Results tagged ‘ Nick Swisher ’

Maybe I should sign with Boras…

All hail the Sultan of $$$$$$$$$$$$…


deadspin.com


Unfortunately, the Yankees are going to be seeing super agent Scott
Boras more than they’d like given his newest clients are Robinson Cano and Nick
Swisher.  I have to admit that I was
dismayed to see the two Yankees sign on with Boras because it will mean the
potential for contentious negotiations in the not-so-distant future.  It also felt like the chances the players
stay in the Bronx behind their current deals lessened substantially when I
heard the news. 

From the players’ standpoint, Boras makes complete sense.  He has shown an uncanny knack for getting the
most for his clients (sometimes in seemingly impossible situations).  While I may not like Boras personally, he is
clearly on a different level than most agents. 
I can only hope that it does not eventually lead to Cano’s departure.

I have to admit that it looks strange to see former Oakland A’s third
baseman Eric Chavez in Yankees gear. 
Chavez was always an Athletic that I held high regard for, but as with
former Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra, injuries have taken their toll on a
once outstanding career.  I am really
pulling Chavez and I hope that he earns a bench role for the Yankees (even at
the expense of Ramiro Pena).  I’d like to
see Chavez backing up the corner positions, with Eduardo Nunez covering the
middle infield positions. 


Chavez n Swish.JPG

daylife.com


Of the other players in camp on minor league deals, I’d say that I am
most supportive of former Chicago White Sox pitcher Freddy Garcia.  If the Yankees don’t trade for a starting
pitcher or sign someone like Kevin Millwood, I’d like to see Garcia earn a spot
in the rotation ahead of Sergio Mitre and the other cast of characters.  While I recognize that the other spot will
most likely go to Ivan Nova, I am very intrigued by Hector Noesi and I am
looking forward to seeing what he can do in camp.  Of the younger guys, I most excited about lefty
Manny Banuelos but he is still a few years away from the majors.

It was tough to see Alfredo Aceves sign with the Boston Red Sox.  I know the Yankees were interested in
bringing Aceves back, but Boston’s willingness to extend a major league
contract was the difference maker. 

It’s hard to believe that pitchers and catchers report on Monday but I’m
ready for the new season.  I still think
that the Boston Red Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies have the best teams on
paper but there’s still a lot that can happen between now and October.  And, oh yeah, they still have to play the
games…


–Scott


 

The Perfect Formula, plus a Red Sox Loss!…


Yankees Win + Rays Loss = 1 Game Lead in AL
East!…


Yankees win.JPG

 

Finally, after 8 days, the Yankees were able to
shake the Rays for at least a day with a 9-2 win over the Oakland A’s in the
Bronx on Tuesday night.  The Rays started
strong against the pesky Toronto Blue Jays, but they saw a 3-1 lead erased when
the Jays scored 10 runs in the 6th inning to win going away,
13-5.  So, the Yankees are 82-50 while
the Rays are 81-51.  Meanwhile, the
Boston Red Sox fell to the Baltimore Orioles 5-2 so it was a very good night!



The New York Yankees beat the Oakland A's 9-3 at Yankee Stadium.

John Munson/The Star Ledger


 

I was toggling back and forth on MLB Radio between
the Yankees and Rays games and I think I missed about a dozen runs scoring
between both games.  I was very surprised
about the ineffectiveness of the Rays’ Jeff Niemann.  He has been roughed up in both games he’s
pitched since his return from the DL.  As
for the Yankees, it was painful with Phil Hughes on the mound, given his
inability to throw strikes.  Of 98
pitches, only 52 were strikes, resulting in 5 walks in 5 innings.  However, he was able to last long enough to
pick up his 16th win of the season. 



Phil Hughes

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

 


The only surprise of tonight’s game was that Marcus
Thames didn’t homer.  He had homered in
his 5 previous consecutive games.  It
will be interesting to see what happens when Lance Berkman returns from the
DL.  I’d be surprised if the Yanks sat
Thames given his hot bat, but it would be sad to see a great player like
Berkman on the bench.  I am glad that I
don’t have to make Joe Girardi’s decisions.



