Still Some Work To Do

Well, the Yankees have two games with Florida before heading on the plane to New York.  Yet, less than 48 hours from that plane flight, we still don’t know the final roster. 

We now know that Jeff Karstens isn’t going to make the team because he is headed to the DL.  Kei Igawa showed that he still can grab the big moment and bombed yesterday.  That would seem to have cleared the field for Rasner to become the long guy in the pen, but nine walks in 14 innings doesn’t exactly fill you with confidence.  Bruney and Ohlendorf are both pitching well, but you can only take one of them if you take Rasner (and I am assuming Traber makes it).

Further complicating things is that the Yankees could put Andy Pettitte on the DL to start the season, but backdate the move so he could pitch April 5th.  Since he is scheduled to start Sunday against Scranton anyway, the earliest he could pitch in the bigs would be April 4th.  The Yankees could just move everyone up a spot in the rotation and pitch Kennedy on the 4th with Pettitte filling in on the 5th.  That would allow them another player to start the season.  

And, don’t forget that we still are unsure when Mekly and Duncan will have their suspension hearings, though perhaps the Yankees will have one of them drop the appeal and serve the suspension if Pettitte does go on the DL.  

Stay tuned, it’s only about 72 hours until Opening Day! 


Steinbrenner Field

I don’t know about you, but for this Yankees’ fan seeing yesterday’s ceremony dedicating the field in Tampa to George Steinbrenner was somewhat surreal. 

Let me say up front that I think the George of 2008 needs to be left alone.  I don’t know what exactly has happened to him, but it seems pretty obvious that he is not what he once was and anyone who takes shots at him over his current condition is pathetic.  

But, what happened yesterday was about the Steinbrenner that existed previous to this, the guy who ran the Yankees from 1973 to roughly 2006.  And, I am not sure that guy is worthy of this honor.  

Ok, sure if you want to measure things in championships, George has to get credit.  The guy has six in 35 years, and he has also won ten pennants in that time period.  In addition, George was one of the guys who recognized the change that free agency brought to baseball and capitalized on it.  He made the bold moves, Reggie, Goose, etc., that got the Yankees their first two titles.  Of course, his early success was his downfall later on, but you cannot dismiss his accomplishments in the early part of the free agency period.

And, there are the countless good deeds the Yankees and George have done.  Some fans think it is stupid, but I appreciate the fact that the Yankees perform "God Bless America" at every home game.  September 11th changed a lot of things in this city and I am glad the Yankees continue to honor those memories.  They have stood up and made a difference countless times from the terrible fire in the Bronx to the recent atrocity at Virginia Tech, the Yankees and Geroge Steinbrenner have always seemed to step up and try to ease the pain.

But, contrast that with the George we once knew.  The guy Seinfeld parodied, the bully, the mean George.  I am not saying it is all his fault, his Dad seems like he was impossible to please and the apple didn’t fall far, but Steinbrenner took it to a new level.  He gave no quarter in his pursuit of winning and gave no consideration to what that meant.  When he fired Yogi Berra after 16 games in 1985, he alienated one of the greatest Yankees for ten years.  He was ruthless in his criticism of his own players and management.  It’s hard to remember now, but before Torre and Showalter the Yankees went through more than a manager a year under Steinbrenner.  Fans applauded when he was banned from baseball in 1990 and now he seems to be a hero.

Perhaps that is a function of success, Geroge won a lot more in the last half of his ownership than he did in the first half.  The Yankees’ image mellowed under Joe Torrre and while everyone respected Reggie Jackson, Derek Jeter is a 1,000-times more likeable.  Memories are short and George’s transgressions have faded, just like the idea that he wanted to move the team to New Jersey seems absurd today.

But, life is all about the sum of everything and I am just not sure where that leaves George as he heads to the bottom of the ninth, but I do hope he pulls out the win.   

Baseball Eve

Well, despite the Red Sox being 6722, or so, miles away from Boston, they are set to open the 2008 MLB season in about 9 hours.

What does the season hold for Boston?  While we need to wait until the 31st of March before Peter posts his predictions, most are thinking Boston has a good shot in 2008.  The concerns?

1.) The loss of Curt Schilling for some or all of the season

2.)  The health of Josh Beckett

3.)  The age of Tim Wakefield

4.)  Whether Jacoby Ellsbury is for real

5.)  The loss of Dr. Charles Steinberg

6.)  No replacement for Jason Varitek in sight

The positives?

1.)  The Red Sox kept Jacoby Ellsbury and Clay Buchholz (and Masterson and Lowrie)

2.)  J.D. Drew, Julio Lugo and Daisuke Matsuzaka have a year of experience under their belts in Boston

3.)  A year of maturation for Manny Delcarmen, Jonathan Papelbon, Dustin Pedroia and Ellsbury

4.)  The minor league machine has been largely left to build for the past 3 seasons (save someone named Hanley something or other)

Line-up for tomorrow (my guess):

2b – Pedroia

1b – Youkilis

dh – Ortiz

lf – Ramirez

3b – Lowell

rf – Drew

c – Varitek

ss – Lugo

cf – Ellsbury

sp – Matsuzaka

For those looking for a more expert pediction than mine, Sunday’s Globe had a baseball preview.  Notice Nick Cafardo picking Toronto finishing 1st in the AL East (Nick, really?).

Anyway, you should be asleep right now if you want to catch tomorrow morning’s game.

Could Igawa Make This Team?

Sorry for making you throw up a bit there, but after today I think we have to seriously consider the thought of Kei Igawa as the long man in the pen.  Start with this confirmation from Peter Abraham about the candidates for the long guy.  Then, take a look at Chad Jennings’ report about today’s action.  Add in the fact that the Yankees have $46 million invested in Igawa and you have to assume he has a real shot at breaking camp with the team. 

