Results tagged ‘ Jed Lowrie ’

Yanks have a new shortstop – yes, in-Didi!…

Filling a position of need…

Finally, there is life in the Bronx!  Of course, it was only a matter of time given the needs of the team, but today was a day of large activity by the New York Yankees.

The morning was greeted with news that the Yankees had acquired shortstop Didi Gregorius from the Arizona Diamondbacks, shipping starting pitcher Shane Greene to the Detroit Tigers in a three-way trade.  While it’s never good to relinquish young, controllable pitching talent, the price of a 4th or 5th starter (or possibly long reliever) in Greene to acquire a starting shortstop was a no-brainer.

Christian Peterson/Getty Images North America

Gregorius is not coming to the Bronx to replace Derek Jeter.  He is merely the man who will be penciled into the slot created by the retirement of the future Hall of Famer.  But truth be told, short looks so much better in the hands of a 25 year old than it would have with a 41 year old regardless of the achievements for the latter.  Gregorius will bring good defense to an infield that needed help.  He may not hit, but he’ll hit better than backup shortstop Brendan Ryan.  He may be headed into the season as a platoon with Ryan (per Brian Cashman’s words earlier today), but Gregorius will have every opportunity to prove that the position is his.  The Yankees are much better with his presence.  Time will tell if he is a short or long term solution, but for now, he is an improvement over the speculated possibilities of Stephen Drew, Asdrubal Cabrera or Jed Lowrie.

SOMEONE had to take Jeter’s spot and it may as well be Didi.

With Greene’s departure, the obvious first question is whether this will motivate the Yankees to pursue Max Scherzer.  While I would love the Yankees to pursue Jon Lester, it seems almost too late in the process for the Yankees to enter the picture since it has been speculated that Lester will choose his destination next week during the Winter Meetings.

My fear is that the Boston Red Sox will soon be touting both Lester and Cole Hamels in their starting rotation which is even more reason that the Yankees need a true ace at the top of their staff.  Too many questions with the other starters so Scherzer is sorely needed.

It’s Miller Time!…

In the morning, it was also reported that reliever Andrew Miller would be deciding his selection today.  Later, it was announced the Yankees were his choice.  I wouldn’t say that they ‘won’ the bidding since technically, they were runner-up to the Houston Astros who offered more, but Miller felt the Yankees were the better destination.  Of course, it helps that Miller makes his home in Tampa so it will be a short commute to spring training.

AP Photo/Winslow Townson

Miller’s signing makes the most sense if the Yankees can somehow re-sign closer David Robertson.  The bullpen is so much stronger with the trio of Robertson, Dellin Betances and Miller than it is with Betances and Miller as co-closers.  Given the shortcomings of the starting rotation, mastery of the 6th innings on will be crucial.  I really like the thought of two powerful lefties in the pen (Miller and newcomer Justin Wilson, acquired earlier in the off-season from Pittsburgh).  Of course, last year’s top draft selection, lefty reliever Jacob Lindgren is burning through the system and will be in the major league bullpen in the not so distant future.  So, for a team that has struggled with finding dominant left-handed relief in recent years, they’ll soon be dealing with a position of strength.  Manager Joe Girardi must be getting good night’s sleep these days.

I love the Baseball Winter Meetings.  It is always my favorite time of the off-season.  Of course, as a Yankees fan, my team is generally very active during the week.  Last year’s flurry of acquiring Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran on the same day was such a rush.  Kind of like today when the Yankees acquired Gregorius and Miller…

When they needed a manager, the Rays simply took the Cash…

Finally, the Tampa Bay Rays announced their new manager when they named former catcher Kevin Cash to the position.

I was a little surprised that the Rays are replacing perhaps baseball’s best manager with a guy who has never managed before.  But Cash has been learning the craft under the watchful eye of Tito Francona in Cleveland as bullpen coach, and he brings the right amount of enthusiasm and intelligence to the position.  Clearly, new Rays President Matt Silverman is trying to place his own stamp on the team.  The best choice would have been to hire former Rays bench coach Dave Martinez but of course, that would have been a carryover from the Andrew Friedman-Joe Maddon regime.  All things considered, I am glad that Martinez was able to slide over to the Chicago Cubs to continue his role as bench coach for Maddon.

It will be interesting to see how Cash does.  It’s interesting that he can claim World Series rings with both the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.  Now, he’ll see those teams routinely as a member of the AL East.  Hopefully, he does well and his stay in St Petersburg is long and mutually rewarding.  Well so long as it doesn’t involve any AL East or World Series championships.