Marcus Thames Yankees tight file

Tim Farrell/The Star Ledger

 


It was great seeing Mark Teixeira back in the
lineup, especially after he hit his 30th home run of the
season. 



Teixeira, August 31

David Pokress/Newsday/MCT


The Yankees are close to returning to full strength
as Alex Rodriguez should be back on the field on Sunday.  Of course, with a 16-3 record, the Yankees
haven’t exactly missed A-Rod in the win column. 
Still, it will be nice to have Berkman, A-Rod, and Andy Pettitte back in
action as the Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox head for the stretch run.



 


On a side note, I was disappointed the Los Angeles
Dodgers pulled back pitcher Ted Lilly after he was claimed on waivers by the
Yankees.  With the pitching struggles of
Javier Vazquez and A.J. Burnett, it would have been nice to have a security
blanket like Lilly around.  Plus, he know
New York and that’s hard experience to find.



 


Oh well, time to protect that one game lead…

 

–Scott

Too Close For Comfort…


Such a great start…



 


Such a disappointing middle and end…



Ouch.JPG

 


Friday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays in
St. Petersburg, FL, started so strong, but then the team’s offense
flatlined.  After a Derek Jeter single
and a Nick Swisher home run to start the game, the Yankees could only manage
two more hits (singles by Robinson Cano) the rest of the way against winner
Wade Davis and the Rays bullpen. 

 

Similarly, Phil Hughes started strong and it looked
like he was cruising with a 2-0 lead until the bottom of the 6th
inning when a three-run home run by Matt Joyce put the Rays up, 3-2 (which
proved to be the final score).



A-Rod still looking for 600 as Yanks lose to Rays, 3-2

Bridget Wentworth/The Star Ledger

 


Alex Rodriguez was a huge disappointment…again…as
he went 0-for-4 in his extended quest for 600 home runs.  The only way that A-Rod could have gotten a
hit would have been for Mark Teixeira to smack him.  I’ll be glad when he finally does hit #600
because this is getting painful watching the pathetic at-bats. 



A-Rod still looking for 600 as Yanks lose to Rays, 3-2

Bridget Wentworth/The Star Ledger

 

The Rays found themselves just a game out of first
place, with Matt Garza on the mound Saturday against Javier Vazquez.  Garza threw a no-hitter against the Detroit
Tigers in his last outing, so he’ll be looking to extend the scoreless, hitless
streak against the Yankees.  Hopefully,
Javy will be up for the challenge. 

 

With less than 24 hours to the trading deadline,
the Yankees finally pulled off a couple of deals, neither of which address the
more pressing needs (bullpen help and a backup third baseman to spell A-Rod).  Granted, GM Brian Cashman is not finished,
but so far, he has added a DH and a part-time left fielder to the mix.  I had wondered who would be the first player
of the post-Boss Steinbrenner era.  The
award goes to first baseman Lance Berkman of the Houston Astros.  He agreed to the deal that would send him to
New York for a couple of minor leaguers, but as a 10-and-5 player, the Yankees
must wait 24 hours before the deal can be finalized.


The thing that ate Lance Berkman, really.

 


The Yankees later acquired outfielder Austin Kearns
from the Cleveland Indians, so, technically, he’ll arrive on the Yankees roster
sooner than Berkman. 



Cleveland Indians beat Nationals, 7-2

 

Berkman effectively replaces injured Nick Johnson
as the full-time designated hitter.  Nick,
who is still on the DL due to a wrist injury, is nearing his return, but he
obviously cannot be relied upon given his injury history (something the Yankees
should have recognized when they signed him last fall).  Berkman is a good friend of Andy Pettitte’s
from their days in Houston so I am sure that played in Berkman’s decision to
join the Yanks after nixing previous deals like the one that would have sent
him to Anaheim as a replacement for Kendry Morales. 

