Results tagged ‘ Joe Torre ’

Coming Up Aces…

So THIS is what it feels like to have an ace?

 


Aces.JPGWow, CC Sabathia and his big time stuff!  Very nice…

McIsaac/Getty Images

It has been quite awhile since the Yanks have had a true ace, and it is great.  The Yanks were locked in a tight game at the Stadium last night against the Orioles until the Yankees broke the game open in the late innings.

CC gave up a first inning run to stake the O’s to an early 1-0 lead, but that was quickly erased in the bottom of the frame by an Alex Rodriguez two-run homer.  Isn’t going out on a limb to say that the hip is not bothering A-Rod?  If he keeps this up for a few more games, he’ll be challenging Donnie Baseball’s club record for consecutive games with a home run. 

 

And of course, Mark Teixeira is no longer ‘The Ice Man Cometh’ as he has shown all he needed was A-Rod to cover his back in the lineup.  Tex was responsible for helping break the game open in the 7th inning with a two-run homer, which was also included a bases loaded double by Derek Jeter and a few Oriole miscues. 

 

 

Mark Teixeira talks about Alex Rodriguez being back
http://tribeca.vidavee.com/advance/vidavee/playerv3/vFlasher_debug.swf?p19=movie1242866207432&p2=off&p3=off&p4=50&p5=off&p7=on&p8=off&p31=on&p22=http%3A%2F%2Fanalytics.tribeca.vidavee.com%2Fvanalytics%2Fgateway%2F&p13=no&p16=v3AdvInt_nj.swf&p17=http%3A%2F%2Ftribeca.vidavee.com%2Fadvance%2Fvidavee%2Fplayerv3%2Fskins%2F&p11=0&p15=http%3A%2F%2Ftribeca.vidavee.com%2Fadvance%2FvClientXML.view%3FAF_renderParam_contentType%3Dtext%2Fxml%26showEndCard%3Doff%26link%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fvideos.nj.com%2Fstar-ledger%2F2009%2F05%2Fmark_teixeira_talks_about_alex.html%26vtagView%3Don%26skin%3Dv3AdvInt_nj.swf%26autoplay%3Doff%26loadStream%3Doff%26width%3D470%26height%3D266%26vtag%3Dyes%26startVolume%3D50%26hidecontrolbar%3Dno%26textureStrip%3Dyes%26displayTime%3Dyes%26volumeLock%3Doff%26watermark%3Dyes%26dockey%3DC20300D3EBA8E3ABFFA3EB9F177C71E3&p21=http%3A%2F%2Ftribeca.vidavee.com%2Fadvance%2Fvidavee%2Fplayerv3%2Fjs%2FFlashProxyLoader.js&p18=timeDisplay%3Dyes%3Bwatermark%3Dyes%3BshareWidgets%3Don%3BtextureStripe%3Dyes%3BvtagDisplay%3Dyes%3BshowEndCard%3Doff%3Blink%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fvideos.nj.com%2Fstar-ledger%2F2009%2F05%2Fmark_teixeira_talks_about_alex.html

 

Video by Marc Carig/The Star Ledger

 

But it wasn’t needed as CC brought his A-game, and didn’t give up any more runs after the lone run in the first.  Brian Bruney (what’s up with the bald head?) and Brett Tomko closed out the game in relief of CC to preserve his three-hit masterpiece.

Michael Stobe/US Presswire

The Yankees’ winning streak now stands at 7 games.  The Yanks remain in third place, one game behind the Boston Red Sox and 3 ½ behind the Toronto Blue Jays as both of those teams also won.  Correction:  The Red Sox won, beating the Jays.  Thanks for catching the error in my ways, Julia!  ;) 

Phil Hughes is the starter tonight, and I suspect that this will be his last Yankee performance before another trip back to Scranton (regardless of how well he pitches tonight due to the impending return of Chien-Ming Wang). 

The New York Daily News reported yesterday that the Los Angeles Dodgers may be on the schedule for a trip to the Bronx in 2010.  I hope it comes true as it would be great to see Joe Torre make a farewell visit before he calls it a career…

Hey Julia, don’t worry about Jason Bay.  He’ll be fine as a New York millionaire!  You guys need to worry about replacing Big Papi.  If Jason hasn’t re-signed with Boston yet, why can’t he sign with the Yankees in the off-season?  It’s possible.  The Yankees, more than likely, will let Johnny Damon walk at this point in his career.  They need a top outfielder, and Matt Holliday, a potential free agent target, has struggled in the AL this year.  So, why not Bay?  It could happen…

 

NYC.JPG

Jason, while Julia is busy giving fruit baskets to Theo, this is for you…

Money.JPG

 

Help, I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up…

The rain in the Northeast keeps falling, and the Yankees keep losing…

Somehow, the two seem inexplicably intertwined.  Hopefully, sunny skies are ahead, both figuratively and literally…

 

Of the bullpen guys, I have been a fan of Phil Coke.  He’s one of the few guys that I have felt good about.  Yet, he served up what proved to be the game-winning home run to Tampa Bay Rays Carlos Pena in the 10th inning of last night’s game.  The Yankees lost 4-3. I still have faith in Coke, but I am very troubled by the unreliable bullpen.

