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Yankee Fans: Let's give up and watch football

My favorite Yankees blog, River Ave Blues, today lamented that Brett Gardner got thrown out of last night’s contest, which was an "important game." I’ve got to disagree – last night’s game was not important. The Yankees stopped playing important games in 2014 the instant they lost that series to the Detroit Tigers. Read the rest of this entry

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Yankees projected 2013 opening day batting order as of Dec 12

Now that the Kevin Youkilis deal is done and the Ichiro deal is all but done, we can start goofing around with the Yankees opening day batting order.

Ichiro
Jeter
Teixeira
Cano
Granderson
Youkilis
[dh - Ibanez?]
[catcher - Stewart?]
Gardner

The latest Red Sox player to make the trek from Boston to New York is Kevin Youkilis, following in the footsteps of Babe Ruth, Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens, Johnny Damon. All iconic players in their own way… fascinating!

I was concerned about the Yankees lack of thump without Nick Swisher, but now that I look at this on paper, it’s not so bad. If the heart of the order is going to be Teix, Cano and Granderson – well, the Yankees could do worse. Youkilis is good for 15 homers and one would expect more out of Teixeira, even if that’s unlikely… Maybe you flip flop Granderson and Teix, but then, I think Teix needs all the protection he can get.

I thought about placing Gardner at the top of the order, but he’s had so few ABs in the last year, I think the Yankees are better off starting with Ichiro (and his amazing bat control) at the top of the order and waiting to see where Gardner is at. His ABs look good at the end of last year… but I’m still on a wait and see approach with him. You could say the same for Jeter, but then, he’s Derek Jeter and I’m willing to roll the dice and assume he’ll be some version of himself, even if he’s not the 2012 Jeter who was setting the world on fire.

I thought the Yankees were going to sign Raul Ibanez, but it hasn’t happened yet. Maybe they have their eyes on an upgrade? Or maybe they prefer someone who backs up the infield rather than the outfield in light of A-Rod injury? Who knows. As for a starting catcher… who the hell knows who the Yankees will end up with. I assume that the Yankees got Chris Stewart because they don’t think much of Francisco Cervelli, so maybe that is your catching tandem, in that order if they don’t go get somebody.

Well, it’s still early, so we’ll have to wait and see how the quesiton marks shake out and even longer to see what A-Rod has left when he comes back, but either way, this sure will be an interesting team to watch.

Scrappy is BACK – Ramiro Pena to get called up to replace A-Rod

I know the little infielder that is known as Scrappy around my house isn’t the greatest player in the world, but we love us some Ramiro Pena, and now that A-Rod’s hand is broken, he’s on his way to join the team. It sure has been a busy couple of weeks in Yankee Land.

Just to recap:

  • Brett Gardner had another setback and now is having what sounds like season ending elbow surgery
  • Nick Swisher is day to day with a hip flexor (or whatever the hell that’s called), making the outfield that much thinner, at least temporarily
  • then KABOOM! Ichiro Suzuki is suddenly a Yankee, patrolling right field, at least temporarily, and then moving to left field when Swisher returns… or so I heard on the radio
  • A-Rod gets hit in the hand by King Felix, breaking that shiz, and now Scrappy becomes the back up infielder, surely giving Jason Nix and Eric Chavez a lot more work at 3rd base

Whew!

Not to be too indelicate, but what the FUCK is going to happen next? Hopefully, something good – Joba Chamberlain may only be days away from rejoining the team, and that sure would be a boost to the bullpen. I was just about ready to close the book on Freddy Garcia, but last night’s start was a bit above average what with his 7.1 IP and 9 Ks, but 3 ER is nothing to get too excited about. Still, not a bad start, but I’d rather see what David Phelps can do at this point. (Also, it’s fair to point out that the Mariners suck at hitting – their team average is under .200 in their home park.)

Today’s day rubber game is one the Yankees really need to win for two reasons:

  1. the Mariners totally blow
  2. they got swept in a four game series by Oakland, who is not bad at all, but sheesh – four loses in a row to the same team… that’s assy

Hisashi Iwakuma is barely even a starter – he’s bee a reliever for most of the year, as far as I know, and when Ivan Nova starts, the Yankees generally win, so… let’s go Scrappy!

