Monday, December 31, 2012

2012

Almost one year ago to the day, I began my Yankees blog. In just under one year, I have 345 posts, 4,007 page views and a drive to make 2013 an even better blogging year. I have slacked after the Yankees season ended, mostly because not many things have happened since the Yankees were knocked out of the ALCS by the Detroit Tigers. In 2013, expect my player evaluation, more technological integration (videos) and deeper analysis. I also hope to have 10,000 views by this time next year.

January is a new start for my blog. I can't wait to experience the 2013 with my loyal readers. I promise, I will not disappoint and hopefully, neither will the Yankees. Stay tuned in January where I will begin my player analysis and predictions, position by position. Thank you all for reading what I write and I hope to garner even more readers in the coming year. Wishing you all a happy and healthy new year.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Yanks sign Matt Diaz, Matsui Retiring

Yesterday, the Yankees signed outfielder Matt Diaz to a minor league deal. He has an invite to spring training camp and will compete for a bench role. Diaz played the 2012 with the Atlanta Braves before suffering a thumb injury in August that required surgery and sidelined him for the remainder of the season. Diaz, 34, has hit well against lefties in his career. He has a .291 lifetime average and his .269 against southpaws in 2012 in limited at bats. Diaz will earn $1.2 million if he makes the club, plus performance incentives. This signing doesn't mean the Yankees can stand pat and be done with their righty hitting outfielder search. They could still be in on Scott Hairston, who is reportedly seeking a two year deal.

In other news, former Yankee Hideki Matsui will be announcing his retirement in a press conference this evening. Matsui, most known as the 2009 World Series MVP, spent seven seasons with the New York Yankees. He was always a force in the lineup, first as their left fielder and later as the DH. He then spent three seasons with three different clubs but was never the same player he was in New York. He briefly played for the Tampa Bay Rays this season, hitting .147 in 95 at bats and hitting only two home runs. Matsui is an accomplished player who played the better part of his career in Japan. He will always remain a Yankee icon.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

BREAKING: Swisher inks deal with Indians

Nick Swisher has officially agreed to terms with the Cleveland Indians on a four year, $56 million contract with a vesting option for a fifth year at $14 million that can potentially make the deal worth up to $70 million. The right fielder was a fan favorite during his tenure with the Yankees, always interacting with fans in right field and doing his famous "Swisher Salute"during every roll call. However, the Yankees are trying to get under the luxury tax threshold for the 2014 season and by paying a player like Swisher $14 million per season, they wouldn't have been in a great position to do so.

Swisher feasted on bad pitching. He had great regular seasons with the Yankees, averaging 26 home runs and 87 RBI over his Yankee career. However, he was historically bad in the postseason. Whether it was because of the better pitching, or the bright lights, Swisher was horrendous in October with the Yankees. At one point, Swisher was 0 for his last 34 with RISP. That is not a formula that will amount to success when it matters most.

With Swisher gone, the Yankees will now receive the Indians supplemental first round pick in compensation for Swisher. If the Yankees are going to produce players out of their system, this is a good first step for them. They can get a player with ample potential who can play a key role for them in 3-4 years. With players like Mason Williams, Gary Sanchez, Dante Bichette Jr, and Ty Hensley in the lower level of the minor leagues, the Yankees can possibly build themselves a new core in the coming years.

I wish Swisher the best but the way he went out, by blaming the fans for his troubles, will never be fully forgiven.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Ibanez Signs with Mariners

Looks like another 2012 Yankee will be settling out west, as Raul Ibanez and the Mariners have agreed to a one year, $2.75 million contract with performance incentives. Ibanez was a fan favorite because of his October heroics and his personality. It hurts to lose a guy as good as Ibanez, but the Yankees decided that they didn't need another lefty outfielder. Raul Ibanez was the only Yankee who hit in the clutch, saving the Yankees from ALDS elimination twice and sending game 1 of the ALCS into extras when his home run off Valverde tied the game. The other guy who came up clutch, well he is teammates with AJ Burnett over in Pittsburgh now.

Are the Yankees putting all of their eggs in one basket? With Eric Chavez, Raul Ibanez, AJ Pierzynski, Russell Martin, and Josh Hamilton off the board, where do the Yankees go from here? They need to sign some bench players, as their current bench consists of characters such as Chris Dickerson and Chris Stewart. They have no definite Opening Day catcher and their shortstop is recovering from major knee surgery. Will the Yankees make a big January trade? It seems like Cashman knows what he's doing, and I have to say that I trust him to make a credible move that will improve the New York Yankees.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

189

The Yankees seem like they are standing firm on their goal to not exceed the new hard cap of $189 million in salary starting in 2014. So far this off-season, the Yankees have only handed out one year contracts to players who can make a large impact in the 2013 season. However, the Ichiro deal that is in the works is rumored to be a two year pact at a relatively low annual salary.

