Results tagged ‘ Johnny Damon ’

Oh no! Here come the New Yorkers!…

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

 

 


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

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 


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John M. Setzler, Jr.

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

Josh Haner/The New York Times 

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Winn, Lose, or Draw…

After a month of no news or action, the Randy Winn signing was a bit underwhelming…

 

 

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All off-season, Yankees fans everywhere have yearned for the return of fan favorite Johnny Damon.  Perfectly suited for left field in the new Yankee Stadium, it seemed, at least initially, as though the two sides would eventually come together.

 

 

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Yet, as we approach February, the link between Damon and the Yankees is irreparably damaged.  I don’t blame the player and I clearly find fault with the agent, Scott Boras.  If, at one point, the Yankees were willing to pay 2 years at $14 million when Damon wanted at least 2 years at $22 million, it would seem that there was room for compromise.  However, neither side actively pursued resolution and now the team has clearly moved on.

 

 

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It’s a sad situation and the Yankees will regret the move at some point this season.  Perhaps a couple of years down the road when Carl Crawford is patrolling left, it won’t get a passing thought.  But for now, we say goodbye to Damon…prematurely in my opinion.  I wish him the very best wherever he lands (even if it is in Toronto).  Thanks, Johnny, for the great memories in the Bronx!

 

 

Johnny Damon World Series Game 6 injury

William Perlman/The Star Ledger

 

 

Meanwhile, the Yankees have signed former San Francisco Giants outfielder Randy Winn.  Winn is coming off a disappointing season but he’s been a reliable player in years past.  I am very disappointed with the move and I truly hope that Brett Gardner wins the job outright in spring training.  Perhaps another signing is imminent (Reed Johnson or Rocco Baldelli?) but most likely, the Yankees have made their final player move before heading to Tampa.

 

 

 

 

It was difficult to watch Xavier Nady sign with the Chicago Cubs.  I had really hoped that if the Yankees didn’t sign Damon, they’d pursue Nady.  Maybe he regresses in his attempt to come back from an injury-filled 2009 season, but I really think he’ll have a solid season and will be one of the free agent success stories.  It was an excellent move for Lou Piniella and the Cubs.

 

 

Chris Faytok/The Star Ledger

 

Sports-wise, this has been a tough week for me.  On Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings lost a heartbreaker to the New Orleans Saints.  The Vikings had their chances but it was not meant to be.  As Buster Olney put it, you expect to win as a Vikings fan but you are conditioned to lose.  I am not optimistic about next season if the starting QB is either Tavaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels so this was definitely the lost opportunity of a lifetime.  It was more painful than the loss in the 1998 NFC Championship to the Atlanta Falcons.

 

 

Brett Favre and the Vikings came up short in the NFC Championship with another heartbreaking loss.

Morry Gash/AP

 

So far, 2010 has not been a great year for my sports teams but there is still much time for a major turnaround.  Sorry Julia!  I do not intend to lose to you this year…in any sport!

 

 


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Everything Will Be OK…

Silence is Golden…


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Courtesy:  

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Okay, it has been incredibly quiet around the Yankees Universe since they acquired pitcher Javier Vazquez late last year.  But all things considered, I think that GM Brian Cashman has the team exactly where he wants them.  There is much discussion about left field, but really, a platoon of Brett Gardner and Jamie Hoffmann is not necessarily a bad thing.  Or perhaps Colin Curtis makes major strides in training camp.  Regardless, the Yankees are in good shape regardless of what happens in left.  In fact, it was just last April when the Yankees broke camp with Gardner as their starting center fielder.  They now have a centerfielder who can match Johnny Damon’s lost production, so why not take a chance on Gardner in left?  If he could improve his on-base percentage, he would be a terror on the base paths.

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Growing up, it always seemed as though owner George Steinbrenner would purposely leak stories about the Yankees to the tabloids just to keep the team in the news.  It has been a new world order since Hal Steinbrenner took over the team, but that doesn’t mean the younger Steinbrenner is any less motivated to win than his father.  He just wants to avoid those foolish long-term contracts that can haunt a team for years.  If greater efficiency ensures the sustainability of the team’s success in recent years, I am all for it.  The late 80’s were not a fun time to be a Yankees fan.

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I am not saying that I wouldn’t be excited if the Yankees and Johnny Damon somehow came to an agreement for 2010, but at this point, I am not counting on it.  I am prepared for the team to move forward with its current cast of players.  I know that if a need develops, they’ll pursue a solution that makes sense for the team. 

