Results tagged ‘ San Francisco ’

Dust the uniform off and come back ready to play tomorrow…

 

Something wicked this way comes…

The stage was set for a masterful start to what could be the final season for Hall of Famer-to-be Mariano Rivera, but it was not meant to be.  Called on to protect a 6-5 Yankees lead in the bottom of the 9th at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, the Rays rallied against Mo to win the game, 7-6.  Control was the main culprit, but Mo will just shake this one off, and will be prepared to take the mound again tomorrow if called upon.

I had an uneasy feeling with the slim lead heading into the latter stages of the game.  David Robertson successfully navigated out of a self-created jam in the 8th inning and it did feel as though momentum was on the Yankees’ side.  But after the teams combined for 11 runs in the first three innings, the Yankee bats went silent and the crucial hits, when needed, later in the game never came.

It’s interesting that both the Yankees and Red Sox lost their season openers due to bullpen failures.  But at least the Red Sox can say that they had an unproven closer (Alfredo Aceves) in the game.  Aceves has a bit of catching up to do to accumulate as many saves as Mo has.  Still, it’s just one game, and last time I checked, there were still 161 more to go.  I am anxious to see what new Yankee pitcher Hiroki Kuroda can do tomorrow.

Just not quite enough room…

I knew that there was no room for outfielder Justin Maxwell, but it was still disappointing when he was designated for assignment.  Maxwell had a good spring, but he has the misfortune of playing for a team that boasts the likes of Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez in reserve outfield roles.

Now you see him, now you don’t…

The biggest surprise of the final roster breaking spring training was the demotion of backup catcher Francisco Cervelli, who was optioned to AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre.  In a trade that sent reliever George Kontos to the San Francisco Giants, the Yankees re-acquired defensive catcher Chris Stewart.  Stewart will never make anybody forget Cervelli’s bat, but Francisco was a victim of circumstance.  Of the two catchers, he was the only one who still had options.  The need for Stewart was created by the injured Austin Romine.  I understand Cervelli’s frustration and disappointment with the move, but hopefully, he’ll get his head right and take advantage of starting in the minors until the inevitable call comes to bring him back to the Bronx.

Ah, the first time!…

Congratulations to pitcher David Phelps for being named the team’s long reliever.  It’s always great to see young players excited when they make a major league roster for the first time.  Hopefully it is the start of a long and productive career for Phelps.

Well, today’s loss was no fun, but time to move on.  Let’s go Yankees, let’s go Kuroda!  Game 2, bring it on!

–Scott

As Yogi once said, ‘It’s déjà vu all over again’…

The Return of an old Friend…

When I first heard the news, I kept looking for the tag that it was a joke.  I did have to think about what day it was, wondering if we had somehow fast forwarded to April Fool’s Day.  But alas, the reports of Andy Pettitte coming out of retirement were accurate.

I am happy to see Andy back in Pinstripes, but it was still very surprising news.  Of course, those close to Andy realized how much he missed the game when he was at camp for a few days earlier this month, but from the distant view of a fan, it just looked like he was enjoying spending time with the team.  It sounded as though he was busy with his children’s activities in Texas, and could only spend a short amount of time in Florida as a result.  But of course, I didn’t realize the soul-searching he was going through.

I do not believe that the one year lay-off will adversely impact Andy.  I felt he left the game prematurely when he did, and this is no different than a pitcher out with injury for an extended period.  The only difference is that Andy continued to pitch throughout the duration of the time away, aside from a short break he apparently took when it appeared there was no opportunity with the Yanks.

For Jorge Posada, I felt it was time for him to retire.  But I didn’t have that feeling about Andy.  I think he can still be a very productive pitcher at this stage of his career.  Granted, he is not a front of the rotation starter anymore, but he definitely strengthens the back end.  The downside is the impact on the other pitchers fighting for the 5th spot in the rotation…Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes.  It also impacts the young pitchers who may have opportunities to pitch in the majors this year…Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, D.J. Mitchell, Adam Warren and others.  Of this group, I am most concerned about Hughes.  He has appeared to be in excellent mental and physical shape this year, and seemed to be primed to have a season reminiscent of his 18-win season a couple of years ago.  Barring injury, does Pettitte’s readiness in May or June mean that Hughes will be moved to the pen?  More than likely.  The odd man out appears to be Freddy Garcia.  He could move into the role of long man, but paying Garcia $4 million to be the long reliever seems excessive for a team trying to cut costs as the role could easily be filled by a number of less expensive options with similar results.

But the positives of Pettitte’s return outweigh the negatives.  He is a champion and his competitiveness rivals guys like former Yankees pitcher David Cone.  He won’t be winning 20 games, but he’ll win or at least put his team in the best position to win when he is called upon.  I heard an interview show that talked about ‘what if’ Pettitte cannot return to being the pitcher he was before, and I trust those who say that Andy would stop the comeback before the Yankees would if he felt he wasn’t effective.  As the saying goes, ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained’.  I wish Andy the very best on the comeback trail and I am looking forward to seeing #46 on the mound at Yankee Stadium.

The road to the Bronx is not paved with .065 hitters…

Like others, I am growing a bit concerned about the inability of Raul Ibanez to hit this spring.  The phrase, “don’t worry, he’ll hit” just doesn’t hold any water for a player the fans have no emotional attachment to.  I didn’t follow Ibanez closely during his Phillies career, but it seemed like he started slowly last year but still ended up with decent numbers by the end of the year.  But every year is different, and at age 40, Ibanez is going to continue to regress.  I am not sure if the best path is to wait to see if Ibanez comes around and supplement his at-bats in a DH rotation with Eric Chavez, Andruw Jones, and Alex Rodriguez, or if the Yankees should pursue another alternative via trade.  Anything that is available on the market will have flaws so there are no easy answers.  For whatever reason, the Yankees seem to be opposed to the idea of either Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui returning.  I’d probably bring them in for an open competition with Ibanez at this point.  Then, at the end of spring training, may the best bat move north.

