Results tagged ‘ Oakland ’

Time to kick it up a notch…

Baseball’s not a slow game but the off-season is…

It’s Thanksgiving, and the Yankees’ big moves this week were to sign journeyman utility infielder Jayson Nix and last year’s Andy Pettitte stand-in, Freddy Garcia.  While I recognize that the Yankees needed to bring Garcia back, I hope that it does not deter them in their search for a legitimate #2 or #3 starter to go behind CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova.  I have not seen any updates on how potential talks are going with backup third baseman Eric Chavez, but hopefully, he’ll return to New York for one more season.  At this point, I view Nix as spring training fodder that will be discarded by the time the team heads for the Bronx.

In recent weeks, I’ve heard the Yankees linked to potential trades for Jair Jurrjens of the Atlanta Braves and Gio Gonzalez of the Oakland A’s.  My preference of the two is Gonzalez because of Jurrjens’ history of knee trouble.  Gonzalez, ironically, has been involved in separate trades involving current Yankees players during his career (Nick Swisher, when he was traded from the A’s to the White Sox, and Freddy Garcia, when he was traded from the White Sox to the Phillies).

I am anxious for the Baseball Winter Meetings so that free agent and trade activity will begin to heat up.  So far, the early winner of the Hot Stove League has to be the Philadelphia Phillies for no other reason than they’ve been aggressive while other teams have been idle.  Jonathan Papelbon was a good choice for closer, especially when you have as much invested in the rotation as the Phillies do.  Ryan Madson did a good job last year, but it’s really anybody’s guess if he would have enjoyed the same level of success this year since he simply does not have the history to support it…yet.  I am not quite sure how Jim Thome fits in, but as a pinch-hitter off the bench, there’s certainly worse bats you could have.

The Texas Rangers also did a good job in picking up former Minnesota Twins closer Joe Nathan, even if it does come with significant risk.  As long as they have a solid Plan B in place, Nathan could be a very pleasant surprise if he shows that he can still pitch at a very high level.

Who will be the Astros’ DH?…

It will probably be strange for the Houston Astros next season as they make their farewell from the National League.  Andy Pettitte is probably wishing that this had happened during his playing days so that he could have been ensured of playing at home every season.  I think Brad Mills is a good manager but it will be interesting to see if he is retained by new owner Jim Crane when the Astros enter the AL West in 2013.  He certainly deserves the opportunity, but you have to wonder if he’ll be given sufficient time to succeed.

Happy north of the border or wishing that Yawkey Way was a daily routine…

It’s no secret that the Boston Red Sox would love John Farrell as their manager, but the Toronto Blue Jays were obviously unwilling to allow that to happen.  Nevertheless, I wonder how Farrell feels.  Is he happy and delighted to be in Toronto, or does he have an unfulfilled desire for the Sox?  Speaking of the Sox, I just don’t see how Bobby Valentine and the city of Boston are a good fit.  I don’t dispute that he’s a good manager, but eventually he wears out his welcome and the pressure of Boston is greater than Arlington, Texas or even Flushing Meadows, New York.  I don’t really know anything about Torey Lovullo’s managing background and Gene Lamont seems like an uninspired choice so I can’t say who I think would be a great fit for the job.  Admittedly, I am a fan of former manager Terry Francona, so it does seem that whoever takes his place is going to an inferior choice.  If it were my decision, I’d probably go with someone who has strong ties to the organization already, like bench coach DeMarlo Hale.  But Boston’s late season collapse effectively removed any September participants from consideration and perhaps wrongfully so.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the course of the next few weeks.

My first year in Minnesota coincides with the Vikings’ worst year in their 50 year history…

With the Minnesota Vikings standing at 2-8 heading into this weekend’s play, the baseball off-season has already seemed so incredibly long and it hasn’t even really started yet…

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

 

–Scott

 

Somehow I knew it would end like this…

 

Sad but realistic…

Well, the Yankees lost a series that they could have and should have won.  I can’t say that I am as disappointed as I’ve been in past years during play-off failures as I recognized the team had its fatal weaknesses that would be exposed the deeper it got in the play-offs.  Clearly, starting pitching has been a problem.  CC Sabathia has been great, but he hasn’t been Justin Verlander- or Roy Halladay-great.  He is still the ace and legitimately so, but the weaknesses in the rotation behind him put more pressure on CC to be perfect.  That’s a tough for anyone.  Even if the Yankees had gotten past the Detroit Tigers, I am not so sure that they would have fared well against the Texas Rangers.

