Friday, April 6, 2012

Yankees @ Rays -- Opening Day

Hello Yankees fans and welcome to Opening Day 2012!

This season the Yankees opened the season on the road against the Tampa Bay Rays. CC Sabathia was on the mound making his fourth consecutive Opening Day start as a Yankee and faced Rays "old man" James Shields.

Carlos Pena started the season off well hitting a grand slam in the bottom of the first inning to put the Rays up 4-0 on CC Sabathia. The Yankees offense would wake up after that with a Raul Ibanez rbi ground out in the top of the 2nd for a 4-1 Rays lead. Mark Teixeira later scored on a wild pitch also in the second inning to chip away and make it a 4-2 lead for the Rays. The chipping away continued when Nick Swisher reached on a fielders choice and allowed Robinson Cano to score to make the score 4-3 Rays in the top of the 3rd. Later in the inning new comer Raul Ibanez hit a three run home run to make the Yankees have their first lead of the season at 6-4. Evan Longoria , in the bottom of the 3rd, hit a solo home run to bring it closer at 6-5.

David Robertson showed why his nick name is "Houdini" as he allowed two hits in the bottom of the 8th to have runners at first and third with nobody out and a one run lead. After 3 consecutive K's, and a thank you card sent to Jose Molina for missing a bunt sign and Joe Maddon for calling such a foolish call, and the Yankees we're out of the inning unscathed.  First off why do you suicide squeeze in that situation when a double play ball, sacrifice fly, etc gets the run home? Then why do you proceed to call a two strike bunt attempt? Again, thank you Joe Maddon and thank you Jose Molina.

The Yankees went quietly in the ninth inning which allowed the Sandman, Mariano Rivera to enter the 9th inning in possibly his final opening day. After a single to lead off the 9th and an RBI triple by Ben Zobrist Mariano Rivera logged his first blown save of the season. IBB to Evan Longoria and Luke Scott loads the bases to set up a force anywhere. After an interesting move of taking Swisher out and putting Eduardo Nunez in to bring in a 5th infielder Mariano Rivera struck out Sean Rodriguez on a full count cutter right down the middle. Carlos Pena hits a walk off single to start this season the way last season ended with the Rays celebrating after a walk off victory.

Hard way to start the season.

Meet A Prospect : Robinson Cano Edition

Robinson Cano , entering his age 29 season, has 7 seasons as a Yankees 2B and a major leaguer under his belt... but it was not always like that. As many of you already know the Yankees offered Robinson Cano in a bunch of trades before he was finally called up in the 2005 season. We will touch on that later but for now let's Meet A Prospect.

Robinson Cano, son of Houston Astro's Jose Cano, was signed 11 years ago as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic as a short stop.  At the time the deal was not even considered a head scratcher because it was so off the radar that no one even noticed. The first mention that I could find of Cano was in 2001 when his NYPL Staten Island Yankees faced the Brooklyn Cyclones in the playoffs.

The disrespect, whether warranted or not, did not stop there as Baseball America never included him in their top 100 prospect list and labeled him as "less then glowing."Cano, to his defense, did make the 2003 All Star Futures Game after a nice season in AA Trenton and was the 2004 Yankees minor league player of the year.  The Yankees must not have held him in high regard though  because Cano was rumored to be in about every single trade the Yankees made or tried to make for the better part of a decade.

The list of guys that the Yankees tried to trade Cano for started when the Yankees tried to land Ken Griffey Jr in 2003, although an injury ended his 2003 season prematurely which made the deal not go through.

That next offseason, after Aaron Boone blew out his knee playing basketball, Cano was offered in a proposed three team deal that would have sent Cano to Chicago and eventually would have landed Troy Glaus in New York but the deal fell through. That is obviously great news because a few months later the Yankees acquired current Yankee 3B Alex Rodriguez, maybe you have heard of him?

Speaking of A Rod , the Yankees traded Alfonso Soriano and a prospect list to Texas for them to choose from for A Rod that season and Robinson Cano was on that list. The Rangers, as we know, chose Joaquin Arias instead of Cano.

In 2004 Cano's name was thrown around in every trade rumor including a potential trade with Kansas City's Center Fielder Carlos Beltran. The Yankees even moved Cano to 3B to showcase his talent there by request of the Kansas City scouts. He was also scouted heavily and offered up to Seattle for either current Yankee Freddy Garcia or Jamie Moyer. That same season the Yankees were offering Cano to the Atlanta Braves for SP Russ Ortiz but they were all obviously rejected or fell through thankfully.

Cano was also rumored to be offered up to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Randy Johnson as well at the trade deadline in 2004.  When the Yankees eventually made the trade in the offseason of the 2005 season we all thought Cano's days were finally numbered as a Yankee but thanks to Navarro, Javier Vazquez, and Brad Halsey the Yankees managed to keep Cano... again.

