Results tagged ‘ Javier Vazquez ’

Fast Times at Yankee Stadium!…

 

Joe Torre and slow starts are a thing of the past…

 

 


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Well, except for Mark Teixeira.  Nevertheless, the Yankees have taken the first two games of a three game set with the Texas Rangers (by scores of 5-1 and 7-3).

 

 

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Tim Farrell/The Star Ledger

 

Apparently, according to the Associated Press, the Yankees haven’t won their first four series of the season since Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig were in the middle of the order.  I know, interesting but irrelevant, however, it is good to see the Yankees playing well from the start.  In the past few years, they would dig a hole and then have to spend the season digging their way out.  More often than not, they were successful.  However, that’s not the best formula for World Series success.

 

 

 

 

Friday night’s game against the Rangers was all-CC Sabathia.  Despite a rain-shortened six inning game, CC was masterful.  In facing 22 batters, he threw 20 first pitch strikes.  He definitely picked right up where he left off in his previous start against the Tampa Bay Rays, a near no-hitter that was broken up by a Kelly Shoppach single.  Catcher Francisco Cervelli, who caught both games for CC, put it best:  “I think he was better today.  He was throwing nasty pitches today, man.”

 

 

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Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

 

The Yankees continued their winning ways on Saturday behind great pitching by A.J. Burnett.  In 7 innings, despite giving up 6 hits, A.J. did not allow any runs and struck out 7 Ranger batters.  Alfredo Aceves lost the shutout by giving up a three-run homer to Rangers slugger Nelson Cruz, but the subsequent relievers, Damaso Marte and Joba Chamberlain, did their jobs and the Yankees had their 8th win in 11 games.

 

 

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Paul Bereswill

There were a few major milestones achieved today.  Jorge Posada put his name with legendary Yankees catchers like Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey and Thurman Munson with his 1,500 hit as a Yankee.  Hip-hip-Jorge! 

 

 

Michael Strobe/US Presswire

 

Alex Rodriguez hit his 584th career home run, moving past Mark McGwire into 8th place on the all-time list.  It was his first home run of the season.  Next up is Frank Robinson’s 586 home runs. 

 

 

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Al Bello/Getty Images

 

 

It doesn’t seem like he has been manager of the Yankees for very long, but Joe Girardi notched his 200th career win as a Yankees manager.  Time flies when you’re having fun!  Wouldn’t it be cool if he makes it to 300 games THIS season?  Works for me!

 

 

Joe Girardi Yankees

Brian J. Myers/US Presswire

 

Is Mark Teixeira really 4-for-40?  Yikes!  May cannot get here soon enough.  Maybe Mark should see a hypnotist to make him think today is June 1st!

 

 

 

 

And note to Javier Vazquez:  Please feel free to join the Yankees’ pitching party!  I know that you haven’t accepted the invitation yet, but fashionably late is perfectly acceptable!

 

 

 

 

The Yankees lost their first player to the disabled list when Chan Ho Park was moved to the 15-day DL due to a hamstring strain.  The move allowed the Yankees to recall Boone Logan from AAA.  Welcome back, Boone!  Enjoy Yankee Stadium!

 

 

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Jim Rogash/Getty Images

 

I will finally get my first opportunity this year to see the Yankees in person when they travel to Oakland next week.  Let’s hope the fun continues!  Go Yankees!

 

 

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AP

P.S.  Hey Julia, how is the book assignment coming along?  ;)

 

 

 

Hi Hideki, It Was Great To See You But…

 

Two out of three ain’t bad!…

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

Al Tielemans/SI

 

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

 

 

Yankees Mark Teixeira Angels

Tim Farrell/The Star Ledger

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

Antonelli/News

 

 

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

 

 

Barton Silverman/The New York Times

 

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

 

 


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The Champs…finally…Head Home…

 

Whoa, the road trip is over and all we have to show for it is 4 freakin’ wins!…

 

 


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The schedule makers weren’t kind to the Yankees when they put the team on a road trip through Boston and Tampa, the fiercest and most competitive of the Yankees’ AL East rivals.  Both series started out with a loss, but then the Yankees rebounded to take the final two games of each series.  So, to win 4 out of 6 games is a huge accomplishment.  I would have been pleased if the Yankees had escaped with a .500 mark. 

 

This series did give me cause for concern with Javier Vazquez.  Friday night’s loser did not match up very well with the Rays’ young sluggers.  Well, I guess it depends upon the perspective.  Rays fans probably thought it was the perfect match-up.  Nevertheless. Javy has some work to do before his next start. 