When the season began, I felt that on paper the Boston Red Sox had a superior team.  My picks for the World Series were the Red Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies.  I was wrong on both counts, but I felt that the Yankees weak rotation would put too much pressure on the hitters.  When the big bats go cold, there just haven’t been the consistent key hits off the bench.  There have been a few here and there, but nothing like the critical and timely hits that Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui used to deliver.  I was concerned that this would be the final fatal blow for the Yankees chances in 2011, and that’s exactly what happened.

At the trading deadline, I had hoped the team would at least make an attempt to acquire a clutch hitter if they weren’t able to find any pitching depth.  They stood pat and did nothing.  I agree that it was the right decision if the moves would have cost talent like Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances or Jesus Montero, but other teams found ways to spend a little to acquire a lot like the Tigers with their pickup of pitcher Doug Fister.

The priority move – sign Cash…

Although the 2011 season was a “failure” as per owner Hal Steinbrenner, I clearly hope the team decides to bring back GM Brian Cashman.  No one understands the Yankees or the city of New York better than Cash, and he’s still the right man for the job.  With so much to do in the off-season, the Yankees need to move quickly to sign Cash.  With CC likely to opt out of his contract, the Yankees will need to be equally as quick to renegotiate a replacement contract so that they can turn to ways to improve the team as opposed to sustaining the current depth of talent.  I would hate to see the Yankees lose other opportunities because they are too focused with the Cashman and Sabathia negotiations.  Last off-season, it appeared that the team was only capable of dealing with one issue at a time.  When they were chasing Cliff Lee, it seemed as though that’s all they did.  They let other matters sit, including the topic of Andy Pettitte, until Lee surprised everyone and returned to Philadelphia.  I am not quite sure why the organization is incapable of multi-tasking, but they do need to ‘divide and conquer’ if they intend to be the dominant force in 2012.

Looking forward to Jorge Posada Day…

Jorge Posada played very well in September and October, and he’s been a fantastic Yankee, but the time has come for him to go.  I hope that he decides to put the bat down and simply walks away.  I’d really hate to see him try to play again in 2012, which most likely would be with a different team.  His legacy is secured in Yankees history, and he’ll always be treated as royalty by the organization.  He was the greatest catcher since Thurman Munson, and he’ll certainly be remembered in the same room with Munson, Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra, and Elston Howard.

The “Opt-Out” I wish would happen…

How great would it be if Rafael Soriano opted out of his contract?  Sadly, that’s not going to happen and the Yankees are stuck with the guy who is trying to be the next Jose Veras rather than the next Mariano Rivera…

Bay Area Losses…

Northern California has certainly suffered great losses this week with the passing of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and now legendary Raiders owner Al Davis.   Davis is one of the guys that you just thought would live forever.  I am not a Raiders fan, but he revolutionized the game and was one of its most colorful characters.  I admired his strength and resolve, and it’s unfortunate that his final Raider seasons were filled with losses.  The game certainly won’t be the same without Davis…

–Scott

 

Right on Target…

 

The weather is Minnesota was beautiful…

Last Sunday, I attend a simply great baseball game.  Well, outside of a few harmless errors and miscues.  As a resident of Minneapolis, Minnesota, I went to Target Field and saw the Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins, 3-0.  It was a great afternoon for baseball (temperature in the upper 70’s, with lots of sun).

The game was a pitcher’s duel in the early going.  I was surprised when the Twins pulled starter Nick Blackburn in the second inning despite not giving up any runs, but later heard that he had been injured.  The Twins bullpen did a good job until the 7th inning when Curtis Granderson hit an inside-the-park home run.  I was watching him run between second and third, and his stride is so long that he almost looks like he is going slow motion.  There wasn’t much hesitation as he rounded third and headed home.  I always cringe when players go in for headfirst slides but Curtis slide his hand across home plate before the ball arrived and the Yanks were up 2-0.  In retrospect, the Twins outfielders blew the play when both the right and center fielders went to the wall on Granderson’s hit ball which bounced off the wall.  One of the outfielders should have backed up the other, but that’s the hazard of fielding a young, inexperienced outfield.

Mark Teixeira followed with one of those line drive shots that never drop as the ball was deposited in the left field stands.