With big name free agents off the board like the recently signed outfielder Josh Hamilton and starting pitcher Zach Grienke, it leaves the Yankee fan wondering what the Yankees front office will do this winter. They let Russell Martin and Eric Chavez get away, they passed on MVP Josh Hamilton to fill their right field void, and don't have many contracts that go into 2014. Are the Steinbrenners not committed to winning anymore? They sold a majority share of the YES Network to News Corp last month, making them even more wealthy and still do not want to surpass the luxary tax threshold in 2014. How will the Yankees possibility field a contender beyond 2014 by not signing free agents and lack of depth in their farm system? I don't know the answer to that one, folks.

However, I do know that Brian Cashman is always talking to other clubs about potential trades. He wants to field a championship caliber team every year, and he can only go as far as the Steinbrenners are allowing him to go. With no right fielder (as of this moment), no real starting catcher and questions on the left side of the infield, the Yankees have a lot of work to do if they want to compete in the AL East in future years.

Robinson Cano will be a free agent after the 2013 season, and he wants to make Alex Rodriguez money. With Scott Boras as his agent, I am sure that Cano will sign a huge deal next winter, however I don't think the Yankees are willing to spend that kind of money on another player on the wrong side of 30. This may be a tough pill to swallow, but I think the Dodgers will go hard after Cano after the 2013 season. If Cano signs elsewhere and the Yankees do not sign any free agents, this will be a tough team to watch in 2014.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

BREAKING: Yankees sign Kevin Youkilis

Looks like the "YOUK" chants will be coming to Yankee Stadium next summer. The Yankees and Youk have agreed to terms on a deal that will pay him $12 million to play third base for the injured Alex Rodriguez. This is a big deal for the Yankees to finally obtain a viable third basin who can also play first.

Any Yankee fans who don't like the move are ignorant and stubborn. The Yankees don't have a third baseman until at least, June. Youkilis loves New York and the bright lights and critical fans won't be anything that Youk hasn't already heard in Boston. This should be an interesting season for the Yankees. I'm excited.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Waiting on Youk, Ichiro contract

Late last week, the Yankees reached out to 3B Kevin Youkilis and offered him a one year contract valued at $12 million. The only real competition the Yankees had since then were the Cleveland Indians, where Youkilis would reunite with his former manager, Terry Francona. Youkilis wants to be in a winning environment, and his friends are telling reporters that Youkilis is leaning toward signing with the Yankees. The third baseman has been mum on the topic, stating that he has many options that are alluring. Since last week, the Indians signed Mark Reynolds to play third base for them, likely meaning the Indians are out of the Youkilis sweepstakes. He supposedly has offers on the table from the Dodgers and a couple of other teams aside from the Yankees. Signing him to a one year deal would be a financial victory for the Bombers, who stand firm on their efforts to get payroll under $189 million for the 2014 season.

Earlier this afternoon, Buster Olney reported that the Yankees are going hard after Ichiro Suzuki in order to sign the right fielder to a one year deal. Apparently, the Yankees and Ichiro are closing in on a deal that would keep him in pinstripes for the 2013 season. Signing Ichiro would give the Yankees flexibility if they want to trade Granderson in an effort to make a late run at Josh Hamilton. As it stands, the Yankees outfield comprised of three lefties, assuming Ichiro signs. Either way, they will need to sign a right handed hitter in the outfield.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Eric Chavez off the board

Eric Chavez, who had a remarkable season for the Yankees in 2012 while filling in for Alex Rodriguez at third base has agreed to terms with the Arizona Diamondbacks, as reported by Jon Heyman. This leaves the Yankees with one less option for their third base role. Jeff Keppinger and Eric Chavez are both off the table, leaving scrap heap guys for the Yankees to choose from.

Then of course, the Yankees may have something up their sleeve. I know the Padres have been firm on their decision to not trade Chase Headley, but I have to think that if the Yankees offer them the farm, the Padres will be inclined to trade their star third baseman to the Yankees. Also, the Yankees have been in talks with Kevin Youkilis over the last couple of days but sides are far apart on dollar figures. Youkilis is open to a one year contract to re-gain some value for next off-season, but he wants to be paid well in his one year deal to make up for the fact that he will only be with his respective club for one season.

Mark Reynolds is another option to play third base, but he was so bad defensively at the position last year that the Orioles moved him to first base where he played Gold Glove caliber defense. The Yankees, of course, do not need a first baseman. They are set in that department for the next few years with a different Mark.

Monday, December 3, 2012

BREAKING NEWS: A-Rod headed for surgery

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, Alex Rodriguez was playing at least part of this season with a torn hip. This is the same hip that A-Rod had surgically repaired before the 2009 season. Sherman states that this will cause Rodriguez to miss part of the 2013 season.

