Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Yankees @ Rangers 4/24/12


Kuroda was strong but Darvish was better, Yankees shut out 2-0. Rangers win

Tonight is the game the Japanese media has all been waiting for, Hiroki Kuroda goes for the Yankees against Yu Darvish for the Texas Rangers. The game can be seen on MLB Network at 8:05 pm ET. Here is tonight's Yankees lineup

Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Alex Rodriguez DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Nick Swisher RF
Raul Ibanez LF
Eric Chavez 3B
Russell Martin C

Former Yankee Update : Hideki Matsui

Hideki Matsui is expected to sign a minor league deal with the Tampa Bay Rays after working out in the New York area and hoping to get another DH job for the 2011 season.

Matsui is expected to go to extended spring training to get his legs under him then be sent to AAA until he is needed.

This is not a done deal yet and a simple Google search of "Rays sign Hideki Matsui" gets you anything from "a deal is close" to "rays considering signing Matsui" and everything in between but I think it gets done eventually.

Meet A Prospect : Russell Martin Edition

Russell Martin is in his second season as the Yankees starting catcher after being acquired via free agency from the Los Angeles Dodgers. I liked writing this one more then I did a lot of the previous ones because he did not come up and have success with the Yankees like Cano, Pettitte, Rivera, etc. He also is in the National League that I, admittedly, do not pay enough attention to unlike Curtis Granderson who played in the American League and that I got to see often. This was an actual learning experience for me while writing this so I actually really enjoyed meeting Russell Martin... and I hope that you do too.

Russell Nathan Jeanson Coltrane Martin, Jr (you can say that again) was born on February 15th, 1983 in East York, Ontario Canada. Russel got his name from his father Russell, his great grandfather Nathan, his mother's maiden name Jeanson, and from his dad paying homage to John Coltrane.  He grew up in Chelsea, Quebec and lived in Paris, France for three years (ages 8-10). Russell was born from an African Canadian father, Russel Sr, and a white French Canadian mother, Suzanne Jeanson. His parents separated when he was only two years old.

Russell's father used to play the saxophone to pay for Russell's baseball training classes inside of the Montreal subway systems. Russell ended up playing both baseball and hockey and showed definite signs of athleticism while playing hockey in high school. After graduating high school, the same high school as Dodgers closer Eric Gagne, Russel went to a junior college at Chipola College in Marianna , Florida on a scholarship.

The Los Angeles Dodgers selected Russel Martin in the 17th round of the 2002 Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft as a third basemen. Russell did not start playing catcher until a scout saw him playing in the Gulf Coast League for the Dodgers in rookie ball and thought he showed a lot of promise there. Apparently that scout was right because as a catcher Martin was a Florida State League all star catcher with the Vero Beach Dodgers in 2004 and Baseball America 2nd team Minor League All Star and Southern League all star in his 2004 season.

Martin was promoted to the Dodger in May of 2006 after a wrist injury side lined Dioner Navarro. In his major league debut he got two hits, including a double.  In June of that same season Martin and Eric Gagne made baseball history by becoming the first French Canadian pair in the majors. Martin was also the first ever French Canadian born catcher to be in an All Star game when he finished first place in the voting in the 2007 season. He added a gold glove and a silver slugger in that same 2007 season for the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

Russell signed as a free agent with the New York Yankees for the 2011 season and was immediately named an all star catcher that season. He also was included with Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson in the record making game against the Oakland Athletics where the Yankees hit three grand slams in a single game for the first time EVER in a 22-9 route. Russell Martin will be a free agent after the 2012 season and if he continues with the bat and his excellent defense behind the plate and I can see him being a Yankee for a very long time.

Make sure to tune in tomorrow when we continue our special edition's of Meet A Prospect when we meet Yankees 1B Mark Teixeira!

John Kruk and the No-Fun Club

"Uh... I'm a tool? Yeah, that's it. I'm a tool."

I'm sure by now many of you have already read the article from Bob Raissman at NYDailyNews.com, in which Bob goes over John Kruk's negative reaction to how Nick Swisher celebrated after hitting the go-ahead, two-run, double in the 8th inning on Saturday. A hit that completed a historic comeback against the arch-rival Red Sox, in which the Yanks were down 9-0 going into the 6th inning, and down 9-1 going into the 7th. We all remember that game on Saturday, so there's no need to walk you through it again.

