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:
@yankees it’s been real…
— Clay Rapada (@pada5something) March 31, 2013
It was a good year.. But it is a business I appreciate the opportunity to pitch in the NY.. Fans are tough but awesome.Can’t predict future
— Clay Rapada (@pada5something) March 31, 2013
3. The Yankees have finally released their 25-man roster. Here’s the roster for tomorrow:
In a little less than three weeks, the Yankees will begin their home-opener against the Boston Red Sox with CC Sabathia on the mound. However, this year’s Opening Day lineup might be a little different than what we’re used to due to all of the injuries the Yankees were plagued with during the 2013 season. The Yankees are missing Curtis Granderson (broken forearm), Mark Teixeira (strained forearm) and Alex Rodriguez (hip surgery) in their offense which is sure to look like the ‘Robinson Cano Show’ for the first month and a half. But with still some time to go, just how are the Yankees shaping up as they prepare for the season?
The Yankees lineup has many question marks after losing so many players to free agency and injuries. The bats of Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, Raul Ibanez and Eric Chavez will be with different ball clubs, while we will most likely have to wait for Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson to return to their post in early to mid-May. However, the lineup hasn’t looked as puzzling as it did when Spring Training started. The Yankees proved that they can manufacture runs by using a key element that they possess: speed. Players like Brett Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki and Eduardo Nunez are capable of getting on base, going station to station on their own before a key teammate has to drive them in with an RBI. Speed will play an important part this season since the Yankees have lost over 100 home runs than in season’s past. But just because the Yankees are relying on speed, it doesn’t mean we should start calling them the ‘Bronx Bunters’. They will still find a way to hit home runs with Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira making their way back into the starting lineup.
Throughout the course of Spring Training, the starting pitching has been one early glimpse of how our starters will perform during the 2013 season. It looks as if they left off from last season. Hiroki Kuroda looks to be in mid-season form, David Phelps has a 0.63 ERA 14 Spring appearances Ivan Nova has an ERA of 1. Andy Pettitte has still proven that his pitches are effective although he’s the oldest starting pitcher in Major League Baseball. And as expected, there is no concern over CC Sabathia, whatsoever. The starting pitching looks to be one of the Yankees strong points like it was in season’s past. Let’s hope that the pitching can carry the Yanks this season.
The Yankees bullpen was another one of their key pieces that helped define the Yankees last season. With pitchers such as David Robertson, Boone Logan, Clay Rapada and Joba Chamberlain, it seemed like an easy task to get the ball to the 9th inning before handing it off to the greatest closer of all time, Mariano Rivera. Last season’s bullpen dynamic was different since there was no Mariano in the bullpen due to an ACL injury, giving the Yankees a glimpse of what it would look like if Mariano Rivera wasn’t there. With Rafael Soriano, the Yankees were able to still close games with a dominant force but this year there is no Rafael Soriano. Mariano Rivera plans to retire after the 2013 season, which gives Yankees fans one last look of the greatest closer before he hangs up his cleats and says goodbye to the game. The bullpen is expected to be a strong part of the Yankees once again, and from Spring observations, I wouldn’t be surprised if Shawn Kelley and David Phelps get spots in the bullpen. With both of their arms this spring, the Yankees bullpen could become an iron gate to prevent runs from scoring.
There’s only 17 days until Opening Day so from now until Spring Training is over, it would be a good time to start watching the games to see who has a legitimate shot of making the team. And from what I’ve seen all Spring so far, there are quite a few who have a chance to go north.
Ir seems to me that things aren’t turning out the way the Yankees planned during Spring Training. However, we have to remember a couple of things before we get crazy about the standings (which we shouldn’t be doing).
1. The Yankees Major League starting pitchers haven’t even been in a game so far.
2. The Yankees hitters have only went about 5-6 innings before getting taken out.
3. It’s Spring Training. Almost everyone’s rusty.
However, it would be nice to see the Yankees win a game or two. Let’s break down the good (and bad) that came out of each game. That seems like an easier way to recap the split-squad games.
Blue Jays vs. Yankees
Gardner & Ichiro are locked in: If the season started today, Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki wouldn’t mind. At all. Both of them as of right now are easily the best hitters on the team, with both of their batting averages over .500. Gardner went 1-for-3 today, now successfully hitting in four-straight games. Ichiro also had a 1-for-3 day, extending his hitting streak. It’s nice to know that out of the gate the two speedsters are ready for the 2013 season. Now if everyone else behind them can catch up, that would be great.
Clay Rapada is unstoppable (and undefeated): Clay Rapada had the quickest 1-2-3 inning, that if you went to the kitchen to get a glass of water and come back, the inning would be over due to his sheer brilliance on the mound. There’s also an interesting fact that YES gave about Rapada: He’s been in 148 games and his overall record is 8-0 in the Majors. That means that Clay Rapada has never lost a game in his Major League career. Never. Ever. Just judging by today’s game, I would already have a nice roster spot for Mr. Rapada. He looked in mid-season form.
Chris Stewart ejected: Chris Stewart only had one at-bat. And that one-at bat would be the last at-bat that he would have on the day. He hit into a bang-bang play at first base. YES instant replay showed Stewart’s foot touched the bag before the ball went into the first baseman’s glove. However, Marty Foster called him out. Stewart said something and then was ejected from the game, making him the first ejection of the Spring. Just so you know, Spring Training ejections don’t happen very often, so that must mean Marty Foster in in mid-season form.
David Phelps pitches strong: David Phelps had another strong outing, going 3 innings, giving up 2 hits, 1 walk and 1 strikeout. Phelps’ future with the Yankees could be either one of two things at this point: he could either be in the rotation, taking the 5th spot from Ivan Nova, or he could be in the bullpen, helping out in later innings. I don’t see him going back to the minor leagues, at all.
Yankees vs. Astros:
Melky Mesa has great game: The young CF looks to be in the front running of who could take Curtis Granderson‘s job for the next 4-6 weeks after the big day he had at the plate. The young CF went 2-for-3 with 3 RBI’s on the day. I wonder what John Sterling’s HR call would be for the young OF if he ever had a chance to play on the big league club–and if he homered.
