Results tagged ‘ Rays ’

Hudson Valley Renegades: Fun Team is Fun

 

 

 

I am interning with the Renegades this summer

 

It’s about 1:00 a.m. on Saturday morning. I got home from work about an hour and a half ago–well, my internship anyway. This summer I am a part of the Hudson Valley Renegades’ “Fun Team.” I have just completed my first week, and I can say that it is a well-rounded internship with a lot of work involved.

 

 

For starters, the Renegades are a Single-A, short season farm team affiliated with the Tampa Bay Rays in the New York Penn League. A number of current and former Major League Baseball players have come from the Renegades, including Evan Longoria, Scott Podsednik, Wade Davis, and Josh Hamilton, among others.

 

So yes, we have produced some big-name big leaguers.

 

As for my internship: I really do like it, but there are some things that could be better. As a member of the “Fun Team” I feel as though I am an important person in making things happen. One of our main jobs is to entertain the fans in between innings with silly, ridiculous games which take place on the field. You may think it is easy just watching from the stands, but it’s actually pretty difficult.

 

Every game has to end within 90 seconds–that’s pretty much all the time we have before the half-inning begins. It’s hard to get everything on and off the field so quickly. Difficult yes, but I can’t say it’s not fun. It’s pretty cool to be on the field as the players are warming up!

 

Along with being on the field, I have had to help out with the tickets and even walk the mascots around, almost as their bodyguard. When it rained on Tuesday night when the Staten Island Yankees were in town (yes they’re a Yankee farm team!) I had to help pull the tarp over the infield with the grounds crew.

 

 


I helped pull that tarp! 

I can tell you (now from experience) that yes it is fun, but it’s pretty hard! There’s a reason so many people are needed to pull the tarp, because that job requires a lot of strength. It’s pretty much “all hands on deck” when it comes to rain delays at our ballpark.    

 

I also love hearing about the different backgrounds of the players. For example, the Renegades have a young infielder by the name of Burt Reynolds (no, he is not the actor, but his name is spelled the same!) As it turns out, Reynolds is Robinson Cano’s second cousin, and they have worked out together in the off-season.

 

In fact, Reynolds wears the number 24, just like Cano.

 

 


Burt Reynolds is Robinson Cano's cousin!!!! He also wears 24! 

I’d like to ask Reynolds if he wears 24 because of his cousin; in fact, I’d like to do a whole interview with him! But I don’t think I’m allowed to. The Renegades’ manager, Jared Sandberg (a member of the Devil Rays from 2001-03) does not want his players “fraternizing with any staff members.” So in other words, I can’t talk to the players.

 

Well, I at least can’t hold long conversations with them.

 

Today Geno Glynn, one of their backup infielders, said hi to me and one of the other interns while we were on the field before the National Anthem. I politely said hi back, nodded my head, and smiled. I wanted to say more and maybe start a little conversation with him about baseball, but I obviously didn’t want to get him or myself in trouble, so I didn’t.

 

Sandberg actually told his players that if they talk to the staff they will get fined. I think that’s kind of pushing it and honestly a little ridiculous. I don’t see the harm in talking to staff members, so the rule (to me) is stupid. Yet I don’t want them to get in trouble, so unless they speak to me, I won’t speak to them.

 

The last thing I want to do is to cause them any problems with their manager.

 

It’s been pretty exciting to this point and a number of neat things have happened. Consider Wednesday night when the Brooklyn Cyclones (a farm team affiliated with the New York Mets) were in town. My fellow Mercy College alumnus Mookie Wilson was at our game–signing autographs. He isn’t part of the Cyclones team, so I could have talked to him.

 

 
Mookie Wilson came to our game Wednesday 

 

I wanted to talk to him, but unfortunately I was so busy with work that I wasn’t able to. It would have been nice to ask him how he liked Mercy; if he enjoyed the school as much as I did. He also got his degree from Mercy 10 years after he won the World Series with the Mets in 1986, so I would have asked him why he went back to school.

 

Again, it could have made a great interview.

 

Speaking of the Cyclones, they have a player named Corey Vaughn. He is the son of Greg Vaughn (who played for the San Diego Padres) and the nephew of Mo Vaughn (who played for the Mets, Angels, and Red Sox as a journeyman). It’s pretty interesting that some of these youngsters have such a good baseball lineage. Again, it all goes back to the background of each player.

 


Greg Vaugh's son is on the Cyclones  

 

Tonight the Renegades beat the Cyclones 4-3, capping a three-run, ninth-inning comeback. The Stadium went wild for the walk-off victory. According to my boss and everyone else within the organization, not only was tonight the largest crowd in the team’s history, but it was their first walk-off win in three years.

 

Talk about a good night for the ‘Gades on and off the field.

 

 


Renegades win! 

It has been a week into this job. I have gotten to know a lot of new people and I have made some new friends. I am having a good time with the internship and I think it fits me perfectly, because I am such a “baseball buff,” if you will.

 

I can only hope the best is yet to come with this internship. I’d like to have more adventures over the summer and who knows…maybe when it’s all over they will offer me a full-time position. Many of the other interns are still in college. I just graduated from college, so I might have a good shot to stay on board after the season ends in the beginning of September.

 

Again, I can only hope. Until then, I’ll just be working as hard as I can.

 

Go Renegades! (If you’re wondering they are 4-3 this year, good for second place in their division–we haven’t lost a game at home yet, either. Maybe I’m their good luck charm…?)

 

The Times, They Are A-Changin’ Part I

Here we are on June 11, 60 games into the 2010 MLB season. The New York Yankees are currently sitting in second place in the American League Eastern Division standings. The only team standing between the Bronx Bombers and first place is the Tampa Bay Rays.

