Saturday, June 30, 2012

Yankees vs. White Sox 6/30: Lineups and Notes

HIROK
After losing to the Chicago White Sox by a score of 14-7 in the bronx last night, the New York Yankees hope to rebound by sending Hiroki kuroda to the mound. Adam Warren made his major league debut last night with the start and it was not pretty. He pitched 2 1/3 innings and gave up six runs on eight hits.

The Yankees announced today that Warren would be sent back down to the minor leagues and call up DJ Mitchell. The fresh arms should help the Yankees, who used five pitchers to relieve Warren, including outfielder DeWayne Wise who collected two outs on the mound. Girardi announced today that David Phelps will start on Wednesday against the Rays and could be expected to throw 80-85 pitches.

Here is the lineup for Game 77:
1. Jeter - SS
2. Granderson - CF
3. Rodriguez - 3B
4. Cano - 2B
5. Teixeira - 1B
6. Swisher - DH
7. Ibanez - RF
8. Martin - C
9. Wise - LF


Kuroda has been pitching very well since the calendar turned to June and Yankee Stadium provides the right setting for most of his wins. He'll be taking on Jake Peavy and that can be seen on the YES Network with first pitch set for 1:05.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Is Ibanez the Answer in Left?

Just recently Yankee outfielder Brett Gardner suffered a setback in rehabilitation of his right elbow injury. The team was forced to place him on the 60-Day disabled list and have set mid to late July as his earliest possible return. The July date in mind might just be a dream, as Yankee fans seem to have given up hope that Gardner will contribute at all this season. Especially after cameras caught a bummed looking Gardner on the bench in a cast this past week.


Throughout the year Raul Ibanez has seen most of the playing time in Gardner’s absence. However, is Ibanez the right guy? At age 40, Ibanez does not run like he used to. He is a liability in the base paths and in left field. He has an average throwing arm and struggles to cover enough ground in the outfield. To me, he is just another low average, high home run power hitter in a Yankee lineup full of them with the likes of Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson


Back in May I posted a piece outlining the importance of Brett Gardner to the Yankee lineup. I stated that Gardner provides speed and aggression on the base paths and is a pesky hitter who works the count. Gardner turned the Yankee lineup into a “small/smart ball” team that strategically manufactured runs. Without Gardner the Yankees have none of that, but instead are completely predicated on the long ball and other big plays to score. Although the Yankees have proved me wrong and gone on a tremendous run without Gardner’s presence, I still stand by my believe that come October, especially in the unfavorable cold air, the Yankee bats will go cold and fail them. The style they currently play is not a championship formula. Runs win games; “small/smart ball” wins championships. 


Who should replace Brett Gardner? Dewayne Wise. Although not as talented, Wise fits the mold of what Brett Gardner provided to the Yankee lineup. In his limited chances this season, Wise has stolen six bases and not been thrown out once. Ibanez has played far more than Wise and only stolen two. Wise’s running ability is also clear in that he is the player Joe Girardi always calls on for late game pinch running. One can argue that Ibanez is a better hitter than Wise, but as Ibanez is cooling down, Wise is heating up.  In the last seven days Dewayne Wise has batted .375 to Ibanez’s .294. Furthermore, for the entire month of June Wise has batted .286 to Ibanez’s .177. And really, how many home run hitters do the Yankees need in one lineup. What they need is a table setter that can get on base and manufacture runs when the bats cannot; Dewayne Wise is currently the closest thing the Yankees have to Brett Gardner. 


Also unlike Ibanez, Wise is a defensive strength. He has above average speed which allows him to cover ground that Ibanez could only dream of. Wise also possesses a stronger and more accurate arm than Ibanez and is a magician with the glove. Did you see the catch he made as he ran into the stands the other night? Okay, he really didn’t catch the ball, but the point is Ibanez wouldn’t have even made it a play. Remember the home run Wise robbed to preserve Mark Buehrle’s perfect game when he played for the Chicago White Sox? That is an example of what Wise can do. 


It appears that Joe Girardi might be seeing things like I am, as he slowly incorporates Wise into the lineup more and more. Dewayne Wise fits perfectly in the nine hole of the Yankee lineup where he can be protected, but still act as a lead-off hitter when the lineup turns over. As good as the Yankees regular season may end up, don’t expect the Yankees to be a sure championship pick until they get some kind of table setter that can manufacture runs even when the bats go cold. 

Game 75: Keep Fighting

(ESPN)
The Yankees got some really tough injuries news with CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte on the shelf until after the All-Star Break. Luckily, the team has been playing really well recently and hopefully they can weather the storm. It starts tonight. Here's the lineup:

  1. Derek Jeter, SS
  2. Curtis Granderson, CF
  3. Alex Rodriguez, DH
  4. Robinson Cano, 2B
  5. Mark Teixeira, 1B
  6. Nick Swisher, RF
  7. Raul Ibanez, LF
  8. Eric Chavez, 3B
  9. Chris Stewart, C
And it will be Ivan Nova on the bump. This one will start a little after 7 and can be seen on YES.

Russell Martin Update: Martin's back stiffness has come back, but he's hoping it's just another one day thing.

Pettitte & Sabathia Update: CC has been placed on the 15-day DL and Pettitte is now on the 60-day. Ryota Igarashi and Adam Warren have been called up in their places. Warren was added to the 40 man.



Don't Rush To Anything

Despite the win, yesterday was a pretty awful day in my book. Not only did we get the news of CC Sabathia missing two starts, but Andy Pettitte took a grounder off the ankle and suffered a fracture keeping him sidelined for around two months. This opens up two very big holes in the rotation, so what will this situation sort itself out.

For the time being Freddy Garcia and Adam Warren will take the open spots. In the time when Brian Cashman has been in full control of the team, he has never made a rash decision and I expect that to hold true now. Sure the Bombers lost two big pieces, but it's worth seeing what he has inside the organization. All he needs is one of Warren or Garcia to be solid through two starts (preferably both would be solid) before CC comes back.

My point the Yanks don't need to rush into anything at all, especially since they have David Phelps a couple of weeks away too. The plan as far as attacking the starting pitching trade market shouldn't change; it's not like they lost anyone for the season, and they have plenty of stopgaps. We have some time until the deadline and to evaluate what we have; we have to use it and not rush into anything.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Note To Self: Do Not Attending Games Where Pettitte Is Pitching

Andy Pettitte has a fractured left ankle and will miss about six weeks. Sitting in Section 418 at Yankee Stadium today, I would have never thought he broke a bone. He seemed alright, and I thought he would be ready for his next start.

His injury is obviously more serious than I imagined, and there is something very strange about it. I am not one to attend Yankees games too much, but the last two I've been to have been signficant. The last one I went to, July 19, 2010, featured a pitching duel between Rays ace David Price and Andy Pettitte.

In that game, Petttitte injured his groin and was out until September.

Before this one, I never thought it could happen again. Before my friends and I left for the Stadium, I mentioned to the guys that Pettitte got hurt at the last game I was at. They joked that I am bad luck for Andy, so much so that one of the people I was with said, "we should have left you home".

Maybe I should have listened.

