Monthly Archives: June 2013

Game 81 Lineup: Yankees @ Orioles

Yankees have one goal: They have to win or they’re one game closer to the cellar. Here’s the lineup.

Brett Gardner CF
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Travis Hafner DH
Zoilo Almonte LF
Lyle Overbay 1B
Jayson Nix SS
Chris Stewart C
David Adams 3B

RHP Hiroki Kuroda

Game 80 Lineup: Yankees @ Orioles

It’s Game 2 of the three game set and you might want to prepare yourselves…this game is on FOX. Anyway, here is the lineup.

Brett Gardner CF
Jayson Nix SS
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells DH
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Zoilo Almonte LF
David Adams 3B
Lyle Overbay 1B
Austin Romine C

David Phelps RHP

Yankees That Should Go To The All-Star Game

Cleveland Indians v New York Yankees

The 2013 All-Star Game is quickly approaching and it’s sure to be a week of festivities in New York City. Players from all 30 teams will go to Queens and fight for one of the most glorious prizes: home field advantage during the World Series. Now, there are multiple ways for players to go to the All-Star Game. There’s the famous voting for your favorite player 25-35 times on MLB.com (by the way you have till July 4 to do so), and there’s the manager selection. For those of you unfamiliar with the manager selection here is the rule:

The manager of each leagues All-Star Team–in consultation with other managers in his league and the Commissioner’s office– will fill his team’s roster up to 33 players .

So with that rule in effect and with the ballot voting, it’s time to decide which Yankee should (in my opinion) should make it to the All-Star Game.

1. Robinson Cano

Robinson Cano obviously should be on the All-Star Team (and if voting went his way, he should be the starting second baseman). Robbie Cano is having a slight off-year in the batting average department but he leads the team in HR’s and RBI’s and is one of if not the best second basemen defensively in the game. I know defense isn’t going to mean anything in the All-Star Game, but Cano has many other aspects. And if (for some odd, strange reason) Cano doesn’t make it to the All-Star Game, we will see him during All-Star Week, since he is the Captain of the AL HR Derby Team.

2. Mariano Rivera

This is an obvious no-brainer. It’s Mariano Rivera’s final year, he’s having another All-Star season and I bet if it weren’t for his season ending ACL injury, he would of been on the 2012 All-Star Game Roster. The only issue is where would Mariano Rivera pitch in the game. Fans want him to start the All-Star Game but Mariano Rivera wants to close the All-Star game. If I could have a say, I would love it if Mo got the last three outs of the game. It would be a fitting end and it would be better than getting the first three outs of the game. Plus, if Mo does go in the game, can we hear Enter Sandman as a loving tribute to the greatest closer ever?

3. Preston Claiborne

The good news with pitchers is the league decides and not the fans. And I know Preston is a rookie and has only been here for roughly 2 1/2 months, but he has done a phenomenal job in the Yankees bullpen. Maybe with the roster moves that the league would have to do with the pitchers that pitched the Sunday before the game, Claiborne can somehow squeeze his way on the roster. David Robertson did so in 2010 when he wasn’t originally listed on the roster, yet made it after the plethora of changes the day before the All-Star Break.

4. Brett Gardner

Brett  Gardner

Before you say that ‘Gardner is not an All-Star’ and ‘There are a bunch of players that are better than Gardner for the manager’s vote’ just hear me out here. For most of the season, the one who has been carrying the Yankees on their backs (along with Robinson Cano) is Brett Gardner. He has the most hits on the team, is tied for the most stolen bases on the team and numbers show that he is the fourth best outfielder defensively. Gardner’s not a power-hitter but he already has 6 HR’s on the season and has shown some power with his booming doubles and triples that almost leave the park. If anyone should at least be considered for the manager’s vote, it’s Gardner. Right now, he’s the Yankees best player hitting with consistency.

5. Hiroki Kuroda

CC Sabathia is the ‘ace’ of the Yankees staff, but the one that has been pitching like an ace this season is Hiroki Kuroda. Other than his two starts to begin the season, Kuroda has not had a ‘bad’ outing. He considers a couple of his starts bad when he gives up three runs (which isn’t bad at all) but if you look at his numbers, he has been the guy that they go to in order to shut down the other team’s offense. The only reason Kuroda has those losses is because–the Yankees can’t score. But his ERA and his numbers should tell the story as to why he’s having an All-Star year.

