Results tagged ‘ Joe Torre ’

You Win Some…You Lose Some…

 

Whew!  I’ll take it!…

 

 

Robinson Cano belts a two-run homer in the tenth inning, a game-winner made possible when Joe Torre (b., r.) leaves closer Jonathan Broxton in to give up four runs in the ninth inning.

Hong/AP

 

 

It was the top of the 9th inning and the Yankees were trailing the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium, 6-2.  On the mound was Dodger closer Jonathan Broxton with an 0.83 ERA and 16 saves.  He struck out the first batter, Mark Teixeira, so it looked as though the Yankees would head back to New York with only 1 win in 3 games against their former manager, Joe Torre.  Then, Alex Rodriguez singled and there was a slight glimmer of hope.  Robinson Cano followed with a double to score A-Rod to close the gap to 3 games.  The next batter, Jorge Posada, singled.  After a walk to Curtis Granderson, the bases were loaded with the tying run on first.  I was excited, but the excitement was tempered by the fact the next hitter was rookie Chad Huffman, who had entered the game earlier as an injury replacement for Brett Gardner.  Huffman proved up to the task as his single scored Cano and Posada.  Suddenly, the Yankees were just one run down.  The next batter was Colin Curtis.  Again, I had some trepidation given Colin’s major league inexperience.  But fate was smiling on the Yankees, thanks to a poor fielding decision by Dodgers first baseman James Loney.  Curtis hit a grounder to Loney.  With Curtis Granderson breaking for home, Loney stepped back to first to secure the out and then attempted to throw home but was too late to nail Granderson…game tied.  Had Loney disregarded Curtis and went directly home with the throw, he would have easily gunned down Granderson.  A ground out by Francisco Cervelli ended the inning, but the Dodgers still had last at-bat. 

 

 

0628granderson.JPG

Jeff Gross/Getty Images

 

Despite the tied score, manager Joe Girardi went with certainty in bringing in closer Mariano Rivera.  I would later read that Joe Torre had told Girardi before the game, he wouldn’t bring in Rivera with the game tied.  Fortunately, the younger Joe is his own man, and he went with his instinct.  Mo easily retired 3 Dodger batters, so it was off to the 10th inning. 

 

Ramon Troncosco replaced Broxton at the top of the inning, and Mark Teixeira greeted him with a single.  A-Rod followed with a fielder’s choice to short, which easily erased Teixeira at second.  With Robinson Cano coming up, Joe Torre opted to go with reliever George Sherrill.  Cano’s lifetime record against Sherrill entering the game was 0-for-11.  Cano promptly conveyed a message that numbers don’t mean anything when he crushed a home run to give the Yankees a two-run lead.  Mo came back out for the bottom of the 10th inning, yielding only an infield single in shutting down the Dodgers.  With the win, the Yankees were able to claim a 4-2 road record against the Dodgers and Diamondbacks and headed back to the Bronx where they will face nemesis Cliff Lee and the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night. 

 

By the way, I was pleased to see Alex Rodriguez reach out to Joe Torre before the game.  Too much was being read into the relationship between A-Rod and Torre, and I thought Alex showed class in being the one to extend his hand.

 

 

Alex Rodriguez hits his 594th home run in the sixth inning against the Dodgers Sunday night.

Hong/AP

 

My streak of wager wins against Julia of Julia’s Rants has sadly come to an end.  I suppose I deserved it when I went with a team other than the almighty New York Yankees.

 

The wager was for a single game, the Boston Red Sox versus the Giants in San Francisco.  I was in attendance at AT&T Park, and foolishly thought a wager was a good idea. 

 

 

Giants_06272010_0001.jpg

 

 

 

On paper, it looked like a marquee match-up with Jon Lester facing Tim Lincecum.

 

 


Lincecum.jpg 

 

Unfortunately for me, the two-time reigning NL Cy Young Award Winner looked more like John Lackey at Fenway Park than he did the elite pitcher he is.  Lester, on the other hand, was expectedly masterful.  He gave up a game-tying run in the bottom of the first but that was it.  It never felt like the Giants were going to get back into it after the Red Sox had re-taken the lead. 

 

 

Eric Risberg/AP

 

I was amazed at the sheer volume of Red Sox fans at the game.  As a Yankees fan, I am always surrounded by fellow Yankees fans whenever I see the team play on the road.  But Boston definitely rivals the Yankees in their ability to draw on the road.    

 

So, congratulations are in order for Julia.  My sentence is to include a paragraph about a current Red Sox player (as of 6/26/10) for the next 25 blog posts.  With the first entry, I will go with the player of the game…

 

#31   Jon Lester

 

Meanwhile, Jon Lester held up his end of the pitching duel, holding the Giants to one run in a complete game effort.

 

Reuters

 

Jon Lester, at 9-3, is a virtual lock for a spot on the American League All-Star Team, and a leading candidate to start.  Lester, a native of Tacoma, Washington, won the clinching game of the 2007 World Series against the Colorado Rockies.  He followed it up the next year with a no-hitter.  Personally, going into the season, I was convinced this would be a breakout year for Lester…the year he becomes the “ace”.  As if a championship and a no-hitter aren’t enough for his resume, he’ll soon be collecting Cy Young Awards.  The Sox rotation is incredibly talented with Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, Dice-K, and Tim Wakefield.  However, if I am starting a new franchise, and I need an ace to lead my staff, I’m calling Lester. 

 

Personal note about Lester:  Lester was diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma in August 2006.

 

“This is going to sound funny but God blessed Jon Lester with cancer just to show a lot of people that you can overcome something that’s so hard in your life you think, ‘I’m not gonna make it.’  He’s going to be able to take his faith in God and the strength God gave him and tell a lot of other people a great story.”

