Monthly Archives: March 2013

Off Day Notes: Rapada, Wells, Overbay, 25 Man Roster

It’s the day before Opening Day and the Yankees are putting the finishing touches on their roster by once again cutting and adding players. Here are the moves the Yankees made today.

1. The Yankees have designated Clay Rapada for assignment to make a spot for Lyle Overbay on the 40-man roster. I knew the Yankees had to make a move to put Overbay on the roster, but I didn’t see Rapada getting the boot, especially since the Yankees only have one lefty in the bullpen. This could be a way to get Rapada back into the minors like with the David Adams scenario or this is a goodbye to the side arming lefty. Still, I didn’t see this coming. Rapada released a statement via tweets after his DFA:

2. Vernon Wells changed his number before tomorrow. 56 originally belonged to Tony Pena so Vernon Wells will now wear #12.

3. The Yankees have finally released their 25-man roster. Here’s the roster for tomorrow:

ROTATION
52 CC Sabathia
18 Hiroki Kuroda
46 Andy Pettitte
47 Ivan Nova
41 David Phelps

BULLPEN 
42 Mariano Rivera
30 Dave Robertson
62 Joba Chamberlain
48 Boone Logan
27 Shawn Kelley
38 Cody Eppley
43 Adam Warren

CATCHERS
29 Francisco Cervelli
19 Chris Stewart

INFIELDERS
55 Lyle Overbay
24 Robinson Cano
36 Kevin Youkilis
26 Eduardo Nunez
17 Jayson Nix
33 Travis Hafner

OUTFIELDERS
11 Brett Gardner
31 Ichiro Suzuki
12 Vernon Wells
45 Ben Francisco
22 Brennan Boesch

15-DAY DISABLED LIST
65 Phil Hughes
2 Derek Jeter
25 Mark Teixeira
14 Curtis Granderson

60-DAY DISABLED LIST
71 Cesar Cabral
35 Michael Pineda
13 Alex Rodriguez

Behind the music: The 2013 Yankees walk-up songs

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When the baseball season starts, fans usually go to the ball park in order to take in nine innings of glorious baseball. As much as I enjoy going to the ball park to hear the crack of the bat, the fans cheering loudly and the food, I usually love going to the ball park in order to listen to the walk-up music of the Yankees. Music is one of my biggest passions, and to me the Yankees have done more than play great baseball over the years; they’ve also introduced me to new music and have filled up my iTunes with songs that I listen to on a consistent basis. Since Opening Day for the Yankees is tomorrow, I went on the Yankees website, found the list to some of the Yankees walk-up songs and took a listen to them, introducing myself to the different types of music that our players listen to.

1. Brennan BoeschBrennan Boesch didn’t waste any time in choosing his songs for the 2013 season as he went and chose two songs for his walk-up music. The first song was “Sail” by Awolnation. When I first took  a listen to the song, I found it intimidating in a good way. It’s not as intimidating as Evan Longoria‘s walk-up song (which is arguably one of the best walk-up songs in the Major Leagues), but it makes you think that something big is coming. The second song that Boesch chose was “We’ll Be Fine” by Drake. This is one of those songs that has you nodding your head while Boesch comes to the plate. Boesch hasn’t played a real game for the Yankees yet, but if I must applaud him on one thing, it’s his good taste in music.

2. Brett GardnerI have to admit that before I started watching Gardner play baseball, I did not listen to country music; at all. But in 2011, Gardner had “Dirt Road Anthem” by Jason Aldean as one of his walk-up songs and ever since then, half my iTunes is consumed with country music. This year, Gardner went with “Hell On Wheels” by Brantely Gilbert which is another great country song. Now, let’s hope that Gardner’s 2013 season is as dynamite as his walk-up song choice.

3. Chris StewartChris Stewart is close to having one of the best walk-up songs on the Yankees if he only played the first twenty seconds of the song over the P.A. Stewart’s song choice is “Forsaken” by Skillet and if there’s one thing I must say, is that the guitar riffs were amazing. I wouldn’t normally listen to music like this, but after today now I would. Now, all he has to do is play on a consistent basis so I could heart this song over and over at the ball park. I wouldn’t mind paying money for that.