Brett Gardner's 3rd Setback Could Ultimately Push Swisher Out For 2012

Now that Brett Gardner has had a third setback (which may be nothing, we’ll have to wait and see), this forces the Yankees hand to make a trade for a left fielder. Raul Ibanez, Dewayne Wise and Andruw Jones have done a fine job holding down the fort, but the Yankees really want Ibanez and Jones for their bats, not their gloves, and although Wise has performed well in limited duty, the Yankees would like more from a corner outfield spot and let Ibanez and Jones platoon DH.

A quick note on Gardner – from what a I read, he woke up with soreness in the same elbow again and he’s going for another MRI. I don’ t know how many he’s had, but I’m going to say this is his third and they never find anything. I wonder what the next step is… exploratory surgery? You have to start wondering what the deal is with Gardner and if he’s ever going to be a factor again. We can only hope…

So now what? Obviously, Justin Upton is available from the Diamondbacks, and that would be the holy grail in trades. It’ll cost a lot, but Upton is an amazing, young player that the Yankees would be crazy not to empty the farm system for. I did read on MLB Trade Rumors that Upton has a no trade clause that includes the Yankees, so it might be a pipe dream, anyway.

A more realistic option is a rest of the season rental of Shane Victorino from former trade partner Philadelphia Phillies, who are currently riding their season down the crapper at 11 games under .500 (didn’t see that coming). Anyway, Victorino isn’t knocking the cover off the ball at .251/.316/.389/.705 with 8 HR and 38 RBI, but he does have 5 triples, which means he’s still fast, and that’s important for a Yankee Stadium left fielder. Couple that with a change of scenery and hitting in a stacked AL East lineup and his batting numbers might improve, but ultimately, if his performance stays the same and he gives us the defense he’s capable of, it’s a win. AND he’s a free agent after the season. That’s the Swisher connection.

See, Swisher is a free agent after this season, too, and with the Yankees 2014 payroll goals, they might not want to resign him at all. If they bring in Victorino or Upton, you can pretty much kiss Swisher goodbye – for sure if they get Upton, but if Victorino plays well, they can probably retain him cheaper than Swisher… well, it’s hard to know exactly how it will work out, but if the Yankees bring in an outfielder from the trade market, I don’t think it helps Swisher’s chances to stay with the team – it only hurts them.

In other news, Mariano Rivera is going to ring the opening bell at the stock exchange tomorrow. I love Mo, but couldn’t care less about this.

What are the Yankees Missing?

The Yankees are in first place right now and have a stellar 44-28 record on the season as the All Star break continues to creep up on us. After a rough April, the starting pitching has (for the most part) corrected itself, despite the fact that C.C. Sabathia is not throwing his best ball. And even without Mariano Rivera, the bullpen has been dominant all year long while the offense pounds the baseball for power. Still, even a team as good as the Yankees has some holes, and as the trade market begins to open (Kevin Youkilis has already been traded to the White Sox), the Yankees might be looking around to see if there are any fits to their needs in areas where they could use the help.

A True 3 Hole Hitter
When it comes to a 3 hole hitter, I think you want someone who gets on base a lot – a .400 OBP guy. This guy is probably always right around .300 with his batting average but has enough power to hit it over the wall a few times a month… and the Yankees don’t really have a hitter like this. ARod is probably the closest right now, but the Yankees aren’t paying him all that money to get on base – they want Home Runs out of him. Still, hitting 3rd is probably the best place for ARod, even if he doesn’t exactly fit the mold. Robinson Cano just doesn’t get on base enough to hit 3rd, but the clean up spot is probably the best place for him going forward. I don’t see the Yankees finding a guy like this via trade this year.

Base Stealing Speed
With Brett Gardner on the shelf, the Yankees just don’t have a lot of speed. Curtis Granderson can really move, but that’s about it. Sure, I wouldn’t call Derek Jeter or ARod slow, but when Gardner returns, it’ll help the Yankees outfield and offense a lot with the addition of his legs alone.

