The New York Yankees may have finally gotten the supporting cast they’ve been seeking to line up behind ace left-hander CC Sabathia. The Yankees, who have been quiet so far this off-season, got busy and made some noise on Friday night by agreeing to send top prospect Jesus Montero to the Mariners in a four-player trade that brings 22-year-old stud pitcher Michael Pineda to the Bronx, according to a person familiar with the situation.
Pineda, a hard-throwing right-hander went 9-10 with a 3.74 ERA for the Mariners last season. He is seen as a young top-of-the-rotation starter the Yankees have lacked behind CC Sabathia.
Montero, 21, was among the top hitting prospects in baseball but was a raw talent as a catcher. The Yankees had planned to use him as a designated hitter this season; they now might look to sign a veteran hitter to round out their roster.
The Yankees also picked up 19-year-old pitcher Jose Campos from Seattle and sent right-hander Hector Noesi to the Mariners. Campos was considered Seattle’s fifth best prospect in their system.
But that wasn’t the end of the news for the Bombers.
They also agreed to sign right hander Hiroki Kuroda, formally of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Kuroda, turns 37 next month and has been a steady performer for some mostly mediocre Los Angeles Dodgers teams. He’s 41-46 lifetime with a 3.45 ERA, all spent within the pitcher-friendly confines of the NL West. He has, however, averaged a respectable 6.7 strikeouts per nine innings, though that number figures to worsen in the hard-knock AL East.
Gabe Lacques of USA TODAY points out, should Kuroda not pan out, the Yankees do have options. Many more than they did before Friday.
We are now in the month of October, which can mean several things. Major League Baseball is now into postseason play, the majority of NFL teams have played a quarter of their regular season games, and the chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title is nearing the end. Let’s pray to the higher powers that it isn’t Jimmie Johnson….again.
Here are my Top Three Performances from NFL Week 4:
1. QB Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers): In a 49-23 beatdown of the Denver Broncos at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers not only stole the show through the air but he also looked stellar on the ground. To add to his performance of 408 passing yards and four touchdowns, Rodgers ran with ease on nine carries for 36 yards, and two rushing touchdowns. If only he would’ve had some recieving reps with backup quarterback Matt Flynn, this could’ve been the best performance of the 2011 season.
2. WR Hakeem Nicks (NY Giants): The more skepticism and criticism that seems to head in the way of the New York Giants, the better they play. Turns out that not only would Eli Manning show up but his fellow receiver Hakeem Nicks would play a factor in the Giants 31-27 road win against the Arizona Cardinals. Nicks would go on to tear up the Cardinals secondary with ten catches for 162 yards and one touchdown.
3. Baltimore Ravens Defense: On a chilly Sunday night in Baltimore, the New York Jets came in with alot of talk and confident swagger. Too bad that is all they could muster up, as the Baltimore Ravens defeated the Jets in an ugly yet exciting 34-17 home win. The Ravens defense stopped the Jets on a total of 150 offensive yards and returned three of four turnovers for touchdowns.
The MLB Postseason Divisional series took off on Friday night and continued throughout the weekend in excellent scheduling by TBS. Not only that but all games have been interesting to watch, including the Milwaukee Brewers early dominance in their divisional series versus the Arizona Diamondbacks. The only gripe I have with the playoff series so far is the suspension of the first game between the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers, as many baseball fans were denied of a classic ace pitching matchup between the Tigers Justin Verlander and the Yankees C.C. Sabathia.
NASCAR driver Kurt Busch got a huge win this past weekend at Dover International Speedway, moving him into a tie for 2nd place with Tony Stewart. They both trail the Sprint Cup leaders Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick by nine points. With seven races left to go, it’ll be very difficult for defending champion Jimmie Johnson to bounce back with a thirteen point disadvantage, and the likes of Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick aren’t slowing down anytime soon.