4. Curtis GrandersonWe all remember the famous video where Curtis Granderson was picking his at-bat music and then almost cried when he chose “Friday.” Well, maybe all those hours of going through his laptop did the Grandy Man some good. His walk-up song (when he comes back) is none other than “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See (Instrumental)” by Busta Rhymes. Not too fond of the lyrics, but I do love the beat, so a smart move by Granderson in just using the instrumental.

5. David RobertsonWe all know that David Robertson is an Alabama boy. He was born in Tuscaloosa and he is constantly helping his hometown with High Socks For Hope. So it doesn’t surprise me that his walk-up song is the awesome “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. It’s actually a good thing I know about this now because I made a deadly mistake in asking my Twitter followers last season what D-Rob’s walk-up song was. Let’s just say they weren’t too happy with me during the game when they found out I seriously didn’t know. Well, I know now and it’s an awesome song. I’m looking forward to the 8th inning where I could sit back and listen to the tune that introduces us to the Yankees favorite set-up man.

6. Derek JeterThe Captain won’t be there on Opening Day for us to hear his walk-up music but he made sure that he chose a song. I’m not too fond of rap music but, “Otis” by Jay-Z and Kanye West was a decent choice by Jeter. It would be nice to hear it at Yankee Stadium when The Captain returns, but in the meantime I guess the closest we can hear this song is on Youtube (and on iTunes if you have it already).

7. Hiroki KurodaHiroki Kuroda has some great taste in music! Kuroda’s walk-up music is “The Whip” by Locksley and when I heard it for the first time, I heard some influence of ‘The Beatles’ in the chorus of the song. It’s nice that Kuroda was able to take us back to the good music–without actually taking us all the way back to the 1960’s.

8. Ivan NovaAh, is there nothing better than listening to some awesome Spanish music at Yankee Stadium? That’s what Ivan Nova introduced to the fans when he made his walk-up choice “Marta La Reina” by Antony Santos. This is one of those songs where you can’t help but get up from your seat and start dancing. According to the Yankees website, I don’t think it’s available for purchase but they have the song on Youtube where you can hear it over and over and over. It’s actually a great song to hear on a Sunday morning (with your headphones on).

9. Mariano RiveraMariano Rivera’s song choice is as fitting as his role on the Yankees. When the Yankees have a lead and they go to the 9th inning, Mariano Rivera comes in the game and puts it to bed, dubbing him “The Sandman.” Rivera’s song choice is the best song choice by far on the Yankees with “Enter Sandman” by Metallica. The guitar riffs in the song are simply amazing and when Yankees fans hear it, they can’t help but get excited, knowing that the greatest closer of all time is coming in to make the opposing team’s offense go to sleep. Yankees fans better soak in all of “Enter Sandman” that they can this season, since Rivera plans on retiring at the end of the season. I know I’ll soak up every moment.

10. Mark TeixeiraIf there’s anyone that we can count on to take us back to when rap music was at it’s best, it’s Mark Teixeira. His song choice “It’s Tricky” by Run D.M.C  is a great way to pay a homage to rap at it’s finest. Of course, we expect nothing less of Teixeira since he has been famously known of using classics from the Twisted Sisters in the past. But Teixeira didn’t stop there. His second song choice was “This Town” by O.A.R. which is one of my favorite songs. Teixeira hit a home run with his song choices and I can’t wait until he gets back on the field so we can hear it blaring from the P.A speakers.

11. Phil HughesPhil Hughes’s walk-up song is pretty vague. There’s no artist next to his song choice “Tomorrowland” so I did a search on Youtube and it sounds more like Hughes is ready for summer in a club than ready to play baseball. If this is his song, I’m not too fond of the techno-beat, but I can see it getting fans excited.

12. Robinson CanoRobinson Cano simply outdid everyone when it came to choosing songs. He didn’t choose two songs, he went the extra mile and chose three! His first song was “El Que No Aguante La Presion” by Secreto El Biberon which is a great song choice. It reminds me of summer like Hughes’s song choice, but Cano’s song reminds me more of running through fire hydrants that have water coming out of them than the club. Cano’s second song choice was “Me Kitee” by Black Point. Again, it reminded me of  summer. Cano’s last song was “Te Prendo” by Chimbala. As far as Spanish songs go, all three of Cano’s song choices hit it out of the ball park. Simply great. If his goal was to get Yankees fans on their feet while he comes to bat, he succeeded.

