Results tagged ‘ Steinbrenner ’

We asked and he delivered…

Budget, Smudget…

What more could we have asked of the Steinbrenner family?  Seriously, the Steinbrenners opened their purse strings this off-season even if the infield is in a state of flux.  Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Kelly Johnson, Brian Roberts, Matt Thornton, Andrew Bailey, and last but not least Masahiro Tanaka.  For a team that stood pat the previous off-season, the Yankees over-compensated this year.

It would have been nice to Robinson Cano’s bat mixed in with the new offense, but if he had stayed, it’s likely that Tanaka would be in Chicago or Los Angeles, and Beltran would be with the Red Sox or another team that expressed interest.  Time will tell if it was the right move, but I think the Yanks were wise not to throw a quarter of a billion dollars at Cano.

When Brett Gardner re-signed with the Yankees this week, he mentioned that it didn’t matter if he got what he did or twice as much, it wasn’t going to change his lifestyle and he wanted to be a Yankee.  It’s the last part of the previous sentence that Cano didn’t feel.  That only reinforces the Yankees decision to move on.  I do not realistically expect Brian Roberts to recapture his glory days.  I would have preferred Kelly Johnson at second with the Yankees bringing in another third base solution, but when you spend as much as the Yankees did in the last few months, something has to give.  With the Yankees, you know that a spring trade or a July deadline deal is not out of the question.

Sure, the team is banking on another stellar managerial performance by Joe Girardi, but I feel much better going into this season than I did last year.  Last year, it literally felt like a team that wouldn’t make it the distance.  This year, I feel the team has a legitimate shot.  A few guys need to step it up a level but that’s within the realm of possibility.  It’s not exactly like we are asking Brendan Ryan to be the second coming of Derek Jeter.

The wild card is obviously Michael Pineda.  If he continues to pitch like he is capable of, he will bring so much to the end of the rotation.  A healthy and productive Pineda is far superior to the inconsistency that Phil Hughes provided.  With Jesus Montero 40 lbs overweight in Seattle, this could be the year that Pineda makes “the trade” pro-New York.

Masahiro Tanaka may be billed as Andy Pettitte’s replacement but next year, he’ll most likely be current teammate Hiroki Kuroda’s replacement.  But for now, I am very glad that Kuroda is there to serve as mentor for his countryman.  I’ve wondered if Kuroda’s presence, along with the Yankees money, brought Tanaka to New York.  If I was coming to a foreign country, the idea of another American would be very appealing to me.

With the Yankees extending Brett Gardner, and the Cincinnati Reds doing the same with Homer Bailey, there should be no more Gardner for Bailey rumors.  As a hopeful optimist for Michael Pineda and his spot in the rotation, this is a best case scenario.  I am a bit concerned with two speed-first guys in the outfield (why do I keep thinking about Dave Collins?) but Alfonso Soriano brings the bat along with Carlos Beltran.  I am anxious to see how Jacoby Ellsbury’s bat plays in Yankee Stadium for 81 games rather than just the usual 9 or 10.

Andrew Bailey.  I am not quite sure why the Yankees signed Bailey but he’s a hedge against a David Robertson meltdown.  Of course, Bailey won’t be available until late season so if Robertson fails miserably, they’ll need another solution.  While Robertson has proven to be a great set up guy, the 9th inning is a different story.  He failed in his brief audition before getting hurt the year Mariano Rivera was lost for the season with the knee injury suffered in Kansas City.  Rafael Soriano stepped in and provided super relief following Robertson’s unsuccessful stint.  With Soriano now entrenched as the closer for the Washington Nationals, there’s no safety net.  Bailey offers the only proven closing experience yet he’s not going to be an option until July or later.  My hope is that Robertson seizes the role.  I was skeptical when Mariano Rivera replaced John Wetteland and that one turned out okay.  Alright, a little better than okay…

Sorry that my posts have been infrequent but I’ve been in the midst of a move from the West to East Coast.  I am not in a major league city but I can get to New York for a weekend so that’s all that matters.  This should be a good year for making home games at Yankee Stadium after a few years of only away games while living in the Golden State.

