Results tagged ‘ Ivan Nova ’

Let’s pass on reclamation projects…

 

Pitching, pitching, pitching… 

The Yankees were very fortunate in the first half to get the mileage they did out of Bartolo Colon (even with his stay on the DL) and Freddy Garcia.  But two games into the second half, their performances have been very dismal as the Yanks have been crushed by the Toronto Blue Jays on successive days.

 

Yankees' starter Bartolo Colon is pulled in the first inning of a 16-7 loss to the Blue Jays.

Frank Gunn/AP

I think that both Colon and Garcia are capable to having respectable finishes to the season but all things considered, I’d rather go in a different direction.  I am sure that there is a good reason for why 8-game winner Ivan Nova is pitching for Scranton/Wilkes Barre.  I’d never claim to the talent evaluator that Joe Girardi and Larry Rothschild are, but it would make more sense to me to let the younger pitcher grow and develop in the major league rotation.

Yankee scouts are out in full force scouring other major league ballparks.  I am sure that Brian Cashman has a short list of guys that he’d like to acquire even if he’d never publicly admit it.  I fully recognize that the trading deadline is not going to result in Felix Hernandez wearing pinstripes, but I am sure that there are a few arms out there capable of being major upgrades over Colon and Garcia.

The losses by Colon and Garcia aren’t just their faults.  This is a team game and the other guys simply did not pick up the veteran pitchers when they got hit hard. For whatever reason, the Blue Jays seem to have the Yankees number or at least they have for the last few years.  If the Yankees intend to win the division, they need to figure out how to beat Toronto and Boston since they haven’t really shown they are capable of beating either team.

 

The Villain…

I was surprised to see Derek Jeter crucified for not attending the All-Star Game in Phoenix.  While I think that he should have made an appearance at the game, I can understand and appreciate his reasons for not playing.  He had just finished a stint on the DL and he is vital to his team’s chances in the second half.  The ASG break was a good opportunity for DJ to ensure that he got good rest before resuming the rigors of every day play.  It’s not just Derek, I think any of the players who were voted as starters but withdrew for whatever reason should have made the trip to Phoenix to at least acknowledge the fans.

 

New York Yankees' Derek Jeter walks away after having words with home plate umpire Greg Gibson after striking out during the fifth inning of the Yankees' 7-1 loss in Toronto.

Frank Gunn/AP

Still, nobody received criticism for pulling out of the game like DJ did.  I know, that’s just life with the New York Yankees.

 

Give the young guy a shot…

I’d like to see the Yankees bring up Brandon Laird to give him a taste of third base at the major league level while Alex Rodriguez is on the DL.  It would be interesting to see what he could do in a platoon situation with Eduardo Nunez.  I would rather go that route than pursue an aging and high priced vet like Aramis Ramirez or someone like that.  Laird’s batting average leaves a little to be desired (.266) but he is driving in runs (47 RBI’s).

 

 

One if by land, two if by sea…

I was watching the Minnesota Twins play the Kansas City Royals on TV last night and I have to say that I am impressed with Minnesota’s Ben Revere.  The speedster lined a shot to right, and after he rounded second base, he started to fall and went into a somersault.  Yet, with his speed, he was still able to arrive at third ahead of the ball.  It was one of the most interesting triples that I’ve seen.

 

Jeff Wheeler/Star Tribune

The night didn’t fare very well for the Twins as their closer, Matt Capps, gave up a two-run homer to Eric Hosmer in the top of the 9th in the 2-1 loss to the Royals.  Hosmer, by the way, is another young player that I am very impressed with.  As for Matt Capps, I wonder how much longer until Joe Nathan takes back his old job.  I know it all depends upon Nathan’s health, but Capps has been brutal.

 

Oh yeah, this is a pinstripe blog…

Back to the Yankees, they definitely need to find a way to salvage the series in Toronto today and tomorrow.  They have a tough four-game set against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg next week and they need to build some momentum going into the series.  There isn’t anyone better to have on the mound today than the great CC Sabathia.  Hopefully he’ll get his 14th win today…

Have a great weekend!

–Scott

 

The difficult life of Yankee decision-makers…

 

The Ace of Scranton/Wilkes Barre…

I kept hoping that the Yankees would be able to find a way to keep Ivan Nova in the rotation, but inevitably, the team made the only decision it could by sending him down to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  I agree that it is in Nova’s best interests to keep him on rotation, and not stunt his development by moving him to the pen.

I find it highly unlikely that either Bartolo Colon and/or Freddy Garcia will make it through the remainder of the season without any health issues.  So, almost assuredly, Nova will be back and he’ll prove why he is a long-term option for the starting rotation.

 

0909nova.JPG

Christopher Pasatieri/Newsday/MCT

 

Larry knows best…

Nothing against former pitching coach Dave Eiland, but his replacement, Larry Rothschild, has certainly shown why he was a great hire in the off-season.  The Yankees struck gold with both Colon and Garcia when they were hopeful that they’d be able to get something out of at least one of the pitchers.  I thought the Colon signing was a joke, and didn’t really begin to take the former Cy Young Award winner seriously until after the regular season began.

