Results tagged ‘ Jesus Montero ’

A Newfound Respect and Appreciation for Levine…


I have to admit that I have never really taken the time to know or understand Yankees president Randy Levine.  I took a dislike to him without really giving him a chance to prove himself.  I don’t know if it was something he said or a certain look that he gave during a press conference or if I really had any reason at all.  But within the last couple of weeks, I have gained a newfound appreciation and respect for Levine.  A week or so ago, I was reading a column by one of the Yankees beat writers (I don’t recall which one) and it referenced that the writer had bumped into Levine and he made a comment about how easy and comfortable it is to talk with Levine.  Somehow, I had expected him to be “standoffish” and arrogant.  But today, when he stood up to Rangers owner Chuck Greenberg, he showed that he is the right man for the job.  


Greenberg recently commented about how his second visit to Cliff Lee in Arkansas distracted the pitcher who had seemed destined to sign with New York.  The distraction gave the Phillies enough time to slip in and seal the deal to return Lee to Philly.  In response, Levine called Greenberg “delusional” and made a comment about how he has been an owner for a few minutes and seems to know what everyone is thinking.  The comment about how he’d be impressed if the Rangers could get off “welfare” for three consecutive years was classic.  The Yankees subsidize the Rangers existence, but for whatever reason, Greenberg feels the need to bite the hand that feeds him.  Levine’s comments were very appropriate and I applaud him for the great defense of the Yankees and its fans.  

The funny thing about the spat with the Rangers is the ongoing flow of “love” the Yankees seem to say about the Boston Red Sox organization.  The most recent was Brian Cashman saying that the Red Sox had the best team.  Of course, in his classy and professional way, Red Sox manager Terry Francona said that the comments won’t give them any extra runs or help them win a lot of games.  I can’t believe that I despise the Rangers more than I do the Red Sox right now, but then again, it’s only January 28th so I’m sure that I’ll get my “Red Sox Hater” cap on between now and Opening Day…

Recent comments make me believe that Freddy Garcia wants to be a Yankee.  I am not sure if the team has the same interest, but I’d be happy to see them take a flier on Garcia or Tigers free pitcher Jeremy Bonderman.  The latter would be very ironic considering that the Yankees played a part in his trade from the Oakland A’s to Detroit in the deal that brought Jeff Weaver to New York.  Either Garcia or Bonderman would be an upgrade to either Bartolo Colon or Sergio Mitre.

I am happy that the recent news about Andy Pettitte’s possible return has been positive but c’mon, let’s have the news of the decision.  Please don’t let me know the groundhog before Andy announces whether or not he is going to retire!

I am glad the Yankees signed Russell Martin and I am looking forward to seeing if he can restore his promise in New York, but I’d have to say that I am starting to get excited about the impending arrival of Jesus Montero and his bat.  I know that Montero’s emergence will probably mean the end of Jorge Posada’s career with the Yankees but it is getting close to baton time.

