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Yankee Fans: Do You Still Want Cliff Lee?

cliff leeNow that the playoffs are over and the New York San Francisco Giants are World Champions, it’s time to take a hard look at the free agent market.  As a Yankees fan, I think the biggest need is starting pitching:  the Bombers have to keep up with the AL East arms race.

Since before the trade deadline, the Yankees front office and Yankees fans alike have wanted to bring Cliff Lee into the fold.  The trade never happened, and despite a lackluster second half, Lee beat the Yankees in the ALCS.

Now that the World Series is over and Lee put up a 6.94 ERA, I was asked if I still wanted the Yankees to sign him.

Yes.  A thousand times, YES!

Take a look at Lee’s 2010 Post Season Gamelogs.  Game 1 of the World Series was a bad start by Lee; there’s no question about it.  But he threw a great game in the deciding event; 1 bad pitch cost him a 3 run homer in the 7th inning.  In his other three starts against the Rays and the Yankees, he threw 24 innings of superb ball, allowing only 2 ER.  Now that’s pitching.  I still think Ron Washington road Lee a bit too long, especially in game 5 of the ALDS, but given how bad the Rangers bullpen is (and it is bad; I will argue with anyone on this!), I don’t blame him.

But yes, the Yankees desperately  need to sign Lee.  Not only is he a great pitcher, but the Yankees need him for several reasons:

  1. keep up with the Rays and Red Sox (not to mention the Jay’s pitching staff)
  2. fill the hole vacated by Javier Vazquez
  3. Andy Pettitte might retire, and even if he doesn’t, he’s an older guy and is susceptible to injury
  4. AJ Burnett is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get
  5. Phil Hughes had a good 2010 campaign, but he’s still not a front of the rotation pitcher.  Not yet, anyway.

The Yankees need to send a dump truck to Cliff Lee’s house and dump money all over his lawn.  Hopefully, he spends the afternoon building a fort with it rather than sending it back to the Bronx.

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And the Oscar goes to…

Derek Jeter, for his Hit By Pitch performance in the 7th inning of last night’s Yankees at Rays game when Qualls’ pitch hit the knob of his bat! Bravo! However, anyone who played Little League can tell you that when the ball hits your bat anywhere within a few inches of your hands, you get that Looney Tunes BOING, rattling, Bugs Bunny-esque effect, and it does not feel good. The point it, the ball didn’t hit him, anyone who isn’t deaf could clearly hear the ball hit the bat, but whatever. I was surprised to read Matt’s post on Yankeeist that Jeter’s action, and actions like them, “don’t reflect good taste.” I don’t agree, but then, don’t have strong feelings on this either way.  I do think that if Jeter’s actions constitute cheating, as some have suggested, then so does framing the pitch, a crime which nearly every catcher is guilty of.

The Yankees continue to march out the Corner Outfielders of Doom in the persons of Austin Kearns and Colin Curtis. I like Kearns as a backup for an occasional start, and Curtis is OK for a defensive replacement, but starting these guys in the wake of the Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner injuries is starting to weigh on me. I know they’ve both had their moments, but I’m going to send Swisher and Gardner a get well soon card.

The home run by Curtis Granderson was a delight – as I’ve mentioned before, I had high hopes for him in pinstripes and now that he’s starting to hit, I couldn’t be more pleased. I think Granderson will have a great 2011 and put his early Bronx Blues behind him. Phil Hughes pitched well yesterday, but I was surprised to see Joe Girardi let him linger out there for as long as he did in the seventh, and that second home run by Dan Johnson was hit amongst my screams to remove Hughes, but too late.

Girardi seems to be managing like the Yankees have already clinched a playoff birth – by all rights they have, unless they have a Mets like collapse. I guess Girardi isn’t too concerned about home field advantage, but maybe he’s pinned all his hopes to the four game series against the Rays in the Bronx next week. He’s continued to manage his bullpen to keep his boys fresh and rested and is not asking his position players to gut out injuries on the field. This is probably the right call by Girardi, but its been frustrating to watch on this recent road trip.

Tomorrow is an off day, so look for a Yankee Stadium feature here at BomberBanter.com – at least that’s what I have planned! As for the Yankees, they’ll be enjoying a day off in Baltimore, then face the Orioles for a three game set at Camden Yards.

Yankees reclaim first place from Rays

Just like that, all the bad feels get washed away.

It’s kind of amazing, isn’t it? After Monday night’s extra inning loss to the Rays, the Yankees were amidst their first four game losing streak of the year and coming off their first sweep of the year courtesy of the Texas Rangers. Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner are banged up; A-Rod isn’t 100% yet. Andy Pettitte still isn’t back (although he’s probably only days away now), and Damaso Marte and Alfredo Aceves are never coming back. The road trip had been a disaster up to this point.

