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How is it that the Yankees have been able to do so well with so little? This question has been baffling many sportscasters and scouts this year. The Yankees and Joe Girardi has been great about maximizing the potential of players who were thought to be some other teams scraps. Is it that the Yankees are able to see things that other teams dont? Is it that the media attention of NY makes players try harder so that they pay more attention to their jobs because everyone is paying more attention to them? Or is it that the coaches and trainers for the Yankees are able to help the players make adjustments to make them better players? Yes ,Yes , and Yes! I believe all of these to be true. Lets look at some numbers of some players who are playing over expectations:
Lyle Overbay Ave .257 7 HR 25 RBI with an opps of .773 Its May folks at this pace he will finish with 23 HR 70 RBI. I think the Yankees would take that out of any player whose name is not Robinson Cano.
Vernon Wells. Ave .288 10 HR 25 RBI with an opps of .815 ok you never would have expected that Vernon Wells who has been bad since 2010 would finally start living up to his ridiculous contract.
Travis Hafner Ave .275 8 HR and 24 RBI in only 35 games with an OPS of .993 . He is a little fragile and has to have some time to heal his old body but man has Girardi known how to use him to get the most out of him.
The Yankees have some big decisions to make. Texeria and Youkolis will be coming off the DL in a couple of weeks and moves will have to be made. I really don’t see the Yankees letting Overbay go, he has been way to good. Texeria will be eased back into the line up and I truely believe that they might see if Overbay can take his glove into the outfield. Their are alot of good players with options that can be sent to scranton and recalled as needed. I think Nuno will go down when Pettitte returns. However he has certainly pitched well and im certain he will be coming back at the first hint of injury. I think that another pitcher will go down probably Claiborne but don’t be surprised if its Nova in an attempt to get him on a regular five day schedule again. Then whomever else they send down probably doesn’t deserve it. I would say let Hafner go. He is to fragile and it is inevitable when Arod returns anyhow. This would give you the oppertunity to use guys like Overbay and Wells in that spot for now. Lets just say its a problem that most managers would love to have. Will be interesting to see what they do.
The Yankee have to be the best injured team this season. How is it even possible that you can have a record of 12-9 when the only guy out their from last seasons opening day roster is Robinson Cano. With Jeter and A-Rod out till after the all star break and Texeria and Granderson out till sometime in May at the earliest Robinson Cano has Carried this team on his Back. He is beyond any doubt the best all around second baseman in the game. My man crush on Robbie Cano is a subject for another time but what isn’t is the fact that the injury snake had struck again. Tonight the Yankees have lost Francisco Cervelli . After taking a foul ball off his hand he was pulled from tonight’s game after trying to tough it out. X-Rays have revealed a break that will require surgery and will take him out of the fold for at least six weeks. I would say its almost a given that Austin Romaine will get a call up tomorrow Romaine has started out strong for the Scranton Rail Riders hitting .341 over 13 games. This will also mean more playing time for Stewart who is off to a hot start as well batting .304 with a HR . I love Stewart’s defense behind the dish I saw him make a snap throw to first the other day that was amazing and he never got out of his crouch.
If its not bad enough that Cervelli is out Starter Ivan Nova left in the third with soreness in his elbow. We are currently awaiting results of an MRI. Phelps pitched brilliantly in relief and Mariano picked up his eighth save in eight attempts. The 6-4 win over the Jays was their second in a row over a team that was supposed to be much improved after the huge trade with the Marlins during the off-season. The Jays are 9-15 so far this season and I for one am not surprised at their poor start. If the Marlins lost 100 games last year with these “superstars” why would the Jays be any better.
Enough about the Jays, how about David Phelps striking out 9 Jays over four innings of relief. I like him as a long man but I absolutely love him as a starter. Mark my words If David Phelps makes a start in place of injured Nova he will be brilliant. He has such good stuff. He has full control of his fast ball slider and curve and can throw them all for strikes whenever he wants. I liked him as a member of the rotation out of spring training but they really don’t listen to my recommendations. Although they should ,ever since I recommended against Cashman skydiving I have been on a role with my predictions. Tomorrow will be a battle of the lefties as Sabathia takes on JA Happ in an effort to send the Blue Jays home with a series loss. The Bombers have won three out of their last four series and tonight’s win has guaranteed them at least a split with the Jays before taking on the Astros on Monday.