–Scott

Another Yankee Killer on the verge of Pinstripes…

The morning started with word that the Yankees were nearing a deal with outfielder Andruw Jones, but there have been no further updates.  I am sure the Yankees are actively working on their arbitration eligible players like Phil Hughes so that’s probably a bit of a distraction.  Nevertheless, I like the idea of signing Jones as the Yankees fourth outfielder.  He is not the player he once was, but the last two years he has averaged 280 at-bats and 18 home runs.  Not bad for a bench/role player…
AP/Jeff Chiu
With Marcus Thames apparently on the verge of signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers, I think Jones is a better version of Thames…well, at least one that can play the field.  I’ve wanted the Yankees to sign Jones the last two years but he signed with Texas in 2009 and the White Sox in 2010.  Perhaps the time is now for Jones to finally land in the Bronx.  
Andruw Jones watches his three-run home run in the third inning of Game 1 of the World Series against the New York Yankees in New York, in this Oct. 20, 1996 file photo. At right is Yankees catcher Jim Leyritz. The Atlanta Braves are cutting ties with  Jones, saying they can't afford to keep the perennial Gold Glove center fielder who's spent his entire career with the organization.
AP
I liked the Washington Nationals move to acquire Chicago Cubs starter Tom Gorzelanny today.  They paid a potentially hefty price, but Gorzelanny is a solid addition to the Washington rotation.  Only 28, he is the type of pitcher that I’d like to see the Yankees pursue for the hole(s) in their rotation.  I am not saying the Yankees should have pursue Gorzelanny, but I like the idea of pursuing a late 20′s pitcher that has not reached his potential.  I know, it’s chasing lightning in a bottle, but it would be great to accurately catch a pitcher on the verge on his breakout season.  
I was disappointed to see Jeff Francis sign with the Kansas City Royals but I can certainly understand his logic of pursuing an opportunity that should guarantee a spot in the rotation while playing with less pressure than say New York or Boston.   He has a chance to restore the promise he showed a few years ago with Colorado.  
When I think about who the Yankees should acquire, all roads keep leading back to Cleveland starter Fausto Carmona.  With CC Sabathia as Carmona’s mentor once again, I like the possibility and the promise that Carmona could bring to the rotation.  It’s certainly a better prospect than Sergio Mitre.  Ivan Nova is going to be a question mark going into the season.  The Yankees don’t need two question marks…
Chuck Crow/The Plain Dealer
I am prepared to see reliever Joba Chamberlain go in a trade for a starting pitcher.  The Yankees have a few pitching hopefuls that could potentially fill Joba’s role in the bullpen now that the Yankees have signed closing/setup specialist Rafael Soriano.  I know that he still has the chance to experience great success in the big leagues but I am starting to realize that he probably won’t be able to realize that potential in the Bronx.  More than likely, the Yankees would have to part with one of their catching prospects in any trade.  At this point, I am most fearful about losing Gary Sanchez even though he is not as advanced as Jesus Montero or Austin Romine.  Sanchez has the chance to be the best of the group.  There’s no doubt that Montero will be a great hitter, but questions remain about his defense.  Sanchez may not be the hitter that Montero is, but he appears to be a more complete player.  
Somehow, I think manager Joe Girardi is going to have a very fun time trying to decide what pitcher to bring in from the bullpen.  He’s going to have some options for almost any situation.  It sure beats the days of Jose Veras or Kyle Farnsworth.
To go a bit off topic, I was glad/relieved to see the retirement of QB Brett Favre today.  Hopefully, and finally, he’ll stay retired.  He should start looking into life-after-football opportunities.  If he decides to come back to play again, I definitely hope that his days in purple are over.  I don’t know who will be the 2011 Quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings, but at this point, I’d take Joe Webb over Favre any day.  I don’t want to see someone like Donovan McNabb come to Minnesota but hopefully the Vikings can find a solid QB option to allow Webb (and perhaps another young QB like Cam Newton) to grow and develop.
TSN.ca
Note to the St. Louis Cardinals:  Please do whatever takes to make Albert Pujols a lifetime Cardinal!
AP
Note to the Chicago Cubs:  I know you’re quietly building a play-off contending club, but I see what you’re doing!  Let the Cincinnati Reds and the Milwaukee Brewers get all the pre-season championship accolades.  The Cubs are shaping up as a clear surprise player for 2011.  GM Jim Hendry has to be congratulated for the moves that he’s made this off-season.
AP/David Kohl
–Scott
  

Martin to New York!…


Ah, there was a time when those words were such sweet
music to the ears!…



Granted, it was probably more like “Martin’s Back!” but
still, the name Martin and the city of New York is a great match.  The latest Martin to set foot on Broadway is
former Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Russell Martin.  In theory, he has been groomed for this
opportunity by the best…former Dodgers manager Joe Torre and former Dodgers hitting
instructor (now Dodgers manager) Don Mattingly. 
While he still has to pass a physical, Martin has apparently signed a
one-year contract with the Yanks.


russell-martin.jpg

Larry Goren/Icon SMI


Martin was one of the top catchers in the NL several
years ago but has regressed.  He suffered
a torn labrum in his right hip last August and missed the remainder of the
season.  I will be anxious to see what
Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long can do with Martin.  More than likely, Martin will be part of a
catching platoon with Jesus Montero, assuming the latter proves that he is
major league ready in spring training. 


NY Daily News


Martin will probably be the only guy on the roster with a
name this long:  Russell Nathan Jeanson
Coltrane Martin, Jr.
 Martin, born in East York, Ontario, will be 28
by the time the spring training games begin in February.

I like the move for Martin so long as it is not designed
to replace Montero so he can be used as a trading chip. 



