Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Win for Yankees Despite Blowout

Even if the Yankees did not make one move as the trade deadline they would have been the winners of the trading spree. Their rivals have just taken a big step back, make that a huge step back. They have removed one of the top 5 right handed hitters of all time from the middle of their lineup. This will have ripple effects throughout the whole lineup. There is no way David Ortiz will ever be as effective as he was with Manny hitting behind him. "Mr. Clutch" was only given that name b/c he was pitched to with men on base b/c Manny was lurking behind him. Now Ortiz will get nothing to hit and his production will suffer greatly. It doesnt matter what Jason Bay does as a Red Sox, he isnt the same presence in the lineup. He is not as intimidating as Manny, Yankee fans feared Manny everytime he stepped into the box, now they don't need to even think about him.

This move shows what a problem Manny had become in Boston. After all the Manny being Manny garbage they spewed for years they finally grew tired of his antics. After asking out of the lineup vs Felix Hernandez and Joba Chamberlain and failing to hustle at all vs the Angels, Boston's Front Office had had enough. They figured he would shut it down and dog it rest of year just to get out of Boston. He had always had a week or two each year where he acted this way and they worked it out and moved on. It appears this year it wouldnt work that way. He had become a serious cancer to the team and was bringing them down. The Red Sox not only gave prospects away to get him out of town they are paying the rest of his contract to go 3,000 miles away. The Dodgers, in one of the biggest markets, dont pay a penny for him. He is the opposite of class. Guys like Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui (I know both Yankees but they fit the example perfectly) truly like to play the game and want to the team to win. They both delayed surgeries that would end year to attempt a come back and help team. You think Manny would do that? God no, he would just collect his paycheck.

The sad thing is, is that Manny Ramirez will get a huge contract out of this. Which is exactly what he wants. His actions shutting down his competitve fire will "reward" him a 100 million contract. But the big winner will be his agent Scott Boras. Boras stood to get no commision on the two 20 million dollar options and now he will get even richer off his commision on Manny's big conract

A couple thoughts:

* Did Hank Steinbrenner offer to fly Manny to LA on his private jet? You know he estatic to see his rivals crumble right in front of him

* Is that the last we have seen of Manny's Dreadlocks?

* Will Manny give Joe Torre and headaches? I think he will play his best and Joe Torre will get the best out of him and get the Dodges to the playoffs.

Manny and his Grill to LA


I cant write about this trade today. Being a Yankee fan, I'm very happy Manny is out of the AL East. To be honest, whoever the Sox got back in this trade would have been a relief over Manny. Jason Bay is a great player but hes not a first ballot Hall of Famer. As I said I have to let this sink in, do some research and come back tomorrow, but to think that the Red Sox wanted to get rid of the face of their franchise over the past 8 yrs so badly is very un-Boston like. Think about it, in order to trade Manny for Bay the Sox had to give up Hansen and Moss AND pay for Manny to play in LA. Once again, to obtain an inferior player, the Red Sox had to give up 2 young guys that they held onto many times throughout trade talks in the past PLUS let LA have him for a free pre-free agency try out. If thats not desperate I dont know what is.


I just dont know what to make of this. Maybe the Sox knew something about Manny that no one else did. However, the only reasonable explanation for this trade at the moment is if Theo is working at the Tijuana whore house that Tony Reagins brought Frank Wren to when he roofied him for the Teixeira deal. Tony Reagins then called up the Dodgers and told Ned Colletti about Epstein working at the whore house in order to blackmail him for Manny. Reagins would have used this information in order to improve his own team, but they already have 5 outfielders plus it would raise suspicions about Reagins' tatics. Face it, this is the best theory we can come up with as to why these two "trades" (muggings should be the real adjective used) happened. It may not be the right answer, but its the best we can use to explain what has happened over the past 3 days.

Original Reaction: Pittsburgh got the best deal. They gave up Bay and got 4 prospects. In the past week they have given up 3 players and gotten 8 in return.

Manny Traded


Not so fast on Jason Bay to the Rays. Several sources are reporting that Manny Ramirez is sent off the Red Sox. SI.com is reporting that the Dodgers have pulled off a three way deal that sends Jason Bay to the Sox and Manny to LA. Not sure who the four prospects are. While the Boston Globe has confirmed Manny has been traded but no word on where.


UPDATE
Buster Olney reports on 1050Espn Radio that the Red Sox feared Manny would go into Operation Shutdown (thanks to Derek Bell for the name) and just give up on season. They saw it last few days with asking out of lineup and then not hustling in the last 4 days. And Jon Heyman reports :Pittsburgh gets Craign Hansen and Brandon Moss, both from Boston, as well as third baseman Andy LaRoche and right-handed pitcher Bryan Morris from the Dodgers."

Bay To Tampa, Manny Staying Put or Headed to LA-LA Town


Rumors have the Rays have acquired Jason Bay for two of their top prospects, SS Rob Brignac and P Jeff Nieman. They had contended they wouldn't part with Brignac but when push came to shove he was packing his bags for the Pirates Organization.


This appears to signal two things: 1) The Rays are going for it this year. They want to make the playoffs for the first time in their history. 2) Manny is not going to Marlins in a three way deal. This means he is likely staying put. However there are rumors the Dodgers have been a late entry to this sweepstakes.



Only 20 minutes left in the non-waiver deadline so deals should be coming in soon. Back later with updates.
UPDATE: This appears to be falsely reported by MLB.com

Let the Fun Begin





The crazyness has begun and we will attempt to keep you updated throughout the day.



