Manny Ramirez Calls it Quits

manny.jpgManny Ramirez just announced his retirement. Not sure why at the beginning of the season. But rumor has it that the MLB called him on some drug issues. Could it be the icky sticky? Or maybe he didn’t want a big federal trail like bobble head Bonds for performance enhancers. Whatever the case i am sure this really puts a crimp in the plans of the Tampa Bay Rays. I guess Manny will be Manny at home for the rest of the year. He has looked a bit disinterested in the game the past two years anyway. Manny as a Yankee fan I tip my hat to you, for the years of tummy aches you provided me when you played against the Bombers.

Opening Day, my view from up here

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Opening day is finally here, even if the weather feels like it’s closer to Super Bowl Sunday. I can believe winter just won’t let go. Today’s forecast is for 40 degrees, 12 MPH winds and rain mixed with snow, are we in Canada? Geez.

Anyway I always look forward to opening day. It’s the one time in the entire baseball season that every team is equal. Everyone can shoot for the stars. All-Stars, rookies and journey-men all have a clean slate everyone starts at 0.

The Yankees open their season today at 1pm, against the Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium. CC Sabathia will lead the Bombers against Justin Verlander.

I am looking forward to seeing how the new batting order pans out with Brett Gardner leading off and Jeter batting second. I know it’s been a few years since he’s done it, but I always preferred having Jeter bat in the 2 spot. Critics will say his production was down last year and his bat has slowed down and blah, blah, blah. I disagree, but I guess only time will tell.

A few other things I am looking forward to seeing.

  1. How will Granderson do this year, now that he is comfortable in New York? We saw his production go up toward the end of last season with some swing mechanics tweaks.

  2. Will Posada adjust well to just being the DH? Hopefully that adjustment will translate into some awesome offensive numbers.

  3. A-rod is completely healthy physically and mentally, he had amazing numbers in spring training. Can he keep it up?

  4. Who is Russell Martin? What type of catcher is he really? Will his surgically repaired body hold up?

  5. Is Robinson Cano the best Second Baseman in baseball?

  6. When will Manny Benuelos get called up? I think the Mexican Maddox is ready.

  7. AJ Burnett Dr Jeckel or Mr. Hyde?

Starting today I can start filling in the blanks.

Here is how the Yankees lineup looks for today.

  1. Brett Gardner LF
  2. Derek Jeter SS
  3. Mark Teixeira 1B
  4. Alex Rodriguez 3B
  5. Robinson Cano 2B
  6. Nick Swisher RF
  7. Jorge Posada DH
  8. Curtis Granderson CF
  9. Russell Martin C
    (CC Sabathia, LHP)

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Super-Nova

The 4 way competition for the final 2 spots in the Yankee starting pitching rotation has been tight. But I think 24 year old Ivan Nova, is just a step ahead of the rest.

I will preface this with the fact that this is still only spring training and it was the Baltimore Orioles not the the Boston Red Sox. But Nova pitched an excellent game, needing only 59 pitches for 6, no hit, shutout innings of baseball. Nova’s night didn’t start so well as he hit the first batter he faced, but after that he retired the next 9 batters in order. The only base runner reached on an error by Alex Rodriguez, the next 7 were sat down in order.

Nova’s line so far this spring is 14 innings, 2 runs and 2 walks (1.29 ERA)

Road to Cy Young

I think everyone that follows baseball is aware of the fact that barring some catastrophic event, the National League Cy Young Award race runs through Philadelphia. With Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt and Joe Blanton as their rotation, the Phillies have a chance to be one of the greatest in MLB history; joining the ranks of such clubs as the ‘98 Braves (John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Kevin Milwood and Denny Neagle). I know it’s only spring training but the potential in these arms is incredible.

When talking about the Cy Young award I personally think that it may come down to 2 if not 3 of the guys in this rotation. We all know the stuff that Halladay throws is filthy, he has won the Cy Young award twice already once in the American League and once in the National League. Lee has been one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball the past few years. Hamels was the 2008 World Series MVP. Oswalt hardly allows any runners on base and has never had a losing season. Blanton is 25-14 since he came to the Phillies. While the Mets seem to be suffering from a Staff infection with the likes of Oliver Perez stinking it up, the Phillies definitely have a jet fuel injection in their Staff. I know it’s early but mark my words the Cy Young race is a straight road that ends in Philly.

The Killer B’s cont.

brackmanTo continue with the original article about the Yankees “Killer B’s”, let’s talk about the big boy the 6-foot-10 right-hander Andrew Brackman. In August 2007 Brackman underwent Tommy John surgery, but 4 years removed from the surgery the 25 year old NC State product has started to show some of the promise the Yankees expected from him. With a repertoire that consists of a 92-97 mile per hour fastball, which he uses his 6-10 frame to get on top of, effectively releasing the ball closer to the plate than your average pitcher (think Randy Johnson in is prime) . His secondary pitch is a knuckle curve he throws in the 77-81 mph range, a knee buckler, when used in conjunction with his fastball. He is also developing a very good 2-seam fastball and changeup. Cashman has already said early on in Spring Training that this kid will not be battling for a spot in the rotation just yet, but don’t be surprised if you see Brackman called up later this season.

To B’ continued….

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No Job-a for Joba?