I am befuddled at the national media’s infatuation with the Dallas Cowboys and Tony Romo. It’s nothing personal, I just feel as if they do not deserve the recognition, especially with a 2-2 record. The Dallas Cowboys haven’t really accomplished anything relevant in the past several seasons. There are many great stories to cover at this point in the NFL season, mainly the surprise teams that have been performing at a high level (Lions, Bills, Raiders, etc.) but it is unfortunate that the overrated Dallas Cowboys are taking their publicity thunder. Until the Dallas Cowboys and Tony Romo accomplish something worth talking about instead of Romo’s cracked rib and latest girlfriend, they will get no writing from me unless they perform at their supposed “potential”.
There were a few things I did enjoy about last night’s WWE pay-per-view “Hell In A Cell”. I enjoyed the fact that Mark Henry retained the World Heavyweight Championship against Randy Orton, Beth Phoenix defeating Kelly Kelly for the Divas Championship, and Alberto Del Rio winning the WWE Championship in the main event against CM Punk and John Cena. But my favorite moment of the night goes to Intercontinental Champion Cody Rhodes for his unveiling of the classic Intercontinental title that was worn by the likes of Ricky Steamboat, Bret “The Hitman” Hart, and “Macho Man” Randy Savage. Even if wrestling fans don’t consider Cody Rhodes a top talent, the fact that he appreciates those that came before him truly earned points in my view.
Thank you for reading my blog this week! Surely next week we will be looking at the American and National League Championship match-ups in baseball, more NFL talk, and a possible look at some Heisman hopefuls. Feel free to check me out on Facebook (Joshua Collins Hall) or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org for any information regarding my blog and future projects. Enjoy your Monday night, I am out.
I have been flooded with e-mails, tweets, Facebook hits, and phone calls asking for my response and feedback on the Yankees struggles against the Boston Red Sox this season. Most notably, the consecutive series sweeps the Red Sox have handed the Yankees on their on field.
To some everything up about the last three games, I’ll let Mark Teixeira help me out:
“They just came and beat us. They swung the bats really well, scored a lot of runs and pitched pretty well, pitched when they needed to. Not much you can do about it. They just beat us.” - Mark Teixeira
Thing is, the Yankees had this game won. Curtis Granderson had homered off Josh Beckett (payback for Beckett hitting Derek Jeter one batter earlier) and CC Sabathia had drilled David Ortiz (payback for the Red Sox beaning six Yankees this series and Ortiz flipping his bat in the opener). The Yankees carried a 2-0 lead into the seventh, which had to be the most deflating inning of the season.
Not much else can be done about it now. I completely agree with what CC Sabathia had to say after the game:
“We lose the game and get swept. I take total blame for everything that happened in the seventh inning, and I’ll be back out there in five days.” - CC Sabathia
The Red Sox and Yankees don’t play one another again until the first weekend in August. Yankees skipper Joe Girardi knows there is a lot of baseball left.
“There’s a lot of baseball to be played until we see them again, how we play the next month and a half or two months until we see them is going to have a lot to do with where we’re at. It’s not how you wanted it to end tonight, but it did. You have to move on.” –
This is pretty funny, apparently David Ortiz blamed the media for him being hit tonight and refused to answer any questions. Alrighty then Papi, whatever helps you sleep at night. Nevermind the fact that he had a huge series. I mean, one would think he would want to talk about that or maybe how well his team has played after a horrid start to the season. Nah, he would rather stomp his feet and blame the media for getting beaned. Come on man, you had to know it was coming.
Speaking of getting hit, here is a telling stat that stood out to me in this series:
Three Yankees were hit by a pitch last night, matching the most by an American League team this season. The last time the Yankees had three players hit by a pitch in one game was June 15, 2010 against the Phillies.
Huh, call me crazy but I think that speaks to a little more than control problems or “pitches that got away”.
I have never been someone who hides from the criticism or backlash that one is susceptible to after a team that I root for struggles. I take it on the chin and eagerly await the next time I am able to return the favor. It’s part of being a fan. It’s what fans do. We as fans – no matter who we are fans of – live and die with each moment in each game day in, day out and week in and week out.
I will always encourage my readers, listeners, friends, family, and colleagues to continue the good natured ribbing and trash talk. I love it and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Because I’m a fan and that’s what I live for.
Last night the New York Yankees lost a heartbreaker by the score of 5-4 in 10 innings to the Minnesota Twins.