10:45- Ken Griffey Jr has been asked to waive his no trade clause as the Reds and White Sox have a trade inprinciple. Lets see what he decides
11:15: Marlins have acquired...... lefty Arthur Rhodes.
11:45- Griffey has accepted the trade he is on his way to the Whitesox. How this will play is unseen as they have a lot of corner outfielders, infielders, and dh's (Dye, Quentin, Konerko, Thome) Is he going back to CF? This might be Juniors last chance at a ring. The Reds will get infiedler Danny Richar and Nick Masset.
2:00 - It Sounds like the Manny Ramirez deal is dead. With two hours left to revive it we will see what happens. Manny has told the Red Sox he will accept a trade.

Trade Deadline

Check back throughout the day for breaking news on trades and some thoughts on moves.


What will possibly happen today:



1) Manny is sent to Marlins in either a three way deal with Jason Bay going to Boston or a conventional two way deal.








2) Yankees add a starting pitcher; possibly not named Jarrod Washburn


3) Rockies keep Brian Fuentes as they realize they have a legitimate shot at "winning" the division








4) Rays add a lefty reliever and possibly Adam Dunn as they attempt to make their first ever run at October.

What Should Happen:

1) Diamondbacks need to add a bat. They dont just need a bat they need a big bat. They should get involved in the Manny being Manny sweepstakes or have made the move for Texeira, they are stocked with prospects.

2) Mets get an outfielder who can hit and is under 35. Maybe not under 35 as Omar Minaya has always loved Manny and likes to wheal and deal. Lets not forget the great trade he made running Expos, Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee and Brandon Phillips for Bartolo Colon. That worked well. Look for the Mets as a late entry. More realistic will be Raul Ibanez

3) Yankees need a pitcher. They cannot have Rasner and Ponson start 40% of the 60 games remaining.

4) Something unexpected.

5) Lots of crazy unpredictable rumors.

A warning do not believe all the rumors that you read about, a lot of them are just floated out because internet sites need to have people continually visiting their sites. ESPN.com and CNNSI.com will have people updating every few minutes and they need changes. Trades that usually are usually rumored for a few days do not tend to happen, while the deals that do happen usually happen quickly alla the Nady/Marte deal, the Texeira Deal, and the Pudge Rodriguez Deal. They all seemed to move very quickly and there wasnt any rumors that "X team and Y team were close to a deal." The only time that happened is when the players involved were scratched from a teams lineup or removed in the middle of a game. Lets see what happens today it should be exciting.


Now we turn to the Big G for some levity as he has a message for teams that play the shift on him.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Manny to Marlins



Buster Onley must be a busy man as he is reporting that the Boston Red Sox and the Florida Marlins are discussing a trade. As I thought about possible teams who could be interested in the slugging leftfielder last night the Marlins began to make the most sense to me, this is before I heard of this rumor. They are stocked with prospects which would make the Red Sox happy, they also are in the race as they still have a shot at the division. This would be a Marlins type move as they would be going for it and then let Manny go at the end of the year and take the two draft picks that come with it. They would clearly need the Sox to pick up a lot of the salary as he makes nearly 1/3 of the teams total payroll. The rumor has either a three way deal with the Pirates and Sox getting Jason Bay or the Sox getting the two top prospects from Florida.


Do I think this will be done? No but it is something to watch as tomorrow's deadline approaches, as there is a growing feeling that this could get done. As a Yankee fan, I can only hope that this gets done.
UPDATE: My friend Jon just informed of this article at baseball prospectus. Wow it sounds like this is actually going to get done.

Thoughts on Latest Trade



The best thing I can say about the Pudge Rodriguez- Kyle Farnsworth trade is the fact that the Yankees are going for it. The biggest concern right now is what removing a key part of the bullpen will do to the whole staff. Everyone seemed to have a role, Veras the 7th, Farnsworth the 8th in close games. Edwar Ramirez and David Robertson being the bridge with bigger leads. Now that equation has been disrupted. We know Veras was doing an adequate job in the 7th but how will he do in the 8th? How will Edwar make the move to bigger role? Now how will Damaso Marte work into the late inning equation? We will find out on the fly as everything has changed.


But now the positive. The Yankees are going for it this year. They are not waiting for anything, they want to win this year. The loss of Posada hurts the lineup and now they get a formidable bat. Pudge isnt the same defensive player he was 5 years ago, which was always a little overrated, but he does still throw out 36% of runners against him. He isn't Jose Molina defensively but he is closer to Posada offensively as he is hitting almost 300. He also brings great passion, emotion, energy and smarts to the team. He is a veteran and a champion, a guy who plays great when the lights are their brightest. And oh yeah he is in his walk year, which means he wants to impress to get another contract. Who knows, maybe he will earn another contract as their are question marks about Posada's shoulder ever being healthy enough to catch again.
This makes the Yankees that much better and sets tomorrow, July 31 to be an exciting day. Not only is a hall of fame catcher making his debut but who knows maybe another player or two are on their way.

Pudge to Yanks for Farnsworth.




Well this one was a no brainer. A terribly inconsistent pitcher (I know hes been exceptional of late) for the best catcher available the same day Posada gets season ending surgery. In almost any trade there will be those who have their doubts and those who are delighted by the news. Lets discuss the downside first. The problem: Farnsworth has pitched great of late. In fact, not counting Monday nights blowout in which he had no business to be in the game to begin with, since May27th Farnsworth has had a line of 21.1 IP 15H 5BB 10K 5ER, including a stretch of 28ABs without letting up a hit. Obviously you'll take that every single time in the 8th inning. This trade could cause some agitation in the Yankees bullpen, but I am on the side of the argument that absolutely loves this trade.