 

But I respect Hal Steinbrenner, and I am pleased that he is in charge of the Yankees.  He has shown support for his manager and general manager, and he is willing to open the purse strings when it makes sense for the team.  I remember sitting in the stands at Yankee Stadium during the 1980’s when fans used to yell negative comments about George Steinbrenner.  Somehow, I don’t think that will happen with Hal.  He is not going to run a frivolous organization, but it will be efficient, streamlined, and a winner.  Works for me…

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On Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings advanced to the NFC Championship with a 34-3 win over the Dallas Cowboys.  The Vikings will face the Saints in New Orleans next weekend.

 

Favre finally prevailed against the Cowboys after compiling a 0-3 record against them in the play-offs while a member of the Green Bay Packers. 

 


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For me, it was vindication, in part, for the disappointing loss in the Hail Mary game of December 1975.


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The Vikings have a tough match-up against the Saints, particularly considering that it is an away game.  The Vikings have been invincible at home, but on the road, they’ve met mixed results.  In facing the Saints, they’ll see a familiar player in former Viking safety Darren Sharper.  Sharper and Favre were teammates in Green Bay, but now Sharper stands in Favre’s way for a trip to the Super Bowl.

 

After the game against the Cowboys, a friend sent me the following “prayer”.  I don’t know who wrote it but it is excellent:

 

Our Favre-ther who art in Mississippi, hallowed be thy name.  Thy bowl will come, it will win, in Miami as it is in the Dome.  Give us this Sunday, our weekly win.  Give us touchdown passes, but do not let others pass against us.  Lead us not into frustration but deliver us to the Super Bowl.  For thyne is the MVP, the best of the NFC, and the glory of the Purple People Eaters now and forever…

Chris McGrath/Getty Images

 

Good luck to the guys in purple, but seriously, I am ready for some baseball…

Jeter is honored in Tickertape parade held in honor of New York Yankees' World Series win in New York

UPI

P.S.  Contrary to what Julia may think, ‘Yankees Suck’ did not win Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat through a write-in campaign!  ;)

Scott

Reset the Record Book!…

Roger Maris, 61 Home Runs*

 

 


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AP

 

For years, the asterisk was a negative mark against Roger Maris.  It signified that his record was accomplished in a 162-game schedule whereas Babe Ruth’s 60 home runs occurred when the regular season consisted of only 154 games.  There is no question that the asterisk was unfair to Maris and baseball in general.

 

 


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However, with the admission by Mark McGwire that he juiced during the record breaking year when he hit 70 home runs, it stands to reason that the asterisk should again be placed by Maris’s record…only this time it should be construed as a positive.  When you look at the guys who have hit more than 61 home runs, all are confessed, proven or highly suspected steroid users (McGwire, Sammy Sosa and current single season HR leader Barry Bonds).  Roger’s mark should stand alone as THE record…accomplished by a player who set the record with natural ability.  Ruth did not have to withstand the incredible pressure that Maris faced in 1961, and of course, Ruth didn’t have to contend with “juicers” breaking his record.  Once and for all, Roger Maris deserves the recognition of being that champion he is. 

 

 

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I hope that I do not see McGwire, Bonds, or Sosa in the Hall of Fame in my lifetime.  I refuse to be hypocritical, so I will say that the same should apply to Alex Rodriguez.  There are obviously reasons that guys like Ty Cobb, records aside, should not be in the Hall of Fame, but those decisions cannot be undone.  The Hall of Fame can prohibit the entry of any proven or confessed steroid abusers, and I feel very strongly that they should.  I would probably be more willing to consider Pete Rose (well, maybe not while he is still living), but if the Hall can take action against Rose, why can’t the same prohibitions apply to the cheaters of the game? 

 

 

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I feel the game owes a huge debt of gratitude to the players who stood “clean” in an era of deceit.  Whether it is Derek Jeter, Dwight Evans, Cal Ripken, or Chase Utley, they played the game the right way and deserve special recognition for staying true to the integrity of the game.  Hats off to the good guys…

 

 

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Time for some non-baseball talk (sorry, there just isn’t much happening in the Yankees Universe)…

 

 

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I was surprised to see Pete Carroll jump at the opportunity with the Seattle Seahawks.  Pete has an unsuccessful record as a NFL head coach, and his style of leadership seemed to be best suited for the college level.  USC is certainly one of the plum college coaching jobs, and the departures of top college coaches to the NFL has generally been met with less than desired results.  Granted, I wouldn’t want the job of babysitting the college kids and making sure that they do not do anything to violate NCAA rules, but the USC job seemed like it would be Carroll’s for as long as he wanted it.  I was surprised when John McKay left USC back in the 70’s, and I am equally surprised about Carroll.  Hopefully, he’ll be able to “recruit” the right players to Seattle.