 

Through 60 games last season, the Yanks were 34-26 while this year they are 37-23. In terms of their record, the team is doing three games better this year than they were this far into last year’s campaign. But the record is just the record. The numbers are just the numbers.

 

Is this the same team we saw in 2009?

 

The answer is no.

 

As I have noticed the differences between ’09 and ’10, I will be writing a multiple-part blog over the next few days pointing out what is different in terms of the Yankees, whether it is good or bad. For the first part, I opted to write about…

 

The Core Four

 

 


The Core Four Yankees...how much longer...? 

The first thing I have noticed a difference in…well, in some ways.

 

Although Derek Jeter is still a god in New York, there’s no denying the fact that his age is (just about) catching up to him. He can still hit, as evidenced by his .296 batting average this season, but on defense he looks more off than I can ever remember seeing him.

 

Jeter can still make beautiful web gems–I haven’t forgotten about his amazing jump throw on May 26 against the Minnesota Twins. But his lateral range is just not what is used to be. According to many people I have talked to, he was never the greatest defender anyway.

 

Jeter's range has gone down, but he is still a beast 

 

I never believed that. Jeter’s Gold Gloves and patented mid-air spin speak for themselves. Unlike last year however, (so far) this year he has not looked like the Jeter of old. He only has three errors this year and last year he only committed eight, which isn’t a bad number.

 

Jeter is who he is. As Ozzie Guillen, manager of the Chicago White Sox, said earlier this season, “Jeter is god. Who wouldn’t want him on their team?” He is right; there really is not anything bad I can say about the Captain. It’s almost taboo as a Yankee fan to badmouth or try to negate Jeter’s credibility.  

 

While this is true, it is apparent Jeter is aging–which has nothing to do with how good he is, it’s just a fact of life and what unfortunately happens to all of us! The Yankee Captain will be 36 by the end of the month and I just wonder how many more years he has left in him.

 

Then there’s Jorge Posada.

 

The Yankee catcher was injured on May 16, taking a foul ball off his foot behind the plate and sustaining a fracture. He went to the 15-day disabled list and missed about two weeks before returning to the lineup on June 2–as a designated hitter.

 


Posada has not caught since coming back from the DL  
 

 

Since coming back from his injury, Posada has not caught a game and has been relegated to the DH spot–a spot he has not been very productive in. In the eight games he has played upon his return, the 38 year-old catcher (who will be 39 in August) has only collected three hits in 27 at-bats.

 

Meanwhile, Francisco Cervelli has been clipping together a decent season in Posada’s absence. The 24 year-old is currently hitting .280. Even though he does not hit for power and has no homers, he has 25 RBIs on the year.

 

Looking at it statistically, Cervelli is hitting four points higher than Posada for average and has 10 more runs batted in. Not only that, but it seems Cervelli is becoming the likely candidate to succeed Posada. There was a stretch where Cervelli caught nine games in a row before Joe Girardi had to plug the other backup catcher Chad Moeller behind the plate.

 

I remember once thinking to myself, “Who does Cervelli think he is? The starting catcher?!”

 

But hey, it has not been a bad thing. Cervelli has done a wonderful job and possesses great offensive numbers with two outs and runners in scoring position. I can only hope he generates a little bit more power and knocks some homers out of the park.

 

Francisco Cervelli has filled in well for Jorge 

 

As for Posada, I hope he can remain healthy. In recent years he has certainly had his share of injuries and it is perfectly understandable. After all, he is playing arguably the most difficult position on the field; catchers have to take the most abuse and punishment of all baseball players.

 

After 2011 Posada’s contract is up and he will be 40. Will he be a Yankee after next year? Will he be able to catch every day? Will he retire?

 

All of these questions remain to be seen. But any way it goes, things will be different. And as far as the Yankee catching situation goes at press time, in some ways they already are. Posada has not been an everyday catcher

 

Now onto Mariano Rivera.

 

A lot of people might say really the only thing that has changed about the Great Rivera is his age. From ’09-’10 Rivera turned from 39 to 40 years of age.

 

But if you remember back on April 30, Rivera made a relief appearance against the Chicago White Sox. He suffered an apparent rib injury in his left side and did not make another appearance for over a week after he got hurt.

 

 


Mo was out for over a week last month 

I don’t remember him ever getting injured like that last season or missing an extended period of time the way he did last month. At the beginning of the season he was asked whether or not he would keep playing beyond 2010, seeing as how his contract expires at the end of the year and of course considering his age.

 

He said he does not yet know what his plans are and that he will decide after the season is over. The Yankees do however need to start thinking about what to do when Rivera’s playing days are up or if he does not come back to the team next year–whatever the reason may be.

 

I have a bad feeling that if the Yankees do not make the right choices, Rivera will not be the closer next year. Worse off, they won’t find a suitable replacement for him and they could be reduced to a “closer-by-committee” situation. One day it could be Joba Chamberlain, the next it could be David Robertson, and so on and so forth.

 

Surely nobody wants that to happen. If Rivera decides to play again, I think the Yanks need to get him back, or at least show him respect by making him a generous offer.

 

Yet, it’s not like they really went full throttle after Hideki Matsui this past off-season. Matsui was a Yankee for seven years, was a fan-favorite, respected by the entire organization, and (oh, by the way) the reigning World Series Most Valuable Player.

 

He did so much for the Yankees during his tenure in pinstripes. Matsui was beloved, and helped the team regain the title. What worries me is that the Yanks did not go for him and he is close to four years younger than Rivera.  

