Where is Brian Cashman? Has he disappeared? He traded Melky to the Braves for Vazquez, signed a few minor leaguers and then vanished in a cloud of smoke.
While other teams are filling out their rosters, the Yankees remain without a bona fide left fielder (not counting Gardner), a dependable utility man (not counting Pena) and a strong bench (not counting…..anybody). I love that we’re stockpiling other teams’ castoffs for our farm system, but shouldn’t there be a little more activity as we head into spring training? Speaking of which, I’m going!
I’ve been invited to appear on a baseball panel at the Blake Library in Stuart, Florida, on Saturday, March 13th. (If anyone is in the area, please come and hear me talk about the She-Fan book, this blog, the Yankees and God knows what else.) Then I’ll be heading to Tampa to see the Yanks take on the Astros at home on March 16th and the Phillies in Clearwater on March 17th. I’m looking forward to meeting Sue of Rants, Raves, and Random Thoughts at the Phillies game, and hope to connect with others fans I’ve met via cyberspace.
On a personal note, I’d like to wish my mother a Happy 93rd Birthday on Friday. As many people know, she came in second to Surf Dog Bill for the 2009 She-Fan Award for the Best Yankee Fan Video.
My mother is such a trooper. In the 1940s, she exhibited true she-fan boldness when she spotted Babe Ruth at a restaurant and walked up to him and got him to autograph her menu. She gave me the menu when I was in high school, and it’s one of my most treasured possessions.
She was very upset when Melky was traded, but I think she’ll come to love Granderson. And she still has Jeter, her other favorite. Happy Birthday, Mom!!!!!!!
That’s what Cashman said today, according to LoHud. And while it’s all well and good for the Yankees GM to say that HE doesn’t need a left-handed bat for the outfield, what about us fans?
Has he stopped to ask us what WE need? I said I was OK with Brett Gardner in left and I am. But the team would be stronger with Johnny Damon on the roster. So what’s the big deal? Just sign the guy and get it over with, so we can see him popping out of the dugout and knocking the ball into Damon’s Deck?
Free agents are dropping like flies. Even Eric Hinske has a new team. Did we really spend every last dime on Nick Johnson? Is there nothing left in the vault for Damon? Can’t Hal and Hank chip in a few million from their trust funds?
If all the Yankees needed was a right-handed bat off the bench to play the outfield, why not hold onto Shelley Duncan? Oh, well. We did hold onto Sergio Mitre and his 6.79 ERA. Now that’s a relief.
Cashman also said he’s not looking for bullpen help. Really? Because these two inspire so much confidence?
I know I sound cranky in this post, but I’m feeling cranky right now. I want Damon to remain a Yankee. Not forever. Not for a gazillion dollars. Just figure it out, Cashman. Johnny’s already got his favorite restaurants in New York, even if he can’t pronounce their names. Don’t mess with this, Cash.
Or, to put it another way, how many outfielders will make the Yankees’ Opening Day roster? Now that we’ve added Jamie Hoffmann, the Rule V Draft Pick who was half of the Bruney-to-Nationals deal, we have five – count ’em, FIVE – viable outfielders. And that doesn’t include Damon, who could still sign, plus one or two Hinske/Hairston utility types yet to be on our radar. Sounds like a game of musical chairs to me.
While it’s true that you can never have too many options, given possible injuries (hello, Xavier Nady) and mediocrity (that would be you, Shelley Duncan), the Yankees have some decisions to make and one of these guys is bound to get left out. Let’s look at the outfield as it stands tonight….
* Curtis “Grandy” Granderson *
He looks awfully snappy in his newly Photo Shopped cap and uniform, doesn’t he? Obviously, he’s not going anywhere. I hope he patrols center field for a long, productive time.
* Melky “The Melkman” Cabrera *
I assume Melky will move to left field with the acquisition of Grandy. He has a better-than-average arm and hits in the clutch. Is he the greatest player to wear the pinstripes? No, but I love saying the name “Melky” and having non-baseball friends go, “What?”
* Nick “Swishalicious” Swisher *
The presumed right fielder who started his Yankees life as our presumed first baseman before Tex came along and Nady went down, Swish has a decent arm, gets on base (except when he strikes out in key situations) and lightens up the clubhouse. He can also turn a routine fly ball into an adventure, and performs needless somersaults.
* Brett “Gardy” Gardner *
Gardy, not to be confused with Grandy, runs like crazy, as we all know, and covers a lot of ground in center. His arm won’t blow anyone away. But if he gets on base, his speed causes the opposition to spazz out. The word “if” is key here. He doesn’t get on base often enough.
* Jamie “Hoffy” Hoffmann *
The new kid looks a lot like the old kid (Shelley). Apparently, Hoffy played a lot of hockey and was even drafted by the NHL. According to Mark Feinsand of the Daily News, Cashman said of Hoffman: “He’s got a hockey mentality – a very athletic and hard-nosed outfielder.” I guess that means he’ll be good in brawls?