So now that I have given my five players that I think should make it to the All-Star game (whether by the fans or managers vote), it’s time for you to decide. If you had five players that you wanted to take to the All-Star game, which five players would it be?

Game 79 Lineup: Yankees @ Orioles

This weekend it’s a battle for second place between the Yankees and the O’s. Anything could happen here. Here’s the lineup!

Brett Gardner CF
Jayson Nix SS
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells DH
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Zoilo Almonte LF
Chris Stewart C
David Adams 1B
Alberto Gonzalez 3B

CC Sabathia LHP

Where are they now?

A while back Fish and I put together our top prospects lists, ranking the farm kids on their current status within the system. Now that we’re halfway through the minor league season it’s time to revisit that list and see how some of these guys are doing. Our list was 40 deep, so i’ll put this out in a couple of articles. Taking it from the top:

Mason Williams – Mason got himself off to a slow start this year; in addition to his DUI and some apparent attitude issues, Williams struggled in the early goings. He, like a few others have turned it on as of late. In his last ten games he’s hit a .333/.381/.538/.919 quad slash. His season OPS still sits under .700 but the signs of life are encouraging. Mason is facing a pretty hefty platoon split thus far, hitting just .194 against lefties and his over the wall power is lacking a bit this year. Many of us were expecting to see that come up a few ticks but we’ve yet to see him develop that pop. Still just 21 there’s time for him to progress, but after an impressive 2012 campaign it leaves us anting more.

Gary Sanchez – Since the departure of the chosen one to Seattle, Sanchez has slotted in as the systems best catching prospect. I spite of JR Murphy’s work this year i’d say that’s still true. Sanchez is hitting to the tune of a .276/.338/.486/.824 slash, having already sent 12 of his 71 hits out of the park for round trippers. While the raw numbers aren’t ridiculous, he’s worked his BB/K ration down to nearly two to one, and even more importantly his defense behind the plate has continued to take steps forward. Once questioned as to whether or not he could stick behind the dish as a catcher, those worries are becoming a thing of the past as Sanchez puts in the work it will take to realize him as a ML catcher.

Slade Heathcott – After tearing up the AFL last year, teeth were gnashing over what Heathcott might do this season in the minors. Like Williams he’s been a bit of a disappointment this year overall; he’s had some little hot streaks tossed in there, but a .666 OPS isn’t anything to write home about. He’s stolen a few bags (7) but has been caught nearly as many times (6). The good news is that he’s still on the field. Being one of those full tilt players Slade has had little regard for his body over the years and it tends to cost him playing time in the form of trips to the DL. He has amazing tools, but like everyone else it’s a matter of realizing those gifts he has and making the most out of them. After only ~200 AB’s in Tampa and having his path obstructed by injuries i’m not too worried about Slade struggling in AA ball; it’s a big leap to make going to Trenton so some adjustment time is certainly in order.

Tyler Austin – Another one of our OF prospects sent to Trenton, Tyler blazed through the system and emerged as one of our top overall prospects of 2012. Tyler as well has had his struggles in the bump to Trenton, but has come on the last few weeks, raising his batting line to .273/.365/.393/.758. Like Sanchez, his walks are up a bit this year but more noticeably is his lack of power at this point. It should be noted that the Thunder host one of the bigger ballparks in their division and that 4 of his 5 HR’s have come on the road. That brings him a little closer to his 2012 pace, and at 21 years old there’s plenty of room for growth in that area. He also has more of a line drive swing without a ton of loft in it which puts a bit of a damper on getting the ball over the wall with any frequency. Tyler admitted to getting out of tune early on, and like Heathcott struggled with the advanced pitching sequences the AA hurlers approach them with.

Manny Banuelos – With the emergence of both Rafael DePaula and Jose Ramirez Manny’s position as top pitcher in the system may take a hit by the end of the year due to his lost season after undergoing TJS. The procedure is hardly a kiss of death these days with a over 90% success rate so he could easily make his way back up in 2014. Manny took a lot of flak for losing his command a bit the last year or so, but considerations must be taken to him working on a fourth pitch and in general just growing into his body and adding a bit of velocity to his FB. His size (or lack thereof) is used as a strike against him, bringing his durability into question. He has the abilities to be a top half of the rotation guy, and we really need to get some upper level pitching out of this system with the Stein’s and their self imposed salary cap, and Banuelos would be a great start.