On Dellin Betances

There's no way around it; Dellin Betances has not had a very good 2012. That actually may be putting it lightly. The 24-year-old righty has pitched to a 6.39 ERA and a 5.88 FIP (71 K/69 BB) across 16 starts and 74.2 innings. For a guy who was inside the top five on all Yankees prospect lists before the year started, this is certainly not how anyone saw this season getting underway. Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus had a little something to say about Betances' woes:
Betances now has a 6.39 ERA, including a 9.00 mark in five June starts. He's walks 69 batters in 74.2 innings, and he hasn't had a quality start since early May. At some point you have to 
give up the ghost. At some point it doesn't make sense to keep running him out there every five days to fail. Whether it's a move to the bullpen or some time off to work on his broken delivery, it's time to shake something up here.
Clearly there's something wrong here. Dellin has some of the best stuff in all of Minor League Baseball when he's on, but we always knew the control was up and down, but it's never been this bad. I don't think moving him to the bullpen is necessary yet, you might as well be patient with him and it's not like the big league team needs help any time soon in that department, but Goldstein's other suggestion is an interesting one.

Giving Betances some rest would be a pretty good idea. They could place him on the phantom DL and it would give him time to just work on his delivery and mindset. After this he can rehab his way back to Scranton and work up some confidence by facing lesser hitters. It's probably a long shot, but I'm just spit balling, which is really all we can do.

Josh Norris reported that as of this morning, the plan was to send the big righty down to Trenton. I don't know if that is still the plan seeing as though Adam Warren just got called up to replace CC Sabathia. They may need the arm in Triple A. All I do know is that if Norris' report is true, it shows that the Yanks front office is starting to try something new which is good because we might as well at this point.

Injury Report: Sabathia And Pettitte

Here are some injury updates on the Yankees two lefty starters:
  • Prior to today's game, CC Sabathia was placed on the disabled list with a grade 1 groin strain and will be out until after the All-Star Break. The timing for this actually works out well because he will only miss two starts. It stinks, but at least it's not an arm thing. (Link)
  • Via the YES broadcast, Andy Pettitte has fractured his left ankle and will miss a minimum of six weeks. We had known about CC already so this really hurt. It stinks to lose your two best pitchers, but the other three are throwing the ball well. Adam Warren seems like a lock to get called up and start in Sabathia's spot while Freddy Garcia will slide into Andy's. Note sure who will be called up to fill out the bullpen, but I will update this post when we know more.
Update: Adam Warren will be called up to start Friday and Garcia has been pushed back to Monday. Warren has pitched to a 4.23 FIP over 86.1 innings. He got off to a rough start, but has come along since. He's still struggling to miss bats, but should be good as a fifth starter.

Game 74: Sweep!

(Reuters)
The Yankees have now won fourteen of seventeen and continue to mow down opponents left and right. Keep it going and get the sweep. Here's the lineup:

  1. Curtis Granderson, CF
  2. Nick Swisher, RF
  3. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
  4. Robinson Cano, 2B
  5. Mark Teixeira, DH
  6. Raul Ibanez, LF
  7. Eric Chavez, 1B
  8. Russell Martin, C
  9. Jayson Nix, SS
And it will be Andy Pettitte on the bump. This one will start a little after 1 and can be seen on YES and MLB Network.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Game 73: Birthday Boy On the Field

Happy 38th Birthday, Captain!
Derek Jeter will be at shortstop for his birthday instead of batting from the designated hitter's spot in the lineup or taking a day of rest. Alex Rodriguez is back at third base today after getting the full day off yesterday. Ibanez will get some rest from the field and Dewayne Wise will assume left field duties after hitting a homerun and triple in last night's 7-1 win over the Indians. 


Phil Hughes was killed by the homerun ball in his last outing., while Justin Masterson is coming off two nine strikeout games. Masterson is 4-4 in his last eight starts. 


Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Nick Swisher RF
Raul Ibanez DH
Dewayne Wise LF
Chris Stewart C



Russell Martin's back still appears to be sore, so Stewart will be catching Hughes on pursuit of his eighth win of the season. This one can be seen on My9 with first pitch scheduled for 7:05PM. 

Mason Williams' Superb Year

(Scout.com)
There have been many disappointments at the top of the Yankees farm system so far this year, namely Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances. This furthers the idea that the Yanks have no upper-tier talent in at the top of their system that can really help them in the next season or two. However, at the lower levels, there have been a few guys putting on shows and making names for themselves, most notably Tyler Austin who is now on everyone's radar. The center fielder on that same Low-A Charleston team broke out last year and continues to impress scouts and baseball people all over.

Mason Williams was a fourth round draft pick back in 2010 and received the highest bonus of the class due to his crazy speed and athleticism. Last year, he played for Short Season Staten Island and showed why the Bombers gave him so much money. He hit .349/.395/.468 (.404 wOBA) with three homers and 28 stolen bases as the lead off man for the NYPL champions.

This year, on a team stacked with prospects, he has continued to excel hitting .307/.354/.504 with eight homers and 18 stolen bases. Most kids have trouble adjusting from short season to full season ball, but not Williams; he hasn't missed a stride and besides one little slump, he has been killing it once again. Not only is he hitting for the same average again, but he's improved upon two different aspect of his game.

First of all, he is making a lot more contact than he was last year. You always like to see low K% from prospects and Mason fits the bill (9.9%) and although he has a low walk rate (5.7%), it's nice to see him putting the ball in play a lot. Since he's hitting for a high average and not striking out much at all, the walk rate really isn't too big of a deal. Obviously, we'll see if he sustain this amount of contact as he moves up the ladder, but it's nice to see him do it now.

The other thing that has just started to make itself noticeable in the last week is the power. In six less games than last year, Williams already has five more homers which has made many point out that the 20-year-old has put on some muscle mass. Keith Law said at some point last year that he could see Williams hitting 10-15 homers once he fills out and grows into his body, but I was skeptical. But now we're starting to see that this could very well be part of his game in the future.

Mike Newman just wrote piece on the young center fielder for Fangraphs after a few games of watching him play and projects him to be a top 50 prospect after this year. It's safe to think that Williams will stay at Charleston for the rest of this season, but with the way he is making contact and putting up numbers, maybe a promotion to Tampa wouldn't be so out of line. However, I would like to see Gary Sanchez and Tyler Austin up there first.

Yankees Acquire Danny Farquhar from Oakland

The New York Yankees have acquired Danny Farquhar off waivers from the Oakland Athletics and optioned him to the Trenton Thunder. The relief pitcher has several different pitches in his repertoire and oddly enough pitches them from several different arm angles. While in the Toronto Blue Jays' minor league system, Farquhar was being prepared to be a closer in the future. His fastball can hit mid- to high 90's.

He's an odd right-handed side arm pitcher. You usually would see those types of deliveries from a left handed specialist. Nothing hurts the Yankees in making this move to see how Farquhar develops and if he adds any value.

Quick Injury Updates: Joba and Aardsma Throw Well

"Remember me?" - Pedro Feliciano
Yankees relief pitcher Joba Chamberlain tossed a 20-pitch batting practice session yesterday and will most likely do it again on Friday. Chamberlain was not expected to be back on a mound until July, so his rehabbing is coming along well right now.

David Aardsma continues to do well with the Gulf Coast League Yankees. He pitched two innings at the start of today's game. He surrendered one unearned run on one hit, walked none, and struck out two.