Yes the Yankees are not looking so hot in the first week of the season but the bombers are no strangers to the slow start. Last season they started 0-3 and ended up just a few games from the World Series. Nobody can forget 1998 when the Yankees had a 1-4 start and ended up with 114 wins. I’m not going to lie and say that this team is even close to the talent level of that team but I truly believe that once the pitching starts to perform to the level that they should the Yankees will stay competitive until they get some of their wounded players back on the field.
Yes the Yankees are badly banged up and we all know that with the age of their line up that this has been a risk. The Yankees have a lot of talent on the DL right now with Jeter, Granderson, A-Rod , and Texeria out of the line up how well did you expect them to play. The good news is they are going to get them all back at some point this season and then some. The plan is for Granderson and Texeria to return on or around May 1st. Jeter shortly there afterwords. Then there is Michael Pineda and A-Rod who the Yankees hope to get back around mid season the roster will be dramatically different and obviously of a much higher caliper. This all sounds to optimistic so I’m going to add a few grains of pessimism to it. I don’t believe Jeter will be back any time soon and their is a possibility that he will not return at all or not be effective all season. He is 38 years old and is coming off a serious injury that is going to make his comeback a long hard road. There is also a possibility that Texeria’s injury will require surgery In order for the Yankees to be competitive they need two of three back between A-Rod ,Texeria and Granderson. Right now they also don’t have Nunez who I have allot more confidence in this year than in the past. He will when healthy be more than an adequate replacement for Jeter and I believe, as do the Yankees, that he will be their shortstop for many years to come. He has proven he can hit and he has great speed. Once he gets over his throwing issues, which is getting much better, he has allot of up side.
Starting tomorrow its back to the top of the Rotation and an opportunity for CC Sabathia to right the ship and pitch like the Ace he is. Its a tough bill consider he is facing Verlander who is probably the only pitcher in the American League who is better than he is. The Yankees just need to stay in the game and let Robertson and Rivera do their thing. Its a tough start to the season but they are against two of the better teams in baseball. Detroit being probably the best in the American League.
Everyone is freaking out that the Yankees are going to be horrible this year and blah blah blah. Here is why I think you are all crazy.
1. Pitching wins divisions: You can sit there and tell me that the staff is old and they have no depth but I will tell you that you are wrong. Pettitte’s injury last season had nothing to do with his age, He looked great last season and looks great so far this year. Sabathia and Kuroda are proven winners. Nova,Phelps and Hughes are certainly better than what most other teams have on the back side of their rotations.
2. Yankees have speed: After Grandersons return the Yankees will have Five guys that can steal a base. Ichiro, Gardner, Nunez, Granderson and Cano. ( hes not a burner but he gets good reads) The Yankees also have some minor leauge talent that might make an impact should they get the opportunity like Mesa and Almonte
3. Bull Pen the best thier is: Ardsma, Chamberlain, Robertson, Rivera. If these guys are on Its really just a six inning game.
4. Mid season health: Assuming that Tex doesn’t need surgery look for the Yankees to have alot more bang for their buck with ARod,Granderson,Cano,Texieria and Youk . Whats that about the Yankees not being able to hit HR???
5. Trade chips if needed: Make no mistake. If Texeria needs surgery and will miss the season Juan Rivera will not be our everyday first baseman for long. The Twinkies are rebuilding and this is Justin Mournous last season before free agency. You can bet some of the young talented prospects would look pretty good to the twins who are in need of young talent desperately. You will also see the Yankees make good at the trade deadline. Whether its and arm or a bat the Yankees have what they need to bring in the best rental available to drive the nail home.
I may sound like an optimist among a sea full of pessimists but the Yankees time and time again prove the negative media wrong. Remember Pitching wins Championships.