Accountability will be important, possibly in the eyes of his teammates as well. But throwing strikes will be more important, and the closer turned setup man had poor command, walking three, including one with the bases loaded, and giving up a single to help blow the 4-0 lead for CC Sabathia in the eighth.
The four runs allowed matched a career worst for Soriano as a reliever. The three walks matched the most he’d ever given up as a starter or reliever.
Take this for an example for accountability. On those rare occasions through the years when Rivera has been a major culprit in a loss, his accountability never has been in doubt. He always faced the media, explained his outing, never broke the imperturbable poker face. He was as good at accountability as throwing a cutter.
After his first meltdown as a Yankee, Soriano vanished. He never came to his locker. A flustered Yankees media relations official conceded Soriano probably dressed quickly and departed, leaving others to explain his ineffectiveness. This would not be quite as big a deal if Soriano’s reputation were closer to pristine. But in previous stops in Atlanta and Tampa Bay, he was known for being prickly, reclusive, determined not to be used in any way, but how he thought fit.
photo courtesy of New York Post
If Soriano is going to succeed in New York with the Yankees he’s got to be accountable. Good or bad, he’s got to be accountable. When his attention and fastball seem off, there is natural wonder if Soriano does not think 4-0 in the eighth inning is worth his full attention. That would have been among the questions asked had he handled last night with professionalism. Instead, he fled, leaving uncertainty if this was a singular poor effort for a talented pitcher or a bad omen of things to come?
Was it because of the cold that Soriano faltered? Pitching the day before? Unfamiliarity with the role? Or anger at being asked to take the ball at 4-0 in the eighth? Soriano played to the worst of his reputation and was not around to answer. The worst part is not that he gave up the lead but the fact that he wasn’t accountable. Going forward, that will tell the story of Soriano’s tenure in New York.
Yesterday was Opening Day for Major League Baseball and we were treated to six games on day one. The other teams get the call Opening Day today. One of the best things about the season being underway is that all of the predictions and projections—we can finally get some real numbers to chew on. All teams have their aces on the mound and every team has a new beginning For me, there’s really no better feeling than Opening Day.
I’m not sure how you all feel about Opening Day occuring in March, but New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixierra loves it.
“I’ve been petitioning the league to start in March for years now, finally they let us start in March because everyone knows about my Aprils.” - Mark Teixeira
Something else that stuck out to me on a positive note, the Cincinnati Reds. The walk off win to be exact. I mean, is it just me, or do the Reds always seem to come back in games? This could be the toughest team in all of baseball. Down 6-3, the Reds loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth. At the time, they were 0-for-8 with RISP and had stranded 10 men on base.
John Axford was in to close it out for the Brewers, but it was not to be. Jay Bruce struck out, and Jonny Gomes hit a sac fly to bring the Reds closer.
Still down 6-4, Ramon Hernandez strolled to the plate. Already 3-for-4 on the day, Hernandez clubbed a walk-off, three-run home run to right field to give the Reds the 7-6 win on Opening Day.
Could this be a Red October, anyone?
Not so good was the Detroit Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson struck out 170 times, the most in the AL. While he did finish second in AL Rookie of the Year voting, batting .293 with 27 stolen bases and 103 runs scored as Detroit’s leadoff man, it would be nice to see him improve his .345 OBP by cutting down on the strikeouts.
He didn’t look very good today against the Yankees’ CC Sabathia. Jackson went 1-for-4 with a run scored and three strikeouts in the Tigers’ 6-3 loss. It’s still early, of course—very early, in fact—but it’s not good to see Jackson striking out three times, especially not when facing a lefty like Sabathia.
In St. Louis, it was not a good start for the hometown Cardinals. More importantly, the bullpen for the Cards was dreadful.
Ryan Franklin only had a one-run lead to protect, but he couldn’t get the job done. After Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday hit a go-ahead solo homer to right-center, Franklin gave up a two-out, game-tying home run to Cameron Maybin.
With the loss of Adam Wainwright, the Cardinals are going to have to score runs and make sure those runs stand up in the late innings. That means Franklin needs to have a good season. Unfortunately, he’s not off to a good start. The boo birds were out in force in St. Louis.