 

New York Yankees pitching coach LArry Rothschild speaks

Thomas A. Ferrara/Newsday

 

Rothschild has also overseen the return of A.J. Burnett as a viable force in the rotation, which, after last season, was no small task.

In the bullpen, the Yankees have overcome the loss of set up man Rafael Soriano and Joba Chamberlain with the superb play of David Robertson.  Robertson has shown that he is not only a great bridge to Mariano Rivera, but is perhaps a very viable alternative as Mo’s eventual replacement.  GM Brian Cashman was right to be against the Soriano signing, and now the Yanks will have Soriano for two more years since there’s no way that he’ll opt out of his lucrative contract.  It will be interesting to see how the Yankees handle this situation when Soriano returns.

As great as Larry Rothschild is, there are still going to be those moments when all goes wrong like today’s loss to the New York Mets.  Mariano Rivera blew a save opportunity in the 9th, and the Yanks subsequently lost in 10 innings.  But the nice thing about the Yankees bullpen is that they have a very short memory, and I’m sure that they’ll be back in stellar form tomorrow.

Congratulations, you’re an All-Star!  As your reward, here is a ticket to the face of the Sun…

Congratulations to the players that will represent the Yankees during next week’s All-Star Game in Phoenix.  Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, and Curtis Granderson will be in the starting lineup, while Mariano Rivera and Russell Martin were also added to the squad.  Count me as one of those who hope that a spot opens for David Robertson.  The All-Star Yankees will need to get used to the heat as it has been blistering hot in the Valley of the Sun.  Yesterday, the official high was 117 degrees in Chandler, AZ, however, I saw temperature readings over 120 degrees.  It may be a dry heat, but it’s just plain hot.  Fortunately, Chase Field will be covered and the indoor temps should be very mild.

 

 

Nearing the end of the first half…

I am quite please with the way the Yankees have played the first half of the season.  I still feel that the Boston Red Sox have the superior team on paper, but the Yankees have held their own and currently lead the Sox by 1 ½ games.  I don’t think the Yanks can stay ahead of the Sox without any changes to the roster, but the team has definitely gotten more out of less.

 

Have fun!…

Have a very happy, safe and enjoyable 4th of July, everyone!

 

 

–Scott

 

Who was just called up?…


Who is Amaury Sanit?


TheTimes.Tribune.com


The newest Yankee is a
31-year-old career minor league reliever who was most recently with AAA
Scranton/Wilkes Barre.  A Cuban emigrant,
he is also the same pitcher that was suspended for 50 games in 2010 after
testing positive for a banned performance enhancing drug.  Infielder Ramiro Pena was sent down to make room for Sanit.  Pitcher Jess
Todd
, recently signed after being cut by the Cleveland Indians, was
released to clear space on the 40-man roster for Sanit. 

Despite giving up three runs
in 4 2/3 innings of work tonight, Sanit provided length after Ivan Nova
imploded (giving up 4 runs in the 2nd and 2 more in the 4th).  So much for the quality Nova starts…

The Yankees have a tough
stretch coming up as they face the Boston Red Sox and then the Tampa Bay
Rays.  For the three-game series against
the Sox this weekend, I have made yet another wager with Julia of Julia’s Rants.  At stake is a bottle of wine.  If the Sox win, I will give Julia a bottle of
a Sangiovese-Cabernet Sauvignon blend (aptly named Cabiovese) from a fantastic
boutique winery in Northern California’s Livermore Valley, Rodrigue Molyneaux
Winery (www.rmwinery.com).  The wine, which is 75% Sangiovese and 25%
Cabernet, was aged for 12 months in American Oak.  The blend of the Sangiovese’s high acidity
with the Cabernet’s tannin structure makes for an incredibly smooth wine.  Of course, the Sox won’t win so I’ll just
drink the Cabiovese myself!  If I win,
then Julia has to pick a wine from the New England region to send to me.  Somehow, I just don’t think that’s going to
compare with Livermore Valley!  ;)



As a Lakers fan, it was sad
to see the season come to an abrupt end at the hands of a sweep by the Dallas
Mavericks.  It’s ironic that the Lakers
were defeated by Dallas given that I was a Mavericks fan for the 14 years I
lived in the city, but that was long ago. 
When I was a Mavericks fan, Rolando
Blackman
was the star and Roy
Tarpley
was the problem child.  It
was also pre-Mark Cuban.  My biggest disappointment with the Lakers
loss is that Phil Jackson deserved a
better farewell.  Still, he leaves as
perhaps the premier coach in NBA history. 
I wish the Zen Master the very best for whatever he decides to do next.  I’d like to see Phil stay connected with the
NBA so a TV role would be fantastic unless he aspires to be an exec with a
team.  It would be great for us as fans
to experience the wit and wisdom of the legendary coach. 


MyLakers.com


My other sports team, the
NHL’s San Jose Sharks, is also having its own set of problems.  Once possessing a commanding 3-0 series lead
against the storied Detroit Red Wings, the Sharks face a do-or-die situation
tonight in Game 7.  The Sharks are the
more talented team, but time will tell if talent will prevail or if it will be
the gut, guile and determination of a championship Detroit squad. 

