Results tagged ‘ Jon Lester ’

Season Ticket Holder for the Hot Stove League…

 

Waiting for the Hot Stove League to start…

I think the longest point in the off-season for a Yankees fan is from the day the team exits the play-offs until the conclusion of the World Series.  The shorter that gap, the better.  Unfortunately, it was not to be this year with the team’s departure after the opening series loss to the Detroit Tigers.

The saddest part of 2011 is that the Yankees could have beaten the Tigers, and I think they would have been very competitive with the new AL League champion Texas Rangers.  Texas pulled the perfect play-off card in getting the unexpected wild card Tampa Bay Rays who had been left for dead by everybody except themselves.  In the ALCS, they avoided the Yankees, or the top clubs that didn’t make the play-offs, the Red Sox and the Los Angeles Angels.  I have long been in favor of expanding the divisional series from 5 to 7 games, and this year is just another reason why.  The Yankees, with the best league record, were unable to start against the weakest team in the play-offs, the Rays, because they are from the same division.  So, that pitted the Yankees against the stronger Tigers in a shortened series.  I am not saying that the Yankees would have won it had the series been in the 7-game format, but at least it would yield a more truthful result.

I am a former Dallas resident but not a Rangers fan…

I am not a fan of the Texas Rangers so it’s hard to feel any satisfaction in their team reaching the World Series for the second year in a row.  However, my son is a Rangers fan and he’s certainly excited about the team’s success.  We lived in the Dallas-Fort Worth area when my son was small, and after a Rangers game, we had gone to a nearby restaurant for dinner.  There weren’t too many people in the restaurant at the time, and my son must have been about 2 or 3.  On the other side of the restaurant, then Rangers pitcher Nolan Ryan was having dinner with his family.  We told our son who was at the table, and a friend walked him over to the table to introduce my son to Nolan.  My son was wearing a Rangers cap, so Nolan took it off and signed the bill of the cap.  My son is now almost 22 years old, and he still has that signed cap with him.  He remains a Rangers fan to this day, despite his dad’s loyalty to the Yankees.

The team with the second greatest World Series success…

While I think the World Series will be competitive this year, I still think the National League will emerge victorious again.  I don’t really see the Milwaukee Brewers getting past the St. Louis Cardinals, so it should be the Cardinals in the World Series against the Rangers.  It’s too bad the Cardinals don’t have Adam Wainwright in their rotation, but the team is certainly on a mission.  I think the Cardinals will end the NLCS with a Game 6 win tonight in Milwaukee.

Strike quickly with full force and focus…

I am anxious for the World Series to conclude so that we can move on to the Hot Stove League.  I really hope the Yankees can re-sign GM Brian Cashman to a new deal before the end of the month and before the start of the free agency period.  This off-season is about timing and the Yankees need to move very quickly to secure Cashman and hopefully re-negotiate with CC Sabathia so that they can turn to free agency and the trade market with full and heavy focus.  My wish list for the off-season is an improved starting rotation, strength on the bench, and perhaps a heavy hitter to offset the declining production from Alex Rodriguez in the batting order.

But I thought beer and hot dogs were part of baseball…

I am not quite sure what to make of the situation in Boston.  I think former manager Terry Francona has taken too much blame, and I was a little surprised to see GM Theo Epstein leave his hometown and his favorite team to take over as GM of the Chicago Cubs.  Granted, he’ll have greater authority in Chicago, and it would be tremendous to be the GM responsible for the first World Series victory for the Cubs after their historic drought.  But it leaves Boston without a manager or a general manager.  Obviously, when the Red Sox move Ben Cherington to GM, they’ll maintain the continuity and Ben will do a fine job.  However, the Sox will definitely have a new look in 2012.  It will be interesting to see what moves they make with the roster in the off-season if they intend to place greater priority in character.  Jon Lester has been one of my favorite pitchers, so I am hopeful that he is surrounded by better influences going forward.