The Twins definitely had their chances.  At one point, they had men on second and third with no outs and couldn’t score.  David Robertson worked out of a jam in the 8th when the bases were loaded despite no balls leaving the infield.  There were miscues, like when a ball dropped between Nick Swisher and Curtis Granderson (you get it, no, you get it…) or A-Rod’s bobble of what should have been a routine fielding play.  Fortunately, the Twins couldn’t do anything with the opportunities, so the Yankees emerged the victor.  I had a decent seat (lower level, left field) but for the 9th inning, I moved over to the standing area behind the home plate lower level seats.  I had a perfect line to watch Mariano Rivera throw his cutter to catcher Russell Martin, and it was great to catch that view.  It was also nice to see Mariano walk off the field with another save…

I am always amazed at how many Yankees fans are in attendance on road games.  Not that I’d feel threatened in Minnesota, but it’s nice having “support” nearby!

So close yet so far away…

Monday night’s game was a disappointment.  After the Yanks fell behind 6-0, I wrote the game off.  But then, in the final two innings, the Yanks brought it to within one at 6-5, with the bases loaded.  I started to get excited about the potential huge comeback, but Nick Swisher hit a fly ball that was caught near the fence to end the game.  That was harder to accept than if the Yanks had just lost 6-0.  Then, of course, every time I looked at the TV, the loss was scrolling across the ticker on ESPN.  While A.J. Burnett is my personal favorite to be yanked (no pun intended) from the rotation, I realize that there are financial reasons for why that move won’t be made.  Therefore, the next to go would be Bartolo Colon.  I’d definitely take Freddy Garcia over Colon, and there is no way that Phil Hughes or Ivan Nova will be coming out of the rotation anytime soon.

Of course, as I sit here typing this blog, Nick Swisher has just hit a home run to put the Yanks up 2-1 over the Oakland A’s in the 6th inning.  Dude, where was that shot last night?…

Wasn’t he a Yankee for about 5 minutes a few years ago…

I saw the blurb today that the Yankees had claimed Chicago Cubs first baseman Carlos Pena on waivers.  Listening to comments from GM Brian Cashman, it doesn’t sound like the Yanks will do anything, but it would be nice to acquire Pena as an option at DH and a backup to Mark Teixeira.  He is definitely familiar with the AL East having played with the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays.  I don’t like Pena’s batting average, but his other stats are respectable.  The Yanks clearly need a clutch bat on the bench and perhaps Pena could be the guy if the Yanks and Cubs can work out a trade.

Fat, dumb, and happy…

Entering play tonight, the Yankees held an 8 ½ game lead over the Los Angeles Angels and Tampa Bay Rays.  While that’s certainly not insurmountable, it’s nice to have such a large cushion as we enter the final days of August.  Granted, I’d prefer to win the AL East, but then again, with the current play-off structure, it doesn’t really matter.  If the Yanks can keep the lead in the WC standings, they should be able to rest some guys in September to allow the team to head into October at full strength.  At this point, my biggest concern is getting a healthy Alex Rodriguez on the field.

Have a good night!

–Scott

A Reason To Be Grateful…


I have been a Yankees fan for exactly 36 years! 


How do I know?  I
became a Yankees fan the day that free agent pitcher Jim “Catfish” Hunter,
formerly of the Oakland A’s, signed with the New York Yankees.  The date was December 31, 1974.  Prior to the signing, like many other people,
I had been a fan of the Athletics.


Catfish Hunter

Sport/Getty Images


I was fairly young so my deep interest in baseball didn’t
really materialize until after I had become a Yankees fan.  Each year, from the 1975 season until about 1982,
I kept a scrapbook on the season.  I’d
record box scores and transactions, and would collect news clippings and
photographs. 

I think it was during the 1981 season that I showed my
scrapbook to then Yankee Oscar Gamble and he autographed it for me.  I still carry these scrapbooks around with me
although they’ve been packed in storage for years.  One of those days, I will pull them and
re-live those great seasons of Catfish, Thurman Munson, Ron Guidry, Sparky
Lyle, Rich Gossage, Graig Nettles, Willie Randolph, Chris Chambliss, Bucky
Dent, Reggie Jackson, Billy Martin, and others.


 


Becoming  a Yankees
fan was easy.  One of the very first
books I recall reading as a child was a biography about Lou Gehrig.  I was probably only 7 or 8 at the time and I
was so in awe of Gehrig and the history of the Yankees.  I am not sure why I didn’t become a Yankees
fan then, but at that point, Fran Tarkenton and the Minnesota Vikings were my
main spectator sports passion.  Baseball
did not really capture my attention until the personalities of the championship
Oakland teams of the early 70′s hit the scene.


