Results tagged ‘ Phil Coke ’

The Carlos has landed…

 

Welcome to the Bronx!…

With one swing of the bat, Carlos Beltran has arrived as a Yankee.  On Friday night, with the Yankees down by one run and two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning, Beltran crushed his most important hit to date into the left center stands with two on to give the Yankees a 5-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles.

 

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi

Mark Bonifacio/New York Daily News

 

For many new Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka excluded, it takes a while to get acclimated to pinstripes.  I remember that it took Jason Giambi a season or so to really feel comfortable.  Brian McCann started his Bronx career a little on the slow side, and in many Fantasy Baseball rankings, his replacement in Atlanta and former backup, Evan Gattis was rated higher among catchers.  He delivered a key hit this past week to win a game and perhaps that was his “moment”.  He is starting to hit so there’s no reason not to believe that he’ll be an offensive force for the remainder of the season.  But Beltran came with high expectations even at his age.  Not to say that McCann didn’t, but perhaps the bar is a little higher for Beltran given his history in the City with the Mets.

 

Carlos B

 Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports

 

Ironically, Beltran may never have gotten his “moment” if not for a clutch RBI single by McCann in the prior at-bat.  The game had many heroes.  A diving stop by Jacoby Ellsbury that could have easily bounced past him to allow more Oriole runners to score in the late innings, David Huff limiting the O’s to one run in the top of the 9th after an error by Yangervis Solarte, and the very strong performance by Hiroki Kuroda.  Conversely, Solarte could have been the goat with the error, in combination with his inning ending at-bat with two on in the bottom of the 8th.  Nevertheless, at the end of the day, the Gatorade was dunked on Beltran and all was good in the Bronx.

If second basemen were as plentiful as catchers…

I like Francisco Cervelli as backup catcher given his versatility.  But it was still sad to see John Ryan Murphy sent down to AAA.  I know, he’ll get the chance to start every day, but I thought he did a great job backing up McCann.  I know that when the Yankees make a deadline move in July, it will almost certainly include one of the young catchers (Murphy or top prospect Gary Sanchez).   If the Yankees somehow swing a deal for David Price (unlikely in my opinion), Sanchez would have to be one of the pieces headed to Tampa.  But in other deals, it’s more likely that Murphy will go unless the Yankees move Cervelli.  Austin Romine seems to have become an afterthought.

Have bat, will travel…

I am glad to see that prospect Peter O’Brien is thriving.  Another catcher, he has been performing well at first base and is perhaps an option to replace Mark Teixeira at some future point if he doesn’t get moved in July.  Conversely, it is sad to see that talented prospect but oft-injured Slade Heathcott is dealing with, surprise, injuries…

 

Peter O'Brien hit a walk-off home run to score two runs and give Tampa the 6-5 win.

Mark LoMoglio/Yankees, via MLB.com

 

Sabathia, Nova and Pineda who?…

Hats off to the young Yankee pitchers.  Entering the season, the bullpen was perceived as a weakness but young arms Dellin Betances and Adam Warren have become go-to guys, and represent superior upgrades to guys like Joba Chamberlain and other former relievers.  But the biggest surprise is how well the replacement pitchers, Chase Whitley and David Phelps in particular, have performed.  Vidal Nuno has done a decent job but he is the top candidate to go to the pen or to AAA when CC Sabathia returns after the All-Star break.  It’s almost a given that the Yankees will pursue another starting pitcher in July but the reason the Yankees are buyers and not sellers is directly attributable to the support that Whitley and Phelps have provided for ace Masahiro Tanaka and Hiroki Kuroda.

The bearded brigade…

I am glad to see that Phil Hughes has found a home in Minneapolis but I am among those who believe his strong performance would not have happened in the Bronx.  I wish that he could have worked out for him, but he did need the change of scenery.  It wasn’t that long ago that Hughes, Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain were cited as the next great Yankee pitching hopefuls, and now they play in Minnesota, San Diego and Detroit, respectively.  The only one that the Yankees received a return for was Kennedy and in retrospect it was not for market value.  Kennedy went to the Arizona Diamondbacks and Phil Coke and Austin Jackson to the Detroit Tigers when the Yankees acquired Curtis Granderson.  Given that Granderson left as a free agent, the Yankees essentially have nothing left to show for the losses of the three former top prospects.

What’s with the former Yankees who feel the need to grow a beard when they leave New York?…

 

ESPN.com

 

I know the Yankees have history and tradition with their no facial hair policy, but I feel that it is something that the new Steinbrenner regime should consider relaxing.  Some guys just need a beard.  Sorry McCann…

No reminder needed, thank you…

I have to admit that I had almost forgotten about Alex Rodriguez (it was nice) until I heard his name yesterday after it was announced that he had dropped his lawsuit against the team’s doctor.  I don’t know what A-Rod has left in his bat but honestly I do not care.  I am not looking forward to his return next year and remain hopeful that the Yankees will find a way to sever ties.  But I know that’s wishful thinking on my part.  For now, I just have to enjoy that the team is doing fine without A-Rod and know that he is not missed.

 

alex rodriguez

–Scott

 

Baseball and bad decisions…

 

A swing and a miss, another miss, yet another miss…

This morning, I saw a post on the MLB Trade Rumors website (http://www.MLBTradeRumors.com) that asked the poll question of which MLB team had the best draft in 2002?  Of all the examples shown, no Yankees were anywhere to be found.  For a draft that started with Bryan Bullington and B.J. Upton, there was some great talent uncovered in the 2002 draft.  Jon Lester, Zack Greinke, Matt Cain, Prince Fielder, Cole Hamels, Joey Votto and a guy who would eventually find his way to the Bronx, Brian McCann, were among the great choices by their respective teams.  But sadly, not a single Yankee selection stuck that year.