There they are – five candidates for three spots – with the possible addition of Damon. So who gets traded? Anybody? Hoffy could do time in Scranton. And The Melkman and Swishalicious could handle the corners. But where does that leave Gardy? There’s no one more fun to watch on the base paths.
And who could forget the story of how he went to NY-Presbyterian Hospital to read books to sick kids as part of Project Sunshine? He was given a “lucky” bracelet by a girl awaiting a heart transplant, remember? She said, “Maybe this will make you hit a home run.”
And then he played in the game later – only because Damon was ejected – and promptly hit an inside-the-park homer….and the girl suddenly received a heart from a donor. Talk about “meant to be.”
I know this will seem like I’m just echoing my post from last night about Joba/Hughes, but can’t we keep every single one of them? Right now all I want to do is hoard players. Isn’t that only natural in winter?
Carmen Miranda was a Brazilian singer/dancer/actress in the ’40s and ’50s. She was famous for wearing fruit on her head.
But I’m talking about this Miranda.
Juan is a Yankees farmhand who was called up earlier this month, inserted into tonight’s game and – with two outs in the bottom of the ninth – singled off the leg of Kyle Farnsworth to score Hinske and give the Yanks a thrilling (yes, I know the game didn’t matter) 4-3 win over the Royals – the team’s 15th walk-off victory. Naturally, he earned a face full of whipped cream.
What is going on with the Yankees? Even when they play less than perfect defense, even when they can’t generate much offense against a tough pitcher, even when their starter is just back from his father’s hospital bedside, they find a way to win. Speaking of AJ…
Three hits over six-plus innings with eight strikeouts? Not a bad tune-up for a guy people were so worried about a couple of weeks ago. He looked great and I can’t wait for him to make his first postseason start against them…
The offense against Lerew, the Royals promising starter, amounted to solo shots by Swisher and Tex. The two runs might have been enough if Phil Coke hadn’t come into the game in the seventh suffering from a brain cramp.
First he spazzed out trying to field Gordon’s bunt. Then he threw wildly on Anderson’s fielder’s choice. Then he completely blanked on Maier’s grounder; he should have thrown home to nab the runner scoring but instead went to first for the out. Oh, Phil.
With the Yankees down a run, it was nice to see Robertson and Bruney hold the Royals scoreless in the eighth. But it was even nicer to see Farnsworth take the hill for KC in the ninth. Ah, the memories.
Poor Farnsy. Cervelli singled off his glove/hand/someplace. Hinske singled off him too. Cano clocked one of his pitches for a deep sac fly, scoring Cervelli. Hinske stole second on him – HINSKE! – and went to third on the catcher’s error. And up stepped Miranda, who got the winning hit when the ball caromed off Farnsy’s shin. The indignity.
Maybe the night had the happy ending it did because of the pre-game ceremony spotlighting Jeter for being the all-time Yankees hits leader, Melky for hitting for the cycle, and Mo for getting his 500th save and receiving his plaque from Yogi.
The expression on Mo’s youngest son’s face says it all for me right now.
I thought I knew A.J. Burnett. I really did. He came to the Yankees and pitched like he was born to wear the pinstripes, and I trusted him.
Then, ever so surreptitiously, the good A.J. vanished into thin air, only to be replaced by an impostor.
The plot thickened tonight after the game in Baltimore. The Yankees may have beaten the O’s 9-6, thanks to five homers and excellent relief pitching, but the impostor stunk up the joint, yielding six runs on 11 hits over five plus innings, then skipped out. Suddenly, it dawned on me: Dave Eiland and Joe Girardi were of no help. It was up to me to solve the mystery of the disappearing A.J. So I hired a private investigator.
His name was Steve and he was a man of few words. He said he’d bring the good A.J. back and I believed him. He began his investigation by interviewing the players. He started with Posada.
“Did A.J. say anything to you?” Steve asked JoPo after Yankees media relations director Jason Zillo granted him access to the clubhouse. “Did he seem unduly upset?”
“I’m probably the wrong one to talk to,” said Jorge. “In the second inning, I stood there at home plate, not even realizing it was ball four. The umpire had to tell me to walk to first base.” He shrugged, embarrassed. “And in the fifth, I headed for the dugout on strike two. Jeter made fun of me. I was totally screwed up tonight, except that I hit a couple of dingers.”
Steve moved on to Swisher. “You’re a friendly guy – the type who notices what’s going on with people. Did you pick up anything unusual about A.J.? Something that would indicate his state of mind?”
“He yelled at himself after Pie went deep in the first,” said Swish, as he was getting congratulations for his latest homer at Camden Yards. “Some coach on the Orioles thought he was yelling at Pie and went ballistic. Are you telling me that it wasn’t the real A.J. who teed up that fat pitch?”
“Buddy, I’m the one asking the questions,” Steve barked and headed toward Hinske.
“I’m pretty new to the Yankees,” said Eric. “I don’t know anything about anybody.”
Steve took a long drag on his cigarette, then threw the butt on the floor and crushed it with the heel of his white shoe. “Hey, Cano,” he said.
Robbie danced over and high-fived the private eye. “Yeah, man. You lookin’ for A.J.? He took off.”