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News out of Tampa is that Joba could possibly play himself out of a Job-a. Cashman said
“Anybody who has [minor league] options is not a lock for anything”, that means Joba needs to play well in order to make the roster. I wonder if he thought that this would even be a possibility as he spent the off-season eating snacks and watching Sponge Bob with his 4 year old son. Also I heard that the 30 pounds CC lost, found their way over to to Joba’s house. I feel like both Joba and A.J. should have spent the winter working on their mechanics and preparing for a rebound season. I don’t think that would have been to much to ask considering how they both have amazing stuff when they are pitching well. But my gosh when they stink it up they stink it up. I hope Joba is able to erase the memory of last season and get back to his 2008 playoff form. He kind of lost it after the bugs incident. Well like they said in Shawshank Redemption, he can “get busy living or get busy dying”. come on Joba we are routing for you.

The skinny on CC

CC.jpgWord out of ESPN today is that CC Sabathia the hefty lefty Yankees ace pitcher has lost 30 pounds from his off season workout program. The report says that Sabathia who had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in late October, is trying to keep pressure off of that knee. He hopes that losing the weight will help keep him healthy during the season. Sabathia won an American league leading 21 games last season, if this new workout program can improve upon his numbers from last season that would be awesome.With 6 days left before pitchers and catchers officially report to Spring training, I can’t wait to see what the new slimline version of C.C. does on the mound.

Killer Bs

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I keep reading very disparaging remarks in the media about what type of team the Yankees will have this year. And I myself have wondered aloud about their direction. These are the same Yankees however that finished one game behind the AL division winning Tampa Bay Rays. All 8 position players back; they are all healthy and ready for spring training. The only player not to return this year that played a vital part in last year’s success is Andy Pettitte. Granted the Yankees wanted to improve the pitching staff by adding Cliff Lee, but did they fall that far off just because he chose a different destination? And did Boston improve that much over last season that they can surpass the Yankees? And if anyone has suffered a loss in talent it would be the Rays. They lost starting pitching, a great position player, as well as their closer.

Here is my 2 cents as far as the Yankees so called pitching woes are concerned. First of all they still have an ace in C.C. Sabathia. Phil Hughes had an all-star caliber first half of the season last year and the experience could do nothing worse than help him for this year. A.J. Burnett is admittedly a question mark. If he can control his emotions and his fast ball he will be very dangerous. And the back end of the rotation is where people have clamored on as being the weakness of the Yankees. I however disagree. I am not even talking about the retreads the Yankees picked up in hopes they return to their former glory. I am talking about Ivan Nova and the “Killer B’s” (Brackman, Betances and Banuelos). Banuelos in particular is very interesting to me. At 5’10 he appears a little short to be a viable pitcher in the big leagues, until you take a look at his resume.

Banuelos is an 18-year-old lefty from Mexico. His fast ball has gone up in velocity from 89-90 to 95-96, and it has some good movement also. His best pitch is his change-up which he can throw anywhere in the count, and is also used as his out pitch. He is working on a curve ball currently. His best attribute has to be his control. In the minors with 151 innings of work, he had 143 strike outs while walking only 41. Scouting reports say that he is truly poised on the mound, something desperately needed if he is going to pitch at Yankee stadium.

I will highlight the remaining two “Killer B’s” later. For now I will just say the AL better get an EpiPen, because this “Killer B” is going to sting a lot of teams. I see him coming up mid-season and posting an 8-4 record.

Thank you Andy

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Sometime this morning it will become official, Andy Pettitte, the 5 time World Series champion, will announce his retirement. Although he said at the end of last season “Don’t count on me” to return, every Yankee fan, player and coach hoped beyond hope for one last season from the cool lefty. If ever there was a big game pitcher Andy Pettitte was it. With 19 postseason wins on his resume he currently stands alone. What Yankee fan doesn’t remember the 2009 playoffs where Pettitte won the series clinchers for both the American League Division Series and  the American League Conference Series. Or how in the 2009 World Series,  Pettitte started and won game 6 against the Phillies on 3 days’ rest. Andy is the first member of the aging ‘Core Four’, which includes Jeter, Posada and Rivera, to call it quits. Today he will officially hang up the #46 jersey, he will hang up the 240 wins, 3.88 ERA and 5 World Series rings, he will hang up a stellar career that is sure to land him in the Baseball Hall of Fame one day. Thank you Andy Pettitte. The Hall of Fame awaits you.

Yankees Trade for Nationals Maxwell

Still tinkering with their roster, the Yankees traded for another outfielder yesterday. In a trade with the Nationals the Yankees acquired outfielder Justin Maxwell. Playing in parts of 3 seasons for the Nationals, Maxwell has a career .201 BA; he also has struck out 83 times in 219 plate appearances. As a backup he should be a good defensive sub, at 6’5 he has good range, making  only 2 errors in 522.1 innings giving him a .987 fielding percentage. The Nationals acquired  minor league pitching prospect Adam Olbrychowski from the Yankees in this deal.

I’m still wondering will all of these, or any of these little deals and reclamation projects pan out? And will the austerity approach to the off season lead to better ticket prices for Yankee fans?

On the Boomer and Carton show last night, Carton predicted that the Yankees would finish 3rd in the AL behind the Red Sox and Rays, missing the playoffs. The reasoning behind that is Boston has improved immensely (but that is just on paper until I see proof), and Tampa with the signing of Damon and Manny have at the very least broke even with the Yankees. On a side note, what’s the deal with the Red Sox putting a clause in Carl Crawford’s contract that stipulates that if he is traded to another team from Boston that team cannot trade him to the Yank’s. I have heard about paranoia, but GOSH!

 

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