Bunting Skills
Nobody on this team can bunt – I guess Jeter can, but that’s about it. Well, Ivan Nova laid down a nice bunt in DC (or was it Atlanta?), but that’s not especially helpful. I don’t love the bunt, but it’d be nice if the Yankees could actually do it considering Joe Girardi loves bunting.

OBP, AVG Hitters
The Yankees are at 115 home runs already this season, the most in the majors. Meanwhile, only Jeter and Cano are at .300 and only Gardner has an OBP over .400, and he hardly played at all this season.

Still, the Yankees are in first place, despite these flaws. I don’t see much getting corrected (besides whatever Gardner brings with him when he returns), but if their pitching holds up, it probably doesn’t matter.

1st Place, Bret Gardner & Other MLB Disappointments

Injuries are part of the game; they’re inevitable – like Agent Smith from The Matrix. Still, amongst 2012 MLB disappointments, the injury to Bret Gardner’s elbow ranks at a 8.5 on my ‘this sucks’-o-meter.

If memory serves, Gardner was only able to start 8 games before a sliding catch injured his elbow, and now, many weeks later, he’s suffered a second set back in his rehab program. After visiting Dr. James Andrews yesterday, he’s going for a second opinion via Dr. Tim Kremcheck today. This is not good news, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some sort of major, even season ending elbow surgery was in Gardner’s future. It sucks, but there it is. So now what?

River Ave Blues ran an interesting article about replacing Gardner in the short term, and I am concerned with that, but what really concerns me is keeping Raul Ibanez out of the outfield as much as possible. The dude is still a stud hitter (although last night’s homer was his first in a few weeks), he’s not a great outfielder by any stretch of the imagination and at his age, I’m concerned about him wearing down or getting hurt out there. His bat is too valuable to risk, so I don’t really care what the Yankees do to limit his time in the field, just that they do something and they do it soon. If the Yankees lose Ibanez, it’s going to rank almost as high as losing Gardner on my ‘this sucks’-o-meter. As for me, I’d like to see the Yankees call up Chris Dickerson and find out exactly what this guy can do once and for all.

As you probably know, the Yankees are in a flat tie with Tampa Bay for first place in the division (10 games over .500), which, in it’s way, is kind of shocking. If you watched last night’s game, you got to enjoy more flubbing around by the Yankee offense with the bases loaded. In all, they stranded eleven men on base and went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and grounded into two double plays – not a lot for the 2012 team, but still too many for my liking. But, when you have that many men on base and can’t plate any of them, the odds of grounding into a double play probably go up a lot simply because there are more opportunities for a twin killing. And this brings me to my point: the Yankees offense has yet to start firing on all cylinders in 2012. Not even close. And they’re still 10 games over .500 because the starting rotation has rounded into the form and despite injuries to two of it’s best pitchers, the bullpen hasn’t missed a beat. It’s fun to cheer for all of the great offensive players on this team and watch in awe as Curtis Granderson continues to hit homer after homer, but this team is winning because of it’s pitching – and C.C. Sabathia hasn’t had one of those great runs yet, either.

MLB Disappointments
It doesn’t really matter to me, but I can’t believe the Phillies, Red Sox and Tigers are all still under .500 at this point in the season. I mean shiz, this is crazy. Today is June 12, and their records are:

Red Sox: 29-32
Tigers: 28-32
Phillies: 29-33

Now if one of these squads is your team, don’t panic yet. Feel free to sweat, but don’t freak out. There is still plenty of time for any of these teams to put together a 10 game winning streak and get right back in it… but sheesh. After you pass the 60 game mark, the whole "It’s getting late early" thing is in full effect, if not over due. Every time I see Red Sox highlights, it seems like Josh Beckett is on the mound and they’re losing. He’s 4-7 with a 4.14 ERA, which isn’t terrible, but he did give up 4 runs to the Marlins last night (over 7 innings), and for a team that’s struggling the way the Red Sox are, that’s not good enough.

Join the Yankees tonight for another on in Hot-lanta where hopefully, C.C. Sabathia can keep the rotation’s great pitching on track. The lack of DH should help, and it’s fun to watch a big man with a bat.

Yankee Offense-less

David Robertson needed to do his job last night, and he didn’t – but he wasn’t the only one.