This trade is still a good one regardless of how Farnsworth has pitched in the last month. Throughout his career Farnsworth has historically pitched exceptionally well in July to an ERA of 3.06. What people never seem to realize is that this is way below his career ERA of 4.42 and that in August his ERA shoots up to a fat 5.17. Granted, these are stats that have been accrued in the past and this year may be different, but I wouldn't be willing to chance it. After all, when has Farnsworth ever been consistent in a Yankee uniform? Never is the answer. Check out his career splits here, also available at the top of the page are his splits year by year. As you can see since he has been on the Yankees he has been very good in July and horrific in August. The Yankees cannot afford for him to nose dive yet again, especially when they can have Pudge without giving up a single prospect.

So now we turn to who the 8th inning guy will be. The answer is clearly Jose Veras. I think Edwar becomes the 7th inning guy with others filling in as needed. Due to injury Veras only has this year to base his stats upon since he had only 11IP and 9.1IP in 2006 and 2007, respectively. This year Veras has been great however, going 35.2IP with 29H 14BB and 36K which comes out to a 2.78ERA. While it is a very small sample size, Veras has pitched outstanding in the 8th inning so far this year with 9H against him in 47AB for a .191BAA. Personally I think Veras is fine in the 8th inning and will even be better than Farnsworth would have been for the rest of the year. In the end, while it is a downgrade for now, it doesn't seem as though the Yankees are losing that much in the pen.


On the other hand Pudge is not even in the same discussion as Molina as far as offense goes, and while he is not known as a great receiving catcher he has thrown out somewhere around 35% of the runners who have tried to steal on him this year. I understand that 35% is not 48% which is what Molina is doing, but the rate Molina is throwing people out at is ridiculous and is very likely to come back down to earth as he plays more everyday. There is no need to throw stats out in this argument, Pudge, despite his inability to take his walks, is head an shoulders above Molina when it comes to offense. Another thing to think about is what if Molina got hurt? Through all the injuries the Yankees have endured this year, an injury to Jose Molina would have effectively ended their season before this trade. With the beatings that catchers take on a daily basis combined with the fact that Molina hasn't caught everyday in years, something bad was bound to happen.

This trade was good for the Yanks, end of story.

BREAKING NEWS - Pudge in Pinstripes


Buster Onley has just broke news on the Michael Kaye Show on1050 ESPN Radio that the Yankees have traded for Pudge Rodriguez this afternoon. No word on who was traded. More on this as it comes out
UPDATE: Kyle Farnsworth has been traded for Pudge Rodriguez. Shocking move to get rid of a key part of bullpen. We will see how this works out. More thoughts on this later tonight.

Will the Real Yankees Please Stand Up


So are the Yankees the team that floundered through the first half playing 500 ball and who didnt hit with RISP? Or are they the team that won 8 straight and 10 in a row at home, even winning 2 of 3 in Boston and came through with big hit after big hit? Or are they the team that returned the last two nights struggling against the hapless Orioles at home and failing to make big pitches?


They have two months to figure out who they are. Less than 60 games to go, and most on the road, to figure out if they will be playing in October or missing out for the first time since 1995. First year Manager Joe Girardi will have a lot of explaining to do if this team cant run down and catch the young Rays or the rival Red Sox. It is true that they have lost no ground on the Red Sox as both teams have struggled of late, but the Yankees are chasing the Sox and each day they lose is another day off the schedule. The Rays and Sox magic numbers get reduced every time the Yankees lose. So even a losing day for Boston can go down as a partial win. The Yankees cannot afford to lose 5 or 6 in a row or even 7 out of 10. With Darrel Rasner and Sidney Ponson pitching 40% of the games right now, the team needs to win almost every game Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte, and Joba Chamberlain start. They need to keep the good momentum they had built and keep up their run.


Is it too early to panic? Yes a little but with the Angels coming to town this weekend sporting the best record in baseball and ready to show off their newest acquisition Mark Texeira, things could get very ugly by Sunday Evening. The Yankees are lucky enough to face the Angels 10 times in the next two months, going to Anaheim twice. This will show a lot about what the team is made of. There was a lot of talk about the final pieces to the puzzle being added last Saturday, lets see if that is true or if the new pieces to the puzzle do not fit.

Texeira to Angels - World Series to Follow



The best team in the AL just got better. The Angles have finally added the big bat to join Vlad Guerrero in the middle of their order. They have been looking for this big bat for years. Mark Texeira makes thema a lot scarier. Clearly they were tired of getting bounced from the playoffs early on as their hitting had disappeared in past playoff series.

They were a team clearly heading for the playoffs as they enjoy the biggest lead in baseball, 10 games. They have beat Boston 5 straight but still were not content. Now they have a great middle of the order with Guerrero, Torii Hunter, Garrett Anderson, and now Texeira. They did give up a highly valued guy in Casey Kotchman but the move now makes the Angels the clear favorite in baseball.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Quick Thoughts Following Tonights Game

* Not a good night for Cashman's Trade: Damaso Marte gives up a big three run double blowing the game up and Xavier Nady strikes out with bases loaded. Hopefully better things ahead for this duo.

* Mariano Rivera continues to struggle in non save situations. He has given up about 3 runs in save situations but almost every non-save spot gives up runs. Aubrey Huff had just missed a homerun foul when he followed it up with another bomb. This is something to watch as the season ends.

* I would love to see a stat of how many times a meaningless run comes back to be the decisive run. Just like tonight, Huff's homerun seemed meaningless however it turned out to be the winning run as the Yankees scored 3 in the 9th and lost by one with the tieing run in scoring position. It seems this always happens.

