Monthly Archives: July 2013

Game 107 Lineup: Yankees @ Dodgers

Here’s the final game of the 2 game set with our ace (and former Dodger) Hiroki Kuroda on the mound. Here is the lineup!

Brett Gardner CF
Derek Jeter SS
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Vernon Wells RF
Brent Lillibridge 1B
Jayson Nix 3B
Chris Stewart C
Hiroki Kuroda P

Offseason decisions coming back to haunt Yanks as deadline looms

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Well, it’s finally here. It’s July 31st, otherwise known as the non-waiver trading deadline, and in a matter of hours the Yankees will have either added another bat, or decided  to ride out the remainder of the season with the guys they have.

Coming off a stinging loss by way of a walk-off single by Dodgers’ second baseman Mark Ellis, the team now stands at 55-51. Slowly sinking closer to the mediocre .500 mark, the Yanks have now fully embodied the club we all expected them to be when the season opened – a power-less, atrocious offense coupled with good, but not great pitching.

Sitting 8.5 games out of first place in the A.L. East and somehow just 3.5 games out of the Wild Card race, the Yanks are by no means “done”. Brian Cashman Ownership brought back Alfonso Soriano, Jeter has returned, and Curtis Granderson is finishing up his rehab assignment, so the lineup will certainly be given a boost by having those guys back.

Meanwhile on the pitching front, (aside from CC and when Hughes starts at the Stadium) things have been improving. Pettitte is finding his groove again, Nova is pitching even better than in his breakout 2011 season, and Kuroda continues to be a dark horse in the A.L. Cy Young race. The bullpen continues to impress with the likes of Shawn Kelley, Boone Logan, D-Rob, and of course Mo, so there is nothing to really be concerned about there.

This is stating the obvious, but for the first time in years, the lineup is the overwhelming achilles heel to this season. Even with Sabathia’s treacherous season and Hughes’ long-ball woes, this current pitching staff coupled with any Yankees lineup from the past decade would easily win 90+ games.

But that’s the thing – this isn’t any Yankees lineup from the past decade. It’s 2013’s.

There’s no Sheffield, no Bernie, no Giambi, no Abreu, no Matsui, no Posada, no Swisher, no Teixeira, no A-Rod…must I keep going? Even with Sori, Jeet, and Grandy, they would need a Giancarlo Stanton-caliber bat added to the mix to really make them a threatening team. With the way Tampa Bay, Baltimore, and Boston are all playing, even if there are signs of improvement from the players currently on the roster, I can’t imagine it being enough in the end.

As mentioned, the Yankees are either going to make a move, or they won’t. Stanton is not on the block, nor does the team have the caliber of prospects needed to make a deal even if he was. The best hitter that could be on the move is Hunter Pence, followed by Michael Young, Nate Schierholtz, and [depending on Schierholtz] David DeJesus. Pence is adamant about staying with San Francisco, Young prefers Boston than the Bronx, and the Yankees have too many outfielders to realistically take on a Schierholtz or DeJesus.

Like I said, even if any of those guys were to be fitted for pinstripes in the next few hours, it wouldn’t make much of a difference when comparing this “Bombers” lineup to that of the Orioles, Red Sox, or even the Rays. Power is not the tell-all, be-all factor of a team, but all three clubs have, and can out-slug the Yanks, even in their own bandbox known as the new Yankee Stadium.

It would be great to see the team rally around Mariano Rivera’s final season and go out and make a valiant playoff push, but I just don’t see it happening. At it’s worse the pitching has been steadily above-average, but at it’s best the lineup is nothing close to deserving of a spot in October.

Maybe I’m being harsh, and perhaps this club as constructed could have been better in another season with less competition. But the fact remains that the Yankees picked the worst year possible to let so many core guys (Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, and Raul Ibanez) leave via free agency, and just hope that the oldest team in baseball would have one last magical run in them.

Clearly they don’t, and no matter what happens by 4 o’clock PM today, the Yanks should begin making plans to go golfing come this fall. It’s unfortunate, but we can’t act like we didn’t see this coming.