Nunez helmet won’t stay on: Another day, another chance to see Eduardo Nunez‘s helmet fall off his head. Just as I had hoped that Nunez would be able to keep the helmet on while running down the first baseline, it came off when he hit a lead-off single in the first inning. Maybe someone should add a chin strap or get him a helmet like Francisco Cervelli‘s. That way it can’t come off.
Cervelli’s strong day behind the plate: Speaking of the young catcher, Cervelli had a great day behind the plate, throwing out two runners who were attempting to steal. Offensively, he went 0-for-3. Maybe it didn’t help that Chris Stewart was ejected because judging by what happened today, it looks like Cervelli took the lead in the catching competition.
Marshall has a good start: Another Brett on the Yankees ball-club had a great day as well, and his name is Brett Marshall. Through three innings, he struck out three and only allowed one hit. Now that is some impressive numbers from the young starter, who is one of the few players actually impressing this Spring Training.
— The Phillies will take the drive from Clearwater to Tampa in order to play the Yankees at GMS Field tomorrow. Robinson Cano is expected to be in the lineup tomorrow and Saturday before leaving on Sunday for the World Baseball Classic. The game will be at 1:05 p.m. on the YES Network.
It had been a long, trying season for the Yankees where so much has happened. Yankees have lost Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, at a point lost Brett Gardner, David Robertson, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, suffered through hitting slumps by Russell Martin, Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson and a surprisingly good regular season by Nick Swisher. But the Yankees didn’t realize that the season doesn’t end after 162 games and fell flat against the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS and will now spend their offseason trying to piece it all together. The Yankees have to make decisions before the 2013 offseason, but if you were the GM of the Yankees who would you keep and who would you dump? Infield
Right around the corner is the most exciting time of the year for any team—the postseason. While there are teams that have clinched their spot in the postseason, there are teams like the Yankees that are so close to clinching that they could taste it. However, they still have to battle to stay in 1st place in the American League East. While it is almost certain that the Yankees will be in another postseason, the Yankees have other things on their minds as in after they clinch a spot. What will they be doing? They will be preparing their 2012 ALDS roster (if they are in first place by the end of the season). After observing the Yankees for a while, I decided to compile a list of who would make the 25-man roster for the ALDS series against what looks to be the Detroit Tigers. (Statistics are as of the morning of September 28, 2012).
Derek Jeter (2012 Season: .318 AVG, 15 HR, 57 RBI): Of course, you cannot be in the postseason without the Captain Derek Jeter. Jeter has had a phenomenal year and will end the year with an average over .300. The last time Jeter finished with an average over .300 was in 2009. How did that end out for the Yankees? Jeter had silenced the critics and had done his thing, but can he continue into the postseason and lead the Yankees to another championship?
Robinson Cano (2012 Season: .300 AVG, 30 HR, 82 RBI): Robinson Cano is one of the best second baseman in the game and he knows how to hit. While Cano has been up and down this year, he has been consistent defensively and can help Yankees pitching by preserving runs and getting double plays with a flick of a wrist. He makes that pivot to first base better than any second baseman than I have seen. Cano was one of the very few Yankees who had a hot bat during last year’s ALDS (along with Jorge Posada and Brett Gardner respectively), so it would be nice to see Cano get on a tear.
Mark Teixeira (2012 Season: .255 AVG, 23 HR, 81 RBI): Comparing Teixeira’s numbers from 2011 and from this year, this year has not been Teixeira’s best. But can you blame the guy? He has been sidelined with a Grade 1 strained calf. While he will make the roster for the play-offs, I doubt he will be 100 percent healthy. Teixeira also is one of the few culprits that seem to mysteriously lose his hitting talents in the play-offs. He needs to have a hot and consistent bat in the play-offs or else it could be an early exit for the Yankees—again.
Alex Rodriguez (2012 Season: .276 AVG, 18 HR, 56 RBI): Now, if the stats were for another player say maybe Eduardo Nunez, Chris Dickerson or Brett Gardner that would be a hell of a year. Unfortunately, it is for the guy that the Yankees gave a lucrative contract that last for another 5 years and did not hit the way that the Yankees were expecting. A-Rod is going to make the roster…but all season he has looked terribly lost at the plate. He is also another culprit that has not hit in the postseason in recent years (no, I am not counting 2009). A-Rod needs to get his act together and very quickly or else…you know. A first round exit for the Yankees.
Russell Martin (2012 Season: .209 AVG, 19 HR, 49 RBI): So this hasn’t been Russell Martin’s best year offensively (the 19 HR’s make the .209 AVG look less hideous) but the reason he makes the postseason roster is because of his defense. He also has been heating up at the plate as of late which means he could be on a tear any day now. He also was the only one that did not look lost during the ugly 6-0 loss to the Blue Jays on Thursday night, cranking 2 hits off Morrow. Martin could add to the offense, which could be something that the Yankees need.
Looking ahead is not a bad thing. The Yankees looked ahead when it came to releasing the 2013 schedule, so why not look ahead to see who could be on the field when you go to a game in 2013. Here is how I picture the Yankees having their alignment of players in 2013.
Let us start in the outfield, shall we? In left field, we have none other than the Yankees speedster Brett Gardner (2012: .321 AVG, 0 HR, 3 RBI). Now keep in mind that Gardner has only played in nine games and was shut down for the duration of the season due to elbow surgery. Gardner is a catalyst for the Yankees and plays the game Joe Girardi hates to play–small ball. He gets on base, he steals, he bunts and he is one of the best defensive players in baseball. Gardner is arbitration eligible so do not expect there to be much of a fight since Gardner has not played most of the year.
In center field, we have another speedster but he is known for his power bat, Curtis Granderson (2012: .233 AVG, 37 HR, 89 RBI). 2013 is Granderson’s free agent year and after the Kevin Long tutorial in 2010; Granderson has become a home run hitter. Now, Granderson does not hit for singles or doubles (note the .233 average) but he is a power bat, which is something the Yankees could use in the heart of the lineup. What happens after 2013, we do not know but—at least the Yanks could see Granderson’s bat in the lineup in 2013.