Courtesy www.chasthornhill.com

Johnny Damon tried to rally the Yanks, with a double in the 10th.  He was on third after a wild pitch, but no one could bring him home.  Mark Teixeira, who had tied the game in the 8th inning with a three-run double, missed his chance at becoming the hero.  Even a deep sacrifice fly to the outfield would have scored Damon but Tex couldn’t come through.  Another missed opportunity for the “defining moment”.  

 Yet again, Damon proved he is a “gamer” when the chips are down.  But none of the other players seem prepared to follow his lead. 

  

After the game, pitcher A.J. Burnett said, “When it clicks it will be ridiculous.  When it clicks, it will be fun to watch.”  I only hope that the team doesn’t dig too deep of a hole before that happens.

 


Hole.JPGDespite the quality start by Burnett, the Yankees now have a losing record on the season at 13-14.  It doesn’t get any easier this week, as the Yanks play the Rays again today and then head to Baltimore to play the Orioles (who always play the Yankees tough).

Getty Images 

Meanwhile, Joe Torre is now the proud owner of a record 13-game home winning streak to start the season.  Torre’s comments after the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 10-3 victory over the Washington Nationals reminded me of what I miss about Torre.  He has a great way of always keeping things in perspective.

“Streaks are fine, but we have more important things in mind,” Torre said. “Hopefully, it’s just a stepping stone on the way to something more important. The fact that we’re playing well takes precedence over anything else. The good part about this thing is that this is about winning games, which is what we try to do every day.”

 Joe Torre

John G. Mabangio/EPA

Conversely, Joe Girardi didn’t display the same sense of calm after the Yankees loss…

“It’s a tough loss. No loss is enjoyable, but this is a tough loss,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “Coke made one mistake. He got too much of the plate.”

Girardi needs to take Torre’s lead and focus on winning games…before it’s too late…


Guillotine.JPG

 

P.S. 

 

A special shout-out to Jane Heller, Confessions of a She-Fan…I hope she’s safe and out of harm’s way with the Santa Barbara fires.  It’s scary times, and at times like this, baseball seems somewhat irrelevant.  Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those in the Santa Barbara area…

 

Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times

–Scott

Lost!…

 

LOST!

 

Jorge Posada injured the “other” hamstring, and now the Yanks are looking for catching alternatives.  Francisco Cervelli, the only other catcher on the 40-man roster, is currently playing for Double A-Trenton.  

 

Icon/SMI

 

 

LOST!

 

Jose Molina looked like Big Wally behind the plate last night…and played like it…

 

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Courtesy Julia’s Rants

 

LOST!

 

Joe Girardi, who had an early exit thanks to his argument with home plate umpire Jerry Meals.

 

The home plate umpire throws Joe Girardi out of the game for arguing a called strike three on Derek Jeter in the 5th inning.

David Pokress/Newsday

 

LOST!

 

Phil Hughes, who is now 1-1, thanks to the Yanks failed rally in the 9th and those home runs to Jason Bay and Mike Lowell.  What happened to the 2009 version of Hughes that beat the Tigers last month?  We don’t need any repeat appearances of the 2008 version…

 

Mike Lowell of the Red Sox trots around the bases after hitting a solo home run in the first inning.

David Pokress/Newsday

 

LOST!

 

Damaso Marte to the 15-Day DL. 

 

 

Well, at least Damaso has an excuse.  What about Jose Veras?…

 

 

LOST!

 

Forget the two home runs, Mark Teixeira missed his “defining moment” when he struck out with two men on in the 9th inning…

 

Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek tosses the ball to the home plate umpire after Mark Texeira struck out to end the first inning.

David Pokress/Newsday

 

LOST!

 

Me, of course.  However, I may be down, but I am not out.  I am not going to concede defeat to the this woman!  And hopefully the great Rain gods in the sky won’t either for tonight’s game…

 

 

LOST!

 

I know, I have been neglecting the show (thanks to this blog) and I am now about 6 episodes behind.  At least I have TiVo…

 

 

LOST!

 

Are the Los Angeles Lakers really 0-1 to start their series against the Houston Rockets?

 

Lakers are stopped cold by Rockets in Game 1

Los Angeles Times

 

Kobe, say it ain’t so!

 

BUT, NOW WE WIN!

 

 

Go Yankees!

 

JOE TORRE’S RECORD START

 

With the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 11 home wins to start the 2009 season, Joe Torre has exceeded his personal best.  He started with 10 home wins with the Atlanta Braves in 1983. 

 

However, he must secretly have a death wish for the winning streak considering the scheduled starter tonight against the Arizona Diamondbacks is the completely forgettable Jeff Weaver.  Good luck with that…

 

Kevork Djansezian/AP

 

NICE TOUCH BY ANGELS

 

I was impressed by the Los Angeles Angels decision to take the late Nick Adenhart’s jersey on the road with them this season.  The jersey was at Yankee Stadium this past weekend, and it presently occupies a locker in the visitors’ clubhouse at Oakland Coliseum.

