Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuesday Thoughts

Another Monday off-day means a potpourri of Tuesday Thoughts. The Yankees are finally leaving the Bronx for upcoming series in Toronto and Baltimore, coming off a very good 4-1 homestand against the O's and Rangers. Remember, Tuesday Thoughts can be very, very random.

* I went to my first game of the season on Friday night against Texas. No, I promise, I don't think I'm bad luck. It was freezing, windy, and Ivan Nova could not find the strike zone, or Russell Martin's glove at times. My favorite time of the night was before the game, checking out the new World Series Ring display in the Yankee Museum. It's always fun to look at the autographed baseballs, but there's something more special about World Series Rings. On display were rings from all 27 championships, minus 1923, when the Yankees received pocket watches instead of rings. It is highly recommended that you stop over and notice how much bigger and gaudier the rings have become since the early days of the sport.

* On the way home from the game, I was determined to figure out what song Nick Swisher used for his "entrance" music when he came up to bat. It was a techno song that kind of sounded like Daft Punk. When you hear the song, you can seriously picture Swisher drinking like eight Red Bulls and taking some hacks in the cage. After a little bit of research, it turns out that the song is called "Ghosts n Stuff" by Deadmau5. WHAT SONGS WOULD YOU COME UP TO IF YOU WERE IN THE SHOW? Me? "Hypnotize" by the Notorious B.I.G. Yeah, I said that. You can listen to Swish's song here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QV8eiSA4vqc

* It was requested by some of our Facebook visitors that I talk about Mariano Rivera. Problem is, I really don't know what to say. Mariano is a freak. He doesn't throw as hard, but this year, he's pitching like the front runner in the American League Cy Young Award. He already has recorded seven saves, has allowed four hits, and hasn't walked a batter. Eventually, he'll have a bad day, and we'll remember that he's not quite a robot, but there is no one in baseball that I'd rather see on the mound at any point than the Sandman. What he's doing this year at his age in cold weather is already incredible. I'll think back to 2009....eight teams in the playoffs, eight closers in pressure situation. Seven closers, at some point, blew saves for their team: Joe Nathan, Jonathan Papelbon (I almost feel bad), Brian Fuentes, Brad Lidge, Huston Street, Jonathan Broxton, and Ryan Franklin. Mariano Rivera did not, and the Yankees won the World Series. That's how it works, and that's why the Yankees have won five titles since 1996. Without Mariano, there are zero.

* I know I talked about it last week, but Brian Cashman has done a great job with some of the small pieces he added in the off-season, other than Pedro Feliciano. Eric Chavez is contributing every day, ripping an RBI single that won Sunday's game over Texas. Freddy Garcia was dominant on Saturday against the tough Rangers' lineup, and Russell Martin looks like the steal of the year. All three played enormous roles in the most recent series, but how about some others? Bartolo Colon was HUGE (no pun intended) on Thursday night, allowing the Yanks to crawl back and eventually walk off against the Orioles. Kevin Millwood just turned in a one-hitter for Trenton at AA, and Carlos Silva and Mark Prior have a chance to get some innings this year. These guys are not Hall of Famers, but at one point they were stars. There's potential for each of them, and for each signing, there was very, very low risk involved. Props to Cashman once again.

* Speaking of the minor leagues, now is a good time for a quick look at what the AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees are doing, and if there are any prospects for call-up soon. Remember Jorge Vazquez? Big guy who dropped bombs throughout Spring Training? He was named the AAA Player of the Week, and already has 7 homers and 17 RBI's. He's a guy that could be trade bait, especially if the Yanks want to pick up another starter this season. I was thrilled to see that Jesus Montero is batting .425 with a homer after a brutal season in the Grapefruit League. On the pitching side, Andrew Brackman picked up his first victory of the season, while Andy Sisco is already 2-0 without allowing a single earned run. This year's Yankee team will not have a stagnant roster. A lot of these guys will be called up to help at different points, so it's good to keep an eye on them.