Instead let me show you a few of Kruk's quotes, and my reaction to them...
Swisher’s display was more about rubbing it in than anything else. He said he’s not a “big fan” of look-at-me celebrations primarily designed to salt the wound.
For starters, why wouldn't anybody involved with the Yankees not want to rub it in? Red Sox fans were not exactly saying "oh, you poor Yankees" when they were up 9-0 after 5 innings (at least not without a large dose of sarcasm behind the words). They were jumping around and celebrating the trouncing of the hated Bombers. And you know what? Good for them, because if the Yankees were winning by that much against the Sox, and at Yankee Stadium, you can be sure things would have been just as raucous... if not more-so.

Nick is a member of the team, though, and it's not good form to rub it in. I completely understand that. But how was he rubbing it in? After pounding his chest Swisher pointed at the Yankee dugout in celebration. He clearly didn't point at the Red Sox dugout and yell "haha, you guys suck", or something like that. I suppose Swish may have been pointing at the Sox fans sitting behind and around the Yankee dugout, and was laughing at their expense, but I find that really hard to believe. Hell, that's a stretch that even Stretch Armstrong himself couldn't make, and his arm stretches out to next week (Family Guy reference, FTW!).

The fact of the matter is Nick Swisher has never been accused of showing up anybody. He may get overly excited at times, but he's never done so at the expense of the other team. Nick acted no different than I did when I opened up a present on Christmas Day 1998 and it was the Nintendo NES, that came with the Zapper and the combo game of Super Mario Brothers and Duck Hunt. And I don't remember my parents accusing me of showing up my brother and whatever crappy gift he opened at the same time (actually, the Nintendo was for both my brother and I, but you get the point).
“Yeah, Nick, you did your job. That’s what you were expected to do so just accept it and be a little more humble,” said Kruk, in a disgusted tone. “I hear Yankee fans say, ‘Well, that’s Nick. That’s the way he is.’ ”
Guys like Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, and others hit home runs all the time, and get well compensated for doing so. And especially when they hit big ones, they get excited about it. But I don't hear Kruk, or any other POS baseball analyst (he's hardly alone in that category), whine that they are just doing their jobs and shouldn't celebrate. And yes, Nick plays the game like a kid, with enthusiasm. That's actually something I'd like to see from more MLB players. It's a game

On a side note, I don't buy into the argument that these guys are getting paid a king's ransom to play a kid's game, as baseball was first played by men... not kids. But I digress...
“I’m not a fan of anyone doing it (showing another team up), it’s not just Nick. I came up in an era if you did do that there is going to be repercussions from the other team. We understood that. . . It is what Nick does,” Kruk continued. “It’s been his thing his whole career at Oakland. Well, (when he was with) the White Sox he didn’t get on base that much so he didn’t do it for the White Sox. I can’t accept what he does as part of the game."
So it's not "part of the game" to have fun? *in a snobby, Ivy League, voice* Baseball is to be taken very seriously, and one should never give people the idea that they are having a good time. *back to my regular sarcastic drone* Get out of here! Nick Swisher plays the game like I wish everybody else did. I don't mean I wish all hitters carried a high on-base percentage, hit 25 or so home runs a year, and had a low batting average. I just want the guys to loosen up and enjoy themselves, and enjoy the fact they get paid a butt-load of money to do something I and millions of others grew up dreaming about. Weren't we all saying ARod needed to, and to some extent still needs to, loosen up?

It all comes down to this for me... if the Sox are more worried about Swish's antics after that go-ahead double, than that epic collapse, they have bigger issues than wondering when they'll be able to retaliate against Nick. Oh, and all those times I wanted to rip off Jonathan Papelbon's head, and spit down his scrawny little neck, I feel justified... thanks Kruky.

Hey Japan.... Take Notice

Tonight, at 8:05 pm ET on MLB Network, the Yankees will continue their series against the hottest team in all of baseball, the Texas Rangers. Tonight's game is going to have a little bit of a different feel to it and since I am admittedly not good with words, I will let my picture tell the story for me.

Yu Darvish, the next big thing coming out of Japan, will face off against probably the best and most consistent Japanese pitcher to come out of Japan, Hiroki Kuroda. This game, if my math is correct, will be starting at 8:05 am Tokyo time which means there is going to be a lot of people calling out of work today (or Wednesday in Japan, however you want to look at it).  If there is a shortage on electronics at the local Wal Mart we will have this game to blame. It should be a good one to watch.