Results tagged ‘ Russell Martin ’

Welcome 2011 New York Yankees!…

It’s been a combination of both a long and a short winter and now “spring” is officially upon us as Yankees pitchers and catchers report to Tampa on Monday…

George M. Steinbrenner Field
There are many questions to be answered in training camp, and it remains to be seen who will fill the last two spots in the starting rotation.  The bench will look different with Andruw Jones in for Marcus Thames who signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and a potential role for former Oakland A’s great Eric Chavez.  
With Jorge Posada now the full-time DH, the catching position be headed up by Russell Martin but it’s anybody’s guess who will back him up (Francisco Cervelli, Jesus Montero, or Austin Romine?).  I do think now is the time for Montero but if the Yankees decide to break camp with him on the major league roster, what does that mean for Cervelli?
I am intrigued by the Yankees potential interest in pitcher Kevin Millwood.  I keep hearing stories that he’s about ready to sign with the Cleveland Indians, then stories surface about the Yankees interest.  As a player in the latter stages of his career, I’d think that winning starts to become an overwhelming factor so I’d have to believe that if all things are equal, the Yankees would be more attractive to Millwood than the Indians.  Nothing against the Indians, but I do not see them contending for the World Series this year.  
The Boston Red Sox still have the best team on paper and a signing of someone like Millwood is not going to change that fact.  But I am still not going to concede the AL East or the World Series to the Red Sox just yet.  I want to see what the Yankees roster looks like on July 31, 2011, and where they are in the AL East standings.  This season is going to be a battle, but I wouldn’t want it any other way…
–Scott

A Newfound Respect and Appreciation for Levine…


I have to admit that I have never really taken the time to know or understand Yankees president Randy Levine.  I took a dislike to him without really giving him a chance to prove himself.  I don’t know if it was something he said or a certain look that he gave during a press conference or if I really had any reason at all.  But within the last couple of weeks, I have gained a newfound appreciation and respect for Levine.  A week or so ago, I was reading a column by one of the Yankees beat writers (I don’t recall which one) and it referenced that the writer had bumped into Levine and he made a comment about how easy and comfortable it is to talk with Levine.  Somehow, I had expected him to be “standoffish” and arrogant.  But today, when he stood up to Rangers owner Chuck Greenberg, he showed that he is the right man for the job.  


Greenberg recently commented about how his second visit to Cliff Lee in Arkansas distracted the pitcher who had seemed destined to sign with New York.  The distraction gave the Phillies enough time to slip in and seal the deal to return Lee to Philly.  In response, Levine called Greenberg “delusional” and made a comment about how he has been an owner for a few minutes and seems to know what everyone is thinking.  The comment about how he’d be impressed if the Rangers could get off “welfare” for three consecutive years was classic.  The Yankees subsidize the Rangers existence, but for whatever reason, Greenberg feels the need to bite the hand that feeds him.  Levine’s comments were very appropriate and I applaud him for the great defense of the Yankees and its fans.  

The funny thing about the spat with the Rangers is the ongoing flow of “love” the Yankees seem to say about the Boston Red Sox organization.  The most recent was Brian Cashman saying that the Red Sox had the best team.  Of course, in his classy and professional way, Red Sox manager Terry Francona said that the comments won’t give them any extra runs or help them win a lot of games.  I can’t believe that I despise the Rangers more than I do the Red Sox right now, but then again, it’s only January 28th so I’m sure that I’ll get my “Red Sox Hater” cap on between now and Opening Day…

Recent comments make me believe that Freddy Garcia wants to be a Yankee.  I am not sure if the team has the same interest, but I’d be happy to see them take a flier on Garcia or Tigers free pitcher Jeremy Bonderman.  The latter would be very ironic considering that the Yankees played a part in his trade from the Oakland A’s to Detroit in the deal that brought Jeff Weaver to New York.  Either Garcia or Bonderman would be an upgrade to either Bartolo Colon or Sergio Mitre.

I am happy that the recent news about Andy Pettitte’s possible return has been positive but c’mon, let’s have the news of the decision.  Please don’t let me know the groundhog before Andy announces whether or not he is going to retire!

I am glad the Yankees signed Russell Martin and I am looking forward to seeing if he can restore his promise in New York, but I’d have to say that I am starting to get excited about the impending arrival of Jesus Montero and his bat.  I know that Montero’s emergence will probably mean the end of Jorge Posada’s career with the Yankees but it is getting close to baton time.

–Scott

Martin to New York!…


Ah, there was a time when those words were such sweet
music to the ears!…



Granted, it was probably more like “Martin’s Back!” but
still, the name Martin and the city of New York is a great match.  The latest Martin to set foot on Broadway is
former Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Russell Martin.  In theory, he has been groomed for this
opportunity by the best…former Dodgers manager Joe Torre and former Dodgers hitting
instructor (now Dodgers manager) Don Mattingly. 
While he still has to pass a physical, Martin has apparently signed a
one-year contract with the Yanks.


russell-martin.jpg

Larry Goren/Icon SMI


Martin was one of the top catchers in the NL several
years ago but has regressed.  He suffered
a torn labrum in his right hip last August and missed the remainder of the
season.  I will be anxious to see what
Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long can do with Martin.  More than likely, Martin will be part of a
catching platoon with Jesus Montero, assuming the latter proves that he is
major league ready in spring training. 