If I had been a fan of Ibanez for a number of years, then I’d feel differently.  But since there is no history, I similarly have no patience.  If Ibanez continues to hit less than .100 in spring training, then it’s time to move on and find another option.  If he can’t hit in March, how is he going to be able to catch up to that Justin Verlander four-seam fastball in October?…

What did you say your name was again?…

I am glad to see that Clay Rapada is making the most of his opportunity to emerge as the second lefty option for the pen.  When Rapada was released by the Baltimore Orioles earlier this year, I didn’t think much about it.  He quietly signed with the Yankees, and then another key left-handed option, Hideki Okajima, failed his physical.  It seems like the Yankees are always looking for that second lefty and maybe Rapada can finally find his moment to shine.  The Tampa Bay Rays seem to have very good luck in building strong bullpens from the scrap heap, so it would be nice if Rapada turned out to be an “Andrew Friedman” like move.

Peyton’s Place…

It is interesting following the Peyton Manning story, but I haven’t seen any teams emerge as a great fit for him.  He’s already passed on the Miami Dolphins, and he is apparently throwing for the Tennessee Titans, but I don’t see the Titans, or the Denver Broncos, as an immediate threat to win the Super Bowl…with or without Manning.  Perhaps the best fit might be the San Francisco 49ers.  It would be great to see Manning in New Orleans given his family’s history there, but Drew Brees isn’t going anywhere so that’s not a possibility.  My team, the Minnesota Vikings, have so many problems beyond QB that they are not an option.  Regardless of where Peyton lands, it will be weird to see him in a different uniform.  I never could quite get used to seeing Joe Montana with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Keeping Ponder off his back…

With the NFL Draft just a month away, I am hopeful the Vikings retain their #3 pick (there’s been talk of trading down to pick up additional picks).  With QB Andrew Luck (Colts) and QB Robert Griffin III (Redskins) off the board, that leaves powerhouse offensive tackle Matt Kalil ready and able to join the Vikings to protect QB Christian Ponder for years to come.  For a team that struggled with its offensive line last season following the ouster of longtime tackle Bryant McKinnie, Kalil seems to be exactly what the doctor ordered.

Courtesy of a friend:

Senior Citizen Texting Codes:

ATD: At The Doctors
BFF: Best Friend Fell
BTW: Bring the Wheelchair
BYOT: Bring Your Own Teeth
FWIW: Forgot Where I Was
GGPBL: Gotta Go Pacemaker Battery Low
GHA: Got Heartburn Again
IMHO: Is My Hearing-Aid On
LMDO: Laughing My Dentures Out
OMMR: On My Massage Recliner
OMSG: Oh My! Sorry, Gas
ROFLACGU: Rolling On Floor Laughing And Can’t Get Up
TTYL: Talk To You Louder

 

 

FWIW!  Have a great day!

–Scott

Disappointment replaced by Optimism…

 

After some thought, I’ve come around…

Now that I’ve had time to digest the Friday night whirlwind that brought pitchers Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda to the Bronx, my initial disappointment was evaporated.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the power potential of Jesus Montero, and I know full well that he’ll be as devastating against the Yankees as Jay Buhner was if not more.  But I recognize that from a position of need, a top of the rotation starter is better than a player without a position.

Ever since I first heard Jesus Montero’s name, it always included a statement that he’d eventually have to find a new position because he would outgrow catcher.  The obvious moves would be to either first base or left field, but last time I checked, both of those positions were occupied by long-term tenants.  Putting an offensive juggernaut at DH is great for offense but it does nothing to help with the defensive aspects of catching or learning a new position.  With Russell Martin in the fold for the foreseeable future, there was no way that Montero would gain the starting position at catcher.  Martin’s ability to handle the pitching staff is simply too important to the team even if his bat is nothing remotely close to Montero.

With Montero, I was always worried about the other young Yankee catchers.  Of course, there’s Francisco Cervelli on the active roster.  If Montero were to take the backup catching job, where would that leave Cervelli?  Most likely playing for the Twins, backing up oft-injured Joe Mauer or someone like that.  I like the defensive reports that I’ve heard about both Austin Romine and Gary Sanchez, but if their path was clogged by Martin and Montero, where did that leave them?  Sanchez needs more time in the minors, but Romine is nearing major league ready status.  With an injury or two, I fully expect him to get his chance to make an impression at Yankee Stadium in 2012.  The trade of Montero ensures that Romine will get his major league opportunity with the Yankees so that’s a good thing.  He doesn’t have Montero’s bat (who does?) but good defense is essential for championships.

Maybe just tell us who the Yankees haven’t talked to…

As for the DH slot, it seems like the Yankees have expressed interest in about everyone.  There have been reports they’ve spoken to the agents for Carlos Pena, Johnny Damon, and Hideki Matsui.  There are pros and cons with all three players, but whoever the Yankees bring on board will have to share time at DH with Alex Rodriguez, Andruw Jones, and Derek Jeter so I’d be okay with any of the three.  I’ve always liked the clutch bats of Damon and Matsui, and the swing for the fences power of Pena is nice even if the average is hovering slightly above the Mendoza line.  With all the reports that the Yankees only have a $1 million or two to spend on a DH, I half expect a report that they’ve talked to Reggie Jackson!  Okay, that might be a stretch, but I’d consider letting ‘all or nothing’ slugger Jorge Vazquez.  He does deserve a shot.  If not, the Yanks should cut him loose and let him pursue a team that will.

If Jorge Posada had embraced the DH role last year, he’d be on his way back to the Bronx for an encore performance…

Upon second thought…

As for the pitching staff, my initial prediction about the rotation order was flawed.  I recognize that Micheal Pineda is the clear #2 in the rotation.  I’ve seen Ivan Nova slotted at #4, but I’d still keep him at #3 at least until he gives reason to drop him in the order.  I think Kuroda is a great addition, but he has to adjust to the American League in the most difficult division, while moving from a pitcher’s ballpark to a park that is less forgiving.  So, I’d give Nova time for pinstripes served and put him ahead of Kuroda.  After the former Dodger, it’s anybody’s guess who will win out…Phil Hughes, my personal favorite; Freddy Garcia, probably the better choice among the pitchers in terms of consistency; and A.J. Burnett, the candidate for most likely to depart the Bronx if the Yanks can find a willing trade partner that wants Burnett…and a boatload of cash to pay that ridiculous salary.  What happens if either Manny Banuelos or Dellin Betances pitches “lights out” in training camp?  This is going to be an interesting battle.