 

The 34-year-old Berkman has begun the downward
descent of his career, and is batting .245 with 13 home runs and 49 RBI’s.   It is
the Yankees’ hope that the excitement of a pennant chase will energize
Berkman.  The Yankees sent minor leaguers
Mark Melancon, a reliever, and Jimmy Paredes, an infielder, to Houston in the
deal.  Melancon, 25,  was once being groomed as an eventual
successor for Mariano Rivera, but he’s failed to achieve his potential. 

 

The other new Yankee is former Reds, Nationals and
Indians outfielder Austin Kearns.  Kearns
was in the Tribe’s lineup tonight and had a couple of hits until he was lifted
in the 7th for a pinch runner. 
Kearns will move from a starting role to a part-time one with the Yanks,
and he’ll most likely start in left when Brett Gardner slides to center in
relief of Curtis Granderson against certain lefthanders.  Kearns is batting .272 with 8 HR’s and 42 RBI’s. 

 

Both players will probably be long gone by Spring
Training 2011, but for now, they have a chance to play a major role in the
Yankees’ drive for the play-offs. 

 

The Yankees do not plan to be quiet before the end
of the trading deadline as they are rumored to be one of several teams involved
in discussions with the Chicago Cubs for pitcher Ted Lilly, a former Yank, and
according to a tweet by ESPN’s Buster Olney, they are working on a deal for a
back-up third baseman.

 

Regardless of what happens, the Rays are guaranteed
of seeing faces tomorrow that weren’t present at Tropicana Field tonight.  I just hope that tomorrow doesn’t find Adam
Dunn in the opposing dugout.

 

At least the Boston Red Sox lost tonight…



 

–Scott

One for the Boss and Bob!…

 

It simply could not have been better scripted…

 

 

 

On a night when the Yankees paid tribute to owner George Steinbrenner and long-time public address announcer Bob Sheppard, Aura and Mystique were on full display as the Yankees rallied for a thrilling 5-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.

 

 

Uli Seit/The New York Times

 

There is no doubt that somewhere high above, the Boss was smiling.  This game had it all…drama, intensity, great pitching and clutch hitting.  It was complete with one of A.J. Burnett’s pies at the end as Nick Swisher’s single drove home the winning run in the bottom of the 9th inning.

 

 

New York Yankees right fielder Nick Swisher (a.) welcomes the ceremonial pie in the face from pitcher A.J. Burnett after Swisher belts a game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the ninth.

Sipkin/NY Daily News

 

Swish, who just missed a home run in the bottom of the 5th, had tied the game in the 8th with his 16th home run of the season.  He also had a run-scoring single in the 3rd and is my easy choice for player of the game.

 

Tampa Bay starter James Shields was very effective early.  Aside from Swisher’s RBI single, the Yankees could not mount an offensive threat against Shields until later in the game.  When B.J. Upton caught Swisher’s fly ball at the top of the fence in the 5th, Shields was still in the 80’s in his pitch count.  It looked like he’d be able to coast through the 7th before turning over the game to the duo of Joaquin Benoit and Rafael Soriano.  Fortunately, Swisher’s near home run was a sign of things to come as Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada had back-to-back homers the next inning. 

 

The Rays temporarily recaptured the lead in the 7th, 5-4, before Swisher’s tying home run. 

 

In the 9th inning, after Mariano Rivera had retired the Rays in the top of the frame, leadoff batter Curtis Granderson reached on a line-drive single.  He was followed by Brett Gardner, who walked after a lengthy at bat.  It brought Derek Jeter to the plate, and I really hoped that it would be DJ to deliver the game-winning hit after his pre-game tribute.  Unfortunately, he struck out.  With one out and two on, Swisher came to the plate and promptly delivered his game-winning hit.  I immediately envisioned George Steinbrenner standing to applaud the thrilling win.  The day simply could not have had a better beginning, middle and end.  This one was clearly for the Boss…

 

 

Yankees honor George Steinbrenner and Bob Sheppard

John Munson/The Star Ledger

 

It was hard not to think back to August 6, 1979 when the Yankees faced the Baltimore Orioles after attending Thurman Munson’s funeral earlier in the day.  The game was highlighted by a dramatic three-run, bottom of the 9th, home run by the late Bobby Murcer, as the Yankees won by the same score as tonight, 5-4.  I can’t say that tonight’s game had the same numbness I felt after Thurman’s death, but the impact was just the same. 