In accordance with this announcement, the Yankees desperately need to sign a player or players who can play shortstop and third base. As of right now, the Yankees may not have a left side of the infield to open the season. Rumors have the Yankees very interested in free agent shortstop Stephen Drew.

**EDIT**
The torn hip is different from the one originally operated on in 2009. His left hip will be operated on. Recovery time will be 3-6 months. That would put A-Rod on track to return in June, if everything heals well.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

BREAKING: Pirates sign Russell Martin

Russell Martin has agreed to terms with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The terms of the deal are not yet known but this is a huge blow to the Yankees. The once "catching rich" Yankees now find themselves without a starting catcher. Austin Romine has just come off an injury plagued season with back problems and Gary Sanchez is still too far away from catching in the Major Leagues. The Yankees have Francisco Cervelli who has been their backup for several years and have Chris Stewart who served as Martin's backup in 2012. Martin will re-unite with his old pal AJ Burnett in Pittsburgh. I don't know what Martin thinks the Pirates can do in 2013, but I guess the Pirates offer was significantly better than what the Yankees were offering Martin.

The Yankees now must scramble to either sign a free agent catcher, (i.e. Mike Napoli, AJ Pierzynski) or make a trade to get a catcher. They can not enter the season with Francisco Cervelli as their every day catcher. Mike Napoli is not seen as an everyday catcher. Scouts view him more as a first baseman than anything else. Pierzynski is coming off a fantastic year for the White Sox but his personality may not fit for the Yankees.

Russell Martin hit .211 for the Yankees in 2012 with a career high 21 home runs.

UPDATE*** Russell Martin's contract is reportedly at 2 years, $17 million with the Pirates. The Yankees offer to Martin was rumored to be at 2 years, $12-14 million.

Money was the ultimate factor in this deal considering the Pirates gave Martin exactly what the Yankees offered in terms of years. It must cost a lot to fly back and forth from Canada.

Yankees Sign Mariano Rivera

The Yankees have come to an agreement on a one year contract with Mariano Rivera. They agree to a contract worth $10 million on Marinao Rivera's 43rd birthday. This ensures that the Yankees will have the greatest closer in history for at least one more season. Rivera tore his ACL in May while shagging fly balls in Kansas City that put him on the DL for the rest of the year.

The Yankees have a very formidable bullpen however, they still need to sign one more reliever. They can use a Freddy Garcia-type to mop up and be the long man out of the bullpen. Other than that, they seem to be set in the later innings with Joba Chamberlain, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera. Also, David Aardsma is coming off Tommy John surgery and could provide a huge boost for the Yankees. Aardsma had a 38 save season for the Mariners in 2009 and 31 saves in 2010.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Andy Pettitte Signing Official, Russell Martin update

Earlier today, the Yankees confirmed the signing of Andy Pettitte to a one year contract for the 2013 season that will pay him $12 million. Pettitte can also make up to an additional $2.5 million in award bonuses. This signing gives the Yankees a starting rotation before December 1st, which is something they did not have over the last two seasons this early in the off-season. They now have a rotation consisting of CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte, Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova/David Phelps. The full rotation gives the Yankees options to trade starters this winter. Phil Hughes could possibly get traded because he is a free agent next season and I don't think the Yankees believe he will be worth the money he will ask next year.

As for Russell Martin, sources have confirmed that he has narrowed his selection between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the New York Yankees. However, the Pirates seem to be going after Martin a lot harder than the Yankees are. Martin wants $9-10 million per year on a three year contract. Word on the street is that the Yankees only want to give him two years. It should be interesting to see where he lands. In the event that Martin winds up elsewhere, the Yankees need to search hard for an everyday catcher. Could Mike Napoli be on their radar? I'd say that would be unlikely considering they don't even want to pay Russell Martin what he wants. They could stick Austin Romine into the starting catcher position in the 2013 season similar to what they did with Jorge Posada in 1996. So, in a way it's intriguing to see how the Yankees' catching situation unfolds.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pettitte, Mariano to be Signed this Week

According to ESPN writer Buster Olney, Andy Pettitte is just a day or two away from formally announcing his return to the New York Yankees. When he announces his return, the Yankees will also have a new contract to announce which will be in the $10-12 million range. With the Pettitte deal just about done, this gives the Yankees a great starting rotation for the 2013 season. CC Sabathia will lead the pact, followed by Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte. The Yankees now have many options for their fourth and fifth starters. Phil Hughes will surely fill out the fourth starter role in the last year of his contract with the Yankees before hitting free agency. Look for him to have a great year as he searches for a long term contract. Ivan Nova and David Phelps will battle it out for the fifth starter spot. Phelps has shown that he has what it takes to be a starter in the Major Leagues. Ivan Nova took a step backwards after a stellar rookie year in 2011. Of course, one of the three pitchers mentioned could be traded before the start of the season. Phil Hughes will be a good chip to trade if the Yankees don't intend to sign him after 2013. Also, Michael Pineda should be ready to enter the rotation in June but you can't make any guarantees after him undergoing major shoulder surgery last year.