Jose Campos – Another lost year for a prospect, Campos was part of the 2012 revolving DL door. He started the season brilliantly and went down with elbow fatigue, which turned out to be a fractured elbow relieving him from any further duties in 2012. This season has seen Campos struggle to get back to form, but could be in the process of getting the bugs worked out. Keith Law had a quick report on some of the youngsters a few weeks back and had really nothing good to say, which included a quip on Campos. He did however preface his report by saying that he hadn’t really seen him pitch much so the lack of enthusiasm could be off the mark. Personally I don’t know why one would even comment on a kid who was just getting back on the mound after a near year long layoff, but it is what it is. They have him on a regulated pitch count this year which keeps him around 4 innings per appearance; from what I gather they want to stretch out his innings across as much of the season as possible. Possibly another result of the Gil Patterson regime, which I am fine with. I expected a bit more from him at this stage of the season, but his last two games were more of what we saw last year before his injury so if thius is what we are in for moving forward then he’s on track and doing well in his return.

That’s it for this time…. i’ll get back to you shortly with another episode of where are they now, moving further down the prospect list as we examine the state of the farm prospects.

Morning Bits

Good morning everyone!

The Yankees lost to the Rangers by a score of 2-0 yesterday afternoon.

Phil Hughes was very good, allowing only 2 runs in eight innings, but he got no run support from the Yankee offense.

That was the 5th consecutive series that the Yankees lost or tied. The last series that the Yankees won was back on June 6th-June 9th against Seattle.

The Yankees are now 4 1/2 games out of first place in the AL East, the furthest out of first place that they have been all year.

The Yankees begin a three-game series against the Orioles tonight at Camden Yards that will take them to the halfway point on the year.

David Phelps(5-4, 4.01 ERA) will face T.J. McFarland(1-0, 4.14 ERA) at 7:05 PM ET and will be broadcast by WWOR.

Now on to today’s news links:

Bill Madden of the New York Daily News says the Yankees offense is hitting the wall.

Jay Jaffe of Si.com says the Yankees need A-Rod back.

Ian O’Connor of ESPNNEWYORK.com says A-Rod won’t ever grow up.

Also the Yankees ticket exchange has some great prices on some upcoming games.  Click the link to check it out!!

Have a great day everyone!

Game 78 Lineup: Rangers vs. Yankees

It’s the series finale with Phil Hughes on the mound. So after you read the lineup, please pray for Phil Hughes to perform well?

Ichiro Suzuki CF
Jayson Nix SS
Robinson Cano DH
Vernon Wells RF
Zoilo Almonte LF
Lyle Overbay 1B
David Adams 2B
Alberto Gonzalez 3B
Austin Romine C

Some Notes:

Brett Gardner was originally slated to be in the lineup but was scratched due to a head cold. It probably came at a good time since Gardner has played a lot lately.

Morning Bits

Good morning everyone!

The Yankees lost to the Rangers last night by a score of 8-5.

Andy Pettitte got knocked around in the fourth inning, loading the bases and then surrendering back -to-back two-run doubles to Adrian Beltre and A.J. Pierzynski.  That’s three consecutive bad starts for Pettitte, who has only won two games since April 19th.

Joba Chamberlain’s season of misery continues.  Chamberlain allowed a two-run home run to Nelson Cruz in the 7th inning after the Yankees had pulled to within one run of the lead.  Chamberlain’s ERA is now 6.38.

After a two-run blast by Ichiro once again brought the Yankees to within one run of the lead, all hope was extinguished when Shawn Kelley gave up two runs in the top of the 9th inning.

The Yankees were also sloppy in the field with errors by Brett Gardner and Jayson Nix leading to unearned runs.

Today’s game will be start at 1:05 PM ET and be broadcast by YES.

Phil Hughes(3-6, 5.09 ERA) and Derek Holland(5-4, 3.43 ERA) will be today’s starting pitchers.

Now on to today’s news links:

Wallace Matthews of  ESPNNY says A-Rod believes the Yankees didn’t ever want him to return.