Number 26 selection Phil Coke is a major leaguer but with the Detroit Tigers.  He had his moments in the Bronx but was never anything special and was sent to the Tigers as part of the Curtis Granderson-Austin Jackson trade.

But removing Coke, there are 50 rounds of names that Yankee Stadium never heard from.  I really do not recognize any of the names outside of the first round selection and that’s only because he was later the starting quarterback of the Cleveland Browns (Brandon Weeden).

I know that there are many sad tales among the 2002 draft picks, like 2nd round pick Alan Bomer, a pitcher, who reinjured his shoulder after a previous injury several years earlier, bringing an end to his major league hopes.

But it’s also a testament to the drafting ability of major league teams and 2002 was clearly not a good vintage for the Yankees.  I know the team’s re-focus on the minor league system didn’t occur until a few years later but hopefully barren draft years like 2002 are a thing of the past.  But looking ahead a few years, it’s not too pretty.

2003 really wasn’t much better with top pick third baseman Eric Duncan long gone from baseball.  The only name that stands out to me from that draft is Washington Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard.

2004 was the year the Yankees selected pitcher Phil Hughes and can only wonder what could have been.  Time will tell if he can fulfill his promise in the Twin Cities or if he was simply one of the most overhyped young players of our time.

For the Yankees, solid draft picks do not appear until 2005 which Brett Gardner and Austin Jackson were chosen.  Interestingly enough, the Yankees also chose pitcher Doug Fister that year but he opted to return to college for his final year, and was taken by the Seattle Mariners the next year.  Granted, Fister is currently on the Nationals’ DL, but he’d certainly look good in the Yankees rotation about now.

In 2006, the Yankees made some good choices, but it’s rather humorous that the first round pick went to Joba Chamberlain, a journeyman reliever for the Detroit Tigers, while current Yankees closer, David Robertson was selected in the 17th round.  Ian Kennedy and Zach McAllister were both chosen after Chamberlain, and they are solid starting pitchers for the San Diego Padres and Cleveland Indians, respectively.  Dellin Betances was also taken that year and after years of hype, he’s finally contributing as a force in the Yankees bullpen.  Mark Melancon, currently the closer for the Pittsburgh Pirates due to Jason Grilli’s injury, was also a draft selection.

Of the decisions the Yankees made regarding trades, the one I didn’t like was dumping McAllister.  He went to Cleveland in 2010 for Austin Kearns who only stayed in the Bronx for the remainder of the season.  That trade felt like the foolish ones that we had grown accustomed to in the 1970’s and 80’s.  McAllister is having a very solid year for the Indians and is another guy who would have looked great in the Yankees rotation.

I will never find fault with the decision to trade Ian Kennedy even though he almost won the Cy Young after leaving the Yankees.  I just never found him to be a good fit in New York.

2007 was another disappointing draft year as the Yankees really only have catcher Austin Romine, currently at AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre, to show for it.  Top pick Andrew Brackman was coming off a major injury at the time of the selection and was never able to find his way back.

As I advance to 2008, it’s disappointing to see how poor, outside of 2006, the draft has been for the Yankees.  Atop the list in ’08 is a pitcher the Yankees were unable to sign and who is now entrenched in the starting rotation for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Gerrit Cole.  Talk about another guy who would have been a brilliant option for the Yankees rotation.  What could have been…

This really shows how incredibly difficult it is to determine those who will be able to achieve results and success at the Major League level.  It also shows how many people fail to find their way for whatever reasons.

It’s a small wonder that the Yankees have had to spend so much in the free agent market to ensure the team remains competitive.  In a statement of the obvious, the Yankees would be smart to improve the quality of their scouting and development to ensure that the older players are replaced by younger, cheaper talent with high ceilings.

The Tampa Bay Rays and Kansas City Royals are solid teams because of their drafting ability.  For the Yankees, they are successful despite it.  I get why owner Hal Steinbrenner believes in the power of the farm system.  This is not rocket science.  Sustainability will only be maintained through youth and controlling costs.

Stupid is as stupid does…

The fans of the Boston Red Sox took great delight when Michael Pineda was tossed from a Yankees-Red Sox game last week due to the blatant smear of pine tar on his neck.  After the fiasco caused during his previous start against the Red Sox in Yankee Stadium (“brown dirt”), he had to have known he would be under the magnifying glass.  Yet, he risked detection by continuing the use of pine tar and ended up applying a more generous amount than he had intended to.  So, Boston manager John Farrell had absolutely no choice but to call out Pineda.  This is one instance where I felt the Red Sox were 100% correct in a controversial decision involving the Yankees.  Pineda’s 10-game suspension hurts the Yankees, at a time when they’ve already lost starter Ivan Nova for the season due to an elbow injury that requires Tommy John surgery.

For a rotation that looked so strong and full of promise for a few starts, the Yankees now have to replace both Nova and Pineda, plus the top of the rotation has been questionable at times with CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda.  The only source of consistency has been Masahiro Tanaka, who faces an incredibly difficult challenge today against the Los Angeles Angels and the likes of Albert Pujols and Mike Trout. 

Baseball is a team-first sport and Pineda made a “me-first” decision.  I hope that he learns a valuable lesson during his suspension and comes back with choices that are for the good of the team.