* A positive for the night was seeing the Yankees battle back and never give up. They might not have won but they showed some fight and grit in battling back. The old Yankees always seemed to bring the tieing run to the plate. That is what they showed tonight and that is a good sign.

The Braves Cannot be Serious.


I really hope this trade is some kind of joke. Mark Teixeira who has averaged .286/.373/.536 and 35+ HR a season with a career OPS+ of 132, has just been traded for Casey Kotchman (his average stats are .274/.337/.426 with 14HR and an OPS+ of 101). It is safe to say that the Atlanta Braves were either drunk or robbed at gunpoint for this trade. They gave up one of the best 4 first basemen in the game for an average player whose only redeeming on-field quality is that he doesn't strike out much. I know they received another player in Stephen Marek, a B-Level Double-A pitching prospect but that was seemingly a throw in just so the "trade" wasn't straight up.


Originally it looked as if the Braves were requiring elite pitching prospect Nick Adenhart to be part of the deal, and honestly, then this deal might have made some sort of sense. Adenhart has been considered a top level prospect for the past two seasons. The good people at Baseball Prospectus ranked him as the 27th best prospect in all of baseball. He is a right handed pitcher who has a plus curveball and has posted a 3.81 ERA in 467.1 minor league innings, he also earned his first big league victory this season. The Braves should have been able to pull Adenhart from the Angels' hands considering they were giving up one of the best offensive 1B in baseball who plays gold glove caliber defense.


In the end, this trade makes the Angels the clear-cut favorite to win the AL and most likely the world series. They have extraordinary starting pitching, a now powerful lineup, a closer who is about to set the record for saves in a season, and most importantly, they know and play the fundamentals better than anyone out there. On top of all that, they have the best manager in the game, Mike Sciocscia.



July 30th---the day after the trade I am still perplexed. I have spent the last 24 hours trying to explain to others, as well as myself, how this trade could have happened. Tony Reagins roofied Frank Wren, brought him to a Tijuana whore house and is now blackmailing him with the pictures. Anything less then that is absolutely unacceptable.

Is The Manny Being Manny Show on the Move?


Here we go again the rumor mill is being filled with ridiculous rumors of Manny Ramirez being traded. The Yankees would love to see their rival move their best and most dangerous hitter. There would be a champagne celebration and I am sure Brian Cashman would volunteer to drive him to Logan Airport to get him out of town. This situation is partially Manny's fauly and the teams. They have looked the other way everytime he has done something ridiculous and he signed a contract that essentially puts him in his last year of a contract three times.

Before we get to what has led us to this here are a couple of the rumors: Jon Heyman is saying the Dodgers have interest in the Slugging Leftfielder. While the Newark Star Ledger reports the Mets are looking into acquiring him.


If anyone thinks the Red Sox will actually move their star leftfielder, they are nuts. Look at Tom Verducci's article explaining the reasons to keep him. Sure he is a pain and gives them a headache every day. But they knew this when they signed him in the fall of 2000. And they have known this everyday since then. They are willing to look the other way because he will go down as one of the top right handed hitters of all time. Everytime he says he cant play, he pushes the traveling secretary, when he punches teammates, or when he doesnt hustle the Red Sox have no one to blame but themselves as they have looked the other way every other time. This situation has a different feel. Even Peter Gammons has ripped Manny in his articles. And Gammons has never had anything bad to say about Manny until now. The only way he doesnt stick around is if the Sox are willing to mortage the season just to get him and the headaches he causes out of town. However this will be no different as the two sides will resolve the issue. There is no way that you can replace a guy like Manny in the Sox lineup.

Remember Carlos Quentin


Before everyone writes off this recent trade by the Yankees as a steal and says the Yankees gave up nothing for Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte, they should all look at Carlos Quentin. Quentin was cast off the Diamondbacks following last season. He was supposed to be a big time star coming out of Stanford. He began the year as the starting right-fielder and had a dreadful season. He was sent back to minors and fell out of such favor with the orginization that he was sent to the White Sox for almost nothing. Well look now, the change of scenery has made Quentin into the star everyone expected. He is top 5 in homeruns and is one of the main reasons the Chi-Sox are in contention this season. Think the Diamondbacks could use a bat like Quentin this year?


Could the same be of Jose Tabata? The Yankees always thoughts highly of him. He was supposed to be the next Manny Ramirez (on the field) and even played in the prestigious MLB Futures Game at the ripe young age of 17. He is only 20 now and is being caste as immature. What 20 year old is mature? He is still developing and maturing, he has had a few runins this year that have raised alarms. His biggest mistake was leaving the stadium while struggling before the game was over. That does not look good. Look at Justin Upton, he is learning to play in the majors and has had his ups and downs. Tabata also struggled this year and the power he was projected to have has not
been fulfilled. Part of it could be the hamate bone surgery he had last year which saps a lot of power. He really did fall out of favor with the Yankees, alla Quentin and the D'Backs, as Austin Jackson passed him in the eyes of the Yankees. He is only 20, younger than Melky Cabrera, and still has a lot of big years ahead of him. Even Brian Cashman knows the risk in this move and that Tabata could still turn into a star. So in 5 years the Yankees could be looking at him in the All-Star game in 2012 and being a real force. The Yankees are hoping that is not the case.



It is true that you have to give up talent to get talent, and the Yankees killed two birds with one stone. They got the righty bat and lefty reliever they really needed. It is just not fair to say the Yankees gave up nothing and stole these missing parts of the puzzle from the Pirates.