I’d mention the Minnesota
Vikings to get a full representation for all of my teams, but of course with
the lockout, QB Christian Ponder is
probably sitting by the pool, sipping Mojitos…

Lastly, I will be participating
in the 100th running of the Bay to Breakers 12K Run in San Francisco
on Sunday.  Being San Francisco, you see
about everything which is probably more than you ever wanted to, but it is
still a fun experience.  From the
Embarcadero to the Pacific Ocean, the day is a thrill.  There’s nothing like getting slapped by
hurled pancakes at the starting line, and of course, enduring the drive up the
Hayes Street Hill.  But it’s always a
thrill to reach Golden Gate Park.  This
will be my fourth time with the run, and the first in an odd year. 


Reader photo from the 2009 Bay to Breakers.

sfphotoguy.com 


–Scott


All Hail the Red Sox Nation…


The first win of the season
goes to my friend Julia, of Julia’s Rants
Despite an 0-6 start to the season, the Boston Red Sox were able to
capture their first two wins of the season in this past weekend’s series
against the New York Yankees.


Red Sox.JPG


With the loss, I have to
write about what’s right with the Red Sox and what’s wrong with the Yankees.  So, here it goes…


Why the Boston Red Sox will win…

Pitching, pitching, pitching.  Say what you
will about Dice-K, but the Red Sox have, arguably, the best starting rotation
in the American League.  Jon Lester has
been one of my favorite pitchers and will be a Cy Young candidate when the
season is over.  Despite some early
season struggles, I definitely feel that Clay Buchholz is one of the up and
coming stars and will be solid over the course of the long season.  I know that the third starter, John Lackey,
has also struggled, but I feel very strongly that he’ll find his niche in
Boston and will consistently put the Sox in a position to win.  Josh Beckett, if he continues to pitch like
he did on Sunday, is back.  The Yankees
have a rookie in the 4th spot…the Sox have a former ace and one who
is capable of pitching like the elite pitcher he once was. 

You can say that the Yankees
have the better bullpen, but if Jonathan Papelbon falters, the Sox have several
fallback options in former Chicago White Sox closer Bobby Jenks and future
closer Daniel Bard.  They have reliable
arms in the pen, and have a proven long man in a guy the Yankees are well
familiar with (Alfredo Aceves).  The gap
between the Sox and Yankee pens won’t be as big as experts may believe,
especially since the Sox will be able to be more selective in relief with a
superior rotation that is able to go much deeper into games. 

Adrian Gonzalez.  Count me as one of those who
believe that Gonzalez will be a monster at Fenway Park.  He counteracts anything the Yankees have with
Mark Teixeira plus he has the intangibles.  
A few years back, I was constantly looking up to see the highlights of
David Ortiz with another walk-off home run. 
I fully expect Gonzalez to be that guy for the Sox, and he is going to
win games with both his bat and his glove. 

Disruption.  Once Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury get
going (it’s a question of when, not if), the Sox are going to be very
disruptive for opposing pitchers. 
Singlehandedly, they have the ability to change the complexion and
momentum of games. 

The forgotten hitter.  For all the
headlines the newest additions have gotten and the return of players who were
injured last year (like Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia), it is easy to forget that
this lineup still features third baseman Kevin Youkilis.  Youk is one of the best clutch hitters in
baseball, and teams will be so focused on stopping Crawford and Gonzalez that
they’ll lose sight of Youk…and will pay a high price for it. 

The dead will rise.  It is easy
for people to write off David Ortiz and Jason Varitek given their respective
ages, however, they are both consummate professionals who can still perform at
a high level.  Like the Toby Keith song
goes, ‘I may not be a good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was’.  There’s no doubt that these two will figure
prominently in Sox wins over the summer. 

The bench.  If there is anything I’ve learned about the
Sox, it is to never underestimate the power of Theo.  Time and again, names come out of nowhere to
lead the Sox to victory.  They had a
chance to catch the Yankees last September despite fielding a roster of
unknowns.  Even on Tuesday night’s game,
the first run of the game came courtesy of a home run by Darnell McDonald.  It wasn’t that long ago the Yankees wanted
Mike Cameron as their centerfielder, and here he is backing up the Sox
regulars.  I don’t care if the player’s name
is Dork Fumblefingers.  If he puts on a
Sox uniform, he is most likely going to hit game winning home runs and make
highlight reel catches in the outfield.

Terry Francona.  When the Sox lose, Francona
detractors seem to come out of the woodwork, but he is, in my opinion, the best
manager in baseball.  The only place with
greater expectations than New York might just be Boston, yet Terry is always a
show of class and his decision making skills show a deft understanding of now
and the future (i.e., the season).  He
garners the most of his roster, and I have no doubt that he’ll right the ship
despite the slow start to the 2011 season. 
With the Sox standing at 2-8 entering play tonight, people are quick to
say how poorly comparable teams have finished. 
I will argue that when the season is done, the Sox will be the model of
the franchise that was able to successfully overcome such a poor start.  In future years, when a team goes on a losing
streak to start the season, the media will be saying ‘but the 2011 Red Sox were
able to overcome…’. 

