Results tagged ‘ Jesus Montero ’

Didn’t see that one coming…

Yeah, but at what price?…

I am bummed…

After years of trade rumors involving Yankees prospect Jesus Montero, I thought he was finally home free and slated to be a member of the 2012 Yankees unless a trade for the seemingly untouchable Felix Hernandez were to materialize.  So, to hear tonight’s news that the Yankees have traded Montero to the Seattle Mariners is a shock since it did not involve the aforementioned King Felix.

I was perusing the MLB Trade Rumors tonight when I saw the blurb that the Mariners were close to acquiring an “young impact hitter”.  Of course, there aren’t too many guys that fit that description and Montero is near or at the top of the list.  I didn’t suspect a King Felix trade since there have been no signals that the Mariners are interested in trading him, so my immediate reaction was the fear of trading Montero for something else.  My fear has been justified as the word has come the Yankees traded Montero and pitcher Hector Noesi, a potential candidate for the starting rotation, to Seattle for pitcher Michael Pineda and minor league pitcher Jose Campos.  I  know nothing about Campos (whether he is a high or mid level prospect or just fodder for the lower leagues).  So, this trade was clearly about Pineda, 22, who made the All-Star Team as a fill-in for Justin Verlander last year during his rookie season.  I recognized that Pineda was a quality pitcher, and I had him on a few of my fantasy baseball teams.

But still, I bought into the hype that Montero was going to be an offensive force.  I recognized that he was a liability at catcher, and that Russell Martin and Francisco Cervelli represent the best catching tandem at the moment until Austin Romine and Gary Sanchez are ready to advance.  To ask a young player to start at DH does seem to be a poor major league decision, but I was looking forward to seeing Montero star in pinstripes.  His bat would have found a good spot in the starting lineup.  Maybe a few years down the road, this trade will look great for the Yankees if Pineda wins the Cy Young or becomes the ace of the staff.  But right now, I am just shocked.  It’s not the type of move that one can embrace or create excitement among the fan base.  I truly would have preferred a short term deal to Edwin Jackson or Roy Oswalt as opposed to giving up young, quality talent.  I also liked Noesi, and knew that he was a viable candidate for the starting rotation.

At the moment, and this could change in time, I think the advantage goes to the Seattle Mariners.  I am assuming that they have the young pitching talent, to go with Noesi, to find a suitable replacement for Pineda in the rotation.  Meanwhile, they get one of the best young bats in the game today.  This takes a little heat off first baseman Justin Smoak so perhaps now he can thrive.  Right now, I rate the Yankees rotation as CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, Phil Hughes, and A.J. Burnett.  This means that Freddy Garcia is the pitcher most likely to be cut unless the Yankees can find a home for Burnett.

Maybe he missed pitching to #55…

Okay, after an off-season of solitude, Friday the 13th has just become Yankees Night.  The latest word is the Yankees have signed former Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda.  Based on recent reports, I had expected Kuroda to sign with the Boston Red Sox.  Bobby Valentine’s experience with Japanese players, in my mind, gave the Sox the clear advantage.  Regardless of what transpired and why he decided to come to New York (Russell Martin?), he’s an innings-eater and fits nicely in the back of the rotation.  So, if the news of Kuroda’s signing is accurate, I need to update my starting rotation…CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, Phil Hughes, and Kuroda (although an argument could be made for why Hughes should be at the back end of the rotation).  The wild card is Hughes, so do the Yankees keep Burnett for long relief and a potential return to the starting rotation if Hughes falters or do they simply cut their losses?  I suspect that it will be the latter with Freddy Garcia held in reserve.  I also think this virtually confirms that we’ll see Dellin Betances and/or Manny Banuelos in the starting rotation at some point during the season.

My second favorite team is my National League favorite, the Los Angeles Dodgers, so I have to say that I enjoyed the starts I saw from Kuroda in his Dodger days.  He may be older, but he’s a quality pitcher.  He’s not going to shut down the opposition but he’s going to keep you in the game.  I would have preferred Edwin Jackson if no other reason than age (and Jackson’s ability to occasionally be a very dominating pitcher).  But still, it’s hard to find fault with the Kuroda signing.  I’d rather go with Kuroda over Roy Oswalt.  I’ve got to believe that the Yankees figured out the game plan for A.J. Burnett before the events of today unfolded so it’s likely that another deal is forthcoming before pitchers and catchers head for Tampa next month.