In right field, you may be a bit surprised by my choice but I believe Nick Swisher (2012: .258 AVG, 20 HR, 78 RBI) will be in Yankees pinstripes in 2013. Now, why do I think Swisher will be a Yankee? Because along with Swisher’s good bat in the lineup, he has a charming and bubbly personality that would be sorely missed if he ever left the team. The Yankees were a serious bunch before Swisher came along and now the team seems livelier. Swisher has left an imprint on the team—but if Swisher signs with the Yanks, he cannot expect a $100 Million contract. We are still recovering from 3 of those.
In the infield, we have of course the third baseman Alex Rodriguez (2012: .276 AVG, 17 HR, 50 RBI). A-Rod this season is not A-Rod but he has come back a hot hitter since getting off the DL. In addition, A-Rod is stuck with the Yankees until his contract expires in 2018 (Yikes).
At shortstop, we have the Captain Derek Jeter (2012: .323 AVG, 15 HR, 53 RBI) who becomes a free agent in 2014. There is not much to explain about Jeter except for the fact he is having his best year average wise since 2009.
At second base, there is the young Robinson Cano (2012: .299 AVG, 30 HR, 77 RBI) who is by far the Yankees best player. He plays second base so smoothly and has a great pop to his bat. For a person who does not think he has home run power—he is mistaken. He is a home run hitter. That is all.
Finally, to round out the infield, we have Mark Teixeira (2012: .255 AVG, 23 HR, 81 RBI). Teixeira is stuck with us until 2017 and even if the Yankees wanted to trade Teixeira (they do not), they cannot because of Teixeira’s no trade clause. We might as well make the best of it so Tex…we are going to need lots of game winning and World Series winning HR’s until then.
It’s that time of the month again where we decide which Yankees were at the top of their class and which Yankees just didn’t make the grade in July’s Yankees Report Card. After a stellar June, the Yankees had a so-so July but some Yankees players that were struggling really improved their game and earned a higher grade. If you don’t agree with the grade that any Yankee gets, put the grade that you believe they deserve in the comment section below. Now, onto grading those Yankees!
Derek Jeter (A): Derek Jeter was on fire in the month of July, hitting a .346 average with 37 hits and 7 doubles. Jeter doesn’t hit for power (he only has 1 HR in July) but he has been able to get on base so his fellow teammates can make some damage. Maybe Jeter can continue his hot-streak in August. I know one thing–Derek Jeter is not too old to play baseball.
Curtis Granderson (B+): Curtis Granderson only had a .245 average this month, but he has been the one that has helped pick up this team with 5 HR’s, 10 RBI’s, 2 doubles and 2 triples. Granderson is now required to pair up with Robinson Cano to supply power since A-Rod is currently on the disabled list but if there is anyone that can do it, it’s Curtis Granderson (also, he might be interested in hitting a HR whenever he can since he gets rewarded with ice pops.)
Mark Teixeira (A+): Mark Teixeira had his best month in the month of July with a .298 average. He also had 7 HR’s, 14 RBI’s, 12 walks, 5 doubles and a triple. Teixeira would have normally have gotten an A, but after hitting a HR off Vicente Padilla during the Yankees/Red Sox series, Teixeira deserved a higher mark for 2 reasons. One, he was the bigger man in their rivalry and two, what other way can you say don’t mess with me by hitting a 2 run homer that temporarily tied the game?
Alex Rodriguez (A): The month of July was A-Rod’s best month average wise with a .314 average. His HR and RBI numbers had slightly decreased from June since he only had 2 HR’s, 9 RBI’s, 5 doubles, 1 triple and 1 walk. It seemed as if A-Rod was getting everything together–until Felix Hernandez took that all away with one pitch that hit him in the wrist, thus forcing him to go on the DL for 6-8 weeks. Yankees may not see A-Rod until the end of September, but the Yankees were able to add depth by trading Chad Qualls for Casey McGhee. Let’s see how A-Rod returns: will he be the one that the Yankees can rely on, or will he get into his early season funk once again.
Robinson Cano (A): Robbie Cano has been the one that had carried the Yankees to first place, he had been the one that carried them when they were struggling (even when he was struggling himself) and Robbie Cano continues to carry this team with a .314 average. Cano had 4 HR’s, 14 RBI’s, 5 walks and 6 doubles which proves that even when Robbie gets base hits, a lot of them count for something. Let’s hope Robbie can continue his streak in August (we know he will, he’s Robbie Cano!)
Nick Swisher (B-): Nick Swisher didn’t hit for average in the month of July, only hitting .222 but he could have done more if he wasn’t injured with a strained muscle near his hip. Swisher hit 2 HR’s, 8 RBI’s, and hit 3 doubles all in 63 at-bats. When Nick Swisher is healthy, he is able to change his team. When he’s not healthy, then–the team somewhat misses him. But with Ichiro Suzuki possibly vying for a right field spot next season and this being Swisher’s walk year, he might want to consider getting on a gigantic hot streak. But–Swisher’s smile and personality might win his teammates, the fans and the front office over.
Raul Ibanez (B): One of the best acquisitions of the 2012 season has to have been Raul Ibanez and he continues to prove that he is an important piece to the Yankees bench. In the month of July, Ibanez hit .279 which is his second best month (May was .288). Ibanez has 3 HR’s, 10 RBI’s, 5 walks, and 4 doubles. The one flaw this month from Ibanez was that he struck out 17 times which was the most he struck out in a month this season. As long as Ibanez hit’s HR’s for power, then I don’t care.
Russell Martin (D): Russell Martin continues to struggle at the plate which is making the Yankees scratch their heads. Martin hit .183 in the month of July which means his average is still below the Mendoza line. Martins’ best month? May with a .203 average. I know the Yankees aren’t expecting much out of Russell Martin, but the least he could do is hit! Is it too much to ask? Hopefully August he’ll turn it around?
Andruw Jones (B-): Andruw Jones didn’t hit for average this month, but he played an important part for the Yankees in July. While Jones only hit .218 in the month of May, he did have 5 HR’s, 11 RBI’s, 2 walks and 2 doubles. Jones is an important part to the Yankees when he plays and although his average doesn’t say much, he is always doing something to help his team win.
Chris Stewart (B-): Chris Stewart has been a delightful surprise for the Yankees due to his catching skills and his ability to call a ballgame. Although his bat is nothing to ‘ahh’ over, he has done everything the Yankees wanted (and he has a higher batting average than the primary catcher Russell Martin). Yep, I think that Chris Stewart is going to fit in quite nicely around here.