 

 

 

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Speaking of USC, I was even more shocked that the school was able to land Lane Kiffin as their next coach.  This morning, the breaking news on ESPN was that the school had offered the job to Jacksonville Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio.  That actually made sense to me since Del Rio doesn’t have that many years left unless he starts to win.  But by the end of the day, Del Rio had announced that he was staying in Jacksonville, and USC had a new coach in Kiffin, who is bringing his father, Monte, along as defensive coordinator.  The school also successfully brought UCLA offensive coordinator Norm Chow back too.  The loser in this whole ordeal (sorry Rick Neuheisel!) is the University of Tennessee.  They gave a great opportunity to Kiffen when he was dumped by Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders.  He rewarded them with some questionable coaching practices, confrontation with SEC coaches, and a less-than-stellar 7-6 mark.  For $800,000 (payable over 36 months), Kiffin can simply walk away.  Incredible.  Hopefully, Tennessee will rebound with a solid coaching hire, but they didn’t deserve this treatment from Kiffin.  I think I will be a UCLA fan next season (how sick is that?)…

 

 

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Given that the San Francisco Giants have signed Aubrey Huff which would potentially keep Pablo Sandoval at third, and Mark DeRosa in left field, the Atlanta Braves appear to be the only viable option outside of the Yankees for free agent Johnny Damon.  Personally, I think the Braves will opt for a less expensive option, so it really means that the Yankees and Damon need to sit down and determine a fair salary that works for both sides.  This is not rocket science.  But of course, the negative factor is agent Scott Boras.  I vote for the removal of Scott Boras from the Scott Club!  ;)  Johnny, pick up the phone and call Brian or Hal.  You can get this deal done…

 

 

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How many more days until the Yankees beat the Red Sox?  That’s right, I just need to check Julia’s website

 

Time for a new Most Eligible Bachelor…

If the reports are true, Derek Jeter will be breaking the hearts of women and girls across the country…

 

 


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According to Newsday and the New York Post, Derek Jeter will marry Minka Kelly on November 5th…right after the end of the World Series.

 

 

 

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The reception will likely be held at Oheka Castle in Huntington, Long Island.

 

 

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It is hard to believe that DJ has finally decided to settle down, but I think he’s made a wise choice with Minka.  From afar, they seem like a very happy couple.  Let’s hope that 2010, all the way around, is DJ’s best yet!

 

 

(l. to r.) Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter from the 2009 World Series Champion Yankees stop by to talk to Dave on the 'Late Show with David Letterman.'

 

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New York Post

 

Much is being made of the alleged wedding date which ends a day or two after the last possible game for the World Series.  I think Derek will be fine with a night’s rest after he helps the Yankees win their 28th World Championship.  But, of course, my friend Julia will argue that DJ will have several weeks, if not more, to rest up for the wedding following the end of the Yankees’ season.  Well, I guess that’s why they play the games.

 

 

 

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Congrats to Derek and Minka!…if the rumored wedding is true…

 

 

 

 

 

Speculation continues to churn out more names for left field.  I like the one that would put Rick Ankiel and Rocco Baldelli in a platoon.  I do not want to see the team sign an aging veteran like Brian Giles or Jermaine Dye.  But the longer Johnny Damon goes unsigned, the more I get renewed hope that he’ll settle for less and return to the Bronx.  Clearly, his return is the best case scenario.

 

 

 

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The Dallas Cowboys are headed to Minnesota in the divisional play-offs next week.  For me, it is chance for revenge of 1975’s Hail Mary Pass by Roger Staubach as the Cowboys ousted the Vikings from the play-offs.  The 1975 Vikings were a great team, much like the 1998 version, and both of those teams suffered bitter, disappointing losses to end their respective seasons.  Brett Favre has a great deal of experience facing the Cowboys in the play-offs.  Too often, the games were played at Texas Stadium and Favre ended up on the losing end.  However, this time, the game is at home so Favre has a chance for vindication.  After years of watching the Cowboys end his season, he can finally return the favor.  Let’s hope that a trip to the NFC Championship is in store for the Vikings.

 

 

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The Cowboys entered December trying to find post-Thanksgiving success…something that has eluded the team in recent years.  This year, the Cowboys were able to turn it up a notch when the temperatures dropped.  They definitely have momentum on their side following two lop-sided wins over their bitter division rival, the Philadelphia Eagles.  Many experts had predicted that the eventual NFC champion would come from the winner of the Cowboys-Eagles game.  I hope that’s not the case…

 

 

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Hey Julia, only 84 more days until you experience the Red Sox first defeat! ;)

 

 


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Who’s On First?…

“I consider this position I am playing in as a bench role”…

 

 

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These were the words of Yankees GM Brian Cashman on January 6th regarding the current Yankees outfield.  Cashman is apparently looking for a right-handed bat to complement Brett Gardner in left.  Let’s see if these words still hold true on, say, February 23rd.  I guess we’ll check back at that time to see if Cashman held true to his words.