NY Daily News


Martin will probably be the only guy on the roster with a
name this long:  Russell Nathan Jeanson
Coltrane Martin, Jr.
 Martin, born in East York, Ontario, will be 28
by the time the spring training games begin in February.

I like the move for Martin so long as it is not designed
to replace Montero so he can be used as a trading chip. 



It was disappointing to see Cliff Lee decide to return to
Philadelphia on a 5-year deal for less money than he was offered by the
Yankees.  I can’t blame Lee for choosing
a place that he is comfortable with, but I wish that he would have given New
York a chance.  I grew rather pessimistic
about the Yankees chances last week when the Lee camp did not jump on the
Yankees 7 year offer.  Like many, I
thought that he was headed back to the Texas Rangers so it was a bit of a shock
to hear that the mystery team was the Phillies.


AP  


All things considered, if Lee wasn’t going to go to New
York, I am glad to see him depart for the National League.  I am not excited about a rotation that
features Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels and now Cliff Lee, but that’s
only a concern if you make it to the World Series as an American League team
(nice problem to have).  The Rangers fans
are glad they didn’t lose out to the Yankees, but conversely, I am glad that
the Rangers and Nolan Ryan didn’t get one over on the Yanks.  Also, I am glad that Lee didn’t go to the
Angels or the Red Sox. 



As it stands, the Red Sox have enjoyed a hugely
successful off-season compared to the Yanks, but I would not underestimate
Brian Cashman and the Steinbrenner family. 
As for immediate focus, I think the Yanks need to make sure that they
have the arms in the bullpen and I’d really like to see the return of Kerry
Wood.  Of the remaining free agents,
there aren’t many that excite me.  Manny
Ramirez is still out there but he’s a liability in the field and the Yankees
have the DH role locked up with Jorge Posada.  
Manny’s bat is also not what it used to be and the Yankees don’t need
more ‘late thirtysomethings’ on the roster. 

I’d have to say that I am mixed on whether the Yankees
should pursue a trade with the Kansas City Royals for starter Zack
Greinke.  However, there will be
competition which of course drives up the trade demands so I am not sure that
avenue is the best given the uncertainty over whether Greinke could handle New
York (assuming he was willing to waive his no-trade clause to the Yankees).  I’d probably prefer signing Brandon Webb or
pursuing Mark Buehrle in a trade.  The
Yankees do have to do something about their starting rotation regardless of
whether Andy Pettitte returns or not. 
Right now the #4 and #5 starters appear to be Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre
based on the current roster which is not very appealing.  I am willing to give Nova a shot but if the
Yankees break camp with Mitre as their 5th starter, it’s going to be
a long season.


Chris Sweda/MCT


Why is it that Red Sox fans think the rivalry between the
Yankees and Red Sox is over on December 14th just because they didn’t
sign Cliff Lee?  As Brian Cashman
indicated on a conference call earlier today, patience is the key.  Somehow, I suspect the team that breaks camp
next spring will be able to compete with the newly enhanced Red Sox…



Congratulations to Hideki Matsui who signed a one year
deal with the Oakland Athletics.  As a
resident of the Bay Area, I am sure that Godzilla will be well received and he’ll
be a great stabilizing factor in the A’s lineup.  



–Scott


Let’s Turn the Page to Next Week!…

I waited for the Baseball Winter Meetings with so much
anticipation and in the end, it was a week of disappointment.



Of course, the Yankees were solely focused on one
objective (Cliff Lee) and it is clear that Lee is in no hurry to decide where
he’ll be pitching in Game 1 of the play-offs next fall. 


Cliff Lee, pitching in World Series Game 1

Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger


While the Yankees waited and then finally made their
offer to Lee, the nemesis Boston Red Sox were very active in acquiring the long
anticipated first baseman Adrian Gonzalez of the San Diego Padres.  I am not quite sure how they were able to
pull off the deal without the inclusion of a single major leaguer but the
Padres did get highly touted pitching prospect Casey Kelly and first baseman
Anthony Rizzo.  They also acquired
outfield prospect Reymond Fuentes, cousin to the Mets’ Carlos Beltran and a
player to be named later.  Gonzalez is a
huge acquisition for the Sox.  As Don
Mattingly said, Gonzalez has a perfect swing for Fenway Park and he’ll be a
beast in their lineup.


agon.jpg

Seattle Times  


The Red Sox also pulled off a major surprise when they
signed former Tampa Bay Ray Carl Crawford. 
The off-season rumors had the Red Sox in pursuit of either Jayson Werth
(who subsequently signed the incredulous deal with the Washington Nationals) or
Crawford.  However, after the Gonzalez
acquisition, it appeared that Crawford was headed for the Los Angeles
Angels.  The move was a good one for the
Sox although they’ll pay a hefty premium with the extension for Gonzalez along
with the contract for Crawford.  It will
be interesting to see how this plays out for the other Red Sox outfielders.  Ryan Kalish proved that he is a major
leaguer, so it would seem that somebody will depart in a trade for potentially
a catcher (Kalish, Jacoby Ellsbury, or Mike Cameron?). 


