Thursday, January 11, 2007

A Gold Glover, a Familiar Face and a Japanese Import Join the Yanks

(For my loyal Tabor-related readers)

While I wait patiently to see the top teams in football square off this weekend, and since (A) UConn has met my expectations of their young squad, losing their first three games against above-average teams (West Virginia, LSU and Marquette) and (B) the Knicks have far surpassed my expectations of them (and writing anything positive about them might jinx that), I turned to the Yankees' offseason moves for fun. (My reasoning and free time sometimes amaze me.)

The only acquisition the Yanks have made thus far that I am completely happy with is the free agent signing of first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz. A more reliable hitter (at .270 for his career) than Andy Phillips (.228), and a former Gold Glove winner, Mientkiewicz (who we can just call Doug) will save errant A-Rod throws while hitting in the bottom third of the order. That sigh of relief you hear is three million Yanks fans relaxing about A-Rod, even if for a moment.

Aside from the slew of young talent acquired in the Big Unit and Gary Sheffield trades (and for the record, Sheff's return to the Stadium scares me more than global warming right now), the Yanks brought back an old friend in Andy Pettitte. Not only do I get the renewed pleasures of watching him pitch and having my mother pronounce his name with 34 extra "itte's" in it, but the Bombers get a veteran lefty. If his elbow and age don't become factors, then I'll love this signing.

Tons of new names have joined the team, from Josh Phelps, the former Toronto and Tampa Bay DH, to young pitchers Humberto Sanchez and top prospect Philip Hughes. None are more intriguing, however, than the Japanese pitcher Kei Igawa. (I can't wait to see the first fan sitting upperdeck, front row with strikeout signs that read "Kei Kei Kei Kei.") Not only is he lefthanded and experienced, the 27-year-old Igawa won't feel the pressure of being The Man like Red Sox righty Daisuke Matsuzaka in his first season in the US. Instead, Igawa will contend for the fourth and fifth positions in the rotation with Hughes, Sanchez, Jeff Karstens, Darrell Rasner and (knock on every piece of wood this side of Yellowstone) Carl Pavano. And if the Pettitte-Clemens connection remains strong enough, perhaps the Rocket will rejoin the Yanks.

And if that happens, it's safe to say, Doug will no longer be my favorite acquisition.


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