 

–former Red Sox reliever Mike Timlin

 

Lester is definitely one of the truly great guys in the game…

 

Only 24 more to go…  L

How Are You, Mr. Torre?…

Joe Torre and Derek Jeter together again…

 

 

Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, right, gets a hug from Dodgers Manager Joe Torre prior to Friday's interleague game.

Gina Ferazzi/LA Times

 

 

 

Share the love!  Seriously, it was bittersweet to see Joe Torre wearing enemy colors while standing next to the likes of Joe Girardi, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada.  Much has been written in recent days about the rift that exists between Torre and the Yankees hierarchy.  One article speculated that if the Yankees wanted to have a special honor for Torre, he would most likely turn it down.  Former Yankees pitcher and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre thought that Torre would eventually be more forgiving than the Yankee brass.  Joe’s rift is how his relationship with the Yankees ended (lowball, token contract offer that represented a steep pay cut).  There is no way that the Yankees could have expected Torre to take the contract offer so it was obviously a ploy designed to show Torre the door while trying to show the Yankees Universe that they tried.  The Yankees problem is relative to Torre’s book and how he unveiled many thoughts that should have been left behind closed doors. 

 

Regardless of how it ended and despite how much I have always respected Joe Torre, it was time for a change.  The Yankees had not won a World Series since 2000 (losing in both 2001 and 2003) while the dreaded Boston Red Sox were winning two (2004, which included the ALCS meltdown by the Yankees; and 2007).  Torre is “old-school”, and it was time for a more current manager.  Joe Girardi was the right guy at the right time.  As a player, he was clearly a leader.  When I think of the death of Darryl Kile, I will always think of how Joe Girardi stepped up as the voice of the team.  He is always prepared and he clearly wants to win.  He is young enough to hold the position for many years, and I think he has shown improvement as a manager every year.  Joe Torre has moved on, the Yankees have moved on, and so have the fans.  It’s time for the media to let go…

 

 

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre (r.) and New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi talk before the series opener at Dodger Stadium Friday night. The Yankees won, 2-1.

Terrill/AP

 

 

I was reading today that the reason the Yankees are in Los Angeles to play the Dodgers as opposed to Yankee Stadium was based on a decision by FOX television.  They wanted Manny Ramirez to return to Boston for a reunion against the Red Sox.  I think it was a missed opportunity for FOX.  Manny was not gracious to the Boston fans or media, and he didn’t really do anything in the series that was swept by the Red Sox.  On the other hand, it would have been tremendous to see Joe Torre set foot on the grounds of the new Yankee Stadium given that he’s never managed there before. 

 

The first game of the Dodgers-Yankees series went to the visitors behind CC Sabathia who is beginning to pitch like “Second Half CC” when he becomes so utterly dominant.  It was ironic that the game-winning home run was hit by Alex Rodriguez, who has yet to speak to Joe Torre. 

 

 

0626arod.JPG

Dunn/Getty Images

 

 

CC went 8 innings in the 2-1 victory, giving up 4 hits and striking out 7.  Mariano Rivera, an old friend of Torre’s, closed out the game with three strike outs. 

 

There were lots of photos with Torre and the core Yankees, but none with Don Mattingly that I found.  It would have been interesting to see Donnie Baseball in the reunion photos too.  He will most likely be the next Dodgers manager, and based on recent reports, it could happen as soon as next year.  It’s hard to see one of my favorite all-time Yankees becoming so engrained with another organization, but he does deserve the opportunity to manage and it wasn’t going to happen with the Yankees.  Given that managers are hired to be fired, it’s probably best that Donnie manages elsewhere.  That proved to be a better route for Lou Piniella.  If Derek Jeter decides to stay in baseball after his playing days, I am sure that the day will come when he dons something other than Yankee pinstripes.  So long as there isn’t on “B” on the cap, I’m cool with it. 

 

 

Joe Torre Don Mattingly L.A. Dodgers

Gene J. Puskar/AP

 

Friday night was a good night as not only did the Yankees win but the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox both lost.  The Red Sox are in San Francisco (where I will be on Sunday), and lost to the Giants, 5-4.  They also lost one of their warriors in Dustin Pedroia who fouled a pitch off his left foot.  X-rays were negative but the foot is still sore and further tests are scheduled for today.  I may not be a Red Sox fan, but I am a fan of Pedey’s so hopefully he’ll be back on the field soon.  The Rays, meanwhile, were no-hit for the second time this season.  This time at the hands of former Ray and current Arizona Diamondback Edwin Jackson.  Frankly, I am not sure that I agree with the managerial decision to keep Jackson in the game despite the no-hitter.  He walked 8 batters, and he threw 149 pitches.  That sounds like something that Billy Martin would have done to the Oakland A’s pitching staff back in the 80′s when the pitchers later developed arm troubles.  No good can come from it.  The no-hitter is nice but at what cost? 

 

Speaking of Sunday’s game between the Giants and Red Sox (which of course includes a wager with Julia of Julia’s Rants), the pitching match-up could not better.  Jon Lester, one of my personal favorite pitchers and clearly one of the AL’s best, against Tim Lincecum, arguably one of the best pitchers in all of baseball.  I’ll be pulling for Lincecum and the Giants, but it should be a classic pitching duel.  I am looking forward to it!   