Missing the view…

Living in downtown Minneapolis, I have to admit that I miss seeing the lights of Target Field at night.  It created a great view from my place, and there’s definitely a void now that the ballpark lights have  been shut off until next spring.  So, as a newcomer to Minnesota, the obvious question to me as how many inches of snow will I have to deal with before those lights come on again?  ;)

–Scott

 

 

 

A couple of wins in Boston would be nice for the road team…

  

Have Gun (partially loaded), Will Travel…

Headed to Boston with minus a few bullets…

With the injuries to Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter, the Yankees are certainly in a precarious situation as they head for Boston after wrapping up the O’s series in Baltimore tonight.  A-Rod was sent to New York have a MRI on his thumb, and he’ll re-join his teammates at Fenway Park.  The results were negative, however, it doesn’t sound like he’ll play in the Sox series so the focus will definitely be on Eric Chavez and Eduardo Nunez.

Jeter fouled a pitch off his right kneecap in the first game of Sunday’s double header, so he should be back on the field when the team arrives in Beantown.

The Red Sox have their own challenges, with Kevin Youkilis on the DL.  But even without Youk, the Red Sox boast three legitimate AL MVP Candidates in Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Adrian Gonzalez.  If the Yankees are to stop Boston’s run of success against them, the guys from the bench will need to be the difference makers.  Plus, some good pitching always helps.  I haven’t seen the starting rotation for the series yet, although I know that CC Sabathia is starting on Tuesday.  I suppose that means the other starters will be A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes, neither of whom instill great confidence, particularly when the opposing match-up’s will be Josh Beckett and Jon Lester (John Lackey faces the Yanks on Tuesday night so that’s probably the only matchup that favors the Yanks in the series).

Where are those darned reinforcements? Signed, General Custer…

The August trading deadline has been very quiet, and of course, I am not expecting any moves by the Yankees.  I still wish the team would move to get a clutch bat for the bench (someone like Hideki Matsui or Johnny Damon) but all indications are the Yankees will stand pat like they did at the July trading deadline.

Love means never having to say you’re Sori…

So, David Robertson is arbitration eligible at the end of the season?  The Yanks would be wise to lock him up to a deal before arbitration hearings.  He always seems to be in the most precarious situations yet, time and again, he comes through in big spots.  The way he struck out three batters in the 8th inning on Sunday night with the bases loaded was vintage D-Rob.  His 8th inning success definitely has me wondering what the Yanks will do with Rafael Soriano for the next couple of years…

He makes the world taste good…

I remember a few years ago when there were predictions that Curtis Granderson could hit 40 home runs playing at Yankee Stadium.  I thought those were aggressive remarks, but here he is on the verge of hitting that plateau.  Every one points to the adjustment he made with input from batting coach Kevin Long last August, but it’s clear he has become a complete hitter since that time.  It is ironic that one of the trading pieces, pitcher Ian Kennedy of the Arizona Diamondbacks, is leading the NL in wins.  Kind of makes one wish that the Yankees had traded Phil Hughes instead of Kennedy.  Still, the trade has worked out for all three teams involved (Arizona, Detroit, and the Yankees).  What?  Curtis Granderson just struck out in the game against the Orioles with Brett Gardner in scoring position?  The bum!  ;)  Just kidding…

They’re just games…

This is a big week for the Yankees with the Boston series so they’ll definitely be challenged.  It doesn’t get any easier after Boston because the Toronto Blue Jays will be coming to the Bronx for a weekend series, and the Jays have definitely played the Yanks tough this year.  Do we really have to pin our hopes on A.J. Burnett?  Really?…  L

Have a safe and enjoyable week!

–Scott

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

 

Target Field

 

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

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

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

 

Fundamentals, is it really that hard?…

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

 

Mike Carlson/AP

 

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

 

The price of an ace…

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

 

Rockies starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez

 

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

 

And the young respond…

 

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

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

 

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

Charles Wenzelberg/NY Daily News

 

Mutual respect…

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

 

Dustin Pedroia Of The Red Sox

 

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

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

 

Matt Freed/Post-Gazette

 

Yes, I am finally home…

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

 

 

–Scott

 

The “Core”, sadly, has moved on…

The end of the “Core”?…

The deterioration of two-thirds of the remaining “Core” is very disheartening.  Both Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada have shown that it is time to pass the baton.  With both, I am not sure how you can gracefully move on but as long as both are in the lineup, the Yankees are in an inferior position to both the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox.