 

Who knows what will happen at the end of the season. We will have to wait until it plays out, but if and when Rivera leaves, what happens next? This upcoming off-season we will get the answer.

 

Last but never the least, Andy Pettitte.

 

 


Andy Pettitte is 7-1 this season 

Despite his age of 37 (he will turn 38 on June 15 {which is also my birthday!}) Pettitte is putting together a remarkable year. If he wins tonight against his former team the Houston Astros, Pettitte will own a powerful record of 8-1 on the year.

 

He currently has a 2.47 ERA, which is good for third in the American League behind David Price of the Rays and Doug Fister of the Seattle Mariners.

 

Pettitte was however taken out of the game on May 5 vs. the Baltimore Orioles with inflammation in his left elbow. He tossed five innings and registered the win, but was forced to miss a following start because of the injury.

 

Another concern is the fact that Pettitte has been on the disabled list five times in his career, all as a result of problems in his pitching elbow. Since he skipped the start after leaving on May 5 there haven’t been any more problems or concerns with Pettitte.

 

Barring a catastrophe or any more pitching problems though, Pettitte looks like he will be an asset to the Yankees down the stretch run, which is no surprise. He has been doing it for years and years; pitching in big games and always coming up big when it matters most. But again the question comes up:

 

How much longer can he keep it up? He only signed on for one year at the outset of the season and like Rivera, his future is up in the air at the moment. He is unsure whether or not he is going to pitch or pack it in after 2010.

 

Pettitte’s age and his desire to spend more time with his family have long been a topic of discussion in terms of his career. Even before he returned to the Yankees in 2007 many analysts and baseball writers speculated as to whether or not he would call it quits and retire or keep going.

 

Obviously he opted to come back home to the Yankees where he started and he was welcomed with open arms. Since his comeback in ’07, Pettitte has been a rock in the Yankees’ rotation. This season things have not changed. But next year will they?

 

They say age is nothing but a number. It’s not about how old you are but about how old you feel. But considering the recent and apparent way things have been going for the “Core Four” Yankees, I have to disagree.

 

Age can and eventually will catch up, and we are beginning to see it amongst the most beloved Yankees of our era. This quartet of special Bombers can still get it done on the diamond, despite the obstacles they have had to hurdle this season.

 

But yet again I ask… how much longer can they do this….?

 


NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!  
 

Letter to Joe Girardi

 

I am writing to the Yankee skipper

 

May 21, 2010

 

Dear Joe Girardi,

 

Greetings! On behalf of every Yankee fan, I am asking you at this time to please tell the whole team to wake up. These past three days have been a nightmare in terms of…well…every facet of our game. The fan base is a little fed up with everything that has been going on.

 

First, let’s start with the injury situation. I wrote last time that too many Yankees are getting hurt and it’s becoming ridiculous. Let’s face it, it’s the truth. It was great to see Nick Swisher back in the lineup yesterday, but unfortunately not even he could save us from an 8-6 beating at the hands of the almighty Tampa Bay Rays.

 

I couldn’t really believe your Yanks actually lost three of four at home. Well technically, and in all fairness, you did take two of three from the Minnesota Twins. But you lost three of four to division rivals and dropped four of seven at home. It rarely ever happens.

 

As far as the injuries go, the bottom line is, it’s too much. We need healthy guys out on the field and we need to field the best team we can. We are obviously not doing that. I understand that you cannot control it, but something needs to be done about it.

 

Trades, call-ups, roster moves. Whatever you have to do skip, do it.

 

Next, I’d like to mention the bullpen. Why are you continuously using Chan Ho Park in tight-game situations? I think when Brian Cashman got him he wanted him for long relief. So why, I ask, is he coming in when the Yankees are in a close game?

 

 


Chan Ho Park should just be a mop-up guy 

Piece of advice: don’t bring Park in unless we have a 10-run lead or if we are down by 10 runs. A mop-up role is exactly what suites him right now, because he is certainly making a mess of everything.

 

Then there’s Randy Winn and Marcus Thames.

 

They stink. 

 

I’ll pick on Winn first. Why, in the name of God, is he even on this team? In all of the games he has played this season, I think I can point out two things he has done right: his home run to help beat the Baltimore Orioles on May 3 and his triple on Sunday against the Twins.

 

Other than those two hits, Winn has been useless; a defensive liability (playing shallow in left field with two outs???) and an automatic out in most games. Another piece of advice for you, Mr. Girardi: dump him. Dump him like the clingy girlfriend who just won’t leave you alone.

 

I feel at this point, a guy like free agent Jermaine Dye could do a lot better than Winn. I realize Dye is old (well, only a year older than Winn) but at this point, anyone could be doing better than Winn. Call back up Greg Golson or…just anyone. Winn is not getting the job done.

 

Now onto Thames.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I totally appreciate the walk-off blast off Jonathan Papelbon Monday night. For that, I could not be more grateful. Thames certainly has some pop and can generate a decent amount of offense in the lineup.

 

But he is not an everyday player, nor is he a good defender. The guy cannot play the outfield. I have said this before and I’ll say it again, he looks like giraffe out there! He dropped a pop fly ball on Tuesday night that a Little Leaguer could have easily caught, not to mention he has a seriously hard time getting to any fly ball.

 

Please, if you are going to use him at all, put him at the designated hitter spot.

 

And one more thing…who trips over their own bat running to first base? I didn’t even know that was possible. Yet Thames somehow managed to trip over his own bat running to first, so I guess the joke is on me.

 

 


Subway Series time! 

