Results tagged ‘ Twins ’

Stage 1 of Operation Successful Off-Season is complete…

 

Whew…

After a season of ‘will he’ or ‘won’t he’ opt-out, CC Sabathia accepted the Yankees offer and I couldn’t be more pleased.  I am a bit concerned that CC’s weight will eventually prove to be a problem if he doesn’t get control of it, but clearly he is the Yankees best pitcher and the best hope for the next few years.

Since avoiding the opt-out only cost the Yankees $30 million (potentially $50 million if he is still at the top of his game at the end of the contract), it was clearly a bargain since they would have paid more to retain him had he hit the open market or perhaps they risked losing him altogether.  I know that CC’s decision to stay was not solely on his love for the city and organization, but I am glad that he’s a permanent Yankee with no opt-out looming on the horizon.

I was driving home from work on Monday evening when I heard the news of the signing on MLB Radio.  I had feared the worst so the news of his announcement on his website that he was staying was such an incredible relief.  I have felt that the key to a successful off-season is getting both Sabathia and GM Brian Cashman locked up before the start of the free agency period.  Mission accomplished.  I am not sure there’s much on the free agent market that can help the Yanks, but hopefully, the team will be able to make a trade or two to improve the quality of the rotation.

As good as Cash…

Speaking of Cashman, his re-signing was essential for organizational continuity.  I am not sure how long it takes a new GM to get acclimated to the job, but it would seem making your way in the Yankees Universe would take longer than usual.  I am sure that the Yanks would have looked in-house for candidates (such as Billy Eppler or Damon Oppenheimer) but the man for the job continues to be Cashman.  I am sure that he’s thought of what life would be with in a less stressful environment, but nobody is as suited for the Bronx as Cash is.  I thought it was an interesting stat that he’s been the Yankees general manager longer than anyone since Ed Barrow (1920-45).

The start of a new era…

After standing pat for the most part with last year’s roster, it will be interesting to see what the Yankees do this year.  I don’t expect them to go hog wild but they definitely need to get CC some help and they need a few clutch bats off the bench.  At some point, the Yankees will have to say goodbye to Jorge Posada who few people expect to be on the 2012 roster.  It is time for Jesus Montero to take up residence at Yankee Stadium and sadly that means there is no room for Jorge.  He will go down as a great Yankee, and he’ll be heavily cheered at future Old Timer’s Days.  My preference is for him to retire as a Yankee rather than to try and hang on for another year or so with another team.

Despite the Yankees decision to pick up his option, the odds of Nick Swisher still have to be mixed at best.  If the Yankees can pick up a better player for right, I am sure that they’d do it.  Swish’s personality would be missed but if he could be used, in part, to bring a frontline pitcher to New York, I’d be in favor of it.

Rafael Soriano decided against exercising his opt-out?  Big surprise…  L

You win some, you lose some…

I was disappointed to see the failure of Project Andrew Brackman.  When Brackman was drafted, it was clear the Yankees had been able to get him at the spot they drafted because Brackman needed Tommy John surgery.  I had really hoped that the pick would pay off and that Brackman would eventually be the top pitcher his potential screamed.  Sadly, it was never meant to be…at least in New York…as the Yankees declined his option, making the 25-year-old a free agent.

There are other teams besides the Yankees?…

I was shocked when I heard that the St. Louis Cardinals might have interest in Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon as a replacement for Tony LaRussa.  There’s no doubt that he’d be a great fit, but I just cannot see Tampa allowing Maddon to leave.  He has been great for the city and the team…much to my chagrin and to the dismay of my friends in Boston.  But I wouldn’t lose any sleep if Maddon does manage to get out of Tampa to take the Cardinals job.

I would really hate to see the Boston Red Sox get Michael Cuddyer…

–Scott

Yankee losses may not be over…

 

Good luck, well, not so much…

The Los Angeles Angels’ search for a new GM has me nervous as they’ve interviewed both Damon Oppenheimer and Billy Eppler.  Eppler, but not Oppenheimer, has been called back for a second interview which probably means that the chances are great the Yankees could lose a valued member of the front office.  I don’t dispute that either Eppler or Oppenheimer would make great general managers, but I truly believe that Kim Ng deserves an opportunity.  She’s held Assistant GM positions with both the Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers, and she’s currently working for MLB.  She has a tremendous background, and if I was starting a franchise, she’d be my pick for GM.

Ouch, that photo hurt…

I wasn’t very pleased to wake up to the morning photo of CC Sabathia in Boston Red Sox gear.  Courtesy of the New York Daily News…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I recognize that the Red Sox will be a very active player in the search for quality rotation arms, and they’d be aggressive with Sabathia if he hits the open market for no other reason than to drive up the price for the Yanks.  Just like I think the Yankees need to lock up GM Brian Cashman before the end of the month, they need to re-negotiate CC’s deal before he can opt out…not after.

