Tag:New York Yankees
Posted on: October 7, 2010 2:44 am
 

Back outdoors, same result

MINNEAPOLIS -- Mark Teixeira slugged a bad Jesse Crain seventh-inning slider deep into the Minnesota night, high over the right-field fence, and the Target Field crowd went silent.

Just as you imagine the Metropolitan Stadium crowd did on Oct. 5, 1970, when pinch-hitter Rick Renick grounded to short to force Rich Reese at second in the ninth, allowing the Baltimore Orioles to sweep the Twins out of the ALCS.

The last time they played an outdoor playoff game in the Twin Cities.

The to-be-continued part following Renick's grounder, when the October outdoor baseball chapter of Twins' history resumed, picked back up with Twins starter Francisco Liriano fanning Derek Jeter to start Game 1 of the Twins-Yankees latest Divisional Series tussle here.

It was a gorgeous fall night, 63 degrees at game-time, shirt-sleeves weather for much of the evening.

But much like that old Metropolitan Stadium crowd from 1970, these Twins fans went home disappointed, too.

Of course, they've seen it before against the relentless Yankee machine.

"We play nine innings," New York shortstop Derek Jeter said of another comeback, this one after the Yanks trailed 3-0 in the sixth inning. "It's what you have to do. Whether you're ahead of behind, it's what you have to do."

Likes: Watching Roy Halladay was electric even from several hundred miles away. ... Perfect autumn day in the Twin Cities on Wednesday. Temperature around 70, gold leaves, textbook fall weather. ... Great noon-time run on a path along the Mississippi River. ... Former pitcher Jack Morris on the field before the game telling stories. ... Derek Jeter eating at Murray's home of the "Silver Butter Knife Steak" on Tuesday night, the eve of Game 1.

Dislikes: No expanded instant replay for these playoffs. Delmon Young's two-out single in the ninth should have been an out -- television replays showed that Greg Golson, inserted by Yankees manager Joe Girardi as a defensive sub for Nick Swisher in the ninth inning, made a diving catch on Young's sinking liner. Umpires wrongly awarded Young a single which, in a 6-4 game, could have been problematical. But Jim Thome popped up the next pitch to third and the game was over. Had Thome deposited a game-tying, two-run homer against the Yankees, you wouldn't have heard the end of this debate for weeks. And being that it came against the Yankees, I guarantee expanded instant replay would have been put in place well ahead of next season's playoffs.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"From Mankato up to Brainerd
"From Burnsville to Bemidji
"Now we're playing outdoor baseball
"And that's the way it should be"

-- The Baseball Project with Craig Finn, Don't Call Them Twinkies

Posted on: October 7, 2010 2:40 am
 

Back outdoors, same result

MINNEAPOLIS -- Mark Teixeira slugged a bad Jesse Crain seventh-inning slider deep into the Minnesota night, high over the right-field fence, and the Target Field crowd went silent.

Just as you imagine the Metropolitan Stadium crowd did on Oct. 5, 1970, when pinch-hitter Rick Renick grounded to short to force Rich Reese at second in the ninth, allowing the Baltimore Orioles to sweep the Twins out of the ALCS.

The last time they played an outdoor playoff game in the Twin Cities.

The to-be-continued part following Renick's grounder, when the outdoor baseball chapter of Twins' postseason history resumed, returned with Twins starter Francisco Liriano fanning Derek Jeter to start Game 1 of the Twins-Yankees latest Divisional Series tussle here.

It was a gorgeous fall night, 63 degrees at game-time, shirt-sleeves weather for much of the evening.

But much like that old Metropolitan Stadium crowd from 1970, these Twins fans went home disappointed, too, following a 6-4 loss.

Of course, they've seen it before against the relentless Yankee machine.

"We play nine innings," New York shortstop Derek Jeter said of another comeback, this one after the Yanks trailed 3-0 in the sixth inning. "It's what you have to do. Whether you're ahead of behind, it's what you have to do."