David Waldstein of the New York Times has this article about Hal Steinbrenner talking with A-Rod, Cashman’s apology, and Mark Teixeira’s season ending surgery.

Jason Gay of the WSJ writes about “The Jerk Store” calling the Yankees.

Have a great day everyone!

 

Game 77 Lineup: Rangers vs. Yankees

It’s Game 2 of this three game set with Andy Pettitte facing Justin Grimm! Should be a good match-up. Here is the lineup for the Yankees.

Brett Gardner CF
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Travis Hafner DH
Lyle Overbay 1B
Zoilo Almonte LF
Jayson Nix 3B
Chris Stewart C
Alberto Gonzalez SS

Andy Pettitte LHP

Some Notes:

— Well, we have some bad news on the Mark Teixeira front. According to the Yankees, the team doctors said that the tendon sheath in his wrist hadn’t completely healed and they’ve recommended surgery for Tex. It now appears 2013 is out of the question for the Yankees first baseman.

Eduardo Nunez will play in a rehab game today with the Tampa Yankees.

Rafael De Paula will represent the New York Yankees in the Futures Game on July 14th. Should be a great game to see the future stars of baseball.

Almonte and Ichiro Improving Outfield

The Yankees outfield has been a mess for most of the season. Outside of Brett Gardner and a hot start from Vernon Wells, they have gotten little production from their outfielders. However, recently, Zoilo Almonte and Ichiro Suzuki have been very productive, and if they can keep on playing well the outfield situation will look a lot better.

Ichiro’s walk-off home run last night was not his only contribution of late. Ichiro has hit .299/.341/.390/.731 with a 101 wRC+ and .323 wOBA in the month of June. Overall, he only has a .289 wOBA, 78 wRC+ and .6667 OPS, which are very poor numbers. However, the Yankees would be ecstatic if he could keep those numbers from June up for the rest of the season. Ichiro has also made a lot of sparkling plays in the field of late.

In only 18 at-bats, Almonte has hit .438, with a home run and 4 RBI. He has provided a spark to the team like few players have for the Yankees so far this season. Obviously, the sample size is extremely small, but Almonte has shown he has some skills to work with. It has not only been his skills, but his approach at the plate that has been impressive, as Almonte has not looked over matched by MLB pitching so far. Almonte hit .297/.369/.421/.789 in Triple-A before he got called up.

Almonte is not considered to be one of the Yankees’ best prospects, but then again neither were Gardner or Robinson Cano, so you just never know. The Yankees are in desperate need of a young breakout player, so they will give Almonte every opportunity to do that. They could really use young and cheap players not only for this season, but next year when they try to get under $189 million in payroll.

If Almonte and Ichiro can keep up their hot streaks, the Yankees might look more at infield help at the trade deadline. That is not to say that if a good deal for an outfielder comes along the Yankees shouldn’t jump on it because they need bats at any position they can get them. However, the infield seems to be in worse shape than the outfield at this point.

David Adams and Jayson Nix may just be the left side of the infield combo in all of MLB at this point. After a hot start to his Yankees career, Adams looks absolutely lost at the plate right now. He has hit .105/.171/.105/.276 in the month of June, which is pretty much as bad as a player can possible be at the plate. Despite the love Joe Girardi has given Nix at times he is not a MLB caliber starting shortstop. His .280 wOBA, 71 wRC+, and .066 ISO are just not good enough.

The Yankees are also getting horrible production out of first base and catcher. Despite the perception of how good he has been this year, Lyle Overbay really is not very good. Yes, he has had some key hits and has been better than expected, but that is still not saying much. Overbay’s .232 avg, .289 OBP, 90 wRC+ and .1 WAR are just not very impressive.

Like their left side of the infield combination, the Yankees’ catching combination is also in the running for the worst combo in MLB. Chris Stewart is nothing more than a backup catcher and Austin Romine is nothing more than a Triple-A catcher right now. This is the bed the Yankees made when they refused to pony up money for Russell Martin or A.J. Pierzynski. Hopefully, Francisco Cervelli is on his way back soon.

Despite all of this, the Yankees are still only one game behind the Red Sox in the loss column in the AL East. They still have great pitching and with some offensive reinforcements coming back and some potential trades the Yankees can still win the division.