For the record, I do believe that Major League Baseball should allow pine tar to some degree for gripping purposes only in colder temps.  But until the rules are changed, it’s a violation and should be handled accordingly.  Baseball has been tolerant of discreet behavior regarding its use, but to blatantly violate the policy warrants the appropriate punishment until such a time the rules are changed.

 

–Scott

 

The best of a bad situation for the Red Sox Nation…

 

Bobby Valentine’s hire…

I am still surprised that the Boston Red Sox ownership and management team did not have a clear plan of succession when they failed to back former manager Terry Francona at the end of the season.  Sure, Francona left on his terms but the lack of support had as much to do with the decision as anything.  So, if ownership felt that they wanted a change, they should have had a short list of potential replacements in mind.  Theo Epstein moved more quickly in Chicago when they named Sox candidate Dale Sveum as their manager.  The Sox search just felt “messy” to an outsider like me.

Still, they probably did as well as they could with the hiring of Bobby Valentine.  There is no question that he is a superior tactician.  He is very passionate, which is an attribute that I have always admired.  I cannot say that I’ve been a Bobby V fan in my life.  I lived in Dallas during his years as the manager of the Texas Rangers.  But I respect his knowledge, skills and high desire to win.  At different points during the last few years, there have been times he has been mentioned as a possible Yankees manager.  You don’t have to like the guy personally if he can get the job done.  I think one of my friends referred to Bobby as “swarmy” and it’s a good description.  Nevertheless, I am sure that Bobby will prove himself worthy of the Red Sox Nation and they’ll love him.  Meanwhile, we’ll just continue our loathing of him which fits since he is now with a bitter rival.

I would like to see if Bobby can have a positive impact on pitcher Jon Lester.  Lester has been one of my favorite players, despite his uniform.  He is an ace, and capable of carrying the high expectations that go with it.  2011 was a regression year for Lester so hopefully he’ll get back on track in 2012 and clearly establish himself as the leader of the Red Sox rotation.

…and Terry Francona’s ire…

In recent years, I admittedly lessened my dislike for the Boston Red Sox and it was primarily because of my respect for manager Terry Francona.  In my mind, Joe Torre had been the model of a superior manager, and the Francona mold was in the same class.  I do not know the inner workings of the Red Sox organization, but I am still surprised that they didn’t support Francona based on comments Tito has made during interviews.  I was even more surprised to hear that he had to defend himself against questions about painkillers during his interview with the St. Louis Cardinals.  Here is a manager that won two World Series for an organization that had not won since 1918, or when Babe Ruth was still on the roster.  It’s incredible to think of how many Red Sox managers failed where Tito succeeded.  I think teams missed the boat in not aggressively pursuing Tito this off-season.  Hopefully, teams won’t make the same mistake next year.

All quiet on the Western front…

The days leading up to the Baseball Winter Meetings in Dallas seem so incredibly quiet compared to life under the Boss.  While I recognize that part of it is posturing by the Yankees to avoid overpaying for players, there is the realization that this is a different ownership group even if it is still “in the family”.  The Yankees did not really make any notable moves last season outside of signing catcher Russell Martin and bringing in pitchers Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon.  To fail to upgrade the team this year is a mistake in my opinion.  Last year’s roster was easily defeated by the Detroit Tigers in the play-offs.  While I realize that anything can happen in a short series, I didn’t have the sense or “feel” that the Yankees were going to prevail.  It almost seemed as though it was inevitable the Yankees would lose.  That’s a bad feeling.  The team needs bench or role players that can come through like Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui used to, and they need help at the top of the starting rotation behind CC Sabathia.

I hopeful that the team can re-sign Eric Chavez, Andrew Jones and Luis Ayala.  Chavez is a perfect fit behind Alex Rodriguez, assuming that he can stay healthy, and Jones was a great fourth outfielder if he is content with resuming that type of role for the upcoming season. Ayala seems to be garnering much attention with at least six teams interested.

I like the one rumor that I heard about the Yankees possibly being interested in Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Kyle Drabek.  He would definitely be a pitcher that I’d target if I were the GM.  As a fan, the trade of Doug Drabek hurt at the time and it hurt even more when Drabek went on to achieve great success with the Pittsburgh Pirates.  While acquiring Kyle Drabek has nothing to do with his father as he has great potential on his own right, it would be nice to have the son of Doug Drabek in the organization.  Interestingly, the Yankees had obtained Doug Drabek in a trade with the Chicago White Sox for shortstop Roy Smalley.  If they had held onto him that trade would have been remembered as one of the Yankees better trades.  As it was, the Yankees traded him to the Pirates for Rick Rhoden, who was serviceable but not great.

Of the free agent pitchers, I am still most interested in Mark Buehrle.  I think he’d fit perfectly into the middle of the Yankees rotation.  I like C.J. Wilson but I can understand the team’s apprehension given the dollars that have been mentioned to sign him.  If Yu Darvish is posted later this off-season, I really would like to see the Yankees be aggressive in pursuing him.  I am convinced that he’ll have greater major league success than Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka.  The negative is obviously the cost of the posting fee that it will take to get the job done.  The Red Sox paid over $51 million for the rights to negotiate with Dice-K, and apparently, it will take a similar if not higher number to land Darvish.