Theo Epstein, Larry Lucchino, and John Henry.  These
gentlemen took a franchise that was “cursed” from the 1923 trade that sent Babe
Ruth
to the Yankees, and eradicated the word “curse” from the Red Sox
vocabulary.  I also have not heard any
mention of Bucky Friggin’ Dent in several years.  These guys have successfully brought two
world championships to Boston, and there is no doubt that they’ll have a third
one in the not-so-distant future (much to my chagrin). 

The RSN.  The fan base for the Sox is the most
passionate and fervent of any that I’ve experienced.  I am not saying that Yankees fans aren’t
passionate, but Sox fans are like no other. 
They stuck by their team when championships were only something their
grandparents or great-grandparents had ever experienced.  Yankees fans get spoiled by championships in
almost every decade.  The Sox fans have a
greater understanding and appreciation of what it means to be a true
champion.  I am not one of them, but I
respect them. 


Why the Yankees won’t win…

Pitching, pitching, pitching.  As great as
CC Sabathia is, he is still not a sure thing. 
He has his moments where he struggles. 
I know, like all pitchers, but there is something special when a pitcher
like Roy Halladay takes the mound.  Win
or lose, you expect the team to win.  I
expect the Yankees to win when CC is on the mound, but it is not with the
confidence that I’d have if Halladay were a Yankee.  After CC, there is nothing but question
marks.  A.J. Burnett has pitched well to
start the season, but he always starts good. 
It is how he finishes.  If he
reverts to 2010 A.J., the Yankees are toast. 
Phil Hughes and the decreased velocity are a concern.  He finished poorly last season, and he has
yet to pitch lights out this year.  At
this point, I am really not sure what Hughes lies ahead.  After Hughes is a rookie, Ivan Nova, who has
pitched well, but how will he perform the second time around when opposing
lineups get used to him?  Can he make the
necessary adjustments?  As it stood, the
ceiling for Nova was much lower than it is for guys like Brian Matusz or Jeremy
Hellickson
(or even Michael Pineda).  Is
he in the rotation because he has the potential to be great or is it because
none of the other prospects are ready.  I
remain fearful that it’s the latter.  I’ve
heard that Nova’s future is in the pen, and that doesn’t bode well for the
rotation.  In the fifth spot, who
knows.  Freddy Garcia has yet to pitch
due to rain delays.  Bartolo Colon is
waiting in the wings if Garcia stumbles, as are Kevin Millwood and Carlos
Silva
None of the options instill
confidence.

The bullpen looks great on
paper, but already this season, there have been failures by Rafael Soriano and
Joba ChamberlainPedro Feliciano is on
the DL and I heard that he had a setback today. 
Luis Ayala is headed for the DL so the Yankees are already looking to
Scranton-Wilkes Barre for replacements. 
One of these years, Mariano Rivera is actually going to show his
age.  Will this be the year?

Aging lineup.  Mark Teixeira is already
31?  Seriously, we are already in the
midst of another April chill for Tex.  He
started strong this year (thanks to Opening Day in March), but he went 0-fer
against the Sox.  He was as much responsible
for me writing this post as anyone. 
Derek Jeter has continued to show his age and is providing evidence that
his down season in 2010 may be a sign of things to come.  Jorge Posada feels like a fish out of water
at DH.  He’s done at catcher so where’s
his long-term potential with this team? 
Alex Rodriguez looked great during spring training, but he is getting
older.  Question marks continue to dog
Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner.  The
Yankees are a great offensive club, but their hitters just don’t put fear in
you.  If they don’t hit, they can be beat
as Josh Beckett proved on Sunday night. 
In October, you’re facing the best pitchers in baseball.  If the Yankees can’t hit the best, they can’t
be the best.

The bench.  Don’t get me wrong…I love Eric Chavez and I
am glad that he’s a Yankee.  But I am
concerned that injuries may force the Yankees to play Chavez more than they
should, exposing him to potential injury. 
What if Derek Jeter is done?  Is
Nunez ready to take over at short?  I really
don’t expect this to be the year that Jeter goes south, but you have to
recognize that it could happen.  It
eventually happens to all superstars

Hank Steinbrenner.  Eventually,
Hank is going to make an impulsive move that he’ll regret.  I am sure that he has a Jay Buhner like trade
that he’ll force causing the Yankees to relinquish a prime prospect for an
aging past-his-prime veteran in an effort to shake things up.
 

The off-season.  As difficult as last season was,
there is the potential that this off-season will be even more difficult.  CC Sabathia can opt out of his contract, as
can Rafael Soriano.  If the Yankees lose
Sabathia, they won’t be able to recover. 
As the season progresses, the Sabathia opt-out is going to get more and
more ink.  Hopefully, it doesn’t become a
distraction.

Who knows that the 2011
season holds in store for the Yankees and the Red Sox, but I can assure you,
that both teams will be in the thick of things come September.  I will never be fooled by Boston’s slow start.  This is a very dangerous team and one that
can never be underestimated. 

Clearly, I want the Yankees
to win, and I am hopeful they will, but Boston, even at 2-9, is still the best
team in the American League from top to bottom. 
That may change by the trading deadline, but as it stands today, the Sox
are still a team capable of 100 wins.