Jeter Gives the Yankees a Desperate Spark

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi

There are some things in sports that you just cannot explain. I usually try to back up any opinion I have with facts, stats and reasons. I very much try to stay away from overblown narratives and clichés. However, Derek Jeter is just a different case. There are intangibles that he brings to the table that just cannot be quantified in numbers and he proved it again on Sunday.

“He’s a movie, is what he is,” Joe Girardi told John Harper of the New York Daily News. “When you think about his 3,000th hit, how he did that, and what he did today:
“We hadn’t hit a home run since the All-Star break, we hadn’t hit a right-handed home run in months. For him to come out and do that in his first AB… he’s a movie.”

Girardi captured the moment perfectly in that quote. We have seen this many times from Jeter before, as his list of dramatic moments runs very deep. His 2000 World Series MVP vs. the Mets, his amazing backhanded flip to nail Jeremy Giambi at the plate in the 2001 ALDS, his dramatic game-winning home run of Byung-Hyun Kim in Game 4 of the 2001 World Series, his amazing dive into the stands in 2004 against Boston and his 3,000th hit being a home run against David Price top the list. Sunday’s first inning home run against Matt Moore can now be added to that impressive list.

The Yankees have been desperate for any kind of spark all season. This season has been as listless as any season in recent memory. There has been no buzz around Yankee Stadium or the Yankees all season.

Jeter changed all of that Sunday. In front of a packed house to honor another great Yankee Hideki Matsui, he hit the first pitch he saw over the right field fence with his patented Jeterian swing. It was more than just a first inning solo home run. It was the first time all season that I felt like I was watching the Yankees again. Even when the Yankees were doing well with a bunch of no-name players it still didn’t feel right. Something was missing.

After Jeter broke his ankle in the playoffs vs. Detroit, re-aggravated that injury in spring training, and hurt his quad in just his first game back, obviously one had to wonder whether we would see these moments again from Jeter. Of course, this is not the first time Jeter has been counted out in his career, and he has always had an answer.

Jeter and Alfonso Soriano could have sparked a season altering win on Sunday. If the Yankees miraculously make the playoffs this year everybody will be looking back on Sunday as the turning point. Unfortunately, it was just one game, and the Yankees still have many issues.

Obviously, the horrid Yankees offense has been a problem all year. The Yankees will be counting on Jeter, Soriano, Curtis Granderson and maybe another trade deadline acquisition to change that. If those potential four new additions can stay in the lineup and be productive the Yankees might actually have a decent offense. However, the starting pitching that was always supposed to be a given is not that anymore.

CC Sabathia is stuck in the worst stretch in his career, as he had a 5.11 ERA in June and a 6.60 ERA in July. If that doesn’t change the Yankees aren’t going anywhere. Phil Hughes cannot pitch at Yankees Stadium (6.02 home ERA). Also, Andy Pettitte has started to show his age this year. So, that leaves Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova as the only two reliable starters right now. That isn’t enough with this offense.

There is no reason that the Yankees should make the playoffs this year. If Jeter can lead the charge and take this team to the postseason it would be one of the greatest accomplishments of his illustrious career. The odds are stacked against him, but that is just the way Jeter likes it. With Jeter back in the fold, a movie that started out as bleak as the 2013 Yankees season now has a glimmer of hope for a happy ending.

Game 105 Lineup: Rays vs. Yankees

Well guess who’s back…again. Jeter’s back…again. Let’s hope he doesn’t injure himself…again. Anywhere, here’s the lineup…again! 

Brett Gardner CF
Derek Jeter SS
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Vernon Wells DH
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Brent Lillibridge 3B
David Adams 1B
Chris Stewart C

Phil Hughes RHP

Some Notes:

Jayson Nix was in the clubhouse today but he’s not being activated. Instead, he’s hoping to be activated Tuesday when the Yankees go to play the L.A. Dodgers.

— Nix also spoke about Curtis Granderson. Granderson is almost ready to come back to the majors and play some games according to Nix.

