Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Game 8: Ain't Got No Home

Joel Pineiro gets the ball for the Halos today. Pineiro's been a bit of a nomad over the last few years of his career. After spending his first seven seasons with the Mariners, Pineiro signed with the Red Sox for 2007. Primarily a starter during his years in the Pacific Northwest, the Red Sox made Pineiro a reliever exclusively. There was even talk that Jonathan Papelbon, coming off his rookie campaign, would return to the starting rotation with Pineiro inheriting the closer's role. That didn't come to pass, and after a disastrous half season in their bullpen, Boston shipped him off to the Cardinals. It would prove to be a career altering transaction for Pineiro.

Returned to the rotation, Pineiro finished the 2007 season strong, but followed it up with a mediocre 2008 campaign. Under the tutelage of pitching coach Dave Duncan though, Pineiro had a career season in 2009. Armed with a new two seam fastball, his ground ball rate went through the roof, his walk and home run rates went through the floor, and his stock as an impending free agent skyrocketed.

Pineiro parlayed his age 30 career season and Major League best walk rate into a two year $16M deal from the Angels. It's unlikely he'll replicate his 2009 season; his ground ball, walk, and home run rates from last year just aren't sustainable, particularly when switching to the more challenging American League. Yet even with some regression, Pineiro figures to be a good value at just $8M per year. And if he isn't, he just may find himself on the move again in 2012.

Since the 2003 season, Javier Vazquez has done six different stints with five different clubs over eight years. He's gone from Montreal to New York to Arizona to the south side of Chicago to Atlanta and back to New York. Aside from the three years spent with the White Sox, each of Vazquez' stops since leaving Montreal have lasted just one season. His current contract expires at the end of the year, and virtually all the speculation since his reacquisition has assumed Vazquez' return engagement with the Yankees will be just a one year affair. Many Yankee fans may be hoping as much.

I've already said more than my share on Vazquez and on how some Yankee fans view him. I will attempt to restrain myself from expounding upon it any further. I am however very curious to see how Javy is received today, his first appearance in pinstripes in more than five years. His reception during Opening Day introductions yesterday was lukewarm. I couldn't hear many, if any, boos, but there certainly wasn't a loud cheer for him either. I hope the fans will be supportive today; I know I'll be cheering from the right field stands.

The life of a professional baseball player is transient by nature. On the way up, if he's lucky, a player will hit a new minor league outpost each year. Once he reaches the Majors, and is fortunate enough to establish himself there, he spends six consecutive weeks in Spring Training and half of the following six months on the road. Most players will change teams a few times over the course of their career.

As Joel Pineiro and Javier Vazquez know all too well, it's hard to establish a home as a Major Leaguer. Yet as Javier Vazquez returns to the Bronx, makes his first home start of 2010, and tries to re-establish a home in New York, I fear he may be facing a higher degree of difficulty than most, particularly in light of those who saw what they expected to see in his first start. I hope that these fans, who are so often told they're the best in the world, don't prove my fears to be well founded.

So as we face our second consecutive weekday matinee, we turn to The Band's Moondog Matinee album for today's video. The album is comprised entirely of covers from the early days of rock and roll. So while we're going with The Band's version here, it's tough to top the original from Clarence "Frogman" Henry.

I ain't got no home, or no place to roam
I ain't got no home, or no place to roam
I'm a lonely boy, I ain't got a home


Jeter SS
Johnson DH
Teixeira 1B
Rodriguez 3B
Cano 2B
Posada C
Granderson CF
Swisher RF
Gardner LF

Eric Aybar SS
Bobby Abreu RF
Torii Hunter CF
Hideki Matsui DH
Kendry Morales 1B
Juan Rivera RF
Maicer Izturis 2B
Jeff Mathis C
Brandon Wood 3B

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