* Really good starting pitching by Javy Vazquez
* Excellent defense by A-Rod and the two Curtises (Grandy and Colin)
* Timely hits by Swisher, Grandy and Cervelli, plus a homer by Tex
* Back-to-back one-two-three innings by Joba and Mo
Mix the above ingredients together and you get a delicious win by the Yanks over Ben Sheets and the A’s – the perfect way to start the road trip.
A few random thoughts…Congrats to Andy Pettitte for making the All Star team following the injury to Buchholz. He was next on the list of players voted on by other players, so clap clap clap for him….Since Alfredo Aceves is clearly not coming back to the team any time soon, thanks to his latest setback, can Cashman please go out and get us another arm for the pen?…The Brett Gardner leadoff experiment tonight wasn’t wildly successful. He was 0-for-4. Small sample size, I know, but I like him in the #9 spot where there’s less pressure to get on base. He’s been doing a tremendous job there all season, so why not leave him there?…What’s the matter with Dallas Braden? Seriously, how can anyone be mad that the A’s have been selling “Get Off My Mound” T-shirts? Lighten up, guy….And did the Twins really offer the Mariners a couple of prospects for Cliff Lee? If so, does this mean he won’t be a Yankee next year?
No, of course nobody’s answering the phone because there aren’t any healthy pitchers. Not that are available anyway. Which must be why the latest trend in baseball is signing hurlers with a history of injuries. The Yankees? A.J. Burnett. The Red Sox? Brad Penny and John Smoltz. (I know, I know. The Yankees spent millions and the Red Sox didn’t. I’m just saying.)
The Yanks still need a #5 guy in the rotation, since Pettitte seems destined for retirement and/or many days in court testifying about The Rocket.
So back to the rumor mill I go. Yes, there was my post about Pedro the other day. But now people are throwing out names like Freddy Garcia,
who’s had shoulder surgery – twice. A-Rod played with Garcia on the Mariners and is pushing for his former teammate. According to Joel Sherman of the NY Post, Alex likes Garcia’s “fortitude.” I’m all for fortitude, but what about the actual ability to last more than an inning and get major league hitters out?
Randy Wolf is on the list,
despite his two arm surgeries. He nearly pitched a no-hitter with the Padres, but how’s his shoulder right now?
Kelvim Escobar is yet another name being bandied about.
He suffered a tear in his shoulder in ’08 but is trying to make a comeback. Swell. I feel better already.
And, finally, there’s Ben Sheets. He’s still around. Still unsigned. Still waving his medical records at GMs.
He’s had problems with his elbow, his back, his inner ear, you name it. Just look at that delivery. I’d give myself a hernia if I threw like that.
Reclamation projects are very satisfying when they work out. But surely there must be someone out there who does not have the body of a dilapidated house.
It would be great if the Yankees could depend on one or two of the rookies to fill the spot in the rotation, and maybe that’s how it’ll go. But what if Hughes/Aceves/Kennedy go down? We still need a body. Just not this body.
Was it always like this? Were pitchers fragile in the old days when I watched them as a kid? Am I simply “misremembering,” as Clemens would say? Or do today’s pitchers put more stress on their arms? I’d love to hear everybody’s opinion about this. My husband thinks it was the same then as it is now, and reminded me about Sandy Koufax, who left the game in his prime because of injury. My take is that it’s different now; that for some reason these guys get hurt younger and more often.
I’m beginning to wonder whatever happened to the robust, hearty, healthy athletes who once seemed indestructible.
It feels like this happened to them.
I’m afraid to go to sleep tonight. Terrified. What if the Yankees sign somebody else in the next few hours and I’m too far gone to find out about it? I hate hearing about this stuff after the fact, so could somebody call me immediately if a deal goes down?
Last I heard, we were throwing money or thinking about throwing money or rumored to be throwing money at AJ Burnett, Derek Lowe and Ben Sheets (with Andy Pettitte in the rearview mirror). Will any of it happen? How will I know? I feel so out of control.
Which is why I took action before I went to bed. Since my conversation with A-Sab about the Good Life in Scarsdale seemed to nudge Cee Cee toward accepting our millions, I decided to contact the other women involved and make my pitch to them too.
Ring, ring. “Hello? Is this Karen Burnett? Mrs. AJ Burnett? It’s She-Fan calling on behalf of the New York Yankees.”
“It’s very late here on the east coast,” said Karen, sounding miffed, as if I were a telemarketer. “You woke us up.”
“Sorry. I just wanted to tell you that if your husband is the least bit inclined to stay in the AL East and play for the Yankees, there’s this wonderful town where the two of you could live very happily with your children.”
“Don’t bother trying to sell me on Scarsdale. Amber Sabathia called this afternoon and gave me a big speech about it.”
“Really?” Kind of snippy. Clearly, I wasn’t going to dazzle her with the names of hair salons. But wait! Her husband was always on the DL! I could use that to my advantage! “I bet she didn’t tell you about all the excellent physicians in Scarsdale,” I said. “There’s a specialist for everything. Hammies. Rotator cuffs. Even severely strained obliques.”