The next week should be interesting regardless of what happens.  The Yankees have awakened from their slumber…

–Scott

Not your Daddy’s Yankees…

 

All my rowdy friends are coming over tonight, but I’ll just listen to Beethoven…

The Miami Marlins make a big splash to create perhaps the best Marlins squad since 2003 in signing Heath Bell, Mark Buehrle, and Jose Reyes.  The Los Angeles Angels rock the largest Hispanic community in the United States by nabbing #1 Baseball Superstar Albert Pujols.  Oh yeah, they also picked up former Ranger ace C.J. Wilson along the way.  Even the Boston Red Sox, in a season of chaos with the prolonged managerial search, managed to do SOMETHING with the acquisition of former Yankees reliever Mark Melancon from the Houston Astros for shortstop Jed Lowrie and minor league pitcher Kyle Weiland.  Meanwhile, at Yankee Stadium, nothing…

I know, how do you improve upon a 97-win team?  Baseball is a game of constantly trying to improve.  A little here, a little there…a big splash here, a big splash there.  This off-season the Yankees haven’t fallen into any of those categories.  They haven’t even moved to re-sign outfielder Andruw Jones or third baseman Eric Chavez which, in my mind, are important cogs for the 2012 team.

The team with the most money is…

Tonight’s wait is to hear whether the Toronto Blue Jays or the Texas Rangers have won the bidding for Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish.  In the days of George Steinbrenner, the Yankees would have been the highest bidder and there would have been no speculation about who placed the highest bid (through a few “unnamed sources” within the Yankees organization).  I am not saying that it is prudent to spend $50 million plus just to have the right to talk to Darvish, nor do I feel the Yankees made a bad decision by not going after him harder.  But this is definitely a different Yankees ownership and one that is not particularly fond of footing the bill for the other owners through luxury tax payments.  It’s too bad the Yankees have so much wrapped up in Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter.  A-Rod, in particular, is not the player he once was and no longer worthy of his behemoth contract.  I’ll give Jeter the benefit of the doubt since he did finish 2011 strongly.

If the Yankees are gauging what they need to do by the Boston Red Sox or the Tampa Bay Rays, they’re severely underestimating the Toronto Blue Jays.  The Yankees had trouble with that team last year, and the 2012 Jays will only be stronger (with or without Darvish).

If you’re not winning, you’re losing…

This has been a tough sports year for me.  The Yankees felt like a team with shortcomings entering October and it revealed itself in the play-offs against the Detroit Tigers.  They are still essentially the same team, minus a few players.  There’s nothing to lead me to believe that the World Series is in their immediate future.  Meanwhile, my pro football team, the Minnesota Vikings, continues their march to become the worst team in professional football (only one game separates them from the Indianapolis Colts and the right to draft future NFL superstar QB Andrew Luck).  I am sure that even Peyton Manning is a Vikings fan these days.  It really stinks when you hope your team loses so that they can place higher in the draft.

I am not a Minnesota Twins fan, but I do live within view of Target Field so it’s been tough watching local favorites Michael Cuddyer (Rockies) and Jason Kubel (D-Backs) sign elsewhere.

Clearly, I am someone that needs a ‘pick me up’ in sports.  I want to see a player acquisition that I am excited about.  Someone that brings energy, drive and commitment to the team, and helps them reach just a little bit further…

I will say that the Yankees should not trade Jesus Montero regardless of whether it could bring Gio Gonzalez to the Bronx.  I’d love to see Gio in pinstripes, but I think that Montero has a chance to be a special talent.  You just don’t let guys like him get away, even if it means no acquisitions this off-season.

Is that too much to ask?  Sometimes I wish Hank Steinbrenner’s impulsiveness would prevail over Hal Steinbrenner’s calculated intellect.  Fiscal responsibility, with a dash of insanity.  C’mon, we were “raised” by George Steinbrenner.  Weren’t you too, Hal?…

At least somebody is doing something…

Recently, I changed my NBA allegiance from the Los Angeles Lakers to the New York Knicks.  I’ve been thinking about this move for several years, but adding Carmelo Anthony to Amare Stoudemire was the clincher.  The latest news has the Knicks signing Baron Davis.  As a former Bay Area resident, I was saddened when Davis left the Golden State Warriors to join the Los Angeles Clippers.  He was perhaps the most popular basketball player in the area.  I have a great deal of respect for him, and it’s tremendous that he and I have come together on the same team.  I know Baron is hurt so his Knicks debut will be delayed, but I really like the off-season moves the Knicks have made.  I’d be foolish to think that they are suddenly a NBA finals team, but they are definitely getting better.

