January 31, 2011

Poll Results: Derek Jeter to have better rebound season than A.J. Burnett

poll results59Derek Jeter and A.J. Burnett will do their best to put 2010 behind them. Both probably had the worst season of their careers. My latest poll results show fans had more confidence in Jeter having a comeback season than Burnett.

It’s worth noting last Tuesday Brian Cashman showed a lack of confidence in Jeter to play all four years of his new contract at shortstop.

New poll: Who should hit leadoff to start the season?

January 29, 2011

My plan for Jesus Montero in 2011

The Yankees have one of baseball’s top prospects in Jesus Montero, and this season is a pivotal part of his development. It’s the season that he’s expected to get major league playing time, but nobody knows how much he’ll get or whether he’ll start the year in Scranton or New York.

The plan for Montero will be made sometime toward the end of spring training, but we’re all getting anxious at this point and there’s no harm in thinking about how Montero’s season will play out now.

Before I get into my plan, I want to share what Brian Cashman said about Montero recently (my emphasis).

The minor leagues is (where you) work out your problems, and he’s certainly closing the gap. He’s not there yet, but he’s pretty damn close. We believe he’s better than some starting catchers, defensively, in the big leagues right now.

January 28, 2011

Brian Cashman: ‘Why are people bitching so much?’

Part of Brian Cashman’s phone interview with Ken Rosenthal:

“Tell me where we are screwing up on the baseball operations side. I need a starting pitcher, but is the future strong because we have a farm system acknowledged in the industry to be one of the best? Check. Am I getting our payroll down, as charged by ownership? Check. Do we have success on the field? Check.

“What's the problem? Why are people bitching so much? That's my question. That's my frustration. The problem is people having patience with the process.

That is one ticked off GM. And he has every right to be ticked off. The Yankees won it all in 2009 and he put his club in position to repeat in 2010.

January 27, 2011

Keith Law’s Top 10 Yankees Prospects for 2011

ESPN’s Keith Law released his Top 100 prospects and Team-by-Team Top 10 Prospects today. Jesus Montero ranked as the fourth best prospect in all of baseball (first catcher), and Manny Banuelos ranked 12th (fourth pitcher).

Here are his top 10 Yankees prospects (h/t Jason@IIATMS)

1. Jesus Montero, C (4)
2. Manny Banuelos, LHP (12)
3. Gary Sanchez, C (68)
4. Dellin Betances, RHP (73)
5. Andrew Brackman, RHP (88)
6. Austin Romine, C
7. Graham Stoneburner, RHP
8. Slade Heathcott, OF
9. Hector Noesi, RHP
10. Adam Warren, RHP

Note how this list compares with Baseball America’s (they’re pretty similar).

January 26, 2011

Jesus Montero, Gary Sanchez, Manny Banuelos listed on MLB.com’s Top 50 prospects

In MLB.com’s Top 50 Prospects list for 2011, Jesus Montero ranked ninth, Gary Sanchez 32nd and Manny Banuelos 35th.

Montero is the top-ranked catcher on the list. Before the Yankees acquired Russell Martin, Montero was expected to assume the starting job in place of Jorge Posada. Now, he’ll likely have to work his way to the majors during the season.

Remember when we joked about the Yankees being linked to Bartolo Colon?

Well, our dreams nightmares came true. FoxSports.com’s Jon Morosi says the Yankees have signed Bartolo Colon to a minor-league contract.

NY Post’s Joel Sherman adds the Yankees have invited him to spring training and he’ll earn $900,000 if he makes the team.

Colon was playing for Yankees bench coach Tony Pena in the Dominican Republic and  I take it he like what he saw.

Deion Sanders Featured Card of the Week

“Prime Time” Deion Sanders is one of the handful of players to play professional baseball and football. The Yankees drafted him in the 30th round of the 1988 draft and the following two seasons he played mainly as an outfielder.