Think about it, Karstens has blown up the past few weeks and while Rasner has been better, Igawa has the lower ERA.  Then, think about Andy Pettitte’s back and you have to assume Igawa is a real possibility. 



An Interesting Decision

The Yankees announced tonight that they have added Morgan Ensberg to the 40-man roster.  (In a shocking sidenote, Carl Pavano was placed on the 60-man DL to make room for Ensberg)

This essentially means that Ensberg is on the team and while I think that is a good thing, it makes me curious about the final roster.

We have learned the rotation (Wang, Pettitte, Mussina, Hughes, Kennedy) and part of the bullpen (Rivera, joba, Farnsworth and Hawkins)  We also know that 13 hitters are going to make the team (Posada, Molina, Giambi, Duncan, Cano, Jeter, A-Rod, Ensberg, Damon, Cabrera, Abreu, Matsui and I am going to add Betemit)

That would leave three spots open and you would assume that at least two of them are going to pitchers, with three certainly a storng possibilty.  If you pencil in a Traber and Karstens as spots 10 and 11 in the bullpen, do you assume the Yankees are going to go with someone like Ohlendorf or does Ransom or Lane make the team on offense?  The depth is pretty good with a bench of Betemit, Molina, Ensberg and Duncan (assume Giambi at first)  so going with 12 pitchers wouldn’t be as damaging as usual.

But, it will be a very interesting week to see how things play out, three spots left.   

Eastward Ho

As I write this, the Red Sox are on a plane heading to the Eastern lands  Actually, they are flying West, but you they will end up in the East.

That behind us, it was an interest past 24 hours for the Red Sox.  Firstly, the players threatened a boycott of the entire Japan trip over a pay dispute for coaches and staff.  Previous trips to Japan had coaches and staff getting a stipend, but for some reason this trip did not.  When it became apparent, the Red Sox players tried to right a wrong.  And please, don’t try and educate me on the greater nonsense of this issue.  I understand that $40k for a trip to Japan for the players is a joke.  But I do think that equal pay for equal effort is important here.  If an assistant trainer is not going to get a stipend, then his/her ability to afford such a trip might be limited.  Again, $40k is a joke, but equal pay for equal effort is my stance (I think $100 a day would suffice frankly).

Here’s what we know:  Daisuke Matsuzaka will start game 1.  Jon Lester (seriously, who’d have thought this) will start game 2.

Terry Francona has made it clear he will not risk injury to win these 2 games.  No pitcher will pitch back-to-back to games.  In addition, MLB allowed Boston to bring 30 players with 3 needing to be declared inactive prior to game 1.  That means there will be a bevy of arms available during the 2 game set.  Overuse should not be an issue.

Bartolo Colon was assigned to minor league camp, presumably in an attempt to get him some more work.  He was never a candidate to start game 1 or 2, so him pitching in warm Florida is a good idea.  My guess is that when he is ready, he’ll be on the big-league squad.  If I am not mistaken, he needs to be on the roster prior to game 3 in Toronto to have his contract guaranteed.

2 exhibition games and then 2 real games (3/25 and 3/26 early AM) in Japan and the season is underway.  This season came very quickly.

Question:  What’s your take on the AL East this year?  Here’s my take:

Red Sox, Yankees, Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles (O’s will be deep in 5th, they blow).  As an FYI, Boston Herald writer Tony Massarotti has it:  Red Sox, Blue Jays, Yankees, Rays, O’s.  Interesting.

How Old Do You Feel Now?

Personally, I think they best line in the movie is either the part about candlesticks or when Susan Sarandon asks Tim Robbins if he thinks "Dwight Gooden makes love with his socks on", but whatever your favorite part, I bring you some sad news.  "Bull Durham" is now 20-years old. 

In honor of the 20th brithday, ESPN has done an amusing update of the movie.  Isn’t it sad how realistic it sounds?

Joba To The Pen

Just heard on WFAN that Joba will start the season in the bullpen.  He has a limit of 140 innings or so this year which makes this not a surprise.  The questions I have are 1- how soon do we get him to the rotation and 2- how long will it take to stretch back out? 

Joe Girardi said his future remains as a starter, so this will be very, very interesting to watch.   

Would This Be Ironic?

Check out this little study that just came out.  Now, before we go and excuse the athletes remember that they knew they were breaking a rule when they used HGH and this study doesn’t account for the psychological benefits of using it.  But, it does raise some interesting questions.

On other news, Bill Traber looks like he punched his ticket for the bigs today with another strong performance.  It’s hard to argue with the results so far and the guy has been lethal on lefties in his career.  The problem is, he is a one-trick pony.  Righties hit him and hit him hard.  Having him on the team almost forces you to carry 12 pitchers and that isn’t a good thing.  

And, it looks more and more like Joba will start the season in the bullpen.  Mussina, Hughes and Kennedy have shown enough to win spots in the rotation, so I would expect Joba back in the 8th inning.  It makes sense with the Yankees need to keep his innings down, I just worry that they will have a tough time moving him out of that role.  With Traber joining Joba, Mo, Farnsworth and Hawkins, that leaves only two spots in the pen.  I thought Karstens was a lock until he blew up the other day, now I am not really sure who will make it. 

One last note, Brian Williams announced on NBC News tonight that JP Morgan bought Bear Stearns for less than the Yankees are going to pay Alex Rodriguez.  That’s simply amazing. 

Gooden’s Doing Better Than We Thought

It seems reports of Gooden’s demise may have been premature.  The biggest shock for me in this article was the fact that Dwight Gooden is a grandfather at 43.