Results tagged ‘ Rockies ’

So little time yet so much to do…

 

For Whom the Beltrans…

Well, it’s finally official.  The Yankee fan is finally a Yankee.  With today’s introductory press conference, the Yankees have continued to rebuild the team’s offense following the departure of Robby Cano and his bat.  Carlos Beltran talked about how he has long looked up to the Yankees organization.  The backhanded swipes at the Mets certainly didn’t hurt boosting his stock in the Bronx, particularly after those comments made by Curtis Granderson during his Mets press conference earlier in the off-season (even if the Grandy Man was just being lighthearted). 

It’s always nice to see guys who genuinely want to be in the Bronx.  Brian McCann certainly conveyed that message and Carlos Beltran did the same today.  I think Jacoby Ellsbury is just as excited but his situation was a bit different and he is coming off a World Series championship.

Listening to Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi talk, it clearly sounds as if the Yankees outfield will be consisted of Brett Gardner, Ellsbury, and Beltran.  Three centerfielders, with two playing out of position.  I know, there are a multitude of reasons for why it makes sense to keep Gardner, but he is really the only major league trading chip and the Yankees still need rotation help.  They have not shown any desire to pursue the likes of Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez, or others that can be had for a simple cash outlay.  Johan Santana’s name has been bandied about, and I would see no harm as long as the Yankees clearly invest in a Plan B to go with it.  My primary hope is that Michael Pineda can finally show us the potential he had in Seattle.  But that’s for the #5 spot.  The Yankees should roll the dice with the young organization pitchers, including Pineda, for the last position in the rotation but not both #4 and #5.  For #4, the Yankees need a proven performer.  Santana is a huge health risk, but if healthy…I know, that’s a big IF…he would significantly solidify the rotation and help mask any further regressions by CC Sabathia or Hiroki Kuroda. 

It’s unfortunate the Yankees have to keep an eye on the Alex Rodriguez situation to determine what their next moves will be.  I just hope they aren’t caught looking while waiting to find out if A-Rod and his behemoth contract will be an obligation for 2014 or not. 

But regardless of what happens for the remainder of the off-season, it goes without question that Carlos Beltran was a good signing.  The reports have surfaced that free agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo turned down a 7-year, $140 million deal from the Yankees before they turned to Beltran.  I would prefer to go with the 3-year Beltran deal as opposed to locking into 7 years with Choo considering the Yankees are already on an extended hook with Ellsbury.  At some point, the young talent in the lower levels of the farm system have to make their way to the surface.  I have high hopes for Aaron Judge, and I really hope that Slade Heathcott can bring his game to the next level within the next couple of years. 

Much has been written about Beltran replacing the lost production in St Louis when Albert Pujols signed his $240 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels and is now being asked to do the same with Cano opting for money over a win-first mentality.  However, there is a big difference.  The Cardinals have Allen Craig and Matt Adams as two very capable first baseman.  The Yankees are not so lucky at Cano’s former position.  There are no immediate farm system solutions.  With Beltran now scheduled to start in Ichiro Suzuki’s position, it is a foregone conclusion that either Ichiro or Vernon Wells will soon be an ex-Yankee.  Pitcher Brett Marshall may have paid the price for Beltran’s spot, but I expect Ichiro or Wells to go when the Yankees create roster space for their latest additions.  The Yankees will have to include cash if they move Ichiro so that makes Wells the more likely one to go given that the Angels are still paying the majority of his salary. 

I keep getting sidetracked when the main topic is Beltran but he opens up much discussion in other areas.  I am glad that he’s a Yankee and I truly hope the Yankees can make the additional moves that will be necessary to return one of baseball’s great play-off performers to October.  Pitching, pitching, pitching…

Meanwhile, at Second Base…

Kelly Johnson, Eduardo Nunez, Corban Joseph…

None of the names are exciting and it’s more likely that Johnson, with a platoon-mate in Nunez, will be asked to cover third if A-Rod is suspended for a lengthy period as expected.  Joseph is not ready so the Yankees signed long-time Baltimore Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts.  Roberts was once one of the best 2B’s in the game, but injuries have robbed him of playing time the last four years.  I do not expect him to be a major force at the position this year assuming that he makes the team.  It is a curious move for a beloved Oriole to join a hated AL rival.  I know that Mike Mussina did it but he was still in his prime.  I know, there’s Jacoby Ellsbury too, but again, that player, despite his past injuries, still has prime years ahead.  Roberts has seen his better days.  At that point, I’d probably go out of division or out of league even if it sacrificed a few dollars to maintain my legacy with the original team. 

Roberts will always be a great Oriole.  There’s nothing that he can do to take away his quality years.  Hopefully, the Baltimore fans will recognize that it was time for Roberts and the O’s to part ways, particularly given their acquisition of second baseman Jemile Weeks.  Mike Mussina had quality years with both the O’s and the Yankees.  Roberts will be like Luis Tiant.  The best years were with the home team, and the last year or two were with the Yankees. 

At this point, it does appear the Yankees will be heading to spring training with Roberts, Nunez and Johnson covering second.  However, things will change when the A-Rod drama is finally put to rest.  I was surprised the Yankees didn’t try harder for Omar Infante.  It’s not often the Kansas City Royals beat the Yankees in free agency. 

As for third…

It’s a given that A-Rod will be lost for a certain amount of time.  It’s just a question for how long.  I would like to see a trade for the San Diego Padres third baseman, Chase Headley, something that has been mentioned on and off for the last few years.  We know that it won’t be a return of last year’s third base wannabe, Kevin Youkilis (thwarted by injuries to the surprise of no one).  Youk in stating a preference to being closer to his West Coast home, decided to take his family on a one year vacation touring Japan.  I am not quite sure how the DL works in the Japanese League but I guess we’ll find out.  I loved Wallace Matthews’ quote that Youk will probably be injured on the plane trip to Japan. 