January 25, 2011

Brian Cashman doesn’t expect Derek Jeter to play the next four years at shortstop

Brian Cashman had a lot to say at WFAN’s annual “Breakfast with a Champion” this morning, most notably he said he didn’t expect Derek Jeter to last as a shortstop for all four years of his new contract. He’d be a center fielder, he said.

Jeter is 36 years old and coming off the worst season of his career. At this point, it’s hard to disagree with Cashman’s expectations for Jeter.

January 24, 2011

Poll Results: Ivan Nova far more trustworthy than Sergio Mitre

poll results58Fans voted Ivan Nova as more trustworthy than Sergio Mitre by a landslide margin. Unfortunately, these results really don’t matter unless the Yankees add a starter between now and Opening Day because both are slotted in the rotation now.

I took a closer look at Nova vs. Mitre in a post earlier last week and discussed this comparison on my Facebook page as well.

Next poll: Who is more likely to have a big comeback season in 2011?

January 22, 2011

Manny Banuelos scouting report

Jonathan Mayo gave a glowing scouting report for Manny Banuelos yesterday, listing him as the 10th best left-handed pitching prospect in baseball (my emphasis).

When Banuelos was forced out of action with appendicitis, he took the time and opportunity to focus on conditioning. The effects were noticeable when he returned, with more ticks on the fastball, for one thing. He commands it well, even though he's throwing it harder than he had previously. His other pitches -- a curve and changeup -- are also very good. All he really needs is experience and time to work on being able to throw all three consistently. He's only 20, and even if he's 5-foot-10, 155 pounds, he's got the stuff to be a front-line starter in the not-too-distant future.


January 20, 2011

Andruw Jones signs with Yankees for $2M

The Yankees finally found their fourth outfielder today. Andruw Jones, a five-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glover, agreed to a $2 million deal which includes an additional $1.2 million in performance bonuses.

As a backup the past few seasons with the Dodgers, Rangers and White Sox, Jones isn’t getting many hits but he’s making them count when he does — 50.3 percent of his hits have gone for extra bases.

Plus, as he’s done his entire career, he still mashes against southpaws — last season to the tune of .272/.380/.565.

What do you think of the Jones signing?

Yankees’ rotation: Ivan Nova vs. Sergio Mitre

Both Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre are expected to fill out the back of the Yankees’ rotation. One will get the boot to the bullpen if Andy Pettitte opts to return, or if Brian Cashman swings a late deal for a starter.

To make this more interesting, let’s say Pettitte is coming back, thus leaving Joe Girardi to decide between Nova or Mitre for the No. 5 spot. Keep in mind the Yankees might need a fifth starter just three times in April.

Before I go any further, I’d like to note Brian Cashman stated Joba Chamberlain is a reliever once again in yesterday’s Rafael Soriano press conference. “Joba is a bullpen guy, for the 200th time.”

January 19, 2011

Yankees offered Carl Pavano $10 million!!

pavano offer


Ahh! Thank goodness this didn’t happen. I’d rather have Kei Igawa in the rotation. 

I decided to re-read the 10 things I associate Carl Pavano with in order to calm me down. Carry on.

Managing Rafael Soriano and the Yankees’ bullpen

Bullpen use has changed drastically in its relatively short history. Here are some telling figures.

But one thing hasn’t changed: a team’s best reliever finishes games. The latest theory, however, is a team’s best reliever should pitch in the highest leverage situations, which is not always the last inning.

Yesterday, two big Yankees blogs posted why Joe Girardi should use Soriano like a “fireman” rather than an “eighth inning man.” This would drag him into more high leverage situations, which can occur as early as the fifth inning. I can’t say I agree.

Are Rafael Soriano and Russell Martin in line for attitude adjustments?

Rafael Soriano and Russell Martin are the two biggest newcomers signed by the Yankees this offseason. Neither  was vastly overpaid — worth noting in Yankeeland — because they have the talent, but both have made awkward splashes in the press recently.

Rafael Soriano in the Media:
First, Bill Madden called him out in the Daily News on Saturday (my emphasis).