 

 

AP

 

I realize that Hal Steinbrenner has been running the Yankees for several years, however, the Hal Steinbrenner Era is officially underway, and he is off to an undefeated start.  His father would be very proud…

 

 

 AP

 

 

This was George Steinbrenner’s Night, and it was Bob Sheppard’s Night.  They will be forever engrained into the fabric of Yankee Stadium, and are now part of the Aura and Mystique.  Goodnight, Gentleman, we will miss you…

 

 

Yankees honor George Steinbrenner and Bob Sheppard

John Munson/The Star Ledger

 

–Scott

Fat and Happy in Oakland…

 

Geesh, do we really have to leave Oakland?…

 

 

 

McAfee.JPG

 

 

 

The three game series against the Oakland A’s was perhaps the most stress free, relaxing series the Yankees have enjoyed this season.  Usually, they get much resistance from the A’s but not this series.  The Yankees completed the three game sweep on Wednesday night with a 6-2 win.

 

A.J. Burnett continued to show that he is a much better pitcher under the tutelage of pitching coach Dave Eiland.  Burnett’s struggles came while Eiland was on a leave of absence, and his improvement has coincided with Eiland’s return.  A.J. went 7 innings and only gave up 5 hits and 2 runs.  He struck out 3 batters, while walking 2.  He improved to 7-7 and lowered his ERA to 4.75. 

 

 

Yankees starter A.J. Burnett snaps a six-game losing streak with seven strong innings Wednesday and gets a lift from Nick Swisher, who belts a solo homer in the sixth inning.

Ben Margot/AP

 

The A’s starter, Gio Gonzalez, successfully weaved his way into and out of trouble until the 4th inning when Ramiro Pena and Derek Jeter had run-scoring singles to go with Mark Teixeira’s 3-run homer as the Yankees erupted for 5 runs.  It would prove to be the only runs they would need, although Nick Swisher added a solo homer in the 6th. 

 

 

 

John G. Mabanglo/EPA

 

The late innings were quiet under the supervision of Damaso Marte and Joba Chamberlain as the Yankees picked up their 53rd win of the year.  Unfortunately, the Tampa Bay Rays kept pace with the defending World Champs as they completed a sweep of the Boston Red Sox.  The Rays are 2 games behind the Yankees in the AL East standings, while the Red Sox fell to 4 ½ games.  Hey Julia, what is that speck in the mirror?  Whatever it is, it doesn’t seem so close anymore!  ;)

 

The Final Man Vote is in, and so is Nick Swisher!  As if the Yankees didn’t have enough attendees for this year’s All-Star Game, Nick Swisher will tagging along with Derek Jeter and company for next week’s All-Star Game in Anaheim.  Both of my Final Man votes made it to the All-Star Game, as I also supported the NL selection, Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds.  Congratulations to both Nick and Joey! 

 

 

The Star Ledger

 

 

First baseman Joey Votto made an immediate impact with the Reds last September, hitting .321 in 24 games with four home runs and 17 runs batted in. (David Kohl/Associated Press)

David Kohl/AP

 

 

I am nearing the end of my “forced” spotlight on Boston Red Sox players (courtesy of a lost wager with Julia of Julia’s Rants).  Originally, I had to write a paragraph about all 25 members on Boston’s June 26th roster.  However, Julia was gracious enough to reduce my sentence to 10 players for good behavior.  :D  So far, I have completed 7 profiles, so this will be my 8th.  Just two more to go.  For this post, I am going to go with the Captain…

 

 

 

#33    Jason Varitek

 

Jason is currently on the 15-day disabled list with a broken right foot, but he was on the active roster as of 6/26/10.

 

 

 

Image: Varitek

Winslow Townson/AP

 

Tek, as he is affectionately referred to by the RSN, was born April 11, 1972 in Rochester, Michigan.  He enjoyed baseball success and glory at a very early age as his team won the 1984 Little League World Series (Altamonte Springs, FL).  The team would lose the world championship game to a team from Seoul, South Korea, the international champion, but it was only the beginning of championship and personal success for young Jason.