It was disappointing to see Cliff Lee decide to return to
Philadelphia on a 5-year deal for less money than he was offered by the
Yankees.  I can’t blame Lee for choosing
a place that he is comfortable with, but I wish that he would have given New
York a chance.  I grew rather pessimistic
about the Yankees chances last week when the Lee camp did not jump on the
Yankees 7 year offer.  Like many, I
thought that he was headed back to the Texas Rangers so it was a bit of a shock
to hear that the mystery team was the Phillies.


AP  


All things considered, if Lee wasn’t going to go to New
York, I am glad to see him depart for the National League.  I am not excited about a rotation that
features Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels and now Cliff Lee, but that’s
only a concern if you make it to the World Series as an American League team
(nice problem to have).  The Rangers fans
are glad they didn’t lose out to the Yankees, but conversely, I am glad that
the Rangers and Nolan Ryan didn’t get one over on the Yanks.  Also, I am glad that Lee didn’t go to the
Angels or the Red Sox. 



As it stands, the Red Sox have enjoyed a hugely
successful off-season compared to the Yanks, but I would not underestimate
Brian Cashman and the Steinbrenner family. 
As for immediate focus, I think the Yanks need to make sure that they
have the arms in the bullpen and I’d really like to see the return of Kerry
Wood.  Of the remaining free agents,
there aren’t many that excite me.  Manny
Ramirez is still out there but he’s a liability in the field and the Yankees
have the DH role locked up with Jorge Posada.  
Manny’s bat is also not what it used to be and the Yankees don’t need
more ‘late thirtysomethings’ on the roster. 

I’d have to say that I am mixed on whether the Yankees
should pursue a trade with the Kansas City Royals for starter Zack
Greinke.  However, there will be
competition which of course drives up the trade demands so I am not sure that
avenue is the best given the uncertainty over whether Greinke could handle New
York (assuming he was willing to waive his no-trade clause to the Yankees).  I’d probably prefer signing Brandon Webb or
pursuing Mark Buehrle in a trade.  The
Yankees do have to do something about their starting rotation regardless of
whether Andy Pettitte returns or not. 
Right now the #4 and #5 starters appear to be Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre
based on the current roster which is not very appealing.  I am willing to give Nova a shot but if the
Yankees break camp with Mitre as their 5th starter, it’s going to be
a long season.


Chris Sweda/MCT


Why is it that Red Sox fans think the rivalry between the
Yankees and Red Sox is over on December 14th just because they didn’t
sign Cliff Lee?  As Brian Cashman
indicated on a conference call earlier today, patience is the key.  Somehow, I suspect the team that breaks camp
next spring will be able to compete with the newly enhanced Red Sox…



Congratulations to Hideki Matsui who signed a one year
deal with the Oakland Athletics.  As a
resident of the Bay Area, I am sure that Godzilla will be well received and he’ll
be a great stabilizing factor in the A’s lineup.  



–Scott


Building for the Prime Directive…

 

I fully expect the Yankees to re-sign Derek Jeter…



There has been much speculation about DJ’s next deal and
if the Yankees would truly let #2 walk away or if they could afford to from a
historical perspective.  It is not
outside of the realm of possibility for the Yankees to decide they’d be better
off putting the dollars in a younger talent. 
However, I really do not expect that to happen. 

I do think that it is important to see DJ record his
3,000th hit in pinstripes, although I agree if his play continues to
erode in 2011, it will be time to begin the search for his long-term
replacement.  Frankly, I don’t think he
is done and I fully expect a few more strong seasons of play before the sunset
begins.  Granted, they may not be
All-Star caliber but DJ can still man short on a championship squad.  But obviously they’ll need a strong back-up
when training camp breaks next Spring.

Hopefully, Derek’s deal will include a role with the
organization when his playing days are over. 
I do not know what he intends to do in his post-playing days but he is a
face of the organization and the continued association between the two parties
is mutually beneficial for all.

Here’s hoping the Yankees can come up with a creative
contract that entices DJ to finish his career with the Yankees while not
causing the Yankees to seek improvements in other areas due to financial
constraints.  Life under Hal Steinbrenner
is different than life under George, and the Yankees won’t throw dollars at a
player simply because they can like they did in the old days. 