“Wow. Thanks,” she said, thawing considerably. “I appreciate that, She-Fan.”
After I hung up, I wondered why I would even want the injury-prone Burnett for five years. Let the Braves have him.
I moved down my list.
Ring, ring. “Hello? Is this Betty Sheets? Ben’s mom? It’s She-Fan calling on behalf of the New York Yankees.”
“Hey there, honey bunch,” said a woman with a Louisiana drawl. “What can I do for you?”
I had read that Ben called his mother at least twice a day; that she handpicked his wife for him; that she lived for her son. She was definitely his go-to gal. “I would love it if Ben came to New York and played for the Yankees.”
“New York?” she said, aghast. “They do all that dancing and carrying on up there.”
“Not in Scarsdale,” I said. “It’s a quaint little town. No dancing or carrying on whatsoever. Well, except at the occasional bar mitzvah.”
“Never mind.” I told Betty that Scarsdale was full of southern hospitality and that Ben’s new neighbors would very likely bring over casseroles and pies and homemade quilts to welcome him.
“How sweet,” she enthused. “But what about doctors? My Ben gets hurt a lot, poor boy.”
I gave her my spiel and hung up. Why did I want Sheets again? Was the fact that we could sign him for two years instead of five a good enough reason?
Ring, ring. “Hello? Is this Trinka Lowe? Mrs. Derek Lowe? It’s She-Fan calling on behalf of the New York Yankees.”
“How dare you call me!” she huffed. “Didn’t you know Derek dumped me for some….some….”
Suddenly, I remembered that Lowe had left Trinka, a former Hooters waitress, for Carolyn Hughes, the FSN West anchor of “Dodger Dugout.”
“Forgive me,” I said. “In my excitement over the winter baseball meetings, I wasn’t thinking straight.”
“You don’t want my ex-husband on your team,” she said bitterly. “He’ll only cause pain and suffering, especially if the Yankees have a girl who does interviews from the clubhouse.”
Uh-oh. Perhaps Kim Jones, Suzyn Waldman and Kat O’Brien weren’t safe around this guy.
I thanked Trinka and wondered why I wanted the Yankees to sign Derek Lowe. Because he was more durable than the other two? Not good enough.
I was about to place a call to Laura Pettitte, thinking her husband was the only pitcher I could really trust, when I remembered the whole HGH thing from last year.
I heaved a sigh and went to sleep.
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I know, I know. Cashman flew off to SF for yet another meeting with Cee Cee. I can’t believe I’ve spent week after week pining for the big lefty, even though his teammate, Ben M. Sheets, has been there all along, waiting in the wings for me to notice him. God, what a fool I’ve been.
If you’re wondering what the “M” in Ben’s name stands for, don’t. All that matters is that he’s adorable and he can pitch and he had a very cordial meeting with the Yankees. Joe Girardi pronounced him “impressive” and even referred to him as Bengie, which was rather endearing, if familiar.
The point is, the Yankees might make the four-time All-Star an offer and he might actually accept it and we’ll be able to fill one of our vacancies in the starting rotation at last.
In case things do get serious between us, however, I thought I’d better take a closer look at Ben M. Sheets. (Is it Michael? Mark? Martin?)
He’s cute, yes? (Manfred? Mortimer? Maurice?)
He was born on July 18th, 1978, in Baton Rouge, which would make him another “Louisiana Lightning,” like this proud Yankees pitcher.
Possessing the requisite nasty stuff, he was drafted by the Brewers and made it to the majors in 2001. Here’s where the story goes sour.
In ’01, he was hobbled by rotator cuff tendinitis.
In ’03, he was out with a respiratory infection.
In ’04, he had surgery to repair a lumbar disc herniation.
In ’05, he was diagnosed with Vestibular Neuritis, which is a severe inner ear infection that causes a lack of balance…
(I hate when that happens.)
Late in the same season, he suffered a tear to his right latissimus dorsi muscle.
In ’06, he was back on the DL with a right posterior shoulder strain and, soon after, tightness in his right pectoral muscle. (I hate that too.)
In ’07, there was your basic strained hammy, followed by a season-ending tear of a tendon in his right middle finger.
Is Ben M. Sheets merely a more talented version of this man?
“When he’s on the mound, he’s dynamite,” Girardi said of Ben M. (Milton? Maury? Moses?)
When he’s on the mound. That’s the big qualifier.
Still, there are advantages to Sheets over Sabathia.
#1) He’s thinner.
#2) He’s cheaper.
#3) He doesn’t whine about living in California. (He lives near Dallas.)
#4) He has a son named Seaver, which suggests a fondness for New York ballplayers.
#5) He is among the worst-hitting pitchers of his generation with a career slugging percentage of .085. Which means he will never get on base and, therefore, never have a freakish, Wang-type Lisfranc injury.
Oh, and he’s got spirit. Just look at the fist pump here.
Best of all, he’s not afraid to throw inside. He was suspended and fined for spinning out Aramis Ramirez, who, unfortunately charged the mound and incited a brawl.
So while Ben M. may be as fragile as glass, I’d take him for a couple of years at $30 mil. Why not? If he’ll be a Yankee, I’ll be his She-Fan.