The Yankees are the reason for all of the World’s problems…

At the gym this morning, I was listening to guys talk about how the Yankees make it impossible for other teams to compete.  I always find this talk so narrow minded given how much the Yankees contribute to other teams through luxury and payroll taxes.  Baseball is about good decisions at the end of the day.  The size of your contract does not ensure greatness.  As for this morning’s conversation, I just don’t think the Minnesota Twins have made the same quality decisions under their current GM that they did in years past when they won the World Series.  I know that a mistake by a small market team is going to be more severe than if the Yankees make the same mistake, but if memory serves correctly, there’s a team in the World Series…with the advantage…that was in bankruptcy court not too long ago.  They made the right decisions and persevered.  Their decisions were subsidized by Yankees money, so I am not going to feel sorry for other teams simply because the Yankees happen to reside in the largest market.

Go Theo…

I am not a Chicago Cubs fan, but I am excited about the front office re-build with Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and Jason McLeod.  Mike Quade might be a great guy and a good manager, but I just don’t see how he survives the regime change.  I remain hopeful that Terry Francona will get the job, but I agree with those who say that he might be best served by staying out of managing for a half season or so before re-entering the grind.  I would like to see a Chicago Cubs World Championship in my lifetime.  Maybe not with Alfonso Soriano on the roster, but I think if anyone can end the drought, it is Theo.  I will be watching the Cubs with interest next year.  My favorite NL team is probably still the Los Angeles Dodgers as long as Donnie Baseball is the manager, but the Cubs will be fun to watch.  As for the Dodgers, they would be easier to take if Frank McCourt is forced to sell the team.  Owner to owner, I’d take Tom Ricketts any day.

Time to Ponder a great future…

Breaking away from baseball, it was fun to see the debut of Minnesota Vikings rookie QB Christian Ponder.  He made his fair share of mistakes, but the energy he infused into the team was tremendous.  I think he’ll continue to grow with each start, and I am glad that he finally gained the starting opportunity after the lethargic performance of past-his-prime QB Donovan McNabb.  It sucks that we had to find out what Philly and Washington already knew, but at least that saga has reached its conclusion.  I am looking forward to seeing what Ponder can do in the coming weeks.  He is incredibly bright, and I think that his football smarts will offset some of the physical limitations.  They always talk about the “it” factor, and I think that Ponder, like Aaron Rodgers, has it.

The Cops must love the Vikings…

CB Chris Cook beat his girlfriend?  I agree with the felony charge and the suspension.  His loss to the defense is huge, but his behavior is not acceptable and cannot be tolerated.  There may be another side to the story, but there is no denying that this involved physical abuse.  Very disappointing.  As a former first-round pick, there’s no way that the Vikings can simply cut bait.  But they have to send a message to Cook that character and personal code of ethics are greater attributes than football ability.

Friggin’ 49ers…

As for Aaron Rodgers, I hate to say anything pro-Green Bay, but he has clearly surpassed Bart Starr and Brett Favre as the greatest QB in franchise history.  Tom Brady was the best QB in the NFL for a few years, along with Peyton Manning, but there’s no doubt that Rodgers is now setting the bar.  I continue to ask myself, why did the San Francisco 49ers select Alex Smith over Northern CA local Aaron Rodgers.  That has to be one of worst draft decisions in recent memory.  Where’s Carmen Policy when you need him?…

Is it time for Spring Training yet?…

 

–Scott

Right on Target…

 

The weather is Minnesota was beautiful…

Last Sunday, I attend a simply great baseball game.  Well, outside of a few harmless errors and miscues.  As a resident of Minneapolis, Minnesota, I went to Target Field and saw the Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins, 3-0.  It was a great afternoon for baseball (temperature in the upper 70’s, with lots of sun).

The game was a pitcher’s duel in the early going.  I was surprised when the Twins pulled starter Nick Blackburn in the second inning despite not giving up any runs, but later heard that he had been injured.  The Twins bullpen did a good job until the 7th inning when Curtis Granderson hit an inside-the-park home run.  I was watching him run between second and third, and his stride is so long that he almost looks like he is going slow motion.  There wasn’t much hesitation as he rounded third and headed home.  I always cringe when players go in for headfirst slides but Curtis slide his hand across home plate before the ball arrived and the Yanks were up 2-0.  In retrospect, the Twins outfielders blew the play when both the right and center fielders went to the wall on Granderson’s hit ball which bounced off the wall.  One of the outfielders should have backed up the other, but that’s the hazard of fielding a young, inexperienced outfield.

Mark Teixeira followed with one of those line drive shots that never drop as the ball was deposited in the left field stands.