The fingerprints of Cash or Hal?…

I always wonder on these types of days if these moves were effected by GM Brian Cashman or if Hank and Hal Steinbrenner got bored and decided to take matters into their own hands.  I am not sure that there’s a move out there that could excite me at this point, but there’s no question the Yankees have a better rotation.  My primary concern still remains a quality backup third baseman for those inevitable A-Rod absences (i.e., trips to the DL).  But now, with Montero in Seattle and Posada on the beach waiting for Old Timer’s Day, who is going to be the DH?  At the moment, it’s a DH by committee with a rotation of A-Rod, Andruw Jones, and others.  It does make one believe that there is a potential acquisition for a veteran hitter in the making.  Bring back Johnny Damon?  It’s certainly within the realm of possibility.

The sleeping giant has awakened…

I know the Yankees objective is to get under $189 million in salary by 2014, but the team is always a sleeping giant.  If the Texas Rangers can come up with $51 million just to talk to Yu Darvish, you know the Yankees are capable of so much more.  It will be interesting to see how the next few weeks unfold.  After a season of inactivity, the Hot Stove League just got warmed up for the Yankees…

–Scott

GM Cashman has total control, except when he doesn’t…

I said ‘NO’, oh, by the way, here’s a $30 million contract for you…

There is still not much to write about in the Yankees Universe.  There’s a report that Managing GM Hal Steinbrenner has talked with super agent Scott Boras about pitcher Edwin Jackson, but other than that, not much to talk about.  Given that Steinbrenner orchestrated the signing of reliever Rafael Soriano last season (much to the disagreement of GM Brian Cashman), it would be interesting to hear what Cash has to say about Jackson.  Universally, any team would be happy to sign Jackson on a short term, but a longer term deal is perceived as problematic.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out.  The Yankees need a solid #2 or #3 pitcher in addition to the current roster, but it is not worth the price of paying Jesus Montero and/or Manuel Baneulos.

Personally, I would not be opposed to Jackson in the rotation as I feel that pitching coach Larry Rothschild would be a very strong influence on the pitcher.  He certainly has the potential of being better than anything in the rotation outside of CC Sabathia.

It’s a given that the Yankees need to do something.  I think standing pat is the wrong approach.  It would most likely ensure a second or third place finish behind the Boston Red Sox and/or Tampa Bay Rays.  They need to improve the rotation.  There are too many question marks attached to Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter will be another year older.  The Yankees need a pitcher other than Sabathia that is completely capable of shutting down the opposition.  Jackson can be that guy.  I don’t like the idea of “saving your bullets” for another off-season in terms of projected free agents.  In 2013, A-Rod and Jeter will be another year older and further from their prime.  Why couldn’t have George Steinbrenner instilled this win at all costs mentality in his sons?  Okay, fiscal responsibility is a good idea, but the Yankees need to ensure that they can withstand improved Red Sox, Rays and Blue Jays squads.

Preston Baseball?…

I like the Yankees’ signing of former Los Angeles Dodgers prospect Preston Mattingly.  Granted, Donnie Baseball is one of my all-time heroes.  But I’d like to see what the Yankee coaches and instructors can do with the former first round pick.  He certainly has the pedigree to succeed.  But time will tell if he can be Ken Griffey, Jr… or Pete Rose, Jr.  His current path leans toward the latter, but he is only 24 years old.  This goes into the category of ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’.  For Preston’s sake, I hope that he succeeds in the organization that his father starred.

It was only $35.5 million…

I really feel bad for former Philadelphia Phillies closer Ryan Madson.  Once rumored to be close to a 4-year, $44 million contract with the Phillies, he signs with the Cincinnati Reds for a one year contract at $8.5 million.  He’ll close for a fraction of the money that the Yankees pay 7th inning guy Rafael Soriano.  The hope, obviously, is that liquidity will return to the closer market during the next off-season so that Madson can capture a lucrative long-term deal.  I don’t know what went wrong with his negotiations with the Phillies and what led to their acquisition of former Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, but he’ll long wonder what could have been.