Monday, July 28, 2008

What a Weekend in Boston


Sorry this has been a busy weekend and I havent given my thoughts about a great Yankee weekend.
* Don't let lastnight get you down. The Yankees aren't going to win every game the rest of the season. They won 8 in a row and the series in Boston so everything is fine. It was Sidney Ponson he probably wont be around too much longer anyway.What we learned:
* The Yankees can win big games on the road. Only the Yankees and Angels have winning road records out of the contenders. The Sox and Rays are terrible out of their own parks and the Yankees just went to the Sox hittining friendly Stadium and held them to 1 earned run over the first 18 innings.
* Joba is an ace. No more arguments about relieving. Where are all the people who six weeks cried when the transition started? They were all chearing and amazed at his dominance Friday night. He is due for a bad start, a clunker, it happens to everyone, but no question about it he has ACE makeup. He has a lot more Roger Clemens in him, the pitching mentality not HGH, than anyone thoughts. He completly got into Kevin Youkilis head and made him look silly in the 7th. He can be the guy, barring injury, the Yankees count on for years to come.* The show Manny Being Manny that has played Boston for the last eight years is coming to an end. Red Sox management has had enough with Manny and I will be shocked to see him back next year. However we have seen this dog and pony show before and Manny has stayed put so who knows. All I know is its great to see him vex everyone in the "Nation."
* The Yankees are going for it this year. The moves Friday proved it, the Yankees want # 27 this year. Was this true two weeks ago? I am not sure but this surge has put them in great position and given the front office confidence to make moves. Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte give the Yankees an even better shot to send Yankee Stadium out in grand fashion.

Friday, July 25, 2008

One Positive and One Negative on Off Day before Showdown in Beantown


As the Yankees rest up on one of their few off days remaining, they are in a great position to make a move this weekend and move past the Red Sox. The one thing that cannot happen is a sweep. If they are swept and return to their light hitting ways the Yankees can kiss the division good bye and possibly the Wild Card as the Rays could add some distance to their lead. The Yankees just need one game this weekend to stay in it.
Let's get the negative out of the way, Bobby Meachum. He continues to kill rallies, get people thrown out, or be over aggressive and have "lucky runs score." Two times yesterday he sent a runner home, one time Jose Molina who is almost as slow an 80 year old man with a piano on his back, try and score when they were barely around third when the fielder had the ball. It took two lucky breaks to have the runners be safe. He could have ended some rallies quickly. Maybe with a big lead trying to get an extra run is an ok play, but not when its Jeter or A-Rod trying to score. They are so valuable to the team you cant risk injury at this point. He needs to play safe. The Yankees rank in the top in the league in having guys gunned down at the plate, last year with Larry Bowa they were one of the best. So you know its not the team its the guy waving them in like mad because its the same players. Girardi is going to need to control this, Meachum is almost as bad as Wendell "Send em in" Kim from the Red Sox in the late 90's. They just windmill people in no matter the situation. How many times does someone have to be out at before he realized Ryan Sweeney has a great arm and not to run on it. With the short wall in left this weekend lets hope Meachum learns and plays it safe.
Now to finish with the positive. This change has been the biggest improvement from 2007 to 2008. I am not bashing my head against the wall every time a reliever is brought in this year. You can actually see that there is a strategy and thought in bringing relievers into the game. Girardi is 1000x better managing the bullpen then Joe Torre. Once the starters began giving some length and Girardi could dictate roles the staff has taken off. Torre really had become Clueless Joe when it came to managing the bullpen. He would burn guys out for weeks at a time till they were dead tired or hurt and couldnt perform. Then he would dump them and find another guy he "trusted." See Scott Proctor, Paul Quantrill, Louis Vizcaino, and Tanyon Sturtz for a short list of guys used and abused by Torre. He even needed rules put in place when Joba Chamberlain came into the equation late last year for fear of over use. And when the rules were gone he overused him the playoffs throwing nearly 40 pitches in game 3 with a big lead.
Girardi has not had this problem. He has an idea and a plan everytime he used the pen. When there is a close game he uses Jose Veras and Farnsworth as the bridge. But he wont use them more than two days in a row. When its a little bigger lead he turns to Edwar Ramirez and David Robertson and both have been extremely productive. So instead of having guys pitch 10 times in 15 days they are rested and effective. There is no building trust with Girardi you get it from day one. He puts people in positions to suceed and they have rewarded him with consistency. So there isnt a time where a guy sits in the pen and doesnt do anything for 20 days, like Edwar last year. When Joba was moved people feared a bullpen collpase when the opposite has happened. There havent been many, if any, panic moved to Rivera either. He has only used Mo in the 8th twice, Torre would constantly over use Mo. This has led to his best season of his storied career. Their ERA is better now then with Joba. Girardi deserves a lot of credit as the Yankees have a bullpen with a top 10 ERA and the best fact nobody in the top 15 of appearances. He has built up a great pen to be the bridge to Rivera.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Will This Major Pothole Slowdown the Steamengine?