If the Yankees were to include outfielder Nick Swisher in a trade for a starting pitcher, they’d need to find a replacement.  As a fan, I am always on the lookout for the next Paul O’Neill type of trade to fill the void…acquiring a talented young outfielder with much promise who has yet fulfilled those expectations.  It’s a high risk move, but as in the case of O’Neill, high reward.  Curtis Granderson has thrived in a Yankees uniform despite the sluggish start, and it’s better to catch a player before he hits the upward arc of his career in terms of cost.  If the Yankees tried to acquire Granderson from the Tigers today, there’s no way that they could get it done with Ian Kennedy, Austin Jackson and Phil Coke (and that’s with Kennedy being mentioned in the NL Cy Young race this year).

Brace yourself, here comes Roller-Coaster Week!…

The upcoming week is always my favorite week of the off-season.  The Hot Stove League is at its pinnacle.  Even if the Yankees do not do anything, it is still a thrilling ride.  It’s fun to talk and think about all the potential possibilities, even as far-reaching as some may sound.  My primary wish is for the Cardinals to get their long-anticipated deal with Albert Pujols done so that we can move on to other storylines.  There’s no way that he is going to Chicago or Miami, and at the end of the day, he is and always will be a Cardinal.

My preferred landing spot for Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, if he decides to continue playing, is the Miami Marlins.  I do not want to see him go to the Mets, Red Sox, or any other AL East rival including the Tampa Bay Rays.

Good move, Bad move…

The Los Angeles Dodgers are my favorite National League team, although I do not have the passion for the team or the sense of loyalty that I hold for the Yankees.  My affection for them began when Joe Torre was named manager (previously I had considered the San Francisco Giants as my NL team) and it has continued with one of my all-time favorite players as the current Dodgers manager, Don Mattingly.  I am dismayed with the ownership situation and do not have any respect for Frank McCourt, but I am optimistic that the sale of the team will restore the luster of the storied franchise.

While it was good for the Dodgers to lock up outfielder Matt Kemp long-term, I do question the move to sign free agent pitcher Chris Capuano.  The cost was too great ($10 million for two years) for a journeyman pitcher who is average to average-minus with no upside.  If this move prevents free agent pitcher Hiroki Kuroda from returning, then it’s an even greater mistake.  I don’t know how much it will cost to sign Kuroda and I realize that he is 37, but he’s still a better pitcher than Capuano.

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out…

I was not excited when the Minnesota Vikings trade a 6th round draft pick to the Washington Redskins for QB Donovan McNabb before the season started, but I did realize the team needed a veteran presence.  McNabb was a failure for the Vikings, and I was glad to see the team finally cut bait with his release this past week.  I am not convinced he can thrive in any environment, contrary to what head coach Leslie Frazier may say.  I think the Vikings simply found out what the Philadelphia Eagles knew and what the Redskins found out last season.  He’s done.  I was pleasantly surprised to see QB Sage Rosenfels return as the third string QB after his release from the Miami Dolphins.  It’s not that I expect Rosenfels to take any regular season snaps this time around, but he’s a good insurance policy and allows the Vikings to continue to use second string QB Joe Webb in a variety of roles.

It’s tough when your favorite football team is playing so bad that you actually hope for losses to ensure a high draft pick.  The Vikings are only two games behind the Indianapolis Colts in the sweepstakes for Stanford QB Andrew Luck.  I am a fan of Vikings QB Christian Ponder, but even I would gladly take Luck over Ponder.  So, with the Denver Broncos playing the Vikings today, all I can say is ‘Go Tim Tebow!’ as a way to bring good “Luck”!…

–Scott

A Nice Start!…


It was great to see Mark
Teixeira
homer in the Yankees’ Opening Day win against the Detroit Tigers.  Hopefully, it is a sign that we won’t see the
April freeze this year with Tex.  He has
worked hard to try and overcome his history of slow starts.


Mark Teixeira watches his three-run homer on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium as the slugging first baseman tries to shake his usual slow start.

Sipkin/NY Daily News  

So far, I really like what I
have seen of catcher Russell Martin.  He
seems to have captured the respect of the pitching staff in a very short period
of time.  For as much as I feel pitching
coach Larry Rothschild will have a positive impact on A.J. Burnett, I cannot
underestimate what Martin will do for him also. 
I don’t know why the relationship between Burnett and Posada was never
an easy one, but it would be a terrific boon for the team should Burnett and
Martin click together.

Speaking of A.J., he goes
today against the Tigers so we’ll soon see…

What a great game for Curtis
Granderson
on Thursday!  He homered and
came up with a few defensive gems that made the highlight reels.  Last year, I had started to regret the trade
that sent Austin Jackson and Phil Coke to Detroit for Granderson, with Ian
Kennedy
going to Arizona.  But late in
the season, with a few adjustments, Curtis started to show us the player he
could be.  Some players take time to
adjust to New York, while others can slide right in (like Nick Swisher).  Granderson is probably more in the former
category, especially given the high expectations of the multi-player
trade. 

So, Cliff Lee pitches
tonight in Philadelphia against Wandy Rodriguez and the Houston Astros.  If he had joined the Yankees, he’d be
starting today against the Tigers.  It’ll
be hard not to wonder ‘what could have been’ this year when Lee starts.  That feeling will probably be present until
the Yankees can make a move to acquire another top flight pitcher.  I do know that I’ll be cheering for the
Astros tonight…

Although I am pulling for
Don Mattingly and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League, it was
horrible to hear about the Dodger fans that beat up the Giants fan in the
parking lot of Dodger Stadium after the season opener.  Obviously, the violence is not condoned by
the Dodgers, and Mattingly said it was crossing the line.  I know that I am always cautious about
wearing a Yankees hat in certain cities. 
For example, if I went to Fenway Park, I would not take any Yankees gear.  But that is a sad statement that you cannot openly
support your team without concern for your health and safety. 