The 31-year-old Dominican's makeup is - and should be - of great concern. Despite his league-leading 45 saves and 1.73 ERA, Soriano was hated by almost everyone in Tampa Bay last year. His periodic hissy-fits over being brought into games in non-save situations, or being asked to pitch more than one inning wore thin on Rays manager Joe Maddon.

Catfish Hunter Featured Card of the Week

James “Catfish” Hunter spent the final five years of his career with the Yankees. Hunter became the highest paid free agent in baseball history (in 1975) for a whopping $3.75 million.

Hunter is enshrined in the Hall of Fame as an Athletic, as he spent two-thirds of his career with them. Francisco Cervelli holds Hunter’s No. 29 Yankees jersey today.

January 18, 2011

Hughes, Chamberlain, Logan avoid arbitration with Yankees

Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Boone Logan avoided arbitration with the Yankees today, all agreeing to one-year deals.

Hughes: $2.7 million
Chamberlain: $1.4 million
Logan: $1.2 million

I wouldn’t take too much from this info, but if anything at all, it could help verify that the Yankees will keep Chamberlain in the bullpen this season. Join the big discussion on that debate here.

This info helps round out the Yankees’ total payroll for 2011. I’ll have more on that when it all gets finalized before the season.

January 17, 2011

Golden Globe winners: Yankees edition

The Yankees made a splash at last night’s Gold Globe Awards, leaving award-deserving movies like “The Social Network” empty-handed. Without further ado, I present the major award winners from last night.

Golden Globe StatueBest Actor in Motion Picture - Drama:

No pitcher left you at the edge of your seat like Joba Chamberlain did in 2010. Houdiniing his way out of jam after jam in each of his 73 appearances without a single blemish last year made him a no-brainer for the Globes’ most desired award.

Best Director – Director:
Joe Girardi prepared a compelling script in 2010, but occasionally found ways to surprise viewers and sometimes crew members too. Despite stacks of binders filling up his office — and even the set at times — no director made as many gutsy decisions as Girardi.

Poll Results: Rays won’t contend in 2011

poll results57 I guess losing an MVP-caliber player, a big bopper, a no-hitter throwing starter and four crucial components to the bullpen will leave fans with some doubt. That’s what happened with the Rays this offseason, and 75 percent of fans voted they were unlikely to contend in 2011.

The Rays have signed Kyle Farnsworth and Joel Peralta for relief help, but that is all in terms of upgrading for 2011. However, some prospects, such as outfield prospect Desmond Jennings, are prepared to step into the big leagues.

Next poll: Who do you trust more to start?

January 15, 2011

Joba Chamberlain is not the answer for the Yankees’ rotation

And you’d be hard pressed to find a quality starter left on the market.

While the Yankees waited for Derek Jeter and Cliff Lee to make their decisions, the few quality starters available this offseason signed with other teams. Jeff Francis signed with the Royals yesterday, leaving Justin Duchscherer and Freddy Garcia as the next best candidates for the Yankees’ rotation. Neither of those two are very appealing. I think the Yankees are better off waiting for Brian Cashman to make a move midseason.

So where does this leave Joba Chamberlain? He lies deep in the Yankees’ bullpen, where he looks to regain his reputation as a dominant pitcher.

January 14, 2011

Robinson Cano’s facial hair is … interesting

cano facial hair

No more babyfaced Robby Cano! There is no way Cano shows up to spring training like this. He knows better.

Even worse, as Big League Stew points out, this beard is strikingly similar to David Ortiz’s. Remove. Now.

Photo courtesy of cj_pinstripes.

Baseball’s best bullpens: Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers

Last night the Yankees paired the best closer of all time with the best closer in baseball last year. Only one other team has a comparable one-two punch: the Red Sox.

I’d also add the Tigers to this best bullpen in the game discussion with their addition of Joaquin Benoit, who posted a 1.34 ERA for the Rays last season.