13. Vernon WellsI’m not a fan of rap music, but if you choose a song with Dr. Dre and Eminem, then you are in my good graces for the entire season. And that’s exactly what Vernon Wells did by choosing “Forgot About Dre” by Dr. Dre & Eminem. The beat is fantastic and this was when rap was still at it is greatest. It’s great that someone chose a throwback song, and now I will await his arrival to the plate just to hear this awesome song.

The Yankees choosing their own walk-up music is a way for them to connect to their fans. It shows fans what kind of music their idols like and in their own way, they introduce you to music you may have never heard of before. The Yankees are always winners in the fans eyes, but they’ve become more than. They’re role models with impeccable taste in music. So the next time you go to the ball park, open your ears when your favorite Yankee goes to the plate. You just might have a new favorite song that you’ll want as soon as you get home.

Some notes to end the Spring: Hafner, Eppley, Warren, Boesch, Rodriguez, Gardner

Spring Training officially came to a close today after an exciting day with the Yankees playing (and winning) against Army. Here were some final notes from the Spring Training front on who got the last three roster spots for the Yankees.

1. Brennan Boesch made the team as the player on the bench but Boesch is the only player who doesn’t really have a specific role. Girardi could DH him, start him in the outfield, pinch hit him. The possibilities for the Yankees and Boesch are endless.

2. Cody Eppley and Adam Warren both got the final two spots on the roster. The Yankees gave Eppley the benefit of the doubt after a bad Spring, but he looked sharp in his final outing, getting all four hitters he faced.

3. Travis Hafner was scratched from the lineup today due to some stiffness but it’s nothing to worry about. The Yankees simply said Hafner didn’t have enough time to loosen up. He should be fine for Monday’s opener.

4. Alex Rodriguez is expected to be with the team on Monday for the Opening Day festivities.  Yankees however aren’t sure if he’ll address the media or not.

5. An interesting fact that I got from YES today. The only player that had actually faced Army (However, not the current 2013 team) was Brett Gardner. In 2005 he was apart of the NCAA with the College of Charleston and one of their opponents was Army.

6. One final note: the Yankees start the home opener on Monday, but there are only two players that are expected to start Opening Day that played last season: Brett Gardner and Robinson Cano. So we lost 7 of the guys to either the DL or to other teams.

Enjoy your night everyone and I will see you back here Monday morning where I will be blogging (and tweeting) about the home opener with the Yankees against the Red Sox!

Exhibition Game 2: Yankees vs. Army Lineup

Brett Gardner CF
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Kevin Youkilis 3B
Travis Hafner DH
Vernon Wells LF
Lyle Overbay 1B
Eduardo Nunez SS
Francisco Cervelli C

LHP Vidal Nuno

Series Preview: Red Sox vs. Yankees | 4/1/13 – 4/4/13

Pitching Matchup:

Monday, 4/1/13, 1:05 p.m.

Yankees: CC Sabathia (2012: 15-6, 3.38 ERA)
Red Sox: Jon Lester (2012: 9-14, 4.82 ERA)

Tuesday, 4/2/13

OFF DAY

Wednesday, 4/3/13, 7:05 p.m. 

Yankees: Hiroki Kuroda (2012: 16-11, 3.32 ERA)
Red Sox: Clay Buchholz (2012: 11-8, 4.56 ERA)

Thursday, 4/4/13, 7:05 p.m.

Yankees: Andy Pettitte (2012: 5-4, 2.87 ERA)
Red Sox: Ryan Dempster (2012: 12-8, 3.38 ERA)

The roster begins to shape up for the Yankees

The Opening Day 25-man roster has to be set by Sunday, but the Yankees got a head start and started making some cuts and additions. Here’s what manager Joe Girardi and the Yankees did after the Yankees 4-2 win over the Nationals.

1. The Yankees optioned Melky Mesa to Triple-A Scranton along with newly acquired pitcher Sam Demel.

2. Lyle Overbay officially made the team today. Overbay’s defense impressed Joe Girardi enough that he will be the 1B against right handed pitchers while Kevin Youkilis plays third base.