Another third base possibility, and former Yank, Casey McGehee, signed with the Miami Marlins.  So, like second base, pickings are getting very slim at the infield positions.  I fully expect the Yankees to lose one of their promising young catchers in any trade.

The Bullpen…

I was disappointed to see Boone Logan go.  Good for him in signing the three year contract with the Colorado Rockies.  Denver is a wonderful city and I do not begrudge anyone who wants to be a part of that community.  But still, he was a solid option in the pen for the Yanks and will be missed.  To replace him, the Yankees signed former Sox (both White and Red) reliever Matt Thornton.  A great lefty, no doubt, but one that is 37.  All things considered, I would have preferred a few more years of Logan.  I’d like to see a younger guy like Nik Turley take it to the next level but I am fearful that Turley will be a roster casualty with the additional moves the Yankees have yet and still need to make.

I am not sure how I feel about David Robertson as closer.  When Mariano Rivera was hurt in Kansas City early in the 2012 season, Robertson failed in his brief appearance as closer.  If memory serves correctly, he was injured and it opened the door for Rafael Soriano to grab the job and run with it.  If the Yankees opt to go with Robertson, they need another Plan B like Soriano in place.  Yes, I know, there are only so many spots on a 25-man roster for Plan B…

On the bright side, catcher and center field are locked up…  ;)

I don’t expect much in the way of Yankees news next week so Operation Improvement will have to be resumed in January.  Meanwhile, Happy Holidays to All!  Enjoy!

–Scott

 

 

 

 

The Return of the Empire…

Why?  Because the Yankees McCann!…

I have to admit that the Yankees’ free agent signing of former Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann caught me by surprise.  Like so many people did last Saturday, I went to see The Hunger Games:  Catching Fire.  No sooner than I walked out the theater after the movie, I immediately saw the alerts the Yankees had signed McCann. 

I had heard the Yankees were interested in McCann, but so were other teams like the Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers, and Colorado Rockies.  I thought the Rangers were the most likely landing spot.  It’s a winning organization in a city that puts more pressure on the local football team.  The cost of living is reasonable, and the area is spacious.  There’s not too much to dislike about Texas…well, outside of those hot humid summers, the long drives to get anywhere, and the infrequency of trees (at least in North Texas).  I also thought the Boston Red Sox might have an advantage with former McCann backup David Ross on the roster.  Either Texas or Boston offers the chance for World Series participation. 

But in the end, it was the Yankees’ offer (number of years) in combination with the short porch in right field which is very attractive for the left-handed slugger. 

I had Brian McCann as my catcher on my fantasy baseball team this year and his health caused me to seek other options.  While he was on the DL, I leaned on his Braves replacement (Evan Gattis) among others.  So, McCann’s health is an obvious concern.  But if healthy, he is a tremendous addition to the team.  He gives the Yankees their best offensive threat from the position since Jorge Posada retired.  Russell Martin would occasionally get hot, but he is not close to the hitter that McCann is.  Plus, McCann’s leadership abilities are well documented.  When Chipper Jones retired, he gave a strong recommendation for McCann as a team leader. 

Nothing against Francisco Cervelli, but I think he is better suited to backup someone like McCann than to start.  He had his moments last year before getting hurt and then the subsequent suspension, but he’ll get his opportunities when McCann rests or moves to DH.  I am fine with the number of years on the contract because I think McCann is an excellent bridge to super prospect Gary Sanchez.  When Sanchez is ready for the majors, it will be time to slide McCann to first or DH anyway.  It also frees GM Brian Cashman to potentially include other catching prospects like Austin Romine or J.R. Murphy is potential trades.

Signing McCann was a great start to the off-season but there is obviously still much work ahead for Cashman and the Yanks.

Where are we?…

As we turn the page to Thanksgiving, the Yankees have their manager, backup shortstop and catcher in the fold.  They are rumored to be the leaders for the services of free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran of the St Louis Cardinals, although I have heard he has a preference for staying in the NL (I don’t know if that’s true or not, and I personally believe he’d have even greater success in the American League).  I like the idea of Beltran in right. 

As it sounds, Robinson Cano’s camp is still asking for something in the neighborhood of $300 million.  They’ve dropped “slightly” from the initial figure of $310 million, but anything in the Alex Rodriguez area of contracts is too much…even for arguably the team’s best player.  I would rather see the Yankees use the money on multiple key players, shift the offense to other positions and then backfill second base with someone like Omar Infante.  I still hope there are compromises made on both sides to bring Cano back to the Bronx, but if it is not meant to be, I don’t want to see the Yankees overspend. 

So far, no help for the starting rotation.  Several notable free agent pitchers in a market void of any aces have already signed.  Dan Haren with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Tim Hudson with the San Francisco Giants, and Ricky Nolasco with the Minnesota Twins.  I don’t think the Yankees were linked to any of those guys, but the smaller the free agent pool, the more intense the competition becomes at least for the guys who can win 12-14 games for you.  I know the Yankees are rumored to be heavily counting on the posting of Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka if MLB and the Japanese are able to come to an agreement for a new posting system.  But you have to wonder what Plan B will be.  So far, I have not heard much about Hiroki Kuroda but I would like to see the team try to bring him back for one more year. 

The next few weeks will go a long way toward determining how strong and competitive the 2014 Yankees will be. 