 

An intriguing option in a platoon situation is free agent outfielder Rocco Baldelli.   Rocco has had medical issues the past few years and suffers from channelopathy, but in a limited role, he might be a viable option.  He appeared in only 62 games last season for the Boston Red Sox, batting .253 with 7 home runs and 23 RBI’s.  I don’t know what the future holds for Rocco, but if he can overcome his medical condition, he might thrive in a part-time position.  I am sure the price tag would be enticing to a GM looking to keep the payroll under $200 million…

 

 

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I am warming up to the idea of Reed Johnson as a possibility for a potential platoon, but as each passing day goes by and Johnny Damon remains a free agent, I am hopeful that his price tag falls far enough that he fits into Cashman’s budget.  If the Yankees could get Damon to come back for one year, it would be an ideal situation and Johnny could test the free agent waters next fall.

 

 

 

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It’s tough when you pull up a New York paper, and the leading Yankees story is the signing of pitcher Sergio Mitre to a one-year, $850,000 deal.  Okay, I accept that the possibility that Mitre will be significantly improved since he’ll be further from his elbow ligament replacement surgery (July 2008).  But to spotlight him in the New York tabloids is a bit much.  I do not see Mitre as more than a bit player in 2010.   Maybe he’ll prove to be the second coming of Aaron Small but who knows…

 

 

 

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Peter Abraham says that Chien-Ming Wang is ready to move on from the Yankees.  I am still a bit perplexed why the Yankees didn’t try to give Wang one more chance.  Maybe there’s a possibility that he could still return, but I would hate to see him experience a rebirth in Boston (not that they need another starter with that rotation).  Actually, if it were me, I’d go to Seattle.  The Mariners are definitely poised to make a run in what should be Ken Griffey, Jr.’s final year.  The Mariners have made some great acquisitions this off-season.  Sure, they lost Adrian Beltre, but they’ve acquired Cliff Lee, Casey Kotchman, and Chone Figgins.   But like with Damon, I do hope that Wang finds his way back to the Bronx.

 

 

 

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I was sorry to see David Cone leave the YES Network.  There was always something very re-assuring about Coney as a player and as a broadcaster.  I can’t say that I was pleased when he decided to go to Boston to pitch, but he is a class guy.  Whatever the future holds for Coney, I hope that it’s what he wants to do. 

 

 

 

 

Congratulations to pitcher Joba Chamberlain for being a winner of the Thurman Munson Award (which acknowledges excellence in competition and philanthropic work in the community).  The award will be given on February 2nd.  This is definitely a preferable off-season event over a DUI.  I am glad to see Joba’s growth and maturity in a very positive direction.

 

 

 

Sports Illustrated, courtesy of Microsoft

 

 

My weekend football predictions:

 

Cincinnati Bengals 21, New York Jets 17

New England Patriots 31, Baltimore Ravens 20 (Okay, this is for my friend Julia!)

Arizona Cardinals 27, Green Bay Packers 17

Dallas Cowboys 33, Philadelphia Eagles 31

 

The only problem with my predictions is that it would bring the Dallas Cowboys to Minnesota to face the Vikings.  This, of course, is the match-up that has haunted me for many years.  On December 28, 1975, I was watching the Cowboys and Vikings in the NFC Divisional Play-offs.  It appeared that the Vikings had the game in hand until Roger Staubach threw the unbelievable Hail Mary pass caught by Drew Pearson as Nate Wright fell to the ground.   I remember exactly where I was, where I was standing, and my reaction.  Fortunately, I’ve had the Yankees all these years to give me some “relief” from the disappointment…

 

 

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When can we start talking about baseball?…

 

 


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 Let’s Go Yankees!  :)

It’s A New Year, What’s New?…

 

New Year, same problems in left…

 

 

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Okay, I didn’t really want to start the new year with any mention of left field, but unfortunately, there hasn’t been much more to talk about.  2010 begins where 2009 left off…the Yankees are still in search of the right combination for left field.  Perhaps the answer is already on the roster in the form of Brett Gardner and Jamie Hoffmann, or maybe the Yanks should move Curtis Granderson to left and install Gardner back in center.  Ultimately, I don’t think either of those options will be viable ones when training camp opens in Tampa.  But they do underscore the lack of urgency on the Yankees’ part.

 

 


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I am a big proponent of finding a low-cost option with high upside.  When Paul O’Neill was acquired from the Cincinnati Reds, he wasn’t a “big” name and he only cost the Yankees the long-forgotten Roberto Kelly.  At the time, I was miffed that the Yanks would give up on Kelly, but history clearly showed that it was one of the most astute moves in Yankee history.