And by the fifth inning, things weren’t looking much better. Rookie right hander Ivan Nova has essentially dominated the Rays over the first four, but suddenly, like in his other starts, he began to falter in the fifth. Why this keeps happening, I don’t know; he’s a young guy and maybe he’s never pitched hits many innings before, or maybe you just have to work that much harder at the MLB level, and it’s tiring him. The bottom line is, after throwing about 50 pitches in the first four innings, the Rays put up a 7 spot in the 5th. Nova let four runs score before Joe Girardi finally lifted him for Boone Logan; I think Girardi wanted to see if Nova could wiggle out of trouble, and it didn’t happen. I don’t think he would have gotten that opportunity if the Yankees didn’t have such a big wild card lead and AJ Burnett wasn’t struggling the way he is. Logan came in and gave up a 3 run homer that gave the Rays a 7-6 lead, and all the optimism generated by Nova’s early performance and the home runs by Robinson Cano and Alex Rodriguez was whipped away. Logan was dominate after the home run, but the damage had been done… or so it seemed. Game Day.

The Yankees immediately tied the game on Robinson Cano’s double, scoring A-Rod, and it became a duel of the bullpens. Joba Chamberlain, Kerry Wood and David Robertson held the Rays in check until the top of the 11th, when Jorge Posada came up with a pinch hit homer that hasn’t landed yet. OK, maybe it didn’t go that far, but it was still pretty awe inspiring.

Mariano Rivera came on to get the save, and Carl Crawford got on board immediately, but was a base running disaster in the bottom of the 11th inning. He failed to tag out on a ball that was either going to be a home run or an out, and he made the last out at third. These are two fundamental no-nos that I wouldn’t expect Crawford to make, but he did, and the Yankees won the game because of it. Box Score.

I believe Girardi left Nova in to see if he could get out of a tough spot, as aforementioned, and he didn’t. I’d say that this eliminates any chance of Nova getting a start in the playoffs, despite Brian Cashman saying that they were going to start their best four guys and salary didn’t matter. Nova could be a candidate for the long man role in the pen for the playoffs, but if that’s something he’s never done, the playoffs might not be a good place for him to start.

Tonight’s the rubber game, and the Yankees really need to win this game, more for their psyche than for anything else. Sure, winning the AL East will get the Yankees home field advantage in the AL playoffs, but getting to the dance is what matters. Phil Hughes will match up against the one they call Big Game James, aka James Shields. If Hughes brings his A game, this could be a close game… They skipped his last turn, so who knows how that’s going to effect him – he might be fresh… or he might be rusty. I don’t know what to expect, so all we can really do is tune in and pray that our Lord and Savior, Mariano Rivera, gets an opportunity.

Yankees suffer another walk off loss

The Yankees are on a road trip of disastrous proportions, having lost four games in a row and 3 of the walk off variety. True, it’s pretty hard to win extra innings games on the road, but something’s got to give at some point, right?

The bar I was at was fully inundated with Monday Night Football, and the table we got was far away from the lone Yankee game, so it was hard to see what was going on. However, the box score shows a well pitched game by two of the games great starters in CC Sabathia and David Price. Both pitchers did everything that they could, coming up with eight scoreless innings each, but neither got the win as the shut out finally ended in the eleventh, courtesy of Sergio Mitre.

The one up side is that with the exception of Kerry Wood, the Yankees didn’t use any of their elite relief pitches, except Boone Logan, who struck out the only batter he faced. Of course, there is no way to tell how rookie Ivan Nova will respond to the pressure tonight, but if he does well, the Yankees have plenty of backup dancers ready to run out there.

As for Monday Night Football, well – the Jets talk a good game, but as Ray Rice observed, “HBO is not going to win the Super Bowl.” How hilarious was that when what’s-his-name ran out of bounds with no one around him short of the 1st down? Well, probably not that hilarious if you’re a Jets fan.

I’m laughing because I’m a Giants fan. See that NY Giants link up there in the menu? I’ll be blogging about the Giants in the space, especially when the Yankees season is over. I missed the entire first half last week, but from what I saw in that sloppy second half, I think that if the Giants can stay healthy, they’ll win 10 games. They’ve got a lot of talent over there, and if they can keep everyone on the field, they could surprise me and go deep in the playoffs.

Attack of the Expanded Roster

Full disclosure: I didn’t watch every inning of all three games, but here’s what I saw.