As you know skip, your Yankees have a big series coming up against the cross-town rival New York Mets in their house. Heading into tonight’s action, the Mets are 20-22, good for last place in the National League East standings.

 

Your boys, on the other hand, are reeling from three consecutive losses yet are still 25-16, second place in the American League East Standings. This evening, Javier Vazquez (2-4, 8.01 ERA) is pitching against Hisonori Takahashi (3-1, 3.12 ERA).

 

Vazquez has had experience in the NL, so I expect big things from him in this game. If he fails and gets rocked, I will then fully admit that getting Vazquez back was a bad move. If he is a pitcher supposedly built for the National League and he can’t beat a last place NL team…I can then easily say it was a bad move to get him.

 

Saturday night (pretty much your best guy at press time) Phil Hughes (5-0, 2.25 ERA) will square off against Mike Pelfrey (5-1, 3.02 ERA). A few years back, I heard a lot of chatter about who was the better prospect.

 

Hughes or Pelfrey? 

 

Many people I knew said Pelfrey would go on to have a better career than Hughes. A lot of other people said Hughes was the next Roger Clemens and he would put up the better numbers. While it’s still early in their careers and we don’t know who will end up with the better stats, Saturday might give us an idea.

 

Maybe we’ll find out who is the top, young dog in New York.

 

Finally on Sunday a pair of aces will be on the hill. CC Sabathia (4-2, 3.43 ERA) vs. Johan Santana (3-2, 3.72 ERA). The series finale could have the makings of a classic, or both teams could just touch the aces up for a bunch of runs.

 

CC vs. Johan Sunday night. 

 

I’d prefer to see a pitcher’s duel, but honestly, I think it could go either way.

 

Mr. Girardi, it’s early. Up until these last few games, the Yankees had been playing very good ball despite the absence of some key players. But now, the injuries and lack of consistency are catching up to the team.

 

All I ask is that the problems be fixed and the Yankees beat the Mets. I don’t think any Yankee fan could ever live down being beaten by (in most Yankee fans’ minds) a last place, inferior, second-rate New York team.

 

Do your best. We’ll all be watching.

 

Yours truly,

 

A.J. “Yankee Yapping.”

 

P.S. If your boys can somehow manage to sweep the Mets this weekend, you could be responsible for running the Mets’ manager out of town. If his team gets swept, this could happen!

 


If the Yanks sweep...bye bye Jerry...?  

Too Many Injuries, Can The Yanks Catch a Break?

On Wednesday night the New York Yankees took their second loss in as many games, a 10-6 beating by the first place Tampa Bay Rays. The Bronx Bombers are now four games behind the Rays in the AL East standings.

 

Not a productive night, by any means.

 

The real story isn’t tonight’s loss, however. It’s the fact that the Yankees seem to be dropping like flies. Tonight one more Yank was injured while another one was announced to be missing up to four weeks.

 

There’s a fine line between a couple of key guys going down and it getting ridiculous in terms of the injuries.

 

The Yankees have crossed that line.

 

Now that the injury bug has taken a huge chunk out of the Yankees, let’s assess their injury situation…

 

Jorge Posada

 

 


Jorge Posada has a hairline fracture on his foot 

After tonight’s loss, it was announced that the Yankee catcher will be missing at least three weeks, possibly a month. On Sunday vs. the Minnesota Twins, Jorge Posada took a foul ball off his right foot hit by Michael Cuddyer.

 

Turns out Posada sustained a hairline fracture as a result of the foul ball.

 

Terrific.

 

Francisco Cervelli has been doing a fantastic job filling in for Posada, but make no mistake about it, Posada’s absence is a blow to the lineup. He is a key hitter and up until Sunday was doing a good job.

 

I mean, on Saturday he homered!

 

Since Posada will obviously be out for awhile, the Yankees need to get another catcher. If they know what’s good for them, they’ll call up either Jesus Montero or Austin Romine. Both players are top-notch catchers and are thought to be the next generation of Yankees.

 

 


Montero or Romine should get called up in Posada's absence 

According to Baseballreference.com, Montero is currently hitting .229 in 33 games for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees with three homers, 19 RBIs, and 13 runs scored.

 

Romine on the other hand is hitting .304 in AA Trenton with three homers, 23 RBIs, and 17 runs scored.

 

The numbers indicate Romine might be the better choice at the moment, but who knows. One of these kids might need to come up and help. Cervelli, although he is tearing it up, will need it.

 

As for Posada, get well soon. He claimed afterward that, “It will not take three or four weeks to get back.” But it doesn’t really matter. He hasn’t been playing anyway, so the Yanks’ best bet is to just put him on the DL and free up some roster room.  

 

Marcus Thames

 

 


Thames is listed as day-to-day after tripping over his bat tonight 

Unbelievable. Talk about going from on top of the world to the bottom of the underbelly of the universe basically overnight.

 

On Monday night, Marcus Thames played the role of unlikely hero, crushing the glorious walk-off home run off Jonathan Papelbon to beat the Red Sox 11-9.

 

Good work. Unfortunately the euphoric feeling didn’t last long.

 

The next night, not only did Thames make a crucial error on defense, he failed on offense. First it was an easy pop fly he dropped, which prolonged Boston’s big inning propelling them to a win.

 

And just when it seemed the Yanks were going to mount an awesome, game-tying comeback (much like they had on Monday night) Thames grounded to the pitcher with a runner on third. All he had to do was put the ball in the air to knot the game, but…no.

 

Wednesday night Thames, like many other Yankees, injured himself. He ripped a ball into the left field and on the way to first base stepped on the bat he used and came up limping.