Derek Jeter


As for the Cliff Lee chase, I am not sure what I
think.  As much as I would like Cliff on
the Yankees, I definitely do not underestimate the Texas Rangers.  When you read about Cliff Lee and his
Arkansas roots, it is clear that he is not a “me-first” kind of guy.  On one hand, playing in Texas would be good
for him due to its close proximity to his home. 
But conversely, if he signs a big deal with the Rangers, he will be THE
GUY in Texas.  Success and failure will
be attributed to him.  Whereas, signing
in New York, although he’d be on baseball’s biggest stage, he’d line up as the
#2 starter behind CC Sabathia.  So, there
would actually be less pressure in New York, as hard as that is to
believe. 


cliff-lee-free-agent-pitcher-1110.jpg.JPG

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images


The Yankees clearly need to improve their starting
rotation if they intend to succeed next season. 
I expect CC to come back strong, but after that, the rotation is a
question mark.  Phil Hughes has to take
it to the next level so the new pitching coach, whenever he is announced, will
have two major projects in Hughes and A.J. Burnett.  I read the comments made by Andy Pettitte
where he said that he hasn’t decided yet and is enjoying being home in Deer
Park, Texas right now.  He went on to say
that if he does play, it will only be for one more season and only for the
Yankees.  At this point, I do think he’ll
come back for that final season.  But if
not, I am prepared to accept Ivan Nova as the #5 starter.  So this winter, the key is clearly coming up
with an ace to team with Sabathia. 

From the sounds of it, the next pitching coach is the
current highest priority.  Bullpen coach
Mike Harkey, Triple A pitching instructor Scott Aldred and former Yankees
pitcher Gil Patterson have been mentioned. 
I am probably leaning toward Patterson, who is currently a pitching
coordinator in the Oakland A’s organization. 
Nevertheless, I certainly would not be displeased to see Harkey get the
job.  I don’t know much about Aldred but
I am sure that GM Brian Cashman and Manager Joe Girardi will make the right
choice.  Maybe they consider hiring two…one
exclusively for A.J. Burnett! 



At this point in his career, I’d probably prefer to see
the Yankees sign Mariano to a short-term deal. 
He showed no effects of age last season, but the day will come when he
no longer has it.  Ask Trevor
Hoffman.  It would be sad seeing Mo
bounce around with a few teams at the end of his career.  I’d prefer to see him step away on his own
terms when the time comes.  Until then, I
do hope that it is in pinstripes.


Bill Kostroun/AP


I am completely in favor of the Yankees plan to move
Jorge Posada to full-time DH.  I think he
still has a productive bat that can be enhanced by avoiding the rigors of
catching.  Plus, it is time to see what
Jesus Montero and Austin Romine can do.


AP


It will be interesting to see what the Yankees do with
the bullpen.  Now that Kerry Wood has
been cut loose and will most likely sign a deal to be a closer elsewhere, the
Yankees need to ensure that they have choices in training camp for the bridge
to Mo (beyond Joba Chamberlain and other in house options like David
Robertson).  Both are certainly capable
pitchers and I’d like to see one of them step forward in training camp.  But there definitely needs to be a safety
net, plus an option for a back-up closer given Mo’s age.

This will be a critical off-season for the Yankees.  The moves they make with Jeter, Rivera and
Posada have to be made with the future in mind. 
Plus, they need to give the team a starting rotation that can shut down
hot hitters in October (unlike this past season).  But getting to October will be
challenging.  A healthy Boston team has
to be viewed as the favorite.  GM Theo
Epstein has already been active in picking up former Florida Marlins pitcher
Andrew Miller.  A former top draft pick,
Miller hasn’t succeeded yet, but he is still young enough to achieve his
potential.  The Tampa Bay Rays should be competitive
but they are a bit of a wild card until we have an idea of what their 2011 team
will look like.  I fully expect improved
play from the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles, both teams with quality
managers and strong young talent.  I have
no doubt that Brian Cashman will continue racking up frequent flyer miles and
hotel award points as he looks to improve the 2011 squad…



But considering that he is the general manager of the New York Yankees, Brian knows the score.  The moves he makes now must ensure success in October 2011.  Nothing else matters.



–Scott

  

 

 

The Return of #28…

 

I am glad that the Yankees moved quickly to re-sign
Manager Joe Girardi.  It’s not like
Girardi was going anywhere, but the team has much greater things to be
concerned about than negotiating with Girardi. 
Once the Chicago Cubs named Mike Quade as their permanent manager, there
was really no question that Girardi would be back in New York.  Of course, to listen to Girardi, Chicago was
never an option, but I have to believe at some level it was.



 


From everything I’ve read, Girardi was more like
the 2008 version in September than the 2009 version that was more relaxed and a
better players manager.  Was it
uncertainty about his own future or the sluggish play of his team?  Who knows, but whatever the cause, Girardi
has the comfort of knowing he should be able to call Yankee Stadium home for
the next 3 years. 