The Twins definitely had their chances.  At one point, they had men on second and third with no outs and couldn’t score.  David Robertson worked out of a jam in the 8th when the bases were loaded despite no balls leaving the infield.  There were miscues, like when a ball dropped between Nick Swisher and Curtis Granderson (you get it, no, you get it…) or A-Rod’s bobble of what should have been a routine fielding play.  Fortunately, the Twins couldn’t do anything with the opportunities, so the Yankees emerged the victor.  I had a decent seat (lower level, left field) but for the 9th inning, I moved over to the standing area behind the home plate lower level seats.  I had a perfect line to watch Mariano Rivera throw his cutter to catcher Russell Martin, and it was great to catch that view.  It was also nice to see Mariano walk off the field with another save…

I am always amazed at how many Yankees fans are in attendance on road games.  Not that I’d feel threatened in Minnesota, but it’s nice having “support” nearby!

So close yet so far away…

Monday night’s game was a disappointment.  After the Yanks fell behind 6-0, I wrote the game off.  But then, in the final two innings, the Yanks brought it to within one at 6-5, with the bases loaded.  I started to get excited about the potential huge comeback, but Nick Swisher hit a fly ball that was caught near the fence to end the game.  That was harder to accept than if the Yanks had just lost 6-0.  Then, of course, every time I looked at the TV, the loss was scrolling across the ticker on ESPN.  While A.J. Burnett is my personal favorite to be yanked (no pun intended) from the rotation, I realize that there are financial reasons for why that move won’t be made.  Therefore, the next to go would be Bartolo Colon.  I’d definitely take Freddy Garcia over Colon, and there is no way that Phil Hughes or Ivan Nova will be coming out of the rotation anytime soon.

Of course, as I sit here typing this blog, Nick Swisher has just hit a home run to put the Yanks up 2-1 over the Oakland A’s in the 6th inning.  Dude, where was that shot last night?…

Wasn’t he a Yankee for about 5 minutes a few years ago…

I saw the blurb today that the Yankees had claimed Chicago Cubs first baseman Carlos Pena on waivers.  Listening to comments from GM Brian Cashman, it doesn’t sound like the Yanks will do anything, but it would be nice to acquire Pena as an option at DH and a backup to Mark Teixeira.  He is definitely familiar with the AL East having played with the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays.  I don’t like Pena’s batting average, but his other stats are respectable.  The Yanks clearly need a clutch bat on the bench and perhaps Pena could be the guy if the Yanks and Cubs can work out a trade.

Fat, dumb, and happy…

Entering play tonight, the Yankees held an 8 ½ game lead over the Los Angeles Angels and Tampa Bay Rays.  While that’s certainly not insurmountable, it’s nice to have such a large cushion as we enter the final days of August.  Granted, I’d prefer to win the AL East, but then again, with the current play-off structure, it doesn’t really matter.  If the Yanks can keep the lead in the WC standings, they should be able to rest some guys in September to allow the team to head into October at full strength.  At this point, my biggest concern is getting a healthy Alex Rodriguez on the field.

Have a good night!

–Scott

Hey, this team’s not so bad after all!…

 

As the Fonz said, I am ‘wrrrro…, I am wwwrrroo..’…

I was a pessimist in spring training…a non-believer.  I didn’t think the Yankees could compete with the Boston Red Sox with their current roster after the off-season spurning by pitcher Cliff Lee.  At the time, the Yankees were trying to piece together a rotation that was void of both Lee and Andy Pettitte, who opted to retire.

At the trading deadline, the Yankees were silent while the Red Sox were busy acquiring infielder Mike Aviles from the Kansas City Royals and pitcher Erik Bedard from the Seattle Mariners.

Yet, on the morning of August 16th, the Yankees found themselves in a first place tie with the Boston Red Sox.  Not bad for a team that has been rated as inferior to the Red Sox by so many, including me.  It is no secret that the Red Sox have owned the Yankees in their head-to-head match-up’s but of course that doesn’t mean a thing in October.  Still, if the Yankees had been able to at least play .500 ball against the Sox, they’d have a fairly comfortable lead in the division.  That’s probably where Lee and Pettitte would have made a difference, but who knows, perhaps they could have been even worse.

Despite the team’s success, I still do not like the prospects for October against the Red Sox and the Texas Rangers.  Like the Red Sox, the Rangers were able to add some quality arms to the bullpen when they picked up Mike Adams from the San Diego Padres and Koji Uehara from the Baltimore Orioles.  I do not like moves for the sake of simply making a move so perhaps the Yankees did the best thing by standing pat.  But the team still has too many shortcomings that can be exposed in a short series.  Part of me pulls for a Bronx return by Hideki Matsui who has cleared waivers for the Oakland A’s.  Matsui has shown there is still ‘clutch’ in his bat and used in the right spots, he could be a valuable weapon.  The team is counting very heavily on the return of Alex Rodriguez, but they need a contingency plan.   The DH spot has been weak, for the most part, with Jorge Posada and Eric Chavez.  Granted, Posada had a recent 6 RBI game that that’s clearly an aberration at this point of his career.  I haven’t seen too many timely hits off his bat this season.