Pedro Feliciano tossed a 25-pitch bullpen session for the first time all year off a full mound, according to Newsday's Erik Boland. He expects to be able to return this year. That would be a huge step forward for him and the $4-million they Yankees are paying him.

Just a quick update on Austin Aune, the TCU quarterback recruit that chose the Yankees over college football. Aune went one for three in his professional debut with an RBI base hit in the GCL Yankees' 10-3 win over the GCL Tigers. He committed a throwing error in the second inning, but made up for it by scoring a run in the the bottom of that same inning.

On Derek Jeter's 38th birthday, Aune played his first professional game at shortstop. If he makes it to the Major Leagues at any point, that could be the fun fact on the back of his baseball card.

UPDATE: Brett Gardner has been places on the 60-day disabled list for the Yankees, according to Marc Carig of the Star Ledger. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports speculates that since Gardner may not return before the end of july, the front office could go after a trade for a temporary replacement. 

Player Spotlight: Derek Jeter Turns 38

A young Derek Jeter waking up. Get ready older Jeter will wake up in the second half of the season. (SI)
New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter turns 38 years old today. After a hot start to the season, the Yankees' captain is currently struggling at the plate and is showing his age. Accomplishing milestones on the all-time hits list has overshadowed some of the woes, but the sample of 2012 is no longer looking like Derek Jeter from the 90's, but Derek Jeter from 2010.

Jeter's batting average now stands at .303 and has not been that low since the season opening series in Tampa. He picked up 2012 where he left off in 2011's second half surge that had a .341 batting average to show for the final 69 games of the season. He will most likely be invited to the 2012 All-Star game in Kansas City, but this time around he can not opt to sit out due a new rule.

Last year, he was working on his swing and still in pursuit of his 3,000th hit. Another post-All Star Game emergence could be in order. The only seasons in which Jeter has not hit better than the first half were in 2002 and 2010.

Any talks or thoughts of a retirement any time soon are preposterous to be asked on Jeter's birthday. His  age is getting up there, but he still continues to go out and take the field every day. Manager Joe Girardi has said that asking Jeter to take a day off or hit as the designated hitter are always tough.

The injury to Brett Gardner has taken time away from Jeter's rest. With Jason Nix as the back-up shortstop, there are times when he is being called on to play outfield. Jeter has played in 71 of the 72 games this season. His rest usually comes in the designated hitter's role, where he's hit eight times. He does not take days off at his age and that just speaks to his determination to produce.

Jeter is currently in a slump. That will happen when a player is talked about hitting.400 in a season. Those talks are over. Now it's time to watch Jeter work his magic at the plate for the second half once again.

Homeruns Carry Kuroda to 7-1 Victory Against Indians


Swisher with another big night. 
Hiroki Kuroda tossed seven solid innings for the New York Yankees as he walked off the mound to a great reception by the Yankee Stadium crowd in the 7-1 victory over the Cleveland Indians. With the a couple homeruns by Robinson Cano, Dewayne Wise, and Nick Swisher, the homerun took center stage in another win.

Sitting in Section 203 of the Bleachers, the homerun by Wise landed just a few rows ahead of me. The lucky kid that caught the ball was escorted out as he possibly returned the ball to commemorate Wise's first homerun as a Yankee. Girardi's addition of Wise to the lineup, while Curtis Granderson played designated hitter, looked brilliant as the center fielder not only homered but would triple to bring home a run in the sixth inning.

Wise wasn't the only center fielder to hear his name called out by the Bleacher Creatures in the roll call. Former Yankee center fielder Johnny Damon received his own call as he graced left field for the Indians. Damon left the New York after their championship run in 2009. He went 1 for 4 on the night and his average is now at .203 on the season.

Earlier today, our very own David Fine published an article about Swisher's constant happiness. Sitting in the bleachers provides an up close look at the zaniness of Swisher. He constantly turns around to acknowledge fans. He is all smiles all the time. On a night where he hits a homerun and then gets three put-outs in the eighth inning, he deserves to be put on a smile after the game.

In addition to the victory tonight, Kevin Long will be celebrating Arizona's victory in the College World Series.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Yankees Farm Report: June 25th, 2012

Adam Warren pitched okay allowing five hits over five scoreless frame, but only struck out one. He did only walk one and he did get seven grounders as opposed to three fly balls. Chase Whitley, Juan Cedeno, and Ryota Igarashi combines to throw four scoreless out of the pen to secure the victory. On offense, Kevin Russo had three hits and scored two runs, Jack Cust homered and drove in two runs, and Gustavo Molina added a solo shot. Corban Joseph, Ronnier Mustelier, and Brandon Laird each notched hits as well. Mustelier has been playing left field lately so that's something to keep an eye on.

Zoilo Almonte and Melky Mesa each had two hits, Almonte scored a run and drove in a run and Mesa homered and drove in two. Wasn't really much else of note going on in the lineup. On the bump, Mikey O'Brien allowed three runs on four hits while striking out three and walking four. Francisco Rondon and Michael Dubee combined to allow three runs over the final four to lose it.

In this rain-shortened affair, Mason Williams hit his third homer in four days and also added two other hits. Ben Gamel added two hits and two runs scored and Angelo Gumbs, Gary Sanchez, and Dante Bichette each had a hit a piece, Gumbs drove in a run and stole two bases, Sanchez homered and scored twice, and Bichette scored a run. On the mound, Bryan Mitchell struck out four and walked three over 4.1 innings of work while allowing five runs on six hits. John Brebbia would come on to get the final two outs and the save.

Ravel Santana returned to the lineup after three days of clearing his mind and working on his swing and went 1 for 1 with a run scored and a walk. He left the game after getting hit by a pitch on the wrist, but he's okay. Saxon Butler went 4 for 4 with two doubles, two ribbies, and a run scored, Jose Rosario went 3 for 5 with two runs scored and one driven in, and Wes Wilson went 2 for 4 with three runs batted in. Gabe Encinas was working with a pitch count since he's coming off an oblique injury so he only lasted 3.1, but he looked good, but still needs to get his curve back. He struck out two and walked one while allowing one run on two hits. Dietrich Enns, James Pazos, and Taylor Garrison each had scoreless efforts to close things out. I cover most of the SI Yanks home games so make sure you give me a follow for the latest news and happenings going on here.

The GCL Yanks were off and the Tampa Yanks were washed out.

Game 72: Back To The DH

(Serve.gov)
Interleague play is finally over which means we go back to have a designated hitter in our lineups (the way it should be everywhere). Anyway, here's the lineup:

  1. Derek Jeter, SS
  2. Curtis Granderson, DH
  3. Mark Teixeira, 1B
  4. Robinson Cano, 2B
  5. Nick Swisher, RF
  6. Raul Ibanez, LF
  7. Eric Chavez, 3B
  8. Dewayne Wise, CF
  9. Chris Stewart, C
And it will be Hiroki Kuroda on the bump. This one will start a little after 7 and can be seen on YES or ESPN.