Jayson Nix (B): Jayson Nix is another pleasant surprise for the Yankees, since he is doing exactly what the Yankees wanted. He plays great defense, he gets base hits when they matter and in July, Nix has shown power. Nix hit 2 HR’s and has 6 RBI’s in the month of July which means when it’s up to him, ‘Nix Knocks’.
Eric Chavez (B+): Chavez continues to prove just how important he is to the Yankees bench and once again, he has done what he has to do. In July he hit a .264 average with 4 HR’s, 9 RBI’s and 7 walks. Chavez is another Yankee that proves that age isn’t anything but a number. Let’s keep it up Chavez, shall we?
CC Sabathia (B-): For the ace of the Yankees, this wasn’t exactly the month that CC Sabathia was hoping for. After being on the disabled list in late June-early July, CC hasn’t exactly came back into form yet. For the month of July he holds a 4.26 ERA and a 1-0 record (he has 2 no decisions). In good news he only gave up 9 runs this month which was his low point during the year. The Yankees expect to see their ace back in August–and we are sure CC expects to see himself return to form as well.
Hiroki Kuroda (B-): Hiroki Kuroda has had worst months in the past, so looking at his numbers here it was pretty good. In the month of July, Kuroda has a 2-0 record and a 3.60 ERA. The good news is that he’s 2-0. The bad? In the month of July he gave up 15 runs (14 of them were earned, but they all count in the game). Kuroda isn’t supposed to be lights out, but he has to get better at stranding runners when there is an error.
Ivan Nova (D): Ivan Nova is usually one of the Yankees youngest and brightest stars on this team, which is why I don’t understand how he could have a 5.97 ERA in the month of July. Nova had seemed to have been getting it together last month, but this month makes everyone question what’s wrong with Nova. Is something wrong with his mechanics? Is he not hitting spots because he’s concerend that the might get hit hard? And why did he give up 27 runs (23 earned)? Nova has to do better in August because if he doesn’t then he could quickly find himself back at Scranton. Remember–he has options.
Freddy Garcia (B-): Now, we aren’t expecting Freddy Garcia to throw shut-outs in each and every game. It’s not going to happen. But the month of July has been a solid month for Garcia after having a 2-3 record and a 4.00 ERA. I know what you’re thinking, a 2-3 record is not solid. It should be if this team is the Yankees. In the 3 starts that he lost, he had given up no more than 4 runs. After going from the bullpen to the starting rotation, Garcia has done okay, but he’s doing well enough to stay in the rotation.
Phil Hughes (B): Phil Hughes has easily been the Yankees best starter in the month of July with a 2-2 record and a 3.09 ERA. Although Hughes’s issue is the home run ball (He gave up 6), he really has done a fantastic job for the Yankees and is definetely looking like the Phil Hughes of 2010. Also, his ERA as a whole is 3.96 which is much better than where he started the season at.
Cody Eppley (B+): In the beginning of the year, it would have been very easy to send Cody Eppley back to Triple A because the Yankees knew they could, but that isn’t the case now. In the month of July, Eppley has a 2.53 ERA while only giving up 4 runs (3 earned) in 10.2 innings pitched. Eppley has become such an important part of the bullpen and is trusted in preserving leads and getting out of situations with his right handed sidearm motion. As we all know, Eppley has been doing his job and he’s fantastic at it.
Clay Rapada (B): We can’t really grade Clay Rapada since he only pitched 4.2 innings in the month of July (the Yankees haven’t really needed him) but only giving up 2 runs isn’t all that bad. Rapada is still an excellent complementary pitcher to Cody Eppley (Rapada has a left handed sidearm motion), and without him the Yankees would only have 1 lefty in the bullpen (Mr. Boone Logan).
David Phelps (A+): The incredible David Phelps has done so much for the Yankees since he came back from Triple-A to get more work in. Phelps in July was known as the pitcher to give the Yankees some length when one of the starters only made it 5-6 innings, and he has stopped the Yankees opponents stone cold. In 13.1 IP, he has a 0.68 ERA while giving up 1 run on 4 hits with 21 strikeouts. Now, I don’t know who the other David Phelps with a 7.36 ERA in June is, but this is more like the David Phelps that we all know.
Boone Logan (D): Boone Logan is easily one of my favorite Yankees (we share the same birthday, so what’s not to like) but no matter how much I like him, I don’t like his numbers for the month of July. In July he has a 9.95 ERA which means in 6.1 IP he gave up 7 runs on 8 hits. That sounds like the starts that some of the starting pitchers have been having, and it’s not pretty. Hopefully Logan can get it together this month and if he can’t–then he’ll just be the lefty that no one can count on, and we don’t want that now do we?
David Robertson (A): David Robertson is once again back into form for the Yankees in the month of July after what seemed like he struggled after coming off the disabled list. Robertson in the month of July had a 1.54 ERA which easily means that Robertson is the pitcher the Yankees can count on before giving the ball to Rafael Soriano. We expect great things from you in August Mr. Robertson but please, can we ease up on the Houdini tricks? They are bound to give someone a heart attack.
Rafael Soriano (A): This hasn’t been Rafael Soriano’s best month but it certaintly wasn’t his worst. He was 9/10 for saves and even the great Mariano Rivera isn’t perfect when it comes to save situations. Soriano has been the most consistent in the bullpen which is why he is the best go-to person for the Yankees. Also, when he complete’s saves I really enjoy when he untucks his shirt to celebrate a Yankees win, and I’m sure a lot of Yankees fans enjoy it as well.
Brian Cashman has done an incredible this season of finding great players to produce that he got at a minimal cost. Guys like Andruw Jones, Raul Ibanez, Eric Chavez, Jayson Nix, Cody Eppley, Boone Logan, Clay Rapada, and now Ichiro Suzuki have done a great job in their roles. While these players have all been very good contributors to the Yankees they all have one thing in common. They’re all either platoon players or OOGY pitchers. This really hampers what Joe Girardi is able to do late in games. Yes, sometimes he over manages, but this roster configuration doesn’t do him any favors.