GM Brian Cashman is making the usual comments that he does not envision any trading activity this month, but of course, you never really know what is up his sleeve.  So much of it has to do with posturing and trying to make the opposition believe that you aren’t desperate.

What have you done for me lately…

As for Posada, I am ready to cut ties.  He has been a long and faithful Yankee, and certainly a very passionate one.  However, I do not see a role on the 2012 Yankees for him.  At this point, he has become a liability, and if he wishes to extend his career, I am okay with it being in another uniform.  Hopefully, he doesn’t decide to go someplace like Boston, but I’d hope that he would make a respectful decision for the Yankees fans.  All things considered, I wish that he’d simply hang up the catcher’s mitt at the end of the season and call it a career but I don’t think that’s going to happen.  If I have to pick between Posada and Jesus Montero on the roster next year, Montero wins hands down.  Sorry, Jorge, but I am looking forward to your participation on Old Timer’s Day.

A quiet major milestone even if it was a booming blast…

Congratulations to Jim Thome for slugging his 600th home run against the Detroit Tigers last night.  It was an interesting stat that he was the first player to hit both his 599th and 600th home runs in the same game, and no one had ever hit his 600th in the next at-bat after 599.  Babe Ruth was the closest, needing two at-bat’s.  Thome’s march to 600 was one of the quietest milestone marches that I’ve experienced, and I even call Minneapolis home these days.  I’ve never thought of him as a superstar, but he has consistently been a home run producer for many years.  In my mind, he was never top shelf talent but he was always in the next tier and his career has spanned longer than many top shelf players.  Does that qualify for entry to the Hall of Fame?  It will be an interesting debate.  He is certainly not a first ballot shoo-in, but he’ll probably find his way eventually.

Time to see my guys…

The Yankees will be coming to the Twin Cities this week, so I’ll be at one of the games this weekend.  During my short time in Minneapolis, I have come to appreciate Target Field.  I am a fan of many of the newer ballparks, and I like some better than others.  But Target Field has a good feel to it, and I like its downtown location.  I intend to wear my Yankees cap, which might not be the best idea when walking downtown, but I am sure that I won’t be alone…

Waiting for the opportunity…

As a lifelong fan of the Minnesota Vikings, it was tough a few years ago when I had to adjust to the sight of longtime enemy Brett Favre in purple.  I actually did enjoy his first year, although the second one was a disappointment.  But it is probably harder for me to accept the sight of Donovan McNabb in purple.  Okay, I wasn’t one of those guys who booed when the Philadelphia Eagles selected McNabb in the draft over RB Ricky Williams, but I was never overly impressed with McNabb in his Philly days.  I even lived in the area during his final years with the Eagles, and perhaps my impression of McNabb is tainted by the bitterness that Eagles fans held toward him.  Yes, he won, but he never won the games that truly counted.  It’s a team sport so you can’t hang total blame on him, but he is just not someone that I’ve ever been able to embrace as one of the game’s best QB’s.  Maybe he will change my opinion of him.  I definitely think that he has something to prove after his disastrous year in Washington, and I won’t be surprised if he rises to the challenge.

I am a fan of QB Christian Ponder.  There’s no doubt that I wanted the team to draft Jake Locker, but it was not meant to be so Ponder is certainly the next best thing.  Intellectually speaking, I think Ponder is at the head of the class and I look forward to seeing how he grasps the Vikings playbook.  But, there’s no way that I think he is ready to start this year, particularly with the lockout shortened off-season.  I think that Aaron Rodgers benefited greatly by sitting on the bench for those first few years, and the same holds true with Ponder.  McNabb gives the Vikings the flexibility to allow Ponder to grow into the position…unless McNabb shows that Washington wasn’t a fluke.  I am sure that we’ll see #7 line up behind center at some point in the regular season, but until then, I’ll be content with McNabb.  Well, until he proves otherwise…

There were two Vikings that I really hated to see leave as free agents.  WR Sidney Rice was one of my favorites, and he is now in Seattle with former Vikings QB Tavaris Jackson.  I am not sure that Michael Jenkins or Bernard Berrian can be anything close to what Rice was, but I will say that WR Percy Harvin has been one of my favorite Vikings, if not the favorite.  Now that his migraines appear to be behind him, I am looking forward to seeing if he can take it to the next level.  The guy clearly has the talent and the heart to succeed.  The other loss was LB Ben Leber who signed with the St. Louis Rams.  But with Leber’s loss, it does create an opportunity for Erin Henderson to step into his shoes.  I really like what I’ve seen from Erin, and it is a great story if he starts next to his brother, middle linebacker E.J. Henderson.  But regardless of what the final roster looks like, I feel very confident in the decisions being made by head coach Leslie Frazier.  I don’t want to diss former head coach Brad Childress, but this is the most confident that I’ve felt about a Vikings head coach in a very long time.  I can never recall a time where I was content with the heads of both the Yankees and the Vikings but I am very comfortable with both Joe Girardi and Frazier.  Now, let’s see if it equates to a few championships…

–Scott

Let’s pass on reclamation projects…

 

Pitching, pitching, pitching… 

The Yankees were very fortunate in the first half to get the mileage they did out of Bartolo Colon (even with his stay on the DL) and Freddy Garcia.  But two games into the second half, their performances have been very dismal as the Yanks have been crushed by the Toronto Blue Jays on successive days.