Trade Target: Marco Scutaro

Now that the draft stuff is starting to wrap itself up and we're very close to July, we're going to start highlighting different trade candidates that the Yankees may target from now up until July 31. The trade season is officially underway as we saw yesterday when the Red Sox traded Kevin Youkilis to Chicago.
(Getty Images)
I'm gonna start small with this one. One place I would like to see the Yanks upgrade before the final stretch of the season is the bench. They did this at the trade deadline in 2009 and it worked it out pretty well. Specifically, I'd like to see them get a middle infielder. No offense to Jayson Nix, but it would be much easier to give Derek Jeter or Robinson Cano a day or a half day off if there was a better fill in. That fill in could be Marco Scutaro.

The Pros

  • At 36, Scutaro is a veteran who's been around the game for a while. He's played for the Blue Jays, Red Sox, and Athletics so there would be no worry about league adjustment. He also has played only second base and shortstop over the last couple of years making him a perfect fit into the bench. He's also always been a very good defender.
  • Scutaro is currently playing for the Rockies who are basically completely out of it already and since he's on the last year of his current deal, there shouldn't be any problem with him not being available.
  • Scutaro has been productive posting .278/.328/.388 with four homers and a .316 wOBA. It may not sound like much, but for a middle infielder that's solid and it's around the same as what nix has done, but with a bigger sample. You would have to think that with more rest and less exposure, he could produce more.

The Cons

  • Scutaro is having a year way down from last year when he posted a .343 wOBA. He's walking 2% less than he did in 2011 which is having a tough effect on his OBP, and all this especially the power would be less of a big deal if he wasn't playing in Colorado which is the biggest hitters park in the MLB. His home splits: .305/.361/.454 and his away splits: .250/.291/.318. Ouch.
  • It should also be noted that Scutaro is owed $6 million this year. Most of this will be payed by the time the deadline rolls around, but $2 million is still a lot to pay for two months of a part time player. Just something to think about.
Although the production is down from him, I still like Scutaro as a target because with less exposure he could put up better numbers and it gives Joe Girardi a better option than Jayson Nix. The home/road splits are a bit scary, but I'd trust a few seasons of previous data more than a half season. Plus with the down season, he should come very cheap- maybe for a Mikey O'Brien type or something like that. A move for Marco seems like one of those tiny moves that Brian Cashman makes in July that helps the team more than one would think. I like it.

The Too Many Homers Narrative

The Yankees lead Major League Baseball with 112 homers and, for some reason, people have been debating whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. This team was built to hit homers, it's the biggest strength of their lineup. Hitting a homer is a good thing, in fact, it's the best hit you can get. Instead of playing small ball and doing things 'the right way' and probably giving away outs, this is probably better. Yeah the hitting runners in scoring position stinks, but that will correct itself.

Ben Lindbergh of Baseball Prospectus wrote about the issue today. Most people talk about how come playoff time, the Yanks won't be able to rely on homers because they'll be facing better teams and better pitching. He finds that teams that rely heavily on the homer during the regular season actually fare better scoring runs in October than teams that don't. It's definitely worth a read and kind of puts this narrative to rest (not that people will stop talking about it). If you have a BP subscription, I recommend it.

One Happy Swisher. Why?

Keep Smiling, Nick.

Nick Swisher has never been smiling more. In fact, the only time I did not see him with his trademark ear-to-ear grin this past weekend was when he was at-bat. Even then, it was hard for him to not have fun. He hit a three run home run yesterday that put the Yankees ahead early in the game.

Swisher had that smile going on a few different occasions this past series - rounding the bases after the home run Sunday, in the dugout after, during his post game interview yesterday, and, most notably, after he helped carry an Ike Davis ball into the stands for a three run home run on Friday. Think about it this way: Swisher smiled after he hurt the team. I have no problem with this. He made a bad play, but was man enough to shake it off and move on.

But why is Swisher so happy? His season has been anything but spectacular. He continues to be a decent fielder and an average power hitter batting in the bottom third of the most expensive lineup baseball can buy. His contract expires at the end of this season, and the sentiment among fans and media is that this is his last season in pinstripes.

Nick Swisher is still a fan-favorite. In 2009, he became notorious for pranking teammates. His interviews are anything but standard, and you can't deny that he can be a funny son-of-a-gun.

In many ways, Nick should be having fun. He has a chance to help lead the Yankees to a second title since he came to the team. In a contract year, he wants to try to leave it all out on the field and enjoy the game. He is the type of player teams covet because of his positive attitude.

Or maybe his $10.25 million contract has something to do with it.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Yankees Take the Subway Series with 6-5 Win

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner (AP)
Sunday night's contest between the New York Mets and New York Yankees was hyped up to be a pitcher's duel, but by the sixth inning of the game it was the offense that took the reigns. Yankees' starter CC Sabathia and Mets' pitcher RA Dickey combined for 10 runs surrendered on 14 hits. Robinson Cano's solo homerun in the eighth inning secured a 6-5 victory for the Yankees at Citi Field. 

Dickey had come into the game having not allowed a run in 43 2/3 innings. The streak was broken by a sacrifice fly ball by Mark Teixeira and the damage did not stop there. The homerun ball has helped out the Yankees all throughout the season and Nick Swisher provided a three-run jack in the third inning off the knuckle baller. 

The Mets roughed up CC Sabathia in the sixth inning after some sloppy defense and clutch hits. Dickey helped out his own cause by getting a hit and coming around to score in the 5th inning. 

Cano's jack would breakup a tie game and make up for his defensive miscues as he took Miguel Batista  deep to centerfield for his 16th homerun of the year.

While the Mets' bullpen struggles continue, Corey Wade, Boone Logan, and David Robertson did not earn any runs and kept the Yankees in the game. Before the game, Joe Girardi talked a bit about how Soriano's dominance in the closer role has been a bit overshadowed by the rest of the bullpen's success. Sunday night provided yet another great showing for the closer. He struck out David Wright after a ten pitch battle, retired Daniel Murphy with two pitches, surrendered a quick hit, and then got the final out with a fly out. 

Soriano shut the door, untucked his shirt, and closed out the Yankees' victory to take series 2-1. 

Yankees Farm Report: June 24th, 2012

Adam Warren pitched okay allowing five hits over five scoreless frame, but only struck out one. He did only walk one and he did get seven grounders as opposed to three fly balls. Chase Whitley, Juan Cedeno, and Ryota Igarashi combines to throw four scoreless out of the pen to secure the victory. On offense, Kevin Russo had three hits and scored two runs, Jack Cust homered and drove in two runs, and Gustavo Molina added a solo shot. Corban Joseph, Ronnier Mustelier, and Brandon Laird each notched hits as well. Mustelier has been playing left field lately so that's something to keep an eye on.

Zoilo Almonte and Melky Mesa each had two hits, Almonte scored a run and drove in a run and Mesa homered and drove in two. Wasn't really much else of note going on in the lineup. On the bump, Mikey O'Brien allowed three runs on four hits while striking out three and walking four. Francisco Rondon and Michael Dubee combined to allow three runs over the final four to lose it.

In this rain-shortened affair, Mason Williams hit his third homer in four days and also added two other hits. Ben Gamel added two hits and two runs scored and Angelo Gumbs, Gary Sanchez, and Dante Bichette each had a hit a piece, Gumbs drove in a run and stole two bases, Sanchez homered and scored twice, and Bichette scored a run. On the mound, Bryan Mitchell struck out four and walked three over 4.1 innings of work while allowing five runs on six hits. John Brebbia would come on to get the final two outs and the save.

