Posts Tagged Jon Lester

Who says the Yankees have given up?

Once again a ridiculous column has surfaced on tsn.ca’s website, and this time it appears they’re taking shots at the New York Yankees.

Of course, the Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics made the big headlines by improving their pitching rotations with the additions of David Price (Tigers) and Jon Lester (A’s), respectively, and since the Yankees didn’t do anything significant, it is assumed the New York has given up on the season.

According to former Mets general manager Steve Phillips, who contributes weekly to tsn.ca, “the Yanks and Rays and Red Sox are going to retool for next year” – implying the American League East race is only between Baltimore and Toronto.

Really.

That means it is assumed that the Yankees have given up on the 2014 season, huh? That the club is just going to let Derek Jeter’s final big-league season be a non-playoff year, where the Yankees will simply play out the string and not compete for a shot at the postseason?

C’mon, let’s get serious.

So, was New York supposed to get either Price or Lester? Or maybe the Yankees were supposed to get a broken-down Cliff Lee, right?

First of all, the top pitchers who got moved – Price and Lester – came from the American League East. Did anyone seriously believe the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox would trade their left-handed ace to a division rival? (Obviously, the writers at tsn.ca did so, with a couple of them writing nonsense in recent weeks about how the Blue Jays were seriously involved in talks with the Rays and Red Sox for those two pitchers – with the distinct possibility of landing either one of them. Yeah, as if those two clubs were really going to make that kind of a trade within the division. Again, let’s get serious here.)

cliff leeSecondly, the Yankees didn’t trade for the Phillies’ Lee, which is a good thing because he might be gone for the rest of the season. Lee, who had just came off the disabled list after the All-Star break and would have drawn interest from several clubs in an August waiver deal, might not throw another pitch in 2014. Speaking of Philadelphia, it appeared the Phillies wanted a king’s ransom for outfielder Marlon Byrd, so the Yankees were wise to not pull the trigger on that deal.

Third, the Yankees DID make deals to improve their roster days earlier, when they picked up third baseman Chase Headley from San Diego (July 22) and right-hander Brandon McCarthy (July 6) from Arizona. A week prior to the trading dealine, they also acquired veteran lefty Chris Capuano from Colorado. The point is, New York general manager Brian Cashman is always trying to make his team better. When the Yankees had some pitching holes to fill earlier in the month, they picked up Jeff Francis from Oakland as a stop-gap measure, and when that deal didn’t work out, they shipped the left-hander out of town. Cashman then picked up righty Esmil Rogers off waivers from Toronto, as well as Martin Prado in a separate trade with the Diamondbacks, with the versatile Prado able to play outfield for the Yankees.

So far, McCarthy has pitched well for the Yankees (3-0 with a 2.55 ERA in four starts), and Headley has delivered some big hits since his arrival (.429 in his first four games with New York, helping the Yanks win each contest, and .270 overall). Who knows? Perhaps Stephen Drew (picked up from the Red Sox for second baseman Kelly Johnson) might deliver a key hit down the stretch. Maybe the same thing for Prado.

It wouldn’t surprise me if the Yankees – a team that I don’t even like or root for – finished ahead of the Blue Jays in the East. And perhaps they might even pick up a few more pieces in August to bolster the lineup. But to suggest that New York has given up for the season….that’s simply ridiculous. Only according to tsn.ca.

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Thinking back some 22 years ago, Canseco, Canseco, Canseco…

The July 31st trading deadline in Major League Baseball in 2014 featured a couple of blockbuster deals which first saw the Oakland Athletics acquire left-hander Jon Lester and outfielder Jonny Gomes from the Boston Red Sox for slugger Yoenis Cespedes, and then the Detroit Tigers stunning the baseball world hours later with the addition of former Cy Young winner David Price from the Tampa Bay Rays in a three-team trade which also involved the Seattle Mariners.

Outfielder Austin Jackson, who was part of the Price deal and had been traded to the Mariners, was actually patrolling center field for the Tigers when he was pulled in the seventh inning of Detroit’s afternoon contest against the Chicago White Sox.

That reminded me right away of the Jose Canseco trade back in 1992, when the A’s slugger was standing in the on-deck circle in the bottom of the first inning with teammate Jerry Browne at the plate facing Baltimore Orioles right-hander Mike Mussina on the night of August 31 in Oakland. Canseco, who was hitting third in the lineup and playing right field for the A’s that night, was called back to the dugout by skipper Tony La Russa while Browne was still batting.

Lance Blankenship, a utilityman who played all three outfield positions as well as first base and second base for Oakland in 1992, was sent out to replace Canseco [1].

cansecoWhat happened was A’s general manager Sandy Alderson had just pulled off a trade with Texas, sending Canseco to the Rangers in exchange for outfielder Ruben Sierra and pitchers Bobby Witt and Jeff Russell.

So, the 1988 American League MVP was out of the game, after having played the top of the first inning in right field.

Okay, so not quite the way things unfolded in Detroit in 2014, with Austin Jackson being pulled while he was still on the field, but still… kind of a similar situation, being traded in the middle of the contest.

At least that was the first thing that came to mind when the details of Jackson’s departure from the Tigers-White Sox game was announced.

And getting back to Canseco, the trade of Cespedes to the Red Sox reminds me of that 1992 deal as well. Cespedes, who is of Cuban decent just like Canseco, has just gone from a team that is considered a potential World Series contender to a club that’s not going to make the playoffs. Just like how Canseco went from the first-place A’s in ’92 to the Rangers, who would finish a disappointing fourth with a 77-85 record despite Juan Gonzalez’s 43 home runs and 37 victories posted by the duo of Kevin Brown (21-11) and Jose Guzman (16-11). sierra

Going from a contending team to an also-ran… obviously is very disappointing. That exact same thing, incidentally, also happened later to Sierra, one of the players picked up in the Canseco trade, as the moody outfielder would be dealt from the first-place New York Yankees in 1996 to lowly Detroit in exchange for another slugger, Cecil Fielder. The Yankees went on to win the World Series that year, denying Sierra of a shot at a ring.

One last thing about Canseco. Remember back on July 29 when Cubs catcher John Baker took the mound in the 16th inning of their marathon against the Colorado Rockies? Baker got the pitching victory and even scored the game-ending run in the bottom half of the 16th, but Canseco was not so fortunate in 1993. With Texas getting blown out in Boston, Canseco persuaded Rangers skipper Kevin Kennedy to let him pitch the eighth inning, and he wound up blowing out his arm which eventually required Tommy John surgery. Ironically, DH Chili Davis of the Angels also pitched during that 1993 season, in a blowout loss to Texas. Davis had better luck too, working two hitless innings but hitting Canseco with a pitch.

Ahhh….baseball back in the good old days….

Obviously, these trades in 2014 are very exciting to A’s and Tigers fans, but certainly it brought back some memories from seasons past. And, oh, of course, trades can still happen after the July 31st deadline – but players would have to clear waivers – so we’ll see if any other interesting moves take place down the stretch.

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[1] Blankenship also played third base for the A’s in each of the previous two seasons, and would appear in two games at shortstop for Oakland in his final big-league season in 1993.

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