Likes: Watching Roy Halladay was electric even from several hundred miles away. ... Perfect autumn day in the Twin Cities on Wednesday. Temperature around 70, gold leaves, textbook fall weather. ... Great noon-time run on a path along the Mississippi River. ... Former pitcher Jack Morris on the field before the game telling stories. ... Derek Jeter eating at Murray's home of the "Silver Butter Knife Steak" on Tuesday night, the eve of Game 1. ... The Flatliner burger at Ike's -- Angus beef, cheddar cheese, bacon, grilled onions and a fried egg. The trick is to keep the egg yolk runny, so when you bite into it, it oozes out onto the hamburger. You'd be surprised. Delicious.

Dislikes: No expanded instant replay for these playoffs. Delmon Young's two-out single in the ninth should have been an out -- television replays showed that Greg Golson, inserted by Yankees manager Joe Girardi as a defensive sub for Nick Swisher in the ninth inning, made a diving catch on Young's sinking liner. Umpires wrongly awarded Young a single which, in a 6-4 game, could have been problematical. But Jim Thome popped up the next pitch to third and the game was over. Had Thome deposited a game-tying, two-run homer against the Yankees, you wouldn't have heard the end of this debate for weeks. And being that it came against the Yankees, I guarantee expanded instant replay would have been put in place well ahead of next season's playoffs.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"From Mankato up to Brainerd
"From Burnsville to Bemidji
"Now we're playing outdoor baseball
"And that's the way it should be"

-- The Baseball Project with Craig Finn, Don't Call Them Twinkies

Posted on: September 23, 2010 5:26 pm
Edited on: September 23, 2010 5:28 pm
 

New Arizona blueprint: Less whiffs, better pen

New Arizona general manager Kevin Towers does not look at the Diamondbacks' situation as a major rebuild. And if things go the way he would like them to, among the first results you'll see is a team with an improved bullpen and, after a record-setting performance (non-performance?) this year, hitters who strike out much less.

The Diamondbacks all season have had the worst pen in the majors. But on Towers' first day as club GM Wednesday -- and with him in the stands -- the Diamondbacks set a new major-league single-season record for strikeouts.

The record breaker was Stephen Drew's whiff against Colorado's Jorge De La Rosa for 1,400 -- surpassing the 2001 Milwaukee Brewers' mark of 1,399. The Diamondbacks finished the game at 1,400.

"Power numbers come with strikeouts, but I think it's a little excessive," Towers was saying in the hours before the game. "I haven't had a lot of time to spend with [hitting coach] Jack Howell, but I do believe we can cut down on the strikeouts.

"Recognizing pitches better, knowing your hot zone. Guys might be pressing. There isn't a ton of experience, and sometimes guys press and change their swings.

"We'll come up with a plan for each and every guy, and hopefully cut down on strikeouts."

Three Diamondbacks currently reside in the top 10 among NL strikeout leaders: Mark Reynolds (first, 204), Adam LaRoche (fifth, 159) and Justin Upton (eighth, 152).

Five D-backs reside in the top 14 among NL strikeout leaders: The aforementioned trio plus Chris Young (tied for 12th, 136) and Kelly Johnson (14th, 135).

It's a trend that has become more alarming with each passing year: While this year's club already has set a record for most strikeouts, the 2009 D-backs ranks 10th all-time (1,298 strikeouts) and the '08 club ranks 11th all-time (1,287).

As for the bullpen, the Diamondbacks' is historically bad. Not only is the 5.76 bullpen ERA the worst in the majors, the numbers are among the worst of any bullpen over the past 50 years.

Among his priorities, Towers lists "improving the bullpen, improving the bench and improving the starting pitching depth." He praised key position players already in place, naming catcher Miguel Montero, shortstop Stephen Drew, center fielder Chris Young and second baseman Kelly Johnson among the assets.

That all of those players play up the middle, where all good clubs must be strong, is heartening to Towers.

Among the starting pitchers, Towers singles out for praise Ian Kennedy, Joey Enright and Daniel Hudson.