* FINAL THOUGHTS: I'd be happy with three out of five in Toronto and Baltimore. More importantly, the pitching needs to hold up. Colon will get his first start in Baltimore, and they are due to win a few games. CC Sabathia should already have three victories, but he's stuck at zero, while AJ Burnett already has three. Look for the big guy to notch his first W before the week is over. What does everyone think about the NBA Playoffs? Did anyone else feel like throwing up after the Knicks in Boston? The Knicks have one problem the Yankees haven't had for a long, long time: closing out games.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Holiday Headache

What has transpired over the last 48 hours has been terribly painful for me. The New York Jets have run out of steam, and may be headed toward an even bigger collapse than the 2008, Brett Favre squad. Their schedule is not favorable, and they are getting closer and closer to our favorite phrase: “The Same Ol’ Jets.” A day later, it was announced that the prize free agent of the offseason, Cliff Lee, was rejecting the Yankees’ and Rangers’ offers to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies, creating, on paper, one of the greatest starting rotations in baseball history. Let’s not forget that these guys will be pitching in the National League East all season. There is a chance of having four 20-game winners, bringing back memories of the 1971 Orioles.

First, the thing that’s stressing me out more than anything else. The New York Jets. This should come as no surprise to anyone that has ever bothered cheering on “Gang Green.” The Jets are a joke, even with talented players and a popular coach. Despite starting the season 9-2, it was only good enough to remain tied with New England, and the Jets have gone into a downward spiral since. Sure, they have a two game lead in the AFC Wild Card, but take a look at their schedule! At Pittsburgh, At Chicago, and home versus Buffalo. We can only hope that the Buffalo game still means something. Pittsburgh is currently playing toward a bye in the AFC, and Chicago is leading the NFC North. Had the Jets beaten Miami, a playoff berth would have been all but locked up. Now, they will look for a miraculous win on the road, or they’ll be scoreboard watching for the rest of the season.

Mark Sanchez just isn’t good enough. He’s not Tom Brady, and we are not the New England Patriots. Until Brady retires, that just won’t change. Heck, even with Matt Cassel for a whole year, the Patriots went 11-5. The Jets have negative sentiments tied to their franchise. This is a chance for the entire organization to reverse the trends, pick up a big victory on the road, and head toward the playoffs for a second consecutive season. They have a chance, but it’s unlikely. With a young quarterback sulking on the bench, a deteriorated offensive line, and an aging running back, the Jets’ hopes look dismal. Like Yankee fans, Jets fans are impatient. The Jets loaded up for one season, and in reality, they won’t be able to keep Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes both on payroll next season. This year was supposed to be the year. Even if they make the playoffs, does anyone think they’re going on a run all the way to Dallas?

The Lee thing really hit home. Most readers of this blog know how I feel about the Philadelphia Phillies. I love the fact that they continue to embarrass the New York Mets, who must be feeling even worse than the Yankees today. However, I do not like anything that is Philadelphia. I have family and friends from Pennsylvania who I love very much. I just hate the sports teams. Why? Competition. Philadelphia and New York are comparable. Sure, the Yankees have won 25 more championships and the Eagles have never won a Super Bowl, but the fans certainly wouldn’t give you that impression. Phillies fans are unbelievably passionate, and expect success on the field every day. Sound familiar? My only gripe about Phillies fans are the ones you don’t hear from for years, but have come out of the woodwork since 2007. That, to me, is pathetic.

Are the Yankees at fault here? Probably not. They made Cliff Lee a lucrative offer, one that would allow him to pitch for the Yankees until the age of 40, but he turned it down. His wife doesn’t like New York, and I guess he doesn’t either. What can you do? In hindsight, it’s probably a good thing that catching prospect Jesus Montero was not traded for Lee in July, as Lee may have bolted for Philadelphia after the season anyway. Cliff Lee was the Yankees’ Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C. They needed pitching help, and they normally get their man with a Steinbrenner check. This time, they didn’t. They sold the team, and I’m sure his buddy CC Sabathia tried to help, but he went back to Philly to join the greatest rotation in baseball.

Brian Cashman will have to figure it out between now and Spring Training. Andy Pettitte can laugh all the way to the bank as he now has the front office wrapped around his finger. The Yankees need him back, or we face another season with AJ Burnett as our number two starter. The signing of Russell Martin, I believe, is a positive thing. He’s been hurt lately, but he also posted two All Star seasons, and won a Gold Glove Award as a catcher for the Dodgers. He has potential, and if healthy, he is a clear upgrade over the aging Jorge Posada. It’s also positive because there has to be come plan waiting in the wings. Why do we need three catchers plus Posada? I’d rather see Jesus Montero stay in pinstripes, but if it means acquiring a pitcher of Felix Hernandez’s caliber, sign me up. A rotation of Sabathia, Pettitte, Burnett, Hughes, and Mitre/Nova simply is not going to work in the American League. This team played sub-.500 ball after the All Star Break in 2010, so improvements are required.