3. Ben Francisco and Jayson Nix also made the team as the 4th OF and a utility guy off the bench.

4. David Aardsma was designated for assignment by the Yankees today. The reason behind it was that Girardi felt the Yankees already felt that they had enough one inning pitchers. Didn’t seem the need to carry another one.

5. Shawn Kelley made the team. Girardi liked his approach on the mound as well as the fact that he’s a strikeout pitcher.

6. Vidal Nuno along with a handful of other players were reassigned to minor league camp. I guess winning the Dawson Award didn’t mean much in the Yankees eyes.

7. Before the game today, Joe Girardi and Mark Teixeira were watching Brennan Boesch do first base drills while Teixeira was giving him pointers. It seems as if the Yankees plan on carrying Boesch as the emergency first baseman although the Yankees didn’t officially announce that as of yet.

8. After the Yankees released David Adams, he became a free agent today and the Yankees re-signed him. Seemed like a lengthy process to get him off the 40-man roster and back into the organization.

Trenton Rotation Takes Shape

Just yesterday Josh Norris clued us in as to who will be taking the ball this year in Trenton. Some will come as no surprise, with lefties Nuk Turley and Matt Tracy getting the nod along with Zach Nuding. In an unexpected turn. Francisco Rondon, who had some eyes on him in spring training for his work out of the pen will be the third lefty with Caleb Cotham rounding out the rotation. The notable exception here is Jose Ramirez, who everybody talking, including Mariano Rivera. There’s been mention of an injury to Ramirez but I haven’t seen any specifics. In his second to last start in big league camp he was examined for what was believed to be a blister forming, and then proceeded to tank his following start. The blister theory would make sense. As we’ve seen this several times over the last few years, Nik Turley falling victim last year and missing time to a balky digit. Nardi Contreras, who is in charge of the international pitching scene pointed to the cold weather expected for the Trenton opener where they take on the Sea Dogs, Boston’s AA affiliate. Many of us can attest to the shoddy weather up here in the northeast, so keeping him away from the cold might not be a bad idea. Last year Manny Banuelos had difficulties acclimating, and he ended up with a pulled muscle. Whether or not you can directly attribute the injury to the temperatures could certainly be argued, but you can’t blame them for being cautious. We’ll take a quick look at the starting five that are breaking camp and on their way up north.

Nik Turley

With a solid year under his belt Turley could be looked at as the staff ace. He did miss a bit of time due to a nagging blister on his pitching hand, but the 50th rounder continued to impress on the mound. Nik spent the year in Tampa, with one lone start in Trenton to cap off the year. He tossed 112 innings for the Yanks, posting a 2.89 ERA and solid peripherals in a 9.3 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9. Turley gained a couple of ticks on both his curve and fastball last season, and maintained his changeup, which has some good fade and depth to it and like his fastball he can command it well. He also added a slider to his mix that flashes plus potential. For the last Yankee picked in the draft, you can’t expect much more.

Matt Tracy

Another lefty, Tracy made his move from the pen last year and threw 99 innings for the Tampa club. He finished the year with a 3.27 ERA and decent strikeout totals with a 7.2 K/9 but his control wavered a bit, walking 5.4 every 9. Nik will throw both a four and two seamer with above average command in the low to mid 90’s. His two seam doesn’t have enormous movement, but he does control it well. Tracy’s secondary stuff (changeup, curveball) still needs polish, but he’s not afraid to throw them in any count. Further work on them would put him in another tier, so look for him to focus on commanding them this year. Tracy is adept at pounding the lower half of the zone with all of his pitches and keeps the ball in the yard, so he’s got some potential to make his way to the big leagues.

Zach Nuding

Zach logged 85.2 innings in Tampa last year and will get his shot at AA Trenton. Nuding pitched to a 3.89 ERA and limited the walks to 2.7/9, but his strikeouts were a bit lacking, knocking out fewer than 7 batters every 9. He’s always had a big fastball, sitting low to mid 90’s but reaching 98 at times. It’s a heavy ball that batters have a hard time getting the barrel on, and he generally keeps it in the lower half of the zone. Zach’s second best pitch is his slider, which he’s been working on to get a bit more movement on. It’s not yet a swing and miss type pitch but it has potential. He backs that up with a changeup, which again needs work, and if he is to be a successful starter he’s going to need it.