He’s really a cousin of Alcides and Kelvim Escobar?…

Back to Friday night’s trade, I was a bit dismayed when I saw that pitcher Hector Noesi had been included in the trade.  I kept hearing that his ceiling was the back end of the rotation but there was something that I liked about the pitcher.  At first, I didn’t know anything about the “other” Mariner included in the deal, Jose Campos.  But since the initial report of the trade, I’ve come to realize that he has great potential.  At 19, he’s 6’4” and throws in the mid 90’s.  He’ll more than make up for Noesi and fits a better timeline in terms of being major league ready given the high level pitching prospects already in the organization (Banuelos and Betances, for example).  The Curtis Granderson trade has been labeled as a ‘win-win-win’ for all concerned.  Hopefully, this M’s-Yankees trade will meet a similar fate.

What would I expect Bobby V to say?…

Contrary to what Bobby Valentine may think, the Yankees are a better team today than they were last Thursday.  But, I recognize the Boston Red Sox are not done yet.  They signed former Dodger pitcher Vicente Padilla today (a guy I loathe personally) and there’s rumors they could go after Roy Oswalt if they can move payroll.  I still think Boston could be a player for Cubs starter Matt Garza given Theo Epstein’s knowledge of the Red Sox minor league prospects.  Whether Ben Cherington or rather Larry Lucchino would trade with Epstein is another matter.  Still, I think there are changes to be made on both the Yankees and Red Sox between now and training camp.  Last year, I saw a Red Sox friend predict 118 or 119 wins for Boston.  Teams look great on paper, but as they say, the ‘proof is in the pudding’!

Moneyball II, starring Jorge Garcia…

It’s hard to think of the Oakland A’s signing former Yankees starter Bartolo Colon as a low-cost, high reward “Moneyball” kind of move.  At 39, I don’t think there’s really any upside to Colon at this point and in my opinion, he’s not capable of sustaining a full season of starts.  I’d rather have Gio Gonzalez or Trevor Cahill in the rotation, but I guess since those are no longer options, they have to look at the scrap heap that served the Yankees so well last season.

Yes, I know the way to San Jose!…

Speaking of Oakland, I do hope they are successful in their desire to move to San Jose.  As a former San Jose resident, I think it’s very exciting for the city and its metro area to be on the verge of landing both the A’s and the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, to go with the NHL’s Sharks.  I saw that A’s owner bought the famed Hotel Sainte Claire in downtown San Jose.  He already owns one hotel in San Jose so I guess you can’t read too much into it, but he’s definitely positioning himself for the growth and excitement that San Jose could see in the coming years.  I’d be happy with a Stanley Cup Championship this year, but that’s a little off-topic…

I really don’t forsee another 99 losses when you place character first…

I was a little surprised to see the Minnesota Twins sign former Detroit Tigers flamethrower Joel Zumaya.  He suffered his devastating arm injury at Target Field in 2010.  So, in terms of Karma, you’d think that he’d avoid Target Field like the plague.   But I read comments in this morning’s paper about how he was touched by the reception he received from the Twins fans as he left the field that fateful day.  Stories like that certainly make me feel honored to be a Minneapolis resident, but I was still surprised by Zumaya’s decision.  I wish him the best as he begins the Comeback Trail.  Hopefully he can get back to the level he was before.  For the Twins, with Joe Nathan in Texas and Matt Capps scheduled to close games, they need Zumaya as the pitcher he once was and hopefully will be again.

When it’s tough being the son of Donnie Baseball, come home to the Bronx!…

Before I go, I want to say that I am really hopeful that the Yankees organization proves to be a blessing for former Dodgers prospect Preston Mattingly.  I’ve always heard what a great athlete he is/was when he was younger.  I don’t know what happened through his time in the Dodgers and Indians organizations and I realize that he is getting a bit long in tooth for a prospect, but I really hope that he can find some level of success with the Yankees.  It would be very cool to see Mattingly make a debut at Yankee Stadium at some point in the future.  Who knows if it is in the cards, but being a late bloomer is not outside of the realm of possibility when it comes to someone with his bloodline.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s hard to believe that we are just a month away from training camp.  I’m excited and looking forward to a great season.

 

–Scott

Absolutely, Positively Unacceptable…

Jorge Posada’s Meltdown…

MLBlogs decides to convert to Word Press over THE weekend that Jorge Posada decides to meltdown!  Sheesh!  After weeks of not much to write about, the most enticing piece of Yankees news comes at a time when we were unable to talk about it.  Okay, I do applaud MLBlogs for upgrading our site, so we’ll forgive this one indiscretion.

Jorge Posada sits out of Saturday night's Yankees game against Boston, but sources say he told Brian Cashman (below) that wanted to be off the team when he was told he was batting ninth.

Andrew Theodorakis/The New York Daily News

During Saturday night’s game when it was announced during the game that Jorge Posada, who had asked out of the lineup, would be addressing the media after the game, I was convinced that he was going to announce his retirement.  Obviously I don’t know Jorge very well, because retirement is the furthest thing in his mind.  Nevertheless, his latest action has ensured that 2011 will be his final season in pinstripes…regardless of whether intends to continue playing or not.