 

By the way, the last wager didn’t go so well for Julia…

 

 

Courtesy of an unhappy Celtics fan

 

–Scott

But It’s A Dry Heat!…

 

The schedule makers have not been kind…

 

 


Anger.JPG 

 

 

Following the Yankees victory over the New York Mets at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, they had to hop on a plane destined for Phoenix to play the Arizona Diamondbacks the next day.  The jet lag showed in the Yankees’ dismal 10-4 loss.  A.J. Burnett looked like he was pitching batting practice as he gave up 3 home runs in the first inning. 

 

 

Beaten.JPG

Marc Carig/The Star Ledger 

Earlier this season, the starting pitching was stellar…except for Javier Vazquez.  I read so many articles about how Javy just wasn’t suited for the American League and so many felt that he would not be able to rebound.  But rebound he did as he has quietly become the Yankees’ most efficient starter.  But as quickly as Javy has bounced back, A.J. Burnett has disappeared.  Hopefully, Monday’s loss was truly the product of jet lag and not indicative of more serious problems.   However, it is critical for A.J. to start pitching to his ability.  Otherwise, the Yanks’ hold on first place will be brief.

 

Tuesday was a better barometer as the Yankees returned to the win column with a 9-3 decision over the D-Backs.  Andy Pettitte did allow two hits to the opposing pitcher, Dan Haren, one of which was a two-out two-run game tying single in the second inning.  Arizona would not score again against Pettitte, who went 7 innings to pick up the win.  The game was actually much closer than the final score indicated.  After Haren’s single, the Yankees quickly answered with a go-ahead run in the 3rd on a single by Alex Rodriguez.  The game stayed 3-2 until the Yankees struck late with 6 runs in the 8th. 

 

 

Derek Jeter congratulates Alex Rodriguez on his two-run home run in the first inning Tuesday. Andy Pettitte (b.) surrenders just two runs in seven innings, striking out seven Arizona hitters.

Franklin/AP

 

There is little question that Andy Pettitte will be on the All-Star Team.  At 38, he is having perhaps his finest season.  Phil Hughes should also make the team with 10 wins, although he is being skipped in the rotation this week as the Yankees look to limit his innings over the course of the season.  As for who should start, that’s a tough question.  Both Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester of the Boston Red Sox are certainly deserving, as is David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays.  Suffice it to say that I think the American League starter in the All-Star game will be an AL East starter!  Seriously, AL manager Joe Girardi couldn’t go wrong with any of those choices.  At least he doesn’t have to worry about A.J. Burnett being one of the options!  L

 

Tonight, the Yankees will send Vazquez against Arizona’s Dontrelle Willis.  They missed former teammate Ian Kennedy who pitched for the D-Backs on Sunday.  Following tonight’s game, the Yankees will be heading to Los Angeles for a reunion series with Joe Torre and Don Mattingly over the weekend.  Given the flight is less than an hour and Thursday is an off day, the Yankees won’t have jet lag available for an excuse come Friday night.  The Yankees must simply do what the Boston Red Sox did…beat LA!  Hey Julia, the slogan does work! 

 

 

 

Sunday, I will get the chance to root against the Boston Red Sox in person as I’ll be at the game in San Francisco.  Of course, I couldn’t let the opportunity pass without making another wager with my good friend, Julia, of Julia’s Rants.  For our latest wager, if the Red Sox beat the San Francisco Giants on Sunday, I will have to include a short paragraph about a Red Sox player with my next 25 blog posts following the game.  25 represents each player on the roster as of June 26, 2010 (regardless of whether the player is later traded, demoted or released before I mention them on the blog).  The paragraphs can be short and simple, but they must be positive and include a personal note about the player that others might not be aware of.  If the Giants win, then Julia has to do the same for my beloved New York Yankees.  Based on the Yankees roster as of 6/26, she’ll have to include a paragraph about a Yankee player for her next 25 blog posts.  So, on Sunday, I’ll be a huge Giants fan! 

 

 

Attpark

John G. Mabanglo/European Pressphoto Agency

 

–Scott

Moving Forward…

With the franchise’s 9,500th win (dating back to the New York Highlanders in 2003), the Yankees moved into sole possession of first place…

 

 

The two central figures in today’s win against the New York Mets were CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira. 

 

 

Aristide Economopoulos/The Star Ledger

 

Sabathia has struggled at times this season, and held a 7-3 record heading into today’s action.  Teixeira had a very cold April, started to warm up in May before lapsing back into a deep freeze in June.  But today, they did what it took to win.  CC pitched 8 scoreless innings, giving up only 4 hits with 2 walks and 6 strikeouts.  The Mets couldn’t stop him but a 20 minute rain delay finally did as Mo Rivera finished the game in a non-save situation after the delay ended. 

 

 

Mets at Yankees, June 20th, 2010

Aristide Economopoulos/The Star Ledger

 

Teixeira came up huge in the third inning with a grand slam that provided the former Highlanders with the only runs they would need.  Credit Brett Gardner, Derek Jeter and Nick Swisher for excellent play and hustle in loading the bases on three singles, only one of which made it out of the infield.  It was very enjoyable to hear John Sterling’s trademark “Tex Message!” call. 

 

 

Mets at Yankees, June 20th, 2010

Aristide Economopoulos/The Star Ledger

 

Despite losing Friday night’s game, the Yankees came back to win on both Saturday and Sunday to capture the series and end the season series in a split. 

 

I was surprised to see Roy Halladay lose again.  This time to Carl Pavano and the Minnesota Twins.  Like his record against the Yankees, Halladay sported an excellent mark against the Twins.  But it was not meant to be today against the Twins as he fell 4-1.  I am not saying that Cliff Lee is a better pitcher than Halladay, but so far, the regular season performances in Phillies uniforms is tilted in Lee’s favor.  Of course, it’s not all Doc’s fault given his 2.43 ERA which implies that he has not had run support given his 8-6 record. 