I am so ready for the regular season to begin and yet the spring games are still a day or two away.  Oh well, that’s more time for the Yankees to strengthen the infield…

–Scott

A sad day, indeed…

 

Sadly, the fear is confirmed…

Today brought the news that this is the final season for Andy Pettitte.  I knew we were getting close to the end and of course, a disappointing season does not help.  If the Yankees were a cinch to make the play-offs, this might be a different story.  Winning seems to make those aches and pains hurt a little bit less.  Nevertheless, I am grateful for the time that Andy gave us.  I missed him those three years he was in Houston and of course the prior year of retirement.  But I am glad he came back both times and there’s no doubt that he’s a Yankee for life.

As much as I dislike and disrespect a certain third baseman on the active roster, I forgave Andy for the mistakes in his past.  He came clean (unlike the “Fraud” or Roger Clemens) and he proved to us that his words were truthful and from the heart.  Andy may never get into the Hall of Fame due to the steroid use, but he deserves a place in Memorial Park.  Like Mariano Rivera, I truly enjoyed Andy in pinstripes and knew that he gave us his “all” with every performance, win or lose.

I hope the team is smart enough to give him an invitation to come to spring training as an instructor and of course his presence at Old Timer’s Day is a must.  With Sunday being Mariano Rivera Day, it is so appropriate that the scheduled starting pitcher is Andy.  There would be nothing better than to watch Andy hand the ball to Mo with the appearance of no other Yankee relievers.  Hopefully, the game plays out to that form.  I love that Andy’s final two games are the aforementioned Mo Rivera Day and the final game against his former team, the Houston Astros.  There’s probably not a better away city for Andy to pitch his final game in than his home city.  As George Strait would say, “The Cowboy Rides Away”…

Thanks, Andy.  You gave us very memorable years and we always, without exception, were pleased when you took the ball.  You brought your heart and soul to every game and as a fan, there is nothing more that I could ask for.  Time and again, you stopped losing streaks and you were money in October.  The pickoff move was simply the best.  The guy from Deer Park, Texas proved that he bled pinstripes and you’ll always be remembered as one of the greatest lefties in Yankees history.  There will never be anything that we could give to you that would approach what you gave to us.  We will be forever your fans.

On the other hand…

While I was glad the Yankees emerged victorious against the defending World Champion San Francisco Giants (as a Bay Area resident, I might add), it was disturbing to see Alex Rodriguez eclipse the legendary Lou Gehrig for the all-time record for career grand slams.  Man for man, there is no way that A-Fraud could even stand in the shadow of the Iron Horse.  This is a travesty and in my opinion deserves an asterisk.

I will be glad when the day arrives that A-Fraud is a “former” Yankee.  I never want to see this loser on Yankee Stadium turf ever again when that happens.  Too bad the Yankees can’t trade the Fraud back to Seattle so that they can disassociate themselves from the worst mistake of the post-George Steinbrenner regime.

–Scott

So Close Yet So Far Away…

Being Realistic…

Do I really think that 2013 is the year the Yankees win their 28th World Championship?  No, not really.  I think the off-season of inactivity proved to me that the magic wouldn’t be in the air.  The team started strong with the scrap-heap substitutions of Vernon Wells, Lyle Overbay, Kevin Youkilis and others, but as it stands today, the season is starting to play out as expected.  Following today’s loss (and series loss) to the Tampa Bay Rays, the Yankees are only 2 ½ games behind the Boston Red Sox, but my intuition tells me that the top 3 of the AL East will inevitably be the bottom 3.  The Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays are both starting to get their sea legs, and they, the Jays in particular, are starting to make their move.

I was listening to MLB Radio today and Joel Sherman made the comment that Phil Hughes has reached his ceiling…a .500 pitcher who’ll have some outstanding games but will threw in a few clunkers, with a 4.50 ERA.  I didn’t need to hear Joel’s words to know that Hughes needs a change of scenery.  I am not crazy about Ivan Nova but I’d prefer Nova over Hughes on an interim basis until Michael Pineda is finally able to take his spot in the rotation.  I am not exactly sure what Hughes can bring you in trade, but there are other ballparks that perhaps he’d excel and have an “Ian Kennedy”-like renaissance.  I’ve given up on it happening in the Bronx and hopefully Brian Cashman has too.

I don’t think the Yankees will win a championship with David Adams at third, but I still prefer him over Alex Rodriguez…

I am not sure what it will take for the Yankees to return to the World Series with the current construction of the roster.  It’s unfortunate that Mariano Rivera will not be able to ride out in a blaze of glory, but he’s been nothing short of spectacular in his final season.  Not too many guys can put up such a great season as their final journey after a long and lengthy ride.  He is, without a doubt, the greatest closer in Major League Baseball history.