–Scott


Move the Ghosts Aside, A New Yankee Centerfielder…

Anybody that played for the Mankato Moondogs is fine by me…

 

Moondogs.JPG

 

 

Introducing the newest Yankee, centerfielder Curtis Granderson!  I have to admit that I was a bit reluctant when I saw the price tag (outfield prospect Austin Jackson and pitchers Phil Coke and Ian Kennedy).  I was looking forward to a career with Ajax in center, and I had grown very fond of bullpen specialist Coke over the course of the past season.  I wasn’t particularly enamored with Ian Kennedy’s attitude, but he did impress me with his return last season following surgery.  Nevertheless, I recognize that the Yankees are a better team today than they were yesterday.  Granderson hit 30 home runs with a home park that is pitching friendly.  Move him to the wind tunnel known as Yankee Stadium and this guy is going to be electric in center field.  He stole 20 bags this past season since he does have some speed.

  Granderson's acrobatic grab in July, robbing Boston of a home run, was the must-see clip of the summer.

John Grieshop/Getty Images

 

Granderson appeared in his first All-Star Game in 2009 and scored the winning run in the 8th inning following a triple.  This play was huge for the Yankees because it gave them home field advantage in the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies.  So, it appears that he was destined for pinstripes.

 

 

 

After dispatching valuable bullpen parts in Brian Bruney and Phil Coke, GM Brian Cashman needs to focus on rebuilding the bullpen.  However, starting pitching should be the next course of action.  I still think the Yankees need to address left field.  I am not a fan of moving Melky Cabrera to left.  I do not think he hits for the power that you need in left, particularly considering that Nick Swisher is average in right.  I’d either like to see the Yanks re-sign Johnny Damon, or look elsewhere for a new left fielder.  I would not be a proponent of moving Granderson to left either as I feel his speed is best served in center.

 

AP

 

This commentary may be a bit premature since the trade has not been officially confirmed, however, at this point, it appears that it is a foregone conclusion that it will be.  Interestingly enough, Granderson wears #28 for the Detroit Tigers.  The number is available with the Yankees, unless Joe Girardi decides to upgrade his number to the new goal.  So, perhaps Granderson is the missing link for World Championship #28.  Time will tell.  I have no problem with my friend Julia suffering another year of disappointment!  J

 


Cry.JPG

 

Shoulder to Shoulder with the Iron Horse…

 

All hail the Captain…

 

Bill Kostroun/AP

 

After a few games of goose eggs, Derek Jeter busted through with a 3-for-4 night to tie Lou Gehrig’s franchise hit record.  Both DJ and Larrupin’ Lou stand at 2,721 hits…

 

 

Congrats to DJ for a well-deserved achievement, and of course, all his future hits will be franchise records.  This adds another reason to why the Yankees need to do what’s right, and lock up Jeter for the remainder of his career.  We don’t need another Brett Favre in Minnesota saga…

 

Bill Kostroun/AP

 

Tonight’s 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays was a microcosm for what’s wrong with the 2009 Rays.  Great starting pitching…awful bullpen.  Rookie Jeff Niemann was masterful against the Yanks tonight.  In 7 innings, he did give up 8 hits, but only allowed one earned run and had 8 strikeouts.  Given that the East Coast games start while I am still at work, I was constantly checking the game score on my BlackBerry.  Despite a significant advantage in hits, the Yankees couldn’t seem to push any runs across the plate.

 

Bill Kostroun/AP 

 

I have a good friend that is a die-hard Rays fan.  For many years, Kelly has held a single season ticket to games at Tropicana Field and she is generally there without fail.  She was going to Rays games when you needed binoculars to see the person sitting next to you and parking was free.  After the double-header sweep on Monday, Kelly sent me an email the next day that said “I would rather lose like we did yesterday to the Yankees than to play like we did last week. We were winning the games until the late 8th or even 9th inning and then the bullpen just gives the games away. Sunday we gave up a grand Slam in the 9th to lose the game. That is just brutal. No matter what the score is when the starting pitcher leaves the game, the fans can rest assured that the bullpen will screw it up.”  Unfortunately (for her), the next two games proved to be the exact formula she was hoping to avoid.

 

Bill Kostroun/AP

 

It is an unfortunate situation because I was hoping that the Tampa Bay Rays would beat out the Boston Red Sox for the Wild Card spot (sorry Julia!).  Most likely, the Rays would not have beaten Boston had they retained Scott Kazmir.  However, that trade just seemed to draw the life out of the Rays.  He couldn’t have helped their bullpen woes, but it seemed like Rays management were throwing in the towel.

 

defeat.jpg image by teddygross

 

Tonight’s game had another great finish.  Trailing 2-0 in the 8th inning, and unable to get any runs across despite an advantage in hits, the Yankees started their patented late inning comeback.  It was an inning early but why wait if you have the bats.  Alex Rodriguez ended Jeff Niemann’s night with a single.  Enter Lance Cormier.  Hideki Matsui singled to advance A-Rod to third.  Jerry Hairston, Jr. entered the game as a pinch runner for Godzilla.  Nick Swisher reached first base on a throwing error, scoring A-Rod.  Hairston advanced to third.  Brian Shouse relieved Cormier.  The stage was set for Robby Cano to be the hero, but he promptly struck out.  Next up was Jorge Posada, who batted for Brett Gardner.  The Rays brought Grant Balfour in the game to face Posada, but the move failed.  Jorge launched a three-run homer to right, and the Yankees had their first lead of the game, 4-2.