David Phelps was also in the clubhouse today. No word on when he returns.

Game 104 Lineup: Rays vs. Yankees

Well, last night didn’t work out as well as we wanted it to. Anyway, here’s today’s lineup. 

Brett Gardner CF
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano DH
Lyle Overbay 1B
Vernon Wells LF
Eduardo Nunez SS
Brent Lillibridge 3B
Chris Stewart C

RHP Ivan Nova

Some Notes:

Travis Hafner is going for an MRI on his shoulder. Maybe that explains his three month slump.

CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda took batting practice to prepare for the upcoming west coast swing. CC hit a HR during BP. Now if someone could actually do that during a game, that would be sweet.

Derek Jeter will do a simulated game today and he could return to the lineup as soon as tomorrow.

Morning Bits

Good morning everyone!

After a week off I am back at the keyboard but nothing much has changed in the world of the Yankees.

C.C. Sabathia threw more batting practice as the Yankees lost by a score of 10-3 to the Rays.

Sabathia allowed 7 earned runs on 9 hits and 3 walks over 5 innings and saw his ERA soar to 4.65, the highest of the Yankee rotation right now.

Alfonso Soriano returned to the Bronx last night and stranded 5 runners while going 0-5.

The Yankees and Rays will do battle again today in the Bronx at 1:05 PM ET in a game that will be televised by YES.  Chris Archer(5-3, 2.76 ERA) will face Ivan Nova(4-3, 3.66 ERA).

Now on to today’s news links:

Wally Matthews and Andrew Marchand of ESPNNY.com have this piece on the soap opera involving A-Rod.

Peter Botte and Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News report that Derek Jeter could be back in the Yankee lineup by Sunday.

Filip Bondy, also of the New York Daily News, points out that the Mets are playing better than the Yankees are right now and without the drama.

Have a great day everyone!

Game 103 Lineup: Rays vs. Yankees

Here is your starting lineup!

Brett Gardner CF
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Lyle Overbay 1B
Travis Hafner DH
Eduardo Nunez SS
Brent Lillibridge 3B
Austin Romine C

CC Sabathia LHP

Some Notes:

Derek Jeter will run the bases again today and will get checked out by a doctor before tomorrow’s game. If he’s cleared he can play tomorrow afternoon.

— The Yankees (obviously by the lineup) traded for Alfonso Soriano from the Cubs. The Yankees sent RHP Corey Black (who was in A-Ball) over to Chicago.

Yankees re-acquire Alfonso Soriano in trade w/Cubs

alfonso_soriano_by_cool_sports_players_1Next February, it will be an even ten years since the Yankees decided to trade for Rangers star shortstop Alex Rodriguez. At first, a deal with Boston was vetoed by the Commissioner’s Office, so Texas turned their attention to what New York had to offer.

Seeing the potential success A-Rod could bring to the team on and off the field, the Bombers parted with their fan favorite Dominican second baseman Alfonso Soriano, along with a player to be named later. That “PTBNL” ended up being infielder Joaquin Arias, selected from a pool of prospects that included international signee Robinson Cano.

To say the least, things haven’t quite worked out for the Yanks. However, they have now made a move to bring this controversial and monumental decade in franchise history full circle.

So, here it is. The Yankees have re-acquired Alfonso Soriano in a trade with the Chicago Cubs. Chicago has agreed to pay 18 of the 25 million dollars still owed to Soriano, and in exchange pitching prospect Corey Black will be heading to the Windy City.

“Sori” is a different player than he was when he last wore the pinstripes. No longer a speed demon, leadoff hitter, nor infielder, Soriano has played left field since his one and only season with the Washington Nationals in 2006. He has managed to stay mostly healthy throughout his career, as now at 37 years old Sori has been a lock for at least 20 home runs, 70 RBI, and a slugging percentage in the .400s each year.

