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Yanks’ Have What It Takes, But Will It All Come Together?

One month ago, many people including myself were incredibly worried about the Yankees potentially missing the playoffs. The Bombers’ huge ten game lead in the division had dwindled down to one, as the Baltimore Orioles played their best baseball in 15 years. Not only that, but the Yankees themselves were playing absolutely terrible baseball, and many were calling for Joe Girardi’s head.

But by re-gaining some important sidelined players and taking advantage of an easy schedule to end the year, the Yankees came together and wound up making the playoffs and could clinch the A.L. East tonight with a win over the Red Sox. The calendar has now flipped to October, and this postseason is shaping up to be an uphill battle for baseball’s winning-est franchise.

As displayed in September, this Yankees team is not one to be taken lightly, and very easily could the club come together on all aspects and make a fierce run for their 28th world championship. For that to happen, the team will need to play as one unit, consistently producing by way of clutch pitching AND hitting – something we haven’t seen from the Yankees on a nightly basis really all year.

And ironically every time the playoffs roll around, the Yankees go about it saying, “it’s just another game on the schedule”. Yet for the past few years, they’ve played their worst baseball in October. Last year they couldn’t buy a run with men on base; and in 2010 their pitching (besides Andy Pettitte) tanked against Texas in the ALCS. Besides the glorious season of 2009, you can trace every Yankee playoff loss in the past 10 years to a lack of either clutch hitting/pitching, or both in the same series. Don’t even get me started about Jaret Wright or Chien-Ming Wang.

I’m not saying the Yankees lie about their approach to the postseason, but clearly something changes in them over the course of the days following Game 162 and Game 1 of the ALDS. They just aren’t the same Bombers we see throughout the summer.

Maybe this year though, that would be a good thing. No, a great thing.

I’m not saying it’s as simple as the law of averages, but the Yankees really haven’t been the consistent, overpowering force in the American League they normally are each regular season. Sure, they wound up on top of the division again, and you bet they were right there in the standings for the best record in Major League Baseball. But more often than not there was uncertainty and inconsistent play by New York. They’d sweep a series versus a pennant chaser, then lose 2 of 3 to a non-contender. The injuries piled up as well, largely the reason why the Yankees faltered in mid-August and nearly lost a grip on control of their playoff destiny.

Now, the Yankees are a much healthier and complete team then they were. Andy Pettitte, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark Teixeira have returned and (for the most part) really haven’t skipped a beat. Not only that, but the past couple weeks the Yankees played some of their best baseball, getting hits with runners in scoring position that aren’t also known as “home runs”. Sure, they still heavily rely on the long ball, but guys who can’t crush a fastball 400 feet every night are learning to be better situational hitters, and looking to rather move a runner to third then trying to score him on one swing of a bat. As I mentioned, hitting with RISP has been the Yankees’ Achilles heel for most of this season and certainly a prime reason for their first-round exit last year. Hitting well now should have some level of a positive impact on how the Yankees swing the lumber as the playoffs begin in a couple days.

Not forgotten is also the pitching staff this year, which has had some streaks of success and streaks of utter failures. As mentioned earlier, the rotation is now re-stocked with the clutch southpaw Andy Pettitte returning from the freak injury he suffered in late June. He’s come back and shown no signs of slowing down, and is absolutely essential to any World Series run the Yankees want to make this year. If he didn’t come back from retirement, the Yankees may not have been back in the postseason.

The other pitchers who haven’t been gone as long – CC, Kuroda, and Hughes, all had solid seasons, Kuroda especially. From May on, he arguably was the ace over a hobbled and inconsistent Sabathia, posting a 3.34 ERA (as of the morning of October 3rd) with 15 wins. Hughes, as I tabbed him the Yankees “Comeback Player of the Year”, looked like his 2010 self here in 2012, hovering around a 4 ERA but putting in a number of quality/dominant outings. More importantly, CC has clearly re-gained his health and strength, as he finished the season with three outstanding starts following an up and down second half of the year.