 

In high school in Altamonte Springs, he was catcher and third baseman for the 1990 state champions.  In 1992, he was a member of the U.S. Olympic Team and was recognized as the National Collegiate Player of the Year.  The next year, he was named Baseball America’s College Player of the Year.  Along with Nomar Garciaparra, he would lead his college team, Georgia Tech, to the 1994 College World Series title game (which they lost to the Oklahoma Sooners).

 

Tek was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in 1994 and joined their system in 1995.  In perhaps one of the most foolish trades of recent memory, the Mariners sent Tek and pitcher Derek Lowe to the Boston Red Sox for reliever Heathcliff Slocumb in 1997.  At the time, I didn’t know much about Varitek or Lowe, but I remember thinking that it was a lot for a guy that had been a journeyman reliever at best.  Little did I know that it would help set into a motion the grand plan to end the Curse of the Bambino.

 

Tek made it to the Show for a single at-bat in September 1997, but he was up for good in 1998, sharing catching duties with Scott Hatteberg.  His leadership qualities really began to took hold in 2003, the year the team lost the ALCS to the Yankees, thanks to Aaron Boone’s home run.  The next year, he would be one of the driving forces behind the team’s run to the World Series championship (their first in 86 years). 

 

 


Tek.JPG 

 

Courtesy NESN.com

 

 

Following the championship season, Tek has named the third Captain in Red Sox history behind Carl “Yaz” Yastrzemski and Jim Rice. 

 

Jason would go on to win a second World Championship with the Red Sox in 2007.  He has caught a major league record 4 no-hitters (Hideo Nomo, 2001; Derek Lowe, 2002; Clay Buchholz, 2007; and Jon Lester, 2008).

 

Tek is on the downside of a great playing career, but his potential as a future manager is huge.  There is no doubt that 2007 was not the last championship that he will experience in his career.  I can only hope that it will come after his Red Sox playing days are a distant memory.  George Steinbrenner always takes great pride in his “warriors”, and it goes without question that Tek is a warrior and a champion.   

 

Just 2 more to go… 

 

 

Home Not So Sweet Home…

 

 

That thud you heard was just the Yankees back in the Bronx…

 

 

New York Yankees starting pitcher Phil Hughes suffers his first loss since May 22, surrendering seven runs and ten hits in 5 2/3 innings Tuesday to Seattle.

Sabo/NY Daily News

 

Unfortunately, like the first game in Arizona when the Yankees flew across the country, they were soundly defeated by their opponent shortly after stepping off the plane.  This time, they had an off day to buffer jet lag but alas it didn’t help. 

 

On the mound was World Series nemesis Cliff Lee, the former Philadelphia Phillie who now temporarily resides in Seattle.  Lee, the most likely to be traded by the July trading deadline, was the winner, pitching a complete game in the 7-4 victory over the Yanks.  The home team did try to make it interesting in the bottom of the 9th with two runs, but it wasn’t nearly enough.

 

 

William Perlman/The Star Ledger

 

Phil Hughes, who was skipped during his last turn in the rotation in an attempt to limit innings, had his worst outing of the season.  He allowed 10 hits and 7 runs (6 earned) in 5 2/3 innings. 

 

The only bright spot was Nick Swisher and his two home runs (giving him 13 on the season).  I have to admit that I really had my doubts about Swish going into the season.  I was fearful that he’d be closer to the player he was with the Chicago White Sox than the player who helped the Yankees win the World Series last year.  He has definitely proven me wrong, and the team was right to let Xavier Nady walk in the off-season.

 

As I write this post, the Boston Red Sox are winning big against the Tampa Bay Rays, so the Yankees will most likely find themselves only one game up on the injury-decimated Red Sox later this evening.

 

Speaking of the Red Sox, it’s time for the second installation of my lost wager.  As a result of the Red Sox victory over the San Francisco Giants on Sunday, I lost a bet with Julia of Julia’s Rants and now must write about a member of the Red Sox (as of Sunday’s game).  For today’s mention, I am going to go with a player who was designated for assignment since his days with the Red Sox have come to an end.