Mariano Rivera is also close to getting signed on a one year contract in the $12-15 million range. Rivera was injured in May, tearing his ACL. He did not pitch for the Yankees down the stretch, which could raise some question marks about his effectiveness in 2013. The Yankees have insurance policies in the ninth inning with David Robertson and David Aardsma. Joba Chamberlain can also serve as a competent internal closer option after being one year removed from his Tommy John surgery.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Ichiro wants to stay a Yankee, Pettitte news

According to sources, Ichiro Suzuki has been contacted by many teams who are interested in his services for the 2013 season. However, the right fielder wants to stay with the Yankees. He liked the professionalism and maturity of the Yankees clubhouse, something he was not accustomed to in Seattle. Ichiro would certainly be welcome back in the Bronx as their every day right fielder if he plays like he did down the stretch. However, if he returns to his pre-second half form and hits for a low average with little power it could mean trouble for the Yankees. If he does sign with the Yankees, the Yankees would probably have an outfield consisting of Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson and Ichiro Suzuki.

There have been minor rumblings about a Granderson trade this off-season. The center fielder had career highs in home runs last year while having an awful year at the plate in terms of consistency. He struck out over 200 times between the regular season and postseason which is a major red flag about what kind of hitter he has become. With one year left on his contract and the Yankees unlikely to resign him for 2014 and beyond, I would be open to a trade to acquire a right handed outfield bat with power. Justin Upton's name has been in trade talks this off season, but after an off-year in 2012, his bat may be a concern for the Yankees. Also, if the Yankees do sign Ichiro for 2013, they will have an outfield consisting of three lefty bats. The Yankees need a powerful right handed bat in that lineup to replace Nick Swisher. Also, Alex Rodriguez has not been a major home run threat lately so they have been very vulnerable against lefty pitchers recently.

Also, the Yankees are awaiting a decision on Andy Pettitte about his plans to pitch in 2013. The veteran lefty should be making a decision in the coming days regarding his future in pinstripes but all indications are that Pettitte will want to return after starting a handful of games in his injury shortened 2012 season. He has already begun his off-season workouts to see how his body responds. If Pettitte returns to the rotation, the Yankees will have a formidable top three.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

BREAKING: Yankees Re-Sign Kuroda

The Yankees have come to terms with right handed pitcher Hiroki Kuroda on a one year deal worth $15 million with less than $1 million in performance incentives. This is a raise for Kuroda over last year's contract when he first came to the Yankees on a $10 million deal. Late last week, sources said that Kuroda preferred to pitch on the west coast to be closer to his two daughters who attend elementary school in southern California.

This is a huge step for the Yankees. They suddenly have a formidable front two in their starting rotation. Their next step is to figure out whether Andy Pettitte will return to pitch in 2013, which everyone feels optimistic about.

Last season, Kuroda posted a 16-11 record with the Yankees last season. He was undoubtedly their most consistent pitcher of 2012 with an ERA of 3.32 and a career best 219.2 innings pitched.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Posey, Cabrera win MLB's most Coveted Award

The final and perhaps most prestigious award in Major League Baseball was handed out tonight, the Most Valuable Player award. Victorious in the category were Buster Posey of the World Champion San Francisco Giants and of the American League Champions, Miguel Cabrera.

Once again, both winners of the award were those that I predicted would win after the regular season wrapped up. I did not get caught in the Mike Trout hype but decided to go with the player who made a larger impact to his team. This year, Miguel Cabrera did everything that one would have hoped for and more. Cabrera won MLB''s first triple crown since 1967 when Carl Yaztremski of the Boston Red Sox completed the feat. Even though Cabrera was not as electric as Mike Trout, his track record and other abilities factored into this MVP award. He sounds like a team player. He switched positions and went to third base to accomodate newly signed Prince Fielder before the 2012 season.

Buster Posey had a terrific season for a catcher. Although Yadier Molina had a career year and led his team to the NLCS, Buster Posey did more offensively and meant more to his team. Posey was the offense for the Giants. And to add that he did it all from the catcher position means even more.

Congratulations to Miguel Cabrera and to Buster Posey on your Most Valuable Player awards. The off-season can now officially commence as 2012 has wrapped up and is put into the books.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Price, Dickey: Cy Young Winners

David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays and Robert Allen Dickey of the New York Mets have just claimed the most prestigious award handed out among Major League pitchers. Both men were my picks to win in their respective leagues and I could not be happier. This is the happiest I've been with the results of the Cy Young vote in a few years.

