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Morning Bits: Backup infielders, Tied for AL East, Hughes

Good morning everyone. A bad day in baseball for the Yankees as they now share the AL East lead with the Orioles (again). Today is a must win game with Phil Hughes on the mound. Here are your morning bits.

— With the injury to Jayson Nix and Joe Girardi making a panic move to take Eduardo Nunez out of the game yesterday, sometimes it leaves fans wondering–where is Ramiro Pena now.

— The Yankees were supposed to use this time to gain some distance between themselves and the Baltimore Orioles. Instead the Yankees lost a 1.5 game lead in 3 days and are now tired with the Orioles again.

— The Yankees have to win today–and they turn to Phil Hughes to get that possible win. Yankees will also be scoreboard watching the Red Sox and Orioles and will try to (once again) gain some ground.

Standings from Foxsports.com

How should the 2012 postseason roster look?

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).

Infield

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.

Week 19 Yankees Player of the Week

The Yankees started to play some better baseball this week. They went 4-2 in an extremely important week of games. They started it off on Sunday with a blow out win to salvage a huge split in Baltimore. They then managed to take two out of three in Boston against a team there was no excuses for loosing a series against. CC Sabathia continued to struggle against Tampa, but Ivan Nova pitched a huge game to even the series going into today. The Yankees struggled hitting with RISP in Boston, but it seems like their offense has gotten better. Eduardo Nunez has provided a big spark, which he could have before if he was actually used. Curtis Granderson has gone on a home run tear. Alex Rodriguez is really getting into a nice grove and Derek Jeter continues to fight through his injury to produce. The nominees for Week 19 Yankees Player of the Week are Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter, Phil Hughes, and Ivan Nova.

The Case For Granderson:  Granderson was .318, with 5 HR’s and 11 RBI on the week. He sparked the Yankees to the blow out win on Sunday with a HR and 5 RBI coming off the bench. His 2 HR’s were the key to Wednesday’s win in Boston.

The Case For Jeter: Jeter’s hurt ankle has not stopped him this week. He hit .333 with 1 HR and 7 RBI. His consistency this year continues to be amazing.

The Case For Hughes. Hughes dominated Boston on Thursday by pitching 7.1 shut out innings. He allowed only 5 hits on 7 strikeouts. The Yankees only scored two runs for him so it was imperative that Hughes cam through. He has pitched some big games lately.

The Case For Nova: In a very surprising development Nova looked as good yesterday as he has all season. He pitched 6 innings, allowed 2 runs on 4 hits and struck out 8. He pitched even better than those numbers would suggest. He looked dominating at times and left very few pitches in the middle of the plate as he had before.

Curtis Granderson is the Week 19 Yankees Player of the Week. If he can keep this play up it will be big for the Yankees. There were a lot of good candidates this week so vote for your pick in the poll and discuss in the comments.

Who should be on the Yankees 2013 roster?

Some of the Yankees that most likely will make the 2013 roster are Brett Gardner, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson. But who are the others?

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.

Hughes An Unsung Hero

In this Yankees downturn Phil Hughes has been of the few players to step up.  Hughes pitched a gem last night in Boston to help keep the Yankees in first place. It does not matter what the lineup for Boston looked like, it was a huge spot in a pressure situation, as it would have been embarrassing for the Yankees to drop that series vs. Boston. Hughes pitched 7 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing just five hits and a walk while striking out seven. He really has been an unsung player this season.

Hughes will probably never be the ace the Yankees hoped for, but since April he has really established himself as a solid starter. Because he has never lived up to being an ace some people have unfairly criticized him. Since April, Hughes is 14-9, with a 3.53 ERA. You have to throw out April because of the adjustments he has made since then. He is a completely different pitcher now.

First in April, Hughes’ cutter was just an awful pitch and he scrapped it. Then, Hughes started to struggle vs. lefties, so he developed a changeup. After that he started to struggle vs. righties, so he developed a slider. Hughes and the coaching staff really deserve a lot of credit for making these adjustments. To top it all off Hughes is 10-4, with a 3.56 ERA at home, in a park that does not suit his style whatsoever. Imagine what he could do if he pitched in one the parks out west, where less of his fly balls would go out of the park.

Having had an injury plagued career up to this point, Hughes has remained injury free and has pitched 175 innings this season. With the injuries the Yankees have had to endure those innings are huge. His 3.70 SO/BB ratio is the best of his career. Hughes sometimes gets wild in the zone, but his 2.1 BB/9 is extremely impressive.  Last night he recorded all seven of his strikeouts on fastballs, which was good to see because of late his velocity had seemed to drop just a tick.