Sadly, the day is going to come when Mariano Rivera just doesn’t have it anymore.  Fortunately, he is not showing any signs of letting up and thankfully so since his closer-in-waiting, Rafael Soriano, is having a tough time staying healthy.

With players like Jeter or Posada, you’d like to think that they’d come to the realization that they are an albatross to the organization and would willingly step aside.  But egos and money are not forgiving.  At some point, the decisions will need to be made for the players.  I think that DJ has a longer leash than Posada, who infuriated the organization with his behavior this past weekend.  I’ve read that Posada has until about the All-Star Break to start hitting before the team explores other options.  My sense is that this is not going to end well.  As for DJ, I am sure that he’s secure the remainder of the year, but I really wonder what the future holds.  Perhaps if the team is able to improve the offensive production in other areas, they can be more accommodating with Jeter’s reduced output.  If this experience has proven anything to me, it is a renewed respect for GM’s like Theo Epstein who are not afraid to the cut the cords to star players sooner rather than later.  Baseball is purely all about ‘what have you done for me lately’, and the Yankees do not owe Jeter, a future Hall of Famer and the last recipient of the #2 jersey at Yankee Stadium, anything.  This is about wins and losses, and the Yankees should field the best shortstop in the organization, regardless of who that individual is.

A sad day for Twins baseball and all of MLB…

I was very sorry to see the passing of Minnesota Twins great Harmon Killebrew.  Earlier in the week, I saw the comments that Harmon was no longer seeking medical treatment for his cancer but I never realized that we were just days away from his passing.  Growing up in Iowa, I used to listen to Minnesota Twins games on a regular basis.  Killebrew had retired by the time I was listening, but I clearly knew who he was and his stature in major league baseball.  Frankly, I am surprised that I was never a Twins fan.  Rod Carew was the star of the team in those days, and they routinely fielded quality teams as they do today.  I guess they didn’t have that magical player on their active roster to endear me to the team.  Instead, I latched onto Oakland A’s star pitcher Jim “Catfish” Hunter as my favorite player and of course when he left to sign with the Yankees on 12/31/74, my fate as a Yankees fan was sealed.  Nevertheless, I am appreciative for what Killebrew meant to the Twins organization.  He will be missed…

No more LeBron, please…

How sweet would it be if the Chicago Bulls ousted the Miami Heat from the NBA Play-offs?…

The closet door may be open, but the key to victory remains unchanged…

For the record, I have no issue with Phoenix Suns President Rick Welts coming out of the closet to announce that he is gay.  His sexual preference has nothing to do with his ability to lead and develop a championship organization.

Collaboration at its finest…

I was glad to hear that Minnesota Vikings QB Christian Ponder is seeking out the Vikings wide receivers for workouts and has plans to work with my favorite Viking, Percy Harvin.  I was also glad to see Sidney Rice reach out to Ponder to express his willingness to participate.  I don’t want the Vikings to lose Rice, but until the lockout is settled, it’s anybody’s guess what happens with Rice.  He is clearly the greatest WR the Vikings have had since Randy Moss (the Dante Culpepper version, not last year’s).  The NFL needs to put closure on the lockout and aggressively pursue resolution with the Player’s Association.

A toast to Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz…

I received my shipment of Jon Lester’s CabernAce and Clay Buchholz’s ChardonClay today.  You can buy the wine at www.charitywines.com.  For Clay’s wine, your contribution benefits Jimmy’s Fund, while Jon’s wine supports the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.  I can’t think of a better way to enjoy fine wine while supporting two great causes!