Francisco Rondon

Rondon hasn’t started a game since 2009, but the crew likes him enough that they’re going to see what they can get out of him. With Rapada on the DL and Logan coming off of a season where he led the league in appearances you’d think they might push Rondon on to AAA to serve as a possible backup, but they do have Nuno in the fold and Cabral on the way back. Rondon spent time across three levels, pitching to a 3.93 ERA over 71 total innings. His strikeouts were outstanding, at 10.1/9, but he walks way too many, giving up 5.3 free passes every 9. He’s a fastball/slider guy, hitting the mid 90’s with his fastball that gets good glove side run to it but is also a bit harder to command. His power slider is also a plus pitch when he’s commanding it. His changeup has made some big strides lately, showing good depth and fade, and will play a big part in him succeeding as a starter.

Caleb Cotham

Cotham is more or less a place holder until the weather warms up and Ramirez is ready. He’ll head back to the pen upon Jose’s return so they can better manage his innings. Caleb’s fastball sits in the low 90’s, but can ramp it up to 95 at times. His command of the pitch took a step forward last year as he got in a full seasons worth of work. His secondary stuff hasn’t quite returned to form yet, as his slider velocity is there but the movement isn’t. Cotham also sports an average to above average changeup that sits around 80, and should help him get through the lineups until Ramirez returns.

Exhibition Game 1: Yankees vs. Nationals Lineup

Brett Gardner CF
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Kevin Youkilis 3B
Travis Hafner DH
Vernon Wells LF
Lyle Overbay 1B
Eduardo Nunez SS
Chris Stewart C

Andy Pettitte LHP

 

Final Spring Notes: Rivera, Boesch, Overbay, Mustelier, Francisco, Teixeira, Jeter, Granderson

Spring Training has come to close and GMS Field is done with Yankees games until next March, but the Yankees still have a job to do before Opening Day on Monday. That includes making cuts, adding people and setting their roster for Opening Day. Here’s what happened after today’s game.

Juan Rivera Juan Rivera was released by the Yankees following today’s game, so it’s apparent that he won’t make the Yankees. The Yankees had to pay $100,000 in order to keep him on Tuesday and cut him today. Hopefully he’ll attach to another team. Unfortunatley, that team won’t be the Yankees.

Ronnier MustelierRonnier Mustelier had a slim chance of making the roster but he was very impressive this Spring. Brian Cashman made it clear that Mustelier didn’t make the team after suffering a knee bruise. He was supposed to play last night in Sarasota but was scratched. Mustelier will stay in Tampa instead.

Brennan Boesch, Ben Francisco & Lyle OverbayThe Yankees seem keen on having Brennan Boesch, Ben Francisco and Lyle Overbay on the Yankees, and Cashman coy-fully suggested that the three of them would be at Yankee Stadium on Monday. I know we only saw Overbay for two days, but his defense was impressive and I wouldn’t mind having him on the team. Francisco and Boesch since coming to Yankees camp impressed, so it’s not surprising that they’re being considered for a role with the ball club.

Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson & Derek JeterThe Yankees are breaking camp today and only one of these three players will actually go north with the team. Mark Teixeira will go with the Yankees and will get checked on Monday by the doctor for his wrist. If all goes well, Teixeira can take off the brace and will start strengthening his wrist. Curtis Granderson and Derek Jeter are staying in Tampa because they are closer to baseball activities than Teixeira. For example, Granderson can shag fly balls, pick up a bat and grip it without the arm hurting. Derek Jeter will get into a baseball game next week. Teixeira is a little far off from doing those quite yet.

Spring Training 3/28/13 Lineup

Here we go, it’s the Spring finale for the Yankees!

