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Mark Reynolds vs. Lyle Overbay: Take Your Pick

Coming into the stretch, would you put Mark Reynolds (pictured above) in the lineup, or Lyle Overbay?

Coming into the stretch, would you put Mark Reynolds (pictured above) in the lineup, or Lyle Overbay?

There’s no denying two things:

1) Mark Reynolds is carrying a hot bat into this Baltimore Orioles series, having three hits last night and simply demolished the Toronto Blue Jays;  going 5-for-8 in his two games.

2) Lyle Overbay is seriously struggling coming into this series He hasn’t had a hit since August 18 vs. the Boston Red Sox.

The way that it was designed since the New York Yankees had picked up Mark Reynolds was simple; Reynolds will hit vs. LHP and Lyle Overbay will hit vs. RHP. However, the stakes are high and the times have changed. The Yankees are fighting for the final WC spot (along with the Cleveland Indians, Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics). They need the hottest bats in the lineup. They need Mark Reynolds. Reynolds is slowly forming back into his April form, hitting .319 in August. after having a sluggish May-July which ultimately caused him to lose his job with the Indians. Lyle Overbay however is hitting .231 in August and is 0-for his last-15.

If I’m the manager of the Yankees, Reynolds would be in the lineup today over Overbay. I like Lyle Overbay, I do–but this is a time where people’s feelings can’t get hurt. If you’re not producing whether on the mound or at the plate, you’re either getting pulled early or you’re not getting the start. It’s as simple as that. Right now, Overbay wouldn’t get the start; Reynolds would. It sounds mean and sounds cruel but looking at numbers, that’s how it would have to be done if the Yankees want to keep their playoff hopes alive. So take your pick, would you take Mark Reynolds…or Lyle Overbay going forward in this stretch?

Game 130 Lineup: Yankees @ Rays

Yankees need this game. If not, they’ll get swept by the Rays and the Yankees playoff chances will diminsh. Here’s your lineup:

Brett Gardner CF
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano DH
Curtis Granderson LF
Eduardo Nunez SS
Lyle Overbay 1B
Mark Reynolds 3B
Chris Stewart C

Ivan Nova RHP

Some Notes and Transactions:

Derek Jeter has the day-off today. If all goes well, he’ll meet the Yankees in Toronto tomorrow for the series vs. the Blue Jays.

— Lyle Overbay feels well enough to play today. He sat out the last two games with a stomach virus. Robinson Cano and Vernon Wells were joking about him.

Cano to Overbay: “You’re getting your color back,”

Wells to Cano: “Whatever color he had,”

— Yesterday I was having a conversation with someone on Twitter about Mark Reynolds possibly being a fit at 3B next year if A-Rod is suspended. Well, it looks like today the Yankees are going to try it out and see for themselves.

— Interesting fact: Mariano Rivera has 36 saves at the Trop in his career. The next player to have the most saves? Jonathan Papelbon (was with the Red Sox at the time) with 10.

Game 129 Lineup: Yankees @ Rays

Ichiro Suzuki RF
Eduardo Nunez SS
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Vernon Wells DH
Curtis Granderson CF
Mark Reynolds 1B
Austin Romine C

LHP CC Sabathia

Some Notes and Transactions:

Brett Gardner‘s X-Ray results came back earlier today and they were clean. Gardner is just having the day off vs. the left hander Price.

Lyle Overbay was still dizzy and nauseous when he entered the clubhouse today. Joe Girardi isn’t sure that he’s going to get in the game tonight.

Derek Jeter will have one more rehab start tonight and then will join the Yankees in Toronto. I’ll be covering Derek Jeter’s rehab start so follow me on Twitter @dfiregirl4 for Jeter updates.

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.