Last night was also not the only big game Hughes has pitched of late. In his last start Hughes pitched a big game vs. Baltimore. The Yankees had just lost an excruciating game the night before after a big comeback, so they really needed to bounce right back.  Hughes was solid in going six innings and allowing two runs in 8-5 Yankees victory. Also, back in August, Hughes saved the Yankees the embarrassment of being swept by Toronto by pitching a gem, as he threw 7.1 scoreless innings that game.

With Hughes’ development the starting pitching is the strength of this Yankees team. If Andy Pettitte returns to form, their top four of CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Pettitte, and Hughes could be the best one through four of the potential AL playoff teams.  They will be relying on them to get into the playoffs, and if they do they cannot be counted out in October if those four pitch to their potential.

Hughes is still only 26, so he should continue to improve. If he has another good season next year it will be very intriguing what kind of contract he will receive. If I were a team with a big park I would be lining up to try to sign him. Hughes has a good deal of value now, which is good because that is more then the Yankees can say about most of their young pitchers right now. The once fragile Hughes has turned into one of the Yankees’ toughest players this season.

Morning Bits: A-Rod, Hughes, Nunez

Good morning everyone and happy Sunday! Yankees were able to come back and win yesterday so now their lead coming into today is 3 games. Yankees will try to make it a 4 game lead (and will try to take the series) with Phil Hughes on the mound.

— Alex Rodriguez went 0-for-4 yesterday and while Cashman said A-Rod will play again today, A-Rod said he wouldn’t.

— Speaking of Hughes, he had been working on his slider as proven last time when the Jays couldn’t figure him out. Hughes might unveil it again–or does what he always does and bring a new pitch against the Orioles.

— Eduardo Nunez possibly had one of the biggest RBI’s yesterday in the 4-3 victory over the Orioles which means something. Yankees should never send down Nunez again.

What the rotation should look like in the 2012 playoffs

Of course CC would get a spot in the playoff rotation but the question is–who comes next?

The Yankees are expected to be one of the contenders during this year’s 2012 play-offs, and although so far it looks like the Yankees might lose first place to the Rays, I still predict that the Yankees will win the American League East by at least 3-4 games. With that being said, I do not feel like it is a bad idea to think about the starting rotation for the 2012 play-offs. For the Yankees, CC Sabathia goes first–but if the Yankees were to go all the way to the World Series (hypothetically), how would you shape up the rotation? After observing the Yankees starting rotation for quite some time, here is how I would compose the 2012 play-off rotation if the Yankees were to go all the way to the World Series.

American League Division Series

CC Sabathia
Hiroki Kuroda
Phil Hughes

Reason: It is obvious that our ace, CC Sabathia would go first since he is the one that holds us into games and always gives us a chance to score and after CC, to me it seemed that this rotation makes sense. When the Yankees first signed Hiroki Kuroda, I thought it was going to be another signing gone wrong (like the signing of Carl Pavano & A.J Burnett), but Kuroda proved me wrong as well as Yankees fans when he came out of the dugout throwing gem after gem. Unfortunately, the Yankees seem to not score when Kuroda is on the mound, thus why his win/loss record is not spectacular. Kuroda however, proves that he is a liable part to the rotation and has earned the #2 spot with his 2.96 ERA and 1.120 WHIP so far this season. Now, we move onto Phil Hughes. I know, you’re asking why did I chose a guy whose 12-11 with a 4.15 ERA & a 1.269 WHIP as the third starter. It’s because when Hughes is right, his stuff is ‘Philthy’ (pun intended). Hughes proved it in his last outing when he only gave up two runs. Sure, his Achilles heel is giving up the long ball but all pitchers give up home runs.  When Hughes is also right, he is able to keep the Yankees in the game. That is what makes Hughes so valuable (and he pitches better than what his outings says).

American League Championship Series / World Series

CC Sabathia
Hiroki Kuroda
Andy Pettitte
Phil Hughes

Reason: The ALCS and the World Series rotation are a little different due to one name–Andy Pettitte. The only reason I did not list Andy Pettitte in the rotation for the ALDS was because he is still recovering from that foot injury and of course, if I were the manager I would want to give Pettitte’s foot just a little more time to heal. Pettitte is competitive and has the most postseason wins on the Yankees. He is also a great addition to the rotation and gives it depth. Sure, he’s only gotten a couple of starts since returning in May, but if he could get 2-3 more starts before he’s plugged back into the rotation then he should be just fine.

What about David Phelps? 