Meanwhile, at Yankee Stadium, just crickets…

 

–Scott

Yankees should be forbidden from crossing the MA state line…

 

Right player, wrong uniform…

The acquisition of reliever Mark Melancon by the Boston Red Sox reminded me of how much I dislike seeing former Yankees in Boston gear.  At one time, Melancon was mentioned as the possible successor to future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera.  He did not fulfill his promise with the Yankees and was subsequently traded to the Houston Astros in the deal that brought present St Cardinals first baseman Lance Berkman to New York.  Melancon was forced into a closing role in Houston due to injuries, but he doesn’t project to be a closer for the Red Sox.  Time will tell if he can become Boston’s version of David Robertson.

With Alfredo Aceves already on the Boston pitching staff, that makes two Yankees on the roster with no Sox players on the Yankees roster.  Granted, it doesn’t hurt quite like it did when David Wells and David Cone pulled on the Sox cap after success in the Bronx, but still, I’d rather see ex-Yankees experience success away from the AL East.  There are 28 other teams that these players could have gone to.

From the Sox perspective, I am not sure that Melancon justified the cost.  I know that Jed Lowrie wasn’t the answer at short, but there was always something that I respected in the player, even as a member of an opponent.  I don’t know about the other player the Sox sent to Houston (pitcher Kyle Weiland), but it would appear to be a fairly high cost for a setup guy.  I just don’t see Melancon as Jonathan Papelbon’s replacement.

Maybe this trade turns out wonderfully for the Sox, maybe it doesn’t.  I guess baseball is a game of chances and as the saying goes ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’.  But I wish the Sox would quit loading up on Yankees (and Rays).  At least they replaced Lowrie with a former Twin and Cardinal (Nick Punto).

Never underestimate the power of the woman behind the man…

I am still in disbelief that Albert Pujols is no longer in St Louis, but after previously reading comments by Dodgers manager Don Mattingly that he felt Albert was frustrated with the Cardinals about the negotiations and the subsequent comments by his wife about how the Cardinals didn’t give Albert the proper respect, I can better understand why he would leave the organization that had meant so much to him for 11 years.  At this point, his present and future are associated with the Los Angeles Angels and he will be the face of the organization.  I doubt Angels fans are missing Mark Teixeira too much these days.

Turning nothing into something…

I am still amazed that former Yankees reliever Jose Veras brought the Pittsburgh Pirates the Milwaukee Brewers former third baseman Casey McGahee.  McGahee has his issues, but Veras was a disaster for the Yanks.  I know that he pitched effectively before his gradual descent in pinstripes but I cringed every time he entered a game during his final season in the Bronx.

C’mon, the weather really isn’t that bad…

I was listening to MLB Radio the other night when they mentioned that the Minnesota Twins had signed former Oakland A’s (and Marlins) outfielder Josh Willingham.  One of the guys, I don’t remember which one, then proceeded to bash Minnesota for its weather.  Granted, I am a new arrival to Minnesota and I did not experience the 87 inches of snow last winter, but I have yet to complain about Minnesota weather.  Actually, I have enjoyed the change of seasons after life in California where there are only two seasons (warm and not so warm).  I wore my winter coat one week last year and that’s when I went back East to New York.  I’ve been wearing that coat since early November this year and I love it.  I am disappointed that they are now saying that we won’t have a White Christmas in Minneapolis.

Back to Willingham, I am sad that it means the end of the Twins career for Michael Cuddyer.  It’s too bad that the Yankees don’t have a role for a guy like that.  Mr. Versatility.  It doesn’t sound like the Phillies or the Red Sox are options for him at this point, but I was fearful to see him on either of those rosters.  He may not be THE guy, but he is the type of guy that helps win championships.

Nevertheless, welcome to Minneapolis, Mr. Willingham!

50 years brings total futility; this must be what it feels like to be a Cubs fan…

My first year living in Minnesota has been a disaster as far as being a fan of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings.  1983 was a miserable year with horrific coach Les Steckel and the franchise’s worst record in its history.  This year, the record of futility may be eclipsed by the current squad.  I feel bad for coach Leslie Frazier.  I like him, but there is no patience when it comes to the NFL.  I read an article about how the Vikings would have been better off if they had just stayed with Mike Tice after the Wilf’s bought the team.  As it stands, I’d prefer to see Frazier get at least another year, but if he is cut loose, I would not be opposed to someone like Brian Billick.  I was frustrated with him when he was the Vikings offensive coordinator, but he was a good coach in Baltimore.  I doubt the Vikings would be competitors for someone like Bill Cowher.  I could definitely see Cowher going to the Miami Dolphins if he decides to return to coaching, especially if Carl Peterson takes over the leadership of the team.  Cowher was an assistant for Kansas City, Peterson’s former team, prior to coaching the Steelers.