We’ll give you over $50 million, but we’d really prefer to keep his salary at a couple mil…

For as much as the Texas Rangers bid for Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish, I will be very surprised if they fail to come to contract terms with Darvish returning to Japan.  But at this point in the negotiations, you have to wonder if that’s not the likely outcome.  It would be interesting to see Darvish on the open market after next season.  I wonder if that would change the Yankees interest level…

Wanted:  Snow…

It’s hard to believe that pitchers and catchers will be reporting to camp next month.  I’ve been in Minnesota all winter long hoping for snow…and being sadly disappointed.  At least the opening of baseball camps gives me something to be excited.  I am looking forward to the debut of the 2012 Yankees!  Bring it on!…

–Scott

 

Down, set, 247, 247, hike, hike…

To act or not to act…

When is the beast (i.e., the YES Network) going to start screaming, “Feed Me!”…

Okay, okay, I know…the Yankees are a strong team with or without reinforcements.  Maybe it is just the residual effect of having to depend upon Alex Rodriguez and A.J. Burnett.

Not unexpectedly, the Yankees failed to reach agreement with Japanese infielder Hiroyuki Nakajima.  Early speculation had Nakajima returning to Japan for one more year since the Yankees wouldn’t afford him the opportunity to start.  The Boston Red Sox seem like the natural fit given their need for someone with Nakajima’s talent and it doesn’t hurt that the manager can speak a little Japanese.

Just as they were not players for Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish, I don’t really expect the Yankees to pursue Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.  If the Yankees didn’t have any promising prospects it would be one thing, but the organization really likes outfield prospect Mason Williams.  It goes without saying that you can’t sustain a championship squad with $100 million players at every position.  Primarily, it is cost prohibitive, but secondly, the players quickly become less productive than their compensation (i.e., A-Rod) and you’re unable to do anything about it.  Good, cheap young talent is the way to sustain a championship squad.  That’s why Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos should both get opportunities to pitch in Yankee Stadium at some point this season.  If either could prove that he is major league ready, it would significantly strengthen the perceived weak starting rotation.

There are plenty of ‘what ifs’ with the Yankees this year, but IF Phil Hughes can show he is indeed the 18-win game winner we saw several years ago and not the notorious injury risk and IF A.J. Burnett could convert last season’s first half success into full season success, the rotation would be in great shape for supplementation by Betances and/or Banuelos.

Like many, I am anxious to see what Jesus Montero can do on a daily basis with his bat.  I am grateful the Yankees didn’t move him.  I know we’re not out of the woods yet, but if Montero starts hitting like we know he can, he’ll quickly become a fixed commodity in the Bronx.

My primary wish at this point is the return of backup third baseman Eric Chavez.  Yes, I would be in favor of a trade for Matt Garza or Matt Cain, or the free agent signing of Edwin Jackson on a short term deal, but I really think that a solid, proven replacement option for A-Rod is essential.  When A-Rod goes on the inevitable DL stint during the season, I don’t want to see his replacement with a guy that is fighting to stay above the Mendoza line.  I want a guy that is capable of changing the game, and that’s Chavez.  He might not be able to do it every day anymore, but he’s still a superior performer if used properly.  So, Brian Cashman, please talk to your owner and get this deal done.

Money for nothing and the chicks for free…

I have to admit that I am impressed with what Cubs president Theo Epstein has done so far.  To unload the pariah known as Carlos Zambrano and get a young, quality starting pitcher in Chris Volstad was genius.  I know that Andrew Cashner was a heralded pitching prospect, but I really like the move to pick up former Red Sox prospect Anthony Rizzo from the San Diego Padres for first base.  I used to think that Alfonso Soriano was untradeable, but now, if you told me that Theo had traded him for a quality return, I would believe you wholeheartedly.  I kind of feel bad for Cubs GM Jed Hoyer.  Regardless of what he does, Theo will always get credit.  San Diego GM Josh Byrnes is probably saying ‘Thanks, Dude’ every night.

What do you want to be when you grow up?…

I was a bit surprised to see Joe Torre step down from his job with Major League Baseball.  I am sure that the attraction of being a major league owner was very appealing, but it’s hardly a sure bet.  But I guess that Joe’s made his money, and he decided to gamble for the job he wanted, knowing that worst case, he is set for the rest of his life.  One thing’s for sure, if Joe’s ownership group is successful in buying the Dodgers, my longtime idol, Don Mattingly, is secure as Dodgers manager.  So, all I can say is ‘Good luck, Joe!’.