Say what you want about them, but the Yankees’ bullpen still has many quality relievers who have postseason experience. That’s not something you can say about the Orioles and A’s, of course. It’ll certainly be bittersweet when instead of the Sandman entering, we have Rafael Soriano jogging out to some mamba music in the 9th inning. But he still did a fantastic job as the first successor to the great Mariano Rivera. Sori has been mostly automatic all year for New York, but of course, nothing is certain with closers in the postseason, so all we can do is hope Girardi doesn’t over-use him and he stays fresh enough to produce just as well as he did in the regular season.

The supporting cast, as I like to call them, also had good years, and should be able to transition into the fall. Set-up man David Robertson pitched to a tune of a 2.67 ERA, once again shutting down hitters and building the bridge to Rafi’s entrance in the 9th. Joba Chamberlain has emerged as the Yankees’ 7th inning man, returning back to pumping his 96 mph fastball and getting outs when needed. He’s nowhere near the superstar status he nearly achieved when he first burst onto the scene in 2007, but he’s definitely already had his share of moments in the playoffs and should be able to be relied upon to help the Yankees in those close game situations.

You’d figure the Yankees’ top flight starters of CC, Kuroda, and Andy should be able to get the Yankees to the 6th inning at the very least, but if not, you still have other options out of the ‘pen. Boone Logan, Cody Eppley, and David Phelps can all too contribute to the Yankees’ quest for another world championship.

All in all, this Yankees team is absolutely good enough to win it all. When they are firing on all cylinders, they are a very hard team to beat. The problem is, normally they aren’t. Stranger things have happened in the playoffs before, but the Yankees are going to have to do some quick soul searching and quick rebounding to try and play as a complete team and get those 11 more wins needed, for #28.

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.

Morning Bits: Jeter, Soriano and more…

Sticking with the old mug for good luck

Good Morning.  How about Russell Martin coming up clutch last night.  It was a good thing because Baltimore won as well.   Ivan Nova is on the mound this afternoon against Blackley.  Game time is for 1:05PM EST.  Enjoy!

Now for some links…

Ian Begley of ESPN NY looks into managing Jeter’s injury.

Bryan Hoch of MLB.com has the updated path to the postseason.

Paul Casella has the preview of today’s game as Nova looks to extend the winning streak to seven games.

Peter Botte of The Daily News writes that Girardi mentions that Soriano may have a “dead arm.”

 

Morning Bits: Soriano, Playoffs, Pettitte

Sticking with the old mug for good luck

The Yankees are off today.   That doesn’t mean to not scoreboard watch though as Tampa and B’more both have games.   The Yankees will begin a series with Toronto tomorrow as Pettitte will be back on the mound.

Enjoy the day now for some links…

Matt Ehalt of ESPN NY has a story on Soriano who got his 40th save yesterday.

Steven Miller of MLB.com takes a look at the path to the postseason for the Yankees.

Barry Bloom of MLB.com writes with 2013 looming Pettitte is focused on now.

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.

Morning Bits: Nunez, Red Sox, Soriano

Good morning all.  The Yankees begin a series with the Red Sox tonight.  Game time is set for 7:10PM EST.  On the mound will be Kuroda vs Lester.   The other game we need to be following is the O’s vs Rays.

Enjoy the day.  Now for some links…

Andrew Marchand says it’s time to start Nunez!

Joey Nowak of MLB.com has the preview of tonight’s game.

Dan Martin of The New York Post writes that Soriano is saving his best for last.

Yankees rally to regain 3 game lead over AL East over Orioles

For the first 7 innings, it looked as if the Orioles were in control to finally close the gap of the AL East to one game, leaving the Yankees in shock and despair. However, the game ended up taking an odd twist in the 7th inning where walks were the way to score tying and go ahead runs as the Yankees defeated the Orioles 4-3 to tie the series at one game apiece.