It would be fun to see Zoilo Almonte to continue to hit.  The more the young guys produce, the more unlikely Curtis Granderson returns in 2014.  Even with Almonte’s success, I don’t see anyway the current Steinbrenner regime brings Grandy back next year.  That’s too bad, but I hope they don’t make the same mistake with Robinson Cano.  Cano is the one Yankee the Steinbrenners should open up the vault for.   But aside from Cano, the Yankees need to be looking into an exit strategy for Mark Teixera, Alex Rodriguez and even Derek Jeter.  While they need a superior outfielder to go with Brett Gardner and youth, the entire infield needs a makeover.

If it were my team, I’d look at CC Sabathia as no more than a #3 starter at this stage of his career, which means that I’d need a solid #1 and #2 fairly quickly.  I am not sure how the Yankees can produce those types of arms and I am not a proponent for depleting the farm system of talent in an attempt to bring an aged arm like Cliff Lee to New York.

So, all this leads me to believe that the Yankees should be sellers in July.  Yeah, the team is only 2 ½ games out of first place at the moment, but I realistically do not believe that the team has the horses to win in October.  At this point, I would not want to overpay just to bring further October disappointment.  I’d rather be well-stocked and in good position to contend in 2014 when potentially the team has a stronger chance to succeed.

Do you believe in miracles?  Not this year…

–Scott

 

 

Live by the sword, die by the sword…

 

Who needs Josh Hamilton or A.J. Pierzynski!…

Austin Romine and Ronnier Mustelier.  Sometimes, the most meaningful additions to the major league roster are from within.  That’s probably never been so important in the Bronx than it is now as the Yankees attempt to reduce their payroll to below $189 million by 2014.  To accomplish the goal, the Yankees will need more than one or two low-cost, high reward type players on the roster.

I admit that I haven’t been watching the minor leagues as close as I probably should have.  I’ve been aware of Romine, the son of former Red Sox player Kevin Romine.  For years, his name was always mentioned in the same breath as Jesus Montero as the type two prospects at catcher.  With the trade of Montero to Seattle last year, it helped clear the path for Romine.  Now, among Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli, Romine represents the greatest upside even if he missed most of last year due to injury.

I have not been aware of Mustelier, a Cuban refugee the Yankees signed a couple of years ago.  But all the guy has done is hit as he’s progressed through the Yankees’ system.  He is a utility man that can play both corners, but I’ve seen speculation about him in right field too.  He’s old for a prospect (27) but it doesn’t mean that he cannot seize an opportunity in spring training to make his imprint on the Yankees’ roster.

If both Romine and Mustelier grabbed key roles for the 2013 team, it will help the Yankees to focus on eliminating other parts of “fat” on the roster and hopefully upgrade the team with lower cost high-producing replacements.  Easier said than done, which does lead me to believe the next couple of years will be ones of transition for the Yankees.  I honestly cannot see them keeping up with the ‘Joneses’ (i.e., namely the Toronto Blue Jays, Tampa Bay Rays or even the Baltimore Orioles) with the current roster.  This doesn’t mean that I envision 95-loss seasons in the immediate future.  The Yankees still have too much talent on the roster.  But it will be a dogfight for 90-win seasons if the team continues on its current path.  A game or two here or there is the difference between making the play-offs as a wild card or staying home for October.

The strong get stronger, the Yankees get older…

As it stands, the most successful teams this off-season, in my opinion, have been the Los Angeles Angels and the Toronto Blue Jays.  Of course, the Kansas City Royals added a great pitcher in James Shields even if it did cost their top prospect. The Texas Rangers will be strong again even if they lost Josh Hamilton.  I fully expect them to find an adequate replacement for Hamilton between now and the start of the season.  The bat won’t be as strong as Hamilton’s bat, but it will be a capable one, I am sure.  In the AL East, I still expect the Tampa Bay Rays to be strong despite losing Shields.  If I’ve learned anything in baseball, it is to never underestimate Rays manager Joe Maddon and GM Andrew Friedman.  I assume that the Baltimore Orioles will be as strong as they were in 2012, and I expect an improved Boston Red Sox club under the new leadership of manager John Farrell.