Ravel Santana returned to the lineup after three days of clearing his mind and working on his swing and went 1 for 1 with a run scored and a walk. He left the game after getting hit by a pitch on the wrist, but he's okay. Saxon Butler went 4 for 4 with two doubles, two ribbies, and a run scored, Jose Rosario went 3 for 5 with two runs scored and one driven in, and Wes Wilson went 2 for 4 with three runs batted in. Gabe Encinas was working with a pitch count since he's coming off an oblique injury so he only lasted 3.1, but he looked good, but still needs to get his curve back. He struck out two and walked one while allowing one run on two hits. Dietrich Enns, James Pazos, and Taylor Garrison each had scoreless efforts to close things out. I cover most of the SI Yanks home games so make sure you give me a follow for the latest news and happenings going on here.

The GCL Yanks were off and the Tampa Yanks were washed out.

Game 71: The Big Finale

(ESPN
The Yankees and Mets play their last regular season game of the year against each tonight and it couldn't be a better match up. The red hot RA Dickey will take on the Yankees ace CC Sabathia. Should be a fun one. Here's the lineup:

  1. Derek Jeter, SS
  2. Curtis Granderson, CF
  3. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
  4. Robinson Cano, 2B
  5. Mark Teixeira, 1B
  6. Nick Swisher, RF
  7. Raul Ibanez, LF
  8. Chris Stewart, C
  9. CC Sabathia, P
This one will start a little after 8 and can be seen on ESPN.

Yanks Sign 18th Rounder Brady Lail

Per his Twitter account, the Yankees have signed their 18th rounder Brady Lail. Lail is a right-handed pitcher from a high school in Utah and a is a University of Arizona commit. He's very projectable and has a feel for three pitches, kind of like Dan Camarena, last year's 20th rounder. He was good guy to take a shot at and it's nice to see them sign him. This leaves Ty Hensley, Rob Refsnyder, and Dayton Dawe as the only guys inside the top 19 rounds to not be signed by the Yanks.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Game 70: Get Back On Track

(Sports Illustrated)
The Yankees were playing so well winning ten in a row and 20 of 24, but now they're starting to hit a cold streak. It's now been three in a row, all of these games being winnable to a certain extent. It's time to get back on track. Here's the lineup:

  1. Derek Jeter, SS
  2. Curtis Granderson, CF
  3. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
  4. Robinson Cano, 2B
  5. Mark Teixeira, 1B
  6. Nick Swisher, RF
  7. Raul Ibanez, LF
  8. Russell Martin, C
  9. Ivan Nova, P
And this one will start a little after 7 and can be seen on FOX.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Game 69: Subway Series Part 2

(Mets.com)
The Yankees and Mets meet again. The first time the Yanks swept in part of their ten game winning streak. Let's see what happens this time as the two teams play at Citi Field this time. Here's the lineup:

  1. Derek Jeter, SS
  2. Curtis Granderson, CF
  3. Mark Teixeira, 1B
  4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
  5. Robinson Cano, 2B
  6. Nick Swisher, RF
  7. Andruw Jones, LF
  8. Russell Martin, C
  9. Andy Pettitte, P
This one will start a little after 7 (if the rain holds up) and can be seen on MY 9 or MLB Network.

Draft Signing Updates

Here are some updates on some 2012 draftees and their current signing status:
  • Peter O'Brien has agreed to the terms of a contract with the team. He was the Yanks second rounder and is a catcher out of the University of Miami. As a college senior he is being used to save cap money, but he's also a legitimate prospect with big power. There's no amount yet being reported, but I'm sure we'll hear it soon. (Link)
  • It also looks like fifth rounder Rob Refsnyder will sign once he is done playing in the College World Series. He's currently playing left field for the University of Arizona, but the Bombers plan on converting him to second base where he played in high school. (Link)
  • Left-handed pitcher Jimmy Reed (21) will be pitching in the Cape Cod League and will be a summer follow. This means they'll keep scouting him and decide then if they want to sign him. Reed could be a lefty specialist down the line with a nice breaking ball. (Link)
  • And lastly, it looks like 35th rounder Kyle Farmer will be returning to school for his senior year. The shortstop is a great defender, but it was pretty well known that he was going to stay put. (Link)
  • Nathan Mikolas, the Yankees third round draft pick, has signed for $400K. He's a bat first guy, but he doesn't really have a position. (Link)

The Yankees' "Other" Future Hall of Famer

The Yankees gave Andruw Jones his second consecutive one-year, $2-million contract to help balance the team’s lefty-heavy lineup. But with injuries to Brett Gardner and Nick Swisher, Jones has received much more playing time than originally planned.

Jones did his job pretty well in 2011, slugging 13 home runs in 77 games and finishing with a .495 slugging percentage, which was better than all of his teammates not named Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano.

Most importantly, Jones hit .286 against lefties over the course of the season. This year, he is just 12-for-65, which is a measly .185- a drop of 100 points. Only Eric Chavez (1-for-8, .125) is struggling worse against lefties.

The outfielder is faring much better against right-handed pitching, hitting .250 with a .977 OPS, second best on the team.

To Jones’ credit, his overall OBP (.310) is more than 100 points higher than his overall batting average (.206), so his approach is still patient enough to fit the Yankees’ style and earn him a spot in the lineup.

Jones struggled mightily in the first half of 2011, with an overall batting average of .195 with four home runs in 87 at-bats. He turned it on after the all-star break, hitting .291 with nearly twice as many home runs and RBIs in 103 at-bats. August was his best month, as he hit .344 with a home run every eight at-bats.

Another second-half surge would be gladly welcomed, but with Gardner expected to return around this year’s all-star break, Jones will see less time in the lineup. He’ll have to make the most of his decreased plate appearances if he hopes to have an impact.  

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Yankees Farm Report - June 21st: Almost a No-No!

Triple-A: Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees 6 -- Louisville Bats 11
The woes continue for the Yankees in Triple-A as a four game sweep of them was completed with a 11-6 loss to the Louisville Bats. DJ Mitchell only lasted two innings as he surrendered six runs on seven hits. Michael O'Connor and Manny Delcarmen were not much help out of the bullpen giving up another seven hits and five runs. A night to forget for Ramiro Pena as he went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts.

Double-A: Trenton Thunder 2 -- Richmond Flying Squirrels 7
Adam Miller only went 3 1/3 innings for the Thunder tonight as they took the loss against the Richmond Flying Squirrels by a score of 7-2. Miller surrendered 10 hits resulting in four runs. Lee Hyde had a nice outing out of the pen with two scoreless innings in the seventh and eighth innings.  Only the bottom of the order produced with Jose Gil and Yadil Mujica both going 2 for 4.

Single-A: Tampa Yankees 9 -- Lakeland Flying Tigers 4
David Phelps pitched two scoreless innings as the New York Yankees try to stretch him out before giving him a few starts in Triple-A. With runs scoring early on, the Tampa Yankees cruised to a 9-4 victory with RBI's by Ramon Flores (3), Robert Segedin (2), Kyle Roller (2) and JR Murphy (1). The lineup did its job going 6 for 13 with runners in scoring position.