Yankees Red Sox Tigers
Mariano Rivera Jonathan Papelbon Jose Valverde
Rafael Soriano Daniel Bard Joaquin Benoit
David Robertson Dan Wheeler Joel Zumaya
Pedro Feliciano Hideki Okajima Daniel Schlereth
Joba Chamberlain Bobby Jenks Ryan Perry

January 13, 2011

Yankees sign Rafael Soriano $35M/3yrs

The Rafael Soriano saga is finally over: he’s a Yankee. Jon Heyman reports the deal is worth $35 million over the next three years ($11.67M/yr). To compare, the Yankees signed Mariano Rivera for two years and $30 million this offseason.

This deal is a bit surprising because Brian Cashman had explicitly stated he would not “lose our No. 1 draft pick.” Honestly, it’s tough to think about that when the Yankees just took the Rays’ closer and made him their setup man.

Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman and their Hall of Fame cases

Trevor Hoffman announced his retirement yesterday, putting an end to his career with a 42-save lead over No. 42 Mariano Rivera (601-559).

Interestingly, both have converted saves at an 89 percent success rate. If you look a little closer, Mo is at 89.30% and Hoffman is at 88.77%.

Will Rivera be the all-time saves leader at the end of the season? I say, who cares? He just signed a two-year deal so if he can stay healthy the record is very breakable. Still, what does Mo have left to prove? If Mo Retired today, he’d still be considered the greatest closer of all time. Why? Because he’s saved more games on the biggest stage than anyone.

January 12, 2011

LATEST: Pettitte’s decision on 2011 awaits

The NY Daily News first reported Andy Pettitte told Brian Cashman he decided to sit out for the start of 2011, but that was a misunderstanding. But here’s the latest from Cashman:

“Nothing new or different,” Cashman said. “Exactly what I’ve been saying for the past month or two months.”

So, it was definitely a false alarm. There is still hope for Pettitte to return, and this “misunderstanding” does not mean Pettitte is more likely to retire.

Waiting for Pettitte’s decision is holding back Cashman from upgrading the pitching staff, don’t you think?

Give me Hairston. Either Hairston!

The Yankees are pursuing Andruw Jones. Yes, the 33-year-old longtime Braves outfielder who has not played a full season since 2007 or hit above .250 since 2006. But apparently his glove is still tempting, since the Yankees are looking for a backup outfielder NOT a backup DH.

Jorge Posada IS the DH, according to the Yankees.

I don’t think the Yankees should bother with Jones. His glove may still be gold, but who knows? He’s not healthy enough these days to judge that. The free agent outfield market is very thin, but here are the top alternatives:

Luis Sojo Featured Card of the Week

In honor of Luis Sojo’s return to the Yankees’ system, he is my Featured Yankees Card of the Week.

Sojo will enter his fifth year of managing the Tamp Yankees after taking last season off. He won four World Series rings with the Yankees, including a series-clinching single against the Mets in 2000.
“It's the happiest day of my life. I don't know how to explain it,” Sojo said. “Today they gave me a chance to come through. I did and was it was unbelievable.”
I found that reaction quote on Baseball Almanac.

January 11, 2011

Yankees 2011 coaching staff + Luis Sojo!

The only change to the Yankees coaching staff is the pitching coach, but here’s a quick recap.

Manager: Joe Girardi
Hitting Coach: Kevin Long
Pitching Coach: Larry Rothschild (replaced Dave Eiland)
Bench Coach: Tony Pena
First Base Coach: Mick Kelleher
Third Base Coach: Rob Thomson
Bullpen Coach: Mike Harkey

Note: Not all of the minor league coaches have been announced yet, but Luis Sojo has returned to manage the Tampa Yankees. He was the Florida State League Coach of the Year in 2009.

January 10, 2011

Uh oh! Red Sox got Chili in their system

It’s true. The first Jamaican to ever play in a major league game and the two-time World Series champion designated hitter with the Yankees (and once with the Twins) is now the hitting coach for the Pawsox, the Red Sox’ Triple-A affiliate. The Red Sox got Chili Davis in their system.