Rollie Fingers

AP  


It is hard to believe that it’s been over 10 years since
Catfish passed away.  He was a great
Yankee and one of the best pitchers of his era. 
I will forever be grateful to him for bringing me with him to the
Yankees. 


88748041, Sports Illustrated/Getty Images /Sports Illustrated

Sports Illustrated/Getty Images


As for the current Yankees, not much has been happening
but that’s to be expected this time of year. 
Once we get past the holidays, I am sure that we will see movement on
the Andy Pettitte front (will he retire as currently expected by many?).  While no frontline starting pitcher looms on
the horizon, the Yankees can help minimize the deficiencies of the starting
staff by building a superior bullpen.  I
remain hopeful the team finds a way to bring reliever Rafael Soriano on board
to set up Mariano Rivera.  That would
allow David Robertson and Joba Chamberlain to focus on the seventh inning and
prior to really shorten up the games for the starters. 


Rafael Soriano, who is under contract only for this season, surprisingly became available from the Braves and cost the Rays only a prospect in their biggest offseason move.

Getty Images


I really cringed when I heard that Bartolo Colon was
saying that several teams were interested in him, including the Yankees.  That is definitely one signing that I do NOT
want to see!


bartolo_colon_with_dominican_team


Patience, patience, patience…I know, that’s what Brian
Cashman keeps saying.  So, we’ll see what
the new year brings us!




Happy New Year to everyone!  May 2011 be your best year yet!  J



–Scott


A BIG Part of the Rotation…


Nineteen and counting…


 



After a season of overusing words like stellar and
incredible when trying to describe CC Sabathia, he continued with more of the
same in one of his best pitching performances of the year in defeating the
Oakland A’s 5-0 this afternoon in the Bronx. 
The win moved CC’s record to 19-5, and put him in outstanding position
to win 20 games in his second year with the Yanks.

 

Over the years, the Yankees have had some great
free agent signings and some not so great. 
CC has clearly put himself in the Top 5 best signings in just under two
years in New York.  Then there’s A.J.
Burnett.  Oh well, nobody’s perfect…except
maybe CC!  ;)



CC Sabathia ties career high with win No. 19 as ace throws one-hit ball over eight innings as Yankees sweep Oakland A's at the Stadium, 5-0.

Sipkin/NY Daily News

 

CC’s game today was a one-hit shutout.  Fortunately, the hit occurred early in the
game on a legitimate hit (single in the second inning).  It would have been much worse had the hit
happened late in the game.  September 1st
call-up, Jonathan Albaladejo pitched the 9th to secure the win and
shutout for CC. 

 

The game also featured two home runs by the
recently rejuvenated Curtis Granderson. 
He has definitely found his sea legs in New York, and is starting to
play like the player the Yanks thought they were getting when they acquired him
from the Tigers.  I am sure that New York
City is starting to look much better through Grandy’s eyes now that his bat is
starting to catch up with his reputation. 

 

With the win, the Yanks moved to 1 ½ games up on
the Tampa Bay Rays, who had the day off. 
They remained 8 games ahead of the Boston Red Sox, who defeated Buck
Showalter and Baltimore Orioles 6-4.  I
would never count the Red Sox out, but on September 2nd, I certainly
feel much better about an 8 game lead than I would if it were only 2 or 3 games
(okay, that’s a statement of the obvious…sorry).  This has been a tough year for the Sox, and I
would never seek to found glory in their injuries.  The latest word has Dustin Pedroia seeking
season-ending foot surgery in an attempt to avoid any setbacks that would cause
him to miss time in 2011.  Pedey is a
gamer so I am sure that whatever decision he makes will be in the best
interests of both he and the Red Sox organization.



David Ortiz (left) and Dustin Pedroia (right) celebrated Pedroia's first inning homer.

Jim Davis/Boston Globe

 

Off-topic
stuff…

 

It’s hard to believe the NFL season is upon us once
again.  My team, the Minnesota Vikings,
will once again be quarterbacked by 20-year vet Brett Favre.  I have my doubts if Favre will be able to
last the entire season so hopefully Tavaris Jackson has grown during his time
as a backup to Favre.  The team may not
have needed T-Jack in 2009, but he’ll see plenty of the pigskin in 2010. 