Ichiro Suzuki CF
Vernon Wells LF
Robinson Cano 2B
Kevin Youkilis 3B
Juan Rivera 1B
Ben Francisco DH
Brennan Boesch RF
Jayson Nix SS
Francisco Cervelli C

RHP Hiroki Kuroda

Start Time: 1:05 p.m
T.V: None
Radio: MLB.com (Pittsburgh Pirates Radio)

10 Reasons to like the 2013 Yankees

A healthy Brett Gardner hitting leadoff all season could be a big lift for this team

A healthy Brett Gardner hitting leadoff all season could be a big lift for this team

It’s been a rough Spring Training for the NY Yankees and coming on the heels of an unspectacular off-season has many fans very pessimistic about 2013.  In fact, some could argue that since the WS win in 2009, Yankee management have made a series of bad decisions that have the organization set up for its worst stretch since the early 90s.  The end of the line for “the Core”, the lack of young talent on the MLB roster and the upper minors combined with the decision to significantly cut payroll in coming years makes for a rough outlook for 2013 and beyond.  There are many things to be concerned with but for today, let’s put on our optimistic hats and look at some positives for the 2013 season.

1 – Robinson Cano – As bad as things get, you can always look forward to Robbie’s 4-5 ABs every game. He’s hands-down, the best 2B in MLB and one of the top 2-way players in all of baseball. Cano is a superstar and MVP-caliber talent who is a magician with the glove at 2B and is as durable as anyone in the sport. He’s looking to show the league that he is worthy of the monster contract he’s asking for so I’d expect a huge year. Last yr he struggled vs LHP and with RISP yet he still had a career year (.929 OPS) and he has shown he can hit well in both situations in the past so look for a bounce-back there.  The biggest question is can he remain patient and wait for his pitch when pitchers are sure to pitch around him given the team’s lack of dangerous bats around him. Last yr his Walk rate jumped from 6.1% with no one on base to a whopping 16.9% with RISP.  Expect that to rise even more but Cano has to accept those Walks rather than get himself out this yr for the team to succeed.

2 – A healthy Brett Gardner – Gardy missed nearly all of last year and the team became a plodding station to station offense without him.  Brett is healthy, in his prime at 29 and will be given a premium spot at the top of the order to start 2013. He is a valuable weapon who can see a ton of pitches, get on base a lot, steal bases and generally annoy the heck out of opposing pitchers. If he can avoid the freak injuries I see a big year for Gardner with a .350-.360 OBP, 50 SBs, 100 Runs Scored and dozens saved in CF/LF as a Gold Glove defender.

3 – An opportunity for Eduardo Nunez – Jeter’s injured ankle has opened a door for Nunez to start as the team’s everyday SS.  While he has been an adventure defensively, he played his best defense in 2011 when he played Short on a daily basis when Jete was on the DL and he’s had the same chance this ST and it will extend into at least April.  I like Nunie’s offensive potential as a guy with a quick bat and blazing speed.  I see someone who could be a .280 hitter with 10 HRs and 35+ SBs if he played every day for a full year.  However, he must show he can be trusted at SS and if he does the yanks will be able to let Nunez and Jeter share SS and right-handed DH. They need his speed and RH bat in the lineup this year and beyond as the 25-yr-old is one of the team’s few young position players.

4 – A Strong Rotation – the Yankees rotation was solid last year finishing 5th in the AL with a 4.04 ERA, and 2nd in both IP & Ks.  It returns intact with a nice blend of 3 vets and 3 kids and it has the potential to be stronger in 2013.  Ace CC Sabathia dealt with injuries all season and had his elbow cleaned up in the off-season so I expect a typical great season from the big fella. Hiroki Kuroda was the team’s most consistent starter in his first A.L. season and Andy Pettitte is healthy after only making 12 starts a year ago. Phil Hughes improved as the season wore on last yr and will have a lot to prove in his Walk yr this season.  He’ll begin the yr on the DL with what is hopefully a minor back issue thus opening up a spot for David Phelps who was the team’s most pleasant surprise last yr and has looked great again this ST. Ivan Nova has made some mechanical changes working with Larry Rothschild as he looks to return to the form that saw him be the team’s #2 starter as a rookie in 2011.  Rothschild has had a positive impact on the staff as all of the starters have lowered their Walk totals while also raising their K rates since Larry took over. The Yankees will rely on their staff more than ever as they will score less runs and this staff has the horses to rise to the occasion.