Yankees Player of the Week

Zoilo Almonte 4

The Yankees had a very good week going 4-2 against the Angels, Dodgers and Rays. They salvaged their final game against the Angels after nearly blowing a 6-0 ninth inning lead and they hung on to win 6-5. They split a doubleheader against the Dodgers, but the night game was embarrassing as they got shutout by a bad pitcher in Chris Capuano.  Their offense futility continued the next night in an 8-3 loss to the Rays. However, they had two huge wins the last two days over Tampa Bay, as Zoilo Almonte gave them the spark they seemed to need. Yesterday’s win was one of the best of the year as Vernon Wells hit a bases clearing double to give the Yankees a 7-5 lead in the 7th inning after the Rays had gone up 5-3 on a Will Myers grand slam. This week’s nominees for Yankees player of the Weel are Mariano Rivera, Zoilo Almonte, Lyle Overbay and Ichiro Suzuki. 

Mariano Rivera- Mo had three saves on the week and he really started to use his two-seam fastball on righties a ton this week. He looks as nasty as ever. 

Zoilo Almonte- Almonte hit .625 on the week with a home run and 4 RBI. He has shown great discipline at the plate and has given the Yankees a much needed spark. He had three hits in Friday’s win and three RBI in yesterday’s win. 

Lyle Overbay- Overybay continues to get the job done in place of Mark Teixeira. He hit .318 with 4 RBI on the week. 

Ichiro Suzuki- Ichiro has hit better at the plate of late and hit .273 with 1 HR and 4 RBI on the week. Also, he made a few sparkling plays out in right field. 

Not much an argument can be made against Zoilo Almonte this week, so he is your Yankees Player of the Week. Vote for your player of the week and discuss the week that was in the comments. 

Teixeira & Youkilis’ return serves as a sign of urgency for Yankees

YankeesInjuredPlayersBaseball161418--415x415Publicized to incredible heights, Kevin Youkilis and Mark Teixeira were in the Yankees’ lineup last night as they opened up a three-game set with the Red Sox. After being swept by the Mets in a Subway Series where the offense never really posed a threat, re-acquiring [in a sense] two former All-Stars to bolster the middle of the order certainly is the biggest boost the Yanks will get all year.

Up until this week, the team had been excelling with the likes of Lyle Overbay, Vernon Wells, and Travis Hafner, but right now it appears they all are out of gas. The lineup’s struggles do not fall on their shoulders alone, but all three look lost at the plate and are shells of the .300 hitters they were for the month of April. Even Robinson Cano went through a cold streak, as he fell into the habit of trying to make contact with anything near the strike zone, which resulted in pop ups, ground outs, strike outs, and only the occasional bloop single.

Robbie did go 2 for 4 with a home run in Thursday night’s loss to the Mets, so he may be coming out of it. But the fact remains that he alone cannot carry the offense, and though the pitching has been solid the saying holds true that, “you can’t win if you can’t score.”

So unfortunately as we expected, the return of Tex and Youk can not just be a sight for sore eyes. These two sluggers must produce like they have in the past, otherwise the team could find itself battling it out with the Blue Jays in last place by the end of next week.

Maybe I’m over-exaggerating, but the upcoming schedule offers little time for the Yankees to struggle like they just did. As detailed the re-tooled Red Sox are at the top of the division and intend to stay there through the weekend, while next week Terry Francona will look to re-establish himself as a man no one wants to see in the opposing dugout when his Indians come for a visit. After that it’s off to the West Coast to battle it out with the Mariners, Athletics, and Angels – all of them improving and posing a real threat. Anything worse than a .500 record in those games and this joyful, miracle-like season could quickly turn to despair and doubt.

Am I saying Teixeira and Youkilis will decide our fate? Of course not. Robinson Cano needs to start hitting like he’s capable of doing, and Vernon Wells needs to stop hitting as he did with the Angels, as in, poorly. Overall, the Yankees have hit better than predicted, as they’ve scored just enough to win in numerous games. But now they aren’t, and it concerns me greatly.

Perhaps it’s the simple fact that the replacement-level guys such as Overbay, Pronk, and Wells couldn’t carry the team as much as we thought they could when everything was dandy in Yankeeland. Ultimately they were going to break down, and it looks like now is the time. Getting back Teixeira and Youkilis is a huge boost, but if that boost isn’t visible over the next two weeks, to paraphrase a baseball quote to fit this new month – “you can’t win a division in June, but you sure can lose one.”