In game 1, Joe Girardi let Mariano Rivera go out there for 2 innings despite not having pitched in two weeks; Mo performed brilliantly, but the Yankees ended up losing the game on a walk off home run against… someone. I just couldn’t stay awake during the extra innings; I was in and out. The reason I bring this up right off the bat is I feel this was a case of losing the battle to lose the war: Mo blew the save Saturday night. His control was not good; pretty sure he hit a guy. You’d of thought Mo was not available after pitching two innings the day before, and although the bullpen was used pretty hard on Friday, I’d of liked to see somebody else in there on Saturday, if to only protect Mo’s health. The Yankees aren’t going anywhere in the post season without Mo. Joe Girardi usually handles the bullpen with such excellence, but I don’t understand what he was doing over the weekend in Texas; the Rays are nipping at the Yankees heels, but risking injury to Mo is pure insanity.

The Yankees left a small village on the base paths during the series; they just couldn’t score. It was frustrating. Hopefully, the Yankees will regain their swing in Tampa, but then, if Tampa has the expanded roster tools that the Rangers had (a million relievers who throw 95 MPH), then it might be another long series. Sure, the Yankees made a ton of moves during the series, but Ron Washington wore out a path between the dugout and the mound. That system is deep with guys who throw hard.

Yanks-Rays a must-CC, worth Price of entry Wow, MLB.com. You got corny all over me. Jeez.
Honestly, though, does it really matter who finishes in first in the AL East? I suppose I’d rather the Yankees play the Twins in the first round, but it doesn’t matter much to me; Texas isn’t going to come into the 1st round with a 40 man roster and a million relief pitchers. Anyway, the big Yankees vs Rays series starts tonight at 7:10 PM in Tampa.

Yankees walk off against Os

Another day game and I missed most of it.

The Yankees win today avoids the first sweep of the year at home for the Yankees and their first four game losing streak of the year.

Ivan Nova must have pitched pretty well to put up a line of 6 IP, 2 ER (6 hits, 1 HR), 2 BB, and 6 Ks. I know its early in his young career, but Nova’s game log is impressive.

Well, you can’t write four or five sentences about this game I barely saw without mentioning Nick Swisher’s 2 run walk off home run from the left side, but his the other way to left field.

Jorge Posada was benched today for concussion symptoms, but he’s been tested and cleared to play and is listed as day to day. This is great news; not only does he not have a concussion, but he’s flying with the team to Texas to face the Rangers, and since the last thing you want to do with a concussion case is put him on a plane, he must be in good shape. We’ll have to wait till Friday to see if he’s back in the lineup.

As of this writing, the Red Sox are kicking the stuffing out of the Rays, so we’ll have to see if the Rays are 2.5 games back in the morning.

Yankees lose series to Os

"What a revolting development this is."

I guess the Yankees had to lose a series eventually, and they had to lose a series to the Orioles eventually, but it still hurts.

I missed the top of the first, so I’m not sure if CC Sabathia was getting his butt kicked or if he stunk. His innings afterward were either great or awful; there didn’t seem to be a third direction. The offense, on the other hand, just couldn’t get things to go there way; no matter what happened, something bad would happen to counter act. Curtis Granderson hit a bloop single to center, but Jorge Posada couldn’t advance to second and ended up getting thrown out, and Lance Berkman wasn’t able to score. A-Rod hit the stuffing out of the ball, but the run wasn’t able to score… It was a frustrating game all around.

Today, Ivan Nova will try to salvage the last game of the series before the off day against Brad Bergesen. I shudder at the prospect of getting swept by the Orioles, who have the best record in the AL East since Buck Showalter took over. Still, they’re not that good and the Yankees need to win this game.

Yankees obliterate Mazzaro's homecoming

Vin Mazzaro started for the Oakland Athletics last night, a much heralded homecoming by the folks at YES for the Rutherford native, and in front of over 100 of his closest friends and family, this is the line Mazzaro put up: 3.2 IP, 7 hits, 9 R, 7 ER, 3 HR, 3 BB, 3 Ks. Yeoch.

You can’t talk about the Yankees offense last night without mentioning Jorge Posada’s ill advised triple. Posada hit a ball to deep left that went off the wall and got away from the left fielder, and after he rounded 1st, Posada was going to third all the way, never even considering pausing at second. The throw was offline, coming in on the foul side of 3rd base, which the As infielder was able to snow cone in his glove but the ball popped out as soon as he applied the tag to Posada, and somehow, he had his first triple of the year… and since 2008, I believe. Swisher, Granderson and Teixeira all contributed monster no doubt bombers, and Teixeira’s landed in the second deck. Derek Jeter is now 0-7 with a walk against the As this series and his season average is down to .266..