The Yankees offense needs to get their collective act together, ASAP. D-Rob gets a pass from me for last night – he’s allowed to screw up every once and a while. I’ll also excuse Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson, because those guys have been dominant in 2012. The rest of you guys are slacking.

Last night:

0-8 with runners in scoring position

1 RBI (Robinson Cano, double, scoring Jeter from first)

That’s it. Nick Swisher had that great 11 pitch at bat, but nothing came of that. Hitters are supposed to win those long duels! Mark Teixeira is really starting to worry me – I know he always starts slow, but it’s May – let’s pick it up, guy!

9 hits, 1 extra base hit

9 hits isn’t bad, but one extra base hit coupled with 1 RBI is shameful. They need to figure out a way to string three hits together or… something! Hopefully, Brett Gardner can get these guys going, but I don’t really buy the idea that Gardner is the missing piece because Jeter is sitting at the top of the line up hitting .400.

Tonight, the Yankees face David Price. I don’t think he has great numbers against the Yankees, but he is a great pitcher.

ALDS Post Mortem: RISP Fail

Here’s some numbers for ya from last night’s ALDS game 5 between the Yankees and the Tigers:

Yankees Offense:
LOB: 20
Team LOB: 11
RBI: Cano (9), Teixeira (1)
2-out RBI: Cano; Teixeira
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Posada; Cano; Gardner 2; Swisher 2
Team RISP: 2-for-9

Pretty abysmal, right? I wonder why they couldn’t get the big hit last night – they certainly ran into some good pitching, that’s part of it, but maybe not the whole story. I really thought someone was going to come up with a single the second time the bases were loaded, but we all know now that Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher bot struck out – not to be confused with Russell Martin and Brett Gardner grounding out the first time the bases were juiced. Maybe I can find the answer if I drift through the local papers…

OK, this was a mistake. When I am going to learn to stop reading NYPost.com?

The richest team in baseball history, the most talented in the game, and you could almost hear the players’ knees knocking over the din of the crowd. Does that come from the manager? Girardi was forced to his bullpen early when Ivan Nova’s forearm started to bark, but it was his choice to use Phil Hughes for only four outs, his choice to use CC Sabathia, his choice to use seven pitchers.

Those relievers, save for Sabathia, were perfect. And you could argue Girardi was merely matching the urgency of the situation.

But you could also argue that anxiety and stress flow from the top down.

Here are the batting averages for the ALDS for the following players:

Alex Rodriguez:.111
Mark Teixeira:
.167
Nick Swisher: .211
Derek Jeter: .250

Obviously, batting average isn’t the best measure of offensive production (especially across such a small sample size), but since Mike Vaccaro went with batting average elsewhere in his article, I might as well, too. Obviously, the dominance of Justin Verlander and some of the other Tigers starters has a lot to say about this, but really, Mr. Vaccaro? You think these guys didn’t get the big hit last night because Joe Girardi was too anxious and his players fed off that same anxiety? Talk about having no respect for the guy throwing the ball… I’m not trying to let the Yankees’ bats off the hook, but that’s a pretty far leap from these guys just not getting it done to some psycho-semantic stress response that induced knee knocking tension. “Does that come from the manager?” Really? I have no idea where Mr. Vaccaro got that from. I guess that in the search for answers, some grasp at straws… or just make shit up.

I checked some other papers, but to no avail: Mike Lupica just complained that the Yankees are the most expensive team in baseball and have only won one ring over the last 10 years. This seems like a silly argument because most teams don’t even make the playoffs every year, which the Yankees have save one – never mind win the World Series. If 1-10 over the last decade isn’t enough for Mr. Lupica, how many World Series victories would be? Two? Three? Four? Five? Does he expect them to win the whole damn thing every single year because they have the highest payroll? Surely he knows that’s not how it works… Anyway, the NY Times just offered reporting as that’s what they’re best at.

What else can I say? It was a close game, the Yankees lost, and it was probably closer than it should have been considering the Yankees fashioned 7 innings out of their bullpen. Once Ivan Nova left the game, visions of the 2003 World Series and David Wells‘ balky back began to drift across my mind – not to mention the fact that teams hardly ever win games when their starter doesn’t give them at least 5 innings. I’m forced to go back to my musings from Spring Training – at that point, I thought the Yankees didn’t have the pitching to win a World Series, but when it came down to this game 5, they just couldn’t muster the offense.