 

My hockey team, the San Jose Sharks, now have the
reigning Stanley Cup goalie in the fold. 
Antti Niemi won salary arbitration against the Chicago Blackhawks and as
a result forced himself out of Chicago’s budget.  They subsequently severed ties with Niemi and
signed former Dallas Stars goalie Marty Turco. 
The Sharks signed Niemi on a one-year, $2 million deal.  He’ll join another free-agent signee and
fellow countryman Antero Niittymaki plus Thomas Greiss in net.  Former goalie Evgeni Nabakov, who the team
cut ties with earlier in the off-season, signed to play in Russia.  Will this be the year the Sharks finally make
the Stanley Cup?  Well, I certainly hope
so.

 

Roger Clemens deserves jail time…

 

Aroldis Chapman is the real deal.  The Cincinnati Reds are having a terrific
season and they’ve just added an ace arm to the bullpen for the stretch
run.  There must have been collective
groans in St. Louis when the Reds called Chapman up from the minors.  Here’s hoping that he has a much better run
than fellow rookie pitcher Stephen Strasburg who is now on the shelf for 12-18
months due to Tommy John surgery.  I
still wonder why the Yankees never entered into the bidding for Chapman.  I hope they don’t make the same mistake
when/if Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish comes available.

 

I was really surprised to see Andy Roddick make
such an early exit from the US Open in Flushing Meadow, NY (second round).  I’ve been to the US Open a number of times,
and Roddick has always been a fixture in the later rounds.  This year, he’ll be watching from the stands
like the rest of us.

 

Manny Ramirez looks pathetic in a White Sox
uniform.  It wasn’t that long ago that I
admired Manny the Hitter, but I have to admit that I’ve been turned off by his
ugly departures from both Boston and Los Angeles.  Chicago may be excited for now, but it is
inevitable that they’ll be glad to see Manny leave town.

 

Is it really September?…

 

–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

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… 

 

 

Just Another Game…

 

Who said that you can’t go home again?…

 

 


CC.JPG 

 

 

 

CC Sabathia finally put his problems with pitching “at home” behind him as the Yankees defeated the A’s 6-1 on Tuesday night in Oakland.  CC, who grew up in nearby Vallejo, CA, has struggled at McAfee Coliseum.  CC, an Oakland Raiders season ticket holder, had a 2-5 career mark prior to last night’s game.  The best quote I saw after the game was when CC stated that he is over playing at home and it’s just another place to play. 

 

 

Robert Galbraith/Reuters

 

So, last night, for a change, it was the A’s pitcher who was too amped up.  Trevor Cahill, an All-Star, tried too hard to impress his All-Star manager (Joe Girardi) and surrendered two home runs to Alex Rodriguez (one of which was a grand slam).  For A-Rod, it was home runs 596 and 597 for his career.

 

 

Alex Rodriguez flips his bat after belting a grand slam in the third inning in Oakland, his first of two round trippers in support of CC Sabathia (b.), giving him 597 for his career.

Ben Margot/AP

 

Following a sluggish start to the season, CC improved his record to 11-3 and enjoyed his highest strikeout total of the season with 10.  He has won seven straight starts.  Clearly, this is the reason the Yankees signed CC to the huge deal several years ago.  Admittedly, I am not looking forward to the end of next season when his ‘opt-out’ clause kicks in.  Hopefully, life as a Yankee has been good for CC to the point that he won’t yearn to be a Giant, Athletic, Angel or Dodger.

 

I was not pleased to see that Robinson Cano had accepted an invitation to the Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game.  Too often, we’ve seen sluggers mess up their swing and suffer subpar second halves after derby participation.  Cano has excelled this season behind A-Rod in the order, and his job is not to hit home runs but to drive in runs.  It didn’t sound like Joe Girardi or hitting coach Kevin Long were in favor of his participation, although Long took the softer approach to say that he understood why it would be an honor for Cano.  I can only hope that Cano stays injury-free and that his second half is equal to or greater than the first.

 

In a news report released by the New York Daily News, Robinson Cano has apparently had a change of heart (or a forced one) and has removed himself from the Home Run Derby.  Hopefully, the news report is true.

 

 

New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano has bowed out of the Home Run Derby.

Sipkin/NY Daily News 

 

Buster Olney had a good column on ESPN.com about Cliff Lee’s impact on various contenders today.  He had consulted with Stephen Oh of Accuscore, and was given this short description of Lee’s impact on the Yankees:

 

Lee with Yankees

Yankees are finishing 6 games ahead of Boston and Tampa in AL East.

New York Yankees

Win

Loss

%

Win Div.