 

He was diagnosed with a sprained ankle.

 

Why am I not surprised? It’s only fitting that our fourth outfielder (who can barely play the field as it is) had to get hurt, just like the rest of the outfielders.

 

Leaving the game, Ramiro Pena (a shortstop by trade) had to play right field for only the second time in his career.

 

He is listed as day-to-day and manager Joe Girardi stated after the game that, “There might be a move tomorrow.”

 

Take that for what it’s worth. As for Thames, I kind of hope he is injured and he goes to the DL. Maybe a stint on the disabled list can wake the Yankees up into the realization that they need someone who can play the outfield.

 

Thames is a good hitter; maybe worthy of the DH role. But he is not a defensive force, by any stretch of the imagination.

 

Other Notable Players Hurt

 

 


Injuries are hurting the Yankees 

  • Nick Swisher: Biceps

 

Not sure when he is slated to come back; hopefully before we play the Mets on Friday night. Right field, as evidenced tonight, is a disaster right now. Swisher needs to get better. Quickly.

 

  • Curtis Granderson: Hamstring

 

When Curtis Granderson went down on May 1, he was hitting .225 and not really doing much to help the Yankees win. In a game like tonight, his presence may or may not have really made much a difference.

 

He was however playing a lot better defense than the outfielders now, and probably could have easily snapped out of the hitting slump with a little extra BP.

 

It was noted before the game that he’ll be back on June 1. It can’t come soon enough!

 

  • Nick Johnson: Wrist

 

In Boston last weekend, Nick Johnson injured his wrist. He underwent surgery on Tuesday and will be out until at least July.

 

I, for one, am shocked. Not!

 

He is one player who just cannot stay healthy. If the Yankees really wanted a designated hitter this past off-season, they should have just signed Vladimir Guerrero. He may be aging, but at least he is never hurt.

 

Or they could have tried to get Hideki Matsui back. I mean…he was the World Series MVP!

 

Johnson was not the best choice for an everyday DH. He is too much of a liability and at this point, it’s looking like a bad signing. The Yankees needed to know that making this deal came with a risk. And now they’re seeing the end result of that.

 

  • Alfredo Aceves

 

No recent word on him. His stiff back sidelined him. Just what we need right now with the bullpen in shambles.

 

 

It has just been rough these past two days. Hang in there, Yankee fans. We are going through a hard time right now, and we’ll go through more hard times.

 

But the tough times just make the good times feel even better.

 

Tomorrow night: Andy Pettitte (5-0, 1.79 ERA) vs. James Shields (4-1, 3.00 ERA)

 

Let’s split this series and get our heads back in the game. Go Yankees!

 

—————————————————————————————————————————————

 

On Another note:

 

I noticed John Jaso, the catcher on the Rays. Jaso played for the Hudson Valley Renegades in the minors, a Single-A farm team of the Rays. The Renegades play about ten minutes from where I grew up.

 

I went to a game a few years back and I remembered his name when I heard it during tonight’s game. I also realized tonight that I met him and I actually have his autograph! He signed a foul ball I got at a Renegades game back in 2005 (I think)

 

Anyway, here’s his John Hancock on my baseball:

 

John Jaso signed my ball as a member of the HV Renegades  

Cervelli and Burnett Bust O’s, Yanks Take Series

Call the New York Yankees “butter” right now, because they are certainly on a roll.

 

Tonight the Bronx Bombers continued their winning ways and beat the Baltimore Orioles by the same score they beat them by last night, 4-1. They have won 15 of their last 18 home series, extended their winning streak to three games, and have now won eight of their first nine series this season.

 

Only three other Yankee teams in history (1928, 1939, and 2003) have won eight of their first nine series, so obviously the 2010 group is standing out and has gotten off to a magnificent start.

 

A pair of plays and players stood out tonight…

 

Francisco Cervelli

 

 


Cervelli was on fire tonight! 

This youngster did a wonderful job filling in for Jorge Posada, who is battling a balky right calf muscle. Francisco Cervelli was 3-for-3 with a triple, a bunt single, and two runs scored.

 

Not bad at all.

 

The Cisco kid was also playing amazing defense, making a beautiful catch to end the top of the fourth inning. Garrett Atkins popped a foul, high-fly ball toward the Yankee dugout. Cervelli kept his eye on the ball the whole way and falling stomach-first over the railing, made the putout.

 

Manager Joe Girardi actually caught Cervelli and bench coach Tony Pena nearly got toppled as he landed practically on top of him. It was a huge out, because there was a runner on third and the game was tied 1-1 at that point. That brilliant play prevented the O’s from going ahead, which certainly could have changed the complexion of the game.

 

I noticed as Cervelli rounded second base he flipped off his helmet. I guess he had to, since it is much bigger than a normal helmet. Because the young catcher has sustained multiple concussions in his career, he has to wear that funny-looking headpiece.

 

It makes him look like Gazoo from “The Flintstones.” Or maybe “Dark Helmet” from “Spaceballs”…

 

 


Does his helmet look like Gazoo's or Dark Helmet's...? 

At any rate, Cervelli stole the show tonight. A few hits, a pair of runs, and a web gem. Not a bad night at the office. He must keep up the good work, especially since Posada has been hurting.

 

 

A.J. Burnett

 

 

 


 
AJ Burnett is 4-0 this year 

Once again, A.J. Burnett came out dealing like a man on fire. (Had to change it up; the “blackjack in Vegas” line is actually getting old, but that’s a good thing!)

 

The number two hurler tossed 7 1/3 innings tonight and gave up only one unearned run on five hits. He walked just two batters and he struck out eight.