 

 

 

 

On Saturday, CC Sabathia nearly threw a no-hitter.  He made it deep into the 8th inning  before his former Cleveland battery mate Kelly Shoppach broke it up with a single.  After the hit, manager Joe Girardi pulled Sabathia and replaced him with David Robertson.  Robertson gave up a hit in relief so they settled on a combined two-hitter.  Girardi stirred up some controversy after the game when he said he would have pulled Sabathia after Shoppach regardless of whether or not he got a hit.  CC was at 111 pitches, so it would have been foolish to push him out any further.  I am surprised at the backlash that Girardi has faced because I think it was the right thing to do.  If this was May or June, it would be one thing.  But this was only CC’s second regular season start.  Deepening the pitch count to 130 or more pitches could have had so many adverse ramifications…short term and long term.  With the 10-0 victory, the Yankees had countered the offensive outburst of the Rays on Friday night.

 

 

CC Sabathia comes four outs short of Yankees first no-hitter since David Cone's perfect game in 1999.

Carlson/AP

 

 

The win set the stage for Sunday’s match-up with pitted A.J. Burnett versus James Shields.  Early on, it didn’t look like the Yankees offense was going to get started.  They were thwarted in a few chances, and trailed 2-1 entering the 6th inning.  After giving up a one-out double to Robinson Cano, Shields was replaced by former Yankee Randy Choate.  Jorge Posada proceeded to hit the homer that put the Yankees in the lead. 

 

 

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AP

The bottom of the sixth inning was interesting when Evan Longoria hit a high pop-up that would have been an out in any other city.  In St. Petersburg, it hit a catwalk and landed back on the field near second base for a strange hit.  Fortunately, after loading the bases with a walk, Burnett was able to get out of the jam by getting B.J. Upton on an infield fly out. 

 

Nick Swisher also hit his first home run of the season in the game.

 

So, the Yankees head back to New York with a 4-2, good for second place in the AL East (a game behind division leader Toronto).  Next up, is the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim…or whatever they call themselves these days.  The difficult early season schedule continues as the Yankees now face their fiercest non-AL East rival on Tuesday for Opening Day at Yankee Stadium.  The ring ceremony will be held prior to the game, and it is fortunate that the World Series MVP (Angels DH Hideki Matsui) will be in the house to get his ring.  Andy Pettitte gets the start for what might be his final Opening Day at the Stadium…

 

 

William Perlman/The Star Ledger

 

 

Today was a very historic day as Texas Stadium was imploded this morning.  I lived in Dallas for 14 years so I had been to Texas Stadium in Irving, Texas a number of times.  The most memorable game, for me, was Thanksgiving Day 1987.  The Minnesota Vikings were in Dallas to play the Cowboys.  The Vikings won it in overtime, 44-38, on a 24-yard touchdown run by Darrin Nelson.  I was so elated that day, and I still don’t know if my feet touched the ground leaving the stadium.   I also saw a number of great concerts over the years.  So, when I saw the visual of the stadium collapsing today, I couldn’t help but think that part of my past is gone. 

 

 

 

 

Here is a link to a video of the demolition:

 

http://www.dallasnews.com/video/dallasnews/hp/index.html?nvid=413666&shu=1

 

Perhaps you’ve already seen this seat belts ad, but if not, it might be the best one that I’ve ever seen.  This is excellent, and hopefully makes you think twice before you forget to buckle up!

 

Glass Half Full to Glass Half Empty…

 

Thud!…

 

 


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The Yankees played a hard fought series in Boston, and escaped with two out of three despite their “pathetic and embarrassing”¹ play.  They had a day off and traveled to St. Petersburg, Florida to face their other primary AL East rivals, the Tampa Bay Rays. 

 

Tampa Bay Rays Franchise Fitted Baseball Cap

 

With Javier Vazquez on the mound, it looked as though the Yankees would stack up very nicely against David Price and the championship-contending Rays.  Staked to an early 2-0 lead, Vazquez promptly gave it up in the bottom half of the 4th inning.  Former Yankee Carlos Pena tied the score with a two-run homer, and Jason Bartlett had a two-run double in the 5 run inning.  Another former Yankee, Dioner Navarro, hit the single that put the Rays in the lead.  Those would be the only runs that Price would need enroute to the Rays’ third victory of the season.