Playoffs

Current Forecast

97

65

59.9

65

88

w/ Cliff Lee

99

63

61.1

77

94

Lee Impact

+2 wins

 

1.2

12

6

 

 

As much as I’d like Lee on the Yankees, I recognize that it remains a long shot and the team does have greater needs.  But you can never underestimate the Yankees and they do have the tendency to lie in the weeds waiting to strike if they feel the market conditions are right. 

 

Trades are not always about what they can do for your team, but sometimes it is to keep other teams, like the Rays, from becoming stronger.  Based on the projection above, Lee would improve the Yanks by 2 games.  So, if you subtracted the 2 games from the Yanks and gave the additional games to the Rays, the projected standings would be tighter…with much less margin for error. 

 

My preference would be for the Seattle Mariners to trade Lee back to the National League (perhaps back to Philadelphia since they’ve expressed interest).  But of course, the downside is a potential World Series match-up against the Phillies, assuming both teams make it but that’s too far away to think about.  Right now, the goal is to simply make the play-offs, and then worry about those games at that time. 

 

I have no doubt that the Boston Red Sox will be much stronger.  Their players will begin to get healthy, and it is almost a certainty that Theo Epstein will be very active in the days leading up to the trading deadline.  As strong as the Red Sox rotation is with Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz healthy, I’d hate to think of Lee in the rotation in place of Dice-K. 

 

It should be an interesting July…

 

It is time once again for the “forced” spotlight on a Boston Red Sox player thanks to my wager loss to Julia of Julia’s Rants.  So far, I have profiled 6 Boston players.  The original wager penalty was a paragraph about the entire 25 man roster as of 6/26/10.  Julia has shortened my “sentence” by 15 players which means that I only need to spotlight four more players.  Hopefully, with my final choices, I won’t disappoint.

 

For the latest entry, I want to mention the closer-in-waiting.  I’ve already talked about Jonathan Papelbon.  I don’t know what the future holds for Pap and the Red Sox, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Pap is eventually traded or departs as a free agent.  If that happens, the new Boston closer would most likely be…

 

 

#51     Daniel Bard

 

 

 

Bob Breidenbach/Providence Journal

 

Daniel Bard just turned 25 last month (he was born June 25, 1985 in Houston, Texas).  He was originally selected by the Red Sox in the first round of the 2006 MLB Draft.  Ironically, Bard had previously been drafted by the Yankees in 2003 but did not sign; he chose the University of North Carolina instead (bummer!). 

 

An early attempt was made to make Bard a starter but it didn’t pan out and he was moved into the bullpen in late 2007.  Out of the bullpen, Bard thrived in 2008 with a 1.51 ERA and 107 strikeouts (in 77 ½ innings) and was named the Red Sox Minor League Player of the Year.

 

On May 13, 2009, Bard made his pitching debut with the Red Sox by throwing two scoreless innings against the Los Angles Angels.  He only gave up one hit and had a strikeout. 

 

Bard is one of the few pitchers in the majors capable of throwing 100 MPH.    So far this season, he has continued his growth and development as the eventual successor for Jonathan Papelbon.  In 40 games, he has an ERA of 1.99 and 44 strikeouts.  He has only given up 22 hits, 12 walks, 9 earned runs, and 4 home runs.  He also has 3 saves. 

 

Bard may not be Boston’s closer in 2011, but his day will come.  Like Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury and others, Bard’s Red Sox future is very promising.  And to think he could have been Mariano Rivera’s future replacement…  L

 

 

What? No Drama?…

 

No drama; just quiet efficiency from Javier Vazquez and the Yankees…

 

 

Javier Vazquez gives the Yankees seven solid innings against the Oakland Athletics Monday night and Mark Teixeira (b.) powers the offense with a solo homer.

Ben Margot/AP

 

 

During the last road trip, the Yankees struggled in the games following their cross-country jaunts…both to and from.  Sunday at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees defeated the Toronto Blue Jays on a 10th inning walk-off run-scoring single by Marcus Thames before heading to California.  With no off-day, they played the Oakland A’s on Monday night and picked up another win, 3-1.  This time, they led from beginning to end, and everyone did exactly what they were supposed to.