Coaching staff intact…well, almost…

Several weeks ago, I heard that Joe Girardi’s entire coaching staff would be returning.  However, today, I saw that the Arizona Diamondbacks have named Yankees bullpen coach Mike Harkey as their new pitching coach.  Congratulations to Mike!  Larry Rothschild is not going anywhere so it is good to see Harkey get his opportunity elsewhere.  Now, the Yankees will be in the market for a new bullpen coach.  Say, I wonder what Mariano Rivera is doing…  ;)

Well, that’s all for now.  Have a very Happy Thanksgiving and Holiday Season!

–Scott

 

The Hot Stove League Pre-Season is underway…

 

Yes, Brian, I want to believe…

“I am excited about the opportunities we have.”

I wish that I could say that was my quote, but unfortunately, I am not feeling as optimistic as GM Brian Cashman who spoke those words.

With the imminent departure of Nick Swisher, Rafael Soriano, and Hiroki Kuroda, combined with another year of age on Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter, the future is not looking so rosy at the moment.  For a team that needs to upgrade its rotation, losing Kuroda would clearly be a setback.  I remain hopeful that the team will re-sign him to a one year deal since he appears willing to accept a short-term contract and all signs indicated he enjoyed his time in New York.  I really do not expect the Yankees to re-sign either Swisher or Soriano.  It’s unfortunate as I’ve appreciated the positive impact that Swisher’s personality had on the Yankees’ “corporate” clubhouse culture.  As Soriano, the excessively fat contract for a set up guy paid dividends when Mariano Rivera was lost for the season and he superbly stepped in to give the Yankees a top closer as a brief trial with David Robertson.

If the Yankees could sign Joaquim Soria to a set up role, I do think it would help neutralize the loss of Soriano.  There is also the possibility that reliever David Aardsma could move into the role, along with Robertson, if he successfully makes it back from his injury.

Replacing Swisher’s bat will be the tougher challenge.  No offense against Torii Hunter, but signing him to be the new right fielder does not make me excited.  I do like the talk of moving Brett Gardner to center and Curtis Granderson to left.  Hopefully, the Yankees can bring Ichiro Suzuki back for another year.  I am not sure what the best answer is for right.  The best options are only available through trade.

I read this morning that the Boston Red Sox had signed Atlanta Braves’ backup catcher David Ross, whom the Yankees liked.  I am surprised Atlanta let him get away given the health of starter Brian McCann, but it’s disappointing to see the Red Sox snatch away a player that could have helped the Yankees.

With a team that is trying so hard to reduce payroll by 2014 and one that devotes so much salary space to decreasingly productive guys like Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, I just don’t see Brian Cashman being successful playing “Moneyball”.  When you consider how many dollars the Yanks have committed to A-Rod and his drain on the roster, it would appear to me that the team has less dollars to play with than any of their big city rivals if the end game is to avoid luxury tax and penalties in 2014.

Don’t get me wrong, I have been so appreciative of players like Jeter, Rivera and Andy Pettitte.  But the fact remains that they will be another year older in 2013 and at some point, they will begin to break down.  There doesn’t seem to be any high level prospects ready to step into their shoes.  I wish there was a way the team could move A-Rod and his albatross contract but that’s unlikely to happen.

I remain hopeful that Brian Cashman is able to make a move this winter to improve the team.  If the team stays status quo or struggles to replace those they will lose, I do not see the Yankees finishing any higher than third in the AL East next season.  But, of course, if Hal Steinbrenner lets Cash make the moves necessary to position the team for 2013, then they’ll be in the thick of the pack at the top of the division.

Tino, Tino, Tino!…

I am happy to see Tino Martinez become hitting coach for the Miami Marlins.  It is bittersweet to see him leave the Yankees organization, but much easier to see him go to his home state as opposed to being the hitting coach for the Boston Red Sox.  The latter was a real possibility as the Sox had gotten permission to talk to Martinez, but fortunately, he opted to go help Mike Redmond turn around the Marlins.  The Los Angeles Dodgers have been my favorite NL team in recent years due to manager Don Mattingly.  I enjoy seeing my favorites do well, even if they can’t do it in the Yankees organization.  Another example would be San Francisco Giants’ pitching coach Dave Righetti, fresh off his second World Series championship in three years.  Tino is certainly in the same class with those guys, and will always be someone that I will root for.  That’s why watching him go to Boston would have been so difficult.

Coach Giambino…

Speaking of hitting coaches, I am hopeful that manager “wannabe” Jason Giambi decides to take the hitting coach position with the Colorado Rockies.  Maybe he is not ready to hang up his bat just yet, but I think he would be a very positive addition to Walt Weiss’s staff and it would put him on the path of eventually reaching his goal to be a manager.  While I was surprised to see the Rockies go with Weiss as manager over Matt Williams, I recognize that Weiss knows the Rockies organization and they know him.  If he surrounds himself with the right coaching staff, I think Weiss can be highly successful in Colorado.

The Dodgers quest to overtake the Giants…

Regressing back to the Dodgers but staying on the theme of hitting coaches, I was mildly surprised by Mark McGwire’s decision to move from the Cardinals to the Dodgers.  I know that McGwire is a Southern CA guy, but still, the Cardinals were his organization.  Maybe that’s why it is best to move to another organization so that your legacy as a player is the primary association.  Granted, McGwire does not have the untarnished reputation like Mattingly had in New York, but hopefully it works out for Big Mac.  Performance-enhancing drugs or not, the guy knows how to hit.