 

 

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AP 

 

Marcus Thames made his second start of the season in left (in place of starter Brett Gardner), and Mark Teixeira continued his traditional ice cold start.  After four games, he is 0-for-16 which matches the worst hitless start of his career.  Let’s hope that he ends the streak on Saturday.

 

 


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The weekend games will pit CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett as the rotation begins its second go-around this young season.  I am expecting a much stronger start from Sabathia than we saw in Boston, and the same with Burnett.  They’ll face Wade Davis and James Shields, respectively.

 

 

Lynne Sladky/AP

 

On the bright side, the Boston Red Sox lost too as the Kansas City Royals rallied for two runs in the bottom of the 8th to win 4-3.  It was a great start by the ageless and reliable Tim Wakefield, but once again, the bullpen was the Achilles heel for the Red Sox.

 

 

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AP

 

¹I found Umpire Joe West’s comments about the Yankees and Red Sox as “pathetic and embarrassing” to be, well, pathetic and embarrassing.  His frustration was over the slow play of the opening series between the two teams.  In my opinion, West should voice any concerns he has internally within his own organization and not air the negative comments publicly.  I am biased and if I were a San Francisco Giants fan, I’d vehemently disagree, but there’s nothing like baseball’s best rivalry, the Yankees and the Red Sox.  I am a Minnesota Vikings fan, and I dislike the Green Bay Packers.  I am a San Jose Sharks fan and I dislike the Anaheim Ducks.  I am a Los Angeles Lakers fan and I dislike the Boston Celtics.  But there is simply nothing like Yankees-Red Sox.  Right Julia?

 

 

Keith Srakocic/AP

 

Speaking of the Vikings, the wait for Brett Favre continues.  It is a given that Favre won’t make any decisions that would actually require him to show up for training camp, so this is going to be long and drawn out once again.  It’s frustrating because it is very hard for me to get excited about either Tavaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels at quarterback.  It’s rumored that the Vikings are taking a look at Tim Tebow.  However, he is a major project and many think he’ll never succeed at the pro level.  On the plus side, his former teammate Percy Harvin is on the Vikings and it would ease Tebow’s transition.  We’ll see how this plays out.  I definitely agree that the Vikings need to be thinking about the quarterback of the future regardless of what Favre may do.  I’d love for the Vikings to pick Jimmy Clausen in the NFL Draft, but he’ll be long gone by the time the Vikings select unless they can move up.

 

 

Jimmy Clausen

Joe Raymond/AP

 

Both the Sharks and the Lakers are set to play in their respective sports’ play-offs.  I am hopeful that this is the year for Joe Thornton and company.  For the Lakers, it’s ‘here we go again’ with Andrew Bynum unavailable until the play-offs due to injury.  Unfortunately, that’s an all too familiar song, but hopefully he’ll be ready to play once the play-offs do start.  If both teams could play and beat Boston, I’d be a very happy man.  Of course, that would mean championship series for both, but hey, so long as WE win, what does it matter?  ;)

 

 

 

 

The Yankees quietly picked up former San Diego Padres outfielder Chad Huffman on waivers and assigned him to AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre.  Huffman was placed on waivers to make room for Matt Stairs (hasn’t he played for like every major league club?).  I didn’t think much of the move when I first saw it, but later I saw comments about how frustrated fans were and how they saw the fingerprints of Kevin Towers all over this one.  Towers, the former Padres GM, is now a special consultant for the Yankees.  It would appear that the Padres had hoped Huffman would clear waivers for a minor league assignment but were, perhaps, thwarted by their former general manager.  I saw these comments about Huffman by Padres assistant Paul DePodesta and it makes me a little jazzed about the pickup (and not so disappointed that the Yankees had to return Rule 5 pickup Jamie Hoffmann to the Dodgers): 

“We lost the player. And, he’s a pretty good one. Chad was a 2nd round pick in 2006 out of TCU and has been a successful minor league hitter throughout his pro career, posting an OPS over .800 in each season. While crushing lefties early in his career, Chad had his most successful year yet against RHP during his first season in AAA in 2009. He always controlled the strike zone and also hit for some power–a combination we like. We think he’ll be a good Major League hitter.

“This wasn’t an easy decision, as we feel good about our 40-man roster at this point. We talked about a number of different guys and worked through various scenarios–who had the best chance to clear waivers, what depth did we have, what depth did we anticipate needing during the year, etc.