Boston and Philadelphia have become very hypocritical over the past week and a half. With Boston’s acquisition of Adrian Gonzalez, and making Carl Crawford the highest paid outfielder in MLB history, they will no longer have the ability to call the Yankees the “Evil Empire.” Philadelphia can’t blame their two championships on their lack of money. Ryan Howard and Chase Utley have big contracts, so do Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay. Their team is not exactly built from the farm up either. The Yankees cannot be referred to as the “Evil Empire” after this current off-season. At this point, I’m just hoping they’ll still be relevant after the season gets underway.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


This is probably going to be my most unpopular blog entry of the year, but Yankees' manager Joe Girardi is ruining the season, and the Yankees' playoff hopes are getting scarier. I know, I know, they still have a large Wild Card lead, but other than CC Sabathia and a miracle Nick Swisher walk off homer last Wednesday, the team has shown no life for over a week. There have been no reports of team meetings, no locker room speeches from their captain, and no momentum heading into the stretch run which includes more games with Tampa Bay, Boston, Toronto, and Baltimore. There is no guarantee of a playoff spot if the team rolls over every single day. The games against the Red Sox coming up will be bigger than anyone thought they would be just a few days ago.

CC Sabathia was lights out, and deserving of his 20th victory. Unfortunately, the Yankees, who have the worst September schedule in all of baseball, had to face Cliff Lee and David Price in back-to-back games. The offense accomplished nothing, and Joe Girardi gave up the game after the ninth inning, using Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre to finish out a devastating loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, which dropped the Yankees to second place. Every hitter on the team not named Lance Berkman is mired in a slump, and things do not get easier with two more games against the Rays. Based on the Yankees' starting pitching, when you don't win with Sabathia on the mound, you risk a losing streak. No one, other than Ivan Nova, has been anywhere near reliable.

At the time of writing this article, the Boston Red Sox lead the Seattle Mariners 3-0, with mostly back-up players driving in runs. The Red Sox are showing heart despite a plethora of injuries, while the Yankees appear to be going through the motions and waiting for something better to come along. In my mind, Joe Girardi's thoughts may already be in Chicago. He allows Brett Gardner, with a sore wrist, to pinch run, but not until the ninth inning. Gardner then idiotically tries to steal third base before a pitch is even thrown. Girardi would have been better off using Brett in the eighth, when Jorge Posada reached on an error to begin the frame. Girardi also chose to give up on the game in the tenth inning, bringing in Chad Gaudin and then Sergio Mitre, who blew it immediately. Chad Gaudin lost Friday's game, and would have lost Saturday's game if not for a big hit by Alex Rodriguez. I think I can speak for Yankees Universe when I say we have seen enough of these guys that Brian Cashman insists on signing.

The Yankees are in free fall. They are still in very good shape for the postseason, but it's tough to think about when the Yankees can possibly get on a run. Their magic number stands at 12 to clinch the Wild Card over Chicago and Boston. Their offense is in shambles, and you have to sit and worry about the next three starting pitchers until CC pitches again on Saturday in Baltimore. The last 18 games of the year will be a real test of this team and its leadership. Instead of resting everyone and getting the playoff roster in order, Joe Girardi has to play with all available hands on deck the rest of the way. The Yankees' schedule simply does not allow for anything else. Monday's night in sports allowed all New Yorkers to play a brand new game show: "Which Offense is Worse?" In case you're looking to play, take a look at the Jets and the Yankees and give it a guess!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Bittersweet Victory

As fun as it is to see a guy like Nick Swisher pick up the team and crack a walk off homer to end a fairly successful homestand, Wednesday's victory over the Orioles was more of a relief than a satisfying win. The Yankees avoided embarrassment at the hands of Buck Showalter and the pathetic Baltimore Orioles' pitching staff. They dodged a potential four game losing streak before heading to Texas with three great arms scheduled to pitch: Vazquez, Moseley, and Burnett. If you're not thankful enough for Nick Swisher's homer, just check out the recent statistics on these guys.

