Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Yanks Are Championship Material

Written by Seth Kornfeld:

One week ago, the question, posed above in the headline, would have been answered with an "absolutely not" or an "are you kidding me?".

There were questions everywhere: C.C. Sabathia's health, Andy Pettitte's ability, and the offense's production were just a few.

It was setting up to be a very difficult last few weeks combined with an uncertain outlook on the future.

Oh, how quickly things change. They usually do in baseball.

The Yankees have only gained a game in the standings this week, but their momentum makes their game and a half lead in the AL East seem like more.  Sabathia has shown his usual dominance this time of the year; he has put together two great starts back to back, albeit todays was against the Twins.

Andy Pettitte has come back from the disabled list throwing eleven scoreless innings in two starts.  It seems like now, the Yankees have a formidable three man rotation set up for the playoffs with CC, Kuroda and Pettitte.  With those three, they have the ability to shut down any team they play, or at least hold them down long enough for the offense to show what it can do.

Speaking of hitting, the Bombers are in a groove. They've hit eight home runs in the past three games.  Nick Swisher is hitting well, and Curtis Granderson might just be coming around.

Getting hot at this time of year makes pretenders look like contenders and contenders look like shoe-ins for the World Series. If all the pieces continue to click, and the Yankees go into the playoffs hot, they can win the title.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Yankees Magic Number Down to 4 as Sabathia Aces Twins

CC Sabathia in his first win of September on the road in Minnesota.
One week from today, Major League Baseball will be getting ready for the post season as the regular season winds down. The New York Yankees are one step closer to clinching a postseason berth as they defeat the Minnesota Twins 8-2 to take the series on the road.

The magic number to win the American League East is at eight, while a playoff spot is much closer only four games out.

CC Sabathia's second half in 2012 has not been as dominant as he has been in previous years, but in his last two starts he has struck out 21 hitters and is looking brilliant. He picked up his first win since August 24th. He struggled in early in the month, but his ERA is down to 3.86 for September.

Run support was not an issue as the Yankees received help from a two-run homerun by Chris Dickerson in the sixth inning was just extra from the RBI hits by Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher, and Curtis Granderson in the third. Swisher is 11 for his last 30 in the last seven days.

A step forward in the right direction, Brett Gardner entered the game in the ninth inning as a defensive replacement. No sign of injury or discomfort was reported as he did not complete a play on the field.

The Yankees now head to Toronto for their last road series of the year with four games against the Blue Jays. The Baltimore Orioles will stay home to face the Red Sox in a three game series.  

It Hasn't Been A "Grand" Old Time

Granderson's second half slump could jeopardize
 his career in N.Y. (Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Curtis Granderson is playing as atrocious since the All Star break as any regular Yankees outfielder I can remember in my lifetime.

He's hitting .203, has an on-base percentage of .272, and has 88 strikeouts in 67 games since the Midsummer Classic. That's 21 more than anyone else on the team in that time.

I wish that was as bad as it gets.

What's irked me the most is his play over the last month. He's hitting .176.

The Yankees need their veterans to step up right now. Jeter, Ichiro, and A-Rod have been playing well. They've all been injured this season, and Granderson has too. If Granderson is playing through injury, I admire his courage, but he's been hurting the team. Joe Girardi needs to drop him to the bottom of the lineup.

I don't care how many home runs he hits. I would rather he sacrifice home runs and strike out less.

Don't get me wrong - he's been a great Yankee since he arrived in 2010. He is one of five Yankees ever to hit 40 homers in back to back seasons.

Unless he turns it around soon, the Yankees could explore other options in free agency this summer. They can exercise a club-option for him this offseason, and, even if they bring him back it, he is a free agent after next year. 

I'm not saying they won't resign him. It makes sense to have him for one more year, but I think they will most certainly bring in another capable center fielder and give him a reduced role if he continues to strikeout and his average isn't above .230 come season's end.

It's easy to criticize a player when he's in a slump and jump to conclusions. That's why Nick Swisher ended up with the Yankees in the first place. If Granderson had a few more hits drop in here and there, we might not be having this conversation. Regardless, I have very little tolerance for a guy that strikes out almost every game when he has good speed.

He still leads the team in walks by four (72), but has 50 more K's than any hitter on the team. I'm not confident Granderson can do anything other than hit home runs.

The Grandy Man is still a great home run hitter, but I don't think the Yankees want a 180-strikeout-a-year guy who is more of a one-trick pony (Adam Dunn) than all-around player. They brought him in to be a five-tool player because he was that guy in Detroit.

If he isn't helping out at the plate, it's very tough to justify him being on the team.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

David Aardsma: Looking at the Low-Risk Investment About to Be Activated

Aardsma with the Thunder
David Aardsma will be making his first appearance in the Major Leagues since 2010 soon as the New York Yankees are expected to activate him for the remainder of the season. He inked the deal with the Yankees in February with the goal of having him as a late inning reliever for their closer in 2013.

The 2013 bullpen could be one of the best in baseball if Aardsma returns to the form he was at before he went down with his oblique strain and underwent Tommy John surgery with the Mariners.

Looking at the team's bullpen situation right now, Aardsma may not be ready to take over the eighth inning spot just yet. Manager Joe Girardi says that he will be used in different spots throughout the remainder of the season even though the American League East race is only separated by a game and a half.

From 2009-2010, Aardsma closed out the second most games in that those two seasons with 69 saves, which was eight behind his new teammate Mariano Rivera. His current contract does not necessarily mean that he will be with the team in 2013, but if he pitched well enough in these last few games the Yankees could pick up his option.

The road back to full form will be very similar to that of Joe Nathan as he recovered from Tommy John Surgery similarly. Octavio Dotel signed with the Yankees and would only pitch ten innings in pinstripes, while struggling post Tommy John surgery. There is less risk involved in this move since the Yankees are paying Aardsma $500,000 for 2012 as opposed to Dotel's $2MM.

In order to make room for Aardsma on the 40-man roster, the Yankees need to make a move which has yet to be announced. Once he is on the roster, he will be the first alphabetical Yankee in franchise history replacing Jim Abbot.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Pettitte Brilliant As Yankees Division Lead Grows

Pettitte has still yet to allow a run since coming off the D.L.
The New York Yankees entered Monday night's game knowing they had to win and hope that the Orioles lose to the Blue Jays in order to remain a top the American League East.

Andy Pettitte has always managed to find success the day after a Yankees loss and built a reputation as a stopper. He would be no different as he continued his dominance since coming off the disabled list with six scoreless innings pitched against the Minnesota Twins.

The veteran southpaw received adequate run support with four homeruns by Nick Swisher, Curtis Granderson , Eric Chavez, and Raul Ibanez. The blast by Swisher hit the scoreboard in the second deck of Target Field and the three-run first inning. Granderson's homerun gave him 40 on the year, which puts him in company with Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, and Jason Giambi as players with back to back 40-homerun seasons in pinstripes.