 

Javier Vazquez has definitely rebounded from his disastrous start and has quietly been the Yankees most effective starter for the past month.  He pitched 7 innings, and only gave up 3 hits and 1 run (he walked 2 and struck out 2).  Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera retired all three batters they faced in the 8th and 9th innings, respectively.  No runners in scoring position.  No wild pitches.  No balks.  No hit batters.  No bloop singles.  It was exactly what you would want from a pitching staff.  It was nice seeing a pitcher other than a Yankee with a hand to the face for a change (I like to call this the CC Sabathia pose…okay, “like” might not be the right word)…

 

 

 

Ben Sheets worked a season-high 71/3 innings, but without... Ben Margot / AP

 Ben Margot/AP

 

 

The Yankees had scored early with two runs in the 2nd innings thanks to a run-scoring triple by Curtis Granderson and a run-scoring single by Francisco Cervelli.  The A’s answered with a run in the 3rd when Coco Crisp hit a sacrifice fly to score Cliff Pennington, who had tripled.  It would be the final time in the game for the A’s to get a runner past second base.  Mark Teixeira added an insurance run with a homer in the 6th inning.  Only two batters in the Yankees lineup were hitless (Brett Gardner and Alex Rodriguez). 

 

 

0706teixeira2.JPG

Monica M. Davey/EPA

 

 

Game time was only 2 hours, 35 minutes.  Very un-Yankee like! 

 

For all the wins this year, I’d say that this one had the least amount of stress that I’ve experienced and that includes any blowouts.  On one hand, I have very excited that Javier Vazquez has turned it around.  I was starting to buy into the talk that he wasn’t anything more than a National League pitcher.  Of course, I do have the fear that he could revert to the awful early season form.  The downside, if that happens, is that the timing of his improvement probably nixes any chance that the Yankees would pursue Seattle’s Cliff Lee.  The team has greater needs, but Lee would be a nice addition given the strong potential for Andy Pettitte’s off-season retirement and Vazquez’s impending free agency. 

 

 

Gail Burton/AP

 

 

Speaking of Pettitte, congratulations to him for making the American League All-Star Team as a replacement for Boston’s injured starter Clay Buchholz.  The AL All-Stars are definitely taking a very Yankee-like appearance, however, I do feel that the starter in the All-Star Game should be Boston’s Jon Lester. 

Since I’ve made the segue to the Red Sox, it’s time for another installment of my “forced” spotlight on a member of the Boston Red Sox (thanks to a wager loss to my friend Julia of Julia’s Rants).  For today’s profile, I’ll go with the closer…

 

#58        Jonathan Papelbon

 

 

 

One of the few Red Sox stars not actually on the Disabled List, Pap has been with the Sox since 2005 (becoming the closer in 2006).  Originally, he was projected to be a starter, but a shoulder injury caused the Red Sox to re-think their strategy and as a result, Papelbon has become one of the AL’s premier closers. 

 

He was born in Baton Rouge, LA on November 23, 1980.  After a highly successful high school career in Jacksonville, FL, he went to Mississippi State where he was the team’s closer for three years.  He was drafted by the Oakland A’s in 2003 but did not sign in order to stay  in college for one more year in a subsequently failed attempt to reach the College World Series.  The next year, he was drafted by the Boston Red Sox. 

 

Despite the relief appearances when he was called up in 2005, the team’s plan, as previously mentioned, was to put Papelbon into the rotation in 2006.  The closer at the time, Keith Foulke, was unable to capture his pre-injury form, and Pap took over as the guy at the back end of the pitching staff. 

 

Pap’s accomplishments include throwing the game-ending strikeout to win the 2007 World Series against the Colorado Rockies.  Since 2006, he has had at least 35 saves each season with a high of 41 in 2008.  He has 170 saves for his career.  In 301 games, he sports an ERA of 2.03 in 332 innings pitched with 376 strikeouts.   He is the franchise leader in saves, and as hard as it is to believe, the first Red Sox closer to record two 30-save seasons.

 

 

 

 

He holds several records:

 

·        Most consecutive scoreless innings to start a post-season career (26 innings).

·        Most saves by a rookie closer (35 saves).

 

Papelbon has two younger twin brothers in baseball.  Josh is in the Red Sox organization (AA Portland), while Jeremy is with the Cubs (AA Tennessee). 

 

Hey Julia, how many more of these do I have to go?  Geesh!  ;) 

 

–Scott

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getaway Game Blues…

 

All good things must come to an end…

 

 

Happycat.JPG

 

CC Sabathia’s string of superior performances sadly came to an end today, but not before the Yankees had secured their fifth series win in five tries to start the season.  The Yankees took the first two games of the series in Oakland from the A’s (on Tuesday and Wednesday nights by scores of 7-3 and 3-1). 