5 – Walk Years – With the goal to get under the Luxury Tax Threshold in 2014, the front office has been very reluctant to lock players up past 2013 so the result is a ton of players reaching Free Agency in 2014.  While Cano is the big FA, the majority of the team will also be due including key players like Granderson, Youkilis, Hughes, Kuroda, Hafner, Joba, Aardsma, Logan, etc.  That’s a lot of key players who will have something to prove in 2013.

6 – A More Dynamic Approach? The yanks crushed a record 245 HRs in 2013 with 10 players hitting 14+ HRs.  This year’s lineup won’t come close to duplicating those power numbers.  However, they have players with other skills that could lead to a more diversified offense.  They’ve added some hitters with better contact skills and also have many hitters that can work a count.  In Gardner, Ichiro & Nunez, they have 3 players capable of  stealing 40+ bases each which is a big change for a team that was 22nd last yr with just 93 total SBs.  A HR is the best possible outcome in baseball but last year’s team struggled moving runners, hitting with RISP and cashing in runners on 3rd with less than 2 outs.  This year’s team will have to be better fundamentally because they don’t have the power to make up for their mistakes.

7 – Old Nemesis Kevin Youkilis was a hated opponent for years with Boston but will be counted on heavily this season as the likely cleanup hitter.  I think Youk will have a bounce back year and will be a very important cog batting behind Cano this year.  With Jeter down, the Yanks will also count on Youk for his leadership in the infield with the young Eduardo Nunez playing next to him.  Fellow old nemesis, Ichiro will also be counted on for a big season.  He saw a nice bounce in performance after coming to NY last yr and I hope he can maintain it for a full season in 2013. Ichiro will be counted on to not only set the table but also to help drive in runs this yr.  I think he’ll come close to his carer-high 15 HRs playing a full yr in YS.

8 – Underdog Status? For the last 15+ years, the Yanks have always started the season with huge expectations and a big target on their backs as preseason favorites.  This year, most “experts” and projection tools are not picking the Yankees to win the AL East.  Toronto is the popular choice with Tampa also often picked ahead of NY.  While ownership and the fans always expect the team to make the playoffs, perhaps the Yanks can use the doubts and picks to lose as motivation. Let Toronto deal with the lofty expectations while perhaps the Yanks can sneak up on people as underdogs.

9 – Minor League Development Yankee prospects received a lot of accolades this Winter with most publications rating the team’s system in the 11-14 range despite not having ANY top prospects above A-ball.  A strong yr could vault the system into the Top 5 in all of baseball. This year, most of the top prospects will either start the yr in AA or will be there by mid-season.  OFs Slade Heathcott, Tyler Austin & Ramon Flores will start in AA Trenton and could move up fast with some success. The team’s 2 top-rated prospects – Gary Sanchez & Mason Williams – are a step behind but could see call-ups to AA by June.  The prospects are more important than ever with the Yankees apparently sticking to a lower payroll in 2014.  if a prospect or 2 can take a starting job, it will leave more money to spend on other positions. It is without a doubt, a huge year for the Minor League system.

10 – Farewell to Mo…..the G.O.A.T.Rafael Soriano did a tremendous job last year as the team’s closer after Mariano injured his knee but the greatest ever is back this year for one last season.  We should all treasure watching Mo pitch in 2013 because we will be witnessing the best reliever ever to pitch for the last time.  He has the best ERA+ of ALL-TIME with a 206+ mark. His standard ERA of 2.21 is 13th best ever but the ERA+ accounts for the era he pitched in, his ballpark and his relation to other pitchers of his time.  Not only is his 206+ ERA the best ever it is 52 points better than the #2 pitcher, Pedro Martinez at 154+.  Mo is 1st All-Time in Saves (608), 2nd all-Time in WHIP (0.98), 4th All-Time in so/BB rate (4.04), 5th All-Time in H/9 (6.9).  And his Post-season records are even more amazing – a 0.70 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 42 Saves and just 2 HRs allowed in 141 IP.  Savor this last season of Mo. There will NEVER be another player so dominant for so long while at the same time doing it with basically 1 pitch…..and always doing it with dignity & class.

Spring Training 3/27/13 Lineup

Brett Gardner CF
Eduardo Nunez SS
Lyle Overbay 1B
Brennan Boesch RF
Ben Francisco LF
Jayson Nix 2B
Thomas Neal DH
Ronnier Mustelier 3B
Bobby Wilson C

RHP David Phelps

Could We All Be Wrong On Vernon Wells?