 

I guess Joe Torre did not have a joyful return to Fenway Park, and neither did Manny Ramirez as the Boston Red Sox swept the Los Angeles Dodgers over the weekend.  The AL East couldn’t be tighter with both the Tampa Bay Rays and Red Sox just one game behind the Yankees.  The Toronto Blue Jays continue to lurk in the shadows, just 5 ½ games back although they did lose today.

 

The Yankees now head to Phoenix to play the Arizona Diamondbacks.  I don’t have great memories of the Yankees in Phoenix, but fortunately Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling are no longer on the mound and Luis Gonzalez is not in the outfield.  The D-Backs have a good team and former Yankee Ian Kennedy has done well in the rotation.  Nevertheless, I will be hoping for redemption anyway.  Besides, we have a one game lead to protect!

 

I was bummed after the 2010 NFL Draft when the Minnesota Vikings did not draft a quarterback.  They did select Joe Webb of the University of Alabama-Birmingham, however, the immediate talk was that Webb would be shifted to wide receiver.  During the recent mini-camps, Webb, with his 11 inch hands and athleticism, showed that he can be a quarterback of the future.  So, at least for now, the move to wide receiver has been postponed.  The Vikings will take a long look at Webb as a QB in training camp.

 

 

Andy King/AP

 

I hope it was a great Father’s Day for all the baseball-loving Dads!

 

–Scott

Road Trip Blues…

 

Not that we need further evidence, but the Yanks are clearly better at home…

 

 


Go Home.JPG 

 

 

Next to the Baltimore Orioles, the Yankees have the word road record in the AL East.  By salvaging the last game of the three game set with the Blue Jays in Toronto, the Yankees are 16-15.  By comparison, the Tampa Bay Rays hold a road record of 22-8.  The Yankees have the best home record in the division at 19-7 but they do need to figure out how to win on the road if they intend to be successful.

 

The Yankees had been playing great until their arrival in Canada.  Friday night’s loss was abysmal as the Jays battered their former teammate, A.J. Burnett.  Saturday, the problem wasn’t pitching as Andy Pettitte was great; it was the lack of hitting and scoring.  Credit Jays’ pitching but they kept the Yankees off the board in extra innings before they prevailed in the bottom of the 14th inning, 3-2.  Mark Teixeira had one of his worst games with 5 strikeouts.

 

 

Mark Teixeira, striking out, against Mets

Andrew Mills/The Star Ledger

 

The losses made Sunday’s game a “must-win” if there is such a thing in June.  After losing ground to both the Jays and the Boston Red Sox, the Yankees needed to turn the tables.  Early on, it was a stellar pitching duel between Toronto’s Brandon Marrow and New York’s Javier Vazquez. 

 

Javy had a no-hitter going into the sixth inning.  With two outs, he walked Adam Lind which brought Vernon Wells to the plate.  Wells homered in what would be the only hit off the day off Vazquez for a 2-0 Jays lead.

 

Vazquez breezed through the bottom of the 7th inning with three up and three down.  His day would be finished thanks to what would happen next.  In the top of the 8th inning, the Yankees broke through for four runs and their first lead of the game. 

 

Francisco Cervelli and Brett Gardner were both hit by pitches to start the innings (Cervelli by Morrow; and Gardner by Scott Downs).  Derek Jeter made the Jays pay for their miscues with a run-scoring double.  After Nick Swisher struck out, the Jays intentionally walked hitless Mark Teixeira (why?).  With the bases now loaded, Gardner scored on a Jason Frasor wild pitch.  After Alex Rodriguez struck out, Robinson Cano came up with the hit of the day when his single scored Jeter and Teixeira.  The Yankees would need those extra runs as the Jays would close the gap to 4-3 in the bottom of the frame when former Yank Jose Molina scored on a single by Fred Lewis.  Joba Chamberlain, who had started the 8th in relief of Vazquez, needed help from Damaso Marte to get out of the inning but it was Mariano Rivera and “game over” in the 9th.

 

 

 

Mariano Rivera

AP

 

The Yankees now head to Baltimore for a series against the Orioles at Camden Yards.  Since they last saw the O’s, the O’s have a new manager (Juan Samuel, replacing the fired Dave Trembley) and they are no longer mired in a long losing streak thanks to today’s 11th inning walk-off win against the Boston Red Sox.

 

Boston Globe

 

Hopefully, the Yanks can shake their road doldrums and end the current road trip on a high note.

 

Following the trip to Baltimore, the Yankees will return home for the continuation of interleague play.  They’ll see the Astros, Phillies and Mets before heading west for a trip down memory lane.  On June 21st through 23rd, they’ll be in Phoenix to face the Arizona Diamondbacks.  It is the scene of two of the worst baseball games I’ve ever personally attended, Games 2 and 6 of the 2001 World Series.  Then, in the climax of interleague play, they’ll be in Chavez Ravine on June 25th through 27th to confront old friends Joe Torre and Don Mattingly, and the Los Angeles Dodgers.  It should be a thrilling month, but PLEASE, work on the road record! 

 

 

Reuters

 

 

The Title Defense Begins…

 

Now that CC is getting warmed up, Spring Training is officially underway…

 

 

sabathia0220.JPG

Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger

 

 

So far, Camp has been very quiet for Team World Champions.  Of course, that figures to change when position players report next week.  But it has been great to see the guys arriving in Tampa as they begin defense of their World Series championship.