It’s funny, particularly given my long history of being a Yankees fan, but I am a little put off by the free spending ways of the new Dodgers ownership group.  While I believe that you have to spend to put a quality team on the field, spending frivolously seems excessive.  For the Yankees, I only need to use A-Rod as the example.  Over $30 million in one season devoted to a player whose skills are rapidly eroding.  $30 million would go a long way toward bringing in multiple quality…and productive…players.  The Dodgers should no qualms about picking up the contracts of Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford when it remains to be seen if they can rise to the current level of their contracts.  It looks like high stakes poker to me with much potential for disaster.

In a couple of weeks, the Hot Stove League should start heating up and it will be interesting to see what form this off-season takes.  I am cautiously optimistic, but understand that it’s very possible the Yanks go into next season hoping some young guys from the farm system are ready to take it to the next level.  I guess I now know what it’s like to be a fan of the Minnesota Twins or Kansas City Royals…

–Scott

 

In Red Sox We Trust?…

 

Once you’ve failed Boston, come to New York…

Okay, I admit it.  I am not overjoyed to see the Red Sox reunion on the Yankees roster.  First, there was former Red Sox reliever Hideki Okajima, then reliever Manny Delcarmen, and now utility infielder Bill Hall.  Of the three, Okajima is actually the only who’s last team was the Red Sox but still, the three have served their time in Beantown and are now “enemies” in a friendly camp.

If Okajima can win a job, that’s fine but I don’t really see him beating out Cesar Cabral unless the latter is a complete washout in camp.  Delcarmen, in my mind, is simply fodder for the spring with no hope of seeing the major league roster come Opening Day.  Hall is an interesting pickup.  I am concerned because I want to see the return of backup third baseman Eric Chavez, who is the perfect as a substitute for Alex Rodriguez when A-Rod takes his usual spot on the DL.  Indications are that the Yankees are still interested in Chavez despite the Hall signing and I hope so.  Reports have also indicated that the Yankees are in deep conversation with Raul Ibanez.  If both Hall and Ibanez are signed, is there room for Chavez?  I really hope that Chavez is independent of the other decisions.

Nevertheless, even if the Yankees break camp with Okajima, Delcarmen and Hall, they are still inferior to what the Yankees could have had with long reliever/spot starter Alfredo Aceves.  At the time the Yankees cut bait with Aceves, I thought it was a mistake.  I realize that he had been hurt and subsequently suffered a setback that cost more time.  But never once did I consider him to be the second coming of Carl Pavano.  I thought that once he was healthy, he’d return to being the effective reliever he was prior to the injuries.  Of course, that’s exactly what he did…only in a Red Sox uniform.  That’s why I always hate to see ex-Yankees go to Boston.  Sure, it would be fun to see Okajima, Delcarmen or Hall thrive in the Bronx, but I just don’t see it happening.  I’d have to score this one as ‘Advantage, Red Sox’.

Swisher deserves compensation!…

I enjoyed seeing pitcher Jeremy Guthrie’s quote after being traded from the Baltimore Orioles to the Colorado Rockies.  He said the loser in the trade was Nick Swisher’s batting average.  Hopefully, Swish can find a replacement pitcher to pick on!

$19 Million?  Put it on the tab…

Good move by the Los Angeles Dodgers to lock up arbitration-eligible starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw for two years.  It helps buy some time for the new ownership group to take control and do what’s right by ensuring Kershaw is a long-term fixture in Chavez Ravine.  I am sure these are tenuous times for Donnie Baseball given the uncertainty regarding the ownership picture and the current financial constraints.  But the Dodgers have done well in securing Matt Kemp and now setting up Kershaw for discussions on a longer-term deal under a time frame that will suit the new owners.

RBI, or IBRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR….

It’s hard to believe that we are just a few weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting to camp.  The temps in Minnesota have dipped back into the 20’s with some sub-zero temperatures looming on the horizon.  Target Field is looking a bit frigid to think the lights will once again be illuminated in two short months.  Nevertheless, I am glad to see the return of the America’s Favorite Pastime.  No offense to Eli Manning, but I’ll be glad when the “star of New York” is someone like CC Sabathia, Robinson Cano, or Curtis Granderson rather than Peyton’s little bro.

–Scott

No Fan of DH by Committee…

 

All I want are a few home runs…

Lately, more has been written about the potential of the Yankees signing someone like Raul Ibanez to fill the void at DH.  Given all available options, he is probably as good as any, plus he most likely would understand his role if he was offered and accepted a contract with the Yanks.  He’s still got some pop in his bat, and he could occasionally take the field when/if needed.  I am not overly enthused about a former Phillie being on the team, but Ibanez is a former teammate of A-Rod’s from their Seattle days together.

It would be preferable to see a former Yank, i.e., Hideki Matsui or Johnny Damon, if for no other reason than what they’ve already accomplished in pinstripes.  I recognize that Ibanez might be the better fit in 2012, even if he is pushing 40.

In his days with the Montreal Expos, Vladimir Guerrero was one of my favorite players but at this point, I don’t really see him as an option.

He looks great…in a different uniform…

Whatever the Yankees do, I hope they are successful in moving A.J. Burnett.  This one is tough, because I was so in favor of his signing when he first came to the Yankees.  I always admired his arm when he played for the Florida Marlins and later with the Toronto Blue Jays.  He’s largely been a disappointment since the successful 2009 voyage.  There have been flashes of brilliance, but more times than not, his performances have ended on a disappointing note.  Some guys are better served in less pressurized environment, and Burnett would probably excel in a place like San Diego.  If Burnett doesn’t make the starting rotation, I think he would be a distraction to the team in the bullpen.  Therefore, best case scenario would be to move Burnett. Of course, that means he will be accompanied by lots of cash to pay his freight, but sometimes its addition by subtraction.  Sadly for Burnett, that time is now.

