Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Few Ranger/Yankee Thoughts

     By Ross Newhan

     --Yankee GM Brian Cashman makes it clear that Joe Girardi will return as manager next year, and he certainly has earned that endorsement at least. If a friend dropped in from Mars during the ALCS and you told him this was a $200 million team, he would have had you commited to the nearest black hole. This was a 95 win team that turned old and exposed its weaknesses before our very eyes.

     --I don't think Girardi can be blamed for A.J. Burnett largely being an $80 million flop and forcing the manager to use any catcher except Jorge Posada because Burnett and Posada are not on the same wave length or Joba Chamberlain, the next great Yankee pitcher, virtually becoming just another bullpen guy or only Robinson Cano, among the position players, looking like a player who deserves longterm pin stripes in the great tradition of Yankee pin stripes, or Derek Jeter, the wonderful Derek Jeter and I mean that sincerely, suddenly presenting a difficult contract dilemma at 36 or Alex Rodriguez largely coming up empty in one more October series (.190, 2 RBI) or....well, you get the $200 million drift.

    --Colby Lewis gives up three runs in 13 2/3 innings and looks like one tough Nolan Ryan type dude in Games 3 and 6 for the Rangers and it's hard to believe he was pitching in Japan the last two years, although that's where he learned the breaking pitch that has made his fastball that much faster and given him a second weapon. Ryan, as club owner, and Mike Maddox, as pitching coach, have the Ranger starters all believing they can finish what they start, and  it's pretty likely that Derek Holland, at some point, will be coming out of the bullpen to join them, although he is baby-faced valuable in a long or short role where he is.

   --As I wrote the other day, Texas shortstop Elvis Andrus is headed to national stardom and probably has more tools than his idol, Derek Jeter, had at a similar starting point, although the one thing that has separated Jeter over the years is his ability to always be in the right spot at the right time, and all you have to remember is his on the run cutoff and backhand flip to Posada that nailed Jeremy Giambi at the plate, saving Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS against Oakland--a turning point play and game.

   --In advancing to the World Series, the Rangers have sent a message to the Angels that they will remain a legitimate contender in the AL West, although their ability to retain Cliff Lee is a significant key, of course, and if the Yankees are paying Burnett $80 million, what do you figure they will offer Lee, raising the ante for the Rangers, and it was 30 years ago that Ryan sought to become the first $1 million a year pitcher only to have the late Buzzie Bavasi, then the Angels general manager, allow him to leave as a free agent in what Bavasi would call the biggest mistake of his career. Now free agent salaries have grown to numbing heights for both pitchers and position players, and it is Ryan--in a case of what goes around comes around--who will have to decide how much financial Lee-way he has.                

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