 

 

SPYANKSSPRINGMURRAY.JPG

Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger

 

 

I always enjoy hearing about the players who re-committed themselves during the off-season, and arrive in camp in better shape than ever.  This year’s “Biggest Losers” are reliever Jonathan Albaladejo and right fielder Nick Swisher.  Both reported significantly lighter than we lost saw them in October.  I have been a bit concerned that Swisher will have difficulty matching last season’s success, but hopefully, the weight loss will help him build upon the success and we’ll continue to see the A’s version of Swisher and not the White Sox version.

 

 

After having his swing exposed during the postseason, Nick Swisher devotes offseason to rediscovering his hitting stroke.

Sipkin/News 

 

 

It’s evident the players have a great deal of respect for Andy Pettitte.  Andy could have had the perfect ending to a great career by riding off to the sunset after last year’s championship, but he decided that he is not ready to hang up the glove yet.  Obviously, I was disappointed when Andy admitted steroid use, however, throughout his career and including the time of the admission, Andy has handled himself with nothing but class and dignity.  CC Sabathia credited Pettitte for helping his transition, and I am sure that he’ll have a similar influence on Javier Vazquez as he re-adjusts to life with the Yankees.  I would have preferred if Andy had never left to play in Houston for three years, but conversely, the time away definitely gave Andy a different perspective and he clearly values his Yankees legacy now more than ever before. 

 

 

Andy Pettitte's outstanding season last year would have been a storybook ending. But, the New York Yankees ace isn't ready to hang up the glove just yet.

Antonelli/News

 

I saw the comment by Hideki Matsui on the Angels MLB.com website that although he feels physically strong, his knees aren’t 100%.  As tough as it was to see Godzilla leave, I think the Yankees made the right decision.  While I recognize that he may have a great 2010 season, sooner or later he’ll begin breaking down and missing more time.  Besides, there’s not much more that he could have done for a Yankees farewell than being named the World Series MVP. 

 

 

Yankees World Series MVP Hideki Matsui will wave goodbye to Big Apple.

Keivom/News

 

 

Speaking of ex-Yankees, Johnny Damon is now officially a member.  He signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Tigers for $8 million.  Damon will definitely be the poster child for negotiating failures, at least for the short term.  With better strategy, he could have secured a longer term deal for more money from the Yankees, but Damon and agent Scott Boras overvalued the market.  Of course, the Yankees quickly moved on.  I do not find fault with the Yankees approach because had they waited, they risked getting nothing.  As it stands, the Yankees offense should be fine with Nick Johnson, Randy Winn and Marcus Thames on-board.  I am still puzzled by the Tigers since they moved Curtis Granderson because of money, and he would have made less this year than Damon will cost them.  I guess Damon is an $8 million insurance policy as a hedge to see if Austin Jackson is capable of making the leap to the major leagues. 

 

 

Johnny Damon (AP)

AP

 

Another former Yankee, Chien-Ming Wang, signed with the Washington Nationals.  I am surprised that he went with the Nats.  Nothing against them, but I really expected to see Wang go with Joe Torre and the Los Angeles Dodgers.  They have a clear need for a fifth starter, and if healthy, Wang could have potentially filled the void.  Whatever happens, I wish Wang the best of luck…and health.  I hope he has learned to run the bases now that he’ll be hitting in the National League. 

 

 

Chien Ming-Wang

Scott Miller/Reuters

 

Now that Jose Molina is in Toronto, it sounds like manager Joe Girardi is going to make sure that Jorge Posada and A.J. Burnett work as a team this spring.  Hopefully, they’ll be able to build a good rapport.  If not, I hope that Francisco Cervelli is up to the challenge of being A.J.’s personal caddy.

 

 

AP

 

 

The Yankees will definitely encounter more than a few former players (and manager) during the upcoming season. 

 

 

Torre

LA Times

 

Hopefully, the “pies” will belong to the current Yankees and not the former crowd.  It should be a fun season, and I am looking forward to the renewed battle with Julia.  I was hoping that we’d have a few “warm-ups” during the Spring, but the Yankees and Red Sox are not scheduled to face each other until Opening Day.  Oh well, I am looking forward to starting the season 1-0.  Right, Julia?  ;)

 

 

Nick Swisher pie Yankees

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

 

 

This is off-topic, but now that American Idol has reduced the field to 24, my early favorite is Janell Wheeler…

 

 

 

 

But then again, Ashley Rodriguez does have a great voice…

 

 

 

 

 It should be a great Season 9 on American Idol!  Music and Yankees baseball…sounds like it will be a great summer to me!  If Julia doesn’t agree, this video says it all…

 

 

Playing Musical Chairs…

Ready, set, go!…

 

 


Musical Chairs.JPG 

 

 

It’s the start of free agency, and teams now have the right to negotiate with available free agents as teams’ exclusive rights period ended Thursday night.  Of course, there were no significant signings on Friday, but activity should pick up in the coming weeks. 

 

The big three for the Yankees are obviously Andy Pettitte, Johnny Damon, and Hideki Matsui.  Regardless of what other moves the Yanks have in mind for their rotation, I feel very strongly they should bring back Andy assuming that he wants to come back for another season.  Had he not gone to Houston for three years, Andy would potentially be in position to challenge Whitey Ford for the Yankees record for most career wins (The Chairman of the Board holds the record with 236 wins, while Andy stands at 229 career wins with the Yankees and Astros).  Andy may never reach Ford’s Yankees record, however he still has the chance to reach the 200 win milestone wearing pinstripes, needing just 8 more wins.  I think Andy is very proud of his Yankees legacy, and I do expect to see him back in the Bronx next season.