Please do not get me wrong.  I’ve always appreciated Jorge’s intensity and passion, and how much he hates to lose.  He has been a great Yankee for many years, and he certainly deserves to be in the same room with Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra, Elston Howard, and Thurman Munson.  But I thought his reaction to batting 9th in the order Saturday night (asking out of the game) was completely inappropriate and it shows what is wrong with the 2011 Yankees.  The Yankees are currently in a free fall, having lost 6 in a row after getting swept in Yankee Stadium by the Boston Red Sox and losing Monday night’s game to the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Freefall…

It’s disappointing because the Yankees finally played April strong after years of slow starts.  Of course, it is now all for naught as they’ve had an atrocious May.  The signs were evident as the Yankees were winning by the home run in April and that’s not a sustainable winning strategy.  I think the problems can be tied to three players…Posada, Derek and Nick Swisher.  At some point, the Yankees have to break the Core and go younger.  I really don’t think this team can afford both Posada and Jeter in the lineup unless one or the other starts to hit.  Given the choice of the two, I’d prefer to see Derek Jeter stay.  I don’t think the Yankees will release Posada, but he’s clearly a liability at this point.

Free fall

Can we get to the Trading Deadline already?…

If Swisher doesn’t start hitting, the Yankees will be looking for an outfielder in addition to a left-handed starting pitcher at the trading deadline.  I only hope that the team doesn’t fall too far out by then.  The Rays are starting to separate themselves from the Yankees, and it won’t be long before they are passed by the Red Sox.

I don’t know what the best plan is, but clearly, GM Brian Cashman has his job cut out for him.  With principal owner Hal Steinbrenner’s comment that the Yankees shouldn’t get swept at home even if they are playing the 1927 Yankees, his tolerance level is going to be very low.  This will be a very critical year if Cashman and manager Joe Girardi intend to keep their jobs.

Credit Information

I am the gift that keeps on giving to my friend Julia…

Having lost the weekend series against the Red Sox to my friend Julia (of Julia’s Rants), there will be a bottle of Rodrigue Molyneaux’s Cabiovese (75% Sangiovese and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon) on its way to the East Coast.  Enjoy the wine, Julia.  Yes, I am getting tired of losing these wagers but I am convinced ‘what goes around, comes around’.  In other words, my turn will come.

Wow, did you see that?…

I participated in the 100th Bay to Breakers 12K Run in San Francisco on Sunday.  Being San Francisco, you’re assured of seeing about everything and Sunday was true to form.  This was my 4th time participating in the event, and it wasn’t my best time but I still had a great time figuratively speaking.  I didn’t wear a costume and, unlike quite a few people, I kept my clothes on but I can say that ‘people watching’ was at its finest.

Anna Vignet/The San Francisco Chronicle

–Scott

I Know What It Must Feel Like To Be An Angels Fan…


As it stands today, and I realize that it is still early
January, the Boston Red Sox are clearly the class of the AL.  The Yankees inability to snag a frontline
pitcher will haunt the team, and the missed opportunities to upgrade in other
areas will cost the team valuable victories in the highly competitive AL East.


The 2004 Red Sox team celebrates after winning the World Series in St. Louis Wednesday night.

Jim Davis/Boston Globe


At the moment, Ivan Nova represents the #4 starter behind
CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett. 
I’d argue that Burnett should be considered no more than a #4 if he can’t
turn it around.  Meanwhile, other teams
are getting stronger.  The latest AL team
to improve was the Texas Rangers with the addition of former Boston third
baseman Adrian Beltre.  I know that the
Rangers, like the Yankees, still need more starting pitching, but they’ve
clearly improved the offensive and defensive makeup of the team. 

It appears that the Chicago Cubs have acquired pitcher
Matt Garza from the Tampa Bay Rays.  At
face value, it would appear the move weakens the Rays for the short term,
particularly in light of the previous losses (namely Carl Crawford, Rafael Soriano,
and Carlos Pena).  However, the Rays have
a rich farm system and of course they needed a spot in the rotation for high
end prospect Jeremy Hellickson.  Everyone
seems to be writing off the Rays, but I fully expect them to be in the thick of
the race.  Somehow, they are the New
England Patriots of baseball…they may suffer huge personnel loss but there’s
always someone ready to step up their play as a replacement. 


Tom Brady (left) and wide reciever Deion Branch differ on how far New England is from the goal line.

Jim Davis/Boston Globe


The rest of the division has gotten better, while the
Yankees have simply gotten older. 


Last year, when the Rays trotted out Joaquin Benoit and
Rafael Soriano, it was game over.  As it
stands, the Yankees set up crew consists of David Robertson and Joba
Chamberlain…a combo that was not consistent last year and forced the deadline
trade for Kerry Wood who solidified the position.  I would have really liked to have seen the
Yanks pursue Soriano for the set up role, especially after his agent expressed
his willingness to set up for Mariano Rivera. 
I was disappointed when GM Brian Cashman came out today to say there was
no chance of a Soriano signing since it would cost a first round pick.  I get it. 
The farm system is important and it has taken years for the Yankees to
rebuild the system after the cupboards were left bare.  But still, it is hard not to think about how
effective a bullpen duo of Soriano-Rivera would be.  It would probably be the best one-two punch
since the days of Rivera-Wetteland in the mid 90’s. 


Tampa Bay Rays closer Rafael Soriano racts after picking up the save in the Rays 5-3 win over the Seattle Mariners during a baseball game Friday, Sept. 24, 2010, in St. Petersburg, Fla.

AP

It definitely sounds as though Andy Pettitte won’t be
making the trip to Florida next month.  I
want Andy to come back but I am okay if he decides to stay home.  If he came and his heart wasn’t in it, he
just wouldn’t be the same pitcher we’ve come to rely upon.  I wanted Minnesota Vikings QB Brett Favre to
come back this year and he did after much coaxing by his teammates, but the
results were horrific.  Andy either has
to be “all in” or he should go ahead and hang up the glove.  I would hate to see Andy leave with a Javier
Vazquez type of season. 

The Yankees have made minor moves this off-season that I’ve
liked.  The latest is the pick-up of
former Chicago Cubs reliever Brian Schlitter. 
While he was not effective in his brief time with the major league club
last season, I have to believe this signing had much input from former Cubs,
and now Yankees, pitching coach Larry Rothschild.  If Larry felt the Yanks should move on
Schlitter, then I feel he showed Larry enough to prove that he could be a
valuable and effective arm in the pen. 