 

 

 

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I read a blog that speculated David DeJesus of the Kansas City Royals would be a good fit.  I do not disagree.  Today, Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues suggested Travis Buck of the Oakland A’s.  Regardless of the latter’s health history, I am okay with either player.  Ideally, there’s no question that I’d prefer Johnny Damon first and foremost.  But I just don’t think it will happen for whatever reason.  So, short of Damon, I like the idea of inserting a player with potential.  It is a given that the Yankees will aggressively pursue Plan B if Plan A doesn’t work out.  I don’t think the Mets would give him up at this point, but I have liked Jeff Francoeur.  I still think that he’ll turn it around and live up to his early career promise.  The Indians signed free agent and former Yankee Shelley Duncan today.  In retrospect, it is too bad that the Yankees never gave him a chance.

 

 

 

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At the end of the day, I think that GM Brian Cashman won’t leave the Yanks short-changed in left.  I have faith in the man with the plan…

 

 

 

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Allegedly, 15 teams have expressed interest in pitcher Chien-Ming Wang (with the Yankees included).  I hope that the team can find a way to bring Wang back home.  If Wang is right, how awesome would the Yanks bullpen be with both Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes?  

 

 

 

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So, the Boston Red Sox finally solved their third base woes with the signing of free agent Adrian Beltre.  I do not dispute that he is masterful with the glove, but anybody who has owned him in fantasy baseball knows that he is brutal offensively.  He is clearly not the slugger he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers a few years ago.  So, if you ask me if I am disappointed the Red Sox signed Beltre?  No, if it means that the team can no longer pursue San Diego Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez (financially speaking).  Gonzalez is a difference-maker; Beltre is not.  The sad part of the Beltre signing is that it will relegate Casey Kotchman to the bench or at the most, DH.  At DH, he has potential, but of course, it means the end of David Ortiz.  Also, this almost certainly ensures that Mike Lowell will be dealt.  The latest rumor has him going to the Mets for Luis Castillo, which is kind of funny considering that the Mets haven’t been able to unload Castillo on anybody.   So, the Beltre signing is “nice”, but it doesn’t improve the Sox in the long run, in my opinion.

 

 

Infielder Adrian Beltre #29 of the Seattle Mariners bobbles the ball before fielding a ground ball out against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the game at Angel Stadium on August 12, 2008 in Anaheim, California. The Angels defeated the Mariners 7-3.

 

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Did the Vikings’ total domination of the New York Giants and capture of the NFC second seed restore my faith in the Minnesota Vikings?  Not really.  The New York Giants gave up last week, so they pretty much rolled over for the Vikings on Sunday.  It is hard for me to believe that the Vikings are truly a team capable of laying a 44-7 whuppin’ on a play-off foe.  It’s funny that the Vikings were rooting for the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday considering that the Cowboys have long been my “second” favorite team dating back to the Roger Staubach days.  I admit that I was a bit miffed with the Cowboys beat the Vikings on the Hail Mary pass, but I did enjoy the Cowboys’ success under Jimmy Johnson and Troy Aikman in the 90’s.  Of course, I did live in Dallas at the time, so it was a bit more enjoyable.  Nevertheless, I still remain on the Purple side, so I’ll await the outcome of the NFC wild card games to see if the Vikings can legitimately move the closest to the Super Bowl that they’ve been since 1998.  I am not a great fan of the current Dallas Cowboys so I don’t know who I’ll root for should my Vikings stub their toe.  Perhaps I’ll root for Julia’s New England Patriots, but admittedly, they’ll have a tough road sans Wes Welker.

 

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I am not surprised that the Washington Redskins sacked head coach Jim Zorn.  I know they are wining and dining Mike Shanahan, and that would probably be a very good move for them.  I think Shanahan is a better fit than Steve Spurrier ever was.  He knows owner Daniel Snyder so I think the two could co-exist so long as Shanahan can produce.  Yeah, I wish the Vikings could be in play for a good coach…

 

 

 

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I hope everyone had a great holiday season, and a very happy New Year!  Just think, baseball training camps open next month.  I can’t wait.  I am anxious to resume my battles with a certain friend in Boston

 

 

 

Are We Going to Be Left Out?…

The left field conundrum continues…

 

 


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Maybe GM Brian Cashman has the perfect solution already set in motion, but then again, maybe not.  I am not quite sure how you could spend $200 million on salaries and then suddenly become very frugal over $3 or $4 million as an insurance policy to protect your investment.  From the sounds of it, the Yankees are willing to go to camp with Brett Gardner and Jamie Hoffmann as a projected platoon in left.  I know that it’s a bluff, designed to await the lowered salary expectations of free agent options in January. 