In the end, I don’t feel to bad about this loss – the Yankees just couldn’t get the big hit and for whatever reason, I’m OK with that. At least they didn’t get shelled – that would have really bothered me.

Somebody wake up Joe Girardi!

AJ Burnett is not necessarily the best pitcher to ever grace a mound with his presence. Sure, you’ll hear tales of his filthy stuff, and it’s true, to an extent: Burnett has some good pitches in his arsenal, including a hard fastball and a snapping curve ball. In yesterday’s fourth of July game, he struggled but overcame in the 1st inning but overall, pitched 6 solid innings. Sure, at the end of the 6th, he looked a little tired, but I couldn’t begrudge Joe Girardi for sending him out there for the 7th, especially after how much the bullpen worked in the Mets series. But at some point, you have to go to your bullpen.

AJ Burnett is not the sort of guy who saves your bullpen; he’s just not. Sure, he’ll go 8 innings every once and a while, but it’s just not who he is. So after that Shelly Duncan at bat, during which Burnett was clearly tired and didn’t have anything left and couldn’t snap off a curve ball to save his life, Girardi left him in there. He didn’t go to his bullpen, he didn’t send Larry Rothschild or even Russell Martin out there to give him a breather.

After the Duncan single, I thought it was obvious that it was time for a call to the bullpen to get somebody up before the ball got back to the infield, followed by a lengthy mound visit. Then, the next batter should have been given the unintentional intentional walk. By then, your bullpen guy ought to be ready to go, and you make the change. It’s that simple.

Instead, BOOM – home run, and the Yankees go on to loose a game they should have found a way to win. Nice job, Girardi!

YANKEESNEWS VIA TEXT:
Today’s text reads: “HBO & MLB Productions to produce a 1 hour special chronicling Jeter’s 3K chase.”
My guess is that working titles include, “Boring as Hell: Jeter’s 3000 Chase” or “Jeter Documentary: The Best Editing You’ll Ever See,” because this must be one boring film. How much drama could the end possibly have in store? Jeter did not have a good offensive year last year (.270 average, 179 hits), nor has he this year (.256 average, 68 hits), and he’s been hurt for the last several weeks with 6 hits to go. Maybe I’ll get more excited about this as we get to the end, but right now, I’m not interested in Jeter’s personal achievements – but I’m happy to have his glove back, because Edwardo Nunez can not field.

YANKEES VIA EMAIL:
subject – MLB best Six Yankees are headed to the All-Star Game

In case you didn’t already hear, the Yankees heading to the All Star game are

Can we PLEASE climb out of Jeter’s ass? A-Rod has been to the All Star Game a few times, why can’t we count how many times he’s been? And really, Jeter is one of the six best Yankees on the team? Really? Derek Jeter is having a better year and/or is more valuable to the team that Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia or Brett Gardner? Or how about David Robinson, for that matter? I feel like I spend a lot of time writing negative things about Jeter in this space, but I don’t hate the guy – I just don’t think he’s the golden god everyone else makes him out to be – at least he’s not anymore.

Whatever, I don’t care about the all star game and I wish no Yankees were going, because if anyone gets so much as a cramp from appearing in the farce, I’m going to be PISSED!

Winning and Injuries

The Yankees are 8-2 over their last ten games and 13 games over .500, a 2011 season high, and I’m excited about that – but this team needs help. Don’t get me wrong, the Yankees deserve kudos for the winnings they’ve been doing, but this team has some glaring holes – some I understand, like the bullpen, but then, when they only score 1 run in Chicago against one of the worst pitchers in the game and let him hang around for 8 innings… it’s hard to know what to think. This and other Yankees issues are probably due to age, injury, regression or all three issues.

So who’s hurt these days? Its so numerous that it’s getting tough to keep track of. Fortunately, it looks like we’re going to get Jeter, Colon and Hughes back – 2009 Jeter is probably never going to show up again, but, he’s probably the lesser of alternative evils. Colon is a must and Brian Cashman is practically married to Phil Hughes, so if you don’t like Hughes… you’re out of luck.