Julia, I’m out…

–Scott

 

Nova builds upon great Spring…


It was a nice win by the “kid”
of the pitching staff.  With 24-year-old
Ivan Nova on the mound, the Yankees bolted to a 4-0 lead behind Alex Rodriguez
and Jorge Posada and then held off the Minnesota Twins for the 4-3
victory. 


Ivan Nova surrenders three runs in six innings Monday night and gets the win after the bullpen preserves a 4-3 lead built on two-run homers hit by Jorge Posada and A-Rod (below).

Antonelli/NY Daily News


I’ll admit that I had the
fears from last year when Nova had men on first and third and Jim Thome at the
plate after recording two outs with the bases empty.  Thome sliced a double to score two runs, and
I was worried the floodgates were about to open.  Fortunately, he escaped the inning without
further damage.  Despite giving up a run
the next inning, Nova went six innings before turning the game over to the
bullpen combo of Chamberlain-Soriano-Rivera. 

Nova is definitely the wild
card of the pitching staff.  Stuff-wise,
I am not really expecting much from him. 
It’s not like he has the talent of a David Price or a Jeremy Hellickson,
but he does have a chance of being a solid contributor on an outstanding club.

Okay, I know that I am a
die-hard Yankees fan, but I have to admit that I was a bit embarrassed listening
to MLB Radio this morning when a guy claiming to be a Yankees fan was gloating
about the Red Sox Opening Series loss.  3
games out of 162 mean nothing.  The Red
Sox are a sleeping Giant and when they wake up, they are going to be very
powerful.  I know when the Yankees travel
to Boston, records won’t mean anything. 
The series will be the first intense test of the season and I’m sure
that we’ll see the real Red Sox in prime form. 
I am not disappointed to see the Red Sox lose (naturally), but there’s
no way I’d gloat about the situation. 
The Yankees will have their own bumps in the road along the way…

Like everyone else, I am
concerned about the drop in Phil Hughes‘ velocity, but we need a greater body of
work before deciding if this is a trend. 
I think he’ll be okay after a few more starts. 

I keep reading about how
Jorge Posada needs to fill the time between his at-bats as he adjusts to the DH
role, but with 3 home runs, he must be doing something right. 

So Andruw Jones hasn’t
appeared in a single game yet?  Geesh, I’d
like to collect his salary for doing nothing! 
;)

 

–Scott

Live from New York, Play Ball!…


CC Sabathia versus Justin
Verlander


Larry W. Smith/EPA


Because the Tigers hope rookie Justin Verlander will pitch for years, they're cutting back on his work.

Tony Dejak/AP


Finally, Opening Day is upon
us!  It has been a long and at times
disappointing off-season.  Optimism
returned in Spring Training as there were a few success stories and
surprises.  The pitching match-up for the
Yankees against the Detroit Tigers is perfect as I expect banner years by both
pitchers.  They both will most likely be
finalists for the Cy Young Award at the end of the year if all goes right.

For Opening Day, here are the 2011 New York
Yankees:

 

Manager

Joe Girardi

 

Coaches

Kevin Long, Batting Coach

Larry Rothschild, Pitching Coach

Mick Kelleher, First Base Coach

Rob Thomson, Third Base Coach

Tony Pena, Bench Coach

Mike Harkey, Bullpen Coach

Roman Rodriguez, Bullpen Catcher

 

Starters

1B – Mark Teixeira

2B – Robinson Cano

SS – Derek Jeter

3B – Alex Rodriguez

C – Russell Martin

RF – Nick Swisher

CF – Curtis Granderson

LF – Brett Gardner

DH – Jorge Posada

 

Bench Strength

Bench – 1B/3B – Eric Chavez

Bench – 2B/SS/3B – Eduardo Nunez

Bench – OF – Andruw Jones

Bench – C – Gustavo Molina

 

Starting
Rotation

1SP – CC Sabathia

2SP – A.J. Burnett

3SP – Phil Hughes

4SP – Ivan Nova

5SP – Freddy Garcia

 

Bullpen

Closer – Mariano Rivera

Setup – Rafael Soriano

RP – Joba Chamberlain

RP – David Robertson

RP – Boone Logan

RP – Bartolo Colon

RP – Luis Ayala

 

Several of the spots are held by injury replacements
(Molina for backup catcher Francisco Cervelli, and Ayala for reliever Pedro
Feliciano
) so they’ll go down to the minors when the regulars return.  I am sure that Freddy Garcia and Bartolo
Colon
will be on short leashes, and it’s very possible that one of their spots
could be taken by Kevin Millwood should either one falter.

 

I am very pleased to see Eric Chavez on the
roster.  It was a foregone conclusion
that he’d make the team after the spring he had, but going into camp, there
were certainly plenty of questions about his health and durability.  I am sure that Jason Giambi has probably been
on the phone to his good buddy to let him know the inner workings of the
Yankees organization and the city of New York. 

 

Congratulations to Manny Banuelos for winning the
James P. Dawson Award as the team’s outstanding rookie in camp.  I am definitely looking forward to his
arrival in the Bronx, even if it is still a few years down the road.