Every year I make some bold predictions for the year. Many of them, ok most of them do not come true but it will not stop me from making them. One day I will earn my self proclaimed title of the great Rookstradomeous. For those of you who dont know my last name is Rook. Ok lets start with the pitching staff.
CC Sabathia. CC has been the Rock for the Yankees staff and sill continue to do so this season. He looks trim and healthy and every year he does a little something to try and make himself better. This year I see him finding a way to stay healthy and perhaps even flirt with that 20 win mark. If there is a downside to CC’s game its that he sometimes falls victim to the long ball. He needs to trust his stuff and go back to using his slider as an out pitch.
Hiroki Kuroda. Kuroda will not be quite as sharp as he was last year mainly because American league hitters have had a season to make adjustments to his routine so I think that his lack of a heavy fastball will not fare well against the heavy hitters in the AL. Dont get me wrong I think he will still be effective but look for him to pitch to a line closer to this 15-13 170 innings 185 hits 20 HR and an ERA of 4.20 with 159 strike outs. Kinda pedestrian numbers but still good enough.
Andy Pettitte. Andy really didnt get much chance to really get things going last season before injury. I see alot of the old Pettitte in his approach and his confidence. I think he is going to have a fabulous season and although may not get that 200 inning mark look for him to have an ERA closer to 3 than 4.
Phil Hughes. I want to say Phil is going to show us his 18 win form but I fear the injury bug will have its toll on him. Dont see him making even 12 starts
David Phelps. Phelps will be the big suprise he will step in for an injured Hughes and will pitch to a sub 3 era with a record something like 15-4.
Ivan Nova. Nova will be the same old Nova he will start strong and then taper off. Look for him to be a mid-season trade candidate.
The bull pen will be a strength as usual with strong years from Robertson, Chamberlain and Rivera. The surprise pitchers will be David Ardsma and Adam Warren who will both have seasons that will help lead the Yankees to the playoffs.
Michael Pineda will have taken Novas spot by June in the rotation. He will make Cashman look like the genius that he once did when he initially made the trade in the first place. I still believe that Pineda will one day be the number one guy in the Yankees rotation. Remember he is still only 24 years old.
Pitching is going to be the Yankees strength this season but in order for them to make the playoff they will need to play world class defense and create runs. lets take a quick look at the starting 9
Brett Gardner- Brett should be the center fielder but will probably play left due to the injury to Granderson. Brett will be the lead-off guy and will have a career year from that spot hitting close to 300 with 40+ steals and 100+ runs scored
Derek Jeter- Will remain healthy enough to play the majority of the starts at SS. However I think that his age will catch up with him limiting his defense and making his offensive production more human like. .270 150 hits 75 RBI 10 HR
Kevin Youkilis- Youk will prove that he still has something left in the tank. He will put up decent power numbers but his average will be low and Strikeouts high. In a half season he will bat .260 14 HR 50 RBI
Alex Rodriguez- Will return at mid season at a time when the Yankees are slumping a little. The Steroid thing will never come to a head due to lack of a positive test. His hips may actually be stronger than ever and the rest will do him good look for him to have a huge second half and all is forgiven. 24 HR 60 RBI .324
Mark Texeria- Playing in the WBC will help mark get into baseball shape quicker than normal and will show in his regular season stats. Although he will never be the Tex that the Yankees thought they were getting he will win a gold glove and a silver slugger this year and will lead the team in HR with 38.
Robinson Cano- Best player in the game. I think the Yankees will lock him up with an 8 year deal before the season even starts and wont be sorry when he wins the MVP this season . 325 32 HR 120 RBI and a gold glove
Stuvelli- Stewart or Cervelli. I think Stewart will win the starting job and Cervelli the back up but look for one of these guys to hit the DL before mid season and Austin Romaine get a shot at the big show. Neither of them is built for the long haul.
Curtis Granderson- Granderson will be his same old self. Tons of HR with a good average and ok fielding. However look for him to be part of a trade package for whatever the Yankees need at mid season. After sinking a ton of money into Cano and not being able to slip out from under A-Roid there is no way they would have been able to keep him next year. Blockbuster trade in the making. Even if its for some top pitching prospects.