 

#55  Fabio Castro

 

 

Castro, a left-handed reliever, was designated for assignment when the team added infielder Eric Patterson, who was acquired this weekend from the Oakland A’s.  Castro had just been called up on June 25th, but did not appear in any games.  He had been on the roster for several days in April, but also did not see any action during that time either.  Castro signed with the Red Sox in December after stints with the Texas Rangers and Philadelphia Phillies.  He is only 25, and as a lefty, he should get another shot with some team looking for help in the bullpen if he departs the Red Sox organization. 

 

Castro was originally signed by the Chicago White Sox as a non-drafted free agent in December 2001.  He last pitched in the majors for the Phillies in September 2007. 

 

–Scott

 

 

A Slammin’ Great Time!…

 

It’s good to be home again…

 

 


Home.JPG 

 

 

The Yankees started the latest home stand on the right foot with an 8-2 victory over the Cleveland Indians.  Phil Hughes was the winner in a game that was relatively tight until Robinson Cano broke it open in the bottom of the 7th inning with a grand slam. 

 

 

Indians Yankees Baseball

AP

 

 

For Hughes, it was great to see him return to top form after a few subpar performances.  He allowed 5 hits, 2 runs, and just 1 walk in seven innings of work, striking out 8.  Hopefully, the improved pitching will spill over to CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, both of whom have struggled in recent starts.    

 

 

4 YANKEES FARRELL.JPG

Tim Farrell/The Star Ledger

 

 

The game also marked the return of center fielder Curtis Granderson, who went 1-for-3 with a run scored.  The activation of Grandy had an effect on the roster as the Yankees designated outfielder Randy Winn for assignment.  It is a sad end for Winn’s brief Yankee career, but he was ill-suited for the backup role on the team.  I think he can still be a productive player, but he needs to play every day to be the player he was with the San Francisco Giants.  He was not going to get that opportunity with the Yankees, so this move is for the best.  It also allowed young, versatile Kevin Russo to remain on the roster.  Russo has already been instrumental in several Yankee wins this season, and he is a much better fit for the roster than Winn.  I do wish Randy the very best and thank him for his contributions to the team this season.

 

 

AP

 

 

Nick Swisher hit his 9th home run in the game.  I am pleasantly surprised with Swisher’s play this year.  I had been fearful that 2009 was an aberration and that Nick would revert to the player he was with the Chicago White Sox.  So far, he has proven me wrong.  After two months of the season, Nick has a .301 batting average and 27 RBI’s to go with his 9 home runs.  His numbers are definitely superior to former starter and current Chicago Cub Xavier Nady.

 

 

Nick Swisher hits a two-run homer in the second inning against the Indians on Friday night.

Keivom/NY Daily News 

 

 

I saw the question posed if the Yankees should pursue a trade for Andy Pettitte’s pal, Houston Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt.  While it would seem that if the Astros do decide to trade Oswalt, the Texas Rangers would be the obvious choice.  Personally, I do think the Yankees should consider pursuit of him.  Clearly, Javier Vazquez has proven that he can’t handle the pressure of New York and the American League.  But he can still excel in the National League.  Houston’s low-pressure environment would be the right setting.  If the Yankees were to package Vazquez, plus cash to pay a large part of his salary, and the right combination of prospects, it would seem that the team could be successful in acquiring Oswalt.  It would slot very nicely into the rotation, and he’d be a great replacement for Andy Pettitte if/when Pettitte retires after the season.

 

 

81361902, Sports Illustrated/Getty Images /Sports Illustrated

 

 

Tonight was the perfect night in the AL East.  A win by the Yankees, combined with losses by both the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays.  The perfect combination!

 

 

Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz

Boston Globe Staff

 

 

Speaking of winners, congratulations to American Idol winner Lee DeWyze.  Lee had become my choice in recent months, and it was great to see his victory on Wednesday over Crystal Bowersox.  Mama Sox would have been a terrific champion too, and I am sure that both will be very successful as they embark on their professional careers. 