 

Even though there were no major additions in the
off-season, I do like this year’s team. 
The hiring of pitching coach Larry Rothschild was huge, and I think he’ll
be able to get into A.J. Burnett‘s head and rebuild the pitcher’s
confidence.  I expect continued
progression from Phil Hughes, and if Ivan Nova continues to build upon his
outstanding spring, I think the Yankees rotation will be quite strong. 

 

What can you say about the bullpen?  They will definitely shorten games for the
starters.

 

As for the regulars, I expect Derek Jeter to
rebound from last year and put up his usual DJ-like numbers.  Robinson Cano will continue his progression
of one of the game’s elite, and Alex Rodriguez looks charged and ready for a
fantastic season.  I am expecting more
consistency and better timely hitting from Curtis Granderson this year, and if
Brett Gardner stays healthy, the outfield should be significantly
improved. 

 

The health of Russell Martin is a concern,
particularly since neither Jesus Montero nor Austin Romine was able to prove
they are ready for the major leagues.  If
the Yankees have to start Posada at catcher, it will definitely be a sign of
trouble ahead. 

 

In my mind, the positives will outweigh the
negatives, and the Yankees will be in the hunt at the end. 

 

Nevertheless, with all things considered, I do
think the league champions, as it stands right now, will be the Boston Red Sox
and the San Francisco Giants.  A World
Series matchup would put the Sox over the Giants for the championship.  This is not what I want, but rather, on
paper, it is the most logical conclusion. 
Much can happen between now and October, and I certainly expect the
Yankees to acquire a #3 starter (or better) for the starting rotation by the
July trading deadline.  I did like the
Philadelphia Phillies, but I think the loss of Chase Utley to injury and Jayson
Werth
to free agency will be too much to overcome.  Pitching staff to pitching staff, I like the
Giants rotation better than the Phillies.

 

Win or lose, this should be a tremendous baseball
season for all of us!  Go ahead, throw
the first pitch…

 

–Scott

 

 

 

A Rotation Decided…


With the selections of Ivan
Nova
and Freddy Garcia as the #4 and #5 starters in the Yankees rotation, I
think that manager Joe Girardi made the right choices (even if those were
really the only viable options). 


0915nova.JPG

J. Meric/Getty Images


I agree with those who
speculate that Bartolo Colon is better suited to be the long man in the
pen.  Given his physical conditioning,
there are clearly concerns about his stamina. 
His arm may be alright but that wouldn’t get him through long
innings.  The trade of Sergio Mitre to
the Milwaukee Brewers opens the way for Colon to make the Yankees roster. 

I am not sure what I think
about the Yankees signing pitcher Kevin Millwood to a minor league deal.  I realize that he is strictly an insurance
policy, but I’d really like to see one of the younger guys, like Andrew
Brackman, Hector Noesi,
or Dellin Betances, get the opportunity should Nova or
Garcia falter.  Millwood is probably just
coverage for the next month, while the prospects will be options later in the
season. 

The Yankees gave Chris
Dickerson
, the outfielder they acquired in the Mitre trade, Darryl Strawberry‘s
old jersey number (39).  Those are big
shoes to fill.  I love great home run
swings and for as many sluggers that have come through the Bronx, few can
compare to the swing that Straw had. 
Dickerson is not a home run guy, so we won’t be seeing #39 swinging for
the fences.  But the number did bring
back some great memories of Strawberry at the plate.  Dickerson was the player the Reds sent to the
Brewers last summer in the deal that brought Jim Edmonds to Cincinnati.  He turns 29 on April 10th so he is
no longer really considered a prospect, but I’d like to see him carve out a
role on the team.  With Curtis Granderson
hurting, the Yankees will definitely need help in the outfield and Andruw Jones
can’t do it all by himself.

With all the talk about
catchers Francisco Cervelli, Jesus Montero, and Austin Romine, it’s strange
that Gustavo Molina has emerged as the frontrunner to capture the backup
catching position behind starter Russell Martin.  I suspect that Cervelli will take the
position once he is healthy but I am disappointed that neither Montero or
Romine could hit well enough to stay on the major league roster.  I know that it just means their arrivals are
simply delayed.  Hopefully, they can draw
positives from the heavy focus this spring and use it to power forward when
their next opportunity comes.

I was surprised that Baltimore
Orioles manager Buck Showalter took potshots at Derek Jeter and the Boston Red
Sox.  I would have expected better from
Showalter, but I can honestly say that I have never missed him from the day he
left the Yankees. 

It’s hard to believe that
Opening Day is next week!  I am so glad
that the season is finally upon us.  Win
or lose, it should be a great year!

 

–Scott

I am not really looking for new cologne…


Can I say that I am quietly rooting against Bartolo
Colon
?  Sorry, but I just don’t want to
see the 5th spot in the starting rotation go to such a high
risk.  I would never fool myself into
believing that a few good spring starts will lead to a replication of Colon’s
2005 Cy Young year with the Los Angeles Angels. 
My personal preference is for the 4th and 5th
spots to go to Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia, respectively.  It’s not outside of the realm of possibility
that both Colon and Garcia head north with the Yankees when camp breaks, but I
hope that it means Garcia is in the rotation and Colon is bumping shoulders
with Sergio Mitre in long relief.