Phil Hughes was also ineffective, but managed to struggle through against the As mediocre offense for a line of 5 IP, 4 hits, 2 R, 2 ER, 5 walks (yeesh!) and 1 K, but good enough for this 16th win of the year. I imagine a team like the Blue Jays would have destroyed Hughes last night. And speaking of our friends from the north…

The Toronto Blue Jays finally put their slugging to the benefit of the Yankees as they put a serious pounding on the Tampa Bay Rays, 13-5. Nice to finally not be on the receiving end of the Blue Jays awesome power, huh? Good Stuff! This puts the Yankees in sole possession of 1st place in the AL East for the first time in over a week.

Depleted Yankees lose to Rangers in extra innings

D’oh!

The Yankees had Marcus Thames batting third last night. I’d usually say, ’nuff said,’ but where’s the fun in that? Robinson Cano sat for most of the game with the flu. I think Jorge Posada sat just because he needed a day off – and wouldn’t you know it, but Francisco Cervelli had a clutch RBI, showing shades of April. Mark Teixeira was home in New York celebrating the birth of his son. Brett Gardner sat against the lefty starter. So Thames was the DH, Ramiro Pena started at 2nd base and Austin Kearns started in left field.

In the top of the first, Derek Jeter was first called safe at first by the umpire, despite the appearance of being tagged out, and the call was reversed by the home plate umpire. I do agree that Jeter was out, but how the home plate umpire, who is so far away, can see the correct call and the guy standing right on top of it can’t, I don’t know how to explain.

AJ Burnett pitched a pretty good game; not great, but good. He tired as the night went on and gave up a 2 run bomb that made it 3-2 Yankees, but A-Rod had his back. Alex Rodriguez smashed career homer 601 into center field to tie the game back up. Burnett gave up the lead as soon as he got it, but I guess we should be pleased that he pitched decent in a home run hitting park.

David Robinson pitched well in multiple innings and worked with Cervelli to get out of jams. Mariano Rivera gave up some ground ball sinkers and nearly walked in the winning run in extra innings as he had to throw the ball right down the middle 3 times in a row after falling behind in the count 3-0. For all of Mo’s genius, he is almost always one of those closers who doesn’t usually do well in the non save situation – at least I’m pretty sure he doesn’t. Still, he’s Mo, so he’s allowed to blow it once and a while. I believe his ERA is still under 1.00 and he’s allowed less than 20 hits in nearly 50 innings. Again, I know he blew the game last night, but BOW DOWN TO HIM! Now! He didn’t exactly get smacked around, but the ball was hit hard enough to get the job done for the Rangers.

Michael Kay referred to last night’s game as a possible playoff preview, and if he’s right, it could be exciting. However, you’d hope the Yankees would play all of their regulars in a playoff game. Also, I don’t think Kay needed to mention the possible playoff game preview ten times, but it was an exciting game. The Rangers did look better than they did in April, but they committed more errors, so they’re not that much improved in terms of defense. Tonight, Cliff Lee faces off against Javier Vazquez in what could be a serious mismatch. Lee through a complete game against the Yankees last time and surrendered 3 runs, so we’ll have to see what he does. Both bullpens sent out their best guys last night, and most of them threw a ton of pitches, so both starters would be wise to go long – something Lee is good at and Javy is not.

Yankees split series with Red Sox

I hate to say I told so, but, I did. It sucks being right.

But not that hard. It’s too bad the Yankees didn’t sweep the Red Sox, but then, with Jon Lester pitching one game, I never expected them to. Once they lost the Friday game, taking 3 of 4 was all but impossible as not only would they had to of beaten Lester yesterday (which is impossible, because, again, cancer can’t beat that guy), but also win 3 games in a row against the same team, which I’m sure is nearly a statistical impossibility. Nearly.

So it’s almost like the series never happened, accept a few games ticked off the schedule. The Yankees are still 6 games ahead of the Red Sox and 1.5 games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays. I’ll take that. And with the Texas Rangers coming in, its time to turn the page. Last time the Yankees and the Walker Texas Rangers faced off, the Yankees swept them… by winning 3 games in a row… yeah. Oh, and Cliff Lee will be starting for the Rangers this series, and perhaps we’ll see him again when the two teams battle in September. Joy. I haven’t seen the Rangers since the last time they were in the Bronx and I’m curious to learn if they figured out how to field since then. They sure were sloppy in that series. But, the Rangers are not to be dismissed, despite the last series they played against the Yankees – they’re near the top in both pitching and hitting categories this year, so it’s time to battle.

Oh, and I heard it was Joe Buck who was insistently calling A-Rod when he turned his back and was struck in the leg with a ball during batting practice by Lance Berkman before FOX saturday baseball, which is one of the worst damnations every put on man, by the way. I also heard Mr. Buck has denied this while speeding away in a National Car Rental: it was his choice. He also said something about buying the Avatar on DVD and Blu Ray…

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