 

 

 Joshua Sudock/The Orange County Register

 

 

Which book to read first?…

BOOKS ARE ON THEIR WAY…

 

I received the e-mail from Amazon that the two books I ordered are on their way (Joe Torre’s The Yankee Years and Jane Heller’s Confessions of a She-Fan).

 

After Joe’s softball interview with Larry King on Friday, his book tour gets underway this week.  I agree with those who say that Joe is backpedaling, and his “clarification” of his A-Fraud comments is case in point.  In the book, he does not reference that it was in jest, but now he supports Larry Bowa’s comments that it was a fun-natured comment that was made to A-Rod directly. 

 

Bob Klapisch of The Record (newjersey.com) interviewed Mike Mussina last week, and I thought Mike had some very insightful comments:

 

“it’s not just what goes on in the clubhouse, it’s sitting on the bus, or if you’re out having lunch. As a ballplayer you need to know who you have to watch out for and who you can trust. First and foremost, you should be able to trust your manager.”

 

Mike went on to say several statements of the obvious:

 

“I mean, people knew that Brown was out there, and that Randy was ornery all the time. And Pavano is whoever he is. But if you’re their manager, you can’t go out and write about them like that.”

 

It’s unfortunate that Joe Girardi has to learn on the job, but in the end, I think the Yankees will be much better off with Mr. G. than Mr. T.   I personally wanted Donnie Baseball to get the job after Joe T. left, but for personal reasons, he clearly wasn’t ready.  Although I am hopeful that he gets his opportunity one day, I believe that the time is now for Joe Girardi, and he deserves every opportunity to lead the ship to battle. 

 

As much as I am looking forward to reading Torre’s book, I have to admit that I am more excited about Jane Heller’s Confessions of a She-Fan.  Clearly, her book will get preferential treatment upon receipt.  I can relate to her story first and foremost as a fellow Yankees fan.  But I can further relate to her story.  The Minnesota Vikings have been my favorite football team since 1972, and I was so upset when Fran Tarkenton retired and they gave the QB job to Bob Lee (I hated that guy!).  As a product of my frustration, I wrote a letter to the Vikings organization informing them that I had resigned as a fan.  I came back around with Tommy Kramer, but admittedly there are incredible highs and lows when you are passionate about a sports team.  I have thoroughly enjoyed every blog Jane has written, and I am very excited about the book.  I will provide my review after I have received my copy. 

 

I have been a Yankees fan for over 33 years, and I met the first Yankees fan that I am proud of during the 2001 World Series.  I attended Games 2 and 6 in Phoenix, and during Game 6 I encountered a very knowledgeable Yankees fan from New York who made me realize that the World Series was beyond anything short of a Yankees championship.  He had attended the games in New York, and the magic and inspiration that he shared that day were incredible.  Of course, the Yankees then got shellacked by the D-Backs, but it was still an experience I’ll always remember.  Jane sharing a story that is so engrained in our hearts is incredible. That places her among the top two Yankees fan I’ve encountered.  Considering that the Yankees are THE most storied franchise, she has written a book about us, among us, with us…

 

Thanks Jane.

 

OTHER THOUGHTS…

 

Congratulations to the Pittsburgh Steelers and their record 6th Super Bowl championship.  Perhaps we can put an end to the talk of the Cowboys as “America’s Team”.  I want to say that the TD catch by Santonio Holmes was one of the greatest acts of concentration and attention to detail that I’ve seen in a Super Bowl in a long time.  It was a incredible catch, and certainly deserves placement up there with the likes of the “Immaculate Reception”. 

 

The latest rumors have the New England Patriots placing the franchise tag on QB Matt Cassel and then trading him to the Kansas City Chiefs (due to the Scott Pioli connection).  I think that the Chiefs and Vikings rumors will run rampant until a trade actually happens, but I do hope that Cassel is wearing purple and gold when all is said and done. 

 

As Kevin Millar says, the Orioles aren’t going to win this season, but they have quietly been making some very sound acquisitions…

 

If the Dodgers are down to making a one year, $25 million offer for Manny Ramirez, why don’t the Yankees enter the game?  Trade Xavier Nady and Nick Swisher (there is significant interest in both), and ensure YES ratings with Manny in right field.  Sorry, I just can’t let go of my totally gluttonous dream!

 

Adding a Jim Edmonds to platoon in center with Brett Gardner or Melky Cabrera is probably not a bad idea…

 

I hated to hear that Andrew Bynum of the Los Angeles Lakers will miss 8-12 weeks due to a tear in the medial collateral ligament of his right knee, but at least it wasn’t a season-ending injury.  I wonder how much different last year’s NBA Championship would have looked had Bynum been healthy and available to play.

 

Bobby Knight at the University of Georgia?  C’mon, Bobby, give it up.  I am sure that ESPN will provide for a very comfortable life in your remaining years.  But you are like the guest who stayed too long, we’re ready for you to leave…

 

Just 10 days until pitchers and catchers report…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Pressure makes diamonds”…

The title quote by General George S. Patton could be applied to the 2009 New York Yankees…

 

BIG EXPECTATIONS

 

The pressure for Joe Girardi to succeed will be very intense this year given the Yankees’ significant offseason additions.  As Johnny Damon put it in a recent interview with Peter Kerasotis of Florida Today: 

 

We better win this year,” he said, “or else a few of us will need to find new jobs.”