With a little more than a month to go until the trade deadline a lot of the potential trade targets are still just speculation. However, with Ichiro and Almonte playing well and Curtis Granderson returning the Yankees may need infielders more than outfielders. Ideally, the Yankees could trade for a versatile players like Chase Headley, Mike Morse, or Corey Hart who could play both. The trade deadline season is just beginning and it will be a very interesting time for the Yankees.

Morning Bits

Good morning everyone!

The Yankees beat the Rangers last night 4-3 on a walkoff homer by Ichiro Suzuki off of Texas reliever Tanner Scheppers with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.

All four of the runs scored by the Yankees were the result of solo homers.  Travis Hafner, Jayson Nix, and Brett Gardner were the other Yankees besides Suzuki to go deep, all of them homering off of Rangers ace Yu Darvish.

Hiroki Kuroda was a little shaky, allowing two home runs, but pitched well enough to keep the Yankees in the game.

Tonight’s game begins at 7:05 ET PM and Andy Pettitte(5-5, 4.20 ERA) will face Justin Grimm(6-5, 5.57 ERA).  The game will be broadcast on YES and ESPN2.

Now on today’s news links:

Patrick Rishe of Forbes has this great article on Cashman’s disappointment with A-Rod.

Ben Shpigel of the New York Times says the Yankees desire to trim payroll won’t interfere with this season’s spending needs.

Steve Politi of the Star-Ledger says Michael Pineda could be a difference maker for the Yankees.

Have a great day everyone!!!

Game 76 Lineup: Rangers vs. Yankees

It’s a brand new series with a marquee pitching match-up. Kuroda vs. Darvish! Here is the starting lineup!

Brett Gardner CF
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Travis Hafner DH
Lyle Overbay 1B
Zolio Almonte LF
Jayson Nix 2B
David Adams 3B
Chris Stewart C

Hiroki Kuroda P

Some Notes:

Reid Brignac opted for free agency instead of taking a Triple-AAA assignment with Scranton.

 

Is handicapping the payroll again worth keeping Cano?

robinson-cano2Amazingly, the Yankees are nearing the halfway point in the season. Yes, the All-Star break is next month, but their 81st game of the campaign will be played at the beginning of next week.

The team is in an unusual situation to say the least. Though only trailing the Red Sox by one game in the loss column, the Yanks have struggled mightily over the past few weeks. Since the Subway Series when they were swept aside by the Mets, there hasn’t been any showing of the hope and promise that the year once had back in April.

Sure, no one could have foreseen Curtis Granderson, Kevin Youkilis, and Mark Teixeira all going back on the disabled list days after they came off of it, but the fact remains the offense is anemic, only recently beginning to score north of a couple runs a game.

Brett Gardner has been the one keeping the lineup from turning Astro-nomically bad, currently hitting .285 with 28 RBI and 42 runs scored. That may surprise you since the Yankees have an even better hitter playing everyday in second baseman Robinson Cano, but to say he has had a good season [considering his pure talent and expectations of having a big contract year] would be wrong.

Robbie got off to a torrid start in April, hitting .327. Since then, he has hit .257 in May and .229 so far in June, failing to come up with the big hits when needed. He’s been seen swinging out of his shoes on some occasions, striking out and swinging at pitches that no .300 career hitter would.

The argument certainly can be made that with the replacement-level players that surround Cano in the lineup, he is not getting any good pitches to hit. I mean, who in their right mind would pitch to him when you have Lyle Overbay or Thomas Neal on deck? But at some point, Cano has to make the adjustment to focus on making contact with the ball and getting on base, rather than smashing a game-winning home run. With the superstar status he’s gained over the past few seasons along with the pressure he must be under to perform every night, it’s understandable, but ultimately unacceptable.

That’s why it concerns me when the Yankees seem willing to hand out a lucrative long-term contract to this guy. Right now they are far apart on negotiations, but all signs point to Robbie eventually inking a deal worth at least $150 million over six, seven, eight or even more years. And to see the way he’s performed this year when for the first time he truly is the sole bright spot in the lineup, it’s concerning.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely think Robinson Cano is a top-five MLB player when he is playing up to his potential. He’s certainly the best second baseman in the game and will be for a while. Unlike other pessimists, it’s not necessarily how he’ll age that worries me, it’s the rest of the Yankees that Cano will play with for the duration of his deal.