Have a great night, everyone!  J

–Scott

Yeah, I was afraid so…


So, was the injury to Eric Chavez unfortunate or
inevitable?  Sadly, it’s a little of both…


Chavez.JPG

Kim Klement/US Presswire


I enjoyed watching Chavez
rebound his career with the Yankees, but I was always concerned that he was
just a play away from the DL.  That time
finally reared its ugly head when Chavez fractured his foot.  Hopefully, best case scenario proves out…Chavez
wears the protective boot for two weeks and is ready to begin rehabilitation
play soon over.  On the bright side, the
injury is unrelated to past injuries so this should not be a recurring theme
(hopefully).

I was surprised that the
Yankees brought up Ramiro Pena
instead of Jorge Vazquez.  I had really thought that Vazquez would get
the first call if/when Chavez went down. 
I realize that he isn’t on the 40-man roster, there was talk of the
Yankees making a move with minor league infielder Kevin Russo.  The Yanks did
DFA Russo today, but they signed Cleveland Indians cast-off Jess Todd, a reliever, to take his
place on the 40-man roster.  I don’t know
much about Todd but he has gotten off to a poor start with the AAA Columbus
Clippers.  He does have strikeout
potential so I am sure that his youth (he is only 25) and pedigree (a former
second round draft pick for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2007) were factors that
led to the Yanks decision to take a bite. 

Unfortunately, the move
keeps Vazquez at AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre. 
All he has done this year is hit (9 homers, 27 RBI’s, .300 BA).  I am sure that he’s wondering what it takes
to crack the bigs.  At age 29, he’s not
getting any younger.

After losing the four game
series to the Detroit Tigers, the Yankees look to rebound tonight in Arlington,
Texas against the Rangers.  I’ve been
concerned about the Yankees reliance on the home run and lack of timely
hits.  So far, the pitching had been
compensating for the hitting deficiencies but it’s impossible to ask the
pitchers to continually walk a line with no margin for error. 

Congratulations to the Los
Angeles Dodgers’ Andre Ethier as he
extended his hitting streak to 30 games tonight against the New York Mets.  Ethier is now just one game from tying the
franchise mark which was set by Willie
Davis
in 1969.  I like Ethier’s
approach which was typified by his pre-game comment that he is “not losing a
wink of sleep about it”.  Ethier has been
one of my favorite Dodgers on a team managed by perhaps my all-time favorite
living ballplayer so it’s a great situation all the way around.  I continue to cheer for Ethier with each hit.


Andre Ethier high fives Don Mattingly.JPG


I am a fan of the Los
Angeles Lakers but I don’t like their current situation…down 2 games to zero
and in Dallas tonight to play Game 3. 
Plus, Ron Artest has been
suspended for one game so that’s one less bullet in the gun.  The Lakers will be hard pressed to win in
Dallas.  It looks like destiny is removing
the barriers for Team LeBron.  I know,
Chicago and Dallas are formidable opponents, but I really thought that either
the Lakers or the Boston Celtics would be able to stop the Miami Heat.  So far, the Celtics have done nothing against
the Heat and the Lakers have put themselves in a life support situation.

My friend Julia, of Julia’s Rants, attended a charity event
this week that featured the release of two new wines…Clay Buchholz ChardonClay and Jon
Lester
CabernAce.  Clay’s 2009
Chardonnay benefits Jimmy’s Fund, while Jon’s 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon benefits
the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. 
Count me in as I’ve bought both wines. 
More info can be found at charitywines.com.

Clay BuchholzClay Buchholz

–Scott

All Hail the Red Sox Nation…


The first win of the season
goes to my friend Julia, of Julia’s Rants
Despite an 0-6 start to the season, the Boston Red Sox were able to
capture their first two wins of the season in this past weekend’s series
against the New York Yankees.


Red Sox.JPG


With the loss, I have to
write about what’s right with the Red Sox and what’s wrong with the Yankees.  So, here it goes…


Why the Boston Red Sox will win…

Pitching, pitching, pitching.  Say what you
will about Dice-K, but the Red Sox have, arguably, the best starting rotation
in the American League.  Jon Lester has
been one of my favorite pitchers and will be a Cy Young candidate when the
season is over.  Despite some early
season struggles, I definitely feel that Clay Buchholz is one of the up and
coming stars and will be solid over the course of the long season.  I know that the third starter, John Lackey,
has also struggled, but I feel very strongly that he’ll find his niche in
Boston and will consistently put the Sox in a position to win.  Josh Beckett, if he continues to pitch like
he did on Sunday, is back.  The Yankees
have a rookie in the 4th spot…the Sox have a former ace and one who
is capable of pitching like the elite pitcher he once was. 