Ichiro Suzuki- Ichiro will continue where he left off and will work harder than anyone to prove that he belongs. He will have an average around .300 and will be knocking the door on 200 hits yet again and 30+ steals.
Travis Hefner- will be a bit of a disappointment at DH not hitting for average and striking out way to much. He may have some clutch HR early but I would not be surprised if he was released at mid season in favor of Youk DHing with A-roid reclaiming third base.
So where is the suprise? Zoilo Almonte will spend some time with the Yankees while Granderson is on the DL as will Melky Mesa and Ronnier Mustelier. We may also see Mark Mountgomery get a call up to the bull pen at the first sign of injury.
Although the Yankees have lost alot of power with the departure of Swisher, Ibanez, Jones,and Chavez They will find a way to score runs and win games. Look for alot of small ball. The Yankees have four guys that can steal a bag and you can bet that everyone will be doing bunting drills and I mean everyone. National league style play for the Yankees? You bet, Girardi did it with the Marlins and was successful so don’t be surprised at all.
With the swing of a bat and a throw of a pitch its time for spring training games to begin. Every year there are a few battles for roster spots and this year is no different. Lets look at the big ones.
Catcher: Its basically a three man race for two spots. Ultimately Austin Romaine is the catcher of the future as the roster is currently constructed. If he can show that he is ready and can beat out Cervelli and Stewart I think he has a chance to start. I don’t see any advantage to his development to making him the backup, he needs to play. Whether its at the major league level or at AAA being a back up is only going to hurt his development. That being said I think he will be starting at Scranton. I am pulling for him but Its a long shot.
Utility Infielder: Nunez and Nix are the candidates and I can see a case being made for Nix being the better defender and being able to play short or third but he is awful with the wood. Nunez has proven that he can hit at the Major league level and If he can get over his fielding woes, and its a big if, he is the guy I want out there. However does a reserve infielder need to be able to hit? Seems like it should be defense first. Nunez is younger and offers more on the base pads than Nix also. I am undecided but Im gonna say Nunez wins it out primarily because of all the other things Nunez can do with the bat that Nix cannot. Perhaps there will be some DH duty in their for him as well. As far as backing up at third A-Roid will be back eventually. God its a tough call. Also in the mix is Dan Johnson and Corbin Joseph although I figure one of them might make the bench anyhow because of them being left handed batters.
Fouth outfilder: Matt Diaz, Juan Rivera, Melky Mesa, Thomas Neal, Ronnier Mustelier, Zoilo Almonte One of either Diaz or Rivera will probably take the platoon position that was previously held by Andruw Jones. But don’t expect both of them or any of the others to make the team. Mustelier is an intetesting prospect in that he also plays third. He is one of those almost good enough for the MLB kinda guys.
It seemed that the rotation was fairly set with CC Pettite Kuroda Hughes and Nova. But now Hughes has a bulging disc in his back. Which isnt as bad as it sounds but if it turns out to be something worse the Yankees may have some decisions to make. I think David Phelps is the logical choice to fill into the rotation. I actually think that there is a chance that he could beat out Nova for that fifth spot. This however is all the depth the Yankees have. Is there a chance the Yankees could go out and sign someone. Kyle Loshe is the name that keeps popping up. This would move Nova into the Bullpen along with Phelps if Hughes is healthy. Loshe would probably sit at number three or possibly number two in the rotation. He would also cost the Yankees a draft pick but they have two coming to them with the departure of Soriano and Swisher anyhow so this isnt a deal breaker. Loshe is a guy who could be a nice fit in the Bronx and although he is 34 years old and has a history of injury’s he has pitched well over the last couple of seasons . Last season he was a work horse, pitching 211 innings with a record of 16-3 and an ERA of 2.86. He may well be out of the Yankees price range but the longer he remains unsigned the better the chance of striking up a deal.However with Boras as his agent deals don’t come cheap.
Its been awhile since I have posted, primarily because there hasnt been a whole lot of newsworthy stuff coming out of Yankee-Land but I will try and recap the highlights and then break down a few predictions.