David Phelps has played a big part in the rotation with the injuries to CC Sabathia and now Ivan Nova, but I would not put Phelps in the rotation in case one of the pitchers in the rotation has an off night and the Yanks are in dire need of a long man. You cannot ask Derek Lowe to go out there since he might be needed later in the game and you definitely cannot ask David Robertson or Rafael Soriano to come in earlier than expected. Phelps belongs on the play-off roster and he belongs in the bullpen to help the Yankees out. If you need more convincing that he belongs on the playoff roster, he has a 2.69 ERA and a 1.147 WHIP.

What about Ivan Nova?

At the rate he is pitching, Ivan Nova would not get a playoff spot in the rotation. Yes, he is 11-7 but he has an ERA of almost five and a WHIP of 1.456. He also is right there with Phil Hughes in giving up a lot of HR’s. It also seems for the last 2 months or so, Ivan Nova looks lost on the mound. Maybe I might change my mind when he comes off the DL and if he pitches like ‘Super Nova’ but until then, there is no way that he’s getting a spot on the playoff roster.

What about Freddy Garcia?

Freddy Garcia has been a surprise for the Yankees since coming back into the rotation. On the season, he’s 7-5 with a 4.96 ERA. Trust me, the ERA of five is nothing to be happy about but it is a big improvement from when his ERA was over 12 in the beginning of the year. Garcia would be another pitcher that would go into the bullpen for the playoffs in case the starters do not perform up to par. When you think about it, Garcia has not been bad at all and he’s actually earning some trust back from Yankees fans. Remember earlier in the season when we wanted him gone and we wished for A.J Burnett to return? Well slowly, we all forgot A.J Burnett’s name and continued chanting ‘Sweaty Freddy’. Garcia could play a huge role in the playoffs like Phelps and right now, he might get a spot in the bullpen but all that could change now that we are in the final month of the regular season.

There is still a lot of baseball to be played and anything could happen, but if the season ended today, is this the top starting rotation that you would attempt to take above and beyond?

 

 

 

Yankees Report Card: July

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.

Morning Bits: Hughes, Pettitte, Joba and more.

Good morning all after a win yesterday afternoon and no Yankee game today we just have to wait until tomorrow night for the Seattle series to begin.   Lot’s to talk about though so here are some links to get you going.

Enjoy the day.

Wallace Matthews of ESPN NY writes that Hughes is happy with win, but not his pitching.

Evan Drellich of MLB.com has the preview of the Seattle series as Ichiro welcomes his former team to the Bronx.

Steven Miller of MLB.com has the recap of Joba’s return to the stadium.

Zach Schonburn writes that the Yankees say the delay in Pettitte’s return isn’t a concern.

John Nalbone of The Star Ledger writes that The Yankees are keeping close tabs on Trenton Thunder starters as playoffs inch closer after 4-3 win.

Will Carroll of Sports Illustrated mentions the Yankees are counting on quick recovery for Teixeira.

— The Trenton Thunder have now won 6 games in a row.  Click here to read last nights game recap.

Morning Bits: Playoff roster, Nova, Hughes & more

Good morning all. The Yankees have now lost 7 out of 10. The season is full of peaks and valleys and this by far is one of the valley’s. The Yankees have had many peaks in the season though as they are still up 5.5 games on Baltimore. The Yankees could use a win this afternoon with Hughes on the mound facing Britton. Game time is for 1:05PM EST.

Enjoy the day and the game.  Now for some links….

Mike Mazzeo of ESPN NY looks into the Yankees playoff roster.

Andrew Marchand of ESPN NY has a piece on how Girardi & Nova disagree on last night’s outing.

Justin Albers of mlb.com has today’s pregame story has Hughes looks to play the role of stopper.

Zach Schonburn of the NY Times writes with no trade help for the rotation, Nova has his worst start.

John Harper of The Daily News has an article about how Cashman made the right move by passing on Dempster.

— The Tampa Yankees won 6-4 Yesterday click the link to read the recap.

— The Trenton Thunder was 2-1 as Zolio Almonte homered.

Week 14 Yankees Player of the Week

The Yankees started off the week hot by dropping the final game of the series vs. the Angels but sweept Toronto. However, they ran into a hot Oakland team and have lost 3 straight to go 3-4 on the week. Oakland’s pitching has shut down the hot Yankees bats by throwing tons of strikes and by not walking anybody. The Yankees were due for a loosing streak so it is nothing really concerning. Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Phil Hughes, and Alex Rodriguez are your Week 14 Yankees Player of the Week nominees.

The Case For Teixeira: Teixeira continued hit hot July by hitting .333 this week, with 2 HR’s, and 5 RBI.