 

 

Reuters

 

 

Have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day Weekend!

 

–Scott

 

Not A Good Day, A GREAT Day!…

 

Who knew that all it would take to put me in a good mood is a little rain, a couple of homers and great pitching?…

 

 

Happy Guy.JPG

 

The Yankees picked up two wins today against the Minnesota Twins.   The first game was the continuation of Tuesday’s game which had been suspended after five innings due to rain.  At the time, the game was scoreless, and the game was stopped after the conclusion of the bottom half of the inning.  So, for the game before the game today, it was essentially a short four inning game. 

 

 


Short.JPG 

 

 

In an interesting stat, Derek Jeter’s home run in the 6th inning (or first inning of the continued game today) made a winner of Tuesday’s starter, A.J. Burnett.  It’s not often you can pitch on one day and receive the win on a different day.  Jeter backed up the homer with a great defensive play in the bottom of the 6th to preserve the Yankees’ 1-0 lead which was subsequently the final score.  If this game had been in New York, Derek’s play would have been worth a pie!

 

 

Derek Jeter is congratulated by teammate Brett Gardner after hitting a solo homer for the New York Yankees in their 1-0 win over the Minnesota Twins.

King/AP

 

Mariano Rivera gave fantasy baseball owners a great thrill when he saved both games today.   Andy Pettitte went 8 innings in the regularly scheduled game to pick up his sixth win of the season.  The Twins had taken an early 1-0 lead, but the score was tied at 2 in the top of the 9th inning when Nick Swisher homered to give the Yankees a 3-2 advantage.  Once again, Mo trotted out and retired three batters in order to earn the second save of the day.   While Swisher’s homer was huge, the hitting star was once again rookie Kevin Russo.  He hit a game-tying double in the fourth, and his two-out single in the sixth led to another run.   Despite limited opportunity, Russo’s bat has been more effective than Alex Rodriguez in recent days. 

 

 

New York Yankees outfielder Kevin Russo doubles home a run in the fourth inning in support of Andy Pettitte (b.) who gives the Bombers eight solid innings for his sixth win of the year.

King/AP

 

The wins against the Twins are definitely a great start to putting last week behind us.  The Tampa Bay Rays, who had appeared invincible, have lost three straight games (a sweep) to the Boston Red Sox.  So, while the Yankees haven’t lost ground to the Rays, the Red Sox have been climbing.  Before the season, if you had said Josh Beckett would be on the DL, John Lackey struggling, and Jacoby Ellsbury ailing, I would not have given the Sox a chance.  Instead, they’ve stolen the “invincible” title from the Rays…at least for now.   

 

 

Kevin Youkilis congratulates Adrian Beltre after Beltre's three-run home run

Boston Globe staff

 

 

He’s back!  With two ex-Yankee relievers on the street following their respective releases (Chad Gaudin by the Oakland A’s and Brian Bruney by the Washington Nationals), the Yankees added one to their roster today (Gaudin).  To make room for Gaudin, lefty reliever Boone Logan was optioned to AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre and recent minor league free agent pickup Shane Lindsay was released from the 40-man roster.  Hopefully, Gaudin didn’t throw away his razor when he left the A’s…

 

 

AP

 

 

The Title Defense Begins…

 

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

 

 

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Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger

 

 

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

 

 

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Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger

 

 

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

 

 

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

Sipkin/News 

 

 

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

 

 

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

Antonelli/News

 

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

 

 

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

Keivom/News

 

 

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

 

 

Johnny Damon (AP)

AP

 

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

 

 

Chien Ming-Wang

Scott Miller/Reuters

 

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

 

 

AP

 

 

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

 

 

Torre

LA Times

 

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

 

 

Nick Swisher pie Yankees

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

Advantage, Yankees!…

Wow, what a Sports weekend!…

 

Al Bello/Getty Images

 

It started with a thrilling college football game on Saturday as the University of Iowa Hawkeyes overcame the Indiana Hoosiers, 42-24.  The Hawks had trailed at one point, 21-7.  However, due to some great defensive plays by the Iowa defense and the play of QB Ricky Stanzi, the Hawkeyes improved their record to 9-0.  Iowa Is currently 4th in the BCS Standings, and this has been the greatest Hawkeye season of my life. 