 

Last week Burnett started against these same Orioles and only struck out four hitters. He seemed to be pitching to contact a lot more and was a lot more effective; he got a lot of fly ball outs and also induced a few outs on the ground. Tonight however, he was striking more batters out with a fastball, which was dancing all over the strike zone.

 

Burnett did not rely so much on his breaking ball tonight, but when he did throw it, he got the ball to move nicely. Girardi said after the game his curve ball was “outstanding, he used it effectively, and it had great depth.”

 

Could not have said it better myself.

 

The top of the third was really Burnett’s only hiccup. He allowed a run on a throwing error, but quickly settled down. With runners on second and third and no one out, he struck out Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, and Matt Wieters–all swinging–to get out of the inning without any further damage.

 

Maybe instead of “Dr. Jekyll-Burnett” I should call him “Harry Houdini-Burnett.”

 

 


AJ Houdini-Burnett got out of a huge jam in the third 

Now with a record of 4-0 and ERA of 1.99, Burnett’s next start will come Sunday night against the Red Sox. He has not had much success in the past vs. Boston, but after tonight he may have given us all a reason to have more faith in him.

 

He is off to the best start he has ever gotten off to in his career. And by the way, he hasn’t allowed an earned run in each of his last four starts. 

 

Other Notes:

 

–Derek Jeter started at the designated hitter spot tonight while Ramiro Pena got the nod at short. Jeter was 1-for-5 but Pena had a sacrifice fly and two RBIs in the game.

 

He knocked in his first run in the bottom of the third, bunting and reaching on an error to drive in Brett Gardner and give the Yanks the lead. His sac fly came in the eighth to give the Yankees’ their 4-1 lead.

 

–Greg Golson got called up today and Mark Melancon was optioned back to Triple-A. Golson didn’t have an at-bat tonight, but he made a nice catch in center field to rob Miguel Tejada of extra bases. A HUGE play and a great catch!

 

–Alex Rodriguez has not been hitting well lately, but he was 0-for-2 on the night with an RBI bases loaded walk in the bottom of the fifth. Even when he isn’t killing the ball, he is still helping the team win.

 

–Mariano Rivera did not pitch tonight, because of that “discomfort” he spoke about after Friday’s outing vs. Chicago. Joba Chamberlain (playing the role of “Joba the Heat”) came in and slammed the door for the second time in as many games.

 

Chamberlain now has three career saves. He isn’t doing badly as an understudy, but he can’t get too comfortable in the closer role. Rivera will probably be back by Friday.

 

–Before the game, Jeter mentioned that his favorite food to eat in a restaurant is chicken parmesan. I guess I’m a man after his own heart–that is my all-time favorite dish!

 

–The Yankees are now 18-8, 10 games above .500. If Tampa Bay loses to Seattle tonight, we are dead-even and tied for first place in the AL East.

 

–Tomorrow afternoon the Yankees look to sweep the O’s. Andy Pettitte (3-0, 2.12 ERA) will lead the Yanks into battle against David Hernandez (0-3, 4.55 ERA)

 

 

I’d also like to take this moment to remember Ernie Harwell, the famous broadcaster, who passed away tonight. He is a legend with the Detroit Tigers and from everyone’s testimony, he was a wonderful person with a great soul.

 

R.I.P. Mr. Harwell. I wish you peace. My heart goes out to his friends, family, and every baseball fan he touched in his life.

 

R.I.P. Ernie Harwell 

Was Javier Vazquez Worth It?

Last December the New York Yankees made a trade to get a number four starter. Only using three pitchers in the postseason, and unsure of who was going to be the number five man, they got it done.

 

So long Melky Cabrera. Hello (again) Javier Vazquez.

 

 


Javier Vazquez returned to the Yankees this year 

Boasting a 15-10 record in 2009 with a minuscule 2.87 ERA and 238 strikeouts, some people were happy with the move. I, on the other hand, was not a proponent of this trade from the get go, remembering how poorly he had performed in his first stint in pinstripes. 

 

Vazquez, a member of the Yankees in 2004, was the losing pitcher in Game 7 of the 2004 American League Championship Series, surrendering the infamous grand slam to Johnny Damon–a blast that basically put the Yankees away.

 

Vazquez picthed in the Yankees' losing effort in the 2004 ALCS 

 

Back in pinstripes, Vazquez made his first start of 2010 on April 9. What happened? He picked up right where he left off in ’04 and got rocked. He tossed 5 2/3 innings, was charged with eight earned runs on eight hits, walked three, and struck out five.

 

Not the way he wanted to start the season, I’m sure.

 

His second start was a little better, but Vazquez still was not good enough to win. Against the Angels on April 14, he tossed 5 1/3 innings and gave up four earned runs on six hits. He walked two and struck out four. It certainly was not his best start, but it was a step up from his first.

 

 


Roughed up by the Rays.. 

Last Tuesday night in Oakland he got his first W of ’10 beating the Athletics in a 7-3 Yankee win. This time Vazquez made it through 5 1/3 innings, and gave up three runs on six hits. He walked three and fanned six.

 

Then we came to today…

 

Just when it seemed Vazquez was heading in an upward direction in terms of his pitching, he backpedaled and collapsed. He did not make it past the fourth frame, only giving the Yanks 3 2/3 innings of work. He served up five runs on five hits, walked three and struck out three. Not to mention he coughed up a three-run lead.

 

His pitching led to the Yankees’ first series loss of 2010, as they dropped two games out of three this weekend to the Halos. Yes–totally the opposite of cool.