FreddyGarcia.JPG

Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger


I am not looking for Garcia to be a full season option.  I’d really like to see one of the Killer B’s
(Andrew Brackman, Dellin Betances and Manuel Banuelos) step up at some point in
the season and prove they belong in the majors now.  My favorite among the group is Brackman if
for no other reason that his age (25) and the fact that he’d have the maturity
to handle New York.  My absolute favorite
among the group is Banuelos but I don’t want to see the Yankees rush him too
soon. 


NY Daily News


Although the Yankees rotation looks questionable at this
point, there is definitely the potential that the staff will be among the
league’s best as the season progresses. 
Either the Yankees will reach out at the trading deadline or one of the
Killer B’s takes it to the next level, but the end result will be a much closer
gap between the Red Sox rotation and the Yankees. 

I am very pleased that Eric Chavez has done well so far in
camp.  I am very hopeful that he, along
with Eduardo Nunez, nail down the infield bench roles for the team.  I like what Jorge Vazquez has done, but
unfortunately, there just doesn’t appear to the room on the roster (barring
injury).  It will be interesting to see
what Brian Cashman does with the excess talent (notably Vazquez and catcher
Francisco Cervelli…once the latter recovers from the foot fracture).  Both have proven they are major league ready,
but if Chavez and Jesus Montero make the team, there won’t be any room for
Cervelli or Vazquez.

Congratulations to former Dodgers assistant GM Kim Ng for
her new role with Major League Baseball (Senior Vice President for Baseball
Operations).  She’ll report to former
Yankees and Dodgers manager Joe Torre.  I’ve
read the news reports that Kim took the job with the hopes it will help propel
her to an eventual GM job.  I have had
great respect for Kim since her days with the Yankees, and I am hopeful that
she does become the first woman GM in baseball. 


Northwest Asian Weekly


I can’t help it but I am definitely pulling for the Los
Angeles Dodgers this year as my favorite NL team.  Go Donnie Baseball! 


Mark Duncan/AP


–Scott

Andy will be missed…so will the pitcher…


A day after Andy Pettitte’s retirement announcement, it is sad to think
that he’ll no longer be part of the team. 
As much as I would have liked him back, I didn’t want him to return if
there was any doubt in his mind so all things considered, the retirement was
probably the best thing for both Andy and the team.  If he had any doubts in his mind entering the
season, he most likely would not have performed at the level we’ve been
accustomed to over the years. 


Andy Pettitte dealt the Yankees starting rotation a crucial blow with his retirement (below) and he seemed sincere, but he may have left the door open for a comeback at Friday's press conference.

Sipkin/News

I will miss the personal attributes that went with being Andy
Pettitte.  He was universally respected
and from afar it was apparent that he was a man of high integrity and very
respectful of others.  I had admiration
for the way he was non-judgmental and would form his own opinions and beliefs
regardless of how others felt.  I
recognize that Andy admitted steroid use, but it is a testament to the man that
he did come clean with full honesty and disclosure.  Never for a minute have I believed Andy
misled or was less than honest with the fans. 
He is a class act and will be hard to replace on the team without even
getting into what he meant to the team as a player and pitcher. 

While I am hopeful that Andy stays in baseball in some capacity, it
really sounded like he was closing the door on life in baseball after his playing
days.  I think he’d make a terrific
pitching coach if he ever wanted to get back into the game once his children
are older.  He has so much to offer
younger players, and particularly those who are not as naturally gifted as
someone like Stephen Strasberg or Tim Lincecum. 

I can still remember when Don Mattingly wore #46 before taking #23, but
I hope that Donnie Baseball was the last player to wear the number before or
after Andy.  Andy deserves his place in
Monument Park and I look forward to the day of his induction.


98730903, Sports Illustrated/Getty Images /Sports Illustrated

Getty Images


When you hear the pitching options available to the Yankees, it is
rather disappointing.  I am not looking
forward to the back end of the rotation being filled by Sergio Mitre, Bartolo
Colon, Freddy Garcia, and/or Ivan Nova. 
While I wouldn’t mind either Garcia or Nova in the #5 spot, I am hopeful
that the #4 starter is not on the roster right now.  Ideally, I’d like a #3 starter in front of
A.J. Burnett, but again, the options just don’t look that appealing.  Even the San Francisco Chronicle was speculating
if the Yankees would look at taking Barry Zito and his mammoth contract off
their hands.  Please, I hope not.  I still think that the best case scenario, if
they could convince Cleveland to trade him, is to acquire Fausto Carmona.  I really think that Carmona could flourish
under CC Sabatia’s wing.  Okay, best case
scenario is actually Seattle’s Felix Hernandez, but I don’t see any way to
convince the Mariners to trade him.  So,
Carmona represents the best realistic option.