1. Arod’s surgery happened without any complications and if all goes well we should see him around the all-star break. Don’t count your chickens yet but there is a good chance that this surgery and its apparent increase in his range of motion may bring him back better than he was before. I would love to see a return of the Alex of 2007-2009.
2. Jeter is out of the walking boot and has been cleared for baseball activities. He states that he is right on track for where he needs to be and plans on being in the opening day line-up.
3. Although the Yankees have are still in search for a right handed bat compliment their all left handed outfield they did pick up a Journeyman in Russ Canzler who could be lightning in a bottle. He had 29 HR last year only 3 in the majors but truth be known he has never really been given a fair chance in the majors. At only 26 years old he can also play first base and will provide another right handed bat to DH or come off the bench.
4. The Yankees will go into spring training without knowing who their starting catcher or backup will be. It will be a competition between Chris Stewart, Francisco Cervelli, Austin Romaine and Bobby Wilson. I can honestly say I have no idea who will win this one. Stewart was last seasons back up and is known for his defense and not his bat. Cervelli is probably not as talented defensively but has shown a bit more with the bat than Stewart but is also prone to extended slumps. Austin Romaine is tagged as the Catcher of the future but has almost zero big league experience and very little over the AA level. Bobby Wilson is a non roster invitee who was a back up with the Angels is defensive guy as well. To tell you the truth I don’t know who I prefer but im routing for Romaine to pick up some experience probably as the Back up to whomever wins the job.
There is also the question of DH. I believe they will probably not pick up anyone to fill this spot but go with Nunez and then when A Rod returns it will be Youk’s spot.
Even though the Yankees have not aquired alot of new faces lets not forget that the ones they have got them just a few games away from the world series last year and I have no doubt in my mind that Cashman will make sure that the product on the field will be one that is capable of wining it all or he will make the moves necessary to do so. In Cash We Trust.
There really hasn’t been any big surprises. The Yankees have signed Ichiro to a two year 12 million dollar contract. Not a surprise there except maybe a little surprised that he got two years. There was some talks that the Yanks might be interested in Bourne. However that rumor was quickly squashed and didn’t make any sense in the first place. The Yankees already have two speedy defensive outfielders in Gardner and Suzuki and he is left handed. The Yankees have shifted their priority to a right handed platoon type outfielder to compliment Suzuki and Gardner. Then a DH is said to be next. The Yankees still have an Interest in Ibanez but this seems to be on the Back burner until they find a right handed outfielder. This may become problematic if they truly are planning on resigning him as a DH because Seattle seems to be putting on the full court press and Ibanez seems to want to settle a contract sooner rather than later. It is becoming more and more evident to me that the Yankees may be going with Romaine and Stewart as their Catching Duo. Many believe that Cervelli will be in the mix but it seems to me that they have lost all confidence in him and at one point he was reduced to a minor league back up. He calls a good game but his defense is average and his hitting, although good at times, is inconstant.
I think the Rotation is set but wont be surprised to see them sign a couple of old veterans in January to compete for depth. Kind of bottom feeding type deal. The Yankees have had luck with this in the past. I think the Rotation will be CC, Kuroda, Pettitte, Hughes and Nova. Although I think that if Phelps has a good spring he could muscle that fifth spot away from him. The Bullpen will look much the same as it did last year with the exception of David Ardsma being back from Tommy John Surgury. Ardsma has had allot of success in past years so it will be interesting to see how he performs after missing a season.
UPDATE: At this very moment the Mariners have agreed to a one year deal with Raul Ibanez. So this will force the Yankees to continue to seek a DH elsewhere. I would like to see Lance Berkman fill this role but I would not be suprised to see the Yankees go for a less expensive platoon type deal that would involve Nunez getting some DH at bats. Migel Cirio? Johnny Damon? Bobby Abreu? any other old washed up Yankees you might want to bring back?