With the strength of the Detroit Tigers and other teams, it’s almost impossible to predict who will be the winners next season.  I’d like to say the Yankees will be one of the last teams standing, but everything would have to align perfectly for that to happen and I just don’t see it.  As usual, I hope I am wrong and that the Yankees surprise me with their performance in ’13.  Time will tell…

I still do not see the Steinbrenner family allowing the value of the franchise to erode.  Either they make the necessary moves to ensure the continued competitiveness of the team or they sell.  The latter is not such a bad idea if it would bring in aggressive new ownership.  I cannot find fault with the current regime’s decision to cut payroll to reduce luxury taxes in future years, but the problem is too many bad decisions in the past (i.e., A-Rod’s contract).  It feels like the Yankees are going ‘cold turkey’ with their new small market budget mentality.  It would have worked better as a slower transition, but of course, the 2014 deadline does not allow for it.

Teams like the St Louis Cardinals have proven in recent years that you can win despite not having the best players or the highest payroll.  I know that’s the model the Yankees would like to emulate.  Going for the best players with inflated payrolls seems to be a ‘play for now’ approach with no sustainability.  The key to long-term success is to develop a farm system that allows the introduction of young, low-cost talent every year (in other words, the Tampa Bay Rays).  It’s just so hard as a Yankees fan to see the team go from one extreme to the other.

Oh well, let’s see what happens when the players step onto the field…

Have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  J

–Scott

 

What Have You Done For Us Lately?…


It has not been the most joyous of baseball off-seasons
for Yankees fans…



One minute, the Yankees are in hot pursuit of the most
prized free agent, offering the most dollars and years, and the Red Sox are
watching their deal for Padres slugger Adrian Gonzalez start to collapse.  The next minute, the prized free agent is
securely in Philadelphia and the Gonzalez trade stabilized for the Sox, who
also slid game-changing outfielder Carl Crawford into their hip pocket.  The Yankees, meanwhile, will emerge from the
Hot Stove League without any premium free agents which almost never happens.



I have read articles telling Yankees fans to back away
from the ledge, but it is frustrating to see the team miss out on great
opportunities.  I agree that the team
shouldn’t make a move just for the sake of making a move, and recognize that a
potential trade now as opposed to later would wreak of desperation.  In that situation, there is a high
probability of the Yankees getting fleeced in a deal.  So, I agree that the best approach is to wait
and observe the market.  Still, the
Yankees do need to address the holes in the rotation.  I am okay with giving Ivan Nova a shot for
the #5 slot so long as there is a quality #4. 
But still, there needs to be competition in training camp.  In other words, Nova shouldn’t simply be
handed the job.  Hopefully, the #4 slot
will go to Andy Pettitte despite recent talk that he’s still leaning toward
retirement.  I really see Andy’s return
for one final season.  But if he does not
return, the Yankees will clearly need to unearth some potential gems on other
clubs. 

It was nice to hear that the Yankees had talked with
Johnny Damon, but I agree that his return does not make sense even if it would
have been a great “feel good” move. 
There was also the report that the Yankees had considered Manny Ramirez,
which, in my opinion, would be a huge mistake. 

I still like the possibility of signing Rays closer
Rafael Soriano.  I realize that Soriano
wants closer money and he probably wouldn’t be willing to take a setup position
even if he was satisfied with the contract. 
But it is very appealing to have a huge bridge to Mariano Rivera in
addition to having a backup closer if and when the day comes that Mo simply
does not have it anymore.  It will never
happen (signing Soriano), but it is nice to think about while it is still an
option.


Rafael Soriano

AP


The more I think about it, a trade for the Phillies Joe
Blanton might not be a bad idea.  He is
not a frontline starter (obviously), but he is steady and consistent.  He might be a good option until something
better surfaces.  If the Phillies are
looking for a top prospect, I’d pass. 
But if the cost is reasonable, it is a trade that the Yankees should
consider.


blanton.jpg

Getty Images


There has been so much speculation yet so little action.  Oh well, as Brian Cashman has put it, we need
to be patient. 



Santa Claus, can I have an ace starting pitcher for
Christmas?  ;)  Happy Holidays to everyone!  



–Scott



The Perfect Formula…

 

8th inning relief…



 


I was so relieved (no pun intended) when the
Yankees went with David Robertson and Boone Logan in the 8th inning
as a bridge between Javier Vazquez and Mariano Rivera in New York’s 3-2 win
over the Cleveland Indians.  Both Robertson
and Logan did their respective jobs with no drama (unlike recent escapades with
Joba Chamberlain). 