The Orioles would go on to drop the second game of their double header, which means the Yankees have a lead of a game and a half at the top of the American League East. This is only the first time since September 2nd in which the top two teams of the East are separated by more than a game.

Yankees Could Add Aardsma to Roster; Gardner to Follow?

When Brian Cashman signed David Aardsma last winter, he did not expect the reliever to pitch in 2012. Heading into Minnesota, the right-handed pitcher looks ready to join the team as he tweeted a photo of Target Field's exterior. His rehab from Tommy John surgery was going along well until a setback in the middle of the Summer slowed him down, but he could be back much earlier than anyone expected. Aardsma tweeted the photo seen on the left from his account after calling today a "big day."

Brett Gardner is claiming that he is ready to join the team and is back at 100 percent health. In order for the Yankees to add both Aardsma and Gardner to the team, they would need to make two adjustments to the 40-man roster. The Yankees could use Gardner's speed and defense if he is back at full health.

Update: Mark Feinsand of the Daily News tweeted that Aardsma will be wearing No. 35 for the Yankees, which previously belonged to Michael Pineda. He has been  told that he will be activated by the team tomorrow.

Mark Teixeira: Don't Question The Grit

The New York Yankees are taking their time with having Mark Teixeira return to their lineup as the first baseman has been sidelined with a calf strain for the last few weeks. As the playoff hunt continues, there are players that are banged up and still on the field for their team. The move to rest Teixeira should not be questioned and comparing him to one of those players.

Teixeira's 2012 campaign has sadly been very injury prone, but he is in no shape to stay in the games and hit as a designated hitter like Evan Longoria. One more set-back and the Yankees could have Nick Swisher playing first base throughout the playoffs.

If it was up to Teixeira he would be on the field with the team as soon as he can, but the decision rests in the hands of the front office. Brett Gardner attempted to return as quick as he could and was set back multiple times to eventually having him ready for the final week of the season.

The anger and dislike for Teixeira displayed by fans on Twitter and on article comments all has a big question mark on it at times. Is it because he has a big contract and sometimes will slump? Frustration is a much better way of putting it, but the Yankees are still privileged to have one of the best defensive and solid offensive first basemen in the league.

Teixeira has hit 23 homeruns and has 81 runs batted in for his team in a season in which he's missed weeks worth of games. Just imagine the contributions of a healthy Teixeira.

His return could be imminent and all fans can hope for at this point is some replication of the 2009 postseason magic.

False PED Accusations Ruin Baseball

Cano was falsely accused of PED use (Reuters).
I grew up watching baseball in the steroid era. I wasn't even ten years old when Mark McGwire broke Roger Maris's home run record, or when Barry Bonds broke McGwire's mark.

I have known nothing other than cheating in baseball. Players have always tried to find a way to get ahead, but there is no other scandal in baseball history, except for the Black Sox scandal, that comes close to the magnitude that steroids had in baseball. Amphetamines testing was a big deal a few years ago, but Barry Bonds looks awful different without 'roids. Regardless of which scandal is "the worst", cheating will always be the sports' most sensitive topic; no fan wants the integrity of the game to be damaged.

That being said, PED accusations don't draw the type of "uproarious" response that they did ten years ago. It's still a big deal, but, personally, every time I hear a player's name, whether it's Melky Cabrera, Jason Grimsley, or Alex Rodriguez, I don't get that upset. It's kind of like that feeling you get when you root for a really bad team; every mishap doesn't seem as bad as the one previous to it. Mets fans know what I'm talking about.

Yet, it still bothers me, just a little, every time I hear another player linked with performance enhancing drugs. It's such a damning accusation - we really don't know how many performance enhancers will make the Hall of Fame - that it almost makes a career feel worthless. Kind of a "you should just quit" feeling. Of course, players still love the game, so much they would be willing to cheat to succeed, but it will be the first thing written about most steroid-users careers once they hang it up.

It takes bravery to cheat.

However, it doesn't take much courage to accuse. When I heard that Robinson Cano used PED's, I was shocked. However, it turned out it was a Twitter rumor, started by Dan Tordjman, a tv reporter in Charlotte, that was picked up by long time baseball journalist Peter Gammons.

Cano and his agent denied the rumor, and the whole thing turned out to be a farse.

I won't blame Tordjman too much; if he's telling the truth, his sources misled him. However, beacuse it's so easy to report anything with social media, accuracy is even more important. There are millions of tweets per day, but one, by a reputable source, can ruin careers (both by the "tweeter" and the "tweetee"). Tordjman hurt his credibility, but Cano still stood to lose more.

That's what angers me. I'm not going to rail on Tordjman, or Gammons, or anyone who retweeted any rumor that turned out to be a lie. That's the world we live in, and it's an unfortunate life for journalists that make one bad decision.

Baseball is in a strange position. The sport is trying to separate itself from an era that will inevitably be discussed for the remainder of most of our lives. Every PED accusation deceives the fans.

Had the Cano rumor been true, I would have been upset for him. He is one of the best players of his generation, and will accomplish so much more over the next ten years or so if he stays healthy. Steroids would erase most of his positive career memories.

Shame whoever you want - Tjordman, PED users, social media - it doesn't hurt too much for me anymore.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

What to do about Joba?

Written By Seth Kornfeld

Joba Chamberlain is an awesome toy that came without a manual.

First, we had the 99 mph-fastball-throwing super-reliever who was untouchable.  Then, we tried to make a manual. Joe Torre even gave them a name, the "Joba Rules". That didn't work.

The gnats attacked him in Cleveland, so we tried making him a starter.  How did that work out?

Then, he couldn't pitch more than six innings as a starter so, the Yanks made him a reliever again.  Not only was Joba's velocity down, but he started getting injured. The classic one: Joba broke his ankle jumping on a trampoline with his kid this past offseason.

Now, Joba is a better than average toy.  He has good velocity on his fastball, and a tight slider. He's even lost some weight.

You won't go to Brookstone to pick up a Joba toy anymore. Go next door to Spencer's.

He may not be the high priced toy, but to the Yankees, he can be effective.

Over the last ten games, we caught a glimpse of what we once had with Joba.

In September, Joba has given up only three runs in nine appearances. His WHIP is under 1.00.

Joba's 2012 season has certainly not been without bumps in the road, but it seems like this month, the most crucial month for the Yankees, he's getting his act together.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Game 1 - Pettitte Goes Five Scoreless In Return to Hill; Game 2 - Ichiro Magical vs Lefty

One down, one more to go.
Andy Pettitte returned to the hill on Wednesday afternoon in the bronx as the New York Yankees faced off against the Toronto Blue Jays. Much like when he returned after taking a year off, Pettitte's absence was never apparent as he tossed five scoreless innings in the Yankees' 4-2 victory over the Blue Jays.