 

Bill Kostroun/AP 

Brian Bruney secured the first two out of the 9th inning, and I had some choice words for Joe Girardi when he brought Phil Coke in to relieve Bruney.  But Joe, showing why he is the Yankees manager and not me, watched Coke strike out Gabe Kapler to end the game.

 

 

 

The Red Sox also won tonight, 7-5 over the Baltimore Orioles, to stay 2 games ahead of the Texas Rangers.  Sorry Julia, but I was pulling for the O’s.  They tried, but couldn’t quite do it…

 

Steven Senne/AP

 

However, the Yankees’ magic number is still reduced to 14.  Ah, Sweet Lou, those were some great years…

 

UPI

 

The Yankees are now 40-13 since the All-Star Break.  I remember sitting 4 games behind the Boston Red Sox, and I told Julia that the Yankees could win 4 more games than the Red Sox by the end of the year.  She thought I was talking rubbish…

 

 

This night belonged to Derek Jeter, but I will close my post with a tribute to my idol.  Lou, you have been and always will be the greatest Yankee (to borrow some words from Spock).  Your records may be tied and broken, but you were a lasting inspiration and there’s no doubt that had you been able to play out your career to the fullest, you would have set marks that never would have been broken.  But regardless of what may happen, you will always remain the true Pride of the Yankees…

 

 

 

–Scott

No Fair, It’s Not Supposed to Happen to Me!…

 

Aarrgghh, I hate walk-off wins…

 

 

 

Well, at least when the Yankees are on the road!  For some reason, they just seem so much sweeter at Yankee Stadium…

 

Frank Franklin II/AP

 

Without going into all the gory details, David Robertson gave up a run-scoring single by Jhonny Peralta in the bottom of the 9th inning to allow the Tribe to escape with a 5-4 victory.  Robertson and Phil Coke both walked a batter in the 9th to set the table for Peralta’s game-winning hit.

 

Tony Dejak/AP

 

But the burden of defeat cannot be placed squarely on the shoulders of Robertson and Coke.  Brett Gardner was also responsible with several poor plays.  In the 5th inning, Gardner misplayed a fly ball by Asdrubal Cabrera, which turned into a double.  He wasn’t charged an error, but I’d have to say that I am a little ashamed that the Yankees tied the Boston Red Sox with their 17th consecutive game without an “error” when, in my mind, it was an error in judgment. 

Gardner also helped extinguish a 9th inning rally by the Yanks.  Hideki Matsui walked, and Ramiro Pena came into the game to run for him.  Nick Swisher sacrificed Pena to second.  Gardner then reached first base on an infield single.  Despite the steal sign from the dugout, Gardner stayed at first and did not attempt a steal.  Jorge Posada subsequently hit into an inning ending double play.  Had Gardner stolen second, the Yanks would have had two men in scoring position with two outs.  By scoring a run or two, the Yankees would have brought Mariano Rivera into the game to close it rather than relying upon the unproven late inning duo of Coke and Robertson.

 

 

Larry W. Smith/EPA

 

Mark Teixeira almost single-handedly pulled the game out for the Yanks.  He hit a two-run homer in the 6th inning against Carl Pavano.  He also hit a two-run double in the 8th against Matt Herges (one of the runs was charged to Pavano, who allowed a single to Derek Jeter earlier in the inning).  Clearly, the Yankees had their opportunities against Pavano.  I guess if there’s a positive in the loss, it is that Pavano walked away with a no decision thanks to Teixeira.

 

Tony Dejak/AP

 

Phil Hughes had a disappointing outing, giving up 4 runs in 5 innings.

 

Tony Dejak/AP

 

Chien-Ming Wang continued his audition for regaining his spot in the starting rotation by relieving Hughes with three innings of shutout ball.  If this game is the determining factor, I’d say that Hughes next start will be in Scranton/Wilkes Barre and Wang will be back in his regular spot in the rotation.

 

Greg Fiume/Getty Images

 

With the loss combined with a Red Sox win, the Yankees lead in the AL East has fallen back to ½ game over Boston.

As of 5/31/09

AL East

W

L

Pct

GB

Home

Road

Last 10

Streak

Yankees

29

21

.580

14-9

15-12

6-4

Lost1

Red Sox

29

22

.569

0.5

17-6

12-16

5-5

Won1

Blue Jays

29

24

.547

1.5

18-7

11-17

2-8

Lost1

Rays

25

28

.472

5.5

13-11

12-17

4-6

Lost1

Orioles

23

28

.451

6.5

16-13

7-15

7-3

Lost2

 

I know, Julia, I hear your footsteps…

 

 

 

With one run scored, Derek Jeter now stands two runs away from 1,500.  Once he achieves that mark, he’ll join the exclusive trio of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Mickey Mantle as the only players with 1,500 runs scored during their Yankee careers. 

To my disappointment, Buster Olney mentioned in his ESPN column that the Yankees probably will not be aggressive in their pursuit of Boston left fielder Jason Bay (wipe that grin off your face, Julia!) since they’ll be looking to keep the spot open for a possible switch of Derek Jeter from short to left as he continues to advance in age. 

Speaking of Jeter, his current hitting streak now stands at 15 games with a lead-off single in Monday night’s game against the Indians.

 

 

 

Catcher Jose Molina re-injured his left quad during an extended spring game today, so he’ll head back to New York for further evaluation.  This most likely means that his return is not imminent.  The Yankees may be disappointed, but I’m not.  It means that Cervelli will remain on the roster, and will have the opportunity to continue to show why he deserves the backup spot to Jorge Posada.

