Well? I did predict unequivocally that the Yankees would sign Rafael Soriano despite Cashman’s statement that he would not give up a draft pick, didn’t I? Yes, I did. On January 8th, I wrote:
“I predict that the Yanks will, indeed, end up signing Rafael Soriano….Despite Cashman’s comments about staying “in-house” for the eighth inning and trying to avoid an expensive LaTroy Hawkins/Kyle Farnsworth-type flop, Soriano is no Hawkins/Farnsworth. He’d fit the bill just fine.”
Now the deal is reportedly done and Soriano will be in pinstripes after all. Is it a perfect signing? No deal is perfect. We lose the draft pick. We risk being stuck with a guy who’s been injured. We paid (or, rather, overpaid). And, according to Paul Lebowitz, we’re getting a reliever who “gacks up” big games. But I’m happy right now. Cashman is alive and well and taking action, as opposed to watching every available player land with another team. Our bullpen will be stronger with Soriano than without him. He gives Girardi more flexibility as a bridge to Mo or even as a substitute for Mo (God needs his rest too). It’s not our money, it’s the Steinbrenners’. And maybe this Hot Stove move will lead to others, just like when I shop online for one item and end up buying way more.
Since we’re all feeling a little impatient/perplexed/downright angry about the Yankees’ off-season thus far, I figured I’d lighten the mood with a bulletin: It’s almost spring training, which means it’s almost Opening Day. I know, I know. I’m not the only one with a calendar, but I just might be one of the only ones with a preview of the new Yankee Stadium E-Guide, which is the fantastic creation of Kurt Smith as part of his BallparkE-Guides series.
Each e-guide is a detailed, PDF-formatted booklet that takes us through our favorite parks in a way that teams’ official programs and web sites don’t. For example, at Yankee Stadium you can’t get back into the ballpark once you leave, right? Wrong. Thanks to a tip in the Yankee Stadium E-Guide, I learned that if you enter via the Hard Rock Cafe and have your ticket punched there, you can come and go as often as you want. The E-Guide has insider info about buying tickets, paying less for tickets, figuring out what and where the best food is, not to mention getting to the Bronx without stress. It’s all here and it’s only five bucks, downloadable from Kurt’s site. I’ll definitely consult the Yankee Stadium E-Guide before my next visit to the Stadium.
Speaking of which, I predict that the Yanks will, indeed, end up signing Rafael Soriano.
Why? Because there’s precedent for bringing in a proven closer as our setup guy. Does the name Tom Gordon ring a bell? He worked out pretty well setting up for Mo even though he’d been a closer for the Red Sox. Despite Cashman’s comments about staying “in-house” for the eighth inning and trying to avoid an expensive LaTroy Hawkins/Kyle Farnsworth-type flop, Soriano is no Hawkins/Farnsworth. He’d fit the bill just fine.
It wasn’t raining here in Santa Barbara, but I sang while it rained in the Bronx. Why?
* Because the Yanks jumped out to a 4-0 lead over the Royals in the first.
* Because A.J. threw five shutout innings before the storm blew in.
* Because Cano is so damn good this year with runners on base.
* Because Jorge knocked in his 1,000th career RBI.
* Because A-Rod, while unable to hit #600, helped the team anyway.
* Because Colin Curtis got the start in right field.
* Because we won the game and only had to use Chad and Alby in relief.
* Because Swisher claims he hurt his Achilles while he slept, and there has to be more to that story.
* Because when we play the Royals there’s always a chance that I’ll see Farnsy again.
Last night I announced the 2009 She-Fan Award for Best Postseason Enemy – the opposing player who best helped the Yankees win the ALDS, ALCS or World Series. Congratulations again to Brad Lidge.
Tonight’s award goes to the opposing player who contributed mightily to this year’s most exciting phenomenon: the walk-off victory. The Yankees had 15 walk-offs during the regular season, some more significant than others but all a great source of pleasure for Yankee fans – and for A.J. Burnett.
And the nominees for Best Regular Season Walk-Off Enemy are…
– Brian Fuentes, Los Angeles Angels
Yes, Fuentes was one of last night’s nominees, but he merits another look in this category. On May 1st, he allowed a bases-loaded walk-off single by Posada in the ninth, and the Yanks beat the Angels 10-9 after having been down by five runs in the game. A big win against a big rival.
– Joe Nathan, Minnesota Twins
Another return nominee, Nathan was on the mound on May 15th, which, by the way, marked A-Rod’s debut at the new Stadium as well as the game in which Brett Gardner had an inside-the-park home run. In the ninth, Gardner tripled off Nathan, Tex singled, A-Rod walked, Cano was walked intentionally, and – with the bases loaded – Melky blooped a two-out single to win the game 5-4. The Yanks went on to sweep the Twins with three consecutive walk-offs.
– Brad Lidge, Philadelphia Phillies
Yet another return nominee, Lidge pitched the ninth on May 23rd. The Yanks were down by two runs, but the Phillies closer walked Damon, gave up a game-tying homer to A-Rod, allowed a single to Cano, who stole second, and served up a walk-off single to Melky. A foreshadowing of things to come.
– Luis Castillo, New York Mets
We all know what happened on June 12th, but here’s the recap. The Yanks were down by a run in the ninth when K-Rod came in to close it out for the Mets. Jeter singled, stole second and K-Rod intentionally walked Tex to pitch to a struggling A-Rod, who popped up to Castillo for the third out. Inexplicably, L-Cas dropped the ball, and Tex and A-Rod scored the winning runs. The best part was watching K-Rod celebrate – prematurely.