The Yankees training camp is going to be filled with former major league
stars.  The latest to sign a minor league
deal is former Oakland A’s slugger Eric Chavez. 
I’ve always liked Chavez as a player but injuries have definitely taken
their toll in recent years.  It would be
great to see him excel at a reserve role behind Alex Rodriguez and Mark
Teixeira, however, I am not expecting a lot. 
Hopefully, Eric will surprise me. 
The Yankees are also bringing in former Los Angeles Dodgers infielder
Ronnie Belliard.  It will be interesting
to see if these players motivate Eduardo Nunez and/or Ramiro Pena to take their
game to the next level. 


Sports Illustrated/Getty Images


With all the attention that the Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles and
Tampa Bay Rays have gotten this off-season, the Toronto Blue Jays are
definitely flying under the radar with a team that is fully capable of
challenging in the division.  The AL East
is going to be a beast this year, and of course, it makes you wonder if
everyone will be beat each other up so badly that the Wild Card will come from
another division.  Boston does look like
the favorite, but it wouldn’t take too many injuries to bring them back to the
pack.  This should be a long, grueling
race for October…


–Scott


Time To Step It Up…

 

Whew, a series win!…



 


The Yankees were able to pull out a series win over
the Chicago White Sox, thanks to the great pitching of rookie Ivan Nova.  Nova, who won his first major league game,
went 5 2/3 innings, giving up only one run and give hits.  He walked one and struck out 7 White Sox
batters, and got help from the bullpen as the Yankees defeated the White Sox
2-1 on Sunday.



New York Yankees starter Ivan Nova shuts down the White Sox as the Bombers and Curtis Granderson (below) upend Chicago.

Huh/AP

 

The series started with a loss on Friday night, as
Chicago drubbed the Yanks, 9-4.  It was
another pathetic performance by A.J. Burnett, who is making the remaining years
on his contract look very painful for the Yanks at this point.  It’s a difficult situation because the
Yankees do need him to win in October, so it is imperative for A.J. to put
August behind him and return to pitching like he did late last year.



New York Yankees pitcher A.J. Burnett is 0-9 combined in the months of June and August.

Arbogast/AP

 


In Saturday’s game, CC Sabathia didn’t have his
best stuff but didn’t need it as the Yanks put their bats on display in the
12-9 win.  They had a big lead and had to
hold on late, but it still went in the win column. 

 

The series MVP was clearly Marcus Thames, who
homered three times in the series including two on Saturday and once on
Sunday.  He struck out in his only
appearance on Friday night, but clearly made up for it as he figured heavily
into both Yankee wins.  At a time when
Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Lance Berkman are on the sidelines, you need
for others to step up and Thames certainly answered the call.  



0828thames.JPG

Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/MCT



Other heroes of the past three days include Nova for his great pitching on
Sunday, Mariano Rivera for just being himself in picking up two saves, and 
Eduardo Nunez who had 4 RBI’s on Saturday. 



New York Yankees third baseman Eduardo Nunez gives thanks after hitting a two-run homer against the Chicago White Sox. Mark Teixeira (b.) is not sure whether he'll play Sunday with a bruised thumb.

Smierciak/AP

 


I wasn’t pleased to hear that Major League Baseball
is investigating Ivan Nova and pitcher Wilkin De La Rosa for allegedly
injecting each other B-12 shots at Double AA Trenton last season.  Hopefully, the investigation will prove no
wrongdoing on Nova’s part and the substance was purely B-12, which is not a
banned substance. 

 

It will be interesting to see what changes in the
rotation manager Joe Girardi makes upon the impending return of Andy
Pettitte.  Javier Vazquez and A.J.
Burnett are clearly the more accomplished and experienced starters, however,
they have been unable to match the recent consistency of Dustin Moseley and
Ivan Nova.   I remain hopeful that Vazquez and Burnett will
return to the success they achieved earlier in the season, but for now, it is
good to know that others are there to help the team during times of
trouble. 

 

Mark Teixeira has missed some playing time the past
few days with a bruised hand, but hopefully, he’ll be back when the Yankees
return to the Bronx on Monday night to face the Oakland A’s.  With A-Rod (and Lance Berkman) still
sidelined, the Yankees definitely need Teixeira’s bat in the lineup.  As the calendar prepares to change to
September, it’s time for the team to get on a roll and Tex is obviously a key
ingredient.

 

Congratulations to Albert Pujols for his 400th
home run last night.  He is definitely
moving into the land of Legends, and we’ll look back one day and be very
appreciative that we were able to see him play. 
As much as the media would love to see Albert play in New York, I feel
that it is only right for the St. Louis Cardinals to find a way to ink their
superstar to a long-term deal.  I
remember attending my first major league game as a kid at the old Busch Stadium
and running into former Cardinal great Stan Musial.  Musial means so much to the Cardinals
organization, and of course, Pujols is in the same category.  It would be wrong to see him wear anything
other than a Cardinals uniform.



Hitting .321 with 45 homers and 120 RBI through Wednesday's action, Albert Pujols is once again in the middle of the NL MVP race.

Scott Rovak/US Presswire

 


I can’t believe that I am actually pulling for the
Tampa Bay Rays to win tonight’s game against the Boston Red Sox (which would
keep the Yankees in a first place tie with the Rays).  But then again, there is simply no way to
pull for the Red Sox…

 



–Scott


 

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