A perfect example of how having too many platoon players can hamper Girardi occurred in Wednesday’s win over Seattle. With the Yankees down 2-1 in the 8th Raul Ibanez was due up against a lefty with the bases loaded and 1 out. None of Girardi’s options in this situation were good at all. Ibanez has been on base a grand total of 7 times this season against lefties in 35 AB’s. He is batting .171, with 0 HR’s, 0 RBI, and a .452 OPS. Girardi’s only option to avoid using Ibanez in that spot was to pinch hit for Jayson Nix and most likely have Seattle manager Eric Wedge bring in a righty to face him. It worked out as Nix hit a bases clearing double, but Girardi was really handcuffed in that situation, as Nix was only 1-20 against righties this year prior to that AB. The same situation came up the previous game with Ibanez up against a lefty with the game on the line. This time Jones was available on the bench and Girardi should have went with him against the righty, but that situation is not really ideal either.
I probably noticed this more on this west coast trip due to Nick Swisher being out and Jones and Ibanez both having to play even more, but even with Swisher back the Yankees will be very vulnerable to left handed pitching with Alex Rodriguez out. A-Rod was the only right handed power player the Yankees have other than Jones and Mark Teixeira when he bats righty. Those fans who were booing him before will learn the lesson the hard way about what life is like without him. Losing a middle of the order guy with a team that is weak at the bottom of the order hurts greatly. Chavez is a fine replacement if he can stay healthy but he won’t be able to hit lefties and Jayson Nix will have to. I had no issues with the Ichiro pickup before A-Rod got hurt. He will be a very nice fill in for Brett Gardner and would have been a nice addition to the bottom of the order. Now he may have to hit lead off. He has very nice road numbers this year and getting out of Safeco Field and into a pennant race should revive him. However, if Cashman knew A-Rod was going to be out he might have tried to get somebody who could hit lefties as Ichiro is only hitting .236, with 0 HR’s, 8 RBI, and a .510 OPS against them. So now you have Ichiro, Chavez, and Ibanez who can’t hit lefties. You also have Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson who have not been as good against them this year as last year. This all leaves them very vulnerable against lefties late in games and there is not anything Girardi can do about it.
The Yankees also have a similar problem in the bullpen. The Yankees have 3 OOGY pitchers in Logan, Eppley, and Rapada. They also have one guy in Chad Qualls who can’t get anybody out. The 3 OOGY pitchers have been great at what they do but that is what they’re limited to. So at the moment 4 of your 7 bullpen players are either OOGY’s or are incapable of getting anybody out. Fortunately, Joba Chamberlain has been lights out in the minors and should be coming to the Yankees real soon. He is a non OOGY pitcher who should be able to help solve this problem. You like to be able to matchup in the bullpen but you also like to have guys who can get both lefties and righties out so you do not have to burn through so many pitchers.
Here’s a new monthly article I like to call the Yankees Report Card. Every month based on the Yankees performances (pitchers included), I will give them a letter grade from A-F and explain why they got the grade they deserved. If there is a grade that you might not agree with, place the grade that you would have given a player down in the comment section below. All stats are as of June 26.
Derek Jeter (B): Derek Jeter’s bat hasn’t been as hot as it was in April & May since his average is .240 in the month of June. However, Jeter hit 2 home runs in the month of June (He’s not a HR hitter so it’s remarkable) and he has 7 RBI’s. It also helps that he kept his average over .300 for the past 3 months. A downside as to why Jeter didn’t get a higher grade? He struck out 17 times.
Curtis Granderson (B-): Curtis Granderson’s average for June is .211, but of course we all know Curtis Granderson isn’t hitting for average. In the month of June, Granderson hit 5 home runs, drove in 14 RBI’s and walked 13 times in the month of June. Granderson’s strikeouts are however a little outrageous. He struck out 29 times in June which brings his total for the season so far to 86.
Mark Teixeira (B): Again, it looks as if Mark Teixeira isn’t hitting for average since he’s batting .241 in the month of June. Instead Tex is hitting for power and RBI’s. Although he’s only hit 3 HR’s, he’s driven in 13 runs and walked 13 times. He also doesn’t struck out a lot since he’s only done it 14 times. Teixeira also has been hitting with RISP lately which was why I bumped his average from a B- (which was his original grade) to a B.
Alex Rodriguez (B): Alex Rodriguez hit only .225 in the month of June, but he hit 6 HR’s, drove in 15 runs and walked 11 times. Although A-Rod is looking a little hotter at the plate, June wasn’t his best month. May was. If he keeps hitting home runs that help win games then he’ll continue to pass on his report card.
Robinson Cano (A): Robinson Cano’s bat in the month of June is “muy caliente”. After a slow start to the season, Cano is batting .325 in the month of June while also hitting 9 HR’s, driving in 16 RBI’s and walking 12 times. It seems to me with the 9 HR’s that Cano is hitting, he’s practicing for the Home Run Derby. Well then by all means, you don’t need the practice, but keep hitting them anyway Robbie. Chicks dig the long ball.
Nick Swisher (A): June has been Nick Swisher’s best month by far with a .338 average. Swisher hit 4 HR’s, drove in 14 RBI’s and walked 10 times. Not only that, but Swisher has been making great plays in the outfield. Swisher makes watching him play in right field fun, and not only that but you can’t help but get a smile on your face just by watching Swisher play with a smile on his face.
Raul Ibanez (C-): In the month of June, Raul Ibanez has seemed to have faltered a bit after having a good April and May. In June, Ibanez is hitting .169 with 2 HR’s & 7 RBI’s. He also has only walked once. The good we can take away from this is that he only struck out 8 times. That’s something, right?
Russell Martin (D+): Well, June has been Martin’s best month so far–but the numbers are still pretty bad. Martin’s batting .217 in June with 4 HR’s & 9 RBI’s. The only reason he doesn’t get lower than a D+ is because he knows how to call games, but hitting the baseball is just as important as calling a game Russell. Maybe July will be your month?
Andruw Jones (D+): Andruw Jones hasn’t played a lot in June–but that’s no excuse for doing almost absolutely nothing at the plate. Jones only hit 2 HR’s & drove in 4 runs in 34 at-bats. His average is also at .206. He doesn’t get an F however because he does do well in the outfield when he’s in there but seriously Andruw, where’s the power?