 

 

Alex Rodriguez

Ray Chavez/Oakland Tribune/MCT

 

In the first game, Javier Vazquez, despite still not having his best stuff, finally got his first win of the season.  Backed by a mammoth home run by Alex Rodriguez, Vazquez was able to do in Oakland what he wasn’t able to do in New York.  Win.  Hopefully, this game is the start of a sustained upward trend for Javy and he’ll soon be able to turn those Yankee Stadium boos into cheers.

 

 

Javier Vazquez

William Perlman/The Star Ledger

 

I was supposed to go to Wednesday night’s game, but had to cancel at the last minute.  Naturally, it was a huge night for Phil Hughes.  Like CC did earlier this season, Phil took a no-hitter into the 8th inning.  The no-hitter was broken up by Eric Chavez with a shot back to the pitcher that glanced Phil’s forearm and chest and he momentarily lost sight of the ball.  By the time, he retrieved the ball, Chavez was on first.   Not that I wanted Phil to lose his no-hitter, but I really would have been disappointed at missing the game if I had missed a historical moment (as if I wasn’t disappointed enough).  Phil lost his shut-out when he was pulled after walking Gabe Gross.  Joba Chamberlain was brought in, and he gave up a run-scoring single to Jake Fox (which scored Chavez and charged the run to Hughes since the runner was his responsibility).  Nevertheless, it was a win (made even more special for Phil by the presence of his parents at the game). 

 

 

Phil Hughes, Yankees

Cary Edmondson/US Presswire 

 

Today, the Yankees could have completed a sweep but the game got started on the wrong foot when A’s catcher Kurt Suzuki hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the first.  It was a deficit that the Yankees could never overcome.  CC was solid the rest of the way, but the damage had been done. 

 

The Yankees did manage their first triple play since 1968 in the sixth inning.  With the A’s Daric Barton on second and Ryan Sweeney on first, Kurt Suzuki came to the plate again.  Suzuki hit the ball to third where A-Rod touched third base and threw to Robinson Cano at second.  Cano swiped the bag and fired the ball to first where Mark Teixeira caught it just before Suzuki arrived.  Maybe Suzuki should take some speed lessons from Brett Gardner! 

 

 

Sanchez/AP

 

The A’s Dallas Braden picked up his third win of the season with the 4-2 victory.  Outside of solo homers by Marcus Thames and Mark Teixeira, he really didn’t give the Yankees anything.  Braden is definitely a rising star, but then again, when doesn’t GM Billy Beane come up with quality young pitching talent. 

 

 

Dallas Braden

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

 

There was a bit of controversy when Alex Rodriguez jogged across the pitching mound following a foul ball by Robinson Cano.  Braden took offense, and accused A-Rod of violating an unwritten rule not to cross the pitcher’s mound.  As much as I would like to say ‘what does it matter?’, Braden probably has a point.  It doesn’t matter that he has only 17 career wins, A-Rod should have been more respectful. 

 

The Yankees now head for Anaheim to face the Los Angeles Angels and Hideki Matsui.  A.J. Burnett will take the mound against Ervin Santana as the Yankees try to extend their series win streak to six series.  It’s great to see that Mark Teixeira is starting to warm up.  Hopefully, he’ll feel comfortable in his former home stadium and help propel the team to yet another series win.

 

 

Mark Teixeira seems to be breaking out of his slump with a solo home run in the sixth. But the inning's highlight was the 5-4-3 triple play initiated by Alex Rodriguez (below).

Sanchez/News

 

I am still not sure what I think about starting the NFL Draft on a Thursday night with one round.  How strange is it that three of the first five picks are Oklahoma Sooners?  Nevertheless, there were a few surprises.  The guys I wanted (Tim Tebow and Devin McCourty) went ahead of the Minnesota Vikings selection at #30.  The Denver Broncos traded up to get Tebow (Brady Quinn has gone from being a QB of the Future with the Browns to a just-for-now backup to Kyle Orton with the Broncos in a very short period of time), while the New England Patriots tabbed McCourty. 

 

 

tim-tebow.jpg

Bob Rosato/SI

 

So, with the 30th pick, here is the newest Minnesota Viking:  Nobody!  They traded the pick to the Detroit Lions who selected RB Jahvid Best (who would have been a great choice for the Vikings).  I hope it was worth it for the Vikes.  Disappointing…

 

 

Disbelief2.JPG

 

How many more days until my next battle with Julia of Julia’s Rants?  The Yankees head for Boston two weeks from tomorrow, so we’ll be getting ready for Round 2.  Meanwhile, I wonder how the book assignment is coming along for Julia?  Hmmmm….

 

 


Battle.JPG

 

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