Eduardo Nunez (who joined the roster today) hit an RBI to cut the lead to a one run deficit. Ichiro then followed suit with a walk to load the bases. Derek Jeter didn’t have to do anything fancy to get the run home–he walked. So did Nick Swisher which gave the Yankees a 4-3 lead. 

David Phelps wasn’t sharp but he was able to keep the Yankees in the game throughout 5 innings. It was startling that he gave up 5 walks and hit a batter. Boone Logan took over for 2.2 innings and David Robertson & Rafael Soriano followed. 

The biggest bullet that was dodged (besides the Yankees having a 3 game lead instead of a  1 game lead) was Curtis Granderson. Granderson left the game after he grimaced during his at-bat. His MRI showed he had mild tendinitis and he will most likely play tomorrow, at least that’s what he told reporters. 

“”I didn’t feel a pop or a snap or anything like that. Just something didn’t feel right.” Granderson said. Well Curtis, we’re glad that you’re all right. With A-Rod coming back Monday and Teixeira on Friday, we didn’t need anyone else getting bit by the injury bug. 

— Brandon Laird was claimed off of waivers by the Houston Astros, so there was another Yankee we lost to them. We also lost Justin Maxwell earlier in the year. 

 

Morning Bits: Sabathia, Soriano & Hughes

Good morning all.   Hughes had a good outing and Cano made a hell of a double play.   Soriano came in and closed the game out.   Tampa lost which is good but the O’s won again.   Today is a day game as C.C. will be on the mound against Happ.  First pitch is scheduled for 1:05PM EST.
Enjoy the game.  Now for some links…

ESPN Stats shows how Sabathia owns the Jays.

Andrew Marchand of ESPN NY writes that Mariano mentors an angry Soriano.

Mark Feinsand mentions that Hughes gave a gritty effort.

Morning Bits: Soriano blows off the media, Stretch run & More

What a horrible day for the Yankees in many ways last night.   They lost the game and lost Mark Teixeira for at least a week.  The year of the injuries continues.   Also Baltimore moved up in the standings.  The Yankees are back at it tonight with first pitch scheduled for 7:05PM EST.  On the mound will be Hughes vs Romero.   I will be at the game tonight as well.

Enjoy the day.  Now for some links….

Johnette Howard of ESPN NY writes that the Bad News Bombers are going into the stretch run the wrong way.

Ian Begley has some notes on the Bombers including that A-Rod will take batting practice today.

Greg Zeck of MLB.com has the preview of tonight’s game.

John Harper of The Daily News mentions that Soriano blew off the media after blowing the game last night.

Standings from ESPN.COM

Teixeira and Chavez go back-to-back as Yankees split series with 4-3 victory over Tigers

After it looked like the Yankees and Tigers weren’t going to play the game due to rain, the rain stayed away and let the Yankees and Tigers play the whole game but there was more than enough drama as the Yankees scratched out a 4-3 victory over the Tigers to even the series at 2.

After a delay of game, the Yankees quickly got two runs in the 2nd inning against Doug Fister after Raul Ibanez tripled to knock in a run, followed by Ichiro Suzuki getting his own RBI. The Yankees game was very emotional when in the 5th inning the Tigers tacked on three runs. The third run never should have scored. Andy Dirks hit a fly ball to left field that umpire Tim Welke called foul, but when the ball hit the ground and rolled away, Welke changed his call to a fair ball, which allowed the third run to score. Joe Girardi immediately came out of the dugout to argue the call and after the umpires felt Girardi was questioning them, they ejected him for his third ejection of the season (all three of his ejections this season came against the Tigers).

The Yankees scored the third and fourth runs in the 8th inning after Mark Teixeira and Eric Chavez hit back-to-back homers to give the Yankees the 4-3 lead. However, the Yankees tight roped their way to the victory after they called upon David Phelps to get two of the three outs in the 8th inning and asked Rafael Soriano to get a four out save. Soriano got into trouble in the 9th inning after Alex Avila doubled and Omar Infante singled to give the Tigers first and third with no one out. However, Soriano was able to induce popups from Ramon Santiago and Quintin Berry and for the final out was able to get Andy Dirks to sky out to Curtis Granderson.