 

I think that Girardi will rise to the challenge, and will show continued growth and development as a manager as he enters his second year at the Yankee helm.  Tony Pena will play an invaluable role in helping Girardi define himself, and this might be the year that Joe can begin to break out of Joe Torre’s shadow.  In his first year, Girardi was consistently compared with Torre in his inferior ability to handle the media and bring a “sense of calm” to the clubhouse.  But as Girardi improves in those areas, his superior ability as a statistician and strategist will become more transparent.  When it’s game time, there aren’t many managers who are better prepared than Girardi.

 

The Yankees recent trend of slow starts is a concern, and of course Mark Teixeira has a similar history so that won’t help.  Nevertheless, the key to the season is patience, and the Yankees’ dominant pitching staff will begin to exert its promise as the season progresses. 

 

As the quotes continue to circulate about Joe Torre’s new book, The Yankee Years, and how George Steinbrenner was a tyrant, I can’t help but think how much different Hal Steinbrenner is from his father.  By all appearances, he shares his father’s passion for winning and is concerned about the Steinbrenner family’s Yankee legacy, but he seems more patient and methodical in his approach.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the course of a long season with the high expectations and the inevitable bumps in the road.

 

For what it’s worth, Damon is okay with Torre’s book.  He mentioned that when he wrote his book, the only negatives were about himself and not others.  Although supportive of Torre, he did discuss the sanctity of the clubhouse in his interview with Peter Kerasotis:

 

“What happens in the clubhouse should always stay in the clubhouse, unless it’s funny or goofy. You know, harmless stuff.”

 

Unlike David Wells and others, Damon always has a way of putting things in the proper perspective.  I felt that way even when he played with the Red Sox. 

 

I am a little disappointed that Larry King didn’t ask any tough questions of Joe Torre on Friday night, but then again, it was Larry King so it was a given that the questions would be “Nerf” balls.  While I wasn’t totally convinced by Torre’s explanations, I still believe that the book must be read before any final judgments are made. 

 

It should be a season to remember as the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays slug it out for AL East superiority, and hopefully a trip to the World Series for the victor…

 

ODDS AND ENDS…

 

I am curious to see if something happens with Xavier Nady or Nick Swisher this week.  Later in the week, it will have been ten days since pitcher Chase Wright was designated for assignment.  Wright is too talented to pass through waivers, so I could easily see him being part of a trade involving Nady or Swisher as the Yanks attempt to recoup some prospects.  Granted, they could just deal Wright in a stand-alone trade, but I think the greater value is a package deal.   With pitchers and catchers scheduled to report in less than two weeks, I really believe that something will happen sooner rather than later.  I still have mixed feelings about trading Nady and/or Swisher, but it appears that it will most likely happen so hopefully the “return” will be worth it in the long run.

 

I am very anxious to see what Mark Melancon and Phil Coke can do in training camp this year…

 

I maintain my belief that the Steelers will be victorious later today.  If I am wrong, so be it.  I am not going to lose any sleep if the Cardinals successfully end their 61-year drought.  I grew up about 60 miles away from Kurt Warner, so it is good to see a fellow Iowan enjoy success.  Bill Bidwell has taken so many hits over the years, and he remains a villain in St. Louis, but his influence is a key reason for why the Cardinals are in Tampa today.  Over the years, the team always talked about building a team based on character.  It’s refreshing that the Super Bowl doesn’t have the likes of Terrell Owens, Adam “Pac Man” Jones, or Jeremy Shockey.  I know that Anquan Boldin made some comments this year, as has Edgerrin James, but neither is what I would consider a “bad” guy.  I am looking forward to seeing if this year’s commercials show new originality and innovation.  Last year was a disappointment…

 

I liked the quote in a SNL skit where the woman said that she thought the Super Bowl was a battle of Budweiser bottles (hopefully, the game itself will remain the most interesting part of the event).

 

I am impressed with this year’s selections for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  All of the selections were tremendous choices:  Bruce Smith, Derrick Thomas, Rod Woodson, Randall McDaniel, Bullet Bob Hayes, and Ralph Wilson.  It will be a very memorable day in Canton, Ohio this summer.

 

As Fonz would say, I was “wr…wro…wr…”…

CONFIDENTIALITY AGREEMENTS, CONTINUED…

Upon second thought, I will acquiesce to the opinion that confidentiality agreements would not be a good thing.  First and foremost, it would have to be cleared through a collective bargaining agreement between management and the player’s association, and that would never happen.  If the Yankees were able to incorporate the language into their contracts for players, coaches and management without league consent, there would be potential negative implications in terms of trying to attract future free agents to New York.  It doesn’t seem that long ago when it was difficult for the Yankees to attract top free agent talent without severely overpaying.  The Yankees successfully changed the perception in recent years, and the Bronx became a very attractive place to play.  But the presence of a confidentiality agreement or clause in a Yankees contract could cause player to accept less from other teams without the same verbiage (knowing that they potentially would have greater revenue opportunities after baseball). 