I am adamant, and maybe not so much…

As for my other teams, I remain a devout San Jose Sharks fan and will be there when the Sharks come to St Paul, Minnesota to face the Minnesota Wild.  But I had to make a decision in the NBA.  I’ve been a Los Angeles Lakers fan the last few years, but I am tired of a team that is expected to win and often does (well, except for when it pertains to baseball!).  Amare Stoudemire has been my favorite player since his days in Phoenix and despite his injury history.  Carmelo Anthony was another favorite.  So, with those two headlining the New York Knicks, I really don’t have any choice but to become a Knickerbockers fan.  With the NBA, I have not maintained a constant loyalty to one team.  It’s moved as I’ve moved.  I started life as a Philadelphia 76ers fan in the days of Dr. J. (Julius Erving).  In my early 20’s, I moved to Dallas and become a Mavericks fan.  Later, I moved to Phoenix and became a Suns fan.  About 6 years ago, I moved to California and became a Lakers fan (sorry, I just couldn’t embrace the Golden State Warriors or the Sacramento Kings as a Northern CA resident).  Now, I am in Minnesota, but for whatever reason, I just can’t embrace the Minnesota Timberwolves.  So, it’s time to move my basketball allegiance to the Big Apple.  I am not really a fan of the New Jersey and soon to be Brooklyn Nets, so the stars were perfectly aligned for me to become a Knicks fan.  So, let it be…

By the way, where did 2011 go?…

–Scott

 

The Next Great Yankee Closer…

Exit the Sandman…

 

Who will be the Yankees’ next great closer?  When the great Mariano Rivera finally decides to hang up his glove, everyone will be looking for the next great closer.  Granted, we may never see the likes of Mo again (at least not in our lifetime), but there are certainly a number of viable candidates to fill the void that will be created in the ninth inning of tight games.

 

The easy answer is to say Joba Chamberlain.  The debate continues to rage about whether Chamberlain is most valuable in the starting rotation where he will play in about 30-35 games, or in late inning relief where he would appear in 60-plus games.  While Joba’s injury late season did cause me to wonder if he was better suited for shorter stints, I do feel that he has the potential to be a frontline starter.  In the grand scheme of things, it is not economically feasible to spend $181 million to secure an ace.  It is much better to “grow your own”.  The Yankees have a two-time 19-game winner, who most likely would have won 19-20 games last season if not for the foot injury, and they’re paying him only $5 million this year.  Granted, that price will continue to go up, but the Yankees have been getting a great bargain for the past few years.  Meanwhile, CC Sabathia’s first year with the Yanks comes at a price of $23 million ($15 million base with $9 million signing bonus).  That’s big difference, particularly considering at the end of the year, there might be only a couple of wins that separate the two.  As Wang’s price goes up, it will be difficult to place high dollars in other key spots of the rotation.  So, Joba as a starter makes sense both economically and competitively.  The only thing that could cause me to rethink this position is if Phil Hughes pitches so well this spring that he makes it impossible to leave him out of the rotation. 

 

I was reading that Brian Bruney is an option.  I have to admit that I really didn’t know much about Bruney when he came to New York.  He had a few productive years with the Arizona Diamondbacks, and even saved 12 games (out of 16 games) in 2005.  In May 2006, he was designated for assignment and signed with the Yankees as a minor league free agent.  Bruney missed about three months last season after suffering a Lisfranc injury (similar to what happened to Chien-Ming Wang) in April.  But he returned in August and finished with a 3-0 record, 1.83 ERA in 32 appearances, and held hitters to a .153 average.  Since 2007, Bruney has lost about 40 pounds.  He appears to be in great shape to be a dominant 8th inning bridge to Mo Rivera, and he certainly has a closer’s mentality.

 

Brian Bruney will be a key cog in the Yankee bullpen this season.

Antonelli/New York Daily News

 

A young player that is starting to draw attention is 23-year old Mark Melancon.  Mark missed the entire 2007 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow on October 31, 2006.  But he returned last season, and gradually worked his way up from Single-A Tampa to the Triple A-Scranton/Wilkes Barre.  Increasing his walk-to-strikeout ratio at each stop, Melancon finished 2008 with a total of 95 innings in 44 games, with a 2.27 ERA.  “His ball cuts, it sinks, it’s got late life to it,” manager Joe Girardi said.  “That usually translates into swings and misses, and not solid contact.”  More than likely, Melancon will begin the year with Scranton/Wilkes Barre, but it won’t be long until he receives the phone call from New York.