“We hate to lose good players. Additionally, we hate to lose good people, and Chad is a tremendous clubhouse guy. Getting beyond the selfish aspect, we’re excited for Chad. We truly wish him the best with the Yankees and will be rooting for him to make it to New York and contribute to the big league team.”

Works for me…  J

 

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P.S.  I am headed to Arizona for the week on business so I might not have any blog updates until after I return on Saturday, April 17th.  Let’s hope the Yankees get on a roll by that time! 

 

–Scott

 

 

Forecast: Cloudy with a Chance of World Series!…

 

 

Mostly cloudy and 58 degrees…

 

 


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So, that’s the forecast for the first workout scheduled on Thursday for pitchers and catchers.  It seems very appropriate that the Yankees would face cloudy skies on their first official workout.  The skies, during the upcoming season, are sure to be filled with dark clouds, thunderstorms, and hurricanes.  Nobody said it was going to be sunny skies on the road to a repeat World Series championship…

 

 


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The Yankees will attempt to repeat without World Series heroes Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui, or regular season “Pie King” Melky Cabrera.  The team also said goodbye to Phil Coke, Jose Molina, Jerry Hairston, Jr., and Brian Bruney.

 

 

UPI

 

But newcomers Curtis Granderson, Javier Vazquez, Nick Johnson, Randy Winn, Jamie Hoffmann, Marcus Thames, and Boone Logan intend to give Yankees fans another summer to remember.  Curtis Granderson was penciled into centerfield, particularly after the trade of Cabrera to Atlanta for Vazquez.  However, talk in recent days has Grandy receptive to a potential move to left if Manager Joe Girardi decides to go that direction.  Somehow, I think Grandy will always say and do the things that exhibit a ‘team first’ approach.  Personally, I think Grandy should have gotten #28.  However, he stepped aside so that Girardi could upgrade his number from 27 to 28 as the Yankees pursue their 28th World Championship.  He’ll wear the number immortalized by Lou Piniella instead (#14).  Hopefully, Girardi will hold the number for just one season and then switch to #29! 

 

 

 

 

The presence of Javier Vazquez in the starting rotation should pay dividends.  At various points during last season, there were times when the Yankees didn’t know what they were going to get out of their starting pitching outside of CC Sabathia.  Vazquez should ensure no long losing streaks, and give consistency to the middle of the rotation.  With slots 1 through 4 secure in the rotation, the battle is for the 5th spot.  Best case scenario, in my mind, is Phil Hughes in the starting rotation, and Joba Chamberlain setting up Mariano Rivera.  The others (Sergio Mitre, Chad Gaudin, and Alfredo Aceves) can vie for long relief.

 

 

Winslow Townson/SI

 

 

While it is sad to see Jose Molina go, I am excited for Francisco Cervelli.  He proved last year that he is a capable backup, and I look forward to watching him in a more critical role this year as Posada will see more time at DH than years’ past.  Of course, Cervelli is just keeping the plate until Posada’s replacement, Jesus Montero is ready, but it will still be good to see his attitude and play during the upcoming season.  If the Yankees decide to carry three catchers, the most likely candidate is veteran Mike Rivera.

 

 

Nick Laham/Getty Images 

 

If the newcomers can quickly adapt to New York, and some of the younger guys can step up their play, the Yankees will be in good shape for another championship run.  I know, it’s not a given that they will win, but they should be in position to determine who will be.  For the upcoming season, I am most fearful of, in no particular order, the Boston Red Sox (don’t tell Julia!), the Seattle Mariners, the Tampa Bay Rays , and the Texas Rangers.  I think the Los Angeles Angels will contend once again, however, their off-season losses outweighed their gains.  I also think the Baltimore Orioles will be much improved and of course you can never count out the Minnesota Twins.  It should be a very challenging and competitive run to the American League Championship!

 

 

 

 

On the National League side, I don’t really see any team that will dethrone the current NL champs, the Philadelphia Phillies.  With Doc Halladay at the top of the rotation and starving for a championship, the Phillies will be in a league of their own.   I’d like to see Joe Torre and the Los Angeles Dodgers make it to the World Series, but they weren’t able to do enough this off-season to bridge the gap with the Phillies.  The Phillies do need to solve their bullpen woes, but I suspect they’ll make the necessary moves (with or without Brad Lidge).