You can say that the Yankees
have the better bullpen, but if Jonathan Papelbon falters, the Sox have several
fallback options in former Chicago White Sox closer Bobby Jenks and future
closer Daniel Bard.  They have reliable
arms in the pen, and have a proven long man in a guy the Yankees are well
familiar with (Alfredo Aceves).  The gap
between the Sox and Yankee pens won’t be as big as experts may believe,
especially since the Sox will be able to be more selective in relief with a
superior rotation that is able to go much deeper into games. 

Adrian Gonzalez.  Count me as one of those who
believe that Gonzalez will be a monster at Fenway Park.  He counteracts anything the Yankees have with
Mark Teixeira plus he has the intangibles.  
A few years back, I was constantly looking up to see the highlights of
David Ortiz with another walk-off home run. 
I fully expect Gonzalez to be that guy for the Sox, and he is going to
win games with both his bat and his glove. 

Disruption.  Once Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury get
going (it’s a question of when, not if), the Sox are going to be very
disruptive for opposing pitchers. 
Singlehandedly, they have the ability to change the complexion and
momentum of games. 

The forgotten hitter.  For all the
headlines the newest additions have gotten and the return of players who were
injured last year (like Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia), it is easy to forget that
this lineup still features third baseman Kevin Youkilis.  Youk is one of the best clutch hitters in
baseball, and teams will be so focused on stopping Crawford and Gonzalez that
they’ll lose sight of Youk…and will pay a high price for it. 

The dead will rise.  It is easy
for people to write off David Ortiz and Jason Varitek given their respective
ages, however, they are both consummate professionals who can still perform at
a high level.  Like the Toby Keith song
goes, ‘I may not be a good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was’.  There’s no doubt that these two will figure
prominently in Sox wins over the summer. 

The bench.  If there is anything I’ve learned about the
Sox, it is to never underestimate the power of Theo.  Time and again, names come out of nowhere to
lead the Sox to victory.  They had a
chance to catch the Yankees last September despite fielding a roster of
unknowns.  Even on Tuesday night’s game,
the first run of the game came courtesy of a home run by Darnell McDonald.  It wasn’t that long ago the Yankees wanted
Mike Cameron as their centerfielder, and here he is backing up the Sox
regulars.  I don’t care if the player’s name
is Dork Fumblefingers.  If he puts on a
Sox uniform, he is most likely going to hit game winning home runs and make
highlight reel catches in the outfield.

Terry Francona.  When the Sox lose, Francona
detractors seem to come out of the woodwork, but he is, in my opinion, the best
manager in baseball.  The only place with
greater expectations than New York might just be Boston, yet Terry is always a
show of class and his decision making skills show a deft understanding of now
and the future (i.e., the season).  He
garners the most of his roster, and I have no doubt that he’ll right the ship
despite the slow start to the 2011 season. 
With the Sox standing at 2-8 entering play tonight, people are quick to
say how poorly comparable teams have finished. 
I will argue that when the season is done, the Sox will be the model of
the franchise that was able to successfully overcome such a poor start.  In future years, when a team goes on a losing
streak to start the season, the media will be saying ‘but the 2011 Red Sox were
able to overcome…’. 

Theo Epstein, Larry Lucchino, and John Henry.  These
gentlemen took a franchise that was “cursed” from the 1923 trade that sent Babe
Ruth
to the Yankees, and eradicated the word “curse” from the Red Sox
vocabulary.  I also have not heard any
mention of Bucky Friggin’ Dent in several years.  These guys have successfully brought two
world championships to Boston, and there is no doubt that they’ll have a third
one in the not-so-distant future (much to my chagrin). 

