  Jose Veras, 7.20, has petitioned for membership and we have no doubt that he’ll be accepted…

What was supposed to a strength has quickly turned to a major disappointment and is why the Yankees have started 14-16 for the third year in a row.

Peter Abraham of the LoHud Yankees Blog raised the issue that the Yankees are just not a good Saturday team.  After winning on April 11th against the Kansas City Royals, 6-1, the Yanks have been hammered on every subsequent Saturday.

4/18 – Cleveland Indians 22, Yankees 4

4/25 – Boston Red Sox 16, Yankees 11

5/02 – Los Angeles Angels 8, Yankees 4

5/09 – Baltimore Orioles 12, Yankees 5

The Yankees did hit three home runs last night, but by then, the damage had been done.  There never really was a sense that the Yanks were going to climb back into the game. 

Hopefully, the team will play more to their strengths and abilities today in the final game of the three-game set against the O’s. 

Meanwhile, the Yankees have been passed in the AL East Standings by the defending AL champs, the Tampa Bay Rays.  They are now in 4th place, 5.5 games behind the leading Toronto Blue Jays.  They are just 1.5 games up on the O’s.  Regardless of what happens today, they won’t leave Baltimore in last place but they’re perilously close. 

 

Hey Girardi, time to start working on the resume…

Seth Wenig/AP

 

SCENES FROM THE GAME

The last thing I want to remember is anything that happened last night, but I was impressed with Oriole Park at Camden Yards.  It felt like a home game given the large number of Yankees fans in attendance.  There were enough fans that they were able to create loud Yankee chants early in the game before the disaster of the 2nd inning.  A nearby O’s fan said it is the same way when the Red Sox come to town. 


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The ballpark itself is very impressive.  I have had mixed feelings about the newer stadiums (some I’ve liked, some not so much).  Granted, Oriole Park was one of the first new “Retro” stadiums, but it has a terrific “feel” to it that has not been replicated by other stadiums.  It’s simply a great place to watch baseball…unless your team tanks it and gives up 8 runs in the bottom of the second inning.


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Surprisingly, this man didn’t raise the greatest chorus of boo’s…

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The O’s fans saved their “appreciation” for Maryland native Mark Teixeira…

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Hopefully, my next visit to Oriole Park will prove to be more enjoyable…

 

YANKEES NOTES

Joba Chamberlain has been listed as questionable for today’s game, thanks to a burst blood vessel in his thumb. 

The Yankees held Alfredo Aceves in reserve for the possible start today, which is why we saw Edwar Ramirez relieve Phil Hughes last night during THAT inning instead of long reliever Aceves.  Hopefully, Joba will be a ‘go’ at game time, but the Yankees are historically very conservative when it comes to injuries.  From all reports, it does sound as though Joba will be on the mound as scheduled.

I saw that the Yankees had three scouts watching Yu Darvish pitch in Japan.  He won’t be a free agent until 2014, but he’s only 22 years old.  If you saw him pitch during the WBC, you know that he is a legitimate major league prospect.  I am glad to see that the Yankees are tracking his progress.

Yu Darvish

 

Tuesday, pitcher Ian Kennedy will undergo surgery for an aneurysm in an artery near his right shoulder.  The doctor who performed the surgery on David Cone’s aneurysm in 1996 will perform the same surgery on Kennedy.  I have not been a big fan of Kennedy’s, but he was pitching well for Scranton/Wilkes Barre this year and I do wish him a full and speedy recovery. 

Brett Tomko, as mentioned previously, is back in the major leagues.  When he entered the game last night, the O’s radio announcers were saying how he had a sub 1.00 ERA in 10 Triple A relief appearances (0.64). 

He promptly gave up a home run to the impressive Adam Jones…

Courtesy Militant Angeleno Blog

Yep, he is still Brett Tomko…

 

To Everyone, I wish you a very Happy Mother’s Day!

 

Go Yankees!

 

–Scott

 

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