When did Arte Moreno become smarter than a fifth grader?…

I’ve been surprised to hear that the contract Albert Pujols signed with the Los Angeles Angels is so backloaded.  To pay the best player in baseball $12 million to play in 2012 is clearly the best return on investment that I’ve seen in a very long time.  Sure, in 8 years, the Angels will be paying $30 million for a past-his-prime first baseman, but by that time, he’ll have legendary records within his grasp, and will help fill seats, which of course, will pay his excess salary.  GM Jerry DiPoto is too new to give him credit, but this was a genius move by the Angels and it shows that the Cardinals were never going to pay that kind of money.

What a surprise…

It’s funny that I used the word ‘surprised’ in the last two paragraphs.  That’s not the case with the Yankees where the crickets still reign supreme…

I know, the Yankees signed former Red Sox reliever Hideki Okajima but I don’t really see him making the team if Cesar Cabral impresses in camp.  Crickets, just crickets…

–Scott

Did Santa skip Yankee Stadium this year?…

 

The Bear is sleeping…

With the Yankees in hibernation for the winter, there’s not much for us Yankee fans to talk about.  The latest speculation centers on catcher Jorge Posada and where he might end up.  Of the three teams mentioned (Rays, Phillies, and Orioles), I don’t see Jorge as a good fit.

In Tampa, he’d back up his former back up, Jose Molina.  I suppose that he could earn additional starting time by the virtue of his superior bat, but why tarnish a great Yankees legacy by playing for a key divisional rival.  Same goes for the Orioles.  I think there’s a strong chance for Jorge to get pushed aside in either organization for younger, cheaper talent.  Neither the O’s or the Rays would be beholden to Posada as he didn’t carve out a borderline Hall of Fame career in their uniforms.  As for the Phillies, it would probably be a good way for one last shot at the World Series, but the Phillies have emerged as a chief rival for the Yankees.  He wouldn’t start for the Phillies, and his pinch-hitting opportunities and DH duty in interleague play would be limited with Jim Thome on the roster.

I would still like to see Jorge go to the Miami Marlins as a best-case scenario if he decides to continue playing.  He lives in Miami, and the team is in the opposing league.  They are not a natural rival by geography, and he wouldn’t tarnish his Yankees legacy.  But as Nick Cafardo said in his Boston Globe column yesterday, “Hope Jorge Posada retires as a Yankee”.

Short-term rental looks better every day…

With the list of prospective pitchers dwindling, I am in favor of a short term signing (such as Roy Oswalt or Edwin Jackson).  The recent trades of Mat Latos to the Reds and Gio Gonzalez to the Nationals has shown that the price is sky high for young, talented pitchers.  Giving up Jesus Montero and Manuel Banuelos in any trade would be a mistake.  I am not sure if this is akin to 1995 when Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera may have been considered potential prospect trade bait, but still, I’d rather see what the future holds with Montero and Banuelos than without.  I think that either Oswalt or Jackson would be a better option than either Bartolo Colon or Freddy Garcia, and would allow the Yankees more time to work on a more equitable trade or seek potential help in the 2012 free agent market.

Strengthening your team with ex-Yankees…

I really do not want to see the Boston Red Sox weaken the Yankees’ bench by signing Andruw Jones.  The Yankees had a great fourth outfielder in 2011, and they need to make his return a priority.  This is an area that I’ve been greatly disappointed by the continued silence.  I really do not feel that Justin Maxwell, Chris Dickerson or Melky Mesa can fill Andruw’s shoes.

Just like the Los Angeles Angels crept up and became the star of the Winter Meetings (overtaking the Miami Marlins), I keep expecting the Red Sox, who have been very dormant this winter despite their acquisition of former Yankees reliever Mark Melancon, to make a big splash to improve their 2012 team for new manager Bobby Valentine.  It could be the signing of Hiroki Kuroda (whom the Yankees are also interested in) or a trade for the Cubs’ Matt Garza, but if they do improve, it will be difficult for the Yankees to adjust.

The Winter of (Y)our Discontent…

I never thought I’d feel bad for the New York Mets, but it has to be tough for their fans to watch their team move into rebuilding mode when every other team in the division has gotten better.  The Mets would appear to have a stranglehold on fifth place in their division, with no competition.  There is no great joy in watching the Mets as a defeated organization.