 

 


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But if you have a left fielder who has proven that he can handle New York, thrive atop the Yankees’ batting order and carries the intangibles necessary to bring a championship to New York, why can’t you work out a deal for a few pennies more?  It just doesn’t make any sense.  I agree with the logic that the Yankees don’t need a superstar in left, but they need something better than a fourth outfielder looking for his fifteen minutes of fame. 

 

 

Reed Johnson #9 of the Chicago Cubs is hit by a pitch from Ubaldo Jimenez of the Colorado Rockies during the Opening Day game on April 13, 2009 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Reed Johnson

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

 

 

If the Yankees successfully cause Johnny Damon to sign elsewhere, and are left to be scrounging through the bargain bin, they’ll regret it in July when they attempt to make a trade for an upgrade at the high cost of key prospects.  Again, I’d rather pay more now and protect the farm system now and later. 

 

 

Charleston RiverDogs - Zach McAllister by John Setzler.

 

John M. Setzler, Jr.

 

 

I was disappointed to see the San Francisco Giants successfully sign one solid option in Mark DeRosa.  With DeRosa, the Giants get a very versatile player who will fit well into their lineup.  His ability to play third base allows them to slide Pablo Sandoval to first which fills a big need.   Had the Yankees been successful in luring DeRosa to the Bronx, he could have been the primary option for left field with the potential to back up Alex Rodriguez from time to time.  Isn’t that worth a few dollars more?   Congrats to Giants GM Brian Sabean…he scored one over his former team. 

 

 

Mark DeRosa grounds out in his first at-bat as a member of the Cardinals during the second inning.

Jeff Roberson/AP

 

 

If Johnny Damon is my first choice, Xavier Nady would be the remaining option in my eyes.  Another guy who has proven he can handle New York albeit not the injury bug.  If healthy, Nady would be a great fit for the Yankees.  Prior to his injury last season, he was slated to be the starter in right field. 

 

 

 

 

Cataffo/New York Daily News

 

Outside of the organization, there just isn’t much to be excited about on the free agent market.  I really don’t want a ‘past his prime’ player like Brian Giles or Garret Anderson.  I’d rather take a chance on a sleeper like Cleveland’s Shin Soo Choo or Atlanta’s Matt Diaz, although I doubt either team would be willing to let either player go cheaply.   In a blast from the past, the Angels’ Juan Rivera is another attractive option.  But I seriously doubt that Cashman would be able to pry any of these options from their respective teams. 

 

 

 

Los Angeles Times

 

 

Hopefully, the left field question is answered sooner rather than later.  The Yankees still need to replenish their bullpen options for 2010 after several key departures this off-season.  Plus, bench strength is another area that needs attention before the Yankees head for Tampa. 

 

 

Jeff Zelevansky

 

Meanwhile, somewhere in the Greater Boston Area, a Red Sox fan is gleefully enjoying the Yankees’ indecision and financial constraint…and listening to Toby Keith singing “Whiskey Girl”…

 

 

 

 

In a departure from baseball, I’d like to weigh in on the decision by Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell to rest his key starters like Peyton Manning in the second half.  Everyone knows that the result was a New York Jets’ 29-15 victory over the Colts to end their pursuit of perfection.  Of course, the company line is the decision was made to protect the health of their key performers and ensure going deeper into the play-offs with the Super Bowl as the key objective. 

 

 

 

I’ve heard both sides of the argument, but I am inclined to believe that Caldwell blew it.  He had a chance to do something that no team has done before (19-0, capped by a championship).  The 1972 Miami Dolphins were 17-0 since the regular season consisted of only 14 games.  Had they accomplished what the New England Patriots could not, the Colts would have gone down in history as one of the greatest teams ever.  Now, they’ll just be another Super Bowl champion if they happen to win it all.  Sure, a championship is great, but to be among legends is immortal.  The Colts missed a great opportunity…

 

 

AP 

 

 

All things considered, I am glad that University of Florida coach Urban Meyer made the decision to take a leave of absence rather than step down as the Gators coach.  College football needs guys like Meyer, but he needs time to repair his health.  If a year from now, Meyer decides that it’s time to hang it up, so be it.  But I’d rather see Florida go a year with an interim coach to make sure that Meyer makes a decision that he’ll never regret.  I am not a Gators fan, but Meyer has been great for college football and the Florida job is clearly one of the best.  It’ll be strange seeing new coaches patrolling the sidelines at both Florida and Florida State next season.