I have to begin with RA Dickey. He was the on the scrap heap in 2009 and when he finally got the call in 2010 by the New York Mets, he was transformed into a brilliant knuckle-ball pitcher. Dickey is the first ever knuckle-ball pitcher to win a Cy Young and the third pitcher in Mets history to win after Tom Seaver and Doc Gooden. Clayton Kershaw came in at a distant second place. Nothing would have compared with the year and story of RA Dickey. Something about the man's grace, humbleness and quiet confidence makes me elated over his victory in the Cy Young voting. Congratulations RA Dickey, soak it in. You have climbed the tallest mountain.

David Price was also my pick to win the Cy Young award in the American League. Although his Rays just barely missed the postseason, Price had an outstanding year by posting twenty victories on a team with no offense. He has improved his game on all facets and put it together this season to come out on top in the American League. Congratulations on your award, David Price.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Marlins Headed North: Big Trade

The same Miami Marlins that loaded up on high salary players before 2012 are on the verge of completing a historic salary dump.

Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Emilio Bonafacio, Jose Reyes and John Buck are all heading north of the border to play for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2013 and beyond. This deal not only says how the Blue Jays are committed to winning next season, but also how bad the Marlins management is. After all of this is said and done, I would be surprised if any free agent would be willing to sign with Miami. Jose Reyes should play well in the dome and Mark Buehrle is heading back into the American League, where he has played so well for so many years.

In return, the Marlins are getting shortstops Yunel Escobar, Hecchavari and a pitcher.

The Marlins tanked with all of these players on their team last season, but maybe a change of scenery will help all of those big names- not to mention playing with Jose Bautista.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Trout, Harper win Rookie of the Year

The young phenom, Mike Trout has unanimously won the American League Rookie of the Year award, easily beating out Wei-Yen Chen and Yoenis Cespedes. Trout had a historic rookie season for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The New Jersey native hit .326 with thirty home runs, 129 runs scored and 49 stolen bases.

In the National League, it was Bryce Harper who took home the most coveted prize for rookies. He just barely beat out Wade Miley and Todd Frazier for the top spot. In my opinion, Todd Frazier deserved the award. He meant a lot to the team because his ability to play multiple positions and his hot streak while Joey Votto was on the disabled list. He carried the Reds for a good month of the season. While Wade Miley was great this season, his team did not make the playoffs so that does not do it for me.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Tuesday Notes: Silver Slugger,Tino, Kuroda, Martin

After rumors that Tino Martinez was going to the Red Sox as their new hitting coach, the rumor was quickly debunked and Martinez is now heading to the Miami Marlins to serve as hitting coach. Tino Martinez was a great player and should be an even better hitting coach.

Hiroki Kuroda, who is still deciding about whether to pitch in the Major Leagues next season, may not accept the Yankees qualifying offer after all. Kuroda is a coveted free agent pitcher who only wants a one-year deal, but the Red Sox and his former LA Dodgers team is trying to steal him from the Yankees. Kuroda has made it known that he enjoyed his time with the Yankees and it should only be a matter of time before the Yankees resign the right handed pitcher who won sixteen games for the Yankees in 2012.

Also, check out this terrific article written in the New York Times by David Waldstein about Russell Martin. In the piece, Waldstein brings us inside the life and mind of Martin. The article discusses the catcher's love of Canada and the Expos, his injuries at the end of the season and his need of a vacation. Truly a great read.

Also, Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano came away with Silver Slugger awards tonight for their work in the 2012 season. Cano takes home the trophy for his third straight season while Jeter wins the fifth Silver Slugger of his career.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Mariano to Pitch in 2013, plus other notes

My apologies for the lack of updates. As you all know, Hurricane Sandy rolled through the area on Monday and as a result, I lost power on Monday night at approximately 8:00 PM. I did not gain power back until tonight (Saturday) at about 7:00 PM. That was five full days without power, heat, lights, and Internet. However, other people received much worse from the storm so I should be thankful that I am here writing this blog and not looking for my furniture on the streets.

This was a quiet week in Yankee land, but at the same time there was a lot of noise. Rafael Soriano began the news by opting out of his contract in search of a long-term deal. The opt out was imminent and the Yankees knew he was not going to return after the season he had for the Yankees in 2012. Being a Scott Boras client, I expect he will get at least another three year contract at about the same rate he received with the Yankees.

Following Rafael Soriano's opt out, the Yankees extended qualifying offers to three of their free agents: Hiroki Kuroda, Nick Swisher and Rafael Soriano. The Yankees extended the offers to Soriano and Swisher almost knowing they would reject the offers, which is what the Yankees want. By offering contracts, they are guaranteed a draft pick in compensation for any lost free agents. Nick Swisher and Rafael Soriano should give the Yankees what they want, while Kuroda is a different story. The right-hander has expressed interest in signing another one year contract and has made it known that he enjoyed playing for the Yankees. After making $10 million in 2012, a qualifying offer of $13.3 million could and should get the job done for both sides, and the Yankees would sign up for that in a heartbeat. The Yankees did not extend an offer to Russell Martin however, in part because he is not a $13 million dollar player. That doesn't mean the Yankees do not want him back. Look for the Yankees to offer Martin a multi-year contract. Martin has played exceptionally well as a Yankee despite a poor batting average. His work behind the plate is what gives him an edge over other catchers, making him a prized commodity this off-season.