Don’t wake the Beast…

It’s hard to believe that pitchers and catchers report in less than two months.  Of course, I am in Minnesota and it’s sunny with an expected high today of nearly 50 degrees.  Nothing is what you expect, or I suppose you could say what it seems.  There’s a winter beast that will soon be awakened in Minnesota.  Does the same hold true for The Bronx?…

 

–Scott

Stage 1 of Operation Successful Off-Season is complete…

 

Whew…

After a season of ‘will he’ or ‘won’t he’ opt-out, CC Sabathia accepted the Yankees offer and I couldn’t be more pleased.  I am a bit concerned that CC’s weight will eventually prove to be a problem if he doesn’t get control of it, but clearly he is the Yankees best pitcher and the best hope for the next few years.

Since avoiding the opt-out only cost the Yankees $30 million (potentially $50 million if he is still at the top of his game at the end of the contract), it was clearly a bargain since they would have paid more to retain him had he hit the open market or perhaps they risked losing him altogether.  I know that CC’s decision to stay was not solely on his love for the city and organization, but I am glad that he’s a permanent Yankee with no opt-out looming on the horizon.

I was driving home from work on Monday evening when I heard the news of the signing on MLB Radio.  I had feared the worst so the news of his announcement on his website that he was staying was such an incredible relief.  I have felt that the key to a successful off-season is getting both Sabathia and GM Brian Cashman locked up before the start of the free agency period.  Mission accomplished.  I am not sure there’s much on the free agent market that can help the Yanks, but hopefully, the team will be able to make a trade or two to improve the quality of the rotation.

As good as Cash…

Speaking of Cashman, his re-signing was essential for organizational continuity.  I am not sure how long it takes a new GM to get acclimated to the job, but it would seem making your way in the Yankees Universe would take longer than usual.  I am sure that the Yanks would have looked in-house for candidates (such as Billy Eppler or Damon Oppenheimer) but the man for the job continues to be Cashman.  I am sure that he’s thought of what life would be with in a less stressful environment, but nobody is as suited for the Bronx as Cash is.  I thought it was an interesting stat that he’s been the Yankees general manager longer than anyone since Ed Barrow (1920-45).

The start of a new era…

After standing pat for the most part with last year’s roster, it will be interesting to see what the Yankees do this year.  I don’t expect them to go hog wild but they definitely need to get CC some help and they need a few clutch bats off the bench.  At some point, the Yankees will have to say goodbye to Jorge Posada who few people expect to be on the 2012 roster.  It is time for Jesus Montero to take up residence at Yankee Stadium and sadly that means there is no room for Jorge.  He will go down as a great Yankee, and he’ll be heavily cheered at future Old Timer’s Days.  My preference is for him to retire as a Yankee rather than to try and hang on for another year or so with another team.

Despite the Yankees decision to pick up his option, the odds of Nick Swisher still have to be mixed at best.  If the Yankees can pick up a better player for right, I am sure that they’d do it.  Swish’s personality would be missed but if he could be used, in part, to bring a frontline pitcher to New York, I’d be in favor of it.

Rafael Soriano decided against exercising his opt-out?  Big surprise…  L

You win some, you lose some…

I was disappointed to see the failure of Project Andrew Brackman.  When Brackman was drafted, it was clear the Yankees had been able to get him at the spot they drafted because Brackman needed Tommy John surgery.  I had really hoped that the pick would pay off and that Brackman would eventually be the top pitcher his potential screamed.  Sadly, it was never meant to be…at least in New York…as the Yankees declined his option, making the 25-year-old a free agent.

There are other teams besides the Yankees?…

I was shocked when I heard that the St. Louis Cardinals might have interest in Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon as a replacement for Tony LaRussa.  There’s no doubt that he’d be a great fit, but I just cannot see Tampa allowing Maddon to leave.  He has been great for the city and the team…much to my chagrin and to the dismay of my friends in Boston.  But I wouldn’t lose any sleep if Maddon does manage to get out of Tampa to take the Cardinals job.

I would really hate to see the Boston Red Sox get Michael Cuddyer…

–Scott

Time to look to October…

The 2011 AL East Division Champions…

 

Most importantly, congratulations to the New York Yankees for their AL East Division Championship.  They should have been AL East Champions last season but stumbled in the final days of the season to allow them to be eclipsed by the Tampa Bay Rays.  So, fortunately, the Yankees have returned to their rightful throne!  Well, at least for September.  Come October, nothing less than a World Series Championship is acceptable!