Pettitte suffered a broken ankle in late June and worked fast in the minor leagues to make a full yet speedy recovery. Manager Joe Girardi capped the veteran southpaw at 75 pitches.

The run support came early with a three-run first inning, but David Robertson pitched the eighth and surrendered two runs to put everyone on the edge of their seats.

Rafael Soriano got New York out of the jam in the top of the inning. Shortly after, Nick Swisher added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth to put the final nail in the coffin.

Game two of the day-night doubleheader will start at 7:10 with David Phelps starting for the Yankees. Girardi faces a slight dilemma as he ponders having the struggling Andruw Jones in the lineup against Toronto's lefty Ricky Romero or slot in Ichiro after a three-hit game.

Note: Pettitte tells WFAN's Mike Francesa that he is considering pitching in 2013.

Game 2: Girardi went to Ichiro against a lefty and the hot hitting continued as he collected four hits and brought across the game winning run with one of them in the Yankees 2-1 victory. The speed was also there for the midseason acquisition with four stolen bases. PARTY LIKE IT'S 2002!

David Phelps pitched well only allowing one run through 6 2/3 innings. He's been worked as a reliever and as a starter, but the 3.24 ERA is more than anyone could have asked for from Phelps, who has never blown anyone away with his stock as a prospect.

I Don't Want Andy Pettitte Back Next Season

Bernie Williams' guitar career has been booming
since his MLB career ended (Deadspin).
The Yankees of the past 15 years have prided themselves on letting guys go when they've just had enough. After 2001, Tino Martinez was expendable, so they signed Jason Giambi. Bernie Williams hit .281 in 2006, but New York decided not to resign him and he never played another MLB game. After last season, the Yankees told Jorge Posada to take a hike.

I have no opinion on how New York conducts its business. It is the most successful sports franchise in the history of North America, and it's obvious management understands baseball has never been a "what have you done for me in the past" business. If the Bombers rewarded past achievements, Derek Jeter would have been signed to a $100 million contract two years ago.

There is no reason to honor past success in a new contract. It's all about what you can provide in the future, and how you fit in with a team's plans moving forward.

I bring this up because the Yankees soon have to make a tough decision with Andy Pettitte. He is a free agent after this season, and said he may want to return in 2013.

If New York signs him, I think it will hinder their ability in the future.

Let's assume New York does not resign Hiroki Kuroda. That means next year's rotation will be, assuming everyone is healthy: C.C. Sabathia, Michael Pineda, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova, and a spot to be determined. If that spot belongs to Andy Pettitte, that would be a solid five man rotation.

But why not give it to David Phelps, especially if management feels he will be as good as Pettitte? He has looked great of late, but who knows whether he is capable of pitching over 150 innings as a starter.

Why not sign a good free agent pitcher, especially if Nick Swisher is gone? New York has made many of those "depth type of signings" near spring training anyway (Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon).

Many fans will Andy Pettitte to choose his own future. The popular notion will be if he wants to return, then he should.

All I'm saying is that there may be better options out there than an injury-prone Pettitte. His last two seasons (2010, 2012), he has missed significant time.

Brian Cashman knows he doesn't have to be loyal. Just ask past New York legends. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Getting Mo Than Expected From Soriano

Rafael Soriano has "saved" the Yanks during Mariano Rivera's absence (Wikipedia)

The closer for the New York Yankees finished off the Rays in Sunday's ninth inning for a 6-4 win, picking up his 40th save of the season in the process.  The ninth frame was once again quick and painless, as the righty reliever struck out the first batter and erased an error with a double play.  Another day, another inning of dominance, further securing this pitcher's status among the best active closers. 

And then Rafael Soriano, walking off the mound, untucked his jersey and embraced Russell Martin. 

For 43 ninth-innings this year, Yankees fans have seen sliders - not cutters - from their closer.  Originally brought in as a set-up man two years ago, Soriano has stepped-up and fulfilled the vacant closer spot for the injured Mariano Rivera.  There's new fire in his fastball, new life in his slider, and new focus on the mound that seemed to all but disappear in his first season with New York.  He's been Mo-like.

Soriano's success goes beyond his demeanor.  He has saved 40 games in 43 chances.  He's inherited 17 runners and only allowed 3 to score.  Opposing batters hit .162 against him with runners on, .118 with runners in scoring position, .067 with runners in scoring position and two outs, and .000 with the bases loaded.  When he pitches on one or no days of rest (129 AB), opponents are hitting .217 (28 hits). 

Numerical success is only half the story.  Soriano projects for 70 regular season appearances, more than any of Rivera's past seven years.  His total number of innings pitched is lower in some of those seasons, primarily because Soriano was the second set-up man for the first month and Joe Girardi rarely uses multiple-inning saves.  Combine workload and success and you have an elite closer.

Having an elite closer is never really a surprise for the Yanks.  But I never expected to see a pitch that breaks down rather than across in the ninth inning. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Derek Lowe: Why You No Pitch More?

Yankees Pitcher Derek Lowe (boston.cbslocal.com)
Written by Seth Kornfeld:

The Yankees bullpen is struggling.  The problem has been largely overshadowed by the lack of offensive consistency, but the bullpen can and will play a key role coming down the stretch.  So, the question is, who would you trust?

Traditionally, September baseball and playoff baseball means selecting bullpen pitchers with power arms who can throw fastballs past hitters.  However, I believe Derek Lowe should be New York's main reliever.

I know what every avid Yankee fan is thinking ... Derek Lowe?

Lowe has been solid in limited action for the Yankees and he understands how to get hitters out. He may not have a 95 miles per hour pitch, but his sinker/slider combination can still be very effective.

Freddy Garcia is back in the bullpen, so Lowe may not need to fill the long relief role as much.

Lowe has consistently been able to locate pitches and keep the ball down throughout his career, and he can be an extremely effective pitcher in the playoffs.

My theory may be unorthodox, but every game is crucial, and Lowe may be New York's best middle relief option down the stretch.

Appreciating Ichiro

Ichiro salutes Mariners fans in his first game as a Yankee (A.P.).
Over the last few weeks, my posts have been about the pennant race. To be honest, I can't stand talking about it; so often, reporting on a race involves rash judgments, cliches, and repetition. At this point, any serious Yankees fan knows they were up by ten games blah blah blah blah blah. Why bother rehashing? I want to change it up a bit.

Because of the media hysteria surrounding the Yankees "collapse", there has been little time to appreciate what certain players are doing for New York. Jeter is amazing, everyone knows that, but I have heard little lately about Ichiro Suzuki.

He has been a key player for New York, and is important down the stretch.

Perspective

When the Bombers traded for Ichiro, I was surprised. I knew he wasn't the Suzuki of old, but I still thought he could help out on the bases and in the field. His speed is invaluable, and don't look at his six steals in fifty games to try to disprove me.