Lastly, the New York Post reported today that Mariano Rivera made it known that he intends to pitch in 2013. After weighing his options concerning retirement, Mariano has clearly chosen to extend his Hall of Fame career for one more season (at least for now). No numbers have been discussed between Rivera and Cashman but with Soriano out of the picture, look for the Yankees to get this deal done quick to have Mariano Rivera close games for one more season.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Off-Season Officially Begins

The World Series is over. The San Francisco Giants sweep the Detroit Tigers in four games. The Tigers looked awfully familiar to a team they swept the series prior to getting swept. Now they know how it feels to be on the losing end of a sweep. Overall, the team with better pitching won. When Justin Verlander choked in game one of the World Series, you knew that things were going to go in the Giants' direction.

As for the Yankees, the off-season officially begins as twelve Yankees file for free agency. Among them were Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Russell Martin. Also, the short list for Gold Glove qualifiers was announced today. Russell Martin, Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano are all finalists at their positions in the American League.

In other news, the Yankees have officially picked up the options on Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson and David Aardsma. Cano is a lock to remain a Yankee next season, as he is the best hitter in their lineup. Without him, there would be a huge hole that would not be filled by anyone currently on the roster. Curtis Granderson is another story. I wouldn't be surprised to see him in a deal to get either a starting pitcher or an outfielder. The center fielder hit 43 home runs in 2012, but struck out over 200 times in the regular and postseason and did not hit for average.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Looking Back

Before the season began, I made win total predictions as to where I believed teams would finish after 162 games. Some were accurate, others were embarrassing. Too bad I can't look ahead in time when I make my predictions in late March.

My predictions for the AL East:
New York Yankees: 97-65- Y
Tampa Bay Rays: 91-71- W
Boston Red Sox: 90-72
Toronto Blue Jays: 83-79
Baltimore Orioles: 69-93
 
Actual Records:
New York Yankees: 95-67- Y
Baltimore Orioles: 93-69- W
Tampa Bay Rays: 90-72
Toronto Blue Jays: 72-89
Boston Red Sox: 69-93
 
The Yankees were a safe choice for the division title and I was only two games off. I was dead-on about Tampa Bay and they were only one win short of my prediction. I did have them making the playoffs as one of the wildcards over Baltimore. Their hitting was not able to get them into the playoffs even though their starting pitching was fantastic. I'm not embarrassed about where I had the Baltimore Orioles. Everyone had them in the cellar of the American League East. Boston was a huge disappointment as Bobby Valentine crashed and burned in Beantown. Toronto had a disappointing season after they were projected as the dark horse of the division. Their starters were all on the DL and Romero had a terrible year.
 
My Predictions for the AL Central:
Detroit Tigers: 95-67- Y
Cleveland Indians: 83-79
Kansas City Royals: 81-81
Minnesota Twins: 80-82
Chicago White Sox: 74-88
 
Actual Records:
Detroit Tigers: 88-74- Y
Chicago White Sox: 85-77
Kansas City Royals: 72-90
Cleveland Indians: 68-94
Minnesota Twins: 66-96
 
Until late September, the White Sox were in position to win the Central crown until the Tigers went on a run. Combine that with a Chicago collapse and the Tigers ended up winning the central by three games. I originally predicted the White Sox to finish last because of their new manager, combined with Adam Dunn's and Alex Rios' terrible 2011. I was wrong about them, but the team ended up coming up short. I believed the Indians would improve on their 2011 season but they turned out to finish terribly. Kansas City was a surprise team that I originally had finishing with a .500 record with their great young players, however their pitching didn't hold up and they floundered down the stretch.
 
My predictions for the AL West:
Texas Rangers: 94-68- Y
LA Angels: 91-71- W
Oakland Athletics: 73-89
Seattle Mariners: 70-92
 
Actual Records:
Oakland Athletics: 94-68- Y
Texas Rangers: 93-69- W
LA Angels of Anaheim: 89-73
Seattle Mariners: 75-87
 
A group of nobodies came together at the Coliseum in Oakland and put together a season that no analyst could have predicted. They overcame a thirteen game deficit in the division in late August to take the AL West Crown from the Rangers on the final day of the regular season. The Angels spent a ton of money to bring Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson to their team and didn't even make the playoffs. Don't forget about Mike Trout's MVP worthy season. They still managed to miss the playoffs with all that talent despite Jered Weaver winning over twenty games.
 