There’s still time for the Yankees to make the necessary
moves to improve the roster and certainly if an “all in” Andy Pettitte signs up
for a final season, the team will look much better than it does today.  


Underachieve.JPG


If they maintain the status quo, I can’t help but wonder
how intense the pressure will be on manager Joe Girardi.  Can he survive a season where he finishes
third (or worse) in the division?  I am
not so sure.  His best friend is his new
three year contract.  Managing General
Partner Hal Steinbrenner is a numbers guy, and unlike his father, might not be
so willing to “eat” a contract.  As much
as I would dislike the move, I can’t help but think that the Yankees failure to
land a quality frontline starter has enhanced the chances that we will see
Bobby Valentine in the Yankees dugout. 
Ugh, I hope it doesn’t come to that…


bobby-valentine-new-york-mets-espn-929.jpg

AP


Sadly, today brought the loss of another former Yankee
(Ryne Duren).  Duren was a reliever for
the Yanks in the late 50’s and early 60’s, and was known for his coke bottle
glasses and 100 mph fastball.  I liked
Yogi Berra’s quote about Duren:  “Ryne could throw the heck out of the ball. He threw
fear in some hitters. I remember he had several pair of glasses but it didn’t
seem like he saw good in any of them
.”  Duren
passed away in Florida on Thursday at the age of 81. 


Ryne Sandberg was named after ex-pitcher Ryne Duren whose real name is Rinold.

Diamond Images/Getty Images


Congratulations to Jim Harbaugh, the new head coach of
the San Francisco 49ers.  My favorite
Harbaugh moment still has to be in 1992 when the Chicago Bears were leading the
Minnesota Vikings 20-0 in the fourth quarter and the Vikings came back to win,
21-20.  I can still remember the
frustrated Harbaugh wondering what hit him. 
Nevertheless, I do wish him much success as he attempts to revitalize
the 49ers.  It should be fun next season
when the Niners play the Baltimore Ravens, coached by Harbaugh’s brother
John. 



Well, I guess I’ll go back to waiting for the Yankees to
make a move…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

 

–Scott

 

 

Congratulations to the Champs…


Congratulations to Bruce Bochy and the World Champion San Francisco Giants!  It was an improbable series win (at least from the perspective at spring training).  It clearly showed the power of pitching and why the Yankees MUST throw $$$ at Cliff Lee…

Nevertheless, tonight belongs to the Giants.  They proved they are the champions of baseball and finally, the city of San Francisco has a baseball world championship to add to its long history of accomplishments.


Gutierrez/AP




Enjoy it…for now.  The Yankees will be back…

–Scott

The Return of #28…

 

I am glad that the Yankees moved quickly to re-sign
Manager Joe Girardi.  It’s not like
Girardi was going anywhere, but the team has much greater things to be
concerned about than negotiating with Girardi. 
Once the Chicago Cubs named Mike Quade as their permanent manager, there
was really no question that Girardi would be back in New York.  Of course, to listen to Girardi, Chicago was
never an option, but I have to believe at some level it was.



 


From everything I’ve read, Girardi was more like
the 2008 version in September than the 2009 version that was more relaxed and a
better players manager.  Was it
uncertainty about his own future or the sluggish play of his team?  Who knows, but whatever the cause, Girardi
has the comfort of knowing he should be able to call Yankee Stadium home for
the next 3 years. 



 

For me, I had held a glimmer of hope that somehow
Don Mattingly could get the job but of course that was nixed the moment the Los
Angeles Dodgers made Donnie Baseball their manager following the departure of
Joe Torre.  Outside of Mattingly, there
really was no other manager that I would have preferred to see hold the Yankees
job than Girardi.  Well, maybe Terry
Francona, but rumor has it that he already has a job.

 

2011 will be a very challenging year for the
Yankees.  They have an albatross or two
to deal with.  It’s tough to sink over
$80 million into a pitcher that was a nightmare for most of the season (A.J.
Burnett).  I saw a recent fan poll that
actually showed Yankee fans would prefer Javier Vazquez over Burnett.  That’s bad. 
The first order of business for the new pitching coach, whenever he is
named, will be to restore Burnett to the pitcher he is capable of being.  Also, decisions have to be made regarding the
Core, primarily Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada. 
Assuming DJ re-signs with the Yanks, he’ll continue to play at short but
will he lead off?  Based on comments at
Girardi’s press conference, it would appear that this is being heavily
reconsidered (and rightfully so).  As
Posada, the time is clearly now to move on to the next great Yankees catcher,
Jesus Montero. 


Jesus Montero Yankees catcher spring training

Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger

 

There are many hard decisions to be made between
now and spring training so hopefully Girardi and GM Brian Cashman are prepared
to make the right decisions for the best interests of the 2011 New York
Yankees.

 

So far, the World Series has been all San Francisco
Giants.  It was clear they had superior
pitching in the NLCS but I’ve been pleasantly surprised at their play in the
first two games.  I’ve always been a fan
of Matt Cain and he certainly has raised his game to a higher level during this
post-season.  With a 2 games to none
lead, the series now shifts to Arlington, Texas.  I am sure that we’ll see a much different
Rangers team in their home park, but if the Giants can win a game or two on the
road, I really like their chances to win the World Series. 



 


I spent 14 years in Dallas and used to go to
Arlington to watch the Rangers play quite often.  You’d think that I would pull for the Rangers
but as an American League fan, it is hard to pull for anyone other than the
Yankees.  Plus, many of the times that I’d
go to Arlington, it was to see the Yankees so I was consistently cheering
against the Rangers.  Meanwhile, I’ve
always been a fan of the Giants in the National League even though I didn’t
move to the Bay Area until about 5 years ago. 
So, given my current geographic location, it wasn’t hard to pull for the
Giants. 



 


Finally, I just don’t think there is any way that
Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress pulls the plug on Brett Favre’s
consecutive games playing streak this Sunday against the New England
Patriots.  While the best decision is to
probably start Tavaris Jackson, it’s a no-win situation for Childress if he
pulls Favre.  So, win or lose, expect to
see #4 on the field when the Vikings take the ball. 