 

 

 

 

One final thought…if the Chicago Cubs can successfully trade Milton Bradley, why can’t the Yankees unload Kei Igawa?  I still think the guy could thrive in a low-pressure environment like San Diego or Pittsburgh…

 

 

 

 


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I hope everyone has a great new year!  I have enjoyed your friendship and support in 2009 and I look forward to be being a part of the great MLB Bloggers in 2010.  It’s a very talented and impressive group of writers, and the sum total of all makes MLB.com the best blogging environment on the internet!  Keep up the great work everyone!

 

 


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The Pride of C.K. McClatchy High…

The return of Larry Bowa’s nephew…

 

 


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WFAN

 

 

Although they never wore the pinstripes at the same time, former coach Larry Bowa’s nephew, Nick Johnson, is coming home.  Traded to Montreal in 2003 for pitcher Javier Vazquez, Nick has signed a one-year deal for $5.5 million, with a mutual option for 2011, to return to the Bronx.

 

 

 

 

During Nick’s “exile”, winning baseball was not necessarily a common theme among his teams with the Montreal Expos, Washington Nationals, and Florida Marlins.  Nick is eager to return to a team with a “win at all costs” attitude.  Nick could have signed with the San Francisco Giants as their first baseman, however, his first love remained the Yankees.  So, once the Yankees expressed interest, no other team really had a chance with Johnson.

 

 

Hector Gabino/Miami Herald

 

 

Nick slots in nicely at the top of the batting order behind leadoff hitter Derek Jeter.  Nick has a knack (no pun intended) for getting on base.  His career on-base percentage is .402.

 

Welcome home, Nick!  We’re glad you’re back!

 

 

 

 

Given that the Yankees have now reacquired the two primary players in the December 2003 deal that sent Nick to Montreal and brought Javier Vazquez to the Yankees (the first time), they should consider calling the Los Angeles Angels and the Tampa Bay Rays about the availability of outfielder Juan Rivera and reliever Randy Choate, respectively. 

 

 

Gary A. Vasquez/US Presswire

 

 

 

Although those are positions of need, I do not really want to see the return of either Rivera or Choate, but the Yankees do need to get creative about filling the hole in left field.  It bothers me that the team hasn’t figured out a way to unload pitcher Kei Igawa, particularly when his salary could go a long way toward bringing in a solid left fielder.  The Yankees say they’ll go with Brett Gardner and Jamie Hoffmann.  While I don’t feel you need an All-Star in left, I don’t think that Gardner and Hoffman, individually or collectively, are the answer.  I have genuine concerns about Nick Swisher’s encore performance and the Yankees do not need simultaneous struggles at both outfield corners.  I’d rather pay for a sound and dependable solution for left and then be prepared for Plan B in right.

 

 


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Best case scenario is the return of Johnny Damon.  It could still happen but Damon’s price tag will have to come down.  The other solid option (Mark DeRosa) appears to be dissipating as DeRosa is apparently favoring an agreement with the San Francisco Giants.  Hey, as a Bay Area guy, I can’t find fault with someone who wants to call the area home.  San Francisco’s a great town with a terrific ballpark.

 

 


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Reed Johnson’s name has been mentioned but I am less than enthused.  Johnson missed 49 games in 2009 for the Chicago Cubs after fouling a pitch off his left foot which caused a fracture.  A career .282 hitter, Reed only batted .255 in 65 games last season with 4 home runs and 22 RBI’s. 

 

 

 

 

His scouting report¹ says that “Hustle is his strongest suit.  Makes consistent contact and hits well with runners in scoring position – especially against lefties.  Is a good outfielder.”  The report goes on to say “he struggles against finesse pitchers and righties.  A quality platoon or 4th outfielder.”   It sounds like he would be more capable as a back-up for Curtis Granderson in center than a starter in left. 

 

¹Source:  Sportsnet.ca Ontario

 

Lobbying for the Cubs to re-sign Johnson in September, pitcher (and former Yankee) Ted Lilly was seen wearing a t-shirt that read “With Reed, we will succeed”.  Maybe for Lilly and the Cubs, but not for the World Champions.  Pass…

 

 


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So now Jason Bay and his agent are calling the Boston Red Sox?  Maybe Jason has started to send Theo fruit baskets like Julia did every day last season!  Ha!  I bet the Red Sox offer of 4 years and $60 million is looking very appealing these days.  But of course, after Boston’s signing of John Lackey and Mike Cameron, the money offered to Bay is probably no longer available.  Bay has a 4 year, $65 million offer from the New York Mets.  However, $5 million extra over 4 years is not worth the mess known as the Mets.  Bay’s best option is to remain in Boston but it is questionable whether the Red Sox have room in the 2010 budget at this point.  Bay, at this point in time, appears to have overestimated his worth in the current free agent market.  Financial constraint being shown by both the Yankees and the Red Sox…what is the world coming to?  ;)

 

 


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Finally, I’d like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  May this be a season of joy for you and your family, and here’s hoping that 2010 fulfills your every dream!  Well, except for a World Series championship…I reserve that one for Yankees fans!  J


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You Traded Me for Randy Freakin’ Johnson?…

The answer to the question is an old friend from the past…

 

Bill Kostroun/AP

 

It was no secret that the Yankees were actively seeking to fill an open spot in the rotation and the word was that it would be accomplished by year end.  As it were, the Yankees wrapped the package up prior to Christmas.  The result is the return of Javier Vazquez….