Had Swisher not hit that big blast, we'd be talking about how atrocious the Yankees offense has been for four days. Well on The Inside Corner, we still talk about that stuff. Derek Jeter stinks. I hate to say it, and I hate to pick on the greatest shortstop in the history of the franchise, but maybe it's time. I'm not sure how the Yankees can really justify re-signing this guy with Eduardo Nunez waiting in the wings. Another 0 for 4 performance by "The Captain" has dropped his average to .262, and he also contributed a poor throwing error during Wednesday's game. If Jeter steps it up in the playoffs, he's guaranteed to be back next season. If it's more of the same for Derek, who knows where he ends up?

The 2010 Yankees are one of the streakiest offensive teams I can remember. When they're hot the whole team is hot. And then when one guy gets cold, the rest of the team can't hit. The lineup is just full of guys who have not hit for average this season: Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada (once in a while), Lance Berkman, and Curtis Granderson. When Jorge's not playing, which may start happening more frequently, we have Francisco Cervelli, who probably hasn't driven in a run since the beginning of May.

Ivan Nova seems like the real deal. He's had four starts, and he's done fairly well in all of them. The Yankees have won three of his starts, and his other start was lost by David Robertson after a 2-2 tie score. Why Cashman and Girardi don't consider him for the playoff rotation is beyond me. Who cares about experience? You can have a young kid in the game, or you can deal with the ineffectiveness of Javier Vazquez or AJ Burnett. You make the call.

On a side note, congratulations to Trevor Hoffman on his 600th save. That's an impressive accomplishment, but let's just think about how many saves Mariano Rivera would have accumulated by now if he played on a team that did not win a lot of blow out games, like the Padres or the Brewers. By the way, if you're keeping track at home, Trevor has posted a whopping 4 career saves in the playoffs. It could have been more, but he's pretty famous for blowing Game 3 of the '98 series against the Bombers, and coughing up a 2 run lead in a 2007 one game playoff at Coors Field. So congrats Trevor, but you'll never hold a candle to Mariano.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tuesday Thoughts- Three in a Row

There were certainly different sentiments surrounding the Yankees after Friday's loss and Monday's win. After Friday's drubbing at the hands of the Chicago White Sox, there were questions of whether AJ Burnett should stay in the rotation or not. Sure, these questions still exist, but after three wins in a row, you tend to feel better about things. Since Burnett was trounced in Chi-town, the Yankees got clutch offensive performances, and key outings on the mound by Ivan Nova, CC Sabathia, and even Javier Vazquez in relief.

Why do the Yankees have such a great record this season without Alex Rodriguez? It has nothing to do with A-Rod being a jinx or a poor player, it just shows that the Yankees have clutch offensive players that can step up when they are needed. We saw this on Monday night against a strong pitcher in Trevor Cahill. Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher, and Marcus Thames all had monster nights after Dustin Moseley did not have a strong outing. Cano has filled in beautifully in the cleanup spot, and all of a sudden, Tex has 92 runs batted in before September 1st.
John Sterling is out of control. We all love his different nicknames and sayings for different players when they hit a home run, but Monday's postgame was completely ridiculous. After Marcus Thames' three run bomb in the fifth inning, Sterling did his usual song of "Happy THAMES are Here Again," but then he went on to shout: "Marcus timed a fastball, no, he THAMESED a fastball!" What does that even mean, John? At least he provides a nightly laugh for anyone listening.
Speaking of Thames, how great of an acquisition has he turned out to be? He's one of the few Yankees with an average over .300, and he has cracked four homers in the last three games. His two homers on Friday were critical in a 12-9 victory, he hit a solo blast in a 2-1 victory Sunday, and Monday night, he put the game out of reach for the Athletics.
Here's a good topic for debate: should Ivan Nova be one of the four Yankees' post-season starting pitchers? This year, MLB has ensured that teams will have to work with three pitchers, as there are not as many days off as the 2009 season, which the Yanks obviously used to their advantage. Even if Andy Pettitte does return this year, the Yankees can throw out a rotation of CC Sabathia, Pettitte, Hughes, and Nova. Vazquez seems effective in relief, and at this point, you really cannot take a chance with AJ Burnett. I'd almost rather see Dustin Moseley at this point. Nova has looked strong and fearless over two starts, so the playoff atmosphere shouldn't bother him at all.
Kudos to the New York Yankees staff. I had a chance to attend the game with my father, uncle, and friend Monday night. My dad, who has had a couple of knee surgeries, needed to stretch his knee in our seats, so an usher allowed him to sit in the unoccupied handicapped seats behind our section, which gave him the chance to stretch his leg and enjoy the ball game. Sometimes, I feel a bit annoyed when ushers are constantly checking my tickets after I run to grab food, but Monday night, they did a nice thing for a nice guy.
The Yankees need to win 7 of their next 9 home games. I went into this homestand against Oakland, Toronto, and Baltimore thinking that the Yankees needed 8 out of 10, and I stand by that sentiment. Boston is now 7 games back, but there is still time for the Sox to catch up. Tampa Bay keeps on winning, and the Yankees' last three weeks of the schedule are completely brutal. Not only do they have to make another trip to Texas, but they play the Rays 7 times and the Red Sox 6 times. As stressful as it may be, every day the Yankees win is another day off the schedule while remaining on top.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Great Night in Yankeeland

