Results tagged ‘ Nationals ’

Expectations High, Results Higher…

 

Wow!…

 

 


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It was probably the most anticipated start in major league baseball for as many years as I can recall.  I don’t remember a time when a rookie was as hyped as Stephen Strasburg was this year.  I know the opponent was only the Pittsburgh Pirates, but it is still a team of major league players.  Strasburg was brilliant despite the incredible pressure of high expectations.  He matched the season high in strikeouts for any pitcher by striking out 14 batters (Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers struck out 14 on May 30th against the A’s).  It was also the highest strikeout total in a pitching debut since James Rodney Richard of the Houston Astros in 1971 and Karl Spooner of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1954.  Strasburg went 7 innings until he was lifted for a pinch hitter, allowing only 4 hits and 2 runs.   Matt Capps closed out the game to give Strasburg his first major league victory in his first major league start.   I’d say expectations were met…

 

 

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg warms up before his major league debut against the Pittsburgh Pirates in a baseball game in Washington, Tuesday, June 8, 2010.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

 

I am happy for the Washington Nationals and their fans.   The Expos/Nationals have historically been the Los Angeles Clippers of Major League Baseball.  Great baseball players have passed through the organization, but too often they achieved their greatest successes elsewhere.  However, they’ve finally started to collect good, young talent and are the new Tampa Bay Rays.  Their future is very bright, and Strasburg gives the team a leg up on everyone else.   Five years from now, when many current stars will be fading or retired, Strasburg should be at the top of the heap with the Nationals, with an outfield that include 2010 #1 overall pick Bryce Harper, and primed for championships.

 

I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed with the Yankees first round selection in the 2010 MLB Draft.  They selected a player that did not appear on any mock draft boards and wasn’t targeted to be selected until possibly the 4th or 5th round.  When his name was read, an internet search yielded nothing.  Cito Culver/RHP.  I was surprised that the Yanks would go for a high school pitcher, but later reports indicated that his name was actually Christopher Culver (Cito is his nickname) and he was drafted as a shortstop.  It’s possible that he may be Derek Jeter’s future replacement.  Before the draft, I had heard that the Yankees had intended to go for the best player available.  Given that Culver is a New York-area player, I am hopeful that the lack of praise for Culver is the product of a very astute Yankees scouting department and not simply a reach for a player with potential promise.  Time will tell…

 

 

Yankees draft table first round Gene Michaels Roy White

Mike Stobe/Getty Images

 

Oh yeah, the Yankees did play a game tonight.  Granted, the Yankees generally struggle against lesser teams but the next two series involving the Baltimore Orioles and the Houston Astros should serve the team well as they start revving up the momentum for interleague play which ultimately leads to Dodger Stadium.  Behind Phil Hughes, the Yankees defeated the O’s 12-7.  Hughes’ performance wasn’t quite Strasburg-like, but it was enough to win his 8th game of the season.  He only went 6 innings, giving up 9 hits but only 3 runs, and struck out 4.  Kevin Millwood (0-7) continued his no-luck pitching for the O’s in taking the loss. 

 

 

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Getty Images

 

If it is possible to blow a 9-run lead, Chad Gaudin did his best to try.  He allowed a two-run homer to Adam Jones in the 8th, and gave up a two-run scoring double in the 9th.   Personally, I thought that Manager Joe Girardi let Gaudin pitch too long and if it were up to me, I would designate Gaudin for assignment after the game.  Just like he did for Oakland, he has done nothing for the Yanks and is occupying valuable roster space. 

 

 

 

Unfortunately, both the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Ray won so no ground was gained in the AL East standings. 

 

Oh well, tomorrow is a new day!  J

 

 

First Departure from 2009 Championship Team…

Let the trading and signings begin!…

 

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The Yankees embarked on their 2010 off-season journey by dealing reliever Brian Bruney to the Washington Nationals for a player to be named (most likely the Nats’ first round pick in Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft).  Bruney has been a vital cog in the Yankees bullpen for the past few years, although there have been a few interruptions caused by injury.  I am not sure what I think about this one.  I have to believe that Brian Cashman has a motive for making the move.  It’s been said that Cash feels that Bruney’s role can be replaced by lower cost options, however, I liked the thought of having Bruney as a safety net for the bridge to Mariano Rivera should Phil Hughes make a successful transition to the starting rotation next season.  Or perhaps Cash has more grandiose plans that would keep Hughes as the Yanks’ primary setup man.  Regardless, Bruney will be missed, and I wish him the best of luck in the Nation’s Capitol.