Teixeira and Youkilis Desperately Needed

Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis began their rehab assigment in Double A Trenton this morning and it could not come at a better time for the Yankees. When the Yankees were playing great baseball behind great pitching and newcomers like Vernon Wells, Travis Hafner, and Lyle Overbay getting the job done, many Yankees fans were saying how they did not want veterans like Mark Texiera, Kevin Youkilis, Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez to come back.  That was an insane notion then and it is proving true right now.

The Yankees are now 6-7 in their last 13 games and have scored four or fewer runs in nine of those 13 games, including less than two runs in five of those games. The Yankees have averaged a pitiful 3.7 runs per game in May. You can only ask your starters to pitch great under those circumstances for so long and expect your bullpen to hold every one run lead you give them. Obviously, over the last two games David Robertson and Mariano Rivera each blew a game, but those losses were on the offense for only scoring a combined two runs in those games.

The middle of the order for the Yankees struggling has been the main reason for their terrible offensive output in May. Robinson Cano is only hitting .247/.311/.464/.775 in May and the Yankees need him to carry them like he did in April. Cano is hitting .328/.403/.672/1.075 with 11 home runs in Yankee wins and .235/.261/.341/.603 with two home runs in Yankee losses. That tells you all you need to know. Cano has not gotten much support in May either, as Vernon Wells (.229/.260/.375/.635 in May) and Travis Hafner (.190/.309/.328/.636 in May) have cooled off considerably. When you combine those players not playing well with the black holes the Yankees have at catcher, shortstop and right field, you are not going to score many runs.

It  is obvious that Teixeira and Youkilis are needed. However, as Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues points out, they are coming back at postions where the Yankees have gotten good production. Lyle Overbay and David Adams have held up very well at first and third base. Texiera and Youkilis will be upgrades over them, but their real issues are at shortstop, catcher, and the outfield.

However, they will not be getting reinforcements at those positions anytime soon. Curtis Granderson will be inactive for at least four weeks and will probably take about two more weeks to rehab. Derek Jeter is nowhere near returning and Francisco Cervelli just got the pins out of his hand and has not started to rehab yet. The Yankees made their own bed at these positions in the offseason, as they willing let Russell Martin and Nick Swisher go and did not adequately replace them. Also, they did nothing to upgrade at utility infielder when they knew Jeter was an injury question mark.

The Yankees have a tough roster conundrum with Teixeira and Youkilis coming back. The Yankees are short on outfielders and it will be hard to carry Overbay and Hafner, since between them both they can only play one position. Ivan Nova will probably be the pitcher out of the bullpen sent to Triple A, but who goes with him is the question. The options are to send Brennan Boesch or Adams to Triple A or DFA Overbay. Sending Adams down would be the easy call, since you can always bring him back up, but he would be the best option as a DH against righties at the moment. Boesch is easily the worst player out of the three, but if you send him down than Jayson Nix is your fourth outfielder. You can probably get by like that for a little while, but long term having Nix as your fourth outfielder will not work. That is why Overbay may not be on this team for much longer.

This is not meant to discredit Overbay at all, as he has filled in better than anybody could have hoped for, but people need to pump the brakes on him a little bit. He is only hitting .251/.295/.468/.763, which is not great for a first baseman. Teixeira at his worst does much better than that. Overbay has been a great clutch player for the Yankees this season, but you cannot rely on that to continue. Good “clutch” hitting is more statistical randomness than anything sustainable because it is not really a skill.

For people who say Teixeira isn’t clutch he hit .390/.466/.932/1.398 in late and close games last year, .289/.360./.578/938 in high leverage situations and .285/.370/.646/1.016 in innings 7-9, so that is just a narrative and a fallacy that he doesn’t get any big hits. Unfortunately, if Teixeira starts out slow he will hear about it, but that is just silliness, as Overbay is nowhere near the player Teixeira is and there is a reason he was released by Boston three days before the end of spring training. Once Teixeira proves he is healthy there is not really room for Overbay on the team anymore. Obviously, that is not fair to him, but unfortunately it’s the business and the reality of the situation.  Overbay would be a great option to pinch hit late in games for the catcher, shortstop or Ichiro, but again can you really afford to have Nix as your fourth outfielder for six weeks?