Derek Jeter
El Calfstrain is just short of his 3000th hit, and while it’s kinda crazy that we get to watch the active hit leader and in the future can say, "I saw that guy play," you have to admit that he’s kinda dragging the team down with his bat and lack of range at short. On the other hand, Eduardo Nunez’s fielding can only be described as frightening, but more on that later.

Bartolo Colon
If you pray, please pray for Colon every night. We need this guy back at 100% – hopefully, right after the All Star break. Without him… I don’t know how realistic our chances are of actually going anywhere in the playoffs. He’s that important!

Phil Hughes

If you haven’t seen the reports, it sounds like his first rehab start went well, the velocity is there and he’s feeling good, so maybe we’re getting the good Phil Hughes back, but this guy is as unpredictable as they get – I know he won a zillion games last year, but I have trouble trusting this guy – he’s either going good, going bad or hurt. Consistency isn’t his strong point.

All Left Handed Relievers Except He Who Shall Hence Be Known As "The Crappy One"

Let’s see… I read somewhere that both Pedro Feliciano and Damaso Marte are starting to throw off flat ground, but who knows what that means in terms of a return time table. If neither of them can get David Ortiz out, then it doesn’t really matter anyway.

Joba Chamberlain

See you next year, Joba. Anybody got a spare setup man lying around that they’re not using?

Rafael Soriano

Oh right, you were supposed to be the setup man. I forgot. Joba was going to the 7th inning guy… anyway, Soriano is still supposed to be resting and maybe will come back in the middle of July, but I’m not holding my breath.

So we definitely need more pitching, but that’s not a surprise – although I thought it was going to be starting pitching, not bullpen help. So let’s take a look at who stinks.

Eduardo Nunez (fielding)
So, now that you’ve seen Eduardo Nunez for a while at short, what do you think? Obviously, he can’t field worth a damn – every time he picks up the ball, I say a silent prayer and everybody sitting behind 1st base braces for impact. Nunez can hit, but I’m starting to wonder whether or not this guy belongs in the infield.

Boone Logan aka "The Crappy One"
If Boone Logan was a Sioux, his name would be "Only On Team Because He’s Left Handed," or something more clever than that. Since he can’t get anybody out, he decided to try a different strategy against the Reds – just hit the guy, it’s faster. He’s given up 16 hits in 16 innings while walking 8 and striking out 11. That is NOT getting it done.

The Bullpen
We’ve got David Robertson, Mariano Rivera and a collection of stiffs. Seriously… the Yankees are, as of this writing, carrying 12 pitchers on there roster – and I’m sure it would be 13 if they could find another lefty. It’s that bad. I know Hector Noesi has looked good and Corey Wade has looked good so far, but we need more help, and we can’t count on any of the DL relief corps to come back. It’s time to go to the scrap pile (again) or make a trade.

Francisco Cervelli

I don’t expect backup catchers to hit, but this guy has got to field better. In fact, he’s got to field great – because if a backup catcher can’t catch, then what’s the damn point? It’s not like he’s a regular position player who you expect to contribute with the bat – Cervelli is a catcher and the guy just isn’t getting it done behind the plate. Cervelli and Nunez need to do serious work this winter.

Other Stuff

I guess Nick Swisher is finding his swing, but splits are still frightening. Jorge Posada is also looking better at the plate, but… who knows. The Brett Gardner Crisis of April has been officially over as he’s gotten his average almost up to .300 now – too bad he completely forgot how to run or steal bases. Kudos are due to Ivan Nova, who has really done well in his last several starts, especially last night. A-Rod is apparently playing hurt, but it doesn’t seem to be effecting him much; but, if he is truly hurt, the Yankees would be wise to DL him now rather than waiting – Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira can supply the power in the interim.

Now what?
The bench needs help and the Yankees desperately need relief pitching, and they need the two hardest things to get: a lefty and a setup guy. Can these holes be filled? I’m sure we can find guys to fix the bench, but the bullpen is going to be tricky. I hate to tie my hopes to Rafael Soriano coming back to the team healthy and effective, but I’m betting there aren’t many other choices.

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