Chris Stewart (B): Chris Stewart has 8 at-bats less than Andruw Jones and he has been able to do more with his at-bats. Stewart is batting .306 in June and has driven in 4 RBI’s but don’t expect the ball to go out of the park with him. He also is known for calling great games and his defense is good (I know he made a mistake in the Mets series finale game but come on, everyone makes mistakes). Stewart always does something when he plays which is probably why Cashman and Girardi thought it made most sense to go to him as a backup catcher. Well, wherever you got him from, don’t return him. He’s awesome.
Jayson Nix (B-): Nix hasn’t gotten a lot of at-bats in the month of June, but he has been able to get on base with a .263 average in June. Nix has no homers or RBI’s but he’s a bench player so it’s understandable. Whatever you’re doing to get on base Nix, don’t stop.
Eric Chavez (B): Eric Chavez is another one of those bench guys that is always doing something amazing (when he’s not injured). Chavez has a .294 average in June with 2 HR’s & 4 RBI’s but what really makes him deserve a B is that he’s a great defender at third base when Alex Rodriguez is out of the lineup. Of course did you expect anything less from Chavez? Chavez is a 6 time Gold Glover after all.
Dewayne Wise (B-): June has been Dewayne Wise’s best month so far with a .286 average. It also helps that he got his first home run of the season in the month of June–and how it was a 3 run homer.
CC Sabathia (B+): CC Sabathia is the Yankees ace but he has looked like he doesn’t have great command of his pitches. In 5 starts he’s 3-1 with a 3.03 ERA with 36 strikeouts. It however amazes me when CC doesn’t have his best stuff and then he ends up going into the 7th inning or so which gives the bullpen a break.
Hiroki Kuroda (A-): Hiroki Kuroda in the month of June has been flat out terrific. He’s 3-1 with a 2.38 ERA with 32 strikeouts. It’s also Kuroda’s first winning month of the season. Kuroda was 2-3 in both April and in May. Impressive, huh?
Ivan Nova (A+): Ivan Nova in the month of June has been flat-out dominant. He’s 3-0 with a 1.27 ERA with 22 strikeouts. He’s also 9-2 on the season which is very impressive. Who said that Nova was going to have a Sophmore slump?
Andy Pettitte (B+): Andy has sure been good in the month of June, which is why his record is 1-1 with a 3.08 ERA. Both of Pettitte’s starts were good, even the loss (if you take out the 5 run 1st inning from the Mets). Andy, are you sure you’re 40, because you’re pitching like an All-Star.
Phil Hughes (B+): Phil Hughes has been great for the Yankees in June going 4-1 with a 2.67 ERA. The only thing that stopped him from getting an A-? He’s given up 7 HR’s in the month of June. Other than that, he looks like the Phil Hughes of 2010!
Cody Eppley (B+): Cody Eppley has been one of the biggest surprises in the Yankees bullpen only giving up 5 earned runs in 18 innings which results in a 2.50 ERA. He’s also held opponents to a .234 average against him. It helps to have a right handed side armer, doesn’t it?
Clay Rapada (A+): Clay Rapada has emerged from the Yankees bullpen and has became one of my favorite pitchers to watch. He is 1-0 with a 1.00 ERA and holds batters to a .071 average against him! I had been rooting for Rapada to make the team since Spring Training so it makes me glad that he has a chance to show Joe (Girardi) what he can do.
Freddy Garcia (A): Ever since being placed in the Yankees bullpen, Freddy Garcia has been dominant. He’s 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA and holds batters to a .190 average. I’m still a little iffy about Garcia though since I don’t fully trust him, but he’s been doing well so I tip my cap to him.
Boone Logan (A): Boone Logan is in Clay Rapada territory meaning that he has one of the lowest numbers in the bullpen. He’s 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA while holding batters to a .107 ERA. This bullpen just gets better and better, doesn’t it?
David Robertson (A-): David Robertson was on the DL for a bit but when he came back he was a little rusty in his first outing which explains the 2.45 ERA in June, but since then he’s been Houdini. Stranding batters and striking them is all apart of Robertson’s description. Girardi has been cautious of Robertson since he is just coming back from an oblique injury, but he’s having another great year.
Rafael Soriano (A+): Can anyone say ‘lights out’? Soriano is having a ridiculous month with a 0.96 ERA in the closer role. It makes the Mariano Rivera season ending injury a little less painful when you have someone who is already a closer in the bullpen. Soriano, keep it up.
Cory Wade (F): Cory Wade in June is very baffling. The guy has an 11.05 ERA and seems to be having trouble straightening himself out. Well, Wade better get it together soon or he might be wearing a new uniform in the Yankees organization. Maybe a Scranton Wilkes-Barre uniform?
If you were to tell me at the beginning of the season that Clay Rapada, Boone Logan, Cody Eppley and Corey Wade would be pitching important innings this year I would have told you to get your head examined. At the start of the year the Yankees had a bullpen that projected to be elite. They have lived up to that billing, but it has not been because of the guys you expected. With Mariano Rivera and David Robertson going down those 4 pitchers and Rafael Soriano have all stepped up in a huge way.
The fact that Soriano has saved 11 out of 12 games this year comes as no surprise. He was an elite closer in Tampa Bay and will continue to be here. I was in the minority at the time of his signing because I liked the move. The Yankees had a shaky rotation at the time so why not make the games pretty much over with a lead after 7 innings? He also gave the Yankees insurance in case the unthinkable happened, which it finally did this year. Soriano deserves huge credit for taking over for Mariano Rivera almost flawlessly so far. It was an outrage that he got booed after blowing the save on Sunday against the Mets. However, since I expected this from Soriano he isn’t the real story here; Clay Rapada, Boone Logan, Cody Eppley, and Cory Wade are.
Joe Girardi has always gotten the most out of his bullpens during his tenure as Yankees manager. He always makes sure they are well rested and he has done a phenomenal of mixing and matching since David Robertson got hurt. This was particularly evident against Atlanta. All three games were close and the late innings were all high leverage innings. Rapda, Eppley, Wade, and Logan all got opportunities to get holds and have converted. Rapada has been a great LOOGY this year, as he has held lefties to a line of .163/.280/.256/.536. Eppley has relied on his fantastic sinker to get the job done this year. He has thrown his sinking fastball 78% of the time this year to induce an incredible ground ball rate of 70.5%. If you keep the ball on the ground that much you will be successful.