Towers historically built stellar bullpens during his 14 years in San Diego, and though he noted part of that was because he had closer Trevor Hoffman for 12 years and Heath Bell for two, that will be the goal in Arizona. Towers mentions delving into the free agent market, the international free agent market, looking at minor-league six-year free agents, every avenue available.

"I don't think this is a situation where we'll have to wait a couple of years," Towers said. "My hope is to be next year's Padres."

Likes: Lots of people think the Dodgers have packed it in given their uninspired play (and given James Loney telling the Los Angeles Times this week that at times this year other teams have played harder than the Dodgers), but you can't accuse manager Joe Torre of quitting. He's shuffled his rotation to make sure Clayton Kershaw gets a start against the Rockies next week. The Giants, Padres and even Braves surely appreciate that. ... Atlanta's Matt Diaz tripping the fan who was running around the field like an idiot in Philadelphia the other night. ... This blog on Derek Jeter from the YES Network's Jack Curry. ... San Francisco traveling to Colorado this weekend, and there's nothing like a hot rivalry stoked by conspiracy theories. ... This obituary on Leonard Skinner, an old Florida high school phys ed teacher -- and the namesake for band Lynyrd Skynyrd. ... And if you've ever used the term "so-and-so has jumped the shark", you owe it to yourself to read this first-person account from the man who, yes, wrote the Happy Days episode in which Fonzie jumped the shark.

Dislikes: Love Tina Fey. Love Steve Carrell. Date Night? Do not love it. In fact, did not even like it. Disliked it so much I yanked it out of my DVD player halfway through the other night.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Pretty women out walkin' with gorillas down my street
"From my window I'm starin' while my coffee goes cold
"Look over there
"Where?
"There!
"There's a lady that I used to know
"She's married now or engaged or somethin', so I'm told"

-- Joe Jackson, Is She Really Going Out With Him?

Posted on: September 15, 2010 9:00 pm
 

Keepin' the faith with the Padres

DENVER – "Believe", read the T-shirts the San Diego Padres are wearing around the clubhouse and underneath their jerseys these days. And this is how much faith All-Star Adrian Gonzalez has in the Padre pitching staff:

"If we score four or five runs a game the rest of the way," Gonzalez said after the Padres won two of three in Coors Field, "we're going to win the West."

Runs always have been at a premium for the Padres, but never so much so as over the past couple of weeks, when they fell into a 10-game losing streak and struggled to pull themselves out of it.

Until they scored six runs in Monday's opener here, they had gone 16 consecutive games scoring four or fewer runs.

But they continue to lead the majors in pitching (3.22 ERA). The Padres top the majors in bullpen ERA (2.78), and they're third in starters' ERA (3.64), just behind Oakland (3.52) and St. Louis (3.54).

"We're going to win this division with our pitching," Gonzalez said, emphasizing that the onus is on the hitters.

Taking two of three games in Colorado from a team that was riding a 10-game winning streak and owns the second-best home record in the majors (51-24), Gonzalez said, allowed the Padres to regain their breath.

"We're in good shape," he said. "I like the fact that we've got C.Y. [Chris Young] back, the pitching staff still doing what they're doing ... offensively, Luddy [Ryan Ludwick] is coming around, Miggy [Miguel Tejada] swung the bat well this series.

"We're going to score runs. We're going to be good."

Likes: Coors Field is hell on pitchers, but it's a pretty park. ... This NL West three-way with the Padres, Giants and Rockies is great stuff. ... The division might have tightened significantly over the past week, but you'd never know it from talking to Padres manager Bud Black. Calm and cool, he's living up to his old nickname, Mr. Freeze. ... Great run along the Cherry Creek on a hot day in Denver. It's been in the 80s all week. Beautiful. ... The AL Cy Young debate. You take CC Sabathia's workload and success? Or Felix Hernandez's singular dominance? It's going to be a good one. ... Southwest Airlines. One of the few airlines that treat you like an actual human being. ... Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson.