 

For me, I had held a glimmer of hope that somehow
Don Mattingly could get the job but of course that was nixed the moment the Los
Angeles Dodgers made Donnie Baseball their manager following the departure of
Joe Torre.  Outside of Mattingly, there
really was no other manager that I would have preferred to see hold the Yankees
job than Girardi.  Well, maybe Terry
Francona, but rumor has it that he already has a job.

 

2011 will be a very challenging year for the
Yankees.  They have an albatross or two
to deal with.  It’s tough to sink over
$80 million into a pitcher that was a nightmare for most of the season (A.J.
Burnett).  I saw a recent fan poll that
actually showed Yankee fans would prefer Javier Vazquez over Burnett.  That’s bad. 
The first order of business for the new pitching coach, whenever he is
named, will be to restore Burnett to the pitcher he is capable of being.  Also, decisions have to be made regarding the
Core, primarily Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada. 
Assuming DJ re-signs with the Yanks, he’ll continue to play at short but
will he lead off?  Based on comments at
Girardi’s press conference, it would appear that this is being heavily
reconsidered (and rightfully so).  As
Posada, the time is clearly now to move on to the next great Yankees catcher,
Jesus Montero. 


Jesus Montero Yankees catcher spring training

Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger

 

There are many hard decisions to be made between
now and spring training so hopefully Girardi and GM Brian Cashman are prepared
to make the right decisions for the best interests of the 2011 New York
Yankees.

 

So far, the World Series has been all San Francisco
Giants.  It was clear they had superior
pitching in the NLCS but I’ve been pleasantly surprised at their play in the
first two games.  I’ve always been a fan
of Matt Cain and he certainly has raised his game to a higher level during this
post-season.  With a 2 games to none
lead, the series now shifts to Arlington, Texas.  I am sure that we’ll see a much different
Rangers team in their home park, but if the Giants can win a game or two on the
road, I really like their chances to win the World Series. 



 


I spent 14 years in Dallas and used to go to
Arlington to watch the Rangers play quite often.  You’d think that I would pull for the Rangers
but as an American League fan, it is hard to pull for anyone other than the
Yankees.  Plus, many of the times that I’d
go to Arlington, it was to see the Yankees so I was consistently cheering
against the Rangers.  Meanwhile, I’ve
always been a fan of the Giants in the National League even though I didn’t
move to the Bay Area until about 5 years ago. 
So, given my current geographic location, it wasn’t hard to pull for the
Giants. 



 


Finally, I just don’t think there is any way that
Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress pulls the plug on Brett Favre’s
consecutive games playing streak this Sunday against the New England
Patriots.  While the best decision is to
probably start Tavaris Jackson, it’s a no-win situation for Childress if he
pulls Favre.  So, win or lose, expect to
see #4 on the field when the Vikings take the ball. 



Tom Olmscheid/AP


As for the Vikings-Patriots game, I have made yet
another wager with Julia of Julia’s Rants. 
The loser of the game must write a blog about the highlights of the opposing
team’s history.  I know, the Patriots
have a more illustrious history than the Vikings, but I personally will like
reading about Joe Kapp, Fran Tarkenton and the others who made the Vikes such a
great success in the late 60′s and 70′s. 



Zuma Press

 

I know, I still owe Julia for another lost wager at
the end of the baseball season.  I will
try to make good this weekend.



Caffalo/NY Daily News

 


Finally, here is a great video of an awesome Giants fan who just can’t stop believin’…



Hey Joe, Here’s the Answer…Phil Hughes!…

 

So much has been written about the vacancy in the Yankees’ starting rotation, but I still think it’s Phil Hughes’ job to lose…

 

 


No Vacancy.JPG
 

 

 

The competition has been tough.  The early leaders were Alfredo Aceves and Sergio Mitre, thanks to their consistently solid performances.  However, in my mind, it’s always been Hughes.  Aceves could go the entire spring without allowing an earned run and I’d still be behind Hughes for the 5th spot in the rotation.  Aceves, for the record, was blasted for 5 runs in 4+ innings today in an 8-6 loss to the Houston Astros.

 

 

Keivom/NY Daily News

 

I know the Yankees invested much time trying to make Joba Chamberlain a starter.  The “Joba Rules” date back to the Joe Torre era as the Yankees tried, albeit very cautiously, to build up Joba’s arm strength and stamina for 200 innings plus per season.  But the truth is Joba is ideally suited for the bullpen.  His make-up, demeanor, and approach is much more aggressive in a defined relief role.  He has looked uncomfortable and at times lost as a starter.