 

 

Giving up Cliff Lee and trading for Roy Halladay were two big offseason moves made by the Phillies. (Steven M. Falk/Staff Photographer)

Steven M. Falk/philly.com

 

 

Best wishes and prayers to longtime Yankees head trainer Gene Monahan.  Monahan will  miss his first spring training since 1963 with a “significant illness”.  The Yankees also announced that he will most likely miss the first portion of the season as he undergoes treatment.  Here’s hoping Gene makes a successful recovery and is able to resume his normal duties in the not-too-distant future…

 

 

Yankees trainer Gene Monahan aids center fielder Brett Gardner, who hit his head on a plexiglass wall making a great catch in the eighth.

Frank Franklin II/AP

 

 

–Scott

 

 

Much Ado About Nothing…

Meaningful Yankee talk has definitely been a rarity in recent weeks…

 

 

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We are rapidly approaching the start of training camp, so hopefully, we’ll have more to talk about than we’ve experienced in the past month and a half.  Of course, I don’t really want a repeat of last spring’s A-Rod saga with the steroids admission and hip surgery. 

 

 

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As we head to camp, many positions are locked up.  However, there are questions about left and center fields.  I know that Curtis Granderson is a centerfielder, but there’s obviously been talk about his possible move to left so we’ll put center in the ? mark column.  Otherwise, all positions are set.  If the season started today, the lineup would look like this:

 

Derek Jeter-ss

Nick Johnson-dh

Mark Teixeira-lb

Alex Rodriguez-3b

Curtis Granderson-cf

Jorge Posada-c

Robinson Cano-2b

Nick Swisher-rf

Brett Gardner/Randy Winn-lf

 

With this configuration, I am with the majority that still want the Yanks to find a way to bring Rocco Baldelli to camp. 

 

 

 

Jim Rogash/Getty Images

 

I read the article about how excited Hank Steinbrenner was about the Yankees’ off-season additions.  However, I have to admit that I remain a bit skeptical.  The off-season losses were huge.  The Yankees will definitely miss Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon.  I think the team will regret not bringing back at least one of those players.  Also, in Buster Olney’s blog post yesterday, he stated that as the dust has settled on the AZ-Det-NY trade, all of the players were flawed.  From a character-standpoint, Curtis Granderson is a first class addition…no argument from me.  However, he has trouble with lefties and he strikes out too much.  He’ll need to improve in these areas for long-term success in the Bronx.  Javier Vazquez is a quality pitcher and he strengthens the rotation, however, the fact remains that he struggled in the Bronx during his last go-around so he still has to prove himself regardless of his subsequent success in Chicago and Atlanta.  Meanwhile, the Boston Red Sox have clearly improved themselves so the gap between these two teams has probably faded… but don’t tell Julia that I said that!

 

 

Javier Vazquez is returning to the New York Yankees, where he in 2004 he was underwhelming for the Bronx Bombers.

 

Antonelli/New York Daily News

 

 

If you missed Harold Reynolds interview with Derek Jeter on MLB.com, I encourage you to listen to it.  Hat tip to Jane Heller, Confessions of a She-Fan for the heads-up about the interview.  DJ shows why he is a legend in our midst.  He has a quality that clearly sets him apart from others.  Sure, there are other players like him (Chase Utley immediately comes to mind), but I am glad to have witnessed the entire career of a great player.  I hope the Yankees find a way to ensure that DJ ends his career in pinstripes.  During the interview with Harold Reynolds, DJ mentioned how strange it was to see Don Mattingly in a Dodgers uniform.  I don’t really want to experience seeing DJ, as a player, in another uniform.  After he retires, if he decides to stay in baseball, he’ll most likely wear different colors but I can deal with that.  Don Mattingly remains my favorite living Yankee, and his presence in Dodger gear doesn’t diminish that respect.  I hope that Donnie Baseball is the next Dodgers manager.

 

 

 

 

LA Times

 

Speaking of the Dodgers, the Yankees travel to Chavez Ravine this year to face Joe Torre and company.  I definitely want to make the trip to see at least one game of the series.  It should be very exciting times. 

 

 

 

 

What else is there to talk about?  Despite my beloved Minnesota Vikings losing to the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship, I am pulling for the Saints in the Super Bowl.  I think the Vikings could have and should have beat the Saints, but that’s water under the bridge at this point.  While I want the Saints to win, do I think they’ll beat the Colts?  Not really.  Peyton and Crew are simply too superior to allow for an upset.  So, while I want the Saints, I am prepared for a Colts victory.  This is one time that I hope I am wrong…

 

 

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I have tickets to see Daughtry and Lifehouse in concert in early May.  I am very excited to see Daughtry perform.  I still can’t understand how Taylor Hicks beat Chris Daughtry on American Idol, but Chris has his revenge.  He has clearly had the best career of any of his AI opponents, and stands among the other AI greats like Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson.