Dislikes: Legendary scout Al LaMacchia passes away at the age of 89. Among many, many others, he signed Cito Gaston and Dale Murphy.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"The rain kept drivin' but the Caddy kept on burnin' rubber
"We kept on drivin' till we ran into some fog cover
"We couldn't see a thing somehow we just kept on goin'
"We kept on drivin' all night long and then into the mornin'
"Before it finally lifted when we looked to see where we was at
"We're starin' at a Colorado state policeman trooper's hat go"

-- Bob Seger, Get Out of Denver

Posted on: July 31, 2010 3:51 pm
Edited on: July 31, 2010 4:22 pm
 

Yankees acquire Cleveland's Wood

Undeterred by a slim relief market and exorbitant prices, the Yankees have found a deal in Cleveland to acquire closer Kerry Wood.

The deal has cleared the last hurdle, approval by the Commissioner's Office, and Wood is on his way to the Bronx. The Yankees will send a player to be named later or cash to the Indians.

The Yankees also reportedly will cover $1.5 million of the $3.6 million the Indians still owe Wood on his $10.5 million 2010 salary.

The Cleveland closer is the third player scooped up by the Yanks in the past 24 hours, following Houston's Lance Berkman and Wood's former teammate in Cleveland, outfielder Austin Kearns.

Wood simply will add depth to a Yankees' bullpen as they gear up for the stretch run. In 23 appearances for the Indians this season, Wood was 1-4 with a 6.30 ERA and eight saves in 11 opportunities. He recently returned from the disabled list, where he was placed because of a blister on his finger.

Posted on: July 30, 2010 11:13 pm
Edited on: July 30, 2010 11:29 pm
 

Busy Yankees acquire Cleveland's Kearns

The Yankees are moving quickly toward filling in the cracks in their roster: They acquired outfielder Austin Kearns from Cleveland within hours after reaching an agreement with Houston to bring Lance Berkman aboard.

The Yankees will send Cleveland a player to be named later or cash to complete the deal.

Kearns, 30, was hitting .272 with eight homers and 42 RBI in 84 games for the Indians this season and adds depth to the Yankees' stable of outfielders.

Kearns gives manager Joe Girardi another option in left field, where Curtis Granderson has struggled badly against left-handed pitching this season. Granderson, into Friday, was hitting just .214 against lefties with a .286 slugging percentage.

Kearns, meantime, is hitting .250 against lefties this year.

"A corner outfielder that gives us depth and experience," Yankees manager Joe Girardi told reporters in Tampa, where New York was playing the Rays, on Friday night. "A right-handed bat that has power. We can use him a lot of different ways. It will give me a chance to rest our left-handed guys."

Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira was thrilled to hear that both Kearns and Houston's Lance Berkman soon will be in the clubhouse as reinforcements for the stretch drive.

"That's great," Teixeira told reporters. "Two quality guys. I know both of them real well. They're both great guys. It's going to be good for the clubhouse."

Posted on: July 30, 2010 6:42 pm
Edited on: July 30, 2010 11:24 pm
 

Yankees to acquire Astros' Berkman Saturday

The Yankees and Houston have agreed to a deal that will send longtime Astros first baseman Lance Berkman to the Bronx, CBSSports.com has confirmed.

The trade is not expected to become official until Saturday because of a technicality -- Berkman has to waive no-trade rights as a 10-and-5 man, a player who has been in the majors for 10 years, the last five with the same team. But he has agreed to do so, according to a major-league official, and, barring a last-minute change of mind, Berkman will officially become a Yankee on Saturday.

In return, Houston is expected to receive two prospect, neither of them high-level. Several reports have pegged them as reliever Mark Melancon and infielder Jimmy Paredes. The Astros also reportedly have agreed to pay roughly $4 million of the $7 million owed Berkman.

The move fills a DH need for the Yankees, who earlier this season lost Nick Johnson to a right wrist injury, likely for the summer. It also gives them a bit more depth.