 

 

AP

 

My preference is for Aceves to resume his long relief role, Joba to set up Mariano Rivera (and spelling him on occasion), and Gaudin find his niche in the bullpen.  Sergio Mitre has pitched well, but I’d try to trade him for a young prospect.

 

 

William Perlman/The Star Ledger

 

 

When making the decision for who will be the starter, you really have to project who has the best chance for long-term success.  Regardless of who pitches the best in March, the winner needs to be someone who can give the Yankees the best chance for October success.  The answer is obvious…Hughes.

 

 

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

 

Curtis Granderson was hit on the right hand in Friday night’s game, but it sounds like he’ll be fine and should be back in the lineup on Sunday.  It’ll be just in time to see Phil Hughes nail the final spot in the starting rotation.

 

 

grandy_julian_h_gonzalez_mcclatchy.JPG

Julian H. Gonzalez/McClatchy

 

The talks of the Yanks’ interest in Joe Mauer reminds me of the talk we’ve heard in the past about the Yankees getting Carlos Beltran, Roy Halladay, Johan Santana, Matt Holliday, Aroldis Chapman et al.  All smoke and no fire.  As great as Mauer is, the Yankees do not need an injury risk at the catching position.  I still think that Mauer will eventually land with the Boston Red Sox if the Minnesota Twins don’t re-sign him.  Perhaps it will be a great move for the Sox, and Mauer will make fans forget Jason Varitek and Carlton Fisk.  But I don’t he is a good fit for the Yankees.  They’ll be fine with Jesus Montero, assuming that he doesn’t “out-grow” the position, as Jorge Posada’s eventual successor.  If Montero does have to move because of his physical size, then I am willing to take my chances with Francisco Cervelli or Austin Romine.

 

 

Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger

 

 

I am amazed that Jamie Moyer, at age 47, is on the verge of nailing down a spot in the rotation for the championship-contending Philadelphia Phillies.  He is definitely the Energizer Bunny…

 

 

Lori M. Nichols

 

Personally, I think the Washington Nationals should have kept super-prospect Stephen Strasburg in the major league starting rotation.  Nevertheless, I don’t think he should buy a house or sign a long-term lease in Harrisburg, PA.  He won’t be there long…

 

 

Charles Dharapak/AP

 

 

As you know, I am not a fan of the Boston Red Sox (regardless of how much my friend Julia would like for me to be).  However, I do want to send my prayers and best wishes to Ryan Westmoreland, Boston’s 19-year-old outfield prospect, who underwent successful brain surgery last week.  He faces a tough road and a long recovery, but at least the initial news was promising.  Let’s hope the news continues on its current positive, upward trend.  Regardless of whether he ever plays baseball again, I will always be a fan of his in whatever he does.  I only hope that it will be nothing short of complete and absolute recovery.  Ryan, we are all on your team!

 

 

Ruben W. Perez/The Providence Journal

 

When I saw that the University of Northern Iowa had defeated top-seeded Kansas in the NCAA Basketball Tournament, I could only think of one thing…never underestimate the power of an Iowan!  Signed, an Iowan.  J

 

 


Iowa.JPG 

I am headed to Dallas for the week on business.  I pulled up the weather forecast and was shocked that it was snowing in Dallas on the first day of spring!  Meanwhile, in Boston, it was 71 degrees today!  What’s up with that?  And why do I have to leave this gorgeous, sunny California weather?…

 

 

 

 

 

Oh no! Here come the New Yorkers!…

Despite record snowfalls on the East Coast, spring training is right around the corner…

 

 


Steinbrenner Field.JPG 

 

Yankee pitchers and catchers report next week, and the battle will begin for the fifth spot in the rotation.  Of course, everyone is quick to indicate that Alfredo Aceves, Chad Gaudin, and Sergio Mitre have a shot, but this is really about a competition between Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain.  Personally, I am putting my faith in Phil Hughes.  I’d prefer to see Joba take over Hughes’ old spot as setup man for Mariano Rivera (positioning himself to be Mo’s successor when the eventual day comes).  I am really anxious to see what Hughes can do in the rotation now that he has achieved success at the big league level. 