Tom Olmscheid/AP


As for the Vikings-Patriots game, I have made yet
another wager with Julia of Julia’s Rants. 
The loser of the game must write a blog about the highlights of the opposing
team’s history.  I know, the Patriots
have a more illustrious history than the Vikings, but I personally will like
reading about Joe Kapp, Fran Tarkenton and the others who made the Vikes such a
great success in the late 60’s and 70’s. 



Zuma Press

 

I know, I still owe Julia for another lost wager at
the end of the baseball season.  I will
try to make good this weekend.



Caffalo/NY Daily News

 


Finally, here is a great video of an awesome Giants fan who just can’t stop believin’…



Maybe the Yankees ARE in the World Series!…


It seems weird that the Yankees season is over with
the World Series set to begin tonight. 
When I was a kid growing up in Iowa, there was a cartoonist who worked
for The Des Moines Register that used to say it wasn’t an official World Series
unless the Yankees were in it.  I have
always believed those words!  ;) 



 


Seriously, it is interesting that we finally have a
World Series with two teams that do not have a history of World Series success.  For the Texas Rangers, they’ve never been to
the World Series, and for the Giants, they’ve never won a World Series since
they moved to San Francisco although they have made a couple of trips.  Given that I live in the Bay Area and the
Giants have generally been my preferred NL team over the years, I’ll be pulling
for them tonight as they embark on Game 1 against the Rangers. 



san-francisco-giants--05-logo-cap-a.jpg giants image by selene-17_2009

 


There are no active Giants players with ties to the Yankees
organization, however, the Yankees do have a presence through the coaching
staff and back office.  The two most
notable individuals are
GM Brian Sabean who started in the
Yankees front office working for George Steinbrenner and pitching coach Dave Righetti.  I always chuckle when I think of Rags as a
pitching coach.  Please don’t get me
wrong.  I think he’s a terrific coach and
he was a great player, however, when he was young…before he “made it” to the
big leagues for good, he used to struggle with his control.  So, he was the guy who needed such intensive
coaching and now he is the master.  I
lived in Dallas for 14 years and during many of those years, Rags was the
Yankees closer.  So, I have so many
memories of Rags closing out games in Arlington, Texas.  So, in many ways, he’ll be returning to an
area that he is well familiar with and has enjoyed success.  Hopefully, he’ll be able to pass on that
success to Tim Lincecum and company. 





Some of the other names in the Giants organization
who have past connections to the Yankees:

 

Roberto Kelly, First Base
Coach

I remember being upset when the Yankees traded
Kelly to the Cincinnati Reds for Paul O’Neill. 
Ha!  I think that trade worked out
well for the Yanks.  Sorry Roberto…


 


Hensley Meulens, Batting Coach

I remember when “Bam Bam” was a much-hyped
youngster with so much promise.  He never
achieved success with the Yanks and was eventually sold to a team in Japan.




 

Henry Cotto, Coordinator,
Baserunning

Cotto was a bench player for the Yankees during the
lean years (1985 to 1987).  I think of
him more as a Chicago Cub although he only played one year for them
(1984).  He had an undistinguished career
but he definitely could run.

 

Lee Smith, Coordinator,
Pitching

Lee is obviously better known for his great years
with the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals, but he was with the Yankees in
1993 toward the end of his career.  He
was a late season pickup and did well during his short stint even though the
Yankees did not that year.

 

J.T. Snow, Special Assistant

Snow, the son of former Los Angeles Rams great Jack
Snow, was originally drafted by the Yankees. 
But he was traded in the deal that brought Jim Abbott to New York.  He had some productive years for the Angels
but he achieved his greatest success with the Giants.

 

Dick Tidrow, Vice President,
Player Personnel

Tidrow is definitely one of the more notable
Yankees as he played a very prominent role in the Yankees bullpen during their
two championships in the late 70’s.  As a
kid growing up, he and Sparky Lyle were the faces of the bullpen. 



 


Fred Stanley, Director, Player
Development

Another player from those World Championship clubs
of 1977 and 1978, “Chicken” backed up shortstop Bucky Dent and was a valued
reserve during those years.



81344934, Sports Illustrated/Getty Images /Sports Illustrated

 


Joe Lefebvre, Senior Adviser,
Player Personnel

Drafted by the Yankees, he only played for the team
one year (1980) before moving on to the San Diego Padres and Philadelphia
Phillies.  However, he did play a part in
helping the Yankees win the AL East Division that year.  I remember 1980 as the year the Yankees won
103 games but lost to the Kansas City Royals in the play-offs resulting in the
firing of late manager Dick Howser (back when George had a very itchy trigger
finger when it came to managers).

 

This “prayer” was making its rounds on email
yesterday.  I do not know who the author
is:

 

Our Father who art in San Francisco, baseball be thy
game. 
 

Thy will be done when the World Series is won on the field,

as well as in the bullpen. Give us this day our
bat and glove,

and forgive us our errors, as we forgive those who home run against us.  Lead us not into defeat, but help us beat the
Rangers…with the help of the
 Beard, the Buster and
the
 Dirty Dozen.

Amen.

 

Here’s hoping the former Yankees enjoy a World
Series championship in 2010!



 


As for the Yankees, they are apparently negotiating
a new 3-year deal with manager Joe Girardi. 
I am glad to see that they are working to resolve Girardi’s situation
quickly so they can focus on the critical needs of the team.  GM Brian Cashman acted very swiftly in
announcing that pitching coach Dave Eiland would not return.  I have no issues with the decision.  The Yankees starting pitching underperformed
this year, and A.J. Burnett and Javier Vazquez were the biggest reasons
why.  I also think that Phil Hughes was
capable of more than he showed down the stretch.  I am not sure who’d be the best candidate to
replace Eiland.  Hey, I’d love to see
Dave Righetti back in New York but unfortunately he’s not going anywhere.  Hopefully, Cashman and Girardi will be very
selective about who they chose for the very important role.