The Case For Cano: Cano kept up his career high 23 game hit streak going until last night’s game in Oakland. Cano hit .360 on the week, with 1 HR, and 2 RBI. Cano hit a game tying HR on Friday at Oakland before the Yankees lost in the bottom of the 9th.

The Case For Hughes: Hughes had 2 great starts this week. He beat Toronto on Monday and pitched 7 innings, allowed 2 runs, 4 hits, and struck out 4. He pitched great yesterday, but lost due to a lack of support from the offense. Hughes pitched 7.2 innings, allowed 2 runs, 4 hits, and struck out 6 in the loss.

The Case For Rodriguez: A-Rod had a nice week hitting .321, with 1 HR, and 3 RBI. A-Rod had multiple hits in 4 games this week.

The Yankees Week 14 Player of the Week is Robinson Cano. As you may expect Cano now leads the Yankees in Player of the Week wins. As always vote for your pick in the poll and discuss in the comments.

Yankees First Half Awards

Miraculously, the All-Star Game is now behind us, and the second half of the season is about to begin. Through injuries, RISP failures, and flat out inconsistent play, the Yankees are somehow continuing to be the best team in baseball at 52-33. I’m very proud of the Bombers and what they have accomplished with all that’s been thrown their way, so I’m going to hand out some first-half awards to the most deserving Yanks on the team. At the end of the regular season, I’ll give the same awards out, and see who kept those honors in the second half.

YANKEES MVPRobinson Cano (.313 AVG, 20 HR, 51 RBI)

For what I believe would be my third straight year giving him the award, Robinson Cano is the Yankees’ First Half MVP in my mind. Getting off to an unusual slow start in the early part of the season, Cano has really heated up since the start of May, batting .344 since. He leads the team in RBI, batting average, slugging percentage, and OPS, so stats-wise, he is the clear cut MVP. He also already has 20 home runs, thanks to hitting 9 in his last 25 games.  He’s well on his way to break his home run record of 29 in 2010, and should be in the thick of the running for the AL MVP come season’s end. My runners up are Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson. Both had great first halves, but without Cano the Yankees are probably treading water right now.

YANKEES CY YOUNG AWARDRafael Soriano (2-0, 1.60 ERA, 20 SV)

This is a questionable and tough award to hand out. Typically, the Cy Young goes to the best starter, but it’s hard to choose from this bunch. I could say CC Sabathia, but he’s had a handful of rough outings. Andy Pettitte has only made 9 starts, and Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes, and Hiroki Kuroda have all had inconsistent stretches. So to me, the Yankees “Cy Young” so far, is their closer Rafael Soriano. Who would have thought that when Mariano Rivera went down for the season, Soriano would step up and be one of the best closers in baseball – not to brag, I did. I strongly supported the idea of giving Soriano a chance to redeem himself after a mediocre first year in New York, and so far he’s done way more than that. It’s a shocker to me he’s not an All-Star, and he has regained the swagger and poise that made him such a feared closer in 2010, when he saved 45 games for the Rays. There’s just no doubt that Sori is the most consistent and reliable pitcher this year for the Yankees.

YANKEES ROOKIE OF THE YEARDavid Phelps (3.05 ERA in 41.1 IP)

To some, this award doesn’t mean much, because there’s only a couple rookies who have been on the roster for longer than a week. But the one who has been here the longest, and now is in AA being stretched out, is David Phelps. At the beginning of the season, he was a stud, being the long man in the bullpen, getting key outs and turning away fierce hitters. When the Yankees needed him to spot start, he answered the call and did great, scattering 3 runs over 3 starts. Most recently, he struck out 8 over 7 innings of work against the Rays a little more than a week ago. Congrats David, hopefully the award can be sent to ‘ya in Trenton.

YANKEES COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEARPhil Hughes (9-7, 4.33 ERA, 92 SO)

Granted, Phil Hughes is nowhere near a solid starter, but he is head and shoulders above where he was last year. After being out of shape and injured early on in 2011, Hughes finished the year with a 5.79 ERA in just 17 games. Reverting back to the offseason program and mentality that made him a great #3 starter for the Yankees in 2010, Hughes has since become that again here in 2012. After more downs than ups from April to the middle part of May, Hughes has really turned it on of late, allowing just 5 earned runs in his last 7 starts. The thing that clinches this award for Hughes, besides no other player really in a comeback situation, is that he has been healthy and has grown to be a consistent starter, knocking on wood, since May. If he keeps it up, he has a chance to start the fourth game in a 7-game series, considering CC, Kuroda, and Pettitte get the first three. Keep it up Phil.