 

 

 

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

 

 

It will be interesting to see if Curtis Granderson stays in center, or if they ultimately decide to move him to left and return Brett Gardner to center.  There should be good outfield competition among Jamie Hoffmann, Marcus Thames, and Randy Winn.    Minor leaguer Colin Curtis and off-season pickup Greg Golson (from Texas) will also be on hand to compete.  I am hopeful that Hoffmann, a good defensive player, finds a way to make the team.  If not, the Yankees will have to offer him back to the Los Angeles Dodgers since he was a Rule 5 pickup. 

 

 

Miles Chrisinger/Icon SMI

 

 

At catcher, Francisco Cervelli should break camp as backup to Jorge Posada.  With each passing season, the backup catching position becomes more vital as Posada ages.  I am anxious to see what Jesus Montero brings to camp.  He’s not ready for the Bronx yet but he is getting close and will obviously be Posada’s eventual successor if they don’t move him to first base because of his physical size.

 

 


JMontero.JPG 

John M. Setzler, Jr.

 

 

It appears that Johnny Damon will sign next week, most likely with the Detroit Tigers based on the latest rumors.  I do find it odd that the Tigers would pay Damon more than they would have owed Curtis Granderson yet Grandy was moved for financial reasons.  It’s also disappointing that the Tigers will end up getting Damon for less than what the Yanks had been willing to pay at the start of the off-season.  Agent Scott Boras forced the Yankees’ hand in signing DH Nick Johnson and outfielder Randy Winn, leaving no room for Damon.  If Boras had shown a willingness to negotiate early on, perhaps Johnny would be returning to the Bronx for another go-around.  But for as much as I will miss Damon’s ability on the bases and his offensive power, I won’t miss his throws from left field (which seemed to move in slow motion).  I wish him the very best wherever he lands…Detroit, Chicago or Atlanta. 

 

 

 

 

All things considered, it should be a fairly quiet camp compared to the past few years.  I am not expecting any drug use admissions or sex scandals, but of course, you never know.  I am just glad that it’s time for the guys to pick up the gloves, balls and bats and head back out for another summer of fun. 

 

 

Josh Haner/The New York Times 

 

By the way, congrats to Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum, who avoided arbitration by signing a two-year deal worth $23 million with San Francisco.  With a pay increase from $650,000 to $8 million plus $2 million signing bonus in 2010, he can now afford to buy in Nob Hill…

 

 

 

 

Also, so long to the Big Hurt.  Frank Thomas has decided to hang up his cleats and take his 521 home runs home.  Of course, he’s been out of the game for a year, but now it’s official.  No Brett Favre comebacks in Frank’s future…

 

 

UPI.com

 

 

Finally, I’d like to send my prayers to the family of Nodar Kumaritashvili, 21, a luger for the former Soviet republic of Georgia, who died today during a trial run at the Olympics in Vancouver, British Columba.  I cannot say that I am well familiar with Luge but it seems like there could have been better safety precautions.  The Olympic Games start on a disappointing note, but I hope the other athletes from Georgia rise to the occasion and give performances their fallen teammate would have been proud of…

 

 

Nodar Kumaritashvili, Winter Olympics, Luge,Nodar Kumaritashvili  died, Winter Olympics,Georgia Luger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

examiner.com

Latest Andy Pettitte inactivity…

According to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, the Dodgers are more interested in Jon Garland, Braden Looper and Randy Wolf than they are in Andy Pettitte.  With the Astros already saying that Andy most likely doesn’t fit within their budget, it would appear that all roads lead back to Yankee Stadium…

I am still anxious to see if Scott Boras can save face on his recommendation for Jason Varitek to decline arbitration in December.  This situation has played out badly, and clearly no one has been hurt more than Jason himself…

As promising as catching prospects Jesus Montero and Austin Romine are, I sure do wish their ETA to the major leagues was 2009 rather than 2010 or beyond (particularly considering the rumors of Jorge Posada’s desire to play for Puerto Rico in the WBC and questionable health which remains in doubt until he is able to prove he’s healthy).

Given the intensity of the start of the season schedule for the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays (the Yankees play 10 of their first 30 games against the Red Sox and Rays, the Red Sox play 14 of their first 32 games against the Yankees and Rays, and the Rays play 15 of their 33 games against the other two), it will be interesting to see how the Yankees fare out of the blocks given the Yanks recent history of slow starts…not to mention that of Mark Teixeira individually.