 

 

 

Tonight’s starting lineup has Alex Rodriguez at DH, and Angel Berroa at third.  Ugh, that’s not a good sign…

 

 

I know, I need an attitude adjustment…

 

 

–Scott 

Bent, but not broken…

 

What?  No walk-off win?  What’s up with that? 

 

Surprised cat.JPG

Last night, it appeared that the Yankees were going to coast to a victory for a change.  The Twins had scored a couple of runs at the top of the first inning, but the Yanks roared back with 6 runs in the bottom of the frame.  Included in the scoring were back-to-back home runs by the suddenly very hot Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez.

Yankees Beat Twins in a 4-Game Sweep

Barton Silverman/The New York Times 

 

Nick Swisher almost made it three straight home runs, but his fly ball fell about six feet short of the fence.

It was revealed after the game that Twins starter Glenn Perkins had taken the mound with an injury (inflamed left elbow), and it worsened while he was pitching.  He was placed on the DL after the game.  Nevertheless, the Twins relievers did a good job in shutting down the Yankees after the disastrous first inning.  R.A. Dickey, in particular, was solid in 4 1/3 innings of relief.  It allowed the Twins to slowly climb back into the game.  They certainly had every opportunity to pull out a come-from-behind victory.

 

So Close.JPG

 

The Twins pounded out 12 hits in 6 2/3 innings against Andy Pettitte, but couldn’t get him to break.  They had a hit in every inning except the 9th.  They missed a golden opportunity in the 7th inning with the bases loaded, but Carlos Gomez flied out to center.

Mark Teixeira added another home run in the bottom of the 7th inning which proved to be the insurance run the Yanks needed. 

Manager Joe Girardi gave Mariano Rivera the night off after so much work earlier in the series, so the 9th began with the somewhat unsettling sight of Phil Coke on the mound to close it out.  It wasn’t fun and it wasn’t pretty, but in the end, it was enough to allow Coke to pick up his first save.  He allowed a walk that eventually resulted in a Twins run, but the clutch hit the Twins were looking for, never came.  While Coke seemed to have trouble with the psychological edge needed to close a game, he finally succeeded in ending the game by inducing a groundout.  After the game, he said that he was completely gassed.  I guess he proved that he was a “Weeble”…

 

Weeble.JPG

 

While the Yankees swept the four game series, every game was so close.  It could have very easily have been a Twins sweep of the Yankees with a few timely hits here and there.  Still, the Yankees can feel good about themselves as they’ve improved their record to 21-17 and now stand just a single game behind the second place Boston Red Sox.

Oh, I almost forgot, Jason Bay, this gift basket is for you.  Julia seems to be focusing on Theo, but we know you’re the one who really matters.  Don’t sign an extension with the Red Sox because there’s a great spot in left field at Yankee Stadium waiting for you in 2010.  The Celtics and the Bruins have proven that Boston can easily return to its heartbreaking ways, and you deserve so much better.  #44 is not available, unless you can coerce Reggie Jackson into giving it up.  But I am sure there’s a number that would work for you…$$$$$$…  J

 

See you in the Bronx next year, Jason!  ;) 

 

Help, I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up…

The rain in the Northeast keeps falling, and the Yankees keep losing…

Somehow, the two seem inexplicably intertwined.  Hopefully, sunny skies are ahead, both figuratively and literally…

 

Of the bullpen guys, I have been a fan of Phil Coke.  He’s one of the few guys that I have felt good about.  Yet, he served up what proved to be the game-winning home run to Tampa Bay Rays Carlos Pena in the 10th inning of last night’s game.  The Yankees lost 4-3. I still have faith in Coke, but I am very troubled by the unreliable bullpen.

Courtesy www.chasthornhill.com

Johnny Damon tried to rally the Yanks, with a double in the 10th.  He was on third after a wild pitch, but no one could bring him home.  Mark Teixeira, who had tied the game in the 8th inning with a three-run double, missed his chance at becoming the hero.  Even a deep sacrifice fly to the outfield would have scored Damon but Tex couldn’t come through.  Another missed opportunity for the “defining moment”.  

 Yet again, Damon proved he is a “gamer” when the chips are down.  But none of the other players seem prepared to follow his lead. 

  

After the game, pitcher A.J. Burnett said, “When it clicks it will be ridiculous.  When it clicks, it will be fun to watch.”  I only hope that the team doesn’t dig too deep of a hole before that happens.

 


Hole.JPGDespite the quality start by Burnett, the Yankees now have a losing record on the season at 13-14.  It doesn’t get any easier this week, as the Yanks play the Rays again today and then head to Baltimore to play the Orioles (who always play the Yankees tough).

Getty Images 

Meanwhile, Joe Torre is now the proud owner of a record 13-game home winning streak to start the season.  Torre’s comments after the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 10-3 victory over the Washington Nationals reminded me of what I miss about Torre.  He has a great way of always keeping things in perspective.

“Streaks are fine, but we have more important things in mind,” Torre said. “Hopefully, it’s just a stepping stone on the way to something more important. The fact that we’re playing well takes precedence over anything else. The good part about this thing is that this is about winning games, which is what we try to do every day.”

 Joe Torre

John G. Mabangio/EPA

Conversely, Joe Girardi didn’t display the same sense of calm after the Yankees loss…

“It’s a tough loss. No loss is enjoyable, but this is a tough loss,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “Coke made one mistake. He got too much of the plate.”

Girardi needs to take Torre’s lead and focus on winning games…before it’s too late…


Guillotine.JPG

 

P.S. 