My predictions for the NL East:
Philadelphia Phillies: 90-72- Y
Atlanta Braves: 88-74- W
Washington Nationals: 85-77
Miami Marlins: 83-79
New York Mets: 72-90
 
Actual Records:
Washington Nationals: 98-64- Y
Atlanta Braves: 94-68- W
Philadelphia Phillies: 81-81
New York Mets: 74-88
Miami Marlins: 69-73
 
I was dead wrong about this division. I didn't have the Washington Nationals making the playoffs and they finished the season with the best record in baseball. The Braves secured a wildcard spot as I predicted they would. The Phillies were awful this year but were in a wildcard race in September which boosted their record to a respectable place. Roy Halladay was not the same this season and Ryan Howard's absence early in the season took a toll on the team, not to mention Cliff Lee's inability to get a win until mid-summer. The Mets were surprisingly good until the All-Star break. After the break, they were awful and forgot how to hit. They evened their record to match the prediction I set for them in the pre-season. The Marlins spent a boatload of money on Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell. Their season was a major disappointment after the team did not respond well to Ozzie Guillen. Heath Bell lost his job as Marlins closer, leaving Jose Reyes as the only bright spot for the Marlins after they traded every one of their regular players by the trading deadline.

My predictions for the NL Central:
St. Louis Cardinals: 88-74- Y
Cincinnati Reds: 86-76
Milwaukee Brewers: 84-78
Pittsburgh Pirates: 77-85
Chicago Cubs: 74-88
Houston Astros: 65-97
 
Actual Records:
Cincinnati Reds: 97-65- Y
St. Louis Cardinals: 88-74- W
Milwaukee Brewers: 83-79
Pittsburgh Pirates: 79-83
Chicago Cubs: 61-101
Houston Astros: 55-107
 
My original prediction for the number of wins that St. Louis would amass came into fruition, marking my first exact record prediction to actual record of the season. However, I had St. Louis winning the division coming off their World Series title after just making it into the playoffs in 2011. Looking back, I thought about making the Reds the winners of the division but something told me that they couldn't do it after coming off a mediocre season in 2011. The Brewers were not able to retain Prince Fielder, but they made a little run at the end for a wildcard but ultimately lost that to the Cardinals. The Cubs and Astros were horrific this season. They are the AAA teams of the Central as of today. Houston will join the American League next season and I believe the designated hitter will help them, but their pitching is still awful.
 
My predictions for the NL West:
San Francisco Giants: 90-72- Y
Arizona Diamondbacks: 88-74- W
LA Dodgers: 85-77
Colorado Rockies: 81-81
San Diego Padres: 73-89
 
Actual Records:
San Francisco Giants: 94-68- Y
LA Dodgers: 86-76
Arizona Diamondbacks: 81-81
San Diego Padres: 76-86
Colorado Rockies: 64-98
 
I was correct in choosing the Giants to win the western title but my pick for Arizona getting one of the wildcards did not exactly go as planned. Most of Arizona's hitters took a step back in 2012, leaving people scratching their heads about what changed from 2011. Before the season started, I was having a hard time choosing who would come in second in the division, going from the Dodgers to the D'Backs and ultimately chose to stick with Arizona. The Dodgers made a mega-trade with the Red Sox in August which sent Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, Nick Punto and Carl Crawford to the Dodgers. Even with all of those bullets, Los Angeles still fell short of the playoffs in 2012. Magic Johnson and Co. are probably kicking themselves for making that kind of boneheaded move.
 

Overall, I had more good predictions than bad ones. I am proud of how I made my choices and look forward to doing so again at the end of Spring Training in 2013.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The To-Do List

The Yankees have a long laundry list of things that they need to address in the off-season, beginning with their everyday players. Nick Swisher will surely be gone after some team offers him a ridiculous contract that the Yankees will not be willing to match. This leaves a hole in right field. They have internal options in Chris Dickerson and Eduardo Nunez, who would have to learn the position. However, they also have another free agent coming off the books who will probably be a Yankee in 2013. Ichiro Suzuki should re-sign with the Yankees on a deal of two years at most. He is clearly not the player he once was but showed signs of the superstar who began his career at the Major League level in Seattle. Assuming Brett Gardner is not traded, he should be the Yankees everyday left fielder. Curtis Granderson's 2013 option worth $15 million has been picked up by the Yankees so unless he is included in some package for an outfielder, Granderson should be patrolling center field at Yankee Stadium for a third straight season. My ideal outfield for next season would start with Brett Gardner playing a sprakling left field. Curtis Granderson would obviously be the center fielder assuming he does not get traded. If Granderson is traded in the off-season, Brett Gardner deserves the center field job. Ichiro will round out the outfield assuming the Yankees retain him in free agency.