So far in 2013, the seven-time All-Star is batting .254 with 17 home runs and 51 RBI, which instantly makes him the Yankees’ best [active] right-handed hitter. Yet, sabermetrics suggest this won’t be that big of a boost to the lineup (0.7 WAR, 100 wRC+). Defensively he is also a liability, perhaps even worse than Raul Ibanez who faked his way as an everyday left fielder in 2012.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Soriano’s deal runs through 2014, so he now joins Ichiro and Vernon Wells as another old, washed-up outfielder that is practically irremovable considering all the money owed to him by now both Chicago and the Yankees.

This is not to say Soriano can’t be a somewhat productive player for this year and next, but it’s unlikely he will be as productive as a younger, perhaps cheaper alternative (Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran, and Jason Kubel to name a few).

However in the interim, as in the rest of this season, this definitely will help out the Yankees lineup. They are desperately searching for power from the right side of the plate and it appears Soriano can provide that. He will likely bat in the middle of the order, and probably will DH more often than not with Vernon Wells still being a capable defensive outfielder.

But, this probably can’t won’t be a season-changing addition, and certainly without Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, [maybe A-Rod] and perhaps another bat via trade, this deal could go down as a useless one.

It will be nice to see an old face back in pinstripes, but it may be nothing more than that. Don’t expect an offensive turnaround with Soriano now in the fold; as mentioned it will take a lot more than him to get this team back into legitimate playoff contention.

Still, let’s all welcome back to the Yankees Alfonso Soriano. Hopefully he proves me wrong.

(UPDATE) Yankees close to re-acquiring Alfonso Soriano

Thursday, 8:00pm: According to Cubs manager Dale Sveum, the deal is “99%” complete, as Soriano has been scratched from the lineup and is saying his goodbyes. Reports say Chicago will pick up $25 million of Sori’s remaining $36 million on his contract. In exchange, the Yankees are rumored to be sending prospects Joel De La Cruz and Chase Whitley to the Windy City.

Tuesday, 12:00pm: Word broke late last night via the New York Post’s George King that the Yankees were close to trading for their former rookie sensation and current Chicago Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano. They would apparently surrender no more than a mid-level prospect, and Chicago would cover most of Soriano’s remaining contract (2 years, $36 million) that expires next season.

However, there are conflicting reports on the potential deal. Just read what Cubs GM Jed Hoyer had to say on MLB Network Radio earlier today:

Even if a deal is reached, Soriano has 10/5 rights and can veto a trade to any team. But, it’s been reported several times in the past few years that if a return to New York was on the table, Soriano would gladly accept. The 37-year old is currently batting .256 with 17 home runs, 51 RBI, and a .471 slugging percentage, a right-handed power bat which the Yankees have lacked all season.

Soriano was the Yankees’ starting second baseman from 2001-2003, but was dealt to the Texas Rangers in February of 2004 for – yep, you guessed it – Alex Rodriguez. As A-Rod faces another injury and a possible suspension, Alfonso Soriano coming back now would be irony at its finest.

We will update you as more news comes in.

What Would Soriano Bring to the Yankees?

Various reports over the last couple of days have indicated that the Yankees and Cubs have been engaged in talks about outfielder Alfonso Soriano. The latest report from Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago said that Soriano is willing to waive his no trade clause if he is dealt to the Yankees. The Cubs will reportedly pickup a huge chunk of the $36 million remaining on Soriano’s deal over the next two years and are only seeking a mid-level prospect. So, picking up Soriano does not appear like it will cost a ton, and he would instantly be the best right handed hitter on the Yankees.

Soriano has hit .254, with 17 home runs, 51 RBI, a .754 OPS and 100 wRC+. Those are not earth shattering numbers, but would represent a clear upgrade over what the Yankees are throwing out there. He would likely play a lot of DH and Travis Hafner’s roster spot could be in jeopardy in Soriano comes on board.

Yankees right-handed hitters had an absolutely egregious .589 OPS going into Tuesday’s game in Texas. Against, lefties that OPS falls to .564. Soriano has hit lefties very well this season with a .273/.310/.496/.806. The Yankees have not had a home run from a right-handed batter since Jayson Nix on June 25th. That is 331 at-bats. These awful numbers are why Soriano would represent such an upgrade.