“Manny being Manny”…

As for the rotation, my preference is to give Phil Hughes the opportunity to either grab hold of his place on the team or perhaps prove that it is time for him to seek employment elsewhere.  If the latter situation occurs, Dellin Betances should be ready to step in to fill the void (or Freddy Garcia, if he is kept on the roster).  Manny Banuelos will probably make noise this year, but he’ll probably not surface on the major league level until late this year.  Now, if Banuelos comes to Tampa this spring with a ‘refuse to lose’ mentality and takes the job (much like Michael Pineda did last year with the Seattle Mariners), so be it.  Banuelos is the eventual star of the rotation, with Pineda.

Striving to be regular contributors to the daily Transactions column…

I was surprised to see the Boston Red Sox trade starting shortstop Marco Scutaro to the Colorado Rockies.  It’s being said that the move was made to free payroll to sign a free agent pitcher like Roy Oswalt or Edwin Jackson.  Personally, I think it was a move to set up another move, in addition to rebuilding the rotation.  I would be surprised if the Red Sox broke camp with the tandem of Mike Aviles and Nick Punto as their starting shortstop.  I keep hearing that a trade for the Marlins’ Hanley Ramirez is out of the question, but somehow I could still see that happening.  Whatever happens, I do expect the Sox to break camp with a quality shortstop, in other words, someone not named Aviles or Punto…

The Prince of Bel Air?…

It’s too bad that the Los Angeles Dodgers are still an organization in a state of flux until new ownership can take over.  It would make so much sense for the Dodgers to go after free agent first baseman Prince Fielder, and it would be a move that would help begin the healing process for the Dodger fan base, who have suffered under the reign of Frank McCourt.  A lineup that includes Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Fielder would certainly steal some thunder from the Albert Pujols-led Angels.

Checkmate…

There’s still a lot of drama to unfold before pitchers and catchers report next month.  The Yankees and Mariners should finally be in position to announce the Jesus Montero-Michael Pineda trade early this week.  Hopefully, that will open the gridlock at DH and set the stage for other moves that will hopefully produce the 28th World Championship in franchise history.  Whatever happens, I am ready for some baseball…

–Scott

Wanted:  Clutch Hitter – Only the experienced need to apply!…

Although there have not been any official explanations for the DH plans this upcoming season, there’s been reports that the Yankees are content with a rotation to include Alex Rodriguez, Andruw Jones and Derek Jeter, with Eduardo Nunez sliding around the infield filling the holes.  My concern last season and it gave me a bad feeling heading into the play-offs that the Yankees had missed the clutch bats they enjoyed when Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui were on the roster.  Damon’s home run in the 2004 ALCS helped propel the Boston Red Sox to a comeback victory over the Yankees, and propelled the Sox to their first World Championship since the days of Babe Ruth.  I’ve heard minor league slugger Jorge Vazquez mentioned as a possibility, but I am with those who believe that he skills do not translate to the major league level.

In my opinion, the Yankees need to do something.  I am not looking for a $10 million slugger who would command 90% to 95% of the DH at-bats.  I am content with someone who could take the majority of the at-bats, allowing for the A-Rod/Jeter rotation, and would know and accept their role.  That’s why I feel that either Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui would make complete sense.  I know the Yankees want to limit their payroll at this point and I get that.  But if the difference in making the World Series or not was an additional $5 million, would it not be worth it?  Yeah, yeah, it’s not my money and $5 million is a lot of money.  But when you are spending $210 million, what’s $215 million?  Wouldn’t the return on a championship more than replenish the difference?  The Yankees have options and I know that’s why they are not in a rush.  I’ve even heard Raul Ibanez’ name mentioned and would agree that he would be a viable option.  I guess I have greater affection for guys who have proven they can win in pinstripes.

It’s funny but the Philadelphia Phillies look like geniuses for signing Jim Thome early in the off-season.  At the time, it looked like a bad fit.  Maybe he stays with the Phillies, but they could actually move him for something at this point given the DH desperation that exists for a number of teams besides the Yankees (like the Detroit Tigers, for example).  If GM Ruben Amaro could somehow swing Thome for a decent prospect, he’d build upon his legacy as a great general manager.

It will be interesting to see how the coming weeks play out, but the Yankees clearly need a guy who can come through in the clutch.  Now more than ever…

If he is older than dirt, what does that make me?…

Congratulations to Jamie Moyer for his minor league contract with an invitation to spring training with the Colorado Rockies.  I was really surprised when I heard that Moyer intended to make a comeback following his recovery.  At 49, the odds are probably against him, but you have to love his no-quit mentality.

Sometimes good fans are the difference…

Similar congratulations go to reliever Joel Zumaya, who signed with a quality organization (the Minnesota Twins).  Ironically, it was at Target Field where Zumaya’s elbow exploded a couple of years ago.  I remember when he was hailed as THE flamethrower in the league, and was a huge part of the Detroit Tigers bullpen.  It’s anybody’s guess what kind of pitcher he will be going forward, but it would be good to see him recapture success for an organization that deserves better than last year’s 99 losses.  With the departure of Joe Nathan and the inconsistency of Matt Capps, there’s certainly going to be opportunity with the closing and set up roles for the Twins.