 

 

Adrien Veczan/Reuters

 

 

I would like to see the team re-sign Johnny Damon.  The only thing about Damon that concerns me is his arm-strength in left field.  Otherwise, he is still playing the game like a young man despite his age (36).  He simply makes things happen and his double-steal in the World Series was classic but typical Damon-like.  The Yankees would be wise to allow Damon to return next year on a two year deal.

 

 

Elise Amendola/AP

 

 

As much as I like Hideki Matsui and how great his timely hits have been, I see this as the end of his career in the Bronx.  Since he’s limited to DH, he simply wouldn’t get enough at-bats in the coming seasons with the need to increase the DH rotation to include older players like Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez (to allow them more rest from playing the field).

 

 

Stubblebine/Reuters 

 

I am sad to see Xavier Nady go, but it doesn’t sound like there’s any interest on the Yankees’ part to bring him back.  Some team is going to get a high quality guy and if healthy, a productive player.  Of course, that means he’ll probably be signing with Boston any day now…  :(

 

 

 

 

 

The rumor mill regarding Roy Halladay is gaining steam once again.  A free agent after next season, it is very likely that the Toronto Blue Jays will move Doc this off-season rather than wait until the trading deadline.  The list of teams not interested in Doc is probably shorter than the list of team who are.  The Blue Jays will be able to get a King’s ransom for Halladay and it should set them up for a bright future.  Of course, the Yankees and Red Sox are always rumored to be in the mix, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Doc go to the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Assuming that Frank McCourt isn’t too distracted or financially drained by his divorce proceedings with wife Jamie, the Dodgers need a frontline ace to compete against the Philadelphia Phillies for supremacy in the National League.  The Dodgers have a window of opportunity so they should certainly make every attempt to secure the final pieces of the puzzle in what could be Joe Torre’s last hurrah.

 

 

 

Dunn/Getty Images

 

 

Wow, with 15 wins, Tim Lincecum captured the NL Cy Young Award for the second consecutive year?  I am not trying to take anything away from Lincecum (15-7, 2.48 ERA), but I was surprised.  I know and understand that win total is the one statistic that a pitcher has the least amount of control over, however, I thought that Adam Wainright of the St. Louis Cardinals was the deserving choice (he led the NL with 19 wins).  His ERA was slightly higher than Lincecum’s at 2.63, but it was still very good.  You could also argue that Chris Carpenter should have won, as he had a remarkable season (17-4, 2.24 ERA despite missing time with a pulled muscle in his side).  Wainright, 19-8, captured the most first place votes, but finished third behind Lincecum and Carpenter.  I can’t help but think that if Wainright had pitched for the Mets or the Dodgers, he would have won the award.  Even the local Bay Area press was surprised by Lincecum’s win.  I was listening to San Francisco sports talk radio on Friday, and all they could talk about was how long Lincecum’s hair was going to be by Opening Day next season.  Lincecum lead the league in strikeouts with 261, and was second in ERA and third in innings pitched.  If you ask Lincecum which stat is most important, it’s WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched).  Timmy finished fourth with a WHIP of 1.047 (behind Dan Haren, Carpenter, and Javier Vazquez).  I am not saying that Lincecum was a bad choice…it was simply unexpected, in my mind.

 

 

Seattle Times

 

 

Hey Julia, I enjoyed reading the Boston Globe this morning…”Out of Synch:  Magic’s Act Again Surprises Celtics”.  Very nice!

 

 

Happy Orlando Magic beat the Celtics in playoff rematch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orlando Sentinel

 

I am going to see a show by comedian Lisa Lampanelli tonight.  I don’t know anything about her except that she is the so-called “Queen of Mean”.  I found this review of Lisa’s show by Larry the Cable Guy:  “Front row tickets to Lisa’s show are $100, and obstructed view tickets are $150″.  I’ve heard she is very raunchy so I might want to get those obstructed view tickets!  ;)

 

 

 

No Royal Pains…

 

They got it right…

 

 

 

 

The homer pick was to go with CC Sabathia for the 2009 AL Cy Young Award.  However, it was clear that Zack Greinke of the Kansas City Royals is THE right choice.  He had an incredible season.  Imagine what he could have done playing for Boston or New York.  The win-loss record wasn’t spectacular (16-8), however, the 2.16 ERA and 242 strikeouts were.  It was a dominating season and Greinke was the class of the American League. 

 

 

Ed Zurga/AP

 

Of course, “dessert” for Greinke is his upcoming nuptials this weekend to former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader Emily Kuchar.  Okay, Zack lives in a world that I will never know…

 

 

 

Congrats, Zack, on a tremendous season! 

 

 

 

I am not so sure that I like the Yankees very slow and non-reactionary approach to the early off-season.  I know that GM Brian Cashman is trying to see how many dollars in his wallet, however, the team is costing themselves money by not proactively seeking to retain certain free agents like Johnny Damon. 

 

IMAGES HAVE BEEN DIGITALLY DESATURATED) Johnny Damon #18 of the New York Yankees poses during Photo Day on February 19, 2009 at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Johnny Damon

Nick Laham/Getty Images 

 

The Yankees would be wise to start talking about an extension with Derek Jeter now rather than wait until the expiration of his current contract.  By waiting, it will most likely cost the team more than if they’d put forth the deal to secure Jeter’s pinstripe-only career.

 

 

 

Barton Silverman/The New York Times 

 

I was really shocked to hear that the only coach signed for next season is hitting instructor Kevin Long.  Even manager Joe Girardi is a lame duck with a contract set to expire after next season.  Maybe it’s just me, but it would be kind of nice to have a first or third base coach.