Boone Logan was a guy I always thought had the potential to be this good and more than just an average LOOGY. Logan’s line vs. lefties (.195/.255/.293/.548) is outstanding along with his 13.09 K/9 and 2.45 ERA. I always liked his hard fastball and slider combination, but he has completely changed the way he was pitched this year.Logan has only thrown his fastball 47.7 % of the time as opposed to 62 % last year, and 67 % the year before. Hence, he has thrown his slider 49.9 % of the time this year as opposed to 35.9 % last year, and 26.1 % of the time the year before.Logan’s slider has an incredible Whiff % of 26.49%. Cory Wade has been a great jack of all trades guy because he has the ability to throw 5 different pitches at any time. He is best known for his slow curve that has kept hitters off balance. He has let up big homers to Mark Trumbo and Miguel Cabrera of late but has been solid for the most part this year. Wade is 0-1 on the year, with a 2.63 ERA, a .95 WHIP, and 9.9 K/9.
These 4 Yankees have been the unsung heroes of the season. Now with David Robertson back they will face less pressure and should continue to thrive. Also, they can stay fresher because with the Yankees having all of these late leads lately they have been getting a ton of work. Robertson makes this bullpen perhaps the best in the MLB even without the great Mariano Rivera. The starters also deserve credit for carrying their weight without Robertson available. If the Yankees go on to have a great season people need to remember this time when Robertson got hurt and these 4 pitchers held the fort down.
Well, it had finally happened. After being 6 for 74 with runners in scoring position coming into the game, the Yankees finally had their hit with men on base, and it was just enough to get the win from the Royals. Phil Hughes once again pitched a great game (it was his 5th good start in a row) although he gave up another home run ball. Hughes has given up homers in 9 consecutive starts but hey, as long as the bats are right behind you then there’s nothing wrong with solo-shots.
The Yankees were trailing 2-0 in the 4th inning but they were able to get going on a Robinson Cano solo HR which cut the Royals lead to 1. The last time Robinson Cano hit a HR was off of Luke Hochevar in Kansas City and it was a grand slam. In the 5th inning the Yankees had the bases loaded with no one out and this time, the Yankees made sure that they were able to get some runs in. Derek Jeter lined a base hit that scored a run and Curtis Granderson grounded out, but got the run in.
Those three runs were just enough for the Yankees as Cory Wade, Boone Logan, Clay Rapada & Rafael Soriano backed up Hughes and had 3 scoreless innings. The Yankees are no longer in last place (for today at least) and the Yankees are now 1 game above .500.
Tomorrow is the series finale vs. the Royals and Andy Pettitte will take the mound for the Yankees.
The way that it was looking at around 6:30pm, it looked as if the Yankees weren’t going to get to play vs. the Orioles. However for the rest of the night, the rain seemed to be quite calm. That was the only thing that wasn’t calm throughout the game as the Yankees and the Orioles started getting into a slug-fest to see who could come out on top. 9 innings later, the Yankees came out on top 8-5 with the help of David Phelps after Ivan Nova got injured in the 6th inning.
Nova was hard hit throughout the game going 5.1 IP, giving up 5 runs on 7 hits with 3 strikeouts. Nova’s night was shortened when he suffered an ankle injury trying to field a comeback liner. The diagnosis revealed that Nova had a sprained right ankle and the Yankees were to do more tests on Nova. Nova’s next start could be in jeopardy, which could go to David Phelps if Nova would miss some time.
Clay Rapada came in the game today but came out as quickly as he came as he had a viral infection. Rapada will not be used tomorrow since he wasn’t scheduled to pitch anyway.
The biggest blow however was David Robertson. Robertson has a sore oblique/rib cage ever since May 11 and that was the main reason that he was unavailable. Robertson tried to play catch today, but he was still sore. Girardi will see how Robertson feels tomorrow and if it is still sore then Robertson will go and get more tests.
WHAT’S NEXT: CC Sabathia will take the mound in the season finale for the Yankees. After the game tomorrow, the Yankees will head to Toronto at the Rogers Center against the Blue Jays.
NEW YORK – The story tonight wasn’t about the Yankees (11-9) bats falling silent. The story wasn’t even about Nick Swisher hitting 2 HR’s in the game. The story was more about Freddy Garcia imploding once again, as the Yankees fell to the Detroit Tigers (11-10) 7-5 after the Yankees tried to cap a rally in the 9th.
GARCIA IMPLODES–AGAIN: This is not the first time that Freddy Garcia imploded. It’s not the second time that Garcia imploded. It’s not even the third time that Garcia imploded. This is the fourth start in a row that Freddy Garcia imploded. Garcia gave up 6 runs in 1 2/3 innings making it the second time that Garcia was pulled in the 2nd inning. Garcia has struggled mightily and this may be the time to talk about taking Freddy Garcia from the rotation in favor of someone who has been pitching well–maybe–David Phelps. Anyway, Girardi said that he wasn’t going to judge until after 4 starts. I think it’s time to pull the plug Girardi.
BULLPEN WAS FANTASTIC: Clay Rapada, David Phelps & Cody Eppley came out of the bullpen after Garcia was lifted and all 3 of them pitched a terrific job. The bullpen pitched 7 1/3 innings and only allowed 1 run. The most impressive? David Phelps. He pitched 3 scoreless innings, walked no one and gave up no hits. I think it’s time for the David Phelps experiment. Just saying.
GARDNER CLOSE TO COMEBACK: Brett Gardner took batting practice for the first time since injuring his elbow. He had 10 dry swings and 15 swings on the tee. Gardner felt no pain at all in his elbow which is fantastic news for Yankees fans. Gardner thinks that he could do full on batting practice on Monday.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Yankees turn to their ace CC Sabathia in hopes that he could be his regular self and bear down the Tigers. The first pitch is at 1:05pm on YES Network.
Both Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman have gotten their share of criticism for different things throughout their tenure. However, one area they are both very adept at is building and handling the bullpen. The Yankee pen was far and away the top unit in the American League last year and is off to another blazing start this year despite the opening day blown save by Mariano. Both Joe and Brian deserve praise.