 

Yankees' starter Bartolo Colon is pulled in the first inning of a 16-7 loss to the Blue Jays.

Frank Gunn/AP

I think that both Colon and Garcia are capable to having respectable finishes to the season but all things considered, I’d rather go in a different direction.  I am sure that there is a good reason for why 8-game winner Ivan Nova is pitching for Scranton/Wilkes Barre.  I’d never claim to the talent evaluator that Joe Girardi and Larry Rothschild are, but it would make more sense to me to let the younger pitcher grow and develop in the major league rotation.

Yankee scouts are out in full force scouring other major league ballparks.  I am sure that Brian Cashman has a short list of guys that he’d like to acquire even if he’d never publicly admit it.  I fully recognize that the trading deadline is not going to result in Felix Hernandez wearing pinstripes, but I am sure that there are a few arms out there capable of being major upgrades over Colon and Garcia.

The losses by Colon and Garcia aren’t just their faults.  This is a team game and the other guys simply did not pick up the veteran pitchers when they got hit hard. For whatever reason, the Blue Jays seem to have the Yankees number or at least they have for the last few years.  If the Yankees intend to win the division, they need to figure out how to beat Toronto and Boston since they haven’t really shown they are capable of beating either team.

 

The Villain…

I was surprised to see Derek Jeter crucified for not attending the All-Star Game in Phoenix.  While I think that he should have made an appearance at the game, I can understand and appreciate his reasons for not playing.  He had just finished a stint on the DL and he is vital to his team’s chances in the second half.  The ASG break was a good opportunity for DJ to ensure that he got good rest before resuming the rigors of every day play.  It’s not just Derek, I think any of the players who were voted as starters but withdrew for whatever reason should have made the trip to Phoenix to at least acknowledge the fans.

 

New York Yankees' Derek Jeter walks away after having words with home plate umpire Greg Gibson after striking out during the fifth inning of the Yankees' 7-1 loss in Toronto.

Frank Gunn/AP

Still, nobody received criticism for pulling out of the game like DJ did.  I know, that’s just life with the New York Yankees.

 

Give the young guy a shot…

I’d like to see the Yankees bring up Brandon Laird to give him a taste of third base at the major league level while Alex Rodriguez is on the DL.  It would be interesting to see what he could do in a platoon situation with Eduardo Nunez.  I would rather go that route than pursue an aging and high priced vet like Aramis Ramirez or someone like that.  Laird’s batting average leaves a little to be desired (.266) but he is driving in runs (47 RBI’s).

 

 

One if by land, two if by sea…

I was watching the Minnesota Twins play the Kansas City Royals on TV last night and I have to say that I am impressed with Minnesota’s Ben Revere.  The speedster lined a shot to right, and after he rounded second base, he started to fall and went into a somersault.  Yet, with his speed, he was still able to arrive at third ahead of the ball.  It was one of the most interesting triples that I’ve seen.

 

Jeff Wheeler/Star Tribune

The night didn’t fare very well for the Twins as their closer, Matt Capps, gave up a two-run homer to Eric Hosmer in the top of the 9th in the 2-1 loss to the Royals.  Hosmer, by the way, is another young player that I am very impressed with.  As for Matt Capps, I wonder how much longer until Joe Nathan takes back his old job.  I know it all depends upon Nathan’s health, but Capps has been brutal.

 

Oh yeah, this is a pinstripe blog…

Back to the Yankees, they definitely need to find a way to salvage the series in Toronto today and tomorrow.  They have a tough four-game set against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg next week and they need to build some momentum going into the series.  There isn’t anyone better to have on the mound today than the great CC Sabathia.  Hopefully he’ll get his 14th win today…

Have a great weekend!

–Scott

 

‘Just Win, Baby!’…

 

So far, the Yankees have started like last season…winning their series as they’ve taken the first two from the Detroit Tigers and the Minnesota Twins.  As the saying goes, ‘Two outta three ain’t bad!’.  Keep it all season and it would equate to a divisional championship.

 

 

A.J. Burnett remains perfect in pinstripes in April with a six-inning, two-run outing against the Twins to close out the Yankees' season-opening home stand with a 4-3 win.

Simmons/NY Daily News

 

 

I was a bit surprised about Rafael Soriano‘s implosion that cost the Yankees the second game in the series with the Twins.  His career high three walks in an inning proved fatal as the Twins rallied in a game CC Sabathia should have won.  But the bigger problem was avoiding the media after the game.  Being in New York is about being a stand up guy through thick and thin.  Frustration is understandable, but unfortunately, there is more to baseball than just a game.  I think Soriano will learn from the situation and of course being around Mariano Rivera is sure to have its positive impact.  There’s not too many people that understand New York better than Mo and Derek Jeter.