It’s not going  to shift the balance of power in the AL East, but it’s hard to pass up a headline opportunity like that.

That’s it. That’s all. Enjoy your Monday night. Maybe watch the third X-Men on FX. Or maybe check out Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton in the BCS National Championship game on ESPN. Enjoy.

Poll Results: David Robertson to be Yankees’ setup man

poll results56 A slight majority of fans voted David Robertson as the the man most likely to set up Mariano Rivera  in 2011. Rafael Soriano received the second most votes, but Brian Cashman explicitly told the media last week he won’t forfeit his first round draft pick (which the Yankees would have to do in order to sign Soriano).

I’ll let it be known Jon Heyman reported Saturday the Yankees were “still in on Soriano,” but that’s really tough to believe after what Cashman said on Friday.

My blog turns two years old today!

The thousands of hours I’ve dedicated to this site have been well worth my time. It was this day two years ago I posted how my New Hampshire background influenced the way I worshiped the Yankees and told you what to expect to find on this site.

After two years I think you’ve learned a great deal about my baseball views — I’m generally old school. But more importantly to me, I’ve conversed with hundreds of fans who enjoy talking Yankees baseball online. One follower, Jeff Marsico, even brought me to Yankee Stadium in 2010, and we both had a great time!

I love to interact with fellow Yankees fans, whether it be in the blog’s comments, Twitter or Facebook. That’s the main purpose of this site: to bring fans together. I hope you’ve found a medium that you like to interact on, or if you just enjoy reading my commentary that’s great too.

I couldn’t be more pleased with all my readers and I look forward to another fun year. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions about the site, don’t hesitate to drop me a line. Thanks everyone!


January 9, 2011

Hall of Fame more selective now than ever

The only chance for Tino Martinez and Robin Ventura to make the Hall of Fame is through the veterans committee after both received less than five percent of the vote this year from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Nate Silver writes these two could easily have been Hall of Famers if they had played 80 years ago because the standards were lower. 

Silver’s article dug up the facts on the great decline in percentage of active players to get in the Hall of Fame. I don’t think Martinez or Brown belong in the Hall, but if you look at Silver’s stats, you have to ask yourself: Were too many elected then, or, are enough getting elected now?

January 8, 2011

Review: Yankee Stadium E-Guide

I just received a copy of the Yankee Stadium Ballpark E-Guide, courtesy of creator Kurt Smith. It’s best suited for first-timers, but I bet even a regular attendee would learn a thing or two.

Yankee Stadium GuideThe guide includes detailed reviews of tickets and seating, how to get there, food and drink, and extra features. As someone who has visited the new Yankee Stadium at least a dozen times, it’s tough to disagree with Kurt’s reports.

What makes this guide most valuable is its “Tightwad Tips,” which will save you more than the $5 price of this guide — perhaps hundreds of dollars.

Buy the Yankee Stadium E-Guide here, or check out the rest of his ballpark guides here.

Thanks again, Kurt! Nice work.

January 7, 2011

Brian Cashman: Rafael Soriano no longer an option for Yankees

Enough with the “Yankees interested in Rafael Soriano” talk, so it seems. Great, now there's no chance of me resurrecting my old Alfonso Soriano shirt!

Via LoHud:

“I will not lose our No. 1 draft pick,” Brian Cashman said. “I would have for Cliff Lee. I won’t lose our No. 1 draft pick for anyone else.”

Finally, a credible source: the man who actually makes the decisions. Let this be a lesson to all when free agent and trade reports surface. Don’t bet your house on anything from a “source close to the Yankees” or a “baseball executive.”

Top 10 visited posts on lenNY’s Yankees in 2010

The Yankees made a ton of news in 2010. Some news garnered more attention on my blog than you might have expected. Here are the top 10 visited posts at lenNY’s Yankees of 2010.