 

So, I was only half right…

 

Admittedly, I am surprised the way this season has played out.  At the beginning of the season, I had picked the Boston Red Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies as the World Series participants.  The Phillies still look like the odds-on favorite at this point given their stellar starting pitching, but the Red Sox have faded oh so quickly.  I remember listening to Sox fans who were predicting at least 114 wins or more for their revamped Red Sox, and while I openly scoffed at the notion, there was a part of me that was concerned that the Red Sox did have the necessary personnel to pull off a magical season.  The chances for the magical season faded quickly when pitcher Clay Buchholz was lost for the season, but the Red Sox had charged back after a sluggish start and were in the thick of things at the end of August.  Up to that point, the Red Sox had played the Yankees very aggressively with a significant advantage in the season series.  They showed they had the offense to destroy virtually any pitcher on any given night, and there is no doubt that Adrian Gonzalez is perfectly suited for Fenway Park.  But sadly for the Sox, the calendar turned to September and the deteriorated pitching staff started to show the stress and strain of the long season.  Still, I didn’t expect the free fall that has currently left the Sox tied with the Tampa Bay Rays for the Wild Card slot, while the Yankees have wrapped up the division championship and best record in the AL.  I never dreamed that the Yankees would be in position to walk to the finish line.

 

Pitching, pitching, pitching…

 

My lack of faith in the Yankees at the beginning of the season was due primarily to the pitching staff.  I was concerned about A.J. Burnett and his ability to bounce back from a disastrous season (and rightfully so).  I did not think the Yankees could replace Andy Pettitte with two scrapheap pitchers in Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon.  Plus, the Yankees were placing much emphasis on Phil Hughes who, despite his 18-win season, had not proven that he was a reliable and dependable starter.  Rounding out the rotation was a rookie pitcher (Ivan Nova), who had not even been mentioned in the same breath with Yankees prospects Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances.   With CC Sabathia followed by a cast of characters, I did not see how the Yankees could compete with the Red Sox and felt that the Wild Card was the team’s best hope.  Now, I am very delighted that I was wrong.  While Burnett and Hughes have been disappointments, Ivan Nova has been huge and is now the second best pitcher in the rotation.  Garcia and Colon have been terrific even if Colon seems to be wearing down at this point in the season.  Garcia is definitely a play-off caliber starting pitcher.  If the Yanks go with a four man rotation, then the 4th man should be Burnett.  But he’ll have a very short leash with Colon and Hughes potentially in the bullpen.

 

Don’t play Poker with Brian Cashman…

 

If I had been the GM, I am sure that I would have made some impulsive and regrettable move at the trading deadline.  GM Brian Cashman, on the other hand, stood pat and played with the hand he was dealt.  In retrospect, he looks like a hero (which includes his anti-Rafael Soriano stance in the spring).  I hope the Yankees do whatever it takes to ensure Cash’s return to the Bronx.  I am sure that there would be significantly less stress in Chicago with the Cubs or some other major league team, but nobody understands New York better than Cash.  I definitely think the Steinbrenners need Cashman more than he needs them.  Hopefully, they’ll recognize it and make sure that Cashman is re-signed.

 

Passing of the Guard…

 

If the Yankees have learned anything in September (aside from the importance of quality starting pitching in watching the Sox freefall), it’s that Jesus Montero is ready for The Show.  This does not bode well for Jorge Posada who is most likely playing his final year in Yankee pinstripes.  If he continues his career season, it will be tough to see him play in different team colors.  My only request would be for him not to go to Boston or Tampa.  It’s always tough to see players cross those lines, and if it were me, I’d retain the respect for the Yankees and walk away from the AL East.

 

He surprised me yet again…

 

Count me as one of the skeptics in Ozzie Guillen’s decision to orchestrate his departure from the Chicago White Sox so that he could join the Florida Marlins.  While I realize that Guillen will sell tickets in Miami, I don’t see it as a good fit with ownership.  I am still not quite sure how someone could have issues with Joe Girardi, but fortunately, Miami did and he’s the highly successful manager of the Yankees.  But Joe is far less out-spoken than Guillen, so if Joe’s comments got him into trouble, what’s going to happen with Guillen who always openly and freely speaks whatever is on his mind.  I had always heard that White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf loved Ozzie like a son, so there’s no way the relationship in Miami will be anything comparable.  His on the field performance had better outweigh the baggage that comes with Ozzie as your manager.  He may regret taking the money and running…

 

Two game sabbatical from ‘Red Sox Suck!’…

 

With the Red Sox and Rays tied for the Wild Card tonight, I’ll have to go with the Red Sox as my preferred team to advance.  I don’t think the Sox will be the easier opponent in the play-offs but that doesn’t concern me.  I’ve always believed that you have to ‘beat the best to be the best’.  This comes down to respect and I simply respect the Red Sox more…