 

I saw this morning that CC Sabathia will be having
minor knee surgery.  While this procedure
does not sound serious, I hope it is not indicative of the start of future
problems associated with CC’s weight. 
This does show how critical it is for the Yankees to secure another ace
for the staff.  Like everyone else, I am
strongly in favor of signing free agent to be Cliff Lee, however, I am very
dismayed at the reports of the poor treatment his wife received from the
Yankees fans during the ALCS at Yankee Stadium. 
That type of abuse is completely unacceptable and it is an embarrassment
to be associated with those types of Yankee “fans”.  I use the term “fans” very loosely because
those idiots are very poor representation of “fans”. 

 

Hopefully, this does not keep the Lee’s from
considering an offer to join the Yankees. 
I know it will be a tough, uphill battle to sign Lee as it is, and they
certainly did not need ill-treatment by the fans to give Mrs. Lee a strong
reason for not wanting to come to New York. 

 

I want the core Yankees to return (Derek Jeter,
Mariano Rivera, and Andy Pettitte). 
However, I do not feel that the Yankees should overpay to convince them
to stay.  So, if it is time to sever
ties, I am prepared as I feel the money would be better served to help bring
younger, more talented (at this stage of their careers) to New York to help
pursue a championship in 2011.  Of the
core, I think re-signing Mariano Rivera is the most vital.  He is still performing at a top level,
although the Yankees would be well served to re-sign Kerry Wood if
possible.  I don’t want Derek Jeter to
leave but at some point, he is going to start becoming a liability at
short.  I’d rather see the team cut ties
before rather than after that happens.  I
want Andy Pettitte to return, but I would not want to see high expectations
placed on him.  Put him in the #4 or #5
spot in the rotation and be satisfied with the results if he decides to
return.  I didn’t mention the last core
member, Jorge Posada, since he is still under contract.  However, I am ready for a change at
catcher.  Just like the Boston Red Sox
moved Jason Varitek to a reserve role, the Yankees should do the same with
Jorge.  At 39, he is past his prime at
the catching position and now is the time for the highly heralded Jesus Montero
if he can show in spring training that he is ready for the job.  If the Yankees do sign Cliff Lee, it would be
great to see Lee pitching to Montero since Montero would have been the cost of
a trade with Seattle to get Lee before they reneged and moved him to Texas.



jesus-montero

 


As for the Hot Stove League rumors, I have to admit
that I am somewhat intrigued by the potential of bringing Jayson Werth to New
York to play right field.  As much as I
like Nick Swisher, he is a streaky hitter and hasn’t shown the clutch bat in
October like Werth has.  Of course, I
would love to have Carl Crawford in left, but I think right is a greater
need.  I fully expect Brett Gardner to
continue to improve.  Granted, he is no
Carl Crawford, but his speed is very disruptive on the bases and he showed a
much better ability to get on base this year.



 


Brian Cashman definitely has his work cut out for
him this off-season.  It should be
interesting…


–Scott



But It’s A Dry Heat!…

 

The schedule makers have not been kind…

 

 


Anger.JPG 

 

 

Following the Yankees victory over the New York Mets at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, they had to hop on a plane destined for Phoenix to play the Arizona Diamondbacks the next day.  The jet lag showed in the Yankees’ dismal 10-4 loss.  A.J. Burnett looked like he was pitching batting practice as he gave up 3 home runs in the first inning. 

 

 

Beaten.JPG

Marc Carig/The Star Ledger 

Earlier this season, the starting pitching was stellar…except for Javier Vazquez.  I read so many articles about how Javy just wasn’t suited for the American League and so many felt that he would not be able to rebound.  But rebound he did as he has quietly become the Yankees’ most efficient starter.  But as quickly as Javy has bounced back, A.J. Burnett has disappeared.  Hopefully, Monday’s loss was truly the product of jet lag and not indicative of more serious problems.   However, it is critical for A.J. to start pitching to his ability.  Otherwise, the Yanks’ hold on first place will be brief.

 

Tuesday was a better barometer as the Yankees returned to the win column with a 9-3 decision over the D-Backs.  Andy Pettitte did allow two hits to the opposing pitcher, Dan Haren, one of which was a two-out two-run game tying single in the second inning.  Arizona would not score again against Pettitte, who went 7 innings to pick up the win.  The game was actually much closer than the final score indicated.  After Haren’s single, the Yankees quickly answered with a go-ahead run in the 3rd on a single by Alex Rodriguez.  The game stayed 3-2 until the Yankees struck late with 6 runs in the 8th. 

 

 

Derek Jeter congratulates Alex Rodriguez on his two-run home run in the first inning Tuesday. Andy Pettitte (b.) surrenders just two runs in seven innings, striking out seven Arizona hitters.

Franklin/AP

 

There is little question that Andy Pettitte will be on the All-Star Team.  At 38, he is having perhaps his finest season.  Phil Hughes should also make the team with 10 wins, although he is being skipped in the rotation this week as the Yankees look to limit his innings over the course of the season.  As for who should start, that’s a tough question.  Both Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester of the Boston Red Sox are certainly deserving, as is David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays.  Suffice it to say that I think the American League starter in the All-Star game will be an AL East starter!  Seriously, AL manager Joe Girardi couldn’t go wrong with any of those choices.  At least he doesn’t have to worry about A.J. Burnett being one of the options!  L

 

Tonight, the Yankees will send Vazquez against Arizona’s Dontrelle Willis.  They missed former teammate Ian Kennedy who pitched for the D-Backs on Sunday.  Following tonight’s game, the Yankees will be heading to Los Angeles for a reunion series with Joe Torre and Don Mattingly over the weekend.  Given the flight is less than an hour and Thursday is an off day, the Yankees won’t have jet lag available for an excuse come Friday night.  The Yankees must simply do what the Boston Red Sox did…beat LA!  Hey Julia, the slogan does work! 