 

A special shout-out to Jane Heller, Confessions of a She-Fan…I hope she’s safe and out of harm’s way with the Santa Barbara fires.  It’s scary times, and at times like this, baseball seems somewhat irrelevant.  Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those in the Santa Barbara area…

 

Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times

–Scott

A Perfect Night for Yankee Fans…

Coke is definitely the Real Thing! 

 

d1053-coca-cola.jpg (148137 bytes)

 

Melky Cabrera got the accolades for the Yankees 7-4 victory over the Anaheim Los Angeles Angels, however, I give the star to Yankees reliever Phil Coke. 

 

Phil Coke Picture

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images North America

 

He has quietly and consistently been a reliable weapon in the bullpen.  Considering that most of the guys seem have ERA’s around Yogi Berra’s retired uniform number, it’s refreshing to see Coke come in and just do his job.  He hasn’t been perfect this year, but he is learning and he is getting better.  That’s all I can ask. 

 

He earned the victory for last night’s game in relief of A.J. Burnett, who went 7 innings and gave up 4 runs.  Coke pitched the 8th inning, with 1 strike out and no runs.  Every day that I don’t see Jose Veras or Damaso Marte coming out of the pen is good day!

 

Speaking of Cabrera, how clutch was his single in the 8th inning?  He ripped it into right field to score the go-ahead run.  Ramiro Pena subsequently drove in two insurance runs with a double.  They were the first 2 RBI’s of Pena’s major league career.  I still can’t get used to him wearing Dave Righetti’s number even though others, like Aaron Boone and Luis Sojo, have worn it since.

 

JULY 4, 1983: Dave Righetti celebrates after striking out Boston's Wade Boggs to finish off his no-hitter against the Red Sox.

New York Post

 

The Yankees always lose to the Angels so it was nice to see them win for a change.  Hopefully, they’ll keep it up since I will be making my first appearance at Yankee Stadium on Sunday (the final game of the 4-game set with the Angels). 

 

Of course, I have to credit the Yankees recent success on Jane Heller’s Pen.  All hail the Pen!  No pressure on the She-Fan.  She just has to keep the pen happy, safe…and full of ink! 

 

Magic Pen(satin).jpg

Courtesy Confessions of a She-Fan (Jane Heller)

 

I wonder if she has taken the Pen to see any of the vineyards in the wine country near Santa Barbara, or if they’ve hung out at the beach.  The primary mission is to keep the Pen happy! 

 

 

So, Jane, remember that if you and your husband are in the car and Michael’s driving, the Pen has dibs for the front passenger seat.  You are relegated to the back seat…or worse, the trunk!  Sorry, it is now all about the Pen…

 

JULIA’S JOURNEY TO NEW YORK CITY

 

As you know, Julia will be traveling to New York City with 7th and 8th grade musicians from her middle school.  They are attending a music festival.  Most likely, she’ll be attempting to infect the fine citizens of New York with a bad case of Red Sox flu.  Of course, this is all in her dreams, so to protect the good citizens of the city of New York, I have decided to post a dream catcher to ensure that everyone is safe from a Red Sox epidemic.  

 

File:Atrapasuenos.jpg 

 

The New York State Police should set up a roadblock so that when Julia enters New York, they can confiscate any contraband (i.e., Kevin Youkilis jersey).

 

 

Julia, please be sure to check out how the pink Yankee hats look (considering that you’ll be a proud owner of one soon!). 

 

 

A PERFECT NIGHT

 

Watching the Tampa Bay Rays’ Matt Garza nearly throw a perfect game against the Boston Red Sox made me realize that a “perfect” night is anytime the Yankees win and the Red Sox lose.  Last night was one of those nights.  At some point, I should really learn to hate the Rays but so far, I haven’t been able to do it.  There is always great satisfaction in seeing the Rays put one over on the Red Sox, and like last year, if the Yanks can’t win it, it’s good to see someone other than Boston take it (well, except for maybe the Orioles).  Garza came oh so close to a perfect game.  If he could have only handled that grounder up the middle by Jacoby Ellsbury…

 

Tampa Bay Rays starter Matt Garza pitches against the Boston Red Sox in the first inning of a baseball game, Thursday, April 9, 2009, in Boston.

Michael Dwyer/AP

 

Why is it that every time you see a player do great things, their name is usually preceded by “former Minnesota Twin”?  The next time the Twins decide to cut a player, I want to make sure that he signs with the Yankees!  So, Erin, please give me the heads-up, okay?  Any chance that the Twins will be cutting Joe Mauer?  LOL!

 

FINALLY…

 

I have avoided commenting on the latest A-Rod allegations.  I dislike the timing of Selena Roberts’ book (release coincides with his return to the Yankees).  There are apparently claims that Alex used steroids in high school and in New York after he was traded to the Yankees (which contradict A-Rod’s previous statements that he only used steroids in Texas).  At this point, there is nothing gained by repeatedly dragging A-Rod through the mud.  He used steroids, yes, and it is not something that should be condoned.  But it’s over.  Let’s move on.  Let A-Rod be judged for the man he is today.  If he is found to be using steroids from this point forward, then banish him.  But I don’t care what he did when he was 6 years old…

 

I am not trying to be delusional or hide from the fact that Alex did something very wrong.  But the truth is that steroid use was not a capital offense during the times of his alleged use.  Perhaps if it continued into his Yankee years, it may have but there is no concrete evidence.  If evidence is found, then convict him.  But until then, back off and let the man play baseball. 

 

Have a great weekend!

 

–Scott

 

 

 

 

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