Even before the Bronx Bombers drubbed the Blue Jays north of the border, it was already a perfect day for Yankee fans. Johnny Damon snubbed the Boston Red Sox and rejected his trade from the Detroit Tigers, preferring to remain in Michigan rather than enter in a playoff race with his former team. To me, that just shows you that Damon is tired of the Red Sox fans' antics and playing in Fenway Park. Not only was it a slap in the face of Beantown, but it kept the surging Red Sox from adding a clutch October player.

After the great news about Damon, it was announced that the young Ivan Nova would remain in the rotation, while the atrocious Javy Vazquez would head out to the bullpen. Great move by the Yankees. Who cares about Javy's self-esteem in the midst of a pennant race? Nova looks like he has a great future and a lot of guts, challenging the over-confident Jose Bautista on Monday.

Then, the game started, and the offense showed up to back up Dustin Moseley. Mark Teixeira, Jorge Posada, and Marcus Thames had monster nights. Curtis Granderson hit another homer, and Derek Jeter waited until it was an eight run game to contribute, but he did hit a ball over a fence, something he hasn't done in almost two months. Coming off of a difficult 3-2 loss on Monday, the team responded perfectly with an 11-5 drubbing.

Dustin Moseley has been just what the doctor ordered for the Yankees' ailing staff. No, he hasn't been lights out and he hasn't won all of his starts. But he's been solid. The guy throws strikes, and without joking around, he's been better than AJ Burnett and Javier Vazquez. We aren't hearing much about Andy Pettitte, so we really don't know if we can count on him for the stretch run or even the post-season. In my mind, Moseley or Nova will be a fourth starter come October. Ideally, we'd see a rotation of Sabathia, Hughes, Pettitte, and Nova/Moseley. Notice how Mr. Burnett and Mr. Vazquez have not been included.

A lopsided victory, a Beantown embarrassment, and a smart decision removing a horrible pitcher from the starting rotation. Just an ordinary kind of day.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ace of the Diamond

CC Sabathia is the ace of the New York Yankees. He's the ace they did not have during their postseason struggles between 2002 and 2008. You could even argue that he's the sole ace that they lacked during their Dynasty run of 1996-2000. He is the stopper. He is the guy who gives the Yankees innings. And in my mind, he's the guy that will be the first Yankee since Roger Clemens (2001) to bring home the Cy Young Award.

Tuesday's game was the kind of game the Yankees needed. They got distance from Sabathia, clutch hitting from Nick Swisher, Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano, and even Derek Jeter. When things looked bad after CC surrendered a leadoff homer to Austin Jackson, the Yankees worked the count and got two quick runs against Justin Verlander, the ace of the Tigers. CC took over from there.

The Rays were victorious, and the Red Sox were too. That's the way it's going to be in the American League East for the rest of the season. It must be nice to have a worse record, but close to a ten game lead in your division, like the Texas Rangers, who were trounced by Tampa. Tampa is a great team, and the Red Sox simply do no go away, especially when guys like Buchholz or Lester are on the hill.

The solid victory over Detroit Tuesday doesn't mean much unless the Yankees can go on a run. Their record at home over the last two months has not been impressive, and it has not been anywhere near their 2009 mark in the Bronx. Unfortunately, Andy Pettitte is very far away from a return to the mound, so Dustin Moseley will throw for the Yankees on Wednesday. The offense needs to carry the team sometimes. This would be one of those times.