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Good Luck, Jon

On the Yankees side of this page, we generally root for the Red Sox to lose every game and hopefully go out of business. Tonight is different as Jon Lester is taking the mound for Boston in his first start in the bigs after being diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Lester has made a courageous comeback and for one night we are going to put our partisan feelings aside and hope he has a great game and a long and healthy life.

Backup Plans

A great indicator of how bad Wil Nieves was is the fact that Jose Molina is considered an upgrade over him.  That isn’t to say I don’t like this trade, Jeff Kennard wasn’t going to help this team anytime in the future, but I just wonder why Cashman went with Nieves for as long as he did. 

Getting rid of Nieves is a positive, but adding Molina doesn’t mean they should stop looking for a backup.  For his carrer, Molina has been .237/.275./.319.  Those are terrible numbers and the Yankees still are screwed if Posada gets hurt.  Plus, Molina is 32 and with Cervelli still in A-ball and Montero quickly gorwing too big to be a catcher, there are no prospects anywhere near the majors who can catch.  Cashman may think he took a need off his list with this deal, but he still has work to do.   

How Will This Work?

Peter Abraham is reporting that the Yankees will recall Shelly Duncan from AAA today.  Nothing against Duncan, he is killing the ball at AAA, but I don’t get the move.  First off, Andy Phillips has played well and is a much better defender, so I don’t think Duncan will start unless the Yankees are suddenly benching Johnny Damon (wouldn’t argue against it, but I strongly doubt it)  So, Duncan becomes a righty bat off the bench I guess?

The harder part to understand is that Duncan isn’t on the 40-man.  That means they have to make a move and they are already faced with two moves in the near future when Karstens and Hughes come back from the DL.  Looking at the 40-man, I would guess Colter Bean and Bronson Sardinha are the top candidates to be let go, but Bean is scheduled to spot start for Scranton tonight.  Sardinha has gone backwards this year and is back in AA, but he is still only 24.  Does this mean someone else will be dropped?  Is there a trade about to happen?  Stay tuned….

UPDATE- Thompson has been sent down and Mientkiewicz put on the 60-day DL. Ok, that just delays things (they could do the same with Giambi when they want to bring Hughes back) for a couple of weeks. And, Damon is starting in CF with Duncan at DH and Melky on the bench.

Some Advice to American League Fans

Robert Caro in his fantastic book, Master of the Senate, details how Lyndon Johnson won the 1948 Texas Senate race by waiting until his opponents’ votes had been counted and then went around to the various precincts to “make sure” that he had enough votes to win. Unfortunately, American League voters will not have this luxury and that is why the first round of All Star votes is so troubling.

Yes, in years past you could go out and vote for your favorite players with a clear conscience, but that all changed when the wizards who wanted to bring us Spider Man covered bases decided to make the All Star Game “matter”. Since pride certainly would no longer motivate players, the thought was that the winning league having home field advantage in the World Series might. Sickening? Absolutely, but it is the system we operate under and therefore it behooves Yankee and Red Sox fans (yes, you from the other side of the page) to vote with their heads and not their hearts. So, let’s take a look at the current leaders at each position and some names who should be considered.

Catcher
Pudge Rodriguez has a good lead over both Jorge Posada and Jason Varitek. I would say the fans have it right here and any of the three would make a good choice.

First Base
Jason Giambi is the leader here with Carlos Delgado second. More worrisome is the fact that Red Sox fans have put Kevin Millar third. Come on, Red Sox fans, we need to look at the big picture here, if you won’t vote for Giambi, perhaps writing in Paul Konerko or Ken Harvey would be more palatable.

Second Base
Not surprisingly, Alfonso Soriano leads the vote totals, but the guy who we want on the team, Juan Uribe, hasn’t cracked the top 5, probably because he isn’t on the ballot. This may take some work, but get out those pencils and start writing in his name. (Note to Red Sox fans, not to pick on you, but Pokey Reese is second in votes and he isn’t even the best second baseman on your team!)

Shortstop
I am really not trying to single out Red Sox fans, but Nomar is leading all shortstops and he hasn’t played a game yet! Yankee fans have done little to distinguish themselves in this category by putting Derek Jeter second. Look, Jeter and Nomar are the most popular players on their teams, but the American League needs Miguel Tejada or Michael Young at shortstop. Put the partisanship aside and look at the numbers, it isn’t even close.

Third Base
Alex Rodriguez is first and would be a good choice, but Red Sox fans should feel free to vote for Hank Blalock as I imagine voting for A Rod may just be too painful.

Outfield
The leaders are Vlad Guerrero, Manny Ramirez and…Johnny Damon. Ok, I have picked on Red Sox fans enough; let’s just leave it at the fact that hairstyles won’t help the AL in the actual game. Manny and Vlad make a great pair and Carlos Beltran would be a fantastic way to round out the outfield. (And give the AL a true Centerfielder in case anyone is worried about outfield defense.)

I am quite sure that I will receive plenty of angry emails from Red Sox fans. Let me just say, I admire your loyalty, but you will be sorry if Game Seven of the World Series is at Minute Maid Park and not Fenway because the American League did not field the best team possible in the All Star Game.

I would be remiss if I didn’t address the performances of Tanyon Sturtze and Bret Prinz in Jose Contreras’s latest train wreck. Yes, Sturtze gave the Yankees 4 1/3 innings of shutout relief, but he gave up five hits and four walks in those innings. I stand by my original statement; he just doesn’t belong on the roster and a better team than the Orioles would have figured out how to score on him Wednesday night.

As for Prinz, he certainly passed his first test with a very impressive seventh inning. He needs to be put out there a few more times before we will know what we have, but it was a good start.

Peter’s columns appear Monday, Wednesday and Friday and he can be reached at peter@yankeesredsox.com