Soriano has had a hot July with eight home runs and a .927 OPS. Going back to where he started his career with the Yankees could rejuvenate him for the stretch run of the season. His biggest problem is that he does not walk much at all, as his .287 OBP this season suggests. If he got fewer pitches to hit with little protection in this Yankees lineup than he might expand his strike zone and swing at poor pitches.

With the Yankees’ pursuit of Soriano it is clear that the Yankees consider themselves buyers. With them being only 3.5 games out of the second wild card spot that comes as no surprise. Selling could be considered an option with the current state of the Yankees, but unfortunately it is not something they will do unless they are hopelessly out of the race.

Soriano alone will certainly not be enough to make the Yankees a championship contending team. However, if they can add Soriano, another solid bat in the trade market, and Curtis Granderson that would be three good bats to go along with Robinson Cano and Brett Gardner. Anything that the Yankees get out of Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez would have to be considered a bonus, but it is realistic to expect the offense to improve a good deal if they can add Soriano, Granderson and another bat.

While the deal is fine for this year, next year the Yankees would have Ichiro Suzuki, Vernon Wells, Gardner and Soriano under contract. It would be better of the Yankees had more flexibility to improve their outfield. However, they could always just pay Wells off and cut him next year and use Soriano mostly at DH, so they could add another outfielder if they did those things.

Adding Soriano does not present much risk for the Yankees at all. However, if Soriano is the only player they add it will not matter much. They will need to acquire another quality bat to go with him and then maybe the Yankees would have a chance to be playing playoff baseball in October this season.

Game 102 Lineup: Yankees @ Rangers

Here we are! It’s the series finale! Here is your starting lineup!

Ichiro Suzuki RF
Brent Lillibridge 3B
Robinson Cano DH
Vernon Wells LF
Eduardo Nunez SS
David Adams 2B
Lyle Overbay 1B
Melky Mesa CF
Austin Romine C

Game 101 – Rangers vs. Yankees

Regular Season Game 101
Texas Rangers (55-45) vs. New York Yankees (53-47)
Rangers Ballpark in Arlington – Arlington, Texas
TV/Radio: YES/WCBS 880
8:05pm EST

YANKEES:
Brett Gardner CF
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Lyle Overbay 1B
Vernon Wells DH
Eduardo Nunez SS
Brent Lillibridge 3B
Melky Mesa LF
Chris Stewart C

Pitching: Andy Pettitte, LHP

RANGERS:

Ian Kinsler 2B
Elvis Andrus SS
Nelson Cruz RF
Adrian Beltre 3B
A.J. Pierzynski DH
Jeff Baker LF
Mitch Moreland 1B
Geovany Soto C
Craig Gentry CF

Pitching: Matt Garza, RHP *Rangers debut

Now for some news + notes…

– Curtis Granderson (broken pinky) is set to begin a rehab assignment tomorrow with the High-A Tampa Yankees. Jayson Nix (oblique) played five innings at third base today with them, going 0-2. It is believed both will return soon.

– Outfielder Alfonso Soriano was is not in the Cubs’ lineup tonight in an effort to “clear his head”, amid all the trade rumors. The Yankees are still trying to work out a trade for their former second baseman, and it appears Soriano is willing to return to New York should a deal go down. When asked if he would use his no-trade clause to prevent being dealt to the Yanks, Sori said, “No, no, no, no.” Chicago reporters are putting the chances of a deal happening at 75%.

– Finally, as it is too big of a story to ignore, here is a statement from Yankees GM Brian Cashman on the latest news regarding Alex Rodriguez.

A-Rod’s Doctor Denies Quad Injury

Dr. Michael Gross, the personal doctor for Alex Rodriguez, went on with Mike Francesa of WFAN 660 and said that he saw nothing wrong with Rodriguez’s quad on the MRI.

Rodriguez clearly tried to force the Yankees’ hand because he believes that they are doing everything in their power to keep him from playing. He went against the wishes of the Yankees to get a second opinion from Dr. Gross against their wishes to put the ball back in their court.  Rodriguez is trying to prove that he wants to play and any reports of him wanting to retire before MLB can suspend him ans cash out are false.