When I first heard the deal, I was a little upset at what the Yankees gave up (Melky Cabrera, Michael Dunn, and Arodys Vizcaino).  However, after having time to let it sink in, I am okay with it so long as the Yankees can come up with a decent alternative for left field.  Brett Gardner is not an every day player, and at this point, neither is Jamie Hoffmann.  Perhaps Gardner can be part of a platoon, but the other half is not currently on the roster. 

Vazquez was a Yankee for one brief season.  But it was a very painful season.  For years, we had grown up knowing that the Boston Red Sox had been suffering from the Curse of Babe Ruth prior to our own births.  However, in 2004, the Red Sox finally shook the curse and defeated the mighty Yankees despite being down 3 games to none in the American League Championship Series.  The defining moment occurred in Game 7 when Johnny Damon hit a grand slam off Javier Vazquez.  The win propelled the Red Sox to the World Series and an eventual championship that could have belonged to the Yankees.  After the season, the Yankees packaged Vazquez in a deal to Arizona that netted Randy Johnson.  At the time, Vazquez didn’t want to leave the Yankees but “public opinion” was clearly against him and the Yankees fans didn’t cry too much as Vazquez headed for the Sonoran Desert. 

Nevertheless, spin forward 5 years, and Vazquez has proven consistency and durability.  2009 was perhaps his finest year with Atlanta Braves as he went 15-10 with a 2.87 ERA.  Injuries, including pink eye, kept 2009 from being even more successful.  When you are throwing around names like Ben Sheets, Justin Duchscherer, Aaron Harang, and others, I have to admit that Vazquez is the best case scenario.  Admittedly, I would have preferred a Bronx return by Ted Lilly but there probably wasn’t any way that the Chicago Cubs were going to let him go.  The Yankees tried hard for Cliff Lee, but the Phillies felt they needed to send Lee as far from Philly as they could given the backlash they’d receive by dealing him.  Understood.  So all things considered, Javier Vazquez as your number 4 starter is a pretty good situation.  I’d take Vazquez in a head-to-head match up against John Lackey so I think the move was a good counter to Boston’s free agent signing.

 

 

Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal Constitution

It is ironic that Damon’s departure is met by Vazquez’s return.  It is equally ironic that Vazquez and DH Nick Johnson will be teammates given they were once traded for each other.  Hopefully, this ends the Yankees’ attempt at a 2003-04 reunion tour.  We really don’t need to see a return performance by Jason Giambi.  Sorry, G, I loved you in pinstripes but that day has passed. 

 

AP 

 

The Yankees did manage to secure a bullpen part with the Vazquez trade.  They also acquired pitcher Boone Logan.  Gotta love the name.  Logan is a lefty but is probably more of a one batter specialist.  The Yankees are hopeful that Damaso Marte will continue at the level he displayed late in the season.  Logan was acquired by the Atlanta Braves in the same trade that brought Vazquez from the Chicago White Sox.  So, once again, Logan and Vazquez are intertwined…and hopefully the duo will prove to be very successful in the Bronx.  Vazquez is a free agent after 2010, so it’s possible that this is another one-and-done Yankee performance, but it is my hope that he proves he belongs in pinstripes.

 

 

The Yankees also signed free agent catcher Mike Rivera (formerly of the Milwaukee Brewers).  So long as Rivera is slotted for the third catching spot, I am okay with the move.  I feel that Francisco Cervelli deserves the primary shot to be Jorge Posada’s backup, but a veteran influence like Rivera can’t hurt.

 

 

So, now the question is what the Yankees will do about left field?  The Vazquez trade brings the payroll to nearly $200 million which is the alleged budget for 2010.  Perhaps they’ll need to offload Chad Gaudin and/or Sergio Mitre (among others), but room can be made for a capable left fielder.  Alas, it won’t be Matt Holliday or Jason Bay (or even Johnny Damon),  but I have confidence that GM Brian Cashman won’t leave the team shortchanged.

 

 

All these moves do have the potential of disrupting team chemistry so I am hopeful that the team is able to mesh in spring training.  From a character standpoint, I have no reservations with Curtis Granderson, Nick Johnson, or Javier Vazquez, so I think they’ll be fine.  But as they say, the proof is in the pudding…

 

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