 

 

 

 

Maybe the Yankees have a grand master plan that will work to perfection.  They’ll walk off with top free agents John Lackey and Matt Holliday signed to very reasonable deals.  But then again, maybe they won’t and they’ll be scrambling to retain the likes of Sergio Mitre, who’s option they declined earlier today.

 

 

William Perlman/The Star Ledger 

 

Admittedly, I am a bigger fan of Theo Epstein’s quick-strike approach.  I’d rather make the moves with swiftness and confidence.  Act before your opponent has time to react.  Take a chance on the sleepers.  I dislike going into September of a pennant chase with Sergio Mitre as your fifth starter.  I know that you can’t have an All-Star at every position, however, there are a number of low budget moves the Yanks can make to strengthen the team for its defense of the World Series championship.  If he’s ready, I would like to see Austin Jackson in center, but that does mean the team needs proven production from the corners.  I liked Boston’s pickup of Jeremy Hermida and I think the Yankee scouts should be doing their homework on the next breakout players.  Last off-season, I would have loved to have acquired the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Andre Ethier.  Now, after the successful season he had in 2009, he’d be impossible to acquire.  But he could have been had pre-2009.  I know, I keep waiting for the next Paul O’Neill, however, those type of deals can be made.

 

 

Andre Ethier #16 of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks on from the dugout during a game against the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium on June 30, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.

Jeff Gross/Getty Images 

 

With the rumors of whether or not 2010 will be the final season for Dodgers manager Joe Torre, I do feel bad that he has to endure the divorce battle between Frank and Jamie McCourt.  There has been talk of contract negotiations between Torre and the team so hopefully the divorce situation won’t adversely impact Torre.  Ultimately, I am a fan of Don Mattingly as the next Dodgers manager, however, it should, respectively, be on Joe Torre’s terms.

 

Joe_torres_a_dodger_now 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If the Yankees do non-tender Chien-Ming Wang, I do hope that they move quickly to sign him to an incentive-laden deal.  I still think that Wang can be the pitcher he was in 2006 and 2007.  I was frustrated last season, however, he clearly was not healthy.

 

 

Lucy Nicholson/Reuters 

 

I’ll be headed to Arizona in a few weeks to finally see Brett Favre play as the Minnesota Vikings take on the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale, AZ.  I haven’t seen the Vikings play (in person) for about 20 years.  The last time was against the Dallas Cowboys in Irving, Texas.  The Vikings won a shoot-out in overtime, 44-38.  A quick Google search tells me that it was 22 years ago on Thanksgiving Day.  Hopefully, December 6th in the Sonoran Desert will be equally exciting and with the same result!

 

 

 

 

The previous week will start with a Kelly Clarkson concert (oh yeah!) and will also include a Broadway play in New York City, so here’s hoping for a GREAT week for ME!  J

 

 


Success.JPG 

 

Life is Better…When You Are a Yankees Fan…

 

Yankees fans are everywhere…

 

 

Even the Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre admittedly that he was pulling for the Yankees during the World Series.  Okay, maybe he has good reason, but you can find us Yankee fans in the most unlikely places.  Don’t look now, but the person standing next to you could be a Yankees fan!  ;)

 

 

Of course, in a championship year, that’s the problem.  Suddenly, everyone is a fan.  In the down years, not many people admitted they were Yankees fans.  I have stood by the team through thick and thin, but I recognize that the good times have outweighed the bad times.  As a lifelong fan of the Minnesota Vikings, I knew the heartbreak of championship losses (four Super Bowl losses in the Joe Kapp/Fran Tarkenton eras).  The Vikings have never won a championship and they haven’t been in the Super Bowl since that dreadful 32-14 loss to the Oakland Raiders on January 9, 1977.  I am still haunted by the visions of Brent McClanahan’s fumble, Willie Brown’s 75-yard interception return for a touchdown, and Chuck Foreman sitting on his helmet with a blank expression at the end of the game.

 

 

 

Anyway, I digress.  “Yankees fan” Joe Torre was in New York for his annual Safe at Home foundation benefit dinner, and he indicated he was pleased the Yankees won the World Series.  That was good to hear, particularly considering that he would have every reason to hold bitterness against the Steinbrenners and Yankee top brass for how the end of his managerial reign was handled.  Don’t worry Joe, we would have pulled for you had the situation been reversed.

 

 

 

It does sound like Joe wants to continue to manage beyond 2010.  He is still having fun, but I still think his wife will eventually help him realize that it’s time to step aside and turn over the team to Donnie Baseball.  So, I guess the question is how many World Series championships can Joe Girardi win before Joe Torre retires?  ;)

 

girardi-pie.jpeg

John Munson/The Star Ledger 

 

I was sad to hear the situation in Texas with former Yankees closer John Wetteland.  The initial reports came out that he was hospitalized for depression and attempted suicide.  His employer, the Seattle Mariners (where he is bullpen coach), stated that the hospitalization was due an elevated heart rate.   Wettleland has since been released from the hospital but regardless of what happened, I hope that he gets the care and treatment that he needs. 

Watching Mariano Rivera set up Wettleland in 1996 was a thrill, and I remember being a bit unsure when the team made Rivera the closer following Wetteland’s free agent departure that winter.  Wetteland was a great Yankee, even if his stay was short.  He deserves much happiness and success, so I hope all goes well in his world.

 

 

Did you see that Derek Jeter has a cameo appearance on Will Ferrell’s next film, “The Other Guys” which also stars Mark Wahlberg?  I guess he’s starting to contemplate a career post-Yankees.  But of course, the Yankees have a few more championships to win before that happens!