Single-A: Charleston Riverdogs 6 -- Greenville Drive 12
Hours after being named to Team USA for the Futures Game, Tyler Austin went 1 for 4 at the plate with a 2-run double. Gary Sanchez, who may be an addition to the International squad of the Futures game, left the game early after a play at the plate. Dante Bichette Jr. broke out of his recent slump with a 2 for 3 night. Mason Williams homered on the night. Right now, the main concern is hoping Sanchez is alright to rebound from this loss.

Single-A: Staten Island Yankees 8 -- Brooklyn Cyclones 1
There was no Ravel Santana in the lineup tonight after he left yesterday's game early for undisclosed reasons. So now a few games into the season, early struggles are becoming evident for Claudio Custodio going 1 for 11 with nine strikeouts. On the flip side, Saxon Butler has been hitting well and had another 2 for 4 night, but was cut short after being drilled by a pitch. Big man Matt Snyder assumed duties at first base. The team won it's first game of the season.

Single-A: Gulf Coast League Yankees 3 -- Gulf Coast League Blue Jays 1
If you thought the Mariners' no-hitter was special just a few weeks ago, the GCL Yankees almost had a combined no-hitter of their own. Up until the ninth inning with one out, when Edison Mejia surrendered a solo homerun to drown the hopes of a no-no. Jeremy Bleich proved that he is still involved in baseball as he pitched his first game since 2010 and tossed two scoreless frames. Slade Heathcott went 0-2 as he continues to rehab. First baseman Bubba Jones, Matt Filippi's boy, went 1 for 4 with an RBI to his name.

Tyler Austin Selected For Team USA

New York Yankees prospect Tyler Austin has been chosen to be a member of the US Team at the 2012 Futures Game during the All-Star Break in Kansas City. He will be facing international stars on the World team, managed by former Yankee Bernie Williams.

Austin is putting together quite the season with the Tampa Yankees with 14 homeruns and 58 RBI's to his credit. Mike Axisa of River Avenue Blues tweeted a very interesting fact that he leads the Sally League in weighted on-base percentage and isolated power. "Tyler Austin leads the Sally League in wOBA (by 30 pts), wRC+ (by 18 points), and ISO (by 62 points)."


There is still no word yet if Gary Sanchez will be a part of the Futures Game. Sanchez is hitting very well with the Charleston Riverdogs and just won South Atlantic League Player of the Week honors for the second time this season. 



Top QB Prospect Passes on TCU; Signs with Yankees

In the second round of the 2012 MLB Draft, the New York Yankees selected Austin Aune of Argyle (Texas) High School with the 89th pick of the draft. Aune previously signed a letter of intent to attend Texas Christian University to play football for them as quarterback. That as all before the Yankees offered him a deal worth one-million dollars.

Aune received word about the Yankees drafting him as he was staying on TCU's campus and taking Summer classes to be in good shape academically once football season came along. He was expected to  be their starting quarterback in a few years. Aune was a state champion and in the football country that is Texas, that means a lot.

But in a draft slot, where a player is expected to sign for about $548,400, Aune was quick to leave his football aspirations behind and take up a career in baseball. He is a long way from making it to the big stage in the Bronx. If he ever makes it, he will not have any regrets about leaving a Big 12 football school.

On the field, Aune has shown speed stealing 20 bases in his senior year at Argyle. He displayed some power in his bat by knocking eight homeruns and collecting 41 RBI's this past season. His best statistic is his batting average, which finished the season at .447.

Aune was drafted as a center fielder and will most likely spend his first season in the minor leagues playing for the Gulf Coast League Yankees.

Trading Block: Phil Hughes vs. Wandy Rodriguez

It was hella hot in the Bronx, but Hughes was not.
The New York Yankees recently sent scouts to take a look at Houston Astros pitcher Wandy Rodriguez in his latest start against the Kansas City Royals. Rodriguez has been put on the trading block and the Astros will be listening to offers before the July 31st trade deadline. With Phil Hughes' latest start in which he surrendered four homeruns to the Atlanta Braves and took the loss, could the Yankees be after the 33-year old left-hander.

Simply put, the Yankees do not have that great of a need for a starting pitcher right now. The recent 10 game winning streak was bases by excellent starting pitching by the Yankee starters. Up until Hughes' 4 1/3 innings pitched, the starters went 19 consecutive games in which they pitched six or more innings.

Hughes could still be a candidate to be packaged in a deal elsewhere. He still has the talent to win ballgames, but this main issue is that he surrenders too many homeruns. Which brings up the question; is New York's ballpark is the right fit for him? If he took his repertoire to a stadium, where pitchers can comfortably get fly balls hit off them, he could turn his career around.

The Yankees would definitely not rush things and make a deal now. If any trade is completed, it will be   done from mid- to late July. Hughes got off to a rocky start in 2012 and as a result his statistics are inflated. A bit more time is needed to assess whether he has found some sort of rhythm with New York.

The Red Sox are also looking at Wandy Rodriguez. If anyone needs help with starting pitching, it is Bobby Valentine's squad. While the Yankees rest atop the American League East, the Red Sox find themselves trailing by six games and only half a game away from the cellar. Surrendering a prospect or two will be no issue for the Red Sox front office if they find themselves in a similar standings situation by the middle of July.

It is early to assess the trade market, but in a few weeks things could be heating up quickly. Who knows if the Yankees just end up calling up a prospect and he goes on a winning surge much like Aaron Small in 2005. There is no need to call for a trade just yet.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

First Impressions: Staten Island Yankees

First impressions don't always count and a baseball player can never be judged by taking one look at him. Last night, the Staten Island Yankees opened up their season by taking on the Brooklyn Cyclones on the road in Coney Island. In attendance, I jotted down a few notes from the Yankees' 2-0 loss of things that stood out to me.

The game was a pitchers duel as it was scoreless through eight innings. Returning Staten Island Yankee Taylor Morton went seven scoreless innings and looked sharp. He induced a lot of ground balls in the infield. There was a scare in the fourth inning as he loaded the bases and with two-outs the ball was jacked to the warning track in right field. Always funny to see people get excited to see a homerun there at the Cyclones' park, but little do they know that with the wind from the beach and the distance it is really difficult to launch one out in that direction.

Exicardo Cayones: One of the reasons AJ Burnett is gone.
When the ball was hit to the outfield, the Exicardo Cayones showed a great arm from right-field and Ravel Santana looked a lot like Curtis Granderson with his wheels in center field.

Santana is raved about by many scouts. He did not get a hit in his first game, but then again it was his first game of the season. He did show some good bat speed when he whiffed a few pitches and his selection was good.

First baseman Matt Synder stood out on the field, not only because he is 6-foot-5. He was this year's 10th round pick and hit cleanup in his debut. Snyder had a great scoop play early in the game and displayed some nice moves at first, since third baseman Matt Duran's arm was not looking too shabby early on, which meant that Snyder had to be alert on any throw. Snyder was drafted by the Nationals in 2011, but did not sign with them. He's had a history of injuries and been projected as future designated hitter. He looked pretty solid at first base on Monday night.