– Shawn Camp, Toronto Blue Jays
July 4th was George Steinbrenner’s birthday and the 70th anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s “Luckiest Man” speech. So it was only fitting that Roy Halladay did not get the win on this day. Instead, he left the game in a funk after Damon’s two-run shot tied the score in the seventh. It wasn’t until the 12th that Posada singled in the winning run off Camp, who is a double She-Fan Award nominee for the walk-off single he gave up to Cano on August 12th.
– Junichi Tazawa, Boston Red Sox
Who can forget the August 7th game that lasted 15 innings and five-and-a-half hours? It was Burnett against Beckett, two former Marlins, and the score was 0-0 when A-Rod stepped in against the rookie Red Sox pitcher and belted one into the seats with Jeter aboard for a 2-0 walk-off. The win expanded the Yankees’ lead in the AL East to four-and-a-half games.
– Kyle Farnsworth, Kansas City Royals
No, the game on September 29th against the Royals hardly mattered in terms of the pennant race. But seeing old friend Farnsy was a treat nonetheless. With the September call-ups in the lineup, Cervelli got the Yankees’ ninth-inning rally going with a ground ball that deflected off Farnsworth for a single. Cisco moved to third on Hinske’s single and scored on Cano’s sac fly. Up to the plate stepped another call-up, Juan Miranda, whose grounder off Farnsy’s leg scored Hinske. The Yanks won 4-3 and all was right with the world.
The envelope please.
And the 2009 She-Fan Award for Best Regular Season Walk-off Enemy goes to…
***** Junichi Tazawa *****
The sentimental favorite would have been Castillo, of course. But an interleague series against the hapless Mets that didn’t really count for a lot except in entertainment value? Conversely, the 15-inning game against the Red Sox was huge. They had beaten us eight straight times coming into the series, and first place in the division was on the line. Once A-Rod hit that shot off of Tazawa, they had to settle for a Wild Card berth. Congratulations to Mr. Tazawa. Oh, wait. Mr. Tazawa is out of the country and can’t be here to accept his award. Accepting it for him is his teammate.
“Oh, wow,” said Mr. Papelbon. “The She-Fan Award is really heavy.”
“That’s because it’s solid gold,” I said. “Maybe you’ll win one next year.”
According to Sam Borden on the LoHud Yankees blog, Joba told the media after tonight’s 4-3 loss to the Royals that he’d fold towels if the Yankees asked him to. In other words, he gets that he didn’t exactly impress anybody by throwing 91 pitches in three-plus innings and giving up three runs and four walks.
So will the Yankees put Joba Chamberlain on the postseason roster? In the pen, perhaps? Or will he spend the ALDS in the clubhouse doing this?
We’ll find out soon enough. I’m still digesting the fact that tonight was the last home game of the 2009 regular season. How fast it all went, right? It would have been nice to close things out with a “W” before the team heads to Tampa for the finale against the Rays this weekend, but the offense was in sleep mode for the most part. Jeter homered to lead off the bottom of the first, but the bats were quiet until the fifth when Swisher hit a two-run bomb to tie the score at 3-3.
If only he were a better outfielder. In the seventh, he bungled Buck’s fly ball and it went for a triple, handing the Royals the decisive go-ahead run – and the game. Graceful he’s not.
I thought the Yanks might mount another miraculous comeback in the ninth when Cervelli singled and Guzman reached on an error. (Where was Farnsy when we needed him?) Instead, Soria shut the Baby Bombers down, and that was that.
Afterwards, I tried to talk to my husband about the game – and about possible roster scenarios for the ALDS. But he was studying for a course he’s taking and said, “Go on Twitter and talk to @YankeeMeginPHL, the one with the rally bra, or @irb123, the one who comments on your blog sometimes, or @Legendary23, the one who does the Yankee Twitter Roll Call. Maybe they’re not busy.”
“It’s the middle of the night on the east coast,” I said. “My Yankee Twitter friends are asleep.”
I shrugged and went into my office, where I found someone I could talk to. No, she couldn’t talk back, but it’s not as if she didn’t want to.
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.
Oops. Not that one.
As effective as Scott Kazmir was last night, Joba absolutely dominated the Rays tonight in the Yankees’ 6-2 victory.
He’s been brilliant since going home to Nebraska during the break. I’d like to know what they fed him while he was there, because he’s been a different pitcher since he came back.
No more shaking off Jorge. No more strolls around the mound between pitches. No more nibbling around the strike zone. He’s been aggressive, no-nonsense, focused. As a result, he only gave up three hits over eight innings – a memorable performance.
It was such a positive outing that I’m not even going to bring up the reliever who shall remain nameless, except to say he’s struggling and I don’t know why and he’s starting to remind me of guys who are no longer with the team.
I was fuming that Girardi had to drag Mo into the game in the ninth, but he took care of business in his usual it’s-just-my-job sort of way.
(Is there a stat for how many times he’s shaken Jorge’s hand after getting the final out?)
Jeter’s triple in the first inning set the tone, as did Tex’s single to drive him in. Then the home run derby kicked in: Cano (after fouling a ball off his knee – ouwww), Melky, Tex. The boys were unstoppable.
Speaking of Tex, on Twitter tonight I was kidding around with MLBlogger Yankeemeg about the resemblance between Jarrod Washburn and Kiefer Sutherland. Have you noticed?
Then we moved on to Eric Hinske (I kind of figured he’d play in this series, giving Damon or Swisher a night off from the turf) and how he reminded us of Kevin James.
I was trying to come up with a celebrity double for Tex and couldn’t think of one. And then Yankeemeg said, “He looks just like MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.” And you know what? He does!
It’s easy to be lighthearted when your team is in first place and they just won a big series. Let’s see how jokey I am after the Yanks and White Sox go at it tomorrow night. I’d really like to keep the train moving, but I know better than to take anything for granted.