 

Michael Strobel/US Presswire

Okay, you could say that Bruney is not the first player to depart given the number of players who are free agents.  However, none have signed with other clubs yet so Bruney is the first major departure from the 2009 Champions.

 

It was also announced that pitcher Andy Pettitte has decided to return in 2010.  Unlike last season, Andy was very quick to make the decision to return.  Of course, the team and Pettitte now have to agree on compensation so this could still be dragged out over the course of the next few weeks.  I am glad to see Andy’s return as that would be preferable over a gamble that someone like Randy Wolf could have a successful transition to the Bronx.  When he’s done, Andy will stand tall among the franchise’s best left-handed pitchers.  He may not reach the club’s win record for a southpaw, but he’ll be in the neighborhood.  If only he hadn’t left for the Houston Astros for three years…

 

 

So, the Los Angeles Angels are kicking the tires of Boston Red Sox outfielder Jason Bay.  If they allow Vladimir Guerrero to depart, it would make sense that the Angels pursue someone of Bay’s caliber.  If that happens, I’d have to believe that the Red Sox will become the odds-on favorite to land Matt Holliday as Bay’s replacement.

 

 

I just completed a very busy week, and it’s great to be home.  Last Sunday, I attended a Kelly Clarkson concert in San Jose.

 

 

 

I departed the next day for business meetings in New Jersey.  After the meetings, a number of my co-workers and I traveled to New York to see Rock of Ages on Broadway.  It was a terrific show, and the star, former American Idol finalist Constanine Maroulis, was phenomenal.

 

Rock of Ages' Constantine Maroulis on Groupies and Performing for Drinking Audiences

Getty Images 

 

From New York, I headed to Phoenix where I spent the weekend.  I went to Sunday night’s game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium.  The game was a disaster, as the Vikings fell to the Cardinals, 30-17.  However, the stadium was impressive.  Hopefully, Favre and Company will rebound for a strong finish to the season.  Everyone’s allowed a clunker or two, right?

 

Minnesota Vikings (4) Brett Favre and Arizona Cardinals (13) Kurt Warner after the Cardinals defeated the Vikings. The Cardinals won 30-17.

Rob Schumacher/Arizona Republic

 

Arriving back in San Jose, all the nearby mountains were snow-capped, which is a very rare sight in Silicon Valley.  It was a beautiful sight, and it was so good to be home!

 


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Division Leader to Also-Ran in 8.2 Seconds…

 

I leave for a few days, and the world falls apart…

 

 

The Yankees are losing to the Washington Nationals tonight, 3-0, in the 8th inning.  If they lose the game, the Nationals will win the series, 2 games to 1.  Aren’t the Nationals supposed to be the baseball’s worst team?  I was worried about the series going in, because I know that this series had disaster spelled all over it.

 

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As if that wasn’t bad enough, there was more news awaiting me…

Jonathan Papelbon told Jody McDonald and Bert Blyleven on Sirius XM Radio that he’d consider joining the Yankees when his contract with the Red Sox is up.  Umm, thanks but no thanks…

 

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The Yankees are apparently one of several teams that will be taking a look at pitcher Pedro Martinez.  The Cubs, Rays and Angels will also be watching Pedro pitch in the Dominican Republic tomorrow.  Note to Yankees:  Look but don’t touch!

 

 

GM Brian Cashman indicates that he does not expect the team to any major moves prior to the trading deadline this year.  He likes the team he has assembled, and wants to see what how it does once the injured guys (Jose Molina, Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte) return.  I don’t know what Cash calls it, but I’d call it third place.  Meanwhile, the Rays look to improve and the Red Sox have John Smoltz ready to go on June 25th and of course you know that Theo won’t stand pat.  This might be the part of the marathon where the elite runners begin to make separation from the rest of the pack.  I can only hope that Cash is playing with his poker face…

 

Don Hogan Charles/The New York Times

Chien-Ming Wang is going to remain in the rotation.  I guess the Yankees want to be assured of a loss every fifth day…

 

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Alex Rodriguez is 8 for 51 in the month of June.  Even Big Papi is looking much better than A-Rod right now…

 

David Ortiz had to laugh after getting fooled by a pitch in the fourth.