 

–Scott

Land of 2 Seasons: Winter is coming, Winter is here…

I don’t have a beret to throw in the air…

I am finally living in an American League city once again.  Today is my first day as a resident of the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Somehow, recent years have found me in National League cities, which is tough as an American League fan.  Nevertheless, I persevered and now reside in a city that houses good baseball tradition.  In fact, from my living room window, I can see the lights of Target Field.  Sweet!  Of course, I will never be able to admit that I am a Yankees fan in public given the bad blood between the Yankees and Twins.  I’d probably have better luck wearing a Sox cap…

 

Target Field

 

I am looking forward to learning about my new city, and I am excited about the opportunity and potential the area provides.  Yes, I’ll have to get used to winters again, but after living in areas where winter meant a 20 or 30 degree dip in average temps, I am looking forward to true changes of seasons.  Growing up in the Midwest, I never complained about snowfall and it was always one of my favorite enjoyments.  The only issue I have with winter is ice.  Outside of that, I can deal with the cold temps and the white, frosty surroundings.

Oddly, as a lifelong Minnesota Vikings fan, this will be the first time that I’ve been surrounded by Vikings fans.  Admittedly, that’s going to be very strange.  Growing up in southeast Iowa, Vikings fans were mixed among fans of the Bears, Packers, Chiefs, and the then St. Louis football Cardinals with the Bears as perhaps the predominate favorite.  I’ve seen the Vikings play in person over the years, but they’ve always been road games.  I never made it to the old Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington nor have I been to the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis.  That’s obviously going to change, but admittedly, it will be strange seeing everyone around me wearing purple and gold.

I am glad to be in Minnesota, and I am looking forward to a very long stay.  And, no, I am not suddenly going to become a fan of Carl Pavano…

 

Fundamentals, is it really that hard?…

I was very disappointed to see the Yankees lose a close game to the Tampa Bay Rays last night due to errors.  When you are playing one of your key rivals, anything less than your best is unacceptable.  The Yankees had a chance to bury the Rays and couldn’t do it.  While the Boston Red Sox are running away with the AL East, the Yankees need to make sure that they put distance between themselves and the other wild card challengers like the Rays.  Losing a game because you are outplayed is one thing, but to lose a game because of your own incompetence is wrong.  The Rays had encountered a tough stretch of games with the 16 inning loss to the Red Sox, followed by the baseloaded walk loss to the Yankees.  Another loss last night could have started driving a stake in the heart of the Rays.  But the Yankees allowed the Rays to resume their Wild Card drive, and last year those types of games allowed the Rays to best the Yanks in the East.

 

Mike Carlson/AP

 

The Rays clearly have the superior pitching rotation, but the Yankees are the offensive club…even with Alex Rodriguez on the DL.  With the series tied after two games with two to play, the Yankees have to ensure that they leave St. Petersburg with no less than a split.

 

The price of an ace…

The trade rumors involving the Colorado Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez are great, but I am hesitant given the high cost that would be involved.  I get that Jimenez is young (27) and has a very affordable contract for the next few years, but giving up Manny Banuelos and Jesus Montero (and others) seems like such a high price to pay.  I like Jimenez and his road splits away from Coors Field are ridiculous, but I simply cannot condone giving away the farm to bring him to the Bronx.  That’s tough because who really knows if Banuelos and Montero will be genuine stars.  The cool demeanor of Banuelos seems like a perfect play in Yankee Stadium, and I do really believe that he is destined for greatness.  I also recognize that if CC Sabathia opts out of his contract and signs elsewhere this off-season, the Yankees will be lacking an ace.  Nevertheless, I do not think the Yankees should make the Jimenez trade unless the price is right.  Given the completion for the pitcher, I just don’t think that will happen.  The best deal for the Yankees would be one that no one is talking about.  Once the talk goes public, there is too much potential for other teams, like the Red Sox, to muck things up for no other reason than to drive up the price it would cost the Yankees.

 

Rockies starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez

 

When the Red Sox acquired Josh Beckett from the Florida Marlins, there was not much speculation ahead of the trade.  The Yankees need that same stealth like approach to their next major acquisition.