It was a bit hard to imagine Zumaya throwing from the mound at Target Field this morning as the temperature reading in my car read -10 degrees in downtown Minneapolis.  The weathermen were reporting that with the wind chill factor, it felt like -38.  In weather like that, it’s hard to imagine that the lights of Target Field will be back on in just a couple of months.  While I admit that the 16 degrees I experienced in Winnipeg, Manitoba a few weeks back felt much colder, there’s no question that in temps like this you just want to go from your heated house to your heated car to your heated work.  This past summer, I was in Phoenix when it was in the 120’s.  All things considered, I’ll gladly take -38 in Minneapolis as opposed to 122 degrees in Phoenix.  I don’t care that it’s paradise in Arizona right now…

Deux Sorianos?…

Back to the Yankees, I’ve wondered if some kind of deal involving the Chicago Cubs would work.  The Yankees want to unload A.J. Burnett, and he’d clearly benefit from a change of scenery.  He’d also be more effective in the National League at this point.  I wouldn’t say that the pressure would be less in Chicago, but I think A.J. could more himself.  Conversely, the Cubs have an albatross with Alfonso Soriano.  Soriano could still be a fairly productive DH at this point in his career.  Not that I want to give two rosters spots to over-paid, under-productive Sorianos but it would be a potential solution.  I think I can speak for most Yankees fan when I say that we’ve rode the Burnett train about as far as we care to.  Now that Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda have all but pushed Burnett out of the rotation, a win-win trade with the Cubs would certainly make sense.

Yeah, you and what bank?…

If I’m Cole Hamels, I am going for free agency in the fall of 2012.  Don’t even talk to me about an extension!  If the Texas Rangers will lay out $110 million for an unproven, albeit very highly talented, pitcher, there’s no question what a championship performer like Hamels can command on the open market.

I choose you, no, maybe you…

I am glad that Bartolo Colon was able to find a home with the Oakland A’s, but admittedly, I am glad that he is not returning for an encore performance in the Bronx.  I am not quite sure with what happened between Colon and the Arizona Diamondbacks (he apparently agreed with them and then reneged, ala David Wells a few years ago), but I am sure he had his reasons for why Oakland was a better fit.  But I guess those reasons didn’t include W’s…

Those pesky Nats!…

As for the ongoing Prince Fielder sweepstakes, I just wish the Washington Nationals would put one of those ridiculous Jayson Werth type contracts in front of him and get him signed.  I’d be surprised if the Texas Rangers were financially able to sign both Yu Darvish and Fielder but stranger things have happened.  I really don’t want to see Fielder in for Mitch Moreland on the defending AL Champions.  I still think the Los Angeles Angels, thanks to Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, are a better team in the AL West, with or without Fielder on the Rangers, but I certainly do not want the potential roadblocks to a Yankees World Series getting stronger.

First base at Yankee Stadium will forever mean Lou Gehrig to me until the day I die, even if I didn’t personally get to see him play.  For what I have seen, Don Mattingly is the epitome of greatness.  I was a bit skeptical when Tino Martinez took over for Mattingly, but he played the position as well as anyone could have following the footprints of #23.  I loved the signing of Mark Teixeira and he was a prime reason for the Yankees success in 2009, but after a couple of disappointing seasons with the usual stone cold starts, something has to give.  Defense alone at first base is not enough.  Not that I want to go back to the days of Giambi (great bat, not-so-great glove), but Tex needs to dedicate himself to an improved performance in 2012.  I know that we’ll have to deal with the usual sluggish start, but he needs to show that he can be more like the 2009 Teixeira than the 2011 version.

Well, I am at this end of this post, but I see that GM Brian Cashman still has much work ahead of him before we start talking about games at Legends Field…

–Scott

“It is high, it is far, it is gone”…

Hello, he’s back…

I had been curious about how Jason Giambi felt about his impending return to the Bronx this weekend.  I read an article in The Denver Post where Giambi talked about how special New York was and what it was like to play on the same field as DiMaggio, Gehrig, Ruth, Mantle and others.  What he didn’t know was the type of reaction that he would receive.  The New York fans can be tough (obviously) but I really expected a warm reception for the Giambino.  Unlike his departure from Oakland (the first time), he didn’t leave New York at the prime of his career and while Oakland had wanted to re-sign Giambi, the Yankees had clearly moved on.  So, his departure was really the team’s decision and not his.

Howard Simmons/New York Daily News

Giambi had some difficult years in pinstripes and of course his stay will always be marred by the steroid admission.  But he persevered and I felt that he played hard through the duration of the contract.  I am thankful for the years that he gave New York and I certainly wish him the very best in the sunset days of his playing career.

I just wish that he wouldn’t have homered off A.J. Burnett in Friday night’s game.  But I guess if you are going to throw a 2-0 meatball, I guess that Ozzie Smith could have hit a home run.  Well, on second thought, Giambi’s home run was not the reason the Yankees lost so maybe it was good for old times sake.  “G” didn’t get to play at the new Yankee Stadium so he deserved a chance to shine at the new grounds.  He’ll be back.  After his playing days are over, it is a certainty that he’ll get an invitation to future Old Timer’s Days.

Joe Torre knew when to get out…

If there is one former Yankee that I want to succeed more than any other, it is Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly.  The entire Dodger situation with Frank McCourt’s divorce, the team’s financial struggles and the league’s intervention just sickens me.  It is hard to believe that the two teams struggling the most right now are in the nation’s top two markets.  The Dodgers franchise has been one of the top organizations throughout the history of baseball, and they deserve so much better than the current situation.

Don Mattingly

Ben Liebenberg/US Presswire

If the Dodgers resort to a fire sale next month, I am fearful of the adverse impact it will have on the perception of Mattingly as a manager.  It would be hard for anyone to succeed under those conditions.  I don’t know that I’d want to see Mark Cuban as the next Dodgers owner, but I am hopeful that McCourt will sell the team to an owner or ownership group that would move quickly to restore the respect for the great franchise.