Just as the Yankees season was starting to pick up, a major wrench was thrown in its side. They have learned that not only will Hideki Matsui be out for the year but Jorge Posada will likely be joining him on the bench. This team has battled injury after injury all year and they have finally put themselves in a position to make a run at the playoffs in the seasons final two months. But this news could be the straw that breaks the camels back as this might be too much for them to overcome.
Any other season where the offense was performing upto standard they could get by with these injuries. Names like Jeter, A-Rod, Abreu, Damon, and Cano should carry a team. But this year, where offense has been hard to come by, the loss of two of your best hitters is killer. Especially a switch hitting middle of the order guy like Posada. He was key to keep lefties from dominating the team. Now they are looking at the likes of Jose Molina and Bret Gardner being key bats in the bottom third of the order.
The bigger blow of losing Posada is the emotion and intensity he brings to the table every day. I have had some issues with the contract length for Posada. I have also questioned why he wouldnt play 1b or DH when the team needed his bat. I am sorry for this question now that I know he was in pain every time he swung. His defense was never great to begin with and I always favored pulling him for defense late in games. (IE Last year game 2 in Cleveland.) He just doesnt block pitches well and this year the fact he couldnt throw made his defense worse. But I never thought the lineup would be without him for a whole season. He has a certain intangible effect on the team. He actually cares about winning and the Yankees. He plays with fire and emotion and was someone who wouldnt be aftaid to get in someones face when the time called for it. That is what the Yankees will miss if he really cant play the rest of the year. He was always on a short list of guys that the Yankees couldn'd play with out for an extended period of time. (Rivera, Jeter, A-Rod the others) Listening to Posada talk lasnight you can tell how upset and hurt he is. He really doesnt want to miss a playoff run and the team really needs him. But you can tell he just had no power this year, hitting or throwing, and that something was seriously wrong. He is crushed and he deserves better. He is one of the good guys in the game.
Can the Yankees survive this? Sure but it wont be easy. They all need to step up and contribute. Molina's defense will be superb but the team is gonna need to carry his below average bat for extended time now. Everyone is going to have to do a little bit more to help the team win. This team still has a 200 million dollar pay roll and they have the talent to get there. Hopefully Jorge will get himself healthy and ready for 2009 while helping his teamates in 2008 by still being the emotional leader that he is.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Dandy Andy Finishes Sweep


The Yankees could not have had a better return from the All-Star break. After falling on their face in Pittsburg and Toronto in the 4 games prior to the break. The Yankees came back looking focused and ready to make a serious run at the playoffs. They showed they could win games in different fashions this weekend. They can pound a team like Friday night, win in extras and tie a game in the 9th inning like Saturday, and win with great pitching and defense like Sunday. Those last two games are the games they need to win to get to the playoffs.
Joe Girardi's team had the look of a team ready to do some damage. They got contributions from everyone. From Alex Rodriguez to Brett Gardner and Jose Molina on offense and from Andy Pettitte to David Robertson pitching. The pitching this weekend was superb, outside of one inning by Jose Veras. They were sharp, crisp and threw strikes. They basically didn't walk anyone which is always a good recipe for success. Andy Pettitte capped off the dominating weekend with a 8 inning 10 k performance Sunday afternoon. It was vintage Pettitte as he threw 115 pitches and got the ball to Mariano Rivera on his own.
The team still needs to hit better and be consistant but this was a great start to the final 60 games of the season. Combine their sweep and the sweep of the Red Sox and the Yankees have put themselves in a great position to overtake their rivals next weekend. They can not overlook the Twins and take them for granted, as the Twins have a high power offense and some very good young arms. If the Yankees can get out of this week 3-3, that would be great anything better and they would be in great shape.

Friday, July 18, 2008

"Second-Half" Surge Needed along with Health

The un-official Second Half of the Yankees Season begins tonight. Derek Jeter summed up the first 90 games by saying "The team has been good enough to be 6 games out." The only consistant part of the team has been their inconsistency. The best example of this is the final week of the first half. They win 4 straight over Boston and Tampa and then flounder away the final 4 by losing three of them to the Pirates and Jays. They could have gone into the break really hot but instead have caused Yankee fans a lot of anxiety this past week. This will tell if replacing Joe Torre with Joe Girardi was a good move. Torre never missed the playoffs now Girardi has a lot of pressure.
This might be the season that injuries have finally caught up with the team. They have sustained some substantial injuries. Derek Jeter missed a week with a quad pull, A-Rod and Posada spent between two weeks and a month on the DL, and Posada has been unable to succesfully remain the catcher. Now Matsui appears to be out for the year and Damon has been out for two weeks and will be out atleast one more. This has to be one of the main reasons the offense has struggled. You never know who will be healthy and who will not be. There have been only a handful of games where the opening day lineup has been on the field.
If you would have told Yankee fans at the begining of the year that Hughes, Kennedy and Chamberlain would combine for only one win as starters you would assume that they are way out of the race. The pitching staff has been actually held up alright and survived the injuries to their ace Chien-Ming Wang and two starters who were counted on Kennedy and Hughes. In addition Brian Bruney and Jonathan Alabadejo were showing signs of being dependable relievers when they too were bitten by the injury bug. Bruney could be back in a week to help out the bullpen and give Girdardi another dependable arm.
The big questions for final 70 games are: 1) Can Robinson Cano rebound to his all-star ways? Cano might be the most important player in the second half. The Yankees thought he would be a middle of an order type of hitter by now not a guy batting 230. He has shown signs he has his old beautiful swing back and the Yankees hope that is the case. Cano is not the only bat needed to get hot, Jeter is well below his averages as he is only hitting 280's and Bobby Abreu has slumped lately. They also need the 2007 A-Rod to reappear. His numbers look good but his 180 batting avg with RISP his not helping the team. They need him to carry the load the rest of the way. The Yankee bats should be able to carry a slumping Melky Cabrera and his solid defense.
2) What moves are up Cashmans Sleaves?- Barry Bonds probably not coming to the Bronx. Could Matt Holliday be on the way? Sure, and he would be a great addition, but the asking price is way too high. If the Pirates want two or three top of the line prospects, what will the Rockies want for a franchise, top 10 hitters in the game? Cashman does not want to unload all the prospects he has been saving in one move. And he has shown a willingness to hold on to players, but will he feel the pressure of saving his job? Look for Yankees to get a Randy Wolf type pitcher, and probably Adam Dunn to be the new DH.
3) Will the Yankees Make the Playoffs- The have made it every year since 1995 and you have to give them the benefit of the doubt. They are a team that always finishes strong, besides 2000, and the Rays and Twins have not been in this type of pennant race. They are in a better stading position than last season but not team situation. Last year they could hit and bludgeon teams to death for wins. We have not seen that this season. And they were a lot healthier. This week off probably helped heal up some problems and re-focus the team. The Yankees will need to get off to a good start to put pressure on these teams. As Mariano Rivera said, "they know we are still in this." The Yankees need to be good closers once again. Look for them to make the Wild Card again.
This is it final 70 games to get one last playoff run in the House that Ruth Built. If the Yankees don't turn it around Sept 21 on ESPN will be the last time the Stadium opens its doors and Tuesday will have been the last major event we will witness there. Look for a team led by Jeter, Posada and Rivera to show some Yankees Pride and get the team to the playoffs.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