If you’re still living in the fantasy world that Jeter, A-Rod, Teixeira, and Granderson will come back strong later this year and lead the charge to a 28th world championship, it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee. I am an optimistic, but realistic fan, and right now the chances that those four come back and provide so much production so that teams will wind up giving Robbie pitches to hit are rather slim. Cano is the most feared hitter in any Yankee lineup that can be conjured up using the 40 man roster, and we saw how the short returns of Tex, Youk, and Grandy resulted in disrupting the chemistry and production that was once consistently evident in the offense.

Robinson+Cano+Detroit+Tigers+v+New+York+Yankees+783bvcpDTPKlWhich brings me to another point – what will the Yankees lineup look like for the next five years? As frustrating as it’s been to watch the team this season, it may become the norm to see guys who really should be part time minor leaguers, be in the lineup every night in the Show. It seems like Jeet and Alex’s careers are hanging on by a thread, Granderson is almost surely to be lost this offseason, and who knows if Tex can ever be the 30-home run, 100 RBI guy he was penciled in to be throughout the duration of his own albatross of a contract. That leaves way too many holes on the roster for the Yanks to really focus on paying just one solid ballplayer.

It reminds me of a question probably asked when the Texas Rangers were debating to trade Alex Rodriguez – “Are we a better team with [Cano] than without him?” It can be argued that the Yankees really won’t be if they re-sign him. Sure, they may win a few more games, and the new Yankee Stadium will look just a little more full every night, but is that really worth once again limiting your ability to address other areas of the team?

Now I know many of the young, budding MLB superstars have been or will be locked-up by their current teams before they ever hit free agency. But remember, the Yanks’ current top prospects such as Gary Sanchez and Mason Williams, and recent draft picks like Aaron Judge and Eric Jagielo are years away from becoming everyday contributors in the Major Leagues. So, where does that leave the team in its search for new “Bronx Bombers”?

Personally, I see it as a dead end.

The Yankees can never be considered a “rebuilding” team. Their fanbase is too widespread and hungry for success for them ever to accept a year when they weren’t striving for a World Series title. And although letting Robinson Cano walk after this season would at first feel like an apocalyptic decision, it may ultimately result in a brighter future for a Yankee dynasty to re-surface.

The first few years may be very tough to swallow, but letting the fading stars play out their deals and starting fresh may just be a recipe for greater success down the road. If Cano is playing like a Hall-of-Famer and making $20 million a season, but has no support from his teammates to actually win anything, what’s the point? Higher TV ratings on YES? Higher attendance ratings?

Maybe, but that’s not what Yankee fans care about. It’s about championships at the end of the day, and once again giving another bloated contract to a player who will be done with his “prime years” very soon, would be arguably a move pushing the Yankees even farther away from a return to glory.

Morning Bits

Good morning everyone!

After a day off yesterday the Yankees resume action tonight against the Texas Rangers.  The game will begin at 7:05 PM ET and will be broadcast by WWOR.

Hiroki Kuroda(7-5, 2.78 ERA) will face Yu Darvish(7-3, 2.84 ERA).

Now on to today’s news links:

David Waldstein of the New York Times says Mark Teixeira’s continued wrist soreness has the Yankees very pessimistic about him returning this season.

Chris Dell of the New York Daily News writes that Robinson Cano says the Yankees need A-Rod back.

Have a great day everyone!

Off Day News and Notes

Yankees are off today but there has been some interesting news today:

– Alex Rodriguez is closer to playing rehab games, but Brian Cashman refuted a NY Post report that Rodriguez would start on July 1st.

“He has not been cleared by our doctors to play in rehab games yet,” Cashman told Wally Matthews of  ESPNNewYork.com. “He’s getting closer, there’s no doubt about it, but we don’t have a date for him to start playing games yet,” Cashman said. “It could be July 1. It could also be July 5, or maybe June 25.”

– Rodrgiuez also got his twitter account verified today, so he is officially on Twitter. You can follow him at @AROD. Pretty interesting timing for him

– Mark Teixeira’s wrist does not appear to be getting any better, as Teixeira is still experiencing soreness. Surgery might seem like a good bet at this point.