In the end, I think the person most hurt by Joe Torre’s book, The Yankee Years, is Joe Torre.  Regardless of whether the negative backlash was deserved or not, Torre will have to work hard to make amends. 

I would not want to lose the opportunity to read future books that provide actual insight into the details of specific seasons and teams.  So, I agree that a disparagement clause in Yankee contracts would be inappropriate.

NO MORE FREE AGENTS

As I read MLB.com’s report that the Yankees cannot sign more than three Type A or B Free Agents (excluding their own) under the terms of the collectively bargained rules established by management and the player’s association, I can’t help but wonder why this wasn’t brought to light sooner.  I personally do not think that the rule plays any part in the Yankees desire to add no further free agents.  I think economics played a greater part (the state of the US economy and the Steinbrenner family’s desire to stay under last year’s payroll).  But it’s funny that this rule wasn’t mentioned by anyone sooner.  Apparently, the Yankees could have requested an increase in the quota since the total number of Type A and B Free Agents exceeded 62, but they did not (which supports the argument that they’ve simply reached their appetite for player salaries).

So much for my gluttonous dream of Manny in pinstripes!

UPDATE:  It is now being reported that this was revised to no more than 8 Type A or B free agent signings due to the expanded pool of free agent players.  I thought it was weird that nothing was said about the limit before.  Nevertheless, I think the Yankees are done.  With the settlement of the arbitration case with Brian Bruney, the Yankees’ total salary is just under $200M with a few more contract issues to be resolved (however, no more arbitration cases remain).  Unless salaries are going out, I just don’t see any further free agent signings… 

OTHER THOUGHTS…

It’s almost humorous to hear David Wells’ comments about Joe Torre given how much time and energy Wells put into being a distraction himself.  But, based on quotes over the years and the recent events, I find much truth in the following Wells’ quote:

“I’ve always said if you weren’t Joe’s boy, he could care less about you. … Don’t get me wrong, he is not a bad manager.  I just thought he was a bad individual, because of the fact he didn’t treat everybody the same.”

And of course, to hear comments from Carl Pavano is even more humorous.  For all the negative things that have been said about Pavano (and deservedly so), I also think he has displayed the right attitude in his response.  I particularly liked the quote that ended with “…it does explain why I haven’t received any Christmas cards from Joe the last few years.”

In addition to reading the book, I will be anxious to hear what Torre has to say on David Letterman next week (Wednesday, February 3rd).  Hopefully, Dave won’t pitch softballs to Torre…

Torre’s first interview is scheduled for tonight on “Larry King Live”. 

Today is deadline day for Jason Varitek.  On the surface, it doesn’t look like this is going to end well.  Hopefully, Jason can set aside his pride, and accept the Red Sox offer.  It’s not like it would be a struggle to get by on only $5 million (at least not from my perspective).  I do feel that the Red Sox have handled the negotiations fairly, and to a degree, you could say they’ve been generous to a player who has meant so much to them.  Hopefully, the two sides can come together later today.  The Yankees-Red Sox battles just wouldn’t be the same without Varitek in the Boston dugout.  Hopefully, there will be another scene like this later today…

General Manager Theo Epstein of the Red Sox, left, introducing catcher Jason Varitek as the team's captain. 

(Courtesy Associated Press and the New York Times)

UPDATE:  Varitek agreed to the contract later in the day.  One year at $5 million, plus a second year club option for $5 million or player option for $3 million.   

 

A Future of “Pleasantville” Yankees Books…

CONFIDENTIALITY AGREEMENTS

The word is that the Yankees want to incorporate confidentiality agreements into their player and management contracts to include a “non-disparagement clause” and prevent future books like The Yankee Years, or those written by Jim Bouton, Graig Nettles, David Wells, et al. From my perspective, they should.  If you pay CC Sabathia $181 million, you should not have to be subject to a potentially harmful book at the end of the contract if there is player dissatisfaction.  Joe Torre was paid very well during his years as Yankees manager.  By the end of his tenure, I believe (although I have not confirmed it) that he was in the upper echelon of the pay scale for MLB managers.  Maybe he hasn’t said anything in the book that he hasn’t said before or there are quotes that are improperly attributed to him, but the fact remains that he wrote a book that has caused controversy and does not help team chemistry or morale. 

The Yankees have the right to protect the confidentiality and the sanctity of the clubhouse.  No one is going to write a ‘behind closed doors’ book about the Kansas City Royals clubhouse, but because the Yankees are the big market, high-profile team that is committed to winning, they will always draw more scrutiny than other teams, including Boston.  Well, unless you live in Boston, of course.  As such, the Yankees deserve the added measure to ensure “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”.

RECOMMENDED BOOK 

Speaking of The Yankee Years, I have ordered my copy through Amazon.  In the way of “Good Cop, Bad Cop” with the Torre book representing the bad cop, I also purchased Confessions of a She-Fan by Jane Heller.  Yankees fans should be familiar with the great works of Jane Heller through her outstanding blogs, and judging by the reviews I’ve read, we will be even greater fans after reading her latest book.

 

If you pull up the book through Amazon, there is an excellent editorial review and description of the book.  I am looking forward to reading the book, and I get more jazzed about it with each review I read.  Personally, I think this book is a must-read for any baseball fan…

DID YOU SEE THOSE PHOTOS?