 

Reuters Pictures

 

One guy who has fallen off the map is J. Brent Cox.  When the Yankees drafted Cox (who followed Huston Street as the closer for the University of Texas Longhorns), I thought he had a chance to be Mo’s eventual successor.  But he has had a roller coaster ride with the Yanks, and doesn’t appear to possess the stuff necessary to close at the major league level. 

 

I know that it is difficult to think about a future without Mo Rivera in the bullpen, and he is coming off a great season.  But the fact remains that he is 39, and it would be difficult to assume that he’ll be an upper-tier closer by the time he reaches the number on his back.  I feel very blessed to have witnessed the Mariano Rivera era, and he is arguably the greatest closer in franchise history.  “The end is coming,” Rivera recently said.  “Sooner or late, it’s going to come.”

 

The Mets have shown that you can rebuild a bullpen with dollars, but the best closers are those who have been developed from within.  Well, aside from Goose Gossage…

 

When Mo does retire, his number will obviously be retired for Jackie Robinson.  But it should be a simultaneous ceremony to place Mo’s name in Monument Park along with Jackie’s.  Mariano deserves to stand shoulder to shoulder to Jackie Robinson…he would have made Jackie proud, and he has certainly made all of us very proud and appreciative. 

 

Time will tell if the next Yankee closer will be the next coming of Goose Gossage or just another Steve Farr, but unfortunately, it won’t be the next Mariano Rivera as the original is impossible to replicate.

 

 

 

Status Quo in Right Field

 

With the Atlanta Braves signing of free agent OF Garret Anderson, they’ve most likely been removed as the leading suitor for a potential trade involving either Xavier Nady or Nick Swisher. 

 

Based on the comments I’ve seen, Nady fully expects to be the starting right fielder and apparently no one has said there is an open competition for his spot.  However, Swisher should be able to make room for himself regardless of the outcome.  I had read that Swisher has a ‘Jack Black’ persona about him, and watching MLB Network’s ’30 Teams in 30 Days’ certainly gives an illustration of that playfulness.  I think his personality is good for the team, and it doesn’t come across as defiant or obstinate (like other past Yankees who shall remain nameless…err David Wells and Randy Johnson). 

 

 

 

My preference is still for Swisher to win the job outright, and then trade Nady.  But if the return is not sufficient, then the Yankees are better served by keeping both Nady and Swisher on the roster. 

 

I feel strongly that Swisher will rebound from last year’s .219 batting average.  He definitely has some power, as evidenced by 24 home runs despite the BA that came perilously close to the Mendoza Line.  Swisher is certainly capable to matching his 2006 performance when he hit 35 home runs with 95 runs batted in.  His average was only .254, but his OBP was .372, thanks to nearly one hundred walks.  So, while Nady may have the slightly higher batting average, Swisher gets on base more often and is more capable of “making things happen”. 

 

The One Day Flu

 

Saturday, I heard that CC Sabathia had cancelled his batting practice session and went home with the flu.  Although I had heard the session had been re-scheduled for Sunday, I didn’t really expect Sabathia to make a go of it.  Of course, that’s exactly what he did.  The guy’s clearly a “gamer” and has the heart of a David Cone.  Like Nick Swisher, I think that CC’s personality will be a huge asset for the Yankee Clubhouse.  Here’s hoping that CC gets the opportunity to throw the first pitch in October…

 

Go Jed Lowrie

 

In a couple of fantasy leagues I belong to, the primary shortstops were quickly taken while I focused on filling needs at other positions.  When I realized my weakness at short on one team, I selected Boston’s Jed Lowrie as my shortstop.  On another team, I selected Jed to fill a bench role.  So, I am not concerned about the Yankees center field battle between Brett Gardner (my favorite) and Melky Cabrera, I am most interested in the Red Sox shortstop competition between Lowrie and Julio Lugo.  Lugo has the unfair advantage of having $36 million reasons why he should start, but youth and excitement go with Lowrie.  So, hopefully Lowrie wins because my fantasy teams really need him (hey, why else would I be concerned about what happens in Boston?).

 

If Lowrie succeeds in taking Lugo’s job, third baseman Mike Lowell (drafted by the Yankees in 1995) would be the only infielder who didn’t come up through the Boston farm system.  Of course, when Youk slides to third to make room for first baseman Lars Anderson, it will be a completely homegrown infield. Holy Garciaparra! 

 

My new favorite player…

 

Jim Davis/Boston Globe

 

For my last fantasy draft, I went with Hanley Ramirez as my shortstop…

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