 

And the young respond…

 

I am glad to see some of the guys from the Yankees farm system get their opportunity.  Guys like Brandon Laird, who was called up when Ramiro Pena went on the DL, and pitcher Steve Garrison.  I’ve really wanted to see what Laird could do in a platoon situation with Eduardo Nunez at third so now is his chance.

Yes, I thank my lucky stars every night for David Robertson…

 

POSTSEASON WINNER: David Robertson's two postseason victories have not only added big-game experience for young relief pitcher, but also have given the Yankees confidence in him.

Charles Wenzelberg/NY Daily News

 

Mutual respect…

I was listening to MLB Radio this week and I heard a Red Sox fan give kudos to Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera.  I was glad to hear those types of comments because I hold a similar high respect for certain Red Sox players like Dustin Pedroia and Jon Lester.  It seems so un-Yankee like to respect a Sox player, but Pedey and Lester play the game the way it is supposed to be played.  There’s no way that I could ever root against those guys.  If I was a team owner, they would be among the first players that I would want to acquire for my team.

 

Dustin Pedroia Of The Red Sox

 

You have to go back to the 1920’s?  Really?

The Cleveland Indians and Pittsburgh Pirates in first place?  I can’t believe how much media attention that has gotten.  I do not expect either team to be a factor come October, but it’s nice to see their fans having reason to cheer this late in the season.   I enjoyed the early 1990’s when the Pirates were a factor in the play-offs every year.  After years of trading stars for prospects, it is nice to see the team thriving on those prospects.  But much of the credit has to go to first year manager Clint Hurdle.  Similarly, the Tribe’s success has to be attributed to Manny Acta.  Both men know how to get the most out of their guys.  It is very refreshing to see.  Nevertheless, I still do not see anything that’s going to derail a Boston Red Sox-Philadelphia Phillies World Series.

 

Matt Freed/Post-Gazette

 

Yes, I am finally home…

“…You can have a town, why don’t you take it.   You’re gonna make it after all.”  I finally get what Mary Tyler Moore was saying after all these years…

 

 

–Scott

 

Yes, it’s always fun beating Buck Showalter…


This weekend’s abbreviated
two-game series against the Baltimore Orioles was a positive despite the
postponement of one game that will cause its share of challenges later in the
year. 


Yankees ace CC Sabathia picks up his first win of the season as Russell Martin (below) crushes two home runs. Jorge Posada, Alex Rodriguez and Brett Gardner also homered.

Gail Burton/AP


Saturday featured a great performance
by CC Sabathia, along with a
plethora of hits and home runs for the Yanks, while Sunday saw the Yanks pull
out a game that they could have lost when Mariano
Rivera
blew his second straight save opportunity.  I am not concerned about Mo, as he has had
short stretches like this during the season in recent years. 

Sunday saw a great hitting
performance by the ‘written off for dead’ Derek
Jeter
, who went 4-for-6 with a run scored and a RBI to raise his batting
average to .257.  I agree that it’s too
soon to write Jeter’s obituary, just like it is too soon to start questioning
if Mo is losing it.  But still, I have
the right to ask.  Is it time for Jorge Posada to call it a career?  I know it’s still early, but a .153 batting
average is abysmal.  Let’s hope that he
turns it around like David Ortiz
always seems to do for the Red Sox…

Congratulations to Freddy Garcia for another six inning
shut-out!  Also, after wondering if the
Yankees made a huge mistake in unloading Ian
Kennedy
, Phil Coke and Austin Jackson to acquire Curtis Granderson for most of last
season, I am a fan of the Grandy Man!  He
hit his 7th home run of this young season, and could be on track for
30+.  He has definitely gained a comfort
zone in pinstripes.

Saturday’s hero, aside from
the great job by CC Sabathia, was
catcher Russell Martin.  We are not out of April and he already has
one more home run than last season, and needs just one more to tie his total for
2009.  Combined with good health, the
change of scenery has been very good for Martin.  I am looking forward to Francisco Cervelli‘s return so that he can start spelling Martin on
occasion, but I am glad that GM Brian
Cashman
had the foresight to sign Martin rather than go with the untested Jesus Montero.  Montero’s time will come but it was obvious
that his time is not now.  Martin has
been very instrumental in the Yankees’ strong start, especially when you
consider how sluggish the team has performed the last few Aprils.  I don’t want to criticize Posada, but I like
the way Martin has meshed with the pitching rotation.

I hope everyone had a very
Happy Easter today.  Easter time with the
family definitely brings back great memories…


–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

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