 

 

 

Sunday, I will get the chance to root against the Boston Red Sox in person as I’ll be at the game in San Francisco.  Of course, I couldn’t let the opportunity pass without making another wager with my good friend, Julia, of Julia’s Rants.  For our latest wager, if the Red Sox beat the San Francisco Giants on Sunday, I will have to include a short paragraph about a Red Sox player with my next 25 blog posts following the game.  25 represents each player on the roster as of June 26, 2010 (regardless of whether the player is later traded, demoted or released before I mention them on the blog).  The paragraphs can be short and simple, but they must be positive and include a personal note about the player that others might not be aware of.  If the Giants win, then Julia has to do the same for my beloved New York Yankees.  Based on the Yankees roster as of 6/26, she’ll have to include a paragraph about a Yankee player for her next 25 blog posts.  So, on Sunday, I’ll be a huge Giants fan! 

 

 

Attpark

John G. Mabanglo/European Pressphoto Agency

 

–Scott

It’s Just Another Manic Monday…

 

 

  

 

Robert Frost once said he could sum up everything he has learned about life in three words.  “It goes on”…

 

 


Think Happy.JPG 

 

 

It was one of those days for the great Mariano Rivera and the Yankees on Sunday.  The Yankees had controlled the majority of the game after a Randy Winn triple in the bottom of the 2nd inning had given them an early 2-1 lead.

 

Sergio Mitre did everything asked of him as he went 5 innings and only gave up 4 hits and 1 run.  David Robertson, who has been struggling, came on in relief of Mitre and was effective for two innings.

 

 

Sergio Mitre pitched one-run ball through five innings.

Antonelli/New York Daily News

 

So, the Yankees had the perfect formula for victory (Chamberlain + Rivera), right?  Wrong.  Joba allowed the first batter to reach base during the top of the 8th inning when Denard Span singled.  Following a fielder’s choice which left Orlando Hudson at first, Joe Mauer walked.  Joba struck out the next batter (Justin Morneau), and it looked as though he might escape the inning without any further damage.  Unfortunately, an infield single by Michael Cuddyer loaded the bases and ended Joba’s afternoon.  Manager Joe Girardi called on Mariano Rivera for a four-out save.  Mo quickly fell behind the first batter he faced (Jim Thome) and eventually walked him to bring in a run (closing the Yankees lead to 3-2).  Mo was unable to shut the door as the next hitter, Jason Kubel, smashed a grand slam to right to give the Twins the lead, 6-3.

 

 

Mariano Rivera shows his frustration after giving up an 8th inning game-winning grand slam to the Twins' Jason Kubel.

Antonelli/New York Daily News

 

 

Jason Kubel Twins grand slam Mariano Rivera Yankees

William Perlman/The Star Ledger

 

The Yankees tried to rally in the bottom of the 9th and had the first two men on base.  But Twins closer Jon Rauch struck out Derek Jeter, Brett Gardner and Mark Teixeira to end the game.

 

This was a very disappointing loss.  The Yankees have had great success against the Twins at Yankee Stadium and had won the first two games of this series.  A win today would have put a psychological knife into the Twins or the very least would have given them doubts about their ability to win at the Stadium in October.  For the Twins, it was a huge win and it lifted the monkey off their backs.  Prior to the game, former Twins great Bert Blyleven labeled it as a “must win”

 

 

Star Tribune

 

So, the weekend ends on a down note for the Yankees as they await the arrival of their fiercest rival, the Boston Red Sox, for a two-game series in the Bronx starting on Monday.

 

 

 

 

Of course, Yankees-Red Sox can only mean one thing.  It’s time for another wager between me and my friend Julia of Julia’s Rants.  For the latest wager, the loser must write a blog about the opposing team’s first World Series victory.  If the teams split the series, the winner will be the team with the highest run total.  The Red Sox did lose today to Johnny Damon and the Detroit Tigers so neither the Yanks or Sox carry any momentum into the latest series.

 

 


No Momentum.JPG 

 

 

The Yankees received some bad news when it was announced that DH Nick Johnson may need wrist surgery.  They’ll first try a cortisone shot, but if it doesn’t work, surgery will be the next option which would most likely shelf Johnson until August.  This is exactly what Yankee fans had feared when Johnson signed with the Yanks during the off-season as Johnny Damon’s replacement.  GM Brian Cashman says that Johnson’s injury potential was taken into consideration, however, it doesn’t appear that there is a solid Plan B in place.  I like the lineup with Posada at DH and Francisco Cervelli at catcher, however, that may or may not be a good long term solution.  I’d prefer more of a sure thing (trade for Johnny Damon?), but unfortunately, the trade market will not be open until July (or June at the earliest).

 

 

Tigers designated hitter Johnny Damon steals second as Rangers second baseman Joaquin Arias applies the late tag during the fourth inning of the Tigers' 8-4 win Saturday in Arlington, Texas.

Brandon Wade/AP

 

 

It was a particularly tough sports day for me today as the San Jose Sharks lost 2-1 to the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 1 of the NHL Western Conference Finals.  I am sure that if I need to hear some positive sports news, Julia will be more than happy to tell me all about the Boston Celtics’ Game 1 win over the Orlando Magic in Game 1 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals…  L

 

San Jose Mercury News

 

 

The day did have a great start for me before the games began.  I participated in the 99th Annual Bay to Breakers 12K Run in San Francisco.  The run started near the Bay by Embarcadero and headed west (up the Hayes Street Hill and through Golden Gate Park) to the Pacific Ocean. 

 

 

 


Bay to Breakers Intro.JPGSan Francisco Chronicle 

 

In San Francisco, you have to be prepared to see just about anything…and I did!  Many runners (and walkers) chose to wear costumes while some opted for nothing at all.  I took the more conservative and traditional route myself.  I do not know the total headcount but the run was very slow at the beginning and going up the Hayes Street Hill due to the sheer volume of people. 

 

 

Bay to Breakers 1.JPG

 

 

Hayes Street Hill.JPG

 

 

Bay Breakers 2.JPGSan Francisco Chronicle

 

Personally.  I accomplished my modest goal of running the race inside of an hour.  It was a fun and very enjoyable day…well, at least until the 8th inning at Yankee Stadium!

 

–Scott

 

 

 

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