So there you guys have it. Those are my awards for the first half of the Yankees season. Do you agree? Are there more awards you can think of? More deserving players? Comment below!

Hughes cruises for 8 innings as Yanks beat White Sox 4-2 to tie series

In the first inning of the game, Phil Hughes was off to an inauspicious start as he let 2 runs score and left the Yankees in a 2-0 hole. Since the first inning he had put 0’s up on the scoreboard as the Yankees were able to defeat the White Sox 4-2 to tie the series at 2 games apiece.

Phil Hughes after the rocky first inning in which he gave up 2 runs and 3 hits went 7 more innings giving up 0 runs and 3 hits. Hughes went 8 innings with 2 runs on 6 hits with 8 strikeouts. Rafael Soriano came in the 9th inning to seal the deal and give the Yankees their 1st victory in July.

In the 2nd inning, Raul Ibanez singled and Eric Chavez hit a 2 run homer which tied the game at 2. In the 3rd inning Robinson Cano hit a 2 run homer with Mark Teixeira on base which gave them the 4 runs they needed to beat the White Sox.

Now the Yankees head on their final road trip of the first half of the season as they play 3 games in Tampa and 4 games in Boston (2 games on Sunday due to a doubleheader). Tomorrow it will be Freddy Garcia vs. the Rays pitcher Matt more as Garcia auditions for the rotation spot while Andy Pettitte & CC Sabathia are out with injuries. First pitch will be at 7:05pm.

Yankees Report Card: June

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?

Yankees sweep series over Braves with 3-2 victory behind Kuroda

In Hiroki Kuroda’s past 3 starts he held a 0.83 ERA which was the best out of the Yankees starters so far. Kuroda sure did no problems with pitching well for the Yankees as the Yanks were able to take the series sweep and beat the Braves by a score of 3-2 for the Yanks 6th straight win.

Kuroda pitched 6 innings while only giving up 2 runs on 9 hits with 8 strikeouts and 2 walks. Kuroda did have to work in and out of trouble, but there was something CC-esque about his outing since he was able to hold the Braves to only 2 runs while the Yankees quickly rallied back.

In the first inning, Derek Jeter doubled and was scored on an RBI single by Alex Rodriguez. In the 6th inning after Hiroki Kuroda gave up a HR to Brian McCann, Derek Jeter walked and Curtis Granderson hit a 2 run shot which gave the Yankees their 3-2 lead.

Cody Eppley and Boone Logan pitched well while Clay Rapada had the day off after pitching 4 straight games. The Yankees had Freddy Garcia warming up in the 8th inning but luckily Cody Eppley was able to get the double play to get out of the inning.

Tim Hudson had pitched against the Yankees in the past but the last time that the Hudson had pitched against them was in 2006. The last time Hudson had won against the Yankees was in 2003.  Unless Hudson pitches during the Yankees & Braves series in Yankee Stadium then Hudson might not pitch against them again until possibly maybe next year.

The Yankees have the off-day tomorrow and the Yankees will head to Washington to take on Bryce Harper and the red-hot Washington Nationals. David Robertson is making the trip with the team and he is slated to be activated on Friday. Phil Hughes is slated to get the start on Friday.

Wonder’Phil’ outing by Hughes & bats carry Yanks past Mets 4-2

When Phil Hughes had 70 pitches in the 4th inning, it wasn’t looking promising for the Yankees or to Hughes. Luckily Hughes was able to get it together and was able to out-pitch Dillon Gee for the victory with a 4-2 win over the Mets.

The Yankees scored their first run on an RBI single and Jeter scored but after that, the Yankees scored on HR’s. One HR was  a 2 run shot by Mark Teixeira (which gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead at the time) and the other was by Curtis Granderson (which gave the Yankees some breathing room heading into the 9th). Phil Hughes went 6 1/3 innings by only giving up 2 runs on 6 hits. His bugaboo however was the home run ball which gave the Mets a 2-1 victory at the time. Hughes has given up at least 1 HR in everyone of his starts this season.

The Yankees received terrible news before the game when Brett Gardner had elbow pain when he woke up this morning. The Yankees are sending him to Dr. Andrews on Monday to get evaluated. It could be one of two things that could be wrong with Gardner: he could either need Tommy John Surgery or it could just be the fact that Girardi keeps trying to rush him back. I’m hoping it’s choice 2.

Tomorrow Andy Pettitte will take the mound for the Yankees in an afternoon game! The Mets will send out left hander Jonathan Niese to try to prevent the sweep. First pitch is at 1:05pm.