The RSN.  The fan base for the Sox is the most
passionate and fervent of any that I’ve experienced.  I am not saying that Yankees fans aren’t
passionate, but Sox fans are like no other. 
They stuck by their team when championships were only something their
grandparents or great-grandparents had ever experienced.  Yankees fans get spoiled by championships in
almost every decade.  The Sox fans have a
greater understanding and appreciation of what it means to be a true
champion.  I am not one of them, but I
respect them. 


Why the Yankees won’t win…

Pitching, pitching, pitching.  As great as
CC Sabathia is, he is still not a sure thing. 
He has his moments where he struggles. 
I know, like all pitchers, but there is something special when a pitcher
like Roy Halladay takes the mound.  Win
or lose, you expect the team to win.  I
expect the Yankees to win when CC is on the mound, but it is not with the
confidence that I’d have if Halladay were a Yankee.  After CC, there is nothing but question
marks.  A.J. Burnett has pitched well to
start the season, but he always starts good. 
It is how he finishes.  If he
reverts to 2010 A.J., the Yankees are toast. 
Phil Hughes and the decreased velocity are a concern.  He finished poorly last season, and he has
yet to pitch lights out this year.  At
this point, I am really not sure what Hughes lies ahead.  After Hughes is a rookie, Ivan Nova, who has
pitched well, but how will he perform the second time around when opposing
lineups get used to him?  Can he make the
necessary adjustments?  As it stood, the
ceiling for Nova was much lower than it is for guys like Brian Matusz or Jeremy
Hellickson
(or even Michael Pineda).  Is
he in the rotation because he has the potential to be great or is it because
none of the other prospects are ready.  I
remain fearful that it’s the latter.  I’ve
heard that Nova’s future is in the pen, and that doesn’t bode well for the
rotation.  In the fifth spot, who
knows.  Freddy Garcia has yet to pitch
due to rain delays.  Bartolo Colon is
waiting in the wings if Garcia stumbles, as are Kevin Millwood and Carlos
Silva
None of the options instill
confidence.

The bullpen looks great on
paper, but already this season, there have been failures by Rafael Soriano and
Joba ChamberlainPedro Feliciano is on
the DL and I heard that he had a setback today. 
Luis Ayala is headed for the DL so the Yankees are already looking to
Scranton-Wilkes Barre for replacements. 
One of these years, Mariano Rivera is actually going to show his
age.  Will this be the year?

Aging lineup.  Mark Teixeira is already
31?  Seriously, we are already in the
midst of another April chill for Tex.  He
started strong this year (thanks to Opening Day in March), but he went 0-fer
against the Sox.  He was as much responsible
for me writing this post as anyone. 
Derek Jeter has continued to show his age and is providing evidence that
his down season in 2010 may be a sign of things to come.  Jorge Posada feels like a fish out of water
at DH.  He’s done at catcher so where’s
his long-term potential with this team? 
Alex Rodriguez looked great during spring training, but he is getting
older.  Question marks continue to dog
Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner.  The
Yankees are a great offensive club, but their hitters just don’t put fear in
you.  If they don’t hit, they can be beat
as Josh Beckett proved on Sunday night. 
In October, you’re facing the best pitchers in baseball.  If the Yankees can’t hit the best, they can’t
be the best.

The bench.  Don’t get me wrong…I love Eric Chavez and I
am glad that he’s a Yankee.  But I am
concerned that injuries may force the Yankees to play Chavez more than they
should, exposing him to potential injury. 
What if Derek Jeter is done?  Is
Nunez ready to take over at short?  I really
don’t expect this to be the year that Jeter goes south, but you have to
recognize that it could happen.  It
eventually happens to all superstars

Hank Steinbrenner.  Eventually,
Hank is going to make an impulsive move that he’ll regret.  I am sure that he has a Jay Buhner like trade
that he’ll force causing the Yankees to relinquish a prime prospect for an
aging past-his-prime veteran in an effort to shake things up.
 