 

Charlie Neibergall/AP 

 

Saturday night, the Yankees gained the advantage in the World Series with an 8-5 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.  In the early stages of the game, it appeared that it would be short night for Andy Pettitte.  I saw two games in the 2001 World Series in Phoenix against the Arizona Diamondbacks, and one included Game 6 which saw Pettitte get blasted in a 15-2 defeat.  I had concerns that I was seeing a repeat performance, however, Andy showed that he has learned a few things since then and he held firm with the ‘bend but don’t break’ mantra.

 

 

 

I thought Andy’s game-tying single in the 5th was the key hit of the game.  Andy definitely showed that the three years spent in Houston was well worth the time as he was able to gain experience hitting at the major league level. 

 

Chris McGrath/Getty Images 

 

I was surprised that the Yankees were able to get to Cole Hamels.  Hamels was last year’s MVP, and I had expected a performance commensurate with the Game 1 start of Cliff Lee.  Fortunately, the Yankees were able to capture the victory as well as the momentum in the Series.  They had lost home field advantage while at Yankee Stadium with the Game 1 loss.  However, they’ve ensured that for Philly to have a chance, the series would have to return to Yankee Stadium.  So much for Jimmy Rollins prediction that the Phillies would win this one in five games…

 

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

 

Sunday, saw Brett Favre make his first return to Lambeau Field as a visitor.  Favre looked tremendous as he threw for four touchdowns.  It looked like it would be a rout early, however, Aaron Rodgers brought the Green Bay Packers back to within a score.  However, the Vikings pulled away at the end to win the game, 38-26.  Favre won both games against the Packers this year, and that is a rare feat for the Vikings.  It gives them a commanding lead in the NFC North with a 7-1 record.

 

Jeffrey Phelps/AP

 

Speaking of commanding leads, the Yankees grabbed the Series by the throat with a 7-4 victory on Sunday night.  On short rest, CC Sabathia did very well, but he was long gone by the time the game was decided.  CC had the lead when he departed, but a game-tying home run by Pedro Feliz off Joba Chamberlain in the bottom of the 8th inning left a no-decision for Sabathia.

 

Al Bello/Getty Images 

 

At that point, it appeared that the Phillies had the series advantage.  If they could pull out a win tonight and Cliff Lee on the mound tomorrow, they could have potentially gone ahead 3-2 before the series headed back to New York.  But it was not meant to be as the Yankees rallied for three runs in the 9th.  Johnny Damon showed why he is such a catalyst for the Yankee offense.  After a two-out single in the 9th, he stole second and seeing that there was no one covering third, he outraced Pedro Feliz to advance two bags.  The play was critical as it forced Phillies closer Brad Lidge to alter his pitch selection and it gave Alex Rodriguez a chance to line a go-ahead single to score Damon.

 

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images 

 

With Mark Teixeira on base along with Rodriguez (Tex had been hit by a pitch after Damon had stolen third), Jorge Posada lined a single to score both runners and give the Yankees a three run cushion heading into the bottom of the 9th.  Posada was thrown out attempting to stretch the single to a double, but it didn’t matter.  The three runs were enough for Mariano Rivera, and he closed out the game with 3 up and 3 down to pick up his 39th career post-season save.

 

Nick Laham/Getty Images 

 

There is one more game in Philadelphia as A.J. Burnett, the Game 2 hero, faces Cliff Lee, the master of Game 1.  While it would be nice to close out the series in Philly, I have a feeling that this one is headed back for the Bronx.  Regardless of what happens, to win two out of three in Philly was a tremendous feat by the Yankees.  The Phillies are definitely a championship club and they’ve proven that last year was no fluke…not like the 2004 and 2007 World Series Champs!  Sorry Julia, I had to throw one in there for you!

 

 

So, I had a great weekend.  How about you?…

 

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

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