There is no reason for Ichiro, who usually bats near the bottom of the order, to steal when the Yankees  have the top of their order coming up soon after.

Even though he probably could have stolen a few more, why take men off the bases, especially if Jeter, Cano, and company are coming up?

Ichiro is a much better hitter now than he was earlier this season for the M's. Think about it this way. He has played in 51 games for New York, and is hitless in just 12 of them. That might not sound too amazing, but in seven of those games he has only had one at bat. When he is given a lineup spot, Ichiro gets on base. However, to Joe Girardi's credit, he has not overused him - that wouldn't be too smart.

What he brings down the stretch

Sports has and will always be a "now" business for the most successful teams. Ichiro has a good chance to help the Bombers reach the postseason because the remainder of New York's opponents, with the exception of the A's, have mediocre rotations. I do not expect him to play in every game, but, if given the chance, Suzuki will get on base.

If New York makes the playoffs, Ichiro will still be of value. He is a .321 career hitter with runners in scoring position, and a .401 hitter with the bases loaded. That is clutch. Once he's on base, he may even steal more. If Girardi isn't expecting home runs against good postseason pitching, he should take more risks on the base paths.

He isn't the Ichiro of old, but an old Ichiro is one of the best options New York has.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Yanks Send Seven To The AzFL

Every year after the minor league season ends, players have a few weeks off to catch their breathe and then they either start their winter work out or, a select few are chosen by their respective organizations to go play in the Arizona Fall League. There could be many reasons why a player is chosen to go, but the two main reasons are that the player was out significant time during the regular season and has reps to make up or they are trying to get their feet wet at a new position. Here's a look st some of the guys heading out west in a few weeks and some background:

(Post and Courier)
David Adams, 2B/3B: Adams was finally able to stay healthy for a full season and put up great numbers offensively (.378 wOBA). He's a second baseman by trade, but halfway through the season, he started playing some third base. There was no real reason given for the move which made it a lot more fun, but still puzzling. Sending Adams to Arizona will allow him to continue getting better at third while he keeps putting that ankle to the test. This could be a move aimed at making him a future utility guy or maybe trade bait. For more on his prospect status, check this out.

Slade Heathcott, OF: I've always been a Heathcott fan because he has such a wide-ranging skill set. He can legitimately play center field with very good speed and some nice raw power. However, he had his second shoulder surgery in three years in 2011 which kept him out until June of this year. Slade started off slow, but once he found his swing, he went off. He put up a slash line of .307/.378/.470 with 17 stolen bases in 243 plate appearances with High-A Tampa, splitting time between center field and designated hitter. He'll be joining Adams to continue getting back into the swing of things for when he finally let loose in Spring Training.

Austin Romine, C: Romine's back injury that kept him out until August really hurt because he could have really used another year at Triple-A Scranton before getting to the show. Unfortunately, he missed almost the entire season, a season in which the big league club could have used a boost behind the dish. Romine is heading to the Fall League to get some more reps in before hopefully making a run at the back up catcher job in the spring.

Dellin Betances, RHP: This one kind of surprised me since Betances was healthy for almost the entire season. He did go down with some shoulder fatigue in August, but he's obviously fine now if the Yanks are going to let him throw here. My two guesses as to why Dellin would be going to Arizona are 1) he has been working on some type of mechanical adjustment that he wants to implement into game play or 2) he is going to start working in relief. Either one could be possible, although something tells me it's the latter. Just a hunch though.

Zach Nuding, RHP: Nuding is a sleeper prospect of mine who I see settling in as a seventh inning reliever. He has good stuff, but I'm just not sure if he can make it work as a starter. Anyway, he went down mid-season with shoulder fatigue, but did come back and make a few starts for Tampa before the season ended. This trip for him is just to get his innings to where they need to be.

Mark Montgomery, RHP: This one surprised me a little bit too because Montgomery had a very healthy and productive year. But after much thought, I figured they may try to start pushing him by throwing on back-to-back days and so on. This would be hoping that he can take it and that he may make a push at the major league bullpen, if not at the beginning of the year, towards the middle or end. He represents a nice line of power relievers that the Bombers have done a great job of drafting.

Dan Burawa, RHP: Burawa is another power reliever, but suffered an oblique tear down in Spring Training. He's been recovering and rehabbing all summer long and is now healthy enough to pitch. So in an attempt to get him some reps they will send him out there where he will continue to work on a splitter that he just picked up from fellow Yankee rehabber David Aardsma. I'm interested to see how he fares since he did gets a few big league innings during the spring, so I'd love to see him back on the mound and healthy come April for Trenton.

Exhale: Derek Jeter Vows to Play Tonight

Jeter never gets hurt against the Red Sox.
Shortstop Derek Jeter left game in the eighth inning of the New York Yankees' 5-4 win over the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday night. Jeter limped off the field in what turned out to be a bone bruise in his left ankle. The Captain says that he will be in the lineup on Thursday and will not talk about injuries any further. Throughout his entire career, when Jeter appears to be hurt he proves everyone wrong and gets on the field the next day as a testament to his durability and determination to help the team win.

With the division standings the way they are in the American League East, the Yankees are fortunate not to be losing one of the players on their team that could be considered in MVP talks.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

2013 Schedule Released: Early Observations

Rivalry renewed 2013
Major League Baseball released the 2013 regular season schedules for most franchises. The New York Yankees will open with a three game series at Yankee Stadium against the Boston Red Sox, which is how the regular season will end in 2012.

With the Houston Astros making the move to the American League, interleague play will take place every month of the season. The Subway Series against the New York Mets has been cut down from six games to four games taking place in Citi Field on May 27th and 28th and at Yankee Stadium on May 29th and 30th.

The Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco, and Arizona Diamondbacks Giants will be making the trip from the West to the Bronx in 2013. The Yankees will face the Colorado Rockies, Dodgers, and San Diego Padres on the road.

The Yankees open on April 1st and that will only be the beginning of just 19 home games in their first 32 contests. Progress can be made on taking control of the American League East early on as the majority of April games will be against some divisional rivals.

The season will begin for all of Major League baseball on March 31st and will end on September 29th. The All-Star game will be held at Citi Field on July 16th.

The full schedule can be seen on the official Yankees' site. CLICK HERE.

Three Weeks

The headline says it all. In three weeks, baseball's regular season will conclude.

Let's analyze the schedules of the three A.L. East division contenders as the stretch run continues. The amount of games of each series is in parenthesis.

Yankees: 19 games remaining

Red Sox (2), Rays (3), Blue Jays (3), Athletics (3), Twins (3), Blue Jays (4), Red Sox (3).

The Yankees play only six games against teams still in contention (Rays, Athletics), so that's a good thing. It's even better that the Red Sox are in free fall and the Twins and Blue Jays are mailing it in. But don't expect them to back down. The Jays and Sox are never easy for New York.