 

I was really sorry to hear that Twins second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka broke his leg on a hard slide at second base by Nick Swisher.  I thought it was very classy of Swisher to visit Niskioka after the game to express his apology.  Swish likes to have fun but he’s certainly not a dirty player and it would be unfair to pin that tag on him because of the incident.  I thought Nishioka has done an admirable job in his MLB debut season and wish him the very best for a full and speedy recovery.

 

For all the problems that A.J. Burnett has endured in New York, I am amazed about the stat that he is undefeated in April.  Of course, with today’s win, the streak continues.  I want to say that Burnett is pitching so much better than last year and I don’t have the fear I used to have when he took the mound.  But still, I guess I had better wait until May before forming any opinions.  Whatever it is, I hope that A.J. can keep it going. 

 

Who would have thought the biggest pitching concern in the rotation would be Phil Hughes?…

 

Freddy Garcia did miss out on his start because of a rain postponement when Joe Girardi skipped his turn in the rotation for the next game.  So the Yankees still don’t know what they have at the back end of the rotation.  If Hughes implodes again, I’ll definitely be concerned since it will put a fair amount of pressure on Ivan Nova. 

 

I am very surprised that both the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays are a combined 0-12.  Despite the slow start, I still recognize that the Boston Red Sox have a very powerful and formidable team.  With 156 games to go, I am sure the Red Sox will have a higher winning percentage than most teams over the same period of games and will be leading the way into October.  Actually, I am not too excited about the Yankees facing their most bitter rival at a time when they’ve been backed into a corner.  A win or two against the Yankees can definitely kick start the Red Sox Machine and give them the momentum to charge forward.   I don’t think the series will be a sweep in either direction but it is going be a hard-fought battle, and the winner will have their share of bumps and bruises.

 

 

Sox turn to Lester

AP 

 

 

Of course, with the Yankees playing the Red Sox, it is time for yet another wager with my good friend, Julia, of Julia’s Rants.  For the latest bet, the loser will write a critical analysis of what ails his/her team.  The loser will also have to write about why the other team is better.  Pride and ego will definitely have to be checked at the door for this one.  The opening game of the series on Friday pits two huge question marks against each other…Phil Hughes versus John Lackey.  The game will most likely set the tone for the rest of the series.  May the best team win…which, of course, are the Yankees!  ;)

 

It should be a great weekend for baseball!

 

–Scott

 

 

 

 

Nova builds upon great Spring…


It was a nice win by the “kid”
of the pitching staff.  With 24-year-old
Ivan Nova on the mound, the Yankees bolted to a 4-0 lead behind Alex Rodriguez
and Jorge Posada and then held off the Minnesota Twins for the 4-3
victory. 


Ivan Nova surrenders three runs in six innings Monday night and gets the win after the bullpen preserves a 4-3 lead built on two-run homers hit by Jorge Posada and A-Rod (below).

Antonelli/NY Daily News


I’ll admit that I had the
fears from last year when Nova had men on first and third and Jim Thome at the
plate after recording two outs with the bases empty.  Thome sliced a double to score two runs, and
I was worried the floodgates were about to open.  Fortunately, he escaped the inning without
further damage.  Despite giving up a run
the next inning, Nova went six innings before turning the game over to the
bullpen combo of Chamberlain-Soriano-Rivera. 

Nova is definitely the wild
card of the pitching staff.  Stuff-wise,
I am not really expecting much from him. 
It’s not like he has the talent of a David Price or a Jeremy Hellickson,
but he does have a chance of being a solid contributor on an outstanding club.

Okay, I know that I am a
die-hard Yankees fan, but I have to admit that I was a bit embarrassed listening
to MLB Radio this morning when a guy claiming to be a Yankees fan was gloating
about the Red Sox Opening Series loss.  3
games out of 162 mean nothing.  The Red
Sox are a sleeping Giant and when they wake up, they are going to be very
powerful.  I know when the Yankees travel
to Boston, records won’t mean anything. 
The series will be the first intense test of the season and I’m sure
that we’ll see the real Red Sox in prime form. 
I am not disappointed to see the Red Sox lose (naturally), but there’s
no way I’d gloat about the situation. 
The Yankees will have their own bumps in the road along the way…

Like everyone else, I am
concerned about the drop in Phil Hughes‘ velocity, but we need a greater body of
work before deciding if this is a trend. 
I think he’ll be okay after a few more starts. 

I keep reading about how
Jorge Posada needs to fill the time between his at-bats as he adjusts to the DH
role, but with 3 home runs, he must be doing something right. 