Mark Teixeira is a lock at first base, as is Robinson Cano at second. Cano is an interesting story as he has one option year remaining on his contract before he hits free agency for the first time in his career. The Yankees need to make him an offer this winter before he comes to free agency next October and yields enormous contract offers from other teams. Cano deserves to be the highest paid hitter on the Yankees but the number of years that he wants, which is rumored to be at ten, could put up a stop sign for the Yankees. They have already gotten burned on a ten year deal that they will net get out of for another five years in Alex Rodriguez. This brings me to the controversial Yankees third baseman. A-Rod is owed approximately $115 million through the next five years. After the way the Yankees treated him in the postseason, they should do everything they can to find a team interested in Rodriguez and his contract. Derek Jeter should be ready for opening day after undergoing ankle surgery late last week.

Next, the Yankees have to move over to their pitching situation, which is in more flux than their position player scenario. Beginning with Andy Pettitte, the Yankees have to see if the lefty is ready for another year in the big leauges at age 40. He will definitely be a one year commitment so the Yankees will not have to worry about him asking for a multi-year deal. Hiroki Kuroda is similar to Andy. He likes one year contracts and will play on them going forward. He was tremendous for the Yankees this season after coming in from the Dodgers. Next, Michael Pineda has not thrown a pitch for the Yankees after he was obtained from the Mariners for Jesus Montero before the season began. Assuming he is healthy, Pineda could be huge for the Yankees moving forward. He is cheap and young, a direction the Yankees need to go in moving forward. If his velocity is back to what it was when he pitched for the Mariners, the Yankees have a special picher on their hands. Moving forward, Ivan Nova and David Phelps are very formidable options as a sixth starter assuming the rotation consists of CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte, Phil Hughes and Michael Pineda.

Lastly, the Yankees will face the risk of signing Mariano Rivera after the closer suffered a season ending injury in Kansas City in May. The Yankees don't know what they are getting from Rivera. He is one year older and less than one year removed from major leg surgery. Rafael Soriano will opt out of his contract in pursuit of a multi-year offer from a team in need of a closer.

So, the Yankees have a busy off-season ahead of them. I don't expect wholesale changes, but expect the Bombers to make a couple of key moves in order to improve the club for 2013 and beyond.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Yankees Embarrassed in Sweep

With CC Sabathia pitching a possible elimination game for the Yankees of game four of the ALCS, the Yankee fan had supreme confidence that this series would go to a game five. Instead, CC Sabathia comes out with nothing in the tank despite an extra day off, which could have played a role in his inability to get outs today. Combine Sabathia's personal struggle to get his pitches over, his defense abandoned him for what seems like the tenth time this season. Sabathia failed to get out of the fourth inning and gave up six runs on eleven hits to the Tigers. To make matters worse, Teixeira booted two balls in the third inning and Chavez nonchalantly picked a ball up on the ground in the first inning and failed to make the second out of the inning. So to set the blame entirely on Sabathia would be foolish. His defense played like they were ready for a round of golf and they decided to pack their bags before twenty-seven outs were recorded.

To add to the Yankees' embarrassment, their offense was historically terrible in this series. In addition to hardly scoring in this elimination game, they were getting no-hit through five innings and struck out a boatload of times against Scherzer. To say this was a postseason collapse would be an understatement.

The Yankees 2012 campaign has come to a crashing end. There should be interesting changes to this team for next season. They have many questions to answer as far as contracts and trades are concerned. Free agents this off-season are: Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Nick Swisher, Hiroki Kuroda, Ichiro Suzuki, Russell Martin, Eric Chavez, Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones. Next season will be option seasons for Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson.

The Yankees should give contracts to all but Nick Swisher and Andruw Jones for the 2013 season. Robinson Cano's option year will definitely be exercised and I see them playing Granderson next season before letting him walk. As far as Alex Rodriguez is concerned, at this point he needs to go to a different team. He is a lighting rod that is a distraction to the Yankees at this point. He is not the player he was three years ago and the way management has treated him in the postseason should be a red flag as to how they feel about him going forward.

As for Swisher, he has divorced himself from the fans and that alone will earn his ticket of the Bronx. In addition, his postseason struggles have been so horrendous that I don't think the Yankees want to give him a big contract.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Game 4 ALCS lineup: A-Rod on his way out?

Stories popped up today from Dan Duquette and Keith Olbermann mentioning that the Yankees and Marlins have been talking extensively on a deal that would send Alex Rodriguez to Miami in exchange for salary relief or in exchange for Heath Bell and less salary relief. Cashman refuted the rumors however, with the way the Yankees have been using Rodriguez in the postseason, I don't see him coming into spring training in 2013 as a Yankee.

The lineup:
Ichiro Suzuki LF
Nick Swisher RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Raul Ibanez DH
Eric Chavez 3B
Russell Martin C
Brett Gardner CF
Eduardo