The Yankees now head to Canada where they will face the Blue Jays in a three game set. First pitch tomorrow night is at 7:05pm.

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: Swisher likely to sit, past weekend fluke or omen?, Soriano, Jeter

Good morning all and now the streak is at 4.   The Yankees are probably happy to get out to Oakland and move onto Seattle.  Today would be a good day to get back into the win column because tomorrow they face King Felix.   On the mound tonight is Kuroda vs Millwood.   First pitch is at 10:10PM EST.

Enjoy the day now for some links….

Evan Drellich writes instead of taking a risk, Swisher likely to sit for the Seattle series.

Josh Liebeskind has the pregame report of tonight’s game.

Wallace Matthews asks if this past weekend is a fluke or omen.

— Also from ESPN NY Soriano was surprised by the game-tying home run & was it a bad hop or a bad field in the 12th?

Christopher Connors of The Bleacher report has 4 bold predictions for the bronx bombers in the 2nd half.

Teixeira & Martin bail out Kuroda as Yanks slip past Angels 6-5

The Yankees ended the first half of the season right with a win and they started the second half of the season with a win as well. While Kuroda faltered for the Yankees towards the end, Mark Teixeira and Russell Martin were able to bail him out as the Yankees beat the Angels in the series opener 6-5.

The Yankees started the game behind in the 3rd when Eric Aybar hit a solo shot. That was when Mark Teixeira hit the first of his 2 home runs of the game. The 2 run shot by Teixeira made it 2-1 New York in the 3rd. In the top of the 7th inning, Mark Trumbo hit a 3 run shot which made the game 4-2 Angels. The Yankees had a chance the previous inning but stranded Granderson after a lead-off triple. The Angels would score one more off Kuroda in the 8th inning before being taken out for Chad Qualls who has pitched brilliantly since coming to New York in that trade with the Phillies.  The Yankees had a Hollywood 8th inning as Mark Teixeira hit his second HR of the evening which tied the game at 5. Russell Martin couldn’t have written a better script for how this game went even if he tried. After fighting off some pitches, Martin had a go-ahead RBI single which plated Dewayne Wise.

Martin was also fantastic defensively as he was able to catch Mark Trumbo, Alberto Callapso and Howie Kendrick stealing, the latter ending the game for the Yankees and securing Rafael Soriano‘s 21st season save.

Tomorrow the Yankees will face the Angels in an afternoon game. Freddy Garcia will be on the mound for the Yankees. First pitch is at 1:05pm.

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!

Phelps holds Rays down as Yanks take series finale with 4-3 win

The Yankees were unsure what they were going to get out of David Phelps in today’s game, but the results were quite delightful as the Yankees were able to snap a 9 game skid while playing at Tropicana Field with a 4-3 win.

Although David Phelps went 4.1 IP he was very impressive by allowing only 1 run on 2 hits and 8 strikeouts. In total, the Yankees had 16 strikeouts in the ball game (8 by Phelps, 3 by Cody Eppley, 2 by Boone Logan, 2 by David Robertson & 1 by Rafael Soriano). If Phelps were more stretched out then he could have went longer in the game and had probably have been more dominant as the game went along.

In the beginning of the game, the Yankees were having trouble with David Price who only gave up 1 run on 4 hits in 7 innings, but in the 8th the Yankees old buddy Kyle Farnsworth was able to bail them out of losing 10 straight at Tropicana Field by leaving the bases loaded before getting lifted for Jake McGee. Robinson Cano scored 2 runs off of Jake McGee (Both runs charged to Farnsworth).

The Yankees have an off-day tomorrow but on Friday they are playing in Fenway Park in a 4 game series (2 games on Saturday) vs. the Red Sox. Make sure you drink a lot of coffee for this series folks! You’re going to need it.

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?