Orioles: 19 games remaining

Rays (2), Athletics (3), Mariners (3), Red Sox (3), Blue Jays (4), Red Sox (3), Rays (3).

Like the Yankees, the Orioles play a few pancake teams. Only the Rays and Athletics (the next two series) are real challenges for Baltimore. One disadvantage for the O's: travel. They go to Oakland for a few late games later this week, then stay out on the West Coast for the Mariners. They do get a day off after all that travel for a three game set against the Sox. 

Rays: 19 games remaining

Orioles (2), Yankees (3), Red Sox (4), Blue Jays (3), Red Sox (2), White Sox (4), Orioles (3)

The Rays clearly have the toughest schedule of all these teams over the home stretch. They play the Orioles and the Yankees next, then the White Sox and Orioles to finish off the season. 

Either the Rays are going to run away with it, or they are going to fall. If they play .500 ball, then either the Yankees and Orioles will most likely play much better and win the division/wild card. But if the Rays dominate, then they will probably take the Orioles with them (six games left against them).

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Wrong Time For A Swisher Slump

It's the worst of times, it's the worst of times for a lost Nick Swisher (ESPN)

Players slump.  Sometimes, the issues are mechanical.  He's not turning his hips, his stride is too inconsistent, his load is too exaggerated.  Sometimes, they are physical.  He's banged up, his timing is off, he's just not seeing the ball as well.  Sometimes, after hundreds of plate appearances over the course of American professional sports' longest season, a player gets physically and mentally exhausted. 

Sometimes, a team can weather a single player's slump.  And other times, it struggles

Nick Swisher, after Sunday afternoon's 0-4 performance, is 0-for-his-last-28 and 2-for-his-last-45.  Over that latter span, he has 15 strikeouts and just 4 walks (which is terrible for an on-base percentage guy like Swisher).  He's faced lefties and righties, and has looked pitiful at the dish against both.  And he picked the wrong time to watch his average dip 23 points. 

Mark Teixeira was sidelined again by his nagging calf injury, leaving first base vacant once again for an indefinite amount of time.  The job falls to the hands of three Yankees: Steve Pearce, Eric Chavez, and Nick Swisher.  Pearce has been mashing lefties for the Yanks, so you can safely assume he will hold down the fort versus southpaws (and that his production places him higher in the depth chart than Casey McGehee).  Chavez can play both corners exceptionally well, but he is a natural third baseman who will primarily serve to rest Alex Rodriguez by giving him the DH spot.  But until Teixeira returns, Swisher will get a decent amount of time at first base.  An offensive black hole at first can really hurt a team if offense cannot come reliably elsewhere (see James Loney and the Dodgers of the past), so we need Swish's bat while Tex is sidelined. 

When Swisher isn't at first, he is usually the everyday right fielder.  But when he is in the infield, you can be sure that either Andruw Jones or Raul Ibanez will be manning a corner outfield spot in his absence.  Their recent offensive production leaves much to be desired.  Both Jones and Ibanez were never meant to get such a substantial amount of playing time.  Rather, the plan was to have them play outfield sparingly and mostly give them DH at-bats.  After a season's worth of wear-and-tear, these two can't be expected to put up consistently strong offensive numbers.  Swisher becomes that much more important in the lineup.  If he gets his offense going, Ibanez and Jones can be rested without fearing a loss in production. 

And this goes without saying: it's September, and the Yanks are in the heat of a division battle.  During Swisher's 2-45 slump, the Yankees are 3-7.  Granted, it is a small sample size, and you certainly can't put all the blame on his shoulders.  But if the Yanks are going to separate themselves from the rest of the AL East, they will need to see Nick Swisher making turns around first instead of back to the dugout.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Off-Day Notes: Teixeira Injured; Mesa Called Up

New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira will sit out the next 10 to 14 days as the grade one calf strain has become irritated, after being assessed by a doctor on Monday. He will miss more than just the Red Sox series as New York only has 22 games left.

The Yankees will call-up Melky Mesa from Triple-A Scranton for the Red Sox series. Mesa's batting average is not that shabby, but he is known for his speed and defense. He will be seen on the base paths and could get some at-bats against left-handed pitching. Mesa is known for hitting homeruns and scouts admire his raw power.


The Wild Card Won't Help New York Reach The World Series

Bud Selig's addition of a second wild card team makes it easier
for division winners to reach the World Series (Newsday).
It's very easy to look at immediate history and make a conclusion that is not always indicative of the truth.

In baseball, these type of judgments are very easy to come by - a player is clutch because he has had a couple of key hits late in games, a pitcher is "finished" because he is having control issues (Carl Pavano and A.J. Burnett disprove that) - you get my point. 

In this case, I'm not talking about a particular player, I'm talking about a team. In sports, there is a growing consensus that regular season success doesn't matter because wild card teams have just as good a shot at making it to championship games/series. 

To an extent, this is true. In the past twelve months, the Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup as an eight-seed, the N.F.L.'s Giants won the Super Bowl as a wild card team, and in baseball, the Cardinals won the World Series after earning a wild card spot on the last day of the season. 

Wild card success hasn't been limited to last year, and it won't be in the future. Teams that are lower seeds will continue to win in the playoffs.

However, this season, the New York Yankees can't afford to lose out on the division crown. They won't have a very good shot to make it to the World Series if they do.

Because of baseball's new wild card system, the top two wild card teams play a one-game playoff to determine who "makes it". The winner then plays the best team in its respective league. If the Yankees don't win the division, they will not only have to win a one game wild card (probably against the Athletics, Angels, or Rays), but then probably play the Rangers.

If New York does qualify as a wild card, it will probably pitch either C.C. Sabathia or Hiroki Kuroda for its one game series. That essentially means one of these pitchers will not be available until game four against the Rangers. Advantage: Texas.

I understand that "picking and choosing" opponents is a dangerous game, but New York should be worried about playing the Rangers. They have the best home record of any A.L. team.

However, if New York wins the division, it will most likely play Chicago or Detroit. I would much rather play either of these two teams. Texas is too dominant.

A big reason why wild card teams have success in the playoffs is because they have a lot of momentum coming into the postseason; they are fighting for their lives just to get into the postseason, so they are used to playing in pressure-packed games.

With New York, that probably wouldn't be the case. In fact, the Yankees might have to slump a little bit to get into the postseason as a wild card. The Orioles, like the Bombers, have a tough schedule over the next three weeks.

But hey, maybe I am wrong. Maybe a wild card berth is just what the Yankees need. They could use some advice from this past year's champions.



Saturday, September 8, 2012

Mark Teixeira Returns to the Lineup; Pettitte Throws Simulated Game

The New York Yankees' lineup is close to being back to full health as Mark Teixeira returns to the third slot of the lineup playing first base for tonight's contest against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. Both teams are hoping to get the game in, but the skies are thinking otherwise. The tarp is on the field hours before first pitch.