The most important thing that needs to be pointed out is relief pitcher James Pazo's delivery in the stretch. He came into the game in the eighth inning and showed no control with ball after ball. Once a runner got on base, he would lock eyes with him on the basepath until the very last second he releases the ball. It was odd to look at and mechanics-wise did not really help. He surrendered the lead run by walking a batter with the bases loaded and another run entered off a hit. Pazo's better hope first impressions don't count, because not too many were a fan of his strange delivery.

Matt Filippi will be out on Staten Island on Saturday to give the Staten Island Yankees another look. I could look into another appearance next week. We'll be bringing you reports on these guys light years away from the Major Leagues, because it's never too early to acknowledge some positive performances in the farm system. 


Cuban Lefty Signs With Yankees

The New York Yankees have agreed to a minor league deal with Cuban left-handed pitcher Omar Luis Rodriguez, according to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. The deal is estimated to be worth between $4-million to $5-million dollars. The 19-year old pitcher was being looked at by the Dodgers, Phillies, and Royals.

Much like Jorge Soler, his agent was looking to have his client signed before the collective bargaining agreement put a limit on his contract negotiations.

From a few scouting reports, it is noted that he has a big frame with a fastball that has been clocked in the low 90's and as high as 95 at showcases. He has the mechanics down with his arm angle to possibly work in a good curveball and changeup in the near future. The Yankees will most likely use him as a starting pitcher in the minors as he develops.

It has been pointed out that the Yankees sign players that can show that they have a shot of performing well under the lights of New York City and Rodriguez is no objection to that. He impressed scouts at the 2010 World Junior Baseball Championship, which included an outing against Team USA.


Game 68 - Yankees vs. Braves: Lineup & Notes

Bernie's got the look of a manager.
As David Fine hinted at this morning with his hot and cold report, all good things must come to an end. The New York Yankees' 10 game winning streak was snapped by the Atlanta Braves in the Bronx on Tuesday night with a 4-3 loss. Phil Hughes takes the hill for the second game of the series opposing Tommy Hanson. 


Derek Jeter - DH
Curtis Granderson - CF
Alex Rodriguez - 3B
Robinson Cano - 2B
Nick Swisher - RF
Raul Ibanez - LF
Eric Chavez - 1B
Russell Martin - C
Jayson Nix - SS


Lineup News: Mark Teixeira is not in the lineup after a groundball hit him in the foot. He is sore today and will have the day off, while Eric Chavez assumes duties at first base. 

- Andruw Jones was drilled by a pitch, but he will be available off the bench. 

Notes: During the All-Star break, Bernie Williams will manage the World team at the 2012 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game in Kansas City. Opposing him will be George Brett and Team USA. 

- With an RBI today, Alex Rodriguez would have sole possession of the sixth spot on the All-Time RBI leader's list. That would also be a good sign for the Yankees as they are undefeated on the season (18-0) when the third baseman drives in a run. 

Weekly Hot and Cold Report: All Good Things Must End Edition

Raul Ibanez is playing so poorly right now I couldn't resist.
Last night, the Yankees came back down to earth and lost a game. They had won ten in a row, and a big part of that was getting strong pitching and offensive performances during the same game. Nothing was different about yesterday's game, except that the Bombers couldn't come through with some timely hitting and lost 4-3.

There are still plenty of things to be happy about. The Yankees are the hottest team in baseball since the beginning of June, are finally living up to their pitching potential, and today is the first day of summer!

Enjoy the heat (and how I will be spending the day - next to a cool air conditioner) with our weekly hot and cold report.

Who's Hot?

Starting Pitching

Holy good golly gosh! The Yankees starting pitching has been freaking amazing of late! Three starters have four wins and every starter has an ERA under 3.50 over the past 30 days. 

Need I say more? 

Nick Swisher

Swisher makes these faces
when he is hitting well. 
Even though Swish only played in four games this week, his performance was exceptional. How can I tell? He got on-base more than he made out. 

But, even more than that, I am very happy with how Nick has been playing this year. To be honest, I have always been more of a fan of what Swish does off the field (good clubhouse guy) rather than what he does on it. Nick frequently overthrows cut-off men, makes silly decisions at the plate, and sometimes I think he is a bit of a hot dog.

This year has been a bit different. I have noticed that Nick is playing a bit more as a teammate rather than as an individual. This is not something that statistics can quantify (sorry, sabermetricians), but I would guess a lot of his play has to do with his contract expiring this fall. 

Robinson Cano

I love the way Robbie has played this year. He has been very patient at the plate (his walks and on-base percentage are up), has been hitting for power, and, of course, had a good week to make this slot. 

For Robbie, whose swing is as smooth as silk, it's not always about "looking like" he is "working hard". What I mean by this is I hear some fans complain that he looks too relaxed at the plate or in the field. First of all, when you play 162 games, this is not a terrible thing. However, second, and most importantly, this is a product of how good Robbie is - he has perfected a swing that makes him look like he is barely putting effort into it. 

I hope Cano continues to play well and prove to people that you don't need to look like you are going to murder someone when you hack for the ball at the plate (Bryce Harper).

Who's Not?

Obligatory Russell Martin Spot.

The guy is just having a rough time hitting this year. However, read this article about Martin from this week's New York Times. Good writing is always nice, and this story is about the stresses of catching. This article is why I will not rant about Martin (this week).

Andrew Jones

At least Andrew Jones
hit the ball! 
I don't typically expect much out of 35 year old "over-the hill" centerfielder, but then why is he playing? Jones is a good fielder (and always has been), but I cannot get over the fact he has only five hits this month and is getting close to regular playing time. 

I am complaining as much about the Yankees decision to play Jones as Andrew's actual performance. I understand that Gardner is injured, players need days off, and people need to be given their shot. But, in my opinion, that opportunity should go to a player that will add something to the team in the future. Everyone can admit that Jones will not be on the team two years from now and is adding little in the present. 

Raul Ibanez - The Most Streaky-Hitting Man In The World

Raul Ibanez once got a hit during a slump, because he decided it was time to go on a hot streak. 

In all seriousness, and Matt touched on this yesterday, he is a bad funk right now. Nothing really to say about it except that he hit .063 this week. 




Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Struggling Ibanez

The Yankees offense has been very good recently and is a huge part of the team rattling off ten in a row. Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson have started to be the top two hitters, like they were last year, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez have picked it up a lot since very quiet starts and Nick Swisher was having an awesome June before his quad contusion from the other day. It seems like just yesterday it was Raul Ibanez and Derek Jeter carrying this team through the first month of the year.

Jeter's decline could be seen coming from a mile away; there was no way he was going to hit .400 this year or really close to it at all, but there may be more to Ibanez's than just normal regression. Sure he is a very streaky hitter and has been known for it throughout his career, but it could be the fact that he's also a 40-year-old guy playing left field essentially every day.

Mike Axisa of RAB inspired this post with this tweet, which begs the question: could Brett Gardner's injury be the cause of this? Well, it very well could be. I'm sure playing the field every day is having a tough affect on his body which makes you think if bringing up a Chris Dickerson or Ronnier Mustelier could be a good choice. Both of those guys are better against right handed pitching so you could do a little platoon with one of them and Andruw Jones in left field and DH Ibanez while sprinkling him in the field if you need to.