It wasn’t all due to the bullpen woes though. The boo birds were out for the Cardinals soon-to-be free agent slugger Albert Puljols who had a day to forget by going 0-4 and grounding into three double plays. If Pujols has a rough start to the season, fans will be quick to point to his contract situation as the cause. The only question will be if they’ll blame the Cardinals front office or Pujols himself.
Those were some notable happenings from Opening Day. Now, we have another Opening Day to sit back and enjoy and I’m ok with that.
My favorite team – and yours – the New York Yankees are in a very unique situation this spring on a couple of topics but for now, I want to focus on the catcher position. Long time backstop Jorge Posada. 39, has been transitioned to DH duties as the sun sets on what I believe his a Hall of Fame career which has opened the door for some of the Yankees blue chip prospects to settle in to the position. Sure, there are a few names worth talking about but I’m mostly talking about the can’t miss guy, Jesus Montero. (#3 Baseball America)
All throughout the offseason, the Yankees have maintained that Russell Martin is the starting catcher, saying so rather unequivocally on numerous occasions. They haven’t been so committal when talking about the backup catcher’s spot though, saying that Jesus Montero was in direct competition with guys like fellow prospect Austin Romine and the incumbent Francisco Cervelli. For the most part I’ve blown that off as standard Yankees-speak, saying there was a competition when there were really wasn’t just to keep everyone motivated. Nothing wrong with that, and there are plenty of reasons to stick with Cervelli in 2011. However, the more I hear Joe Girardi and the coaching staff talk in Spring Training, the more I think Montero has a legit chance to win the job. Does that mean he’s the favorite? No, of course not. But it certainly sounds like he’s got a non-zero chance to break camp with the big league team. So the question becomes: would the Yankees being doing the right thing by going with Montero as the backup catcher?
The glaring difference when comparing Montero to the incumbent Cervelli is offensive upside. Another benefit of using Montero as the backup in the Majors is something that I think gets overlooked by a lot of people. By having Montero on the Major League level, he would get to work with Joe Girardi and Tony Pena on a daily basis. Obviously it’s his defense that’s holding him back right now, and although former big league catcher/Triple-A Scranton hitting coach Butch Wynegar has done a fine job tutoring the team’s best prospect behind the dish, Girardi and Pena could impart some serious catching knowledge on the kid. It’s not uncommon for a club’s best instructors/coaches to be at the big league level. Montero might not catch everyday with the big club, but he’d be able to work with those two while catching bullpen sessions and what not on a daily basis.
Remember, the Yankees broke Jorge Posada in over a period of several years, they didn’t just throw him to the wolves and make him the everyday backstop as soon as he was called up. Posada started 52 games behind the plate in 1997, then 85 in 1998, then 98 in 1999 before starting 136 games at catcher in 2000, a number one backstop’s workload. Hypothetically, Montero could be broken in in a similar fashion with Martin serving as he caddy. Perhaps 50 starts in 2011, 80 in 2012, and then 120 in 2013 (the season after Martin will be able to leave as a free agent) would work as a similar blueprint to follow.
At just 21 years old, Montero could certainly benefit from playing every single day at the Triple-A level. Remember, his track record of performing there is basically 50 games long. The first 73 contests weren’t so kind to him. And that’s just offensively. Playing everyday would do nothing but help his defense, no matter how hopeless it might look. Catching bullpens and listening to Girardi and Pena is one thing, getting behind the dish in game situations is another all together.
There’s also a chance that playing sparingly with stunt his development offensively. I don’t think that’s the case, but I can’t discount it. Playing two or three games a week isn’t the same as playing five or six times, Montero might have trouble maintaining a rhythm. A demotion back to Triple-A might hurt his confidence as well. Same deal for Cervelli, we can’t forget him. A trip to the minors might hurt his development and/or trade value, who knows. That’s obviously not a priority, but it’s part of the pro/con equation.
One final thing to remember is that there’s a very real financial gain to be made by keeping Montero in the minors for the first two months of the season. Forget about the arbitration clock stuff, the Yankees can afford whatever raises he’d be due, but the difference between Montero becoming a free agent after 2016 and after 2017 is having him on the Opening Day roster or called him up in late-May/early-June. Those two months in 2011 will give the Yankees an extra six or seven months of Montero down the road at the below market price, when he should be in the prime of his career.