“He’s still sore, even after the shot,” Cashman told Andy McCullough of The Star-Ledger. “So our doctors are obviously working through it, trying to analyze the situation. It’s clearly not a good situation.”

– McCullough also tweeted that Cashman told him that the Yankees haven’t decided what to do with Ivan Nova yet, but said “I don’t view Nova as a threat right now to Hughes.”

Travel Day

Blockbuster trades may be looming, the Blue Jays are rolling and two divisions have established themselves as the power of their leagues head this week’s Travel Day.

Stars On The Move

In recent years the deadline trade market has been rather weak.   Jerry Crasnick of ESPN had a classic line last year when he called covering the deadline trade news like an episode of Seinfeld, it was writing about nothing.

This year’s circumstances appear to have this deadline trade market one withe potential to excite and delight many teams and their fans.

Giancarlo Stanton, Cliff Lee, Justin Morneau, Andre Ethier, Chase Utley, Carl Crawford, and Matt Garza could all have new homes before or on July 31st.

The fact that it makes sense for the teams who possess these players to trade them is one reason the trade market could be humming very soon.  The other big reason is that the number of teams being labeled as buyers is large.

Among teams labeled as buyers are the Red Sox, Yankees, Tigers, Rangers, A’s, Blue Jays, Orioles, Rays, Braves, Pirates, Reds, Cardinals, and Giants.

Something to watch for are trades to be made much earlier than in recent years involving key players.  The competition for these key players who may be available will be steep amongst the buyers and at least a few GM’s will see the value in acquiring a key player sooner rather than later.

Soaring Jays

Many people picked the Toronto Blue Jays to win the AL East before this season began. I was one of them. As a matter of fact, I picked the Blue Jays to win the AL and head to the World Series.

In April and May as the Jays struggled and occupied last place in the AL East, a friend asked me how I could have been so stupid as to have bought into the preseason hype of the Blue Jays. My response was that everything that could have gone wrong for the Blue Jays had gone wrong and that when their pitchers got on track and they got healthy that they would come charging.  What is surprising is that the charge has come in June and with such incredible force.

The Blue Jays are coming at the AL East leaders like a downhill runaway train.  Not only are the Blue Jays a winner of their last eleven games, the last ten games were wins against teams who are all over .500.  The Rangers, Rockies,  and Orioles were all swept by the Jays.

Not only are the Blue Jays now hitting and pitching at the level they anticipated before the season began, opponents will be very unhappy to hear that SS Jose Reyes and P Kyle Drabek are on their way back soon.

Drabek made his first rehab start on Saturday and should be back to the Jays very soon, which will give them even more depth in pitching.  Reyes, expected to be a major catalyst for the Jays this season, will most likely rejoin the Jays on Thursday against Boston.

The Blue Jays are going to be a very tough team to beat the rest of the way.

The AL East and NL Central Are A Cut Above

The AL East continues to impose its will upon their rivals.  Every team in the Al East possesses a winning record, a remarkable achievement as the season is less than a week from the halfway mark.

The teams in the AL East have a combined record of 205-174.  Removing the divisional games from that record, the AL East is a combined 117-86 against the rest of the teams in MLB.  It’s almost unfathomable that a division could be a combined 31 games over .500 against teams from other divisions.

Only five games separate the first place Red Sox from the last place Jays and Rays as all teams in the AL East are clearly in playoff contention.

The NL Central clearly stands out as the powerhouse of their league.

Incredibly, the Cardinals(18 games), the Pirates(16 games), and the Reds(13 games) represent 47 games over .500 against their rivals.  These three teams also happen to have the best three records in the NL.  It is very rare indeed to see the best three records in a league come from the same division this late in the season.

All three of these teams are serious playoff factors that may propel the NL Central to become the first division to send three teams to the playoffs in just the second year that such a feat would be possible due to the expanded playoff system.

If The Playoffs Began Today

In the AL:

The Oakland A’s would host the Baltimore Orioles in a one-game playoff to determine who would face the Texas Rangers in a best-of-five series.

The Boston Red Sox would host the Detroit Tigers in the other best-of-five series.

In the NL:

The Pittsburgh Pirates would host the Cincinnati Reds in a one-game playoff to determine who would face the St. Louis Cardinals in a best-of-five series.

The Atlanta Braves would host the Arizona Diamondbacks in the other best-of-five series.