The Yankees received more good news as manager Joe Girardi watched starting pitcher Andy Pettitte toss a simulated game that lasted three innings. Pettitte is recovering from a fractured left leg and felt good after his bullpen session. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild says that minor league appearances will not be made by the veteran. He could be ready to throw in a game within seven to 10 days on a very limited pitch count.

Ivan Nova could take Freddy Garcia's spot in the rotation soon, but he believes that he will be available out of the bullpen today and tomorrow in Baltimore.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Yankees vs Orioles, Who would have thought?

Written by Seth Kornfeld:

Who would have thought that a series in early September against the Baltimore Orioles would be the biggest of the year?  I could understand if people speculated a series against Boston or the past series against Tampa Bay would be of high importance ... but the Baltimore Orioles, really? 

The Orioles were trailing the Yankees by 10 games on July 18th, and didn't seem to be trending in a positive direction.  Yet, here we are 6 weeks later, and everything has been flipped on its head.  The once winning-machine Yankees look like they may be ready for their first historic collapse since the debacle of 2004.

Regardless of what happens this series, the no-name Orioles are one baseball's best stories this season.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter.
The Orioles still have players who I couldn't pick out of a lineup, and their surprise rise to prominence has caught the the league off guard. They shouldn't be discredited. They are for real.

Despite my allegiance to the Yankees, I am not afraid to say that the Orioles are what baseball is supposed to be about.  A group of relatively unknown players, without a defined superstar, continue winning with a pitching staff filled with journeymen and rookies. I bet you couldn't guess their wins leader this year.  Wei-Yin Chen, a rookie, is leading the team with 12.  

Who would have thought? And that's exactly how Buck Showalter likes it. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Small Ball Is Not The Answer

(Daily Herald)
Brian Cashman has made it a point throughout his tenure as the Yankees General Manager to build offense that can do two things: hit homers and get on base. It is pretty well known that these two things are very important to scoring runs and overall offensive production so it does make a good amount of sense. However, when things go bad, you can wait things out and let things reverse themselves like they usually do, or you can make a change.

Following last night's game, Kevin Long spoke to reporters about possibly switching things up with the team's approach at the plate. So this means instead of working walks and waiting for the big hit that has been hard to come by recently, they may try to bunt a little more and move runners from the base to base in order to create some offense. I can't say I agree with this that much.

While small ball does have it's place, that place is not here. Playing small ball involves giving up more outs to move runners along, so let me ask a question. When the team is at its worst offensively, is it really smart to be giving the other team outs? I personally don't think so, especially since the offense has been struggling quite a lot recently and you'd have to think they'll break out at any point.

Once again, it really depends on the situation, but if Nick Swisher or Robinson Cano comes up with runners on first and second and nobody out, there is no way I want them bunting. I don't know you could. I know that things are getting tough to watch and that it's only human nature to want to make big changes, but they just need to have faith that players will get healthy and start producing.

Pitching Or Hitting? What's Behind The Yankees Struggles?

This guy's either really happy or really angry about his favorite
sports team. Either way, it's probably an overreaction.
Sports fans, by nature, are quick to blame and praise. After every game, streak, or season, no matter what the result, there will inevitably be individuals that place too much emphasis on a certain aspect of a team's successes or failures.

You know exactly what I'm talking about. Sports radio is filled with this type of talk: is a player the key to a season? Is a player to blame for the loss?

In reality, thousands of decisions go into wins and losses. Just because the ball went through Bill Buckner's legs, Steve Bartman interfered with Moises Alou, and Grady Little left Pedro Martinez in too long doesn't mean those games were decided by those blunders. They were certainly famous (or infamous, depending on your fan affiliation) moments that defined those games, but they certainly aren't the sole reason for the wins/losses.

The same logic should apply to the Yankees. Obviously, during the regular season, there are many moments and decisions that decide games, so judgment tends to fall more on units (offense, pitching, fielding).

Since July 18th, when New York held a ten game lead over the Orioles for the division lead, the Yankees have been in a slump. Record-wise, they've been near .500 (20-24), but compared to how dominant they were beforehand, the past month and a half has been uncharacteristic.

To be honest, during the Yankees latest slump, I've heard both that their offense is to blame, and that their pitching is why they're struggling. I decided to research what is "more of the reason for their slump" - hitting, or pitching.

Here are my findings. This excludes last night's game vs. the Rays.


The Offense 

The Yankees have scored 197 runs in 44 games since July 18th. That's an average of 4.48 runs per contest. Not bad. The Bombers have averaged about 4.7 runs per game on the year. Before July 18th, they were averaging about 4.9 runs a game. It's clear the Yankees offense is slumping, but it's still putting the team in a position to win.

For comparison, New York would be 12th in all of baseball in runs scored if it was averaging 4.48 runs per game this season.

The Pitching

New York has allowed 185 runs since July 18th. That's an average of 4.2 runs allowed per game. Not great.

Before July 18th, the Yankees gave up an average of 4.1 runs per game. Still, not great.


If New York allowed 4.2 runs per game for the entire season, they would be in the middle of the pack in that statistic.

The Verdict

If you're looking to blame a unit, blame the offense. It's not that the offense is struggling, but it's not helping the team as much as it did in the first half.  New York has scored almost half a run less per game since July 18th.

At the same time, it's difficult to blame a unit that has been hampered by injuries (Granderson, Teixeira, and A-Rod come to mind). Hopefully the offense can get back up to speed when A-Rod is at full strength. I consider it amazing that the Bombers pitching hasn't seen the same type of fall the offense has, considering C.C. Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, and Ivan Nova have been out for portions, if not all, of that time.

Regardless of who's to blame, the Yankees better figure out a recovery plan real soon, because the Orioles and Rays are knocking at the door, and New York is about to give away the keys.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

David Adams' Future

(nj.com)
The Yankees farm system has been decimated by injuries this year. Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, Austin Romine, Mason Williams, and Jose Campos, all top ten prospects in this system have all gone down with season-ending ailments. There's nothing that could be done; it's the nature of the beast and these types of things happen. You'll have some good years and some bad ones down on the farm, and this one happened to suck.

However, there were also some bright spots starting with Tyler Austin and Gary Sanchez who both continued to rake while Slade Heathcott came back from injury and had a very solid come back season at High-A Tampa. Unfortunately, these guys are a few years away, but there is another guy who had a very productive year who could make an impact as soon the start of 2013: David Adams.

Adams, a 25 year old second baseman, has hit .306/.385/.450 at Double-A Trenton repeating the level. He is known for being the man responsible for Cliff Lee not being a Yankee since he was the one originally in place to go to Seattle along with Jesus Montero. However, a severe ankle injury made it fall through and Adams missed more than year.