Carl Crawford

AP

Prior to the moves, I thought the Red Sox had the best
combination of pitching, hitting and defense in the division.  Throw in Crawford and Gonzalez and there
seems to be a bit of a gulf between the Sox and the Yankees (and Rays).  At the moment, the Yankees have only one
surefire ace to throw at the Red Sox (CC Sabathia).  Behind CC is Phil Hughes.  Sure, Hughes is capable to shutting down the
Sox but he does fall into the category of ‘you never really know for sure if he’s
going to have his best stuff’.  After
that comes A.J. Burnett and for the moment, Ivan Nova.  That’s it. 
Clearly, the Yankees pitching staff needs much work between now and
April. 

Which of course leads us back to Cliff Lee.  This off-season is all about Lee.  The Yankees have made a huge offer for Lee (a
menu of 5, 6 and 7 year deals).  The
Texas Rangers countered with a menu of their own offers and owner Chuck
Greenberg even flew to Arkansas to personally deliver the offers, bringing
along billionaire partner Ray Davis. 

The Rangers have the wherewithal to pay Lee, although I’d
have to believe that a 7 year deal would hurt the Rangers for more than it
would the Yankees.  Greenberg was
optimistic about the talks yesterday but I can’t tell if it is legitimate or
false optimism. 

I am biased (of course), but if I was Cliff Lee, I would
look at this decision as how you want to be remembered in baseball long after
you are gone.  To succeed in New York
gives players lasting celebrity.  Paul O’Neill
will always be so beloved in New York, along with Tino Martinez and others,
even though they didn’t start their careers with the Yankees.  At old-timer games, you see guys like Goose
Gossage and next year, Lou Piniella.  If
you asked me to name former Rangers, I’d be hard-pressed to come up with a list
of the Hall of Famers.  I lived in Dallas
during the days of Jim Sundberg, Nolan Ryan, Steve Buechele and Larry Parrish,
but I couldn’t tell you where they are today (well, except for Nolan of
course).  Being a former Texas Ranger is “nice”,
but forgettable.  Being a former New York
Yankee is first class celebrity status, especially if you win.  If Lee is as competitive as I think he is, he’ll
view the challenge of the improved Boston Red Sox squad as an opportunity to
shine.  Texas may have been in the World
Series last year, but will they be a powerhouse for the next 7 years?  Tough to tell.  With the Yankees, you always know that
ownership is committed to fielding the best possible team.  As a player, I would want to be in the
environment of the team who expects nothing less than the World Series every
year. 

Quality of Life?  I
agree that Texas probably wins.  The cost
of real estate is substantially less, and there is no state income tax.  Lee can live in a mansion with acreage and
drive to/from the stadium with an easy commute. 
In New York, you’re going to pay a premium for housing and the commute
won’t be easy.  But c’mon, there is
nothing like the city of New York.  I am
a small town Midwesterner, yet I think New York City is the greatest city in
the world.  I love the energy and
excitement of the city.  I’ve lived in
Dallas.  It’s a fun town, no doubt.  But it’s not New York.  If I’m Cliff Lee, the decision is easy.  I’d be on the phone asking Brian Cashman
where to sign…



George McNish/The Star Ledger


I found it very interesting that the Yankees picked two
players in the Rule 5 Draft.  They lost two
players including pitcher George Kontos but they acquired an Angel and a Red
Sock.  The Angel is pitcher Robert
Fish.  I don’t know anything about Fish
and more than likely he’ll be offered back to the Angels, but you gotta love
his name.  I am sure that the TV and
radio announcers would love to say how Joe Girardi is “bobbin'” for Fish when
he goes to the bullpen.  Turpen is a
pitcher the Red Sox acquired for one of the two Ramon Ramirezes they had on
their roster (don’t ask me which one it was!). 
I doubt that Turpen sticks but he was potentially on the list of players
for the player to be named later in the Gonzalez deal.  So, if the Yankees made the selection to
spite the Red Sox, I am cool with it! 
J


Robert Fish


I think the Yankees play for former Los Angeles Dodgers
catcher Russell Martin is a good one.  I’ve
always liked Martin, and I think the combination of him and Jesus Montero would
be a good one.  Hopefully, Martin doesn’t
get spooked by the presence of Montero and decide to sign elsewhere, like
Boston.  I am hoping that Joe Torre and
Don Mattingly told enough great Yankee stories last year to entice Martin to pursue
a Yankee career!


Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images


There’s still a lot of work to be done between now and
spring training so hopefully things start to fall into place soon.  Okay Cliff, the next move is up to you…


 

–Scott



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