The overwhelming reaction to the Yankees’ acquisition of Vernon Wells was highly negative and with very good reason. When I first heard the reports that the Yankees were acquiring Wells, and were paying him $13 million over two seasons, I was floored. I thought that either the salary number was wrong or that the Yankees would be getting an useful piece in return. Alas, that was obviously not the case, but who knows there is a chance that Wells could work out for the Yankees.

The part of the trade that I was the most confused about was why would the Yankees sacrifice space on the 2014 $189 million budget for a guy that has been completely useless the last two seasons? However, that appears not to be the case, as the Yankees are paying the majority of the $13 million to Wells this year and may actually get a luxury tax credit worth as much as $2 million for 2014.

Part of the reason the Yankees say they were willing to pay Wells this much is because the WBC will be picking up a portion of Mark Teixeira’s contract this season due to his injury on Team USA. Now, I think they could have put those extra savings to better use, but we will see on that. What paying Wells this money does now is it brings up issues about why they didn’t pay certain players this offseason. There were tons of much better players than Wells that they could have given that money to this offseason, and using the Teixeira savings as an excuse as to why they didn’t is really insulting to everyone’s intelligence. The whole trade completely reeks of desperation.

However, Wells is here and the offseason is over, so there really is no point in looking back anymore. Despite me and the majority of Yankees fans hating this trade; could it possibly work out? Maybe. Like I said, the money effecting the 2014 budget doesn’t seem to be the issue that it looked like it was originally, so it will come down to what Wells does on the field.

Yankees scouts clearly saw something they liked about Wells this spring. Wells has changed his swing this spring, and has hit .333/.364.667/1.030 with four home runs in spring training. Mike Eder over at It’s About The Money, has a good piece on Wells’ swing changes, noting that he is standing farther off the plate this spring. Watching Wells last night, it seems like his bat speed was still there, as he hit two rockets that he got unlucky on and they were turned into outs.

While Wells has been brutal the last two seasons, he did have a solid year in 2010 (.273/.331/.515/.847). What happened in 2011 and 2012 is anybody’s guess. Wells was so miserable that his on-base percentage’s those years of .248 and .279 were actually lower than Chris Stewart’s, which is what makes the deal seems so puzzling. Wells didn’t even have good platoon splits last season, as he had a slash line of 227/.298/.373/.671 vs. lefties.

The Yankees have had great success recently at taking players off the scrap heap and having them perform well. Some recent examples  include Ichiro, Raul Ibanez, Andruw Jones for a season, Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, Cory Wade, Derek Lowe for a short time last year, Eric Chavez, Kerry Wood, and Marcus Thames.

Wells could surprise a lot of people and join that list this season. This trade will either make Cashman and his scouts look like geniuses or dopes. While, I for one would have never made this deal, it certainly is not impossible that Wells turns out to be an asset to the Yankees this season.

Spring Training 3/26/13 Lineup

Brett Gardner CF
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Kevin Youkilis 3B
Travis Hafner DH
Vernon Wells LF
Juan Rivera 1B
Eduardo Nunez SS
Chris Stewart C

LHP CC Sabathia

Morning Bits: Wang excited to be back with Yanks, Mariano, AL East Rivals

mug3Good Morning all….. Not many spring training games left.   Let’s get right to the links….

David Waldstein of The New York Times writes that Wang hopes to get back to where he started.

Andrew Marchand of ESPN NY asks over/under 36 saves this season for Mariano Rivera.

Danny Knobler of CBS Sports writes that the Yankees have looked bad, but not to their AL East rivals.

Where will the Yankees end up in 2013?

In exactly one week, the Yankees ultimate battle begins: the road to the Chase For 28. However, the changes and deductions have the Yankees in uncertainty.

I believe that the Yankees will overcome all of their injuries and end up back on top in the AL East. Last season it was uncertain when Brett Gardner and Mariano Rivera went down, but players stepped up and the Yankees were back on top. The same instance could happen this season with the Yankees.

So, where do you believe the Yankees will end up by the end of the 2013 season?