Maybe I'm looking into this too much and maybe Raul is just going through a normal cold streak, but even if that is the case, I'd rather see the Yanks run Dickerson out there not only because it'll keep the former off his feet a little more, but also it will improve the defense quite a bit. It could be worth a shot.

Yankees Injury Updates: Swisher Back, Aardsma Rehabbing Well, Gardner Eyes Return

New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi is not hesitating to get Nick Swisher back on the field after missing two games due to a bone bruise on his left leg. He will be hitting seventh and playing right field  tonight against the Atlanta Braves. Swisher was seen doing leg drills and stretches before participating in batting practice.

RHP David Aardsma
- Brett Gardner is hoping to return to the Yankees before the Major League All-Star break . He has been set back twice in his attempt to return from an elbow injury. He was seen wearing a brace on his elbow today. The contraption may look bad, but the injury is not as serious as the Yankees feared. Gardner has no ligament or bone damage and could start hitting again at the end of this month.

- David Aardsma's twitter account has been a great tool to track his rehabbing process as he returns from Tommy John surgery. He's been ahead of his rehab schedule. Although the Yankees signed him with hopes of getting him on the mound in 2013, he could make some outings in September. He tossed a scoreless inning in his debut with the Gulf Coast League Yankees and plans to pitch with them again on Saturday.

Update: Bryan Hoch of MLB.com is reporting that right-handed pitcher Michael Pineda is in attendance tonight at Yankee Stadium. He is expect to head back to Tampa and continue his rehab assignments very soon. The Yankees do not expect him to be on the mound throwing until September.

The Short Season Affiliates

Now that it's June it's time for both short season affiliates to start their seasons; for the Yankees that the Staten Island Yankees and the Gulf Coast League Yankees. These are usually my two favorite teams to follow because there' always a lot of talent to dream on. These players aren't what they are going to be yet and a lot of them have good potential. This being said, there are many prospects on these teams worth following.

Staten Island
The team in SI plays in the New York-Penn League, which is the lowest form of A-Ball there is, but there's still some good talent here. It all starts with Ravel Santana, the team's center fielder, who was ranked the second best prospect in the GCL last year and is the toolsiest player in the system. Of course, he had that brutal ankle injury to end 2011, but he's back and has apparently made a full recovery so look out for him.

Duran. (Lohud Yankees)
Besides him, there's shortstops Claudio Custodio and Jose Rosario (both speedy, contact types), third baseman Matt Duran (who has lots of raw power), and catcher Isaias Tejada who had a nice year last season. Danny Lopez and Exicardo Cayones are also worth looks, flanking Santana in left and right respectively, Lopez is a speedy guy and Cayones was one of the guys the Yanks got in the AJ Burnett deal.

Despite the good young, raw talent, there's a ton of college guys on this team. Offensively, the only one of any really note is probably first baseman Matt Snyder. He was the tenth rounder in this year's draft and has some good power. Most of the college guys are bullpen arms, however, and they include Nicky Goody, Stefan Lopez, Andrew Banek, Taylor Garrison, and Derek Varnadore. They should have yet another shut down pen, much like last year.

Gulf Coast League
The GCL Yanks won't be as talented as they were last year, but they have a few names to look out for. In the lineup, catcher Greg Bird is a guy to look out for. He was given the biggest bonus out of all of the Bombers picks in the 2011 draft and may have the most raw power in the system. Then there's first baseman Bubba Jones who can hit very well, but defense is a bit of a question mark. He played here last season, so he may get a mid-season bump. There's also Miguel Andujar, the Yankees biggest IFA catch last year. He's a 17 year old third baseman that does just about everything. That's right, he's 17.

On the pitching side, there are a bunch of decent arms including and led by Jordan Cote (2011 3rd rounder), Hayden Sharp, William Davis, and Caleb Frare. The best of these arms is Cote who was considered one of the bigger arms in his draft class but was kind of overlooked since he was from New England.

* * *
These rosters will be much more filled out once the signing deadline for the draft passes on July 13, especially the GCL one as we'll see guys like Ty Hensley and Austin Aune get their feet wet. I'll be covering the Staten Island team this year so I'll be posting (probably) month scouting reports and team notes. If you want the latest news on them, follow me on Twitter here.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Game 66: Double Digits

(Getty Images)
Nothing needs to be said, just go out there and make it ten in a row. Here's the lineup:

  1. Derek Jeter, SS
  2. Curtis Granderson, CF
  3. Mark Teixeira, 1B
  4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
  5. Robinson Cano, 2B
  6. Andruw Jones, RF
  7. Russell Martin, C
  8. Jayson Nix, LF
  9. Chris Stewart, C
And it will be CC Sabathia on the bump. This one will start a little after 7 and can be seen on YES or ESPN.

Injury Updates: Nick Swisher tried taking swings today, but couldn't do it. He'll receive treatment tonight and give it another go tomorrow. Meanwhile, David Aardsma will begin his minor league rehab tomorrow with the GCL Yankees. Hooray for that.

Three Things Red Sox Fans Are Saying About The Yankees And Why They Are Wrong

Manny: I Know You Stole My Steroids, Roger!
I am reporting here from Massachusetts -- Red Sox Country (Don't worry, I'm safe) -- and feeling very proud to be a Bombers fan right now. The Red Sox are in last, the Yanks have a nine game winning streak going, and I can still get good clam chowder. All is well.

Despite this, I have been irked by some of the things Red Sox fans are saying about our beloved team right now. 

Here are three of the main things that have stuck out to me and made me shake my head.

1. Mark Teixeira Is A Bust

I think this is completely false. He won a title with us in 2009, and is the best defensive first baseman in the A.L. The main complaint I've heard from fans is that he doesn't hit for average. My response has been that he makes up for that by getting on-base. 

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From a statistical standpoint, his numbers have declined since he came to N.Y., but that does not make him a bust. Mark has hit over 30 home runs and driven in over 100 runs every year he has been in New York. Commence sarcastic laugh at Red Sox fans.

2. The Yankees Can't Keep Playing This Well, So The Sox Will Have Their Chance

Well, duh! The Yankees are going to lose a game at some point. However, this doesn't mean the Red Sox will rebound and catch N.Y. In fact, I think the Sox are lucky to be where they are this year. They are currently four games below .500 at home, and if they cannot improve that figure, I believe they will falter. My reasoning: they probably will not play over .500 ball on the road over the duration of a year if they are under .500 at Fenway. 

3. Typical Sox Fan: "A-Rod Is The Worst Signing Ever, I'm So Glad We Didn't Sign Him."

This is the one that irks me the most because A-Rod's contract doesn't mean he hasn't added value to the Yanks. The fact is that Rodriguez is one of the 20 greatest players in the history of baseball, and he may be the best hitter ever by the time his career is over. 

Yes, A-Rod has been injured a few times over the past five years, but he has still managed to hit over 30 home runs every year but one since he came to the Big Apple in 2004. Not one player on the historic 2004 Red Sox has accomplished that feat, including David Ortiz. 

The main reason Alex has been criticized is because he has unrealistic expectations. Do I expect a 36 year old playing in the non-steroid era to play out of this world? No.

I know that Red Sox management would go back to the 2004 offseason and trade for him in an instant instead of letting him go to the Bronx. 

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