 

 


Vazquez only pitched 3 2/3 innings today 

Right now, Vazquez is the weakest link on the Yankee pitching staff. He has not pitched past the sixth inning this season and has given up 20 earned runs in all 20 innings he has thrown. He has failed to locate with his pitches and has been hanging too many breaking balls.

 

Bobby Abreu was a clear example of that today.

 

In the third inning, the former Yankee blasted a solo home run to right off Vazquez, a bomb hit off a terribly executed breaking ball. Vazquez threw 78 pitches, 47 of which were strikes.

 

If you ask me, of those 78 pitches, probably 38 or 39 of them were off-speed. Vazquez has shown no faith in his fastball. It seems he overthrows his fastball too much and subsequently misses the strike zone because of it. He has issued eight walks this season, indicating his location problem.

 

So far this trade has not paid off and it’s looking like a bad one. I’m not concerned with his numbers from last year, his numbers from 2004, or any other year for that matter. What does matter is 2010 and how unproductive Vazquez’s outings have been.

 

At this moment, we as Yankee fans have every reason to disapprove of the trade.

 

His next time out will come at home against one of his former teams, the Chicago White Sox, on Saturday May 1. I am going to give Vazquez a month. If he is still struggling as mightily as he is now by June 1, I am going to go on a search for a starting pitcher to replace him.

 

 


Could Vazquez be gone before he gets setlled in New York? 

I will look far and wide; I will look at every stat from every Yankee minor league hurler, I will glance at every team in baseball who might need Vazquez–while at the same time finding a suitable replacement; a pitcher putting up numbers in accordance to a good number four starter.

 

Honestly, at this point in the season, the Yankees could probably throw their bat boy out there and he could do better than Vazquez. He is too inconsistent and does not seem to be moving in the same direction of the team. He is the only starter in the rotation with a losing record.

 

CC Sabathia (2-1), A.J. Burnett (2-0), Andy Pettitte (3-0), Phil Hughes (2-0)

 

Vazquez is now 1-3.

 

Before the season began, an analyst said Vazquez has the stuff to be a number two pitcher. While that may or may not be true, he is not showing that right now. He is only showing that he cannot do the job he was brought on board to do.

 

We’ll see what he is made of. He has until June 1. Then, if he has shown no improvement, I say the Yankees ought to dump him off. It’s not like he is under contract for 2011 as it is.

 

 

Other Notes

 

–Marcus Thames has got nothing on Brett Gardner in left field. He started this afternoon, only to misplay a ball out in left. There are some big guys who can move around pretty well in the outfield (like Nick Swisher)

 

Thames is a big guy who can’t move around well. If he had caught the fly ball, it would have been a whole different game today. Thames only started because he supposedly “wears down left-handed pitching,” a Scott Kazmir (a lefty) started for the Halos.

 

Thames did have a hit and a run scored, but that misplayed ball hurt big time.

 

–The Yankees only have to play the Angels twice more this season: July 20-21 at home in Yankee Stadium. Thank God for getting them out of the way in April! They are too tough to be playing down the stretch.

 

–As mentioned before, the Yankees are 5-1 in their first six series this season. This past series was their first losing effort. Still, it’s not bad to have won five straight to begin the year. Good start!

 

–Robinson Cano was hit by a pitch in the second inning. Jorge Posada came up to bat right after Cano and launched a two-run homer.

 

Message to the 29 other teams in the MLB: you hit the Yankees, they will hit back!

 

Cano also homered in this game, clubbing his fifth of the year, and he now leads the Yankee team in long balls.

 

–Mark Teixeira needs to get off the interstate and start getting some hits. He did draw two walks today, but he is supposed to be a big threat to the other team’s pitching. Currently batting .119, he poses no threat right now at all.

 

Wake up, Tex!

 

right or wrong? 

 

–Speaking of Teixeira , I really don’t know how I feel about him ramming the catcher Friday night. I’m not sure if Teixeira did it because he got hit with a pitch before it happened, but whatever the case, he mowed him down.

 

It is part of the game and many runners coming hard into home plate do it, but I felt sorry for Bobby Wilson. It’s happened to the Yankees before, in spring training prior to 2008. Elliot Johnson of the Rays broke Francisco Cervelli’s wrist that way.

 

It’s dangerous! The league should consider regulating collisions somehow, if it’s doable.

 

Teixeira really got him good (giving Wilson a concussion and an ankle injury) but at least he apologized and felt some remorse for the hit. That is the type of personality Teixeira has, but if I were him, I’d watch out in July. The Angels might want some retribution.  

 

And Justin Tuck better watch out. If the New York Giants need a linebacker or a defensive end, Teixeira might be their man. That hit was football-esque!

 

–On their day off tomorrow, the Yankees will visit the White House in honor of their 2009 World Series Championship. Message to Joe Girardi: tell Obama to fix the economy, create jobs for hard-working Americans who need work, and that his health care bill is trash and should be thrown away.

 

I think it’s nice that the President recognizes the nation’s sports titles and invites the Champs to the White House. It’s been happening for years and years; I know Clinton and Bush both did the same thing.

 

–On Tuesday the Yankees go to Baltimore to play the Orioles for three games. Phil Hughes, CC Sabathia, and A.J. Burnett will start those three games, respectively.

 

–Right now the Yankees are 12-6, in second place in the AL East, a game behind the Rays who are 14-5.

MLB Weekend Highlights

 

 

So much going on this weekend!

It’s been a crazy weekend in baseball!

 

Yankees

 

 


Mark Teixeira hit a homer on Sunday 

I’d first like to begin by letting everyone know the Yankees have now won four in a row and have taken the first four series of the young season from their opponents. This is the first time the Yankees have done this since 1926, indicating one of the finest starts I have ever seen the team get off to.