Bill Greene/Globe Staff

 

I am not ready to break out the ‘Joe’s gotta go!’ card, but at what point does pitching coach Dave Eiland begin to take some responsibility for the woes of the pitching staff?

 

 

 

Oh well, hopefully, my perspective will improve tomorrow and the Yankees will return to their winning ways…

 

Frank Franklin II/AP 

 

I spent the last couple of days in Denver, and had a great time!   It was strictly a business trip, but Colorado is always a fun place to be.  I lived there a few years ago, so it was great to be back in the Mile High City.  If visiting (and you are a meat eater), you’ve got to try The Fork in the foothills of Morrison, CO.  I had William Bent’s Buffalo Tenderloin Filet Mignon and it was one of the most tender steaks that I’ve had in recent years.  Very flavorful!  I didn’t know about The Fork when I lived in Denver but wish I had.

 

 

–Scott 

A Win and a much needed Loss…

 

Like an old pair of shoes, Jose Veras has been tossed aside…

 

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With the return of Mo’s set up guy, Brian Bruney, the Yankees had to make a roster decision and it meant the end of the line for Jose Veras (who was DFA’d).  Veras could have protected his spot had he shown any flashes of his performance of last year, but it was not meant to be.  I wish him luck wherever he goes, and hopefully he’ll recapture the promise of a year ago in a less pressurized situation.

 

David L. Pokress/Newsday 

 

I wonder if Bruney got a congratulatory card from Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez for his return?

 

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Umm, probably not…

I am on a business trip to Denver, Colorado, so I am a little removed from the baseball action.  I know, the Rays are at Coors Field, and I can’t go…what’s wrong with that picture?

 


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By the way, I used to live two blocks from Coors Field.  I definitely miss those days! 

Nevertheless, the Yankees did play a game tonight.  The Washington Nationals are in the Bronx for a three-game series with the Yanks.  Everybody is quick to say that it will be a three-game sweep, but I don’t think it will be that easy.  The Yanks always have trouble against the teams they are supposed to beat, so I could see the Nats steal a win or two.  Fortunately, tonight was not the night for the Nats as they fell to the Yankees, 5-3.

 

Bill Kostroun/AP 

 

The Yankees led 2-0 until the 5th inning when Anderson Hernandez unloaded a three-run homer on CC Sabathia.  Of course, that provoked an email from Julia (“You are losing to the Nats????”.  But hey, 15-0 games are boring…or even the 8-2 yawner that the Red Sox put on the Florida Marlins.  With 21 come from behind wins, now 22, the Yanks came roaring back in the 7th inning against old friend Ron Villone.  Johnny Damon singled to open the inning, and he scored on Mark Teixeira’s double.  Following an A-Rod strikeout, Robinson Cano hit a double that scored Tex.  Cano was thrown out attempting to stretch the double into a triple.  Ramiro Pena added an insurance run in the 8th inning with a RBI single. 

Cano was clearly the star of the game as he went 4-for-4, with 2 RBI’s and a run scored.  He also shined defensively.

 

 

 

CC Sabathia (6-4) picked up the win, and Mariano Rivera earned his 15th save.  Brian Bruney made his first appearance following his stint on the DL, and came into the game during the 8th inning after CC walked another old friend, Nick Johnson.  That brought the Nats’ best hitter, Ryan Zimmerman, to the plate.  Hey Bruney, no pressure!

 

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Fortunately, Zimmerman grounded out and the inning was over.  Welcome back, Bruney!  We don’t care what K-Rod says about you…you are the star of the 8th inning — exactly where we need you to be!

The Nats should have an excellent chance for victory on Wednesday with Chien-Ming Wang on the mound…

 

 

It’s sure is starting to sound like Brett Favre will be wearing Purple this fall.  He is definitely making much reference to the fact that no one remembers that Vince Lombardi ended his career as Head Coach of the Washington Redskins.  All I can say is that I am glad my childhood idol, Fran Tarkenton, retired with the Vikings.  I don’t know what I would have thought if he had played with the Green Bay Packers during his final year, but I have to believe that it would have changed my perception of Sir Francis…

 

 

Oh, by the way, CONGRATULATIONS to the new NBA Champions, the Los Angeles Lakers! 