An Amazing All-Star Night (Early Morning)


So I think I have finally recovered from the longest All-Star game in history. Many people have compained about the length and the end time and I understand it but you know what? I loved every minute of it. I was there when the gates opened and was there when they closed. It was truly a great way to spend a day. I am still gathering my thoughts and how to fully express what I witnessed. It is tough to put into words about how I feel about yesterday. It was truly one of the best baseball experiences I have ever had, it is very close if not ahead of Game 7 2003. From touring Monument Park in a Stadium full of Legends the day started great.
The Intro's and Hall of Famers on the field were simply amazing. It was awesome to see all of the guys that I have heard stories and legends about like Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Juan Marichal, and Bob Gibson all on one field. And then to have them all joined by the best players in the game all on one field. It was the best collection of talent on one field that baseball has ever seen. It gave me goosebumps to see them all on the field. And then to see The Boss George Steinbrenner on the field and finally be given the thanks he deserves was truly remarkable. He deserves it all as us Yankee fans owe him a lot, he is building us a great new Stadium. It was another great moment at Yankee Stadium.
It was also special for Yankee fans to get to show their love and admiration for Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, and a lesser extent for A-Rod. The love for A-Rod is a little different than the love for the other two, I have seen their whole careers in that Stadium and it was a great chance to say thanks. With all the chanting of Derek Jeter and Mariano it was an amazing time.
It is still tough to put into words the way the game played out. But I know each time both sides failed to score a run, even though I would complain about the time, I know that I never wanted to leave. I wouldnt complain if it ended at 4 AM. It was truly what the send off of Yankee Stadium should be. Memorable. And it truly was. Lets hope the last Yankee Stadium Moment is in October.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What a First Night



Its late and I have a big day ahead of me with Fanfest and the All-Star Game but The Homerun Derby did a great job of getting this even off to a great start. The atmosphere and spectacle all lived up to and actually surpassed the hype. There was a lot of downtime but hey its in Yankee Stadium with the best fans in the world and your watching the best players in the world, things could be worse.
Watching both teams take batting practice on the field was quite a spectacle. They make it all look so easy. It was awesome to watch Scott Kazmir and Roy Halladay work on pitching together. Or see Big Carlos Zambrano and Tim Lincecum talk shop. To listen to what they have to say would be amazing. Also you get to see how all the players really love the game and get alone despite rivalries. Heck Mariano Rivera posed for a picture with Paperlbon and Varitek. Oh yea, and he requested it. And watching the hitters hit was amazing. They were hitting balls into area codes that are rarely seen. Finally seeing A-Rod take bp at Yankee Stadium was a sight. He can really launch the ball all over the yard.
And finally the Home-run derby. Each player had memorable drives into the Upper Decks of the Stadium and balls that traveled 450 feet. But the night was stolen by Texas Ranger Outfielder Josh Hamilton. Even though he did not go on to actually win the title, Justin Morneau ended up winning just as he undeserving won the MVP award two years ago, Hamilton was the real winner. He displayed the talents that made him the # 1 overall pick and showed that he had overcome all his personal demons. He nearly hit one out of the Stadium and consistently was hitting balls to areas that I do not think have ever been touched. He was even hitting them to my seats in Section 35 that I never thought was possible. (I was in the Leftfield Bleachers tonight and never had a shot at any of his balls.) He even showed why he is The Natural, after being asked to try hitting one out to leftfield he does it right on cue. It was amazing. As my friend Jon texted me "that has to be the most amazing hitting display ever." Who can argue with that, to hit 28 homerun's in one round of a homerun derby in Yankee Stadium is unbelievable. He had the Stadium buzzing. Really they should have ended the night there and everyone would have been happy with what they had seen. It was truly amazing to say that I witnessed such an impressive display of hitting prowess.
I am sure tomorrow will top tonight's experience but this was a great way to start off the festivities.