The photos on the WCBS Newsradio 880 website showing the different colors of Yankee Stadium are tremendous.  The blue lights as shown below are fascinating, but the website also has photos of the stadium in red, pink, and green.

Photo:  Tom Kaminski/WCBS 880

April can’t get here fast enough!

JUST WONDERING…

With free agent prices continuing to drop, would the Yankees try to make a counter move should the Red Sox sign Adam Dunn to bring his 40 home runs to Fenway?  I know, I can’t let go of the fascination with having Manny Ramirez in the lineup.  I know the baggage that comes with the player,  but I lived in Los Angeles last year and the city was electrified by what Manny brought to the team.  I have admired Manny since his days in Cleveland and he was always a favorite even when he played in Boston.  He’s a great clutch hitter (obviously) and he has that extra “something-something” that Reggie Jackson possessed.  Plus, as a side benefit, you’d take the player away from, as Derek Jeter would say, Mr. T.  Okay, $75 million for retribution is a high price to pay.  But even a Yankees fan can dream, right?

Another free agent that I think still makes great sense is pitcher Juan Cruz.  Working out of the Arizona Diamondbacks bullpen in 2008, he was 4-0 in 57 games with 2.61 ERA and 71 strikeouts.  He is a 30 year old right-hander.  Granted, Damaso Marte could close if necessary, but having Cruz late in the game would give Joe Girardi another very valuable weapon.  Mariano Rivera has been great, arguably the greatest closer the Yankees have ever had.  But time takes its toll and he is more vulnerable to injury at this point in his career than ever before.  Like with Jorge Posada and the catching position, I feel very strongly that the Yankees need a strong contingency plan in place behind Mo.

I guess this is Super Bowl week, so here’s my prediction…Steelers 31, Cardinals 17.  My kids live in Arizona and are Cardinals fans, but I just can’t bring myself to pick them to win.  They surprised me by making it this far, but I think the bubble bursts on Sunday.  As a long-suffering Vikings fan, I hate seeing ex-Vikings always winning Super Bowls, but Mewelde Moore and coach Mike Tomlin should add their names to the list…

 

 

The Day After the Texan’s Return…

THE DAY AFTER THE RETURN OF THE MAN FROM TEXAS

 

The Yankees designed pitcher Chase Wright, 26, for assignment today to make room on the 40-man roster for Andy Pettitte.  Wright is best known for giving up consecutive home runs to Manny Ramirez, J.D. Drew, Mike Lowell, and Jason Varitek on April 22, 2007.  If that’s not enough to get DFA’d, nothing is!  Seriously, I was surprised that the Yanks cut Chase Wright over Dan Giese.  Granted, Giese did carve a nice niche out of the pen last year, but I think Wright has better long term potential as age is certainly a factor.  I can see it now…the Yanks cut Wright after 10 days; he is quickly picked up by Boston, and returns to Yankee Stadium to throw a no-hitter for the Red Sox. 

 

Hopefully, the Yankees will be able to get something in return for Wright, which I think they most likely will.  Perhaps he will be part of a trade that involves Xavier Nady or Nick Swisher. 

 

As we get closer to spring training, I am becoming more and more reluctant to part with either Nady or Swisher.  I’d rather see them compete for the right field, and let the best Nick, errr I mean, man win. 

 

Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner , when asked about Manny Ramirez, responded “We’re out of it”.  Of course, you always have to take what Hank says with a grain of salt.  I’d find the statement to be more credible if it were coming from Hal Steinbrenner.  But, to Hank’s defense, he was the one in the organization who wanted Ramirez.  Nevertheless, you never know if the comments are continued posturing or a statement of fact.  Given the payroll and economical concerns, I do think the Yankees won’t pursue Ramirez.  But then again, they are the Yankees and they play in a completely different universe. 

 

MORE ON JOE TORRE

 

It is interesting to see the retractions and backpedaling by Tom Verducci and Joe Torre regarding their book, The Yankee Years.  Don’t get me wrong, I still believe that the book needs to be read in its full context before decisions and judgments are made.  But, Torre read and re-read the book, and was comfortable with its contents.  Based on David Wells book alone, you know that little snippets get leaked in advance of the book’s release so Torre had to know that anything potentially controversial would hit the streets prematurely.  Verducci said that Torre was a third person author who is being treated as the first person author by the New York media.  Torre allowed his name to be put on the book so he has to take full responsibility for its contents, regardless of who said what. 

 

I think this will die down after the book’s release, but Joe has created the very media circus that he always tried to avoid.  This will be a distraction in the Yankees camp, and I suspect that Joe will be asked more Yankee-related questions than Dodger ones when he reports to camp.  Good timing, Joe.  Hopefully, Brian Cashman is right about this incident pulling the team together, standing united with A-Rod. 

 

Joe Girardi has probably written a note to self, “Remember to trash only the Florida Marlins and Jeffrey Loria”.  Of course, the Marlins are not necessarily a guaranteed hook when writing a book so if you’re going for the dollars, aim high.