 

 

DJ the Actor.JPG

 

Hey Derek, stick with the day job!  ;)

 

–Scott

 

 

 

Farewell to the Metrodome…

 

 

 

The play of the game was courtesy of Derek Jeter…

 

 

Kathy Willens/AP

 

 

The Yankees emerged victorious, winning the ALDS against the Minnesota Twins, three games to none.  Thanks to a 4-1 victory tonight, the Yankees will head home for a Friday meeting against the Los Angeles Angels and old friends Bobby Abreu and Juan Rivera.

 

Elise Amendola/AP

 

 

I really didn’t want to see Carl Pavano pitch the game of his life against his former teammates.  He had the strikeouts (9), but in the end, he was done in by 7th inning home runs from Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada.

 

Kathy Willens/AP

 

 

The Yankees added a couple of insurance runs in the 9th inning, but in my mind, the play of the game was courtesy of Derek Jeter with an assist by Jorge Posada.  In the 8th, Nick Punto led off with a double.  The next batter, Denard Span, hit the ball to Derek Jeter after a hop.  Seeing that he had no play at first, Derek fired the ball to Jorge Posada when he saw that Punto was running past third despite the stop sign.  Posada quickly made a perfect throw to third baseman Alex Rodriguez to erase Punto who was diving back to third.  So, instead of runners on the corners with no outs, the Twins only had a runner at first with one out.  The Yankees escaped the inning without allowing any runs, and the Twins’ last threat of the 2009 season was eliminated.

 

 

Martin Levison/Star Tribune

 

 

Mariano Rivera recorded the final four outs to save the game, and propel the Yankees into the American League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. 

 

Jim Mone/AP

 

 

The game represented the final baseball game held at the Metrodome.  The Twins will move to their new ballpark, Target Field, next season.  The Vikings are now the sole tenant of the Metrodome (at least until they find a new stadium).

 

 

Charlie Niebergall/AP

 

 

 

Alex Rodriguez has eliminated any doubt that he is not a post-season performer, and Jorge Posada has proved once again that he is a man to be counted on when it counts.  It was a great victory for the Yanks, and a nice sweep to give them a few days off before they face their nemesis in the Bronx.

 

 


Bronx.JPG 

 

 

It’s hard to believe that 3 of 4 play-off series were decided by sweeps.  I am surprised that the powerful Philadelphia Phillies are the only team that is engaged in a difficult battle.  They are clearly more talented than the Colorado Rockies, but they are tied in the NLDS with the Rockies, but leading 4-3 in the early stages of the very cold game tonight..

.

 

David Zalubowski/AP

 

 

 

Congratulations to Joe Torre and the Los Angeles Dodgers for advancing to the National League Championship Series.  I have to admit that it was a little bittersweet watching Donnie Baseball wrapping his arms around Dodgers players in celebration of their series sweep over the St. Louis Cardinals.

 

 

Tom Gannam/AP

 

 

It was tough to watch the Boston Red Sox exit the 2009 play-offs.  I was really hoping for a final Yankees-Red Sox showdown.  I thought the Red Sox were going to win today’s game, and didn’t really think that the Angels would rally against closer Jonathan Papelbon.  Had the Sox won today, they would have re-captured some momentum in the series, and they’d have a good chance to even things up in Game 4.  Alas, it was not meant to be as Bobby Abreu and Vladimir Guerrero came up with key hits in the 9th to score a total of 3 runs to overtake Boston, 7-6.  Still, I thought the Red Sox had a chance in the bottom of the 9th but they just couldn’t get it going.

 

 

Elise Amendola/AP

 

 

I have enjoyed my season-long wagers with Julia of Julia’s Rants.  Early in the season, it was all-Red Sox.  Julia was living a charmed life.  Then, the Yankees picked up a win on August 6th and they haven’t looked back.  It has been a fun and exciting year for the Yankees and Red Sox.  “The Rivalry” is great for baseball, and I think I learned to better understand Red Sox fans with my battles against Julia.  They are passionate, and they care about their team.  They are supportive through the end, and they walk away with their heads held high.  They know, not just hope, that they will be back next year…stronger and hungrier than ever before.  Congratulations Julia to you and your team on a fine season!  Of course, that doesn’t mean I won’t be anxious to see photos of you wearing your pink Yankees cap and Lou Gehrig t-shirt holding a sign proclaiming that the Yankees ARE BETTER!  Life is good!

 

 

 

As for my favorite football team, the Minnesota Vikings were victorious against the St. Louis Rams, 38-10.  I was a bit worried that the Vikings would have a letdown after the emotions of facing the Green Bay Packers last week, but then again, they were only facing the Rams. That team has certainly fallen on hard times.

 

 

Jeff Roberson/AP 

 

 

Percy Harvin is quickly becoming my favorite player.  He caught four passes for 66 yards, but no TD’s.  Another personal favorite is DE Jared Allen.  A week after his repeated “hugs” of Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, Allen recovered two fumbles and returned one 52 yards for a touchdown.  I gotta admit that I enjoyed Allen’s quote after the game.  “We think we’re a good football team”, Allen said.  “The worst we can finish now is 5-11″.  I like his perspective as he isn’t taking anything for granted.

 

 

Michael Conroy/AP

 

 

Brett Favre is 1-0 as a 40-year-old QB.  I have to admit that I was surprised when I heard that this was Favre’s first 5-0 start.  Congrats to Brett and the Vikings on a great game!

 

 

Tom Gannam/AP

 

 

This is my 200th blog since joining MLB.com.  Very appropriate!  MLB.com Bloggers, one and all, are the best!

 

 

 

–Scott

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.