 

Michael Kay said yesterday that “New Yorkers always look for the negatives,” speaking of Mark Teixeira’s huge slump. He may or may not be out of it, what with his towering, second-deck home run in the Yanks’ 5-2 win over the Texas Rangers this afternoon.

 

That moon shot marked Teixeira’s first homer this year.

 

Maybe when the Yanks hit the road this week and head out west he can really breakout and have a monster tear. I know Teixeira is historically a slow starter, but he is too good to keep down for so long. I still feel he will finish with a ton of home runs, over 100 RBIs, and close to, if not over, 100 runs scored.

 

As they say, it’s not about how you start, it’s about how you finish.

 

The Yankees will now head to Oakland to start a series against the Athletics, who are turning a lot of heads in the AL West division. The A’s are currently in first place with a record of 9-4 in the West.  

 

Tuesday, Javier Vazquez and Gio Gonzalez will open up the series. Phil Hughes will square off with Ben Sheets on Wednesday night. Finally on Thursday, CC Sabathia will face Dallas Braden to close it all out.

 

It should be a good set of games out in Oakland and the Yankees will be on the road for the next nine games. After Oakland they will travel to Anaheim to play the Angels for three games. After that, they come back to the east coast to play against the Orioles in Baltimore.

 

The Yankees return home on April 30 to host the White Sox. Long trip! Looks like their frequent-flier miles will be put to good use.

 

AL East

 

 


A three..or two team race this year... 

I wanted to mention the struggles of the Boston Red Sox. At this point in the season they are probably one of the worst teams in the American League, just coming off being swept in three games by the Tampa Bay Rays.

 

The Yankees and Rays sit atop the division with identical 9-3 records.

 

Toronto is in third with a record of 7-6, one game over .500. Boston is 4-8 in fourth while the Baltimore Orioles are 2-11.

 

It seems this year could very well be a two-team race. I know it’s way too early to be speaking about the Division title, but if Boston keeps struggling the way they are, they might fall so far out of first place it will very difficult to make a comeback.

 

Not saying it can’t happen; in the 1970s the Yankees were 14 games behind the Red Sox in July and somehow came back to win the AL East. They called it the “Boston Massacre” back when it happened. If Boston wants the crown enough, they can certainly come back and get it.

 

At this point in the season however, the Yankees and Rays are better.

 

Ubaldo Jimenez

 


Ubaldo Jimenez tossed the first no-hitter in Rockies' history Saturday vs. the Braves    

 

What a great story!

 

Last night, Ubaldo Jimenez became the first pitcher in the Colorado Rockies’ 18 year history to toss a no-hitter. The 26 year-old righty no-hit the Atlanta Braves en route to a 4-0 Rockies win.

 

His no-no reminded me a lot of A.J. Burnett’s back in 2001. When with the Marlins, Burnett tossed a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres and the Fish won 3-0. Burnett did get his no-no, but he walked nine batters in the game.

 

Although he was in shutdown mode, Jimenez walked six Braves in the game.

 

Jimenez owes his life to Dexter Fowler, who made a spectacular circus catch in the seventh inning to preserve the no-hitter. Fowler got on his horse, dove, and robbed Troy Glaus of a hit in the left-centerfield gap.

 

Pretty play. Jimenez should buy Fowler a Rolex for that one.

 

That catch reminded me of Dewayne Wise’s catch last summer to save Mark Buerhle’s perfect game. Wise leapt the wall and took a home run away from Gabe Kapler and helped lead Buerhle to a perfect game. Keep in mind Buerhle had already thrown a no-hitter in 2007.

 

As for Jimenez, great work. And congrats on the big no-no.

 

Marathon Game

 


The Mets beat the Cardinals in 20 innings Saturday 

 

I never though it would end. I have to give the New York Mets and the St. Louis Cardinals all the credit in the world for how they both played this game.

 

On Saturday, the Mets and Cards played for six hours and 53 minutes, a 20-inning game. The Mets came out on top, 2-1.

 

I’m not sure what it was. I suppose a combination of terrible hitting, very good pitching, and strange choices. The Mets first three hitters (meaning Jose Reyes, Luis Castillo, and David Wright) were a combined 3-for-20 in the game.

 

Reyes and Jeff Francoeur were the only two Mets who recorded RBIs. The team left a total of 18 men on base and struck out 16 times. It took the Mets five innings to record a hit, as Cardinals’ starter Jaime Garcia no-hit the Mets up until Angel Pagan singled in the top of the sixth.

 

The Cardinals just confused me with some of their moves. They had Kyle Lohse, a pitcher, playing the outfield. Later in the game they had two position players on the mound. Joe Mather, an outfielder, recorded the loss in this game.

 

In the 14th and 16th innings, the Cardinals sent their relief pitcher to the plate to bat with the bases loaded. In both instances, the Cardinals could have won the game by using a pinch-hitter, yet instead they opted to use relief pitchers to hit.

 

Why? I have no clue. I guess they wanted to save their bullpen, but it cost them.

 

In any event it was a good game; very fun to watch. It was one of the more exciting games to watch this year, and maybe it can turn things around for the Mets. For as much of a Yankee fan as I am, I think the NL East is too boring.

 

The Phillies have dominated that division for too long. If the Mets can win games like yesterday (in that never-say-die attitude) they can make it more interesting. I don’t want to see the Phillies back in the World Series.

 

Besides, I’d rather see a Subway Series in October. But of course we all know which team would win that…

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.