 

This game was about redemption.  Javier Vazquez continued to show that he has
moved well past his early season struggles and has perhaps shaken, for the now,
the tag that he is purely a NL pitcher. 
Of course, he hasn’t pitched a big game yet, but he continues to pitch
very solidly while the other starters have taken their turns with issues.  Hopefully, this is the Javy that we’ll see
now through October.



Theodorakis/NY Daily News

 

As recent as this weekend, Curtis Granderson was
viewed as a failure in New York. 
Everyone has waited for Curtis the Tiger to show up, and finally, in the
last couple of games, he has.  On Sunday,
in the Yankees’ 12-6 romp over the Kansas City Royals, Grandy had two home
runs.  Tonight against the Indians, and
unlike Alex Rodriguez, he hit another one. 
With the homer, Grandy finally broke into double digits with his 10th
of the season.  It is a far cry from the
guy who was predicted to hit 40 home runs in New York but still, it is great to
finally see Granderson as an offensive force in the lineup.  As with Vazquez, Grandy is a key to the
second half.



0726granderson.JPG

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images 



Nick Swisher hit another home run.  I regret ever having preferred Xavier Nady
over Swish in right.  Swisher has been
terrific this season and with his 18th home run of the season
tonight, he is just a mere two homers beyond team leader Mark Teixeira.  Hey Swish, maybe you could give hitting
lessons to A-Rod!  ;)


I will also put both Robertson and Logan into the
redemption category.  Logan has seen his
share of the Bronx-Scranton/Wilkes Barre Shuttle, while Robertson has struggled
at times to match the success of last season. 
Tonight, they were perfect in the 8th when anything less
could have been disastrous given the one run margin.

 

It was nice that on a night when the big guys
(Jeter, Teixeira, A-Rod, and Cano) went a combined 0-for-14 with 3 strikeouts,
the Yankees could still emerge with the victory.   Some
great pitching, a few key hits, and Mariano Rivera are the perfect formula for
success!

 

Apparently, the Yankees made a big, but
unsuccessful, push for Royals closer Joakim Soria.  Soria would have made a great bridge to
Mariano Rivera, but it doesn’t appear that the two teams match up
trade-wise.  The Yankees were rumored to
be the frontrunners for Cliff Lee and Dan Haren, yet they lost out on both
pitchers.  I was more disappointed about
Lee, who I am still hopeful the Yankees will pursue in the off-season.



Cliff Lee (Photo: The Canadian Press)

The Canadian Press  

 

I had mixed feelings about Haren, and I felt that
his salary would have been problematic in the Yanks’ chances to pursue Lee
during free agency.  So, all things
considered, I am glad to see him go to the Los Angeles Angels.  I don’t think the Angels will catch the Texas
Rangers so it will be an uphill battle for the Angels to make the
play-offs.  Of the remaining pitchers on
the market, I’d probably rather go after someone like Ted Lilly than Roy
Oswalt.  Lilly is a good pitcher and
knows how to pitch in New York. 



 


This week should be interesting with all the trade
speculation and actual trade results as we move toward the end of the
week.  Of course, this is probably another
case of ‘all bark, no bite’ as the speculation will exceed the actual
results.  With so many teams unwilling to
add to payroll, there should still be decent trading activity in August as
players clear waivers.   Still, I am
anxious to see what player will get the tag of being the first post-George Steinbrenner
Era Yankee. 


In a note of good news, manager Joe Girardi has
announced that Dustin Moseley will start Thursday’s game in place of Sergio
Mitre.  I am anxious to see what Moseley
can do in his first start for the Bronx Bombers.  Anything has to be an upgrade over Meat Tray…



Dustin Moseley Dustin Moseley #40 of the New York Yankees delivers a pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays on July 17, 2010 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.

Mike Stobe/Getty Images

 

I know that everyone is entitled to their opinion,
but I’d like to say that Bill “The Spaceman” Lee is a jerk.  According to the USA Today Sports Weekly, Lee
told WMUR-TV (New Hampshire) “As far as Steinbrenner’s passing…good”.  He went on to say, “If hell freezes over, he’ll
be skating”.  Hey Lee, how did you enjoy
that World Series Championship?  Oh yeah,
you never won one!  





–Scott


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