   

 

Paul Rodriguez/Orange County Register 

 

Now, if the Yankees can only win the World Series…

 

–Scott

Keeping Pace With the Red Sox…

It’s too bad that Joe Mauer is just one man…

 


JMauer.JPGCredit:  Elliott Mann’s blog, elliottmann.org

He almost single-handedly rallied the Minnesota Twins in the 9th inning against the dreaded Boston Red Sox.  Unfortunately, Mauer’s two-run homer in the bottom of the 9th left the Twins a run short in their eventual loss to the AL East Leader.

 

AP/Hannah Foslien 

 

So, the Yanks remain one game behind the Red Sox in the AL East standings thanks to their 11-1 victory over the Texas Rangers in Arlington.

So much for dealing with the pressure of facing the Texas crowd for the first time since admitting using performance enhancing drugs while a member of the Rangers.  A-Rod responded by going 5-for-5, with 2 runs scored and 4 RBI’s.  He was booed very loudly each time he came to the plate.  I guess it didn’t phase him…

 

Getty Images/Ronald Martinez 

 

Former Ranger Mark Teixeira also joined the act, going 2-for-4, with 3 runs scored and 2 RBI’s. 

 

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Getty Images 

 

Phil Hughes, who most likely will be sent to Triple A-Scranton/Wilkes Barre when Chien-Ming Wang is ready to take his place in the starting rotation, pitched an outstanding game.  He went 8 innings, and only gave up 3 hits and no runs.  He struck out 6.  Hughes is starting to pitch to his ability and potential.  Assuming that Wang successfully retakes his position, I think Hughes’ performance makes it unlikely that Andy Pettitte will  be back in 2010.

 

Getty Images/Ronald Martinez 

Alfredo Aceves gave up a 9th inning homer to the very hot Nelson Cruz (5 homers in his last 6 games) to spoil the shutout.

 

Foxsports.com 

 

It is an excellent start to the road trip for the Yankees.  Texas has been very strong out of the gate this year, and it has been due, in large part, because of pitching.  The Yankees will have their hands full in this series, and I expect that the remaining games in this series will be very tight.  But for one day, it was nice to have the game firmly in control from the start.  Despite not gaining on ground on Boston, the Yankees did move into second place with the victory, thanks to the Baltimore Orioles’ 4-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.  So, now only the Boston Red Sox stand in the way in the battle for first…

 

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The bald head didn’t work.  Setup man Brian Bruney is headed back to the DL as he continues to experience elbow pain.  The Yankees will make a roster move on Tuesday.  Hopefully, Edwar Ramirez will get the call as I’d really like to see him re-establish himself as a key member of the bullpen.  It is very unfortunate about Bruney but hopefully the doctors will be able to isolate the cause of the pain and take the necessary corrective action so that Bruney can be back at full strength in the not-so-distant future.

 

AP/Ben Margot

You never want to see anyone get hurt, so it was unfortunate to see Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Akinori Iwamura go down for the season with a torn ligament in his knee.  He was playing very well, but no one should weep for the Rays as they have very capable (and talented) replacements waiting in the wings.  I wish Iwamura a healthy and speedy recovery, and look forward to his successful return in 2010.

 

AP 

I was glad that the Red Sox quickly dismissed the Washington Nationals’ offer of Nick Johnson for Manny Delcarmen.  Johnson has had an excellent start to his season, and it’s good to see him healthy again.  But I am not exactly enamored with seeing yet another once promising Yankees prospect end up at Fenway Park, ala Mike Lowell.  Personally, I’d like to see Johnson in San Francisco since they could really use his bat.

 

UPI/Kevin Dietsch 

 

But as for Red Sox players who want to be Yankees?  I am down with that!  Hey Jason, you’d look great in pinstripes!  Did you want me to have Brian Cashman bring over a contract for you to sign with that pen?  ;)

 

Post Gazette/Matt Freed

 

What, Me Worry?…

Posada’s Shoulder

I have to admit that my biggest fear about the upcoming season is the health of an aging 37 year-old catcher’s surgically-repaired right shoulder. 

Jorge Posada sat out Saturday’s 7-3 exhibition loss to the Minnesota Twins due to shoulder soreness.  He downplayed the severity of the soreness after the game.  “I am not concerned at all.”  Posada said.  “I did something I wasn’t supposed to do and it’s sore.”

 

Courtesy Mad Magazine

Jorge is a competitive guy.  Once the regular season gets underway, he could either be tentative out of concerns for “over-doing” it or he could get caught up the heat of the moment and literally throw his shoulder out.  With Jorge’s competitiveness, I would suspect the latter to be a very real possibility. 