The off-season.  As difficult as last season was,
there is the potential that this off-season will be even more difficult.  CC Sabathia can opt out of his contract, as
can Rafael Soriano.  If the Yankees lose
Sabathia, they won’t be able to recover. 
As the season progresses, the Sabathia opt-out is going to get more and
more ink.  Hopefully, it doesn’t become a
distraction.

Who knows that the 2011
season holds in store for the Yankees and the Red Sox, but I can assure you,
that both teams will be in the thick of things come September.  I will never be fooled by Boston’s slow start.  This is a very dangerous team and one that
can never be underestimated. 

Clearly, I want the Yankees
to win, and I am hopeful they will, but Boston, even at 2-9, is still the best
team in the American League from top to bottom. 
That may change by the trading deadline, but as it stands today, the Sox
are still a team capable of 100 wins.

Julia, I’m out…

–Scott

 

Did I Win? I Am Not So Sure…

 

If I won the wager with Julia of Julia’s Rants, why do I feel as though I lost?…

 

 

The Yankees and Red Sox tied their four game series at two games apiece, but the Yankees took the tie-breaker in total runs scored, 16-12.  Therefore, it will be Julia who has to appear in at least 6 photos showing her in different locations wearing a pink Yankees cap. 

 

 

But although I won, I certainly do not feel like a winner.  The most important game, to me, is always the getaway game.  The Red Sox leave town as winners, while the Yankees head for Texas wondering what could have been.  They had the chance to put the Red Sox 8 games back, but as it is, the Red Sox leave exactly the way the arrived, 6 games behind. 

 

 

 

Elise Amendola/AP

 

People are constantly trying to bury the Red Sox but I’ve long known that the team simply does not have any quit in them.  Now, they are starting to get their guys healthy, so they’ll be a force to be reckoned with during the stretch run. 

 

The Yankees lost today, 2-1, against Jon Lester, Daniel Bard, and Jonathan Papelbon.  Lester had entered the game on a four-game skid, but he is too talented to stay down for long.  He proved he was up to the challenge today, and bested Phil Hughes in the pitching duel. 

 

 

Jon Lester started the game for the Red Sox and held the Yankees scoreless through the first five innings.

Chris McGrath/Getty Images

 

 

The Yankees had their chances in the late innings but couldn’t convert.  Marcus Thames just missed a home run in the 7th inning when the ball hit the top of the fence and bounced back for a double.   Just another inch or two and it would have tied the game.  Bard also gets kudos for getting out of a bases loaded jam. 

 

Mark Teixeira continued his hot hitting with an 8th inning home run, but that’s all the offense the team could manage.

 

The Yankees now head to Texas to play the guy who was nearly a Yankee, Cliff Lee, and the Texas Rangers.  A.J. Burnett, scratched from Sunday’s start because of his back, will pitching the opening game against the surging C.J. Wilson who has enjoyed success as a starter this season.  It will be a big test for the Yankees, and they’ll need to play better than they have in recent days.  Maybe being in Texas will be good for Lance Berkman and he’ll hit his first homers for the Yankees. 

 

 

 

A day after breaking Babe Ruth’s team hits record, Derek Jeter tied Mel Ott for the all-time record by a New York player at 2,876.  When DJ was a skinny 16-year-old shortstop coming out of Kalamazoo, MI, I certainly didn’t envision the day that he’d be standing with baseball’s immortals.  Congratulatons to DJ for another great milestone, but I suspect we’ll be doing this quite often between now and the end of his career.

 

 

 

–Scott

 

You Win Some…You Lose Some…

 

Whew!  I’ll take it!…

 

 

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

Hong/AP

 

 

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

 

 

0628granderson.JPG

Jeff Gross/Getty Images

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

Hong/AP

 

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

 

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

 

 

Giants_06272010_0001.jpg

 

 

 

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

 

 


Lincecum.jpg 

 

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

 

 

Eric Risberg/AP

 

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

 

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

 

#31   Jon Lester

 

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

 

Reuters

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

–former Red Sox reliever Mike Timlin

 

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

 