 

 

 

Pardon me for saying this, but if I were New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan, I would have thrown the finger too!…

 

 

Jets coach Rex Ryan gets call on cell phone camera shooting MMA fans the bird.

The Pride of C.K. McClatchy High…

The return of Larry Bowa’s nephew…

 

 


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WFAN

 

 

Although they never wore the pinstripes at the same time, former coach Larry Bowa’s nephew, Nick Johnson, is coming home.  Traded to Montreal in 2003 for pitcher Javier Vazquez, Nick has signed a one-year deal for $5.5 million, with a mutual option for 2011, to return to the Bronx.

 

 

 

 

During Nick’s “exile”, winning baseball was not necessarily a common theme among his teams with the Montreal Expos, Washington Nationals, and Florida Marlins.  Nick is eager to return to a team with a “win at all costs” attitude.  Nick could have signed with the San Francisco Giants as their first baseman, however, his first love remained the Yankees.  So, once the Yankees expressed interest, no other team really had a chance with Johnson.

 

 

Hector Gabino/Miami Herald

 

 

Nick slots in nicely at the top of the batting order behind leadoff hitter Derek Jeter.  Nick has a knack (no pun intended) for getting on base.  His career on-base percentage is .402.

 

Welcome home, Nick!  We’re glad you’re back!

 

 

 

 

Given that the Yankees have now reacquired the two primary players in the December 2003 deal that sent Nick to Montreal and brought Javier Vazquez to the Yankees (the first time), they should consider calling the Los Angeles Angels and the Tampa Bay Rays about the availability of outfielder Juan Rivera and reliever Randy Choate, respectively. 

 

 

Gary A. Vasquez/US Presswire

 

 

 

Although those are positions of need, I do not really want to see the return of either Rivera or Choate, but the Yankees do need to get creative about filling the hole in left field.  It bothers me that the team hasn’t figured out a way to unload pitcher Kei Igawa, particularly when his salary could go a long way toward bringing in a solid left fielder.  The Yankees say they’ll go with Brett Gardner and Jamie Hoffmann.  While I don’t feel you need an All-Star in left, I don’t think that Gardner and Hoffman, individually or collectively, are the answer.  I have genuine concerns about Nick Swisher’s encore performance and the Yankees do not need simultaneous struggles at both outfield corners.  I’d rather pay for a sound and dependable solution for left and then be prepared for Plan B in right.

 

 


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Best case scenario is the return of Johnny Damon.  It could still happen but Damon’s price tag will have to come down.  The other solid option (Mark DeRosa) appears to be dissipating as DeRosa is apparently favoring an agreement with the San Francisco Giants.  Hey, as a Bay Area guy, I can’t find fault with someone who wants to call the area home.  San Francisco’s a great town with a terrific ballpark.

 

 


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Reed Johnson’s name has been mentioned but I am less than enthused.  Johnson missed 49 games in 2009 for the Chicago Cubs after fouling a pitch off his left foot which caused a fracture.  A career .282 hitter, Reed only batted .255 in 65 games last season with 4 home runs and 22 RBI’s. 

 

 

 

 

His scouting report¹ says that “Hustle is his strongest suit.  Makes consistent contact and hits well with runners in scoring position – especially against lefties.  Is a good outfielder.”  The report goes on to say “he struggles against finesse pitchers and righties.  A quality platoon or 4th outfielder.”   It sounds like he would be more capable as a back-up for Curtis Granderson in center than a starter in left. 

 

¹Source:  Sportsnet.ca Ontario

 

Lobbying for the Cubs to re-sign Johnson in September, pitcher (and former Yankee) Ted Lilly was seen wearing a t-shirt that read “With Reed, we will succeed”.  Maybe for Lilly and the Cubs, but not for the World Champions.  Pass…

 

 


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So now Jason Bay and his agent are calling the Boston Red Sox?  Maybe Jason has started to send Theo fruit baskets like Julia did every day last season!  Ha!  I bet the Red Sox offer of 4 years and $60 million is looking very appealing these days.  But of course, after Boston’s signing of John Lackey and Mike Cameron, the money offered to Bay is probably no longer available.  Bay has a 4 year, $65 million offer from the New York Mets.  However, $5 million extra over 4 years is not worth the mess known as the Mets.  Bay’s best option is to remain in Boston but it is questionable whether the Red Sox have room in the 2010 budget at this point.  Bay, at this point in time, appears to have overestimated his worth in the current free agent market.  Financial constraint being shown by both the Yankees and the Red Sox…what is the world coming to?  ;)