10. Chan Ho Park’s diarrhea of the mouth (literally) [Video]
This may have been the funniest news of the year, and it came just two weeks into the season.

January 6, 2011

New blog banner, courtesy of Ariel Salcè

I’m happy to present a new look to my blog for 2011 thanks to my friend, Ariel Salcè, who is a design wiz.

Salcè is a professional designer and does amazing post production work with photos. As a certified Adobe Photoshop expert, he's produced several great works and has a bright future. He also has a background in logo design, prepress and production. Now he is on the road of creating one new design every day for 365 days. Check out his online portfolio here and feel free to contact him here.

For a full history of my blog banners, check out my Facebook page.

Thanks again to Ariel. It looks great!
Lenny's Banner_Not_Interlaced (1)

Andy Pettitte decision might be delaying the Yankees from signing Rafael Soriano

THIS IS JUST A HUNCH, but I believe Andy Pettitte’s decision is holding up the Yankees from signing Rafael Soriano.

Yesterday, ESPN’s Andrew Marchand wrote a “Memo to Cashman: Go Get Soriano.”

Almost two weeks ago Newsday’s Ken Davidoff wrote (regarding Soriano), “If Andy Pettitte retires, they'll have big money to spend, and they'll be looking at a roster that will need an ultra-deep bullpen to support a thin rotation.” I have two takeaways from this.

1. My hunch is correct.
2. Can an ultra-deep bullpen really support a thin rotation?

January 5, 2011

Full 2011 Hall of Fame ballot results: Roberto Alomar & Bert Blyleven elected

Welcome to baseball immortality, Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven.

Via the Baseball Writers’ Association of America:

Roberto Alomar, a 12-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove winning second baseman, and Bert Blyleven, a 287-game winning pitcher who ranks fifth on the all-time strikeout list, were elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America in balloting verified by Ernst & Young.

Bernie Williams Featured Card of the Week

If you haven’t noticed, I like to make these Featured Yankee Cards of the Week timely if I can. So why Bernie Williams this week? Well, today is Hall of Fame announcement day (2 p.m. ET on MLB Network). Next year, Bernie will be the most notable candidate added to the ballot.

January 4, 2011

‘Cute’ Nick Swisher chosen for Thurman Munson Award

Nick Swisher, Angel Pagan and Mike Piazza were selected for this year’s Thurman Munson Award. Thurman’s widow Diana Munson had some nice — and interesting — things to say about Swisher (my emphasis).

“I love the way he plays, I love his enthusiasm,” said Diana Munson of Swisher. “Most importantly, he respects the history of baseball and the Yankees. On Old Timers Day, he was out there getting autographs and taking pictures. He’s not embarrassed by his love of the game, and respects the players. Plus, he’s cute.”

Diana can and will say whatever she wants. After what she went through in 1979, I’m not saying a word.

Hall of Fame voting: Black Ink vs. Gray Ink tests, Bert Blyleven and Rafael Palmeiro

Bert Blyleven and Rafael Palmeiro have similar cases for the Hall of Fame. Both played 20-plus seasons, finished with Hall of Fame-like career totals in major statistical categories, but neither won a Cy Young or MVP.

You could make a case both had a season or two when they were deserving of a Cy or MVP — see Blyleven’s ‘73 and Palmeiro’s ‘99 — but that’s not the point.

January 3, 2011

Poll Results: Yankees can’t win AL East without Andy Pettitte

poll results55A slight majority of fans don’t think the Yankees can win the AL East without Andy Pettitte in their rotation.

It’s already Jan. 3 and Pettitte still hasn’t decided if he wants to keep playing. This marks the fifth straight offseason in which the Yankees have had to wait for the southpaw to make a decision.

January 1, 2011

NESN writer dreams of a 116-win season for Red Sox

Well this is a fun way to start the new year.

NESN writer Eric Ortiz says the “2011 Red Sox will challenge the 1927 Yankees for the title of greatest team in major league history.” It gets better.

“The way they are constructed, they could surpass the 116-win mark”

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