Stay Cash, stay…

I read Buster Olney’s piece that Brian Cashman may walk after the end of the season.  His contract expires this year and there will be no discussion of an extension until after the season.  I can’t imagine the Yankees without Cashman as the GM.  I couldn’t begin to fully understand the daily pressure the guy must be under, but I have to believe that working for Hank and Hal Steinbrenner is significantly better than what it must have been like under George Steinbrenner.  If Cashman is looking for a break, I could see him walk away for a year or two.  He’d certainly have his choice of opportunities when/if he decided to return.  A new challenge or opportunity can be good, but it wouldn’t be the Yankees.  That’s not an arrogant statement, but just a simple observation that the Yankees are the most storied and legendary team in baseball (sorry Dodgers!).

I could see the desire to build a winner without the perception that you have the most dollars to play with.  But I hope that Cashman ultimately decides to stay in New York and continues his long run as one of the greatest GM’s in Yankee history.

Enjoy the weekend!…

–Scott

Welcome to California!…

 

The Yankees are in town and I’m writing this blog…

 

 

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Yes, I am missing out on the first game of the Yankees series in Oakland against the A’s.  Well, I don’t exactly live in Oakland but I am only a BART trip away.  I will be at the game tomorrow night when Phil Hughes pitches.  Hopefully, the weather will cooperate.  This morning started out with nothing but rain.  It didn’t look promising, but it has been clear most of the afternoon so we’ll soon find out if Javier Vazquez has finally brought his A game with him.  Good luck to Javy and company as the Yanks look to get the West Coast road trip started on a positive note. 

 

 

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Don’t look now but who was that?  Like a blur, and despite the Yankees fourth series win in four tries, the team now finds themselves chasing the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East Standings.  The Rays beat Boston to complete a four game sweep on Monday, which put the idle Yankees ½ game back.  Tampa definitely has the pitching to sustain their perch, so this is going to be a dogfight throughout the summer.  I am sure that, sooner or later, the Boston Red Sox will decide to join the party too.

 

 

Rays Red Sox Baseball

Michael Dwyer/AP

 

Prior to tonight’s game, former Yankees and current A’s Chad Gaudin and Edwar Ramirez received their World Series rings.  I had definitely hoped that the Yankees could have found a way to keep Gaudin, but I am sure that he’s glad to be back with a club where he can grow his standard goatee or whatever you call that growth on his chin.

 

 

Yankees Athletics Baseball

 

So, the Yankees have a detour on their way to Baltimore following the conclusion of the weekend series in Anaheim.   They are scheduled to stop by the White House on Monday to see President Barack Obama on a scheduled off day.  The next day, they’ll begin a series against the young and talented Baltimore Orioles.  It should be an exciting time for the World Champions.  Hopefully, they will have just finished a successful California adventure!

 

 

 

 

I am not sure what I think about the schedule for this year’s NFL Draft.  In years past, it was always fun to get up early Saturday morning and watch the first 10 picks.  The rest of the day, I’d listen to the draft on the car radio or other medium.  On Sunday, I’d usually check in to see some of the later names selected.  This year will be very strange with the first round being held Thursday night.  Since it starts while I am still at work, I probably won’t get home until around the 5th or 6th selection.  Rounds 2 and 3 are Friday night, and the draft concludes on Saturday.  I will hold judgment until after the draft, but I am a bit skeptical.  We’ll see.

 

My team, the Minnesota Vikings, will open the NFL Season on Thursday, September 9th against the New Orleans Saints in a rematch of the NFC Championship Game.  Hey Brett (assuming you return), run, don’t throw! 

 

 

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Mark Humphrey/AP 

 

It was sad to hear the passing of the Colorado Rockies president Keli McGregor.  He was found dead in a hotel room in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Initial speculation is that the death was the result of natural causes.  At 48 years of age, this is quite unexpected.  My thoughts and prayers go out to Keli’s wife, Lori, and their four children. 

 

 

DENVER - OCTOBER 15:  Team President of the Colorado Rockies, Keli McGregor celebrates in the locker room after the Rockies 6-4 win against the Arizona Diamondbacks during Game Four of the National League Championship Series at Coors Field on October 15, 2007 in Denver, Colorado.

Getty Images

I Know, It Was A Gimme…

Off to a great start…

 

Kathy Willens/AP

 

The Yankees, as expected, emerged victorious in Game 1 of the ALDS against the high flying Minnesota Twins.  Behind the frontline starting pitching of CC Sabathia, the Yanks took down the Twins, 7-2.

 

Kathy Willens/AP

 

The game started slowly with several passed balls and an early 2-0 lead for the sleep-deprived Twins.  But a two-run homer by Mr. November, Derek Jeter, tied the score in the 3rd and the Yanks were off to the races.

 

Julie Jacobson/AP

 

Hideki Matsui continued to show the Yankees might be making a mistake in allowing Godzilla and his creaky knees to walk at the end of the season.  Time and again, he has delivered the timely, clutch hits the team has needed.  He did not disappoint on Wednesday night as he came through with a two-run homer in the 5th inning.  Throw in a mixture of Phils (Hughes and Coke), a dash of Joba Chamberlain, and a touch of Mariano Rivera, and the Yankees had the ingredients for success.