 

 


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Finally, I’d like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  May this be a season of joy for you and your family, and here’s hoping that 2010 fulfills your every dream!  Well, except for a World Series championship…I reserve that one for Yankees fans!  J


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You Traded Me for Randy Freakin’ Johnson?…

The answer to the question is an old friend from the past…

 

Bill Kostroun/AP

 

It was no secret that the Yankees were actively seeking to fill an open spot in the rotation and the word was that it would be accomplished by year end.  As it were, the Yankees wrapped the package up prior to Christmas.  The result is the return of Javier Vazquez….

When I first heard the deal, I was a little upset at what the Yankees gave up (Melky Cabrera, Michael Dunn, and Arodys Vizcaino).  However, after having time to let it sink in, I am okay with it so long as the Yankees can come up with a decent alternative for left field.  Brett Gardner is not an every day player, and at this point, neither is Jamie Hoffmann.  Perhaps Gardner can be part of a platoon, but the other half is not currently on the roster. 

Vazquez was a Yankee for one brief season.  But it was a very painful season.  For years, we had grown up knowing that the Boston Red Sox had been suffering from the Curse of Babe Ruth prior to our own births.  However, in 2004, the Red Sox finally shook the curse and defeated the mighty Yankees despite being down 3 games to none in the American League Championship Series.  The defining moment occurred in Game 7 when Johnny Damon hit a grand slam off Javier Vazquez.  The win propelled the Red Sox to the World Series and an eventual championship that could have belonged to the Yankees.  After the season, the Yankees packaged Vazquez in a deal to Arizona that netted Randy Johnson.  At the time, Vazquez didn’t want to leave the Yankees but “public opinion” was clearly against him and the Yankees fans didn’t cry too much as Vazquez headed for the Sonoran Desert. 

Nevertheless, spin forward 5 years, and Vazquez has proven consistency and durability.  2009 was perhaps his finest year with Atlanta Braves as he went 15-10 with a 2.87 ERA.  Injuries, including pink eye, kept 2009 from being even more successful.  When you are throwing around names like Ben Sheets, Justin Duchscherer, Aaron Harang, and others, I have to admit that Vazquez is the best case scenario.  Admittedly, I would have preferred a Bronx return by Ted Lilly but there probably wasn’t any way that the Chicago Cubs were going to let him go.  The Yankees tried hard for Cliff Lee, but the Phillies felt they needed to send Lee as far from Philly as they could given the backlash they’d receive by dealing him.  Understood.  So all things considered, Javier Vazquez as your number 4 starter is a pretty good situation.  I’d take Vazquez in a head-to-head match up against John Lackey so I think the move was a good counter to Boston’s free agent signing.

 

 

Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal Constitution

It is ironic that Damon’s departure is met by Vazquez’s return.  It is equally ironic that Vazquez and DH Nick Johnson will be teammates given they were once traded for each other.  Hopefully, this ends the Yankees’ attempt at a 2003-04 reunion tour.  We really don’t need to see a return performance by Jason Giambi.  Sorry, G, I loved you in pinstripes but that day has passed. 

 

AP 

 

The Yankees did manage to secure a bullpen part with the Vazquez trade.  They also acquired pitcher Boone Logan.  Gotta love the name.  Logan is a lefty but is probably more of a one batter specialist.  The Yankees are hopeful that Damaso Marte will continue at the level he displayed late in the season.  Logan was acquired by the Atlanta Braves in the same trade that brought Vazquez from the Chicago White Sox.  So, once again, Logan and Vazquez are intertwined…and hopefully the duo will prove to be very successful in the Bronx.  Vazquez is a free agent after 2010, so it’s possible that this is another one-and-done Yankee performance, but it is my hope that he proves he belongs in pinstripes.

 

 

The Yankees also signed free agent catcher Mike Rivera (formerly of the Milwaukee Brewers).  So long as Rivera is slotted for the third catching spot, I am okay with the move.  I feel that Francisco Cervelli deserves the primary shot to be Jorge Posada’s backup, but a veteran influence like Rivera can’t hurt.