Cashman didn’t always make the best decisions when building the bullpen. After Cash inherited an awesome pen in the mid-90’s, he spent a lot of years trying to build the pen through Free Agency and trades with mixed results. But a few years back, Cashman came to the realization that relief pitchers can be very inconsistent from year to year. Armed with this knowledge, it became clear the best way to find relievers was to develop a lot of depth of young arms and inexpensive veterans. Since then, the Yankees have been drafting a lot of power college relievers and have done a great job developing them as well as converting young starters to relievers. Some have helped the team like David Robertson, while others have been used in trades such as Mark Melancon & George Kontos. Billy Eppler’s pro scouts have done a fine job finding cheap, unheralded arms like Cory Wade, Luis Ayala & Clay Rapada to make contributions as well. Besides Mo, the only high-priced reliever is Rafael Soriano which wasn’t a Cashman choice. However, now that he’s healthy Soriano looks poised for a strong season.
Girardi makes a lot of questionable moves but one thing that can’t be criticized is how he handles his relievers. He doesn’t overwork guys and does an incredible job keeping them fresh, while also getting everyone work. It does help that for the last few years, the team has always carried 12 pitchers. I remember not many years ago when most Yankee teams carried only 10 pitchers, but it’s now accepted that 12 is the norm. Those 2 extra arms definitely help a manager with his maneuvers. Sometimes Girardi can get a little carried away with his platoon switches and he doesn’t like using his better relievers when the team is trailing but you can’t argue with the final results.
Last year, the Yankee pen was far and away the best in the AL with a 3.12 ERA. This was nearly a half run better than the 2nd team – the Angels with a 3.52 mark. So far in the early going this year, they haven’t disappointed. They are leading the AL again with a 2.01 ERA with an amazing 34 K’s in 22.1 ip for a sick 13.7 K/9. Last yr, both Mariano & DRob were All-Stars and there is no reason to expect anything different this year. Soriano has looked very good in his first 2 outings as has rookie David Phelps. As good as Cory Wade was last yr with 6-1, 2.04 mark – he has looked even better out of the chute this yr. Never overpowering, he has 9 Ks in just 5ip so far. Of course, it’s too early to derive any judgements but his stuff looks crisper this yr and he may have another stellar year. The only question marks are the 2 lefties – Boone Logan & Rapada. I like the stuff Logan has shown and think he just needs to gain some consistency. Rapada has always been hell on lefty hitters and if used solely as a LOOGY, he can be an asset for Joe against some of the tough lefty-laden lineups in the AL East.
There are also more arms ready in AAA in DJ Mitchell, Adam Warren, Manny Delcarmen, Michael O’Connor, Chase Whitley, Kevin Whelan, etc. And below them there are many other capable relief arms to keep the team replenished. The system put in place by Cashman and executed by Girardi will keep the team in position to continue being atop the A.L on an anual basis. Part of the Championship recipe, all the great Yankee teams in the last 16 years have had strong pens. This year’s team looks to be no different and it will be up to the rotation and lineup to do their part.
Hiroki Kuroda was slated to make his Yankees debut against the potent Rays lineup but he was tentative and struggled with command as the Yankees once again fell to the Rays in Game 2 of the 3 game set.
THE GOOD: Derek Jeter was 2 for 4 in the game as well as Curtis Granderson. Raul Ibanez (who came in to replace Andruw Jones) had yet another RBI. The Yankees rallied for 4 runs with 3 of them coming from a Nick Swisher HR in the ninth inning.
THE BAD: Hiroki Kuroda was very tentative in his 6 innings of work. Kuroda didn’t have good numbers against left handed batters and was the victim of the Luke Scott slug fest. Clay Rapada didn’t do any better, giving up 2 runs against right handed hitters even though his numbers vs. right handers are atrocious. Alex Rodriguez (once again) ended the game but this time it was a ground out unlike the last time he ended a game. Also there was the poor managing of Joe Girardi. Girardi allowed his pitchers to struggle before going to the bullpen (including Rapada). If this is going to be a continuing factor throughout the year then I don’t like it.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Yankees are attempting to avoid a series sweep by sending the new and improved Phil Hughes on the mound. He will face off against the 2011 ROY Jeremy Hellickson. The game is at 1:40pm on YES Network.
In the final game of Spring Training, the Yankees looked ahead to Friday. Friday is the home opener for the Yankees and their Florida rivals the Tampa Bay Rays, but first…the Yankees had to put the Mets in their place with an 8-3 victory in the Spring Training finale.
Freddy Garcia got the start and went 4.2 innings while pitching effectively. His only mistake was a Mets HR in the first inning but as the game went on, Garcia looked stronger. Clay Rapada finished the 5th inning for Garcia, getting the only batter that he faced. Rapada was told after he pitched that he had made the 25 man roster, providing nothing happens to him from now till 5pm when all 25 man rosters have to be final. Andy Pettitte returned for his first Spring Training outing, pitching a scoreless inning while allowing only 1 hit. David Robertson pulled another “Houdini” act today after allowing 2 men on base (runners on 1st & 3rd). He was able to compose himself and struck out the next 3 batters to end the inning.
THE GOOD: The Yankees were able to get some offense going, although the starters were quickly taken out after 2 at-bats. Brett Gardner was the main Yankee regular with some offense, having a single up the middle & swiping second. Gardner stole 8 bases this Spring without getting caught. Gardner also contributed as the Yankees 1st run of the ballgame. Francisco Cervelli contributed as well with a 2 run HR. David Phelps & Clay Rapada both made the 25 man roster and will both be there on Opening Day. Boone Logan had some back troubles and went to get an MRI during the game. The results for the MRI came back negative so he is not expected to miss much time.
THE BAD: There was nothing bad about today’s game. Yankees got their A-lineup in, Pitchers pitched well and the Yankees got their hits.
WHAT’S NEXT: Spring Training has officially wrapped up at GMS Field and it’s time for the Yankees to hit the road. Fortunately, they won’t have to go very far. The Yankees are going across the bay to Tropicana Field where they will take on the Rays. Tomorrow will be an abbreviated workout session, but on Friday, the Yankees will begin their “Chase for 28”. The game is slated to start at 3:05pm & CC Sabathia will get the ball for the Yankees.