However, Adams came back for some time last year and hit well enough for a 40-man roster spot and has stayed healthy all year long, although he isn't playing the field every day. He's on a strict three days on, one days off routine. The interesting part about Adams is that the Yanks have decided to have him play some third base. It may show that the organization wants him to advance up the ladder and that being more versatile will help that.

The next step for the prospect will to be taking part in the Eastern League Playoffs where he'll try to help the Thunder win a championship. He does get a call up, it probably won't be until after that. I doubt he will though. Between him being injury prone and being ticketed for the Arizona Fall League (to continue playing third), I think he'll get some rest before heading out west. The reason I've written this piece is because he's started to get some attention this year and I think it's very possible that he breaks camp next season in the Eric Chavez role.

Enough.

(AP Photo)
I don't really rant on here too much; I mostly just talk about roster construction, prospects, and statistical analysis, but this is getting absurd. I really haven't written that much because I just got back to school and I'm still getting used to my schedule and finding a routine. This being said, I've still been on Twitter and I've still been reading everything on the Internet, and it's getting me pretty pissed off.

First of all, did you really think the Yankees ten game lead was going to last from July until the end of the season? The Yanks were playing at absurdly great level (about .700), one that was not sustainable, especially with the injuries that came along. With Andy Pettitte, Alex Rodriguez, and CC Sabathia all on the shelf for at least decent amount of times since July with Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher missing games in between as well, something had to give.

There's also the fact that the Rays weren't as bad as people thought. Teams go through slumps, it's going to happen, but what a team does over a certain stretch doesn't necessarily reflect how good the team is. To be honest, I also though the Red Sox had a little more left in them and were a lot better than they are and that Orioles were going to fade. You can never think a team can definitely win a division in the middle of July.

I made a small mention of the injuries earlier, and let's not forget that the team is still getting healthy. When Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson are back to full strength and in the lineup full time, the bats should start to heat up a little with a little more length added to the offense. Things can't stay this bad for too much longer; we just have to hope that the Yanks can tread water until they turn around.

And lastly, the one thing that is driving me absolutely nuts is the fact that people are saying that the Bombers are not going to make the playoffs. Give me a freaking break. Do you realize that they are in first place? I understand they haven't been playing well of late and that they only have a one game lead in the division, but it's still a lead. The team still controls its own destiny and they still have a better chance of making the postseason than any other team in the East. Their playoff odds still sit at 84.5% which is pretty darn good.

I'm not saying there's no reason to worry or that the Yankees are guaranteed to get a playoff spot because quite frankly I don't know if they will, and no one does. You can get frustrated by the way the team is playing sure, but it is what it is and you can't control it so why get so angry? So over this next month, just try to enjoy some baseball instead of trying to find a negative in every single thing.

Key Roles for Call-ups

Chris Dickerson, left, and Eduardo Nunez are welcome September presents to the struggling Yankees (Bergen Record)
 

If you've watched the last couple of Yankees games, you may not have seen that much to cheer for.  Mr. November (Derek Jeter) is hitless in September (0-9).  Nick Swisher is 4-for-his-last-28.  Robinson Cano is just as cold: 4-for-his-last-25.  Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira have been sidelined by hamstring and calf injuries, respectively (although good news on that frontier came yesterday, with Grandy pinch-hitting in the ninth and Tex taking BP with the team before the game).

Veteran pieces like Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones are simply not doing it defensively in the corner outfield spots or offensively with the bats: a combined 3-44 since August 22nd (a .068 batting average, if that illustrates my point better).  And while Ichiro has made a couple of sparkling plays in the field, he's 7-35 over the same timespan with double and no stolen bases. 

But there have been some bright spots worth mentioning, from players who, unlike those above, have not carried the team to first place in the competitive AL East. 

But this might be their chance to keep New York on top. 

When rosters expanded on Saturday, six players were brought up from the minors.  Among the most important are Eduardo Nunez (who returned with a clutch RBI single in Saturday's win and a 9th-inning stolen base in yesterday's loss), Chris Dickerson (who homered in his first 2012 at-bat with the squad and added a running catch and a homerun-robbing grab on Sunday), Justin Thomas (who struck out Chris Davis in his only September appearence) and Corey Wade (who pitched 1.2 hitless innings in relief on Sunday).

Joe Girardi has already shown how he plans on using his new additions.  Thomas, as in April, will be another lefty out of the pen to compliment Boone Logan and Clay Rapada.  Wade, until he establishes confidence and regains his 2011 form, will be the long man out of the pen.  By using 8 pitchers on Sunday, Girardi has made it clear how he plans to mix-and-match his way through September.  The three pitching additions (including Adam Warren) keep him worryfree about rest for his primary middle-relief men, Robertson and Logan. 

And while Dickerson and Nunez can handle the bat, there are no plans to "replace" any of the struggling hitters above with the young guns.  Girardi has to hope that his mainstays are simply going through a slump like all players do.  Dickerson gives him the defensive replacement he's been missing all season, able to spell Granderson in center (a bigger issue now with his tender hamstring) and the veterans at the corners (who are showing signs of wear).  We can only hope Nunez improved his defense down in Triple-A in spite of his thumb injury, since we all know about his bat.  That would allow him to give the infield some days and half-days off but still remain an offensive catalyst.  Girardi already started him at DH against a lefty starter, so he could displace Jones from that spot.  Both Dickerson and Nunez can be used as effective pinch-runners.

With less than a month of games left, don't underestimate the importance of these call-ups.  Thomas getting a Pena or Markakis out in a key moment of, say, the sixth-inning could save a game.  An effective few innings from Wade in a blowout saves the bullpen for a close game.  A stolen base by Nunez or a catch by Dickerson could be the spark the offense needs for a run or rally. 

Crunch time shows what a team is made of.  The Yanks will have to fight hard to stay ahead of Baltimore and Tampa Bay.  The call-ups are the ammo they need.

Monday, September 3, 2012

State of Uncertainty in Yankees Universe: Lead Down to One Game, Cano Hurt

The New York Yankees dropped their game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday afternoon in what is turning out to be the most crucial series of the summer thus far. An eighth inning game-winning single by Rays' Chris Gimenez gave the Rays a 4-3 and knocked Robinson Cano out of the game with an apparent hip injury.

The Yankees have lost nine of their last 13 games and are just starting to get most of their players back from the disabled list. Alex Rodriguez made his return to the lineup with a single, after taking the first pitch that he saw in his first at-bat. That would be all for the third baseman as he would finish the night 1-4 at the plate. Cano's injury would be yet another blow to the already depleted lineup.

Cano has only described his injury as tightness and will be assessed by the trainers and doctors as to how much time he could possibly miss on the field.