 

JASON VARITEK BELONGS IN BOSTON

 

I think Jason Varitek should accept Boston’s two year offer which includes $5 million for the first year with a second year player option of $3 million, as opposed to the one year $5 million deal.  The fact is that Varitek’s offensive production is not going to improve at this point in his career, and could very well continue to erode.  But, the intangibles that Varitek brings to the team justify his roster spot.  As captain of the team, his leadership has been strongly evident to the players and fans, which includes opponents. 

 

I read an interview with new Yankees catcher Kevin Cash, and his quotes are very telling.

 

“I’m not pro-Red Sox or pro-Jason,” Cash said. “I’m not picking sides. I just know the value of what he does in the clubhouse. That pitching staff is unbelievable. The guys they sign and the guys they develop in that organization are all talented players. I think it works both ways. I think Jason has benefited from playing with the Red Sox and having the opportunity to work with those pitchers.

 

“At the same time, every pitcher on that staff will tell you how vital a role he plays in their career and during each season.”

(Courtesy The Providence Journal)

 

Cash also mentioned how Jason goes out of his way to communicate with his pitchers, particularly when there are language barriers with someone like Daisuke Matsuzaka or Hideki Okajima.  Boston will need to lean on catchers Josh Bard or George Kottaras, or perhaps still pursue a trade for someone like Miguel Montero, but Varitek needs to be there.  To win, you want to beat the best, and Varitek makes the Red Sox better.

Catchers always make the best managers, so I see a future successful managerial career for Varitek if he so chooses…

Done deal…

ANDY’S BACK HOME

It was a long and tortureous process for the fans, but finally, the ink is dry on the one year deal between Andy Pettitte and the Yankees.  Of course, there is a small part of me that wondered what it might have been like to have Ben Sheets in the rotation.  But now, we’ll never know except to see what he does on another staff (most likely the Texas Rangers).  But all things considered, Andy needs to be at Yankee Stadium, just as it would be inappropriate for Jason Varitek to be anywhere but Boston. 

Andy took less guaranteed money to return than what had previously been offered, however, if he, as his agent put it, pitches the way he’s always done, he’ll reach the incentives for a total payout of $12 million.  I had figured all along that it would take $12 million to close the deal, and this contract makes sense for both parties since it lessens the team’s exposure if Andy fails to reach certain levels. 

At this stage of his career, I think Andy is very sensitive to his Yankee legacy, and wants to go out the right way unlike former Yankees David Cone or David Wells who chose to make the detour north to Massachusetts.

At any rate, welcome back Andy!  Everyone will be excited to see you…well, except for maybe #65…

 

JOE WHO?

I realize that the early press regarding Joe Torre’s new book, The Yankee Years, has not been good.  But I do think it was a positive that Joe reached out to one of the book’s targets with a phone call to Brian Cashman.  Cashman subsequently has stated that he was glad to get the call, and he’d reserve judgement until he read the book.  I do believe in his approach, and I think the book needs to be viewed in its full context…not through selected excerpts pulled out to extract interest. 

It didn’t take long for the A-Rod camp to fire arrows back at Torre, which leads me to believe that there is some truth in the accusations.  I’ll buy Andy Pettitte’s assertion that he never heard the phrase “A-Fraud” until Torre’s book started to leak out.  But it’s no secret that A-Rod doesn’t exactly do the things to endear himself to his teammates. 

I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that I thought Johnny Damon’s immediate support for A-Rod was huge.  Johnny showed that he’s a team-first guy, and he sets the standard that the rest of the team needs to achieve.   

Despite my opinion that the book needs to be read before judgement is passed, I still believe that Joe has tarnished his legacy in New York.  Can it be repaired?  Sure.  But for the short term, he has stirred bitterness in areas where it did not previously exist.  And, of course, it has made me start to wonder if some of those outrageous past allegations by Gary Sheffield were, in fact, true.

Hopefully, Donnie Baseball stays on the sidelines for this one…

NO MORE SIGNIFICANT MOVES

Brian Cashman today indicated that we should not expect any further significant moves.  While I can accept that, I still think there’s a major hole at catcher.  Cashman thinks that Jorge Posada is progressing well, but the fact remains that Posada is an aging, past his prime, veteran who will be more susceptible to injury than prior years.  Jose Molina is a nice back up player, but he’s not the answer for full-time duty.  Going into the season, I’d assume worst case scenario (that Posada has a setback) and ensure that I had a solid third string catcher who could perform in a catching platoon if necessary.  Someone like the Philadelphia Phillies’ Chris Coste.  With Carlos Ruiz the starter, and a potential defensive back up in Ronny Paulino, Coste is probably expendable at this stage of his career and could be picked up fairly cheaply.  Coste is not a solid stand-alone catcher, but I think in tandem with Molina could provide a good short-term answer until help can arrive in a few years from Austin Romine and Jesus Montero.

 

 

Dreams of Manny in the Bronx…

MANNY IN THE BRONX?

 

While the Los Angeles Times continues to report that no one is blinking in the Dodgers negotiations with Manny Ramirez and his agent, Scott Boras, the rumors (generated by the fans, not the organization) continue to persist about the possibility of Manny playing in the Bronx. 