 

 

So, now the question is what the Yankees will do about left field?  The Vazquez trade brings the payroll to nearly $200 million which is the alleged budget for 2010.  Perhaps they’ll need to offload Chad Gaudin and/or Sergio Mitre (among others), but room can be made for a capable left fielder.  Alas, it won’t be Matt Holliday or Jason Bay (or even Johnny Damon),  but I have confidence that GM Brian Cashman won’t leave the team shortchanged.

 

 

All these moves do have the potential of disrupting team chemistry so I am hopeful that the team is able to mesh in spring training.  From a character standpoint, I have no reservations with Curtis Granderson, Nick Johnson, or Javier Vazquez, so I think they’ll be fine.  But as they say, the proof is in the pudding…

 

Now Pitching For The Yankees…

Okay, who will it be?…

 

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Rumors allegedly have the New York Yankees actively pursuing another pitcher for the starting rotation.  Apparently, it is a position that the team intends to fill by the end of the year.  Will the spot be filled by a free agent signing or via trade?  Given the lack of top shelf talent on the free agent market, it would appear that a trade is forthcoming.

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Of the free agents, I like Ben Sheets but he’s probably the riskiest of all from an injury standpoint.  With Sheets, you’d have to have a very clear Plan B in the event there are any setbacks in spring training.  But I do like his upside and on his best day, he can pitch toe-to-toe with the likes of Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and John Lackey. 

 

UPI 

Jason Marquis was another option but he signed a two-year deal with the Washington Nationals earlier today.  A native New Yorker, he would have made a smooth transition to the Bronx but the jump from the NL to the AL would have been more difficult.

 

Jeff Zelevansky, Icon SMI

 

Pedro Martinez?  Fuggetaboutit!

 

 

There have been some reports of talks between the Yankees and the Braves.  I do not know the topic of the discussions but I don’t really think that Derek Lowe is the answer at this stage of his career.

Nor am I ready to get excited about a return of Javier Vazquez regardless of how will he performed in Atlanta.

I’d be more willing to see the return of the Chicago Cubs’ Ted Lilly…

There’s always the potential that the Yankees could convince the Florida Marlins to part with Josh Johnson.  However, I am not sure the Marlins are ready to do anything with Johnson and there’s always the problem with the NL-to-AL transition.

So where does that leave us?  According to the latest reports, a strong possibility could be Aaron Harang of the Cincinnati Reds.  Earlier, I was convinced that Harang was headed to the Los Angeles Dodgers.  However, that organization seems paralyzed by the McCourt divorce proceedings.

 

MLB 

I am not sure what I think about Harang, but he does have some AL experience from his early days with the Oakland A’s.  He would clearly be an upgrade over Chad Gaudin or Sergio Mitre.  How I really feel about him will be determined by how much the Yanks have to give up to get him.  Last season, he was an uninspiring 6-14 with the Reds and posted a 4.21 ERA.  His 142 strikeouts, with only 43 walks, looked good, but this is a guy who led the majors with the most home runs allowed in 2008 (19).  That’s not exactly the guy you’d want to be pitching at the Batting Practice known as Yankee Stadium. 

Maybe Brian Cashman can convince the Seattle Mariners that they don’t really need Cliff Lee…

 

 

We’ll see how this turns out.  Hopefully, Cashman will make the smart, prudent choice and ensure the Yankees have the middle of the order protected.

 

It’s not official yet but it sounds like the Yankees have signed Nick Johnson as their full-time DH.  If it is confirmed, I am glad to see Nick return to the Bronx.  I had feared that he’d sign with Boston and had quietly hoped that he’d go with the San Francisco Giants.  I didn’t really expect him to sign with the Yankees, but I am supportive of the move.  All signs indicate Johnson’s arrival spells the end of Johnny Damon’s Yankees career.  I do not necessarily agree.  I think the Yanks could still find a way to allow Johnny to return under a deal that makes sense for both parties.  They are a good fit for each other so hopefully egos can be set aside for the good of all.

 

 

After resolution of pitching and left field, I think the Yanks will move either Melky Cabrera or Brett Gardner.  Cabrera would seem to have the greatest trade value.  The Yanks still need a few more arms for bullpen competition in the spring.

I would give the backup catching spot to Francisco Cervelli although I recognize that it is only a matter of time until Jesus Montero arrives as Jorge Posada’s eventual successor.

Ah, the life and times of the Yankees general manager.  No stress for the holidays…

 

 

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P.S.  Major League Baseball would like to thank the Yankees for their generous $26 million “donation”.  Who says the Yanks aren’t good for baseball…

 

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