There is no Plan B.  Jose Molina is a good back-up but he has proven that he is not a starting catcher.  He cannot be depended upon over the long haul, nor is Kevin Cash a long-term solution.  There is hope in the farm system with Austin Romine and Jesus Montero, but neither guy is ready for major league action right now.  The Yankees need to develop a sound contingency plan for ‘what if’. 

There are other uncertain positions on the team, such as center field and right field.  But in those situations, the Yankees have choices.  If the first choice doesn’t work out, they can still fall back to the other option and should be okay.  But with catching, they have a front line starter with average, capable back up support.  Take away the front line catcher, and there’s not much left.

I am hopeful that Brian Cashman is actively working to identify a solution.  There’s is too much riding on this season to depend upon Posada’s health at this stage of his career.  Theo Epstein is in a relative similar situation in Boston as Jason Varitek’s skills are declining with age.  It will be interesting to see whether Cash or Theo is more successful at addressing their team’s needs by the the end of spring training…

Ron Gardenhire’s Comments

I saw the comments by Ron Gardenhire yesterday where he felt that the Yankees weren’t done yet.  It was an apparent, but unsaid, reference to the Los Angeles Dodgers’ inability to re-sign Manny Ramirez. 

I honestly do not believe that the Yankees will enter the mix for Manny regardless of what happens with the Dodgers.  I would really believe the Giants would sign Manny before the Yankees would.  Contrary to public opinion, even the Yankees have a budget and they’ve been affected by the poor economy like every other team. 

I think it is more imperative for the Yankees to figure out solutions for other current weaknesses on the team before they enter the fray for Manny Ramirez. 

Would I love to see Manny in the Bronx?  Absolutely.  But looking at the whole picture, it does not make sense and there are still too many shortcomings in other areas that need to be addressed.

Jim Bowden Resigns…

Jim Bowden has finally stepped down as the GM for the Washington Nationals, and it is about time.  Regardless of whether he is innocent or guilty regarding the federal government’s investigation into skimming signing bonuses, he had become too much of a distraction for the Nationals.

Haraz Ghanbari/AP

When I first heard that Jose Rijo had taken a leave of absence (later fired) regarding the bonus given to the “prospect” with the falsified age, I wondered why the GM was not being held accountable.  It seemed as though Rijo was being made the scapegoat, and that responsibility rested higher within the organization. 

It wasn’t that long ago Bowden was mentioned as a possible successor for Brian Cashman (before he subsequently re-signed with the Yanks).  Now, Bowden is most likely done depending upon how the investigation turns out…

It’s a sad situation for an organization that deserves better.

Re-tooling the Vikings…

Okay, I was a little disappointed to see the Vikings miss out on QB Matt Cassel, but I do still believe that Sage Rosenfels was an upgrade over Gus Frerotte.  Had Cassel been dealt to the Vikings, he would have been the clear starter.  Rosenfels, on the other hand, will enter camp in competition with Tavaris Jackson.  I have not heard much about John David Booty, so I don’t know how his development is coming along or if he projects to anything more than a career as a backup. 

Somehow, Vikings backup QB’s have a tendency to go elsewhere and find new life (i.e., Rich Gannon).  Tyler Thigpen, who started for the Chiefs last year, is another example, although he’s been relegated to backup status with the Chiefs’ acquisition of Cassel. 

Nevertheless, I am hopeful that the Vikings cash savings with Rosenfels (instead of pursuing someone like Cassel) allows them to re-sign C Matt Birk. 

On Saturday, owner Zygi Wilf flew a private jet to Seattle to pick up WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh who had been visiting with the Seattle Seahawks on Friday.  Although I don’t know how to say or pronounce T.J.’s name, he would be a great addition for the Vikings, and a perfect complement to WR Bernard Berrian.  T.J. would potentally give the Vikings their first 90-catch WR since Randy Moss.

Prior to the free agency period, T.J. had mentioned the Vikings as a possibility.  “If I can play with Adrian Peterson, can you imagine what I would do getting 1-on-1 coverage with Adrian Peterson?”, he said.  “I am going to win 98.6% of the time with 1-on-1 coverage with him in the backfield.”

T.J. has apparently indicated that he’ll decide by tonight whether to stay in Cincinnati or sign elsewhere.  Here’s hoping that he is wearing Purple and Gold in the not-so-distant future…

 

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