But make no mistake, this is nowhere close to an in-his-prime Berkman. At 34 now and a life-long Astro, Berkman was hitting .245 with 13 homers and 49 RBI. In 358 plate appearances this season, Berkman has struck out 70 times and walked 60.

He's also hitting only .188 against left-handers this season with one homer in 64 at-bats. But he gives the Yankees a veteran bat, be it from the DH slot or off the bench, which they hope will aid them down the stretch.

Berkman is due roughly $5 million this season with a club option for $15 million -- or a $2 million buyout -- for 2011. It is not yet clear what the Astros will receive in return, but they are not expected to receive high-level prospects for Berkman. Also unclear is how much of the $7 million or so Berkman is owed will be picked up by Houston.

As for why the deal must wait until Saturday even though Berkman already has agreed to waive his no-trade powers, as Joel Sherman explains in the New York Post, Article 19 of the Basic Agreement provides that trades involving players with 10-and-5 rights cannot be announced until 24 hours after the player gives his consent.

Berkman, who was held out of Friday night's lineup against Milwaukee, would not confirm that he agreed to the deal earlier Friday.

"I'm from Texas," Berkman told reporters in Houston on Friday night. "Heck, I played at Rice. This city is like the womb. I feel very comfortable here. To think about the possibility of going anywhere else is kind of scary.

"My ideal situation is to win a title here. If this organization feels those aims are better accomplished by trying to strip down this roster and reload with younger guys, I don't want to stand in the way of that."

One other Houston icon who was traded in recent days, pitcher Roy Oswalt, thinks the move to New York will rejuvenate his old teammate.

"I think it would be good for him," Oswalt told reporters in Washington on Friday after making his first start for Philadelphia since the Phillies acquired him from Houston on Thursday. "Sometimes you get a change of scenery [and] it turns you all the way around. Sometimes you get in a rut of doing the same thing over and over again."

Berkman acknowledged that Astros general manager Ed Wade approached him two days ago with a list of "probably eight teams" that had expressed interest in the 12-year veteran.

"There were four yeas and four nays," Berkman said.

In the end, as we've seen in the past, the Bronx came up with the biggest yea.

"You don't always get to pick how you leave an organization," Berkman said. "If and when it comes time to move on, I'll do it with as much grace as I can muster."

 

Posted on: July 13, 2010 10:40 am
Edited on: July 13, 2010 10:47 am
 

George Steinbrenner: 1930-2010

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- He was the Babe Ruth of owners, the lion of summer, the scourge of anybody who dared step in his path when the New York Yankees were on the move.

Rival teams, fellow owners, free agents ... nobody had a chance when Steinbrenner was in full howl and packing that fat wallet.

All good things come to an end, but you could be forgiven if you figured Steinbrenner would own the Yankees forever, even in light of the health failures that caused him to recede into the background over the past few years and turn day-to-day operations over to his sons.

Ding, dong, The Boss is dead.

But imagining the Yankees without Steinbrenner is like picturing the Yankees without a baseball.

He was Yankee Stadium, the World Series and the Fourth of July all rolled into one blustering, colorful, maddening package. Fact is, he was born on the Fourth of July, which is just about perfect, and he died on the morning of the All-Star Game, which is among the top few most fitting dates for his passing, trailing, maybe, only the day after another Yankees world title.

He loved his country and he loved his Yankees as much as anything in life, sometimes to his credit (seven World Series titles won during his ownership) and sometimes to his detriment (in 1974, he pleaded guilty to making illegal contributions to Richard Nixon's presidential campaign).

To those baseball fans who hated him, I would only ask this:

If you could have, would you have traded the owner of your club for an in-his-prime Steinbrenner if, with the package, came Steinbrenner's same zeal to win and gusto to make the hometown fans proud?

Of course you would have. No questions asked.

He was quintessentially American, an icon, a baseball all-timer and, as he would want to be remembered I'm sure, a true Yankee.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com