So Andruw Jones hasn’t
appeared in a single game yet?  Geesh, I’d
like to collect his salary for doing nothing! 
;)

 

–Scott

Back to the ALCS…


Congratulations to the New York Yankees for their
ALDS series win over the Minnesota Twins!



GOOD THAMES: Marcus Thames -- and Twins catcher Joe Mauer and home-plate umpire Greg Gibson -- watch the flight of Thames' two-run homer in the fourth.

Neil Miller/New York Post



I don’t know why the Yankees have enjoyed success
against the Twins.  Perhaps it is why the
Toronto Blue Jays love playing the Yankees. 
Some teams have other teams number and the Yankees certainly hold a psychological
edge over the Twins. 



 


I’ve been reading many articles about which team
the Yankees would prefer facing in the American League Championship
Series.  While I am still not convinced
that the Yankees have “it” this year to see them through a World Series that
most likely will feature a frontline rotation of Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and
Cole Hamels, the two potential AL contenders (Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers)
certainly have their own issues.

 

As for a potential ALCS opponent, I’d have to say
that I’d prefer to see the Tampa Bay Rays. 
I don’t really want to see the Texas Rangers advance to the World Series
(not that I want to see the Rays go there either), but a series with the
Rangers would result in very bitter confrontations with Rangers ace Cliff
Lee.  Win or lose, it could potentially
impact Cliff’s decision this offseason regarding where to sign (or
re-sign).  CC Sabathia neutralizes the
advantage of David Price, and with the other starters rested, I like the team’s
chances against the other Rays starters. 



Oct. 6: Texas Rangers' Cliff Lee pitches during the second inning against the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 1 of the American League Division baseball series in St. Petersburg, Fla.

AP

 

Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants for
their NLDS ouster of the Atlanta Braves and future Hall of Fame manager Bobby
Cox.  It was a tough fought series, and I
give the Giants credit for much heart in this series.  They thrived on stellar pitching and used
small ball to topple the Braves and send Cox away at the end of the long and
successful managerial career.  It was odd
seeing the final out recorded by former Yankee Melky Cabrera, who had seemed to
thrive in walk-off situations in 2009. 
With the tying and winning runs on base, Melky hit a grounder to third
to end the game.  With the series win in
Game 4, the Giants saved scheduled Game 5 starter Tim Lincecum for a first
round NLCS match-up against Roy Halladay and the Philadelphia Phillies.  It should be a terrific pitchers’ duel…



Giants finish off Braves

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

 


Well, with just one division series left to go, I
guess I’ll end with saying, ‘Go Rays!’…  





–Scott



From Minneapolis to New York, with Love…


I am pleasantly surprised at the Yankees’ success,
so far, against the Minnesota Twins…



 


I had been so disappointed with the team’s pathetic
September performance that saw them lose any chance of winning the AL
East.  Within a matter of days or even
hours, they went from the possibility of the AL East Championship with home
field advantage to a road-traveling Wild Card team.  It was hard to be excited about the start of
the play-offs with the team playing so poorly. 
For the first two games of the ALDS series against the Twins, the
Yankees have risen to the challenge. 
Granted, the Yankees have a history of success against the Twins, but I’d
be the first to say that past domination does not guarantee future domination.  2004 wasn’t that many years ago…



Vincent Laforet/The New York Times

 

While the Yankees have the series advantage and are
now headed for the Bronx to resume the series on Saturday night, the Twins are
far from out of it.  If they can get
solid pitching and timely hitting in New York, they have a chance to take the
series back to Minnesota for the deciding Game 5.  Outside of perhaps CC Sabathia, the Yankees simply
do not have a pitcher that is capable of putting up a Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee
type of performance.  Even CC has his bad
days.  But going into the play-offs, I
knew that the lesser guys would need to stand up and so far, Lance Berkman and
Curtis Granderson certainly have. 



... scores Curtis Granderson to knot the score.

Sipken/NY Daily News

 

I am very surprised to see the AL East Champion
Tampa Bay Rays trailing their ALDS series to the Texas Rangers (down two games
to none).  I realize that the Rays
struggled in September like the Yankees but I felt they were probably the best
team in the American League based primarily on their pitching staff.  Like the Twins, the Rays can still get back
in the series but the Rangers have to like their chances.



Texas Rangers starting pitcher Cliff Lee flips a ball during a practice for their American League Division Series baseball games against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla. Lee is scheduled to pitch game one.

AP



There have been great pitching performances in the
National League with the no-hitter thrown by the Philadelphia Phillies’ Roy
Halladay and last night’s 14-strikeout, complete game shut-out thrown by San
Francisco’s Tim Lincecum in the Giants’ 1-0 victory over the Atlanta
Braves. 



Michael Macor/San Francisco Chronicle

 

Regardless of what happens, the League Championship
Series in both leagues should be very exciting this year.  I still think the Phillies will win it all,
but the Yankees certainly have as much talent as anyone to get on a roll. 