Right now the Yankees are looking very bad in this. Their reaction to Rodriguez being ready to play should be joy considering the trash they have had playing third base this year. However, their have been reports that the Yankees are looking to discipline him for getting a second opinion against their wishes. It should be about putting the best players on the field, but right now that does not seem to be the first priority.

Here is the audio of Dr. Gross with Francesa courtesy of @WFANAUDIO. This seems to be only the beginning of this.

http://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otKj7tH1JCY&feature=youtu.be

 

Game 100 – Rangers vs. Yankees

Regular Season Game 100
Texas Rangers (55-44) vs. New York Yankees (52-47)
Rangers Ballpark in Arlington – Arlington, Texas
TV/Radio: MY9/WCBS 880
8:05pm EST

YANKEES:
Brett Gardner CF
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Lyle Overbay 1B
Vernon Wells DH
Eduardo Nunez SS
Brent Lillibridge 3B
Melky Mesa LF
Austin Romine C

Pitching: Phil Hughes, RHP

RANGERS:

Ian Kinsler 2B
Jurickson Profar 3B
Nelson Cruz RF
Adrian Beltre DH
A.J. Pierzynski C
Elvis Andrus SS
Mitch Moreland 1B
Craig Gentry CF
Engel Beltre LF

Pitching: Alexi Ogando, RHP

Game 98 Lineup: Red Sox vs. Yankees

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

LHP CC Sabathia

Morning Bits

Brian Cashman’s full “genius” was on display last night as the Yankees and their 230 million dollar payroll fell to the Red Sox by a score of 4-2.

After Brett Gardner was ejected for a display of anger following a laughable third strike called by home plate umpire Mike Everitt(whose mother had no children that lived) and Zoilo Almonte was injured, the Yankee lineup was the following: Alberto Gonzalez, Ichiro Suzuki, Robinson Cano, Vernon(The Disease) Wells, Luis Cruz, Lyle Overbay, Brent Lillibridge, Eduardo Nunez, and Chris Stewart.

Have the Yankees been impacted by injuries? Of course, but that doesn’t excuse Cashman’s complete and total failure as far as drafting and development goes since he took over that phase of the Yankees’ operation in 2006.  It also doesn’t excuse the fact that the last trade the GM of the world’s greatest franchise won was when he dealt for Nick Swisher in 2008.   It was obvious that the Yankees had an aging team a few years ago but Cashman did nothing to look to the future and even worse chose the wrong “old guys” to acquire this year.  Trading for Vernon(The Disease) Wells and agreeing to pay him 12 million dollars this year may be one of the all-time worst moves ever made by any GM and there he was batting cleanup last night.  Wells has an OBP of .279 this season to go along with his slugging percentage of  .370.

Cashman’s inability to make good trades is a serious issue. Rival GM’s know the position that Cashman is in right now and will be looking to pick his pocket as the trade deadline approaches.  The most serious issue is that by the time July 31st comes, the Yankees may be totally out of contention and at that point a fire sale might be in order.  At this point a total makeover might be the way to go and many fans would be in support of a management decision to do that, but not with Cashman at the helm.  Does anyone alive really trust Cashman to get the best value back for players like Gardner or even Cano if the Yankees choose to rebuild?

Andy Pettitte ran his streak of games where the opponent scored at least 4 runs off of him to 7 games in a row and 8 of his last 9.  It’s hard to watch him struggle like this.

The Yankees and Red Sox will do battle again at 4:05 PM ET with Hiroki Kuroda(8-6, 2.65 ERA) doing battle with John Lackey(7-6, 2.78 ERA).  The game will be televised by Fox.

Now on to today’s news links:

The USA Today has this article about Derek Jeter going back on the DL.

Roger Rubin and Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News write about the Red Sox thanking NY for their support of the City of Boston during hard times.

Andrew Marchand of ESPNNY.com says the Yankees and Brett Gardner were sorry last night.

Have a great day everyone!