Bittersweet

Just hours away from the real beginning of the Yankee Stadium All-star festivities, beginning with tonight's Homerun Derby, I cant help but feel a little sad. Don't get me wrong I am as excited as I have been for any game that I have attended and that includes World Series games. It is almost on par with Game 7 2003 Yankees Red Sox. This is a once in lifetime opportunity and I have been hoping to get a chance to go to one of the events when it was announced this time last year. To be lucky enough to go to both events is amazing. I can't be happier to go.
But the feeling of sadness comes from it being here and coming so quickly. The next two days will be ones I will hopefully never forget as I get to see the game's best and brightest send off the most famous stadium in the world. And I will be able to share the experience with my dad who keeps saying how excited he is to be going to this great event. I have been looking forward to this day for over a year and to think it will all be over in about 36 hours is a little hard to believe. This could be the last great event in the House that Ruth Built as there is no guarantee that playoffs will happen this year.
I am ready for this great experience. I just hope that it doesn't go by in a flash and that I can fully appreciate it. Starting with the Home-run Derby tonight and then Fanfest and the All-Star Game tomorrow, this is a baseball fans dream experience.

Cliff Lee vs Ben Sheets

Well one manager got it right and one well got it half right.
Clint Hurdle made the right choice for the NL Starter. Ben Sheets has had a great year and has never had the honor of starting the game. Hurdle was left with only two choices, Sheets and Edinson Volquez, as everyone else who deserved to be there (Tim Lincecum and Brandon Webb) both threw lastnight. Volquez was eliminated by his manager Dusty Baker as he threw over 120 pitches Saturday. (Hopefully Lincecum, Webb, and Volquez can all get an inning of work and showcase their talents). So that left Sheets as the starter, and he was the right guy to get the nod.
On the otherhand Terry Francona had the chance to give a former Cy Young winner, a good guy in the game, and one of the top pitchers in baseball for the last few years the honor of throwing the first pitch in the final Mid-Summer Classic at Yankee Stadium. The idea for Mariano Rivera to start would have been a great story and very unorthodox, basically it was unrealistic and just a fantasy. So because it was unrealistic the choice should have been Roy Halladay. This is not to say Cliff Lee hasnt been great this year but Halladay has been one of the games best for over five years. This would be a great honor for him. His start Friday night, a two hit shutout of the Yankees should have put his 1st half resume over the top. Apparantly Francona had other ideas and went with Lee. Maybe Halladay will remember this next time he faces the Red Sox, a team that he usually cant beat, and can pitch halfway as effectively as he has versus the Yankees in his career.
Both staffs will face great lineups that are deep and ready to put on a show. Less than 36 hours till the big game.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

All-Star Week Packed With Action

Allstar week has brought some heavy duty excitement to New York City this week. As baseball gets ready to honor America's Sports Cathedral one last time, all eyes will be on the House that Ruth Built. Since Friday there have been exciting events going on all through out the city. As All-Star week is sadly half over, I have to admit that I will be lucky enough to have been able to attend or will attend all the major events that have made up All-Star Week 2008.
Saturday Night- Livin on a Prayer with Bon Jovi
Bon Jovi rocked Central Park and the famous Great Lawn Saturday night. I was there, as my girlfriend was able to win concert tickets off MLB.com. I am not the biggest Bon Jovi fan, but the whole experience was amazing. He put on a great show that went off without any problems. He played all his big hits including: Living on a Prayer, Shot through the Heart, and It's My Life. It was definetly an event that I will never forget.
Sunday- Futures Game and Celebrity Softball Game
Allstar Sunday is the less publicized and hyped day of Allstar week however it definetly got things off on the right foot. To see the future stars of the game all on one field before they reach their promise is truly a special site. The names of people who have starred in these games in the past and have gone on to dominate the League is unbelievable. The list includes: Jose Reyes, Alfonso Soriano, Joba Chamberlain, David Wright, Barry Zito, and Justin Verlander (just to name a few.) Maybe one day the Matt LaPorta's and the Jesus Montero's of this game will go on to be All-Stars one year.
Even though the Stadium was awfully empty, which is a shame, the youngsters put on a good for us fans in attendence. The World team went on to beat 25 hopefuls for the 2008 Olympic Team USA. It was a pitching dominated game as the final score was 3-0 and very few people left base. It was clear that it was tough to hit pitchers who could empty the tank in one inning of work as opposed to saving themselves over 7 innings. This was clear with Henry Rodriguez of the A's who was consistently hitting 100mph in his inning of work.
The Celebrity Softball game was a lot higher scoring, as the bats led the way. It was fun to see Tino Martinez and Paull O'neill back on the field along with countless other former Yankees and Major Leaguers including: Goose Gossage, Wade Boggs, Paul Molitor, Dave Winfield, Ozzie Smith, and even Ernie Banks. The game was surprisingly entertaining and fun despite Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic annoying being the MC's. They showed little athleticism, less humor, and even less sports knowledge- in an interview with Dave Winfield they didn't know that the Yankees still had Old Timers Day and they thought this would be Winfield's last time on the field. As usual they wanted everything about them and not about the event. The only person coming out worse than them was poor Chris Rock who struck out twice, which is totally embarrassing in slow pitch softball.
Monday- Homerun Derby
The question is can anybody hit a fair ball out of the Stadium? It has never been done and only Mickey Mantle has come close. I would expect lefties to have a good chance of winning so expect Chase Utley, Lance Berkman, Josh Hamilton, and Justin Morneau to be the favorites. Grady Sizemore has a decent chance as a lefty and the dark-horses as righties should be Ryan Braun and Evan Longoria.
Tuesday- The Big Show
This will be an All-Star game like no other. As over 50 Hall of Famers will make their way to the field to honor the Stadium one last time. It will be something no one will want to miss or will ever forget. It will be a spectacle that only the Yankees and New York can put on. Hopefully it will end with the Best Pitcher we will ever see closing out the National League.
With All-Star Sunday being a perfect prelude for the Homerun Derby and the Mid-Summer Classic, I am sure this is a week I will never forget. I will continue to update on events and what is coming up.