Only 24 more to go…  L

How Are You, Mr. Torre?…

Joe Torre and Derek Jeter together again…

 

 

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

Gina Ferazzi/LA Times

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

Terrill/AP

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

0626arod.JPG

Dunn/Getty Images

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

Joe Torre Don Mattingly L.A. Dodgers

Gene J. Puskar/AP

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Courtesy of an unhappy Celtics fan

 

–Scott

And The Winner Is…Me!…

 

Another wager, another victory!…

 

 

I Win.JPG

 

Yet again, my friend, Julia of Julia’s Rants, came up on the short end of our latest wager.  After starting last year 0-8 against Boston, I was starting to wonder if the Yankees would ever beat the Red Sox.  Since then, the Yankees have dominated the series.  Regardless of the outcome of tonight’s game, the Yankees will have captured another series.  Since the beginning of the season, the Yankees have only lost one series (versus the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim).

 

Saturday, in a nationally televised game, the Yankees beat the Red Sox 14-3.  The game featured three home runs by first baseman Mark Teixeira (although I temper that somewhat by the fact that the last home run was off outfielder Jonathan Van Every who was brought in to save the arms in the pen).

 

 

Mark Teixeira home run congratulations Yankees Red Sox

Matthew Cavanaugh/EPA

 

 

CC Sabathia missed picking up the win by one out.  While facing Victor Martinez, who could have been the third out of the inning, the game was interrupted by a rain delay that ended the night for CC.  When the game resumed, Alfredo Aceves was on the mound and it was he who picked up the win. 

 

 

New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia drills Boston's Dustin Pedroia in the backside, sending the Red Sox a message on Saturday.

Sipkin/Daily News

 

The game marked several historic achievements.  Teixeira is the first Yankee since Lou Gehrig in 1927 to hit at least three home runs in one game against the Red Sox.  Also, catcher Francisco Cervelli, filling in for Jorge Posada, had 5 RBI’s, something that hasn’t been done by a Yankees catcher since the days of Yogi Berra.

 

 

 

 

Today, history was made in Oakland when pitcher Dallas Braden threw the first perfect game in A’s history since Jim “Catfish” Hunter did it in 1968.  Given that I credit Catfish Hunter for being a Yankees fan (I rooted for the A’s as a child until Hunter signed with the Yankees as a free agent in 1974), it was rather bittersweet to see his A’s record matched by, of all people, Dallas Braden.  Braden, president of the Anti A-Rod Club or so it seems, nearly walked the final batter as he worked a 3-1 count but a ground-out upheld the gem.  The victory was especially sweet since it came against the AL East leading Tampa Bay Rays.  It was rather ironic that Braden would help the man he bitterly opposes.  For the record, I was on Braden’s side of his beef with A-Rod, but Braden does need to let it go (as he made further comments about it this week).  Nevertheless, congratulations to Braden for a very fine performance. 

 

 

Athletics Dallas Braden grandmother perfect game

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

 

The San Jose Sharks finally overcame their nemesis and advanced to the Western Conference Finals with a 2-1 Game 5 victory against the Detroit Red Wings.  First or second round failures have become commonplace for the Sharks in recent years so hopefully the team has shaken its demons and is a collision course with the Stanley Cup.  The team now awaits the winner of the Chicago Blackhawks-Vancouver Canucks series (Chicago leads 3 games to 2).

 

 

Josie Lepe/Mercury News

 

 

Back to the Yankees, they weren’t so fortunate in Boston tonight as Jon Lester was on his game and A.J. Burnett wasn’t.  A.J. gave up 9 runs in 4 1/3 innings (8 earned), meanwhile, Lester went 7 innings and only gave up 4 hits and 2 runs, while striking out 7. 

 

 

The Red Sox needed a strong start from Jon Lester to stop the bleeding.

Bill Greene/Globe Staff

 

 

So, congratulations to Julia for her victories today (the Celtics also won), and she was right, the Red Sox avoided the sweep.  But still the wager victory is mine and the series win goes to the Yankees, so until we meet again Julia!  By the way, don’t you have some shopping to do?….

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