Game 134: Happy Labor Day

(NY Daily News)
Today is Labor Day so to everyone out there, enjoy your day off. This is a huge series for the Yankees as they try to break out of their current slump. They only have a two game division lead on the Orioles and a three and a half game lead on the Rays, who they play today in the start of a three game set. It goes without saying how important it is, and hopefully getting Alex Rodriguez back will be a little shot in the arm. Here's the lineup:
  1. Derek Jeter, SS
  2. Nick Swisher, 1B
  3. Robinson Cano, 2B
  4. Alex Rodriguez, DH
  5. Eric Chavez, 3B
  6. Raul Ibanez, LF
  7. Russell Martin, C
  8. Ichiro Suzuki, RF
  9. Chris Dickerson, CF
And it will be CC Sabathia on the bump. This one will start a little after 1 and can be seen on YES.

Yankees Have The Division Lead, So Just Relax

At least this guy isn't a part of the pennant race (Deadspin).
This morning I woke up, went on MLB.com, and looked at the standings. I just to make sure I wasn't living in a false reality.

You wouldn't know it based on some of the media coverage I've heard on ESPN and other various outlets over the past week, but the New York Yankees lead the A.L. East by two games. Hard to believe, right?

I'm sure every Yankees fan on earth has heard this statistic by now, but New York held a ten game lead in the A.L. East on July 18th, and nearly gave it away in five weeks.

The key word in the previous sentence is nearly. There's something to be said for holding on to a division lead, especially when the two teams behind you are surging. The Orioles have won 19 of their past 28. The Rays have gone 27-17 since July 28th.

The point is the Yankees survived what is most likely to be the O's and Rays' toughest tests. I hardly expect these teams to repeat those type of runs over the remaining month.

Even if they do, I expect New York to answer the task. I'm not arguing the Yankees are going to put together an outstanding next month. Think of it this way: Baltimore needs to win three more games than New York to win the division outright. The Rays need four more victories.

Let's say the Yankees struggle (for their standards) over the next month. They have 29 games remaining, and let's say they go 15-14. That means the Orioles need to play very well and go 18-11 to win, or go 17-12 to tie. It's not impossible for Baltimore to play that well, but I wouldn't expect it.

I realize the team has had a mediocre past few weeks, but it is nothing to be concerned with. Nearly every baseball team in recorded history has gone through some kind of slump (heck, even the 1998 Yankees were 0-3), and it helps the Yankees have battle-tested all stars in their lineup that have been in this type of situation before.

New York hasn't fully recovered from it's slide yet, but winning this next series against the Rays would be a good start.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Division Lead Back to Three Games After Win Over Orioles

Cano assisted with a homerun to collect the win.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, the New York Yankees scrambled together three runs to take the lead over the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium. The win increased their lead over the Orioles in the division back to three games.

Eduardo Nunez was put into the lineup as the designated hitter and he got his job done with an RBI single to cut the lead to one runs. Ichiro would walk shortly after and load the bases for Derek Jeter. The shortstop patiently worked the count full before walking to tie the game.

Nick Swisher hit a ball to JJ Hardy, who was leading the American League in fielding percentage for a shortstop, was unable to handle the ball and the lead run came across to score. The Yankees' patience and small ball offense was on display.

Wei-Yin Chen was taking care of the Yankees offense for the first few innings, until he started creeping closer to the 100 pitch mark. The only blemish before that was a solo homerun by Robinson Cano for his 28th jack of the year.

David Phelps struggled hitting his spots as the rookie walked six batters and hit one. He was removed from the game by Girardi after 4 1/3 innings. The three runs against him only came on three hits, one of which was a solo shot by Matt Wieters.

Rafael Soriano shut the door for his 35th save of the season with a 1-2-3 inning.

Note: Curtis Granderson left the game with a tendonitis as Ichiro assumed duties in center-field.

Yankees Injury News: Rodriguez, Gardner, Teixeira, And More

- After going 0-3 at the plate as a designated hitter, New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez will continue to rehab with the Single-A Tampa Yankees. Saturday afternoon, he will be playing third base for the first time since he fractured his hand after being drilled by a change-up from Felix Hernandez in Seattle. The plan for Sunday is to have him just hit as the designated hitter and then they will consider having him rejoin the team against the Rays on the road.

- Andy Pettitte reported no issue or pain after his bullpen session on Friday, where he tossed 20 pitches. Still no date for a return just yet.

- ESPN New York reported that Brian Cashman shot down the idea of having Brett Gardner return to the team as a pinch-runner. They also reported that Mark Teixeira, out with a calf strain, could be back by the end of the weekend.

Assessing the First Batch September Call-Ups

Cervelli now has a reason to smile at the MLB level.
The New York Yankees have added a few men to their active roster as September 1st marks the day rosters can expand to 40-men. Eduardo Nunez was among the first players spotted at Yankees Stadium today and will be in the lineup as the designated hitter. Here are some of the other players joining the Major League roster.

Francisco Cervelli will be in pinstripes for the first time all season. He was not added to the team coming out of Spring Training and the Yankees decided to make a trade for Chris Stewart. Cervelli spent his time at Triple-A and the Yankees chose him over Austin Romine for their immediate third catcher in the first round of call-ups. Romine will probably be called up after Scranton's playoff run ends.

The team will add another outfielder with Chris Dickerson, who was added to the 40-man roster after Ramiro Pena was designated for assignment. This puts him under tam control for next year and will be the back-up center fielder. There are plenty of corner outfielders on this team and Ichiro has moved to one of those positions, so he will not back up Curtis Granderson. Melky Mesa was being considered, but they opted for experience over the struggling Triple-A hitter.

Corey Wade, Justin Thomas and Adam Warren were also called up to provide bullpen depth to the team. They are the only arms in the minor leagues that are healthy and currently on the 40-man roster. Warren is being pulled from Scranton as the team could use him in their playoffs, but the Yankees believe his use as a long-relief pitcher are more useful. Wade and Thomas have also pitched at the Major League level in 2012.

Game 132: September 1st and Nunez Returns

He's back.
After dropping the first game of the series to the Baltimore Orioles by a score of 6-1 on Friday night at Yankee Stadium, the New York Yankees are not panicking just yet. Their division lead is now down to two games. Once again, the offense was not there for Hiroki Kuroda who only allowed four runs through eight and a third innings. Nick Swisher was 0-4 at the plate and struck out every at-bat.

With the calendar turning to September, the Yankees made their first move by calling up Eduardo Nunez. He is in the lineup for Saturday afternoon's game as the designated hitter.

1. Derek Jeter - SS
2. Nick Swisher - 1B
3. Robinson Cano - 2B
4. Andruw Jones - RF
5. Curtis Granderson - CF
6. Russell Martin - C
7. Jayson Nix - 3B
8. Eduardo Nunez - DH
9. Ichiro Suzuki - LF

David Phelps will be on the hill for the Yankees as he looks to get the American League East lead back to where it was before last night's loss. The game can be seen on the YES Network at 1:05PM.

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