Finally the Yankees brought up Cano in May of 2005 after a failed Tony Womack experiment and immediately the scouts were praising his abilities. Replacing the talk of his lack of defense or his patience at the plate were talks of a smooth and compact swing that would eventually turn doubles into home runs, lots of them. Not that all his success that would follow kept him out of trade talk as the Yankees talked about trading him in 2010, midst a down season, for Dodgers CF Matt Kemp.

Robinson Cano's career, as to now, has been a very successful one. He is one of the fan favorites and faces of the Yankees franchise, and for good reason. He put on an absolute show in 2011's Home Run Derby on his way to winning it. He also won's 2005 rookie of the year and This Year In Baseball's rookie of the year after he broke onto the scene with the comeback kid Yankees team that season. In 2007 he had his minor league number, number 17, retired by the Yankees Class High A affiliate Staten Island Yankees. Three all star teams, many silver sluggers, multiple player of the month awards, a world series ring,  and a gold glove in 2010 later it is scary to say that he is really entering his prime.

Check in tomorrow for our next installment of a special Meet A Prospect featuring Yankees ace CC Sabathia.

My Top 5 Least Favorite Players in MLB

Yesterday was a pretty good day. Jose Valverde blew his first save attempt of 2012, after being a perfect 49 for 49 in 2011, but the Tigers ended up scoring in the bottom of the 9th to beat the Red Sox.

Speaking of Valverde, he is most definitely not among my favorite baseball players. His antics on the mound make me want to punch a dolphin (and dolphins are awesome). Watching him makes me understand why some people make a big deal out of the antics of other players. I'm all for getting excited about getting through some big situations, but it seemed like Valverde would flip out for no good reason. Not that no Yankees ever did such a thing.

Anyway, it got me thinking... who are my least favorite MLB players? There are plenty of players I'm not a fan of, but these are easily my top 5. In fact, they may be the only 5 I actually hate in MLB.

5. Dallas Braden - I'm just a silly blogger instead of a player, so I wasn't aware of the whole "don't touch the pitcher's mound" thing that Braden was so up-in-arms about a couple years ago. Alex Rodriguez was on 1B and ran around to 3B during a Robinson Cano foul ball, and upon returning to 1B he stepped on the pitcher's mound. Dallas Braden went off on ARod, and a fight almost ensued. Look, even if the "touching the mound" thing was totally real, what was up witht elling CSN Bay Area (regional sports network) "we don't do much talking in the 209". What the hell does that mean? Answer reporter questions and leave the gangsta talk to somebody else.

4. Brian Wilson - Frankly... the beard is stupid. Jason Giambi once grew a moustache to the delight of Yankees fans, but first of all... moustaches are awesome. Wilson's beard looks like there's a colony of termites living within it. Hell, the guy even did a commercials for MLB Always Epic that showed various things living inside his beard. And then there were the Taco Bell commercials. Look, I'm all for a guy having a personality (I love Nick Swisher), but his act was a little much for me.

3. AJ Pierzynski - A player getting booed by fans is nothing new. A lot of times fans will boo players from opposing teams just because they're on the opposing team. But when a guy's teammates call a him a "cancer", then it's time to take notice and not just disregard all the bad things said. The guy carries himself like a total jerk. I equate him to the guys from the Jersey Shore. I don't even watch that show, but I've seen their pictures, and the pictures alone make me hate them.

2. Kevin Youkilis - Honestly, he doesn't seem like a bad guy. But he has two big strikes against him... 1) he plays for the Red Sox, and 2) that batting stance just ticks me off. The "Red Sox" thing alone would be okay, as I actually really like David Ortiz (this commercial kicks ass). But when I see him come to bat against the Yankees, and he holds the bat with his left hand, while barely making contact with his right hand using his index finger and thumb, I want to throw my remote at the television. Other than that I got nothing. He's a good player.

1. Jonathan Papelbon - Let me start by showing you this picture...

First of all, it's not that he tilts his head down and looks just under the brim of his hat, like he's trying to convince us he's some kind of bad-ass instead of the little non-threatening white boy that he is. It's the mouth open thing. What is that all about? He looks so... dumb. And then there's the second half of that photo. Do an image search on Jonathan Papelbon and you'll see that face the vast majority of the time. Whether it's game 32 or game 162, whether it's a regular season game or a playoff game, whether he had a 3 run lead against the bottom of the opposing team's lineup or the bases load against the heart of the order, you see that reaction. It's pathetic. Get excited over the big spots, but Paps needs to chill out. On top of that he reminds me of this...

The best thing I can say about the guy is at least he's playing for Philadelphia now.