Holes is one thing the Yankees have had allot of this off-season, Needing a Catcher, RF, Third Baseman, Infield backup, forth outfielder, Back up first-baseman and a DH. They may even consider another starting pitcher above all that, but pitching seems to be one area the Yankees are pretty comfortable in right now after resigning Kuroda and Pettitte to back up their Ace Sabathia. The Yankees have just agreed to a 12 million dollar one year deal with former nemesis Kevin Youkilis who will play third and back up first base. He may also see some time at DH once A-rod returns from Hip surgery, hopefully in July. Kevin is certainly not what he once was but playing for the Yankees and working with Kevin Long seems to bring the best out of all hitters who come. Speaking of which the Yankees are close to a reunion with fan favorite Ichiro Suzuki, who after a horrible start in Seattle was traded to the bombers only to see him look like an all-star batting over 300 and absolutely terrorizing opposing pitchers on the base-pads. With Gardner healthy again the Yankees will arguably have the fastest outfield in the Majors. However not a whole lot of power from the Corners and all left handed. Look for the Yankees to bring in a righty who can platoon in left and right field for those tough left handers. Scott Hariston as well as a few others seem to be on the Yankees radar and there has been rumblings of Josh Hamilton dawning the pin stripes but I believe this to be wishful thinking unless he will take a three or four year deal that would have to be creatively structured for, the Yankees to meet ownership’s 189 million dollar salary by 2014. I also believe that they have some serious interest in bringing back Ibanez to be that DH slash fourth or fifth outfielder. The need for a catcher seems to be on the back burner right now Cashman claiming that they will fill this internally between Stewart,Cervelli and Romaine, Yeah just like that time Bubba Crosby was going to be the Yankees center fielder. It does seem that it isnt as much of a priority but that may change once all the other position contracts have been finalized. I still believe AJ Prezinski is the best move here but they don’t care what I think to much.
As most of you may already know Martin has agreed to a deal with the Pirates. I find it hard to believe that the New York Yankees will go with any of their internal candidates so lets take a look at what else is out there.
1. Mike Napoli : Napoli played with the Rangers last season and I believe he probably will resign there. He had 24 HR and good defense although his batting average was only .227 at 31 he will be the most coveted after catcher now that Martin is gone.
2. A.J. Pierzynski: Coming off a career year with the White Sox AJ is 35 years old and knocked in 27 HR with 77 RBI and a .277 BA last season. The question is can he repeat this performance. AJ would thrive in the Big Apple being a player that plays with alot of passion and energy. If you think Joba and his fist pump are media worthy in NY I can hardly imagine what AJ would bring. Like Martin I think the Yankees will show interest but he may seek more money than they are willing to spend. But If he would take a one or two year deal at say 7m a year the Yankees would be dumb not to jump.
3,Rod Barajas: 37 years old, very little power, HORRIBLE DEFENSE. Only got out like 6% of base runners
4.. Henry Blanco: 41 years old played off the bench for the Diamondbacks. Not even a consideration for back up so don’t even think about him. He should retire before embarrassing himself further.
5.Migel Olivo: He is borderline in every aspect hitting fielding ect… I dont think the Yankees would show an interest in him but he is a better choice than anything they have in house.
6.David Ross: last years back up for the Red Sox at 35 still has some pop left in his bat but not an everyday player in my mind.
7.Mike Nickeas lol NO
so basicly the only free agent catchers to be considered are AJ and Napoli, both of which may be to expensive for the Yankees to fit into their newly tight purse.
There seems to be some talk that perhaps a trade makes sense. Anyone for a Granderson for Mauer trade? I love the Idea. Granderson is very Overrated. OK, he does hit for a ton of power last year hitting 43 long balls but its the .223 BA and the 195 strikeouts that concern me. Mauer is a career .300 hitter that has been plagued by injuries the last couple of years but when healthy there is no a better catcher in the game. certainly not one that can hit .300 double digit homers and has a career .995 fielding percentage. 3 gold gloves and 4 silver sluggers by age 29 certainly make mauer worth the big price tag that he holds. Yes its a very big price tag. In order for something like this to happen the Twins would have to eat some of the 23 million a year and he also has full no trade protection.