For all I know, the talk of the backup catcher competition might just be that, talk. The same way Bubba Crosby was going to be the center fielder in 2006, or the way the team wouldn’t give up a first round pick to sign a reliever this winter, it could just be an act. But if not, if the team is legitimately giving Montero a chance to unseat Cervelli as the backup backstop, well I think I’m pretty cool with that.
I wasn’t always though, I was pretty gung-ho about starting Montero in the minors just so that he could play everyday and gain what I felt was invaluable experience, but I’m starting to believe the benefits of having him in the big leagues with an apprenticeship under Martin, Posada, Girardi, and Pena are very real. Girardi recently said the biggest step in becoming a big league catcher is “earning the trust of your staff,” something Montero can do gradually than all at once. Learning to call a game and prepare beforehand via video and scouting reports … that’s all part of the big league package. I’m sure the team could find 250 or more plate appearances for him throughout the season, I doubt that’ll be a problem.
Suffice to say, this represents a very compelling situation for the Yankees to ponder. Generally speaking, I think what we’re more likely to see is for Montero to start the season in Triple-A and say, May or June he would get the call to the big leagues. However, time will tell and like many of you, I’m going to enjoy watching this play out.
Making a pitch: A lot has been made of the state of the Yankees rotation but it really depends on how you look at it. GM Brian Cashman has said time after time this offseason that his rotation is an area of need and has labled them as an ‘unfinished product’ and I certainly can’t argue with that. However, in my opinion, the best case scenario is for the Yankees to break camp with Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia filling out the back end of the rotation. The Yankees really like Nova and have plenty of reason to. He came up last year and pitched in the middle of a pennant race in August and September and faired pretty well. He struggled the third time thru the order when he got in trouble but there is plenty of reason to believe that he can over come that with a little bit of experience under his belt and be a force at the back of the Yankees rotation behind CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, and A.J. Burnett.
Freddy Garcia has struggled with injuries the last couple of years but he hasn’t forgotten how to pitch and certainly hasn’t forgotten how to compete. Last year with the Chicago White Sox, Garcia went 12-6 with a 4.64 ERA in 157 innings pitched. As a fifth starter, I’d sign up for that kind of production any day of the week. However, here is the reality of the situation. When the Yankees are going good and on top of their game, they don’t even entertain the idea of signing the likes of Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon. That said, if Nova and Garcia can hold those spots down until a trade market develops in June and July, I think the Yankees would be thrilled.
Potential trade targets for the Yankees include guys like Chris Carpenter, Joe Blanton, and Francisco Liriano who is thought to be the cream of the crop and someone the Yankees have already been linked to. I don’t think that he is all that attainable seeing as how he’s still under team control for two years at a very affordable salary and the fact that the Twins are legitimate contenders in the AL Central every year. On the Yankees side of things, they don’t seem the least bit willing to trade any of the big guns. Guys like top pitching prospects Dellin Betances (#43 Baseball America) or Manuel Banuelos (#41Baseball America) , their two premier pitching prospects, in any trade. Andrew Brackman (#78 Baseball America), who is the organization’s third-best pitching prospect, is another player the Yankees would be reluctant to move, according to Jack Curry of the YES Network. When, or if, the Twins feel comfortable dealing Liriano the Yankees will be there waiting, but if Curry is correct they won’t be waiting with Betances or Banuelos. Brackman could be a possibility and we’ve already heard the names Joba Chamberlain or Ivan Nova have been floated out there by Bob Nightengale of the USA Today.
There are questions about Liriano’s durability, but he is young, and has a great strikeout and groundball rates that are attractive in young pitchers. It seems like if the Yankees can acquire him while holding on to their best two or three prospects it is a no brainer.
Sure, the Yankees need pitching. Brian Cashman said as much as I mentioned earlier but I don’t believe they’re as desperate as some are making them out to be.
AP photos of Jesus Montero, Dellin Betances, and Manuel Banuelos