 

Granted, Hal Steinbrenner may have the opinion that Manny will never know the inside of the home locker room at the new Yankee Stadium, and there would be a united guffaw from the Red Sox nation, but the move to the Bronx would actually make some sense.

 

Don Mattingly has made some very positive public statements about Manny.  Of course, he only saw the “Best of…” version, and didn’t get to see the unhappy Manny version that played in excess during his later years in Boston.  But there are arguments that Manny would actually be able to maintain better privacy in New York than he could in the fishbowl known as Boston.  I think that’s a fair argument.  As Manny’s price continues to drop, there is a point that it would make financial and baseball sense for the Yankees to enter the Manny sweepstakes.  Maybe that’s why they have laid so low, without formally announcing they are not interested. 

 

There will be holes in the Yankees batting order.  The defensive combo of Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner, combined with uncertainty at the catching position, leave potential weaknesses in the order.  The catching position is uncertain, obviously, because of the continued health concerns with Jorge Posada (and Jose Molina will never be confused with Mike Piazza when it comes to hitting or Bengie Molina for that matter).  While I like both Xavier Nady and Nick Swisher, I think both are complimentary players and not people that you’d build your starting outfield with.  Given the uncertainty of center field and the advancing age of Johnny Damon in left, it makes perfect sense to solidify right with Manny.  He’d be very comfortable in front of the hometown Bronx crowd, and how scary is a batting order that starts with Damon-Jeter-Teixeira-Ramirez-ARod.  That would make up for the defensive shortcomings, and would allow you to forego Andy Pettitte or Ben Sheets in the 5th spot of the rotation and go with Phil Hughes.  Of course, it would also mean that both Xavier Nady and Nick Swisher would probably be dealt, although I’d like to keep Swisher due to his versatility. 

 

For the fans, Manny’s presence in the lineup would be huge.  For the Yankees, Manny’s appeal for the YES Network and the turnstiles at the new Yankee Stadium would be larger.  It makes too much sense, which is why it will probably never happen…

 

SIGNS OF MATURITY AT SECOND BASE

 

I always enjoy reading Kat O’Brien’s blog on Newsday (On the Yankees Beat), and she has provided an answer to a question that has been nagging me.  Where is Robinson Cano mentally and physically?  At 26 years of age, has he finally realized that baseball is more than just raw talent?  Okay, there were a few questions in there.  According to Kat, Cano is now 208 lbs (down from 213 at the end of last season, a season that he most likely “, at a greater weight).  A career .303 hitter, Cano hit .271 last season after a very slow start (.151 BA in April). 

 

Based on Robby’s comments, he does seem to be focused this year.  “I’ve just been working on my new stance,” Cano said, “just getting ready mentally and physically…I know that I have to start in April, not in May or June”.

 

Great insight by Kat, and great news for the Yankees!

 

18 DAYS TO TAMPA (PITCHERS AND CATCHERS)

 

With 18 days to go until pitchers and catchers report to Tampa for spring training, all has been quiet on the Yankees front.  Granted, nothing may happen between now and then, but the Hot Stove League still has a few weeks of life left before it winds down. 

 

Almost certain to be a hot topic at camp is Joe Torre’s new book, “The Yankee Years”.  According to the New York Post, Joe has taken shots at Alex Rodriguez (“A-Fraud”), Brian Cashman and the Steinbrenner’s.  I am sure that Joe’s comments are very ‘matter-of-fact’, and don’t have any added venom, but clearly, he was a very unhappy guy at the end of his Yankee tenure and very disappointed at how those final days played out.  Nevertheless, I am fearful for what the book may mean to Torre.  There could be an organizational backlash that could delay Joe’s entry to Monument Park when his managerial career is over.  Joe shouldn’t be punished for calling it like he saw it, and hopefully Hal Steinbrenner and the rest of the organization will take the book in stride.  But I am sure that it will be a hot topic for the next few weeks.

 

With the recent passing of Billy Werber, I have to admit that I did not realize that Tommy Henrich was still alive.  Henrich is the last surviving member of the 1938 World Champion Yankees, although he didn’t experience his greatest individual success until the 1940′s.  He was dubbed “Old Reliable” by Yankee broadcaster Mel Allen, in reference to his knack for getting a key hit when it was needed.  Henrich is 96 years old, and will long be remembered for his World Series exploits.  His notable achievements include:

 

·         5-time AL All-Star (1942, 1947, 1948, 1949 & 1950)

·         AL Runs Scored Leader (1948)

·         2-time AL Triples Leader (1947 & 1948)

·         20-Home Run Seasons: 4 (1938, 1941, 1948 & 1949)

·         30-Home Run Seasons: 1 (1941)

·         100 RBI Seasons: 1 (1948)

·         100 Runs Scored Seasons: 4 (1938, 1941, 1947 & 1948)

·         Won six World Series with the New York Yankees (1937, 1938, 1939, 1941, 1947 & 1949; he did not play in the 1937 and 1939 World Series)

 

While dreaming of a Damon-Cabrera/Gardner-Ramirez outfield, I can’t help but think how great it would have been to see the outfield of Henrich, Charlie Keller, and Joe DiMaggio…

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