 

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The series resumes on Friday night at Yankee Stadium.  Then, the series will move to Minnesota.  As a Vikings fan, I am used to pulling for the home team at the Metrodome, but for a few days next week, I may as well be a Packers fan because I definitely will not be pulling for soon-to-be ex-tenants.  Hopefully, the Yankees will be the team to end the Twins’ Metrodome stay…

 

To the Twins’ defense, they won an unlikely AL Central division championship in a 12-inning, highly intense play-off game against the Detroit Tigers, celebrated the victory, caught a flight to New York, and stood ready to play at Yankee Stadium less than 20 hours later.  I suspect we’ll see a more relaxed and resilient Twins squad on Friday.  The series is far from over despite the Yankees’ 8-0 record against the Twins this year.  I seem to remember what happened to another ballclub that had an 8-0 record against the Yankees earlier this season…

 

 

I had hoped for a Cardinals-Yankees World Series, but it looks as though the Cards will be making an early exit.  They held a 2-1 lead with two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning at Dodger Stadium today when Matt Holliday dropped a liner that would have been the game-ending third out.  It was not meant to be as the extra out allowed the Dodgers to score 2 runs, and steal the victory, 3-2.  The series moves to St. Louis with the Dodgers up, 2 games to none.  In a short series format, I simply do not see any way for the Cards to dig out of their self-imposed hole.

 

Mark J. Terrill/AP

 

Of course, it only proves to never underestimate the power of Joe Torre…

 

Matt Sayles/AP

 

There is a series in Philly as the Colorado Rockies tied the NLDS at one game apiece with a 5-4 victory over the Phillies today.  They defeated last year’s play-off ace, Cole Hamels.  Hamels left immediately after being pulled to be with his wife, who was delivering the couple’s first child.  All things considered, Cole can be excused for having other things on his mind.  The series resumes in Denver on Saturday.

 

Mel Evans/AP

This brings us to the Los Angeles Angels and Boston Red Sox.  Game 1 in Anaheim is underway, and the Angels hold a 3-0 lead in the 7th inning.  Ouch Julia!  What time is it in Boston?  ;)  It’s a long night for you unless Big Papi can bring the Sox back in the late innings.  Nevertheless, Julia and I have agreed to a final wager for what will hopefully be the final meeting between the Yankees and the Red Sox in the American League Championship Series.  Of course, there are obstacles in the way called the Angels and Twins that could derail our plans.  The winner will be decided by a) the team that advances the furthest into the play-offs, or 2) the winner of a possible head-to-head match-up in the ALCS.  The loser must post photos wearing the winning team’s hat and t-shirt, while holding a sign declaring that the winning team “is better”.  I’m ready, Julia!  How about you?

 

 

Back to the Yanks, Jorge Posada needs to back off his criticism of Jose Molina catching A.J. Burnett in Game 2.  Burnett and Molina have clicked and Jose helped A.J. end his summer slide in early September.  Jorge, bite your tongue and take one for the team…

 


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Nothing Really Matters…until the ALDS…

 

I don’t like this week…

 

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Since the Yankees clinched the AL East and best league record, they haven’t had anything to play for.

 

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The Yanks presently have 102 wins, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that ends up as the season total.  With the Yankees relegated to spring training-like intensity, their possible first round opponents are engaged in a ‘knock down, drag out’ battle to the end.  The Tigers have the edge, but tonight the Tigers are losing and the Twins are winning so the 2 game lead may be reduced to 1.  This race will most likely go to the wire, so the winner of the AL Central will come into the AL Division Series at a very high intensity level.

 

Carlos Guillen#9 (L) Curtis Granderson#28 (C) and Josh Anderson #13 of the Detroit Tigers celebrate their come from behind win over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 12-10, at Angel Stadium on April 22, 2009 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Carlos Guillen;Curtis Granderson;Josh Anderson

Kevork Djansevian/Getty Images

Jim Mone/AP

 

Hopefully, the Yanks will be able to kick start their own intensity level when the ALDS begins.  Otherwise, they could get off to a sluggish start.

 

 

Well, so much for a 20 win season for CC Sabathia.  Pitching tonight against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, CC lasted just 2 2/3 innings.  He gave up 8 hits and 9 runs (4 of the runs were unearned due to a rare Mark Teixeira error).  It is my hope that the ALDS will feature the August-September version of Sabathia.  But of course, my good friend Julia (of Julia’s Rants) was very quick to note:  “It’s October – I see that CC is getting into playoff form…”.

 

Chris O’Meara/AP 

 

I know that CC has a career 7.92 ERA in postseason play, but he does have a chance for redemption.  A win in Game 1 of the ALDS would be a great start…

 

CC Sabathia shuts down Red Sox with nine strikeouts in 7-2/3 innings as Yankees win, 5-0.

McGrath/Getty Images

 

Back when Clint Hurdle was fired as manager of the Colorado Rockies, who would have guessed that the Rockies would enter the final weekend with a chance to overtake the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Entering tonight’s game between the two teams, the Dodgers hold a slim 2 game lead.  The Dodgers are assured of a playoff spot, but they’ve definitely struggled the second half.  At this point, I’d have to say that I like the St. Louis Cardinals as the eventual National League Champion.  I have always wanted to see a Cardinals-Yankees World Series, so hopefully this is the year.  My first baseball game (in person) featured the Los Angeles Dodgers in St. Louis against the Cardinals, so a Cards-Yanks series is definitely a sentimental choice for me.

 

The Green Bay Packers travel to Minnesota to face the Vikings on Monday, so the hype should definitely be building over the next couple of days.  Of course, this won’t be anything like the game in November when the Vikings travel to Lambeau Field, but it will still be strange watching Favre work against the Packers.  Nevertheless, I still think Favre looks strange in purple…

 

 

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