“I get that,” Steve said with a scowl. “Did he tell you when he’d be back?”
Cano laughed. “Si. October. Playoff time. He come back and do real good then. But right now?” He laughed again and blew a big pink bubble in Steve’s face. “His twin brother Gomer is pitching instead of him.”
“HIS TWIN BROTHER?” Steve and I said at the same time. There was nothing in the Yankees media guide suggesting that A.J. Burnett had a twin brother named Gomer. And yet Cano knew the truth. Probably Melky knew it too.
“Well, that explains it,” I said. “Case closed.”
“Glad it worked out. Sounds like the Yankees will be just fine in the postseason.”
“I’m really relieved. Thanks. How can I ever show my gratitude?”
“I know you’re married, She-Fan, but…”
I think it was in the second inning. The Yankees had scored six runs off Brad Penny, who, despite a generous strike zone by Joe West, was having trouble getting people out. I said to my husband, “I’d really like it if the Yankees scored twenty runs tonight.”
He rolled his eyes, as if I’d asked for the impossible, and made a crazy face at me.
I said, “The Yankees can do it,” and made a crazy face right back at him.
After A-Rod’s almost-homer in the fifth, Penny was pulled for Bowden, a call-up, and Matsui promptly went deep for 9-1. Posada, Cano, Melky, Jeter, Hinske and Tex all got on base, and it was 12-1 by the time the inning was over. I kind of felt sorry for the kid because he was back on the mound for the sixth, gave up three more runs and was clearly taking one for the team.
Meanwhile, Andy Pettitte was pitching a decent (if inefficient) game. He benefitted from Jeter’s amazing throw-out of Pedroia at third but was victimized by that lame play when Hinske and Melky couldn’t figure out which of them was supposed to catch the ball. Andy came out and Brian Bruney came in, and the Red Sox started to come back.
“I’m telling you, the Yankees need twenty runs to win this game,” I said with greater urgency after Bruney walked two and hit a batter.
“That’s ridiculous,” he scoffed. “You’re just saying that because you love blowouts.”
“No, I’m saying it because no lead is safe at Fenway.“
My wish was granted when Ramirez relieved in the top of the ninth. Matsui homered again (seven RBIs!) and Swisher doubled home Cano. The score: 20-7. I was in heaven. “Who’s crazy now?” I said. “We did get twenty.“
“I’m sorry I doubted you,” said my husband.
We made up and watched the bottom of the ninth. Mitre was pitching.
“I wonder if he’ll be any good out of the pen,” I said.
I got my answer quickly. Varitek? Homer. Kotchman? Single. Ortiz? Double. Lowell? Homer. Baldelli? Hit by pitch. The score was 20-11 with two outs, but Mitre, who would be shipped to Tazmania if it were up to me, retired Gonzalez to end the nearly four-hour contest.
“Feel better now?” asked my husband.
“Much,” I said. “But I’m already worrying about tomorrow. I hope Johnny will be OK after fouling that pitch off his knee.”
“They said he’s day to day.”
“And I hope the Yankees didn’t use up all their offense.”
“They can’t ‘use up’ their offense. It doesn’t work that way.”
“Then how does it ‘work?'”
“Baseball is all about pitching,” said my husband. “If AJ is on tomorrow, everything should be fine.“
“Right. But twenty runs would still be good.“
While the Yankees were putting together their workmanlike 7-5 come-from-behind victory over the Blue Jays, there was an actual public display of disaffection going on in Boston. When I saw this photo of the participants…
…the movie fan in me couldn’t help thinking of the old weeper “From Here to Eternity.”
So romantic. Be still my beating heart.
Back to the game in the Bronx, I was not feeling the love for Joba tonight. He put me through such anguish and torment. One minute, I thought he was Cy Young. The next, I thought he was Sergio Mitre. Pitching with a 3-0 lead in the third, he promptly allowed the Jays to tie the score on two walks, a single, a fielder’s choice and a double. And then in the fourth? Boom. A homer to Ruiz, a call-up from Vegas, to put Toronto ahead 4-3. Who are you, Joba? Do you even know?
As the Yankees headed into the eighth, still down a run, I started to growl at the TV. I mean, we weren’t facing Halladay and we didn’t have to deal with Rios or Rolen. So what was the problem? Why weren’t we scoring runs? Growl.
But then a hero strode to the mound. His name was Godzilla, and he was breathing fire.
(Whoa. How about a Tic Tac, Matsui. Seriously.)
Matty, as Girardi calls him, smacked one into the seats to tie the game at 4-4 and launch yet another Yankees late-inning comeback. Posada went back-to-back. Hinske doubled. Melky singled, scoring pinch runner Hairston (I’m really falling for this guy). And Damon singled. When it was all over, it was 7-5 Yanks and I was no longer growling. Quite the opposite.
After brilliant relief performances by Bruney, Coke and Robertson, in came Mo for the ninth, Talk about true love. But – shock – he gave up a homer to Encarnacion. He looked as surprised as I was.
Not to worry, Mo. You got the save and the Yanks won, and all is right with the world again. It’s a Yankees Universe and I’m just living in it.