I am not surprised that Michael Young relented and has accepted the move to third base for the Rangers (withdrawing his trade request).  Ultimately, it was conversations with team president Nolan Ryan that persuaded Young to reconsider his stance.  But the entire situation could have been avoided had Ryan held those talks with Young before the holidays…not after.

Less than a month before pitchers and catchers report to Tampa…sweet!

I saw the quote where Derek Lowe said that he was going to love playing in Atlanta.  Of course, I had to wonder, what else is he going to say?  “Ya know, all things considered, I’d really rather be in Boston.  Why didn’t you guys try harder to sign Smoltz?”  Geez…

I saw the idea in another blog, but I like the suggestion to pry Lastings Milledge from the Nats in a trade involving either Xavier Nady or Nick Swisher (Nady being the preference at this point).  Then, put Milledge in competition with Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera in center (assuming one of them aren’t involved in the trade).  I like that line of thinking as the Yanks need to upgrade either the bottom end of the starting rotation or center field with any trade. Milledge hit 14 home runs with 61 RBI’s to go with a .268 batting average and 24 steals in 2008.   His OBP, SLG and OPS were .329/.407/.735.  At only 24 years old, his upside is still tremendous and the leadership on the Yankee roster would help his attitude.  Of course, the cost to acquire him may be too great, but that’s the type of talent that would be great for the new Yankee Stadium center field. 

 

 

 

 

 

Huh? Pavano said what?…

Carl Pavano said what? 

“When you’re down, you expect your organization to pick you up, not kick you when you’re down.  I’ve had to pick myself up quite a few times the last four years.”

If Carl had to pick himself up quite a few times, who’s fault was it that he was down to begin with?  Was it the Yankees fault that the guy had no heart and was susceptible to constant injuries?  What a jerk!  Did this guy really win 18 games for the Marlins a few years back?  Good luck in Cleveland…

 

 

 The new Yankee Stadium is definitely coming together:

 

 

 

Man, I am going to hate John Smoltz’s rational, sane, professional interview responses now more than ever!  Seriously, I am worried about the good job that Theo is doing toward building the 2009 Red Sox.  He has rebounded very nicely since the Teixeira saga.  I saw that they have their eye on Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero.  Assuming that Jesus Montero stays at catcher (there’s been talk of him moving to first base for physical reasons, but I think that won’t happen now that Teixeira is locked in at first), the Yankees and Red Sox could have catchers with the same last name once Jesus makes it to the bigs in the not-so-distant future. 

Mark Kotsay and Rocco Baldelli as your back up outfielders…that’s just sick!  And I mean that with the highest respect from a bitter rival.  Meanwhile, the Yankees are talking about trading Xavier Nady to put .220 hitter Nick Swisher in right, and they still haven’t figured out center field.  Johnny Damon is the only certainty in the Yankee outfield…

I read a blog today that the Yankees should try to sign Arizona’s RP Juan Cruz for the bullpen and I completely agree. They’d only have to surrender a 4th round pick since picks 1-3 are headed to the Angels, Brewers and Blue Jays for the earlier FA signings.  The guy has huge upside, and is only 30 years old.  He is #19 on ESPN’s Keith Law’s list of top free agents:

 

19

Juan Cruz

POSITION: Relief pitcher
AGE: 30 | BATS: R | THROWS: R
2008 TEAM: Arizona Diamondbacks
STATUS: Free agent
<!–TERMS:
–>

2008 SEASON STATISTICS
GM IP W-L ERA SV BB SO
57 51.2 4-0 2.61 0 31 71

Cruz has an electric arm, but struggles with command and control have held him back in the past and limited his value to Arizona in 2008, although he showed some improvement after missing time with an oblique strain in July.

Cruz throws a 94-97 mph four-seamer with late life, and it plays up because his arm is so quick, meaning that the ball gets in on hitters quickly. He pairs it with a sharp slider, very hard and 80-84 against right-handed batters but a little slower when he’s trying to use it against left-handed hitters. It’s power stuff that misses bats, which plays in any park in either league, and he has a good chance to develop into a closer for a team looking to create one rather than give big money to K-Rod.

 

I changed the name of this blog from Fiddler on the Roof to I’m Not A Headline Guy to give it a little more originality.  But, of course, it is not original at all.  My idol is Lou Gehrig, and the name of the blog is a tribute to him.  It is a quote that Lou once made.  Lou, I didn’t live in your era, but you were a headline guy, and a class act…

Goodnight all!  For the record, baseball fans rock!  :)

 

 

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