I am really excited to get Teixeira and Youkilis back. It has been frustrating watching bad hitters take bad at bats lately. Unfortunately, like I said before you will still have three terrible hitters batting seventh, eighth and ninth but at least the middle of the order will be more intimidating.  People telling themselves that the Yankees are better off without the veterans hopefullt have seen over the last few weeks why they are dead wrong. What do you guys think should happen when Teixeira and Youkilis come back? What would your roster moves be?

Game 41 Lineup: Mariners vs . Yankees

Brett Gardner CF
Jayson Nix SS
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells LF
Lyle Overbay 1B
Curtis Granderson DH
David Adams 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Chris Stewart C

LHP Andy Pettitte

– Ex-Yankee Hector Noesi will be on the mound for Seattle.  Aaron Harang was scratched.

– Andy Pettitte trys to right himself after a couple of rough starts

– Yankees called up Dellin Betances from Scranton and sent down Brett Marshall who was spent after throwing 108 pitches yesterday

– Jayson Nix gets his shot batting 2nd today.  Nix has had a very quiet season offensively but suprisingly, his .319 OBP% is 4th among healthy regulars behind Wells, Cano & Gardner.  Nix has hit 2nd 6 times this year and has hit .261/.293/.261 (6 for 23 with 5 Walks).  Not many Yankees have faced Noesi but Nix is 1 for 3 with a HR.

Finally, a Yankees team we can love

Let’s be honest. When the “Yankees” lined up down the first base line on Opening Day, was this a team you were ready to watch for 162 games? Probably not.

Sure, there was Robinson Cano. You may have spotted Brett Gardner and Ichiro as well. But besides them, did anyone else catch your eye? Kevin Youkilis in pinstripes was “something else”, but what I mean is, did you feel comfortable relying on Lyle Overbay at first, or Vernon Wells in left? I don’t think so.

Where was Nick Swisher, the heart and soul of the team the past four seasons? What about Russell Martin, our Munson-esque backstop? How could we possibly win with these replacement-level, over the hill scrubs?

These questions and more swirled through many fans’ heads as the Yankees opened up the season back in April. Numerous analysts were picking them to finish last, and if they weren’t that harsh, they still predicted them to miss the playoffs.

Now of course it’s still early in the season, but who could have thought just how different the first month and a half would play out on the field, than we thought it would in our minds.

Here are our 2013 Yankees, at 22-13, first place in the A.L. East. A familiar sight without a doubt, but how they’ve gotten to the top of the division is as unusual as it’s ever been in the Bronx. Absent are the headlining stars – Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Curtis Granderson – and present are former big name players revitalizing their careers, and youngsters trying to sink their teeth into the major leagues.

They still hit home runs like the usual Bombers, but win close games more often than not with solid pitching and nearly flawless defense. When was the last time those two aspects were keys to winning for the Yankees? It may have been in the playoffs, but certainly not on the path to get them there.

As mentioned, injuries have paved the way for players young and old to make an impact in pinstripes. Vernon Wells is second to Robbie Cano in runs scored, home runs, and average, Lyle Overbay already has 20 RBI, and Travis Hafner has made a fairly big impact when it matters with his still ferocious bat. Austin Romine, Preston Claiborne, Adam Warren, [and soon David Adams] have all made their big-league debuts and figure to be relied upon more as the days get longer and the season moves into the dog days of summer.

It’s hard to pinpoint the last time the Yankees have had so many role players, rather than superstars, and have been A) successful, and B) fun to watch. Maybe sometime in the 90’s, but they never went anywhere.

Sensing the sarcasm, no, this roster right now is not world championship worthy, and it will be a big help when everyone comes back off the DL. But, when they do, don’t be so willing to part with the Overbays, Hafners, and Wellses of the world.

Because truth be told, they’re the reason why Tex, Grandy, A-Rod and the Captain will jump right back into a pennant race they can win.

Keep it up guys…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CATCHERS
29 Francisco Cervelli
19 Chris Stewart

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

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

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

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

The roster begins to shape up for the Yankees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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