 


Going off-topic but staying with the ‘Minnesota to New York’ theme, I was very pleasantly surprised to
see the return of Randy Moss to the Minnesota Vikings.  The Vikings play the Jets in the Meadowlands on Monday night.  I have retained my purple #84 jersey all
these years but never thought that I’d get a chance to wear it again.  I knew that Randy had become quite vocal in
recent weeks about the lack of a contract extension and of course there was
last weekend’s blow-up with a coordinator. 
Still, I did not expect the New England Patriots to trade Moss.  The Vikings have clearly been missing Sidney
Rice who will be out until at least mid-season due to hip surgery.  It will be interesting to see if chemistry
develops between Moss and QB Brett Favre. 
It is going to be weird watching Moss catching passes from Favre after
all those years of playing against each other in the Packers-Vikings series. 



Randy Moss

 


At 1-2, the Vikings face a very challenging
October.  After the game against the Jets, they will face the Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers and
New England Patriots to close out the month. 
The team should definitely know where they stand by Halloween.


–Scott

  

A September To Forget…


The going gets tough, the Yankees decide to bail…



 


The Yankees should be able to clinch the Wild Card
slot at some point, but I’ve given up hope of taking the AL East unless things
change very quickly.  The Tampa Bay Rays
have great momentum right now, and the Yankees don’t.  So far this month (going into Saturday’s
game), the Yankees are 10-12.  When you’re
racing for the pennant, that kind of record is not going to get it done
(obviously).  The Yankees’ magic number
remains at 3.  With a single win against
the Red Sox, they could reduce the number to 1 but at this point, the Red Sox
are playing like the superior team and they certainly have not given up
hope.  After the end of the home stand
against Boston, the Yankees take to the road to play the Blue Jays and the Red
Sox (both challenging places to play). 



 


This month, the Philadelphia Phillies have definitely
shown they are ‘in it to win it’.  They’ve
clearly distanced themselves from the Atlanta Braves and they’ll head into the
play-offs as the hottest team in the National League.  It’s been a great season for the Cincinnati
Reds, but I think the Phillies, even with their injuries, are the better
team.  The trading deadline pick-up of
Roy Oswalt was huge and it gave the Phillies pitching superiority (even against
the likes of the San Francisco Giants who boast a very strong rotation).  Speaking of the Giants, they’ve also been
playing good baseball and currently lead the NL West by a slim margin.  I like the Giants as an underdog if they can
stay on top against the San Diego Padres, but I don’t think anyone is going to
beat the Phillies and they’ll head to the World Series for the third straight
year.



Shane Victorino is congratulated by Placido Polanco after giving the Phillies an early lead with a leadoff home run. (Michael Bryant/Staff Photographer)

Michael Bryant, Philly.com, Staff Photographer

 


Back to the American League, the Tampa Bay Rays and
the Minnesota Twins are playing the best baseball.  As much as I would like to say “Rays suck!”
or “Twins suck!” or “Yankees are going to win it again!”, the truth is that the
AL Championship Series will most likely feature the Rays and the Twins.  The Rangers are fading and of course so are
the Yankees.  If the Yankees’ freefall
results in a miraculous achievement of the play-offs by the Boston Red Sox, it
will definitely rank as one of the greatest September flops in recent
memory. 



RETURN FRIGHT: Javier Vazquez (above) was battered around in his return to the Yankees, allowing eight runs in 5 2/3 innings in a 9-3 loss last night at Tropicana Field. Reuters

Reuters

 


In the NL, the Atlanta Braves and the Colorado
Rockies are fading, and the Padres aren’t far behind.  For a time this season, I thought the Padres
were the team to beat, but now they’re fighting to make the play-offs. 



Miguel Tejada and first base coach Rick Renteria after Tejada's 2-rbi single in the 7th.

John R. McCutchen/San Diego Union-Tribune

 


At this point, it is hard to visualize the 2010
World Series involving any teams other than the Tampa Bay Rays and the
Philadelphia Phillies (a repeat of the Phillies’ championship year in
2008).  More than likely, the outcome
will be the same.



 


Congratulations to my friend, Julia (of Julia’s
Rants
), for winning the latest wager between she and I.  With today’s 7-2 victory, the Boston Red Sox
have ensured that they will take at least two of the three games in the Bronx
and they’ll go for a sweep on Sunday.  I
guess the Yanks could have used those 6 home runs today instead of yesterday.  The Yankees, now 10-13 for September,
continue to give the Red Sox hope that they can reach high enough to eclipse
the Yanks for the Wild Card slot.  The
Sox are now just 5 ½ games behind the Yankees. 
I guess there’s a Red Sox cap on its way to my home in CA… 
L



0925berkman.JPG

Noah K. Murray/The Star-Ledger 



Maybe I think a motivational pep talk by Tony
Dungy.  Then again, it didn’t seem to
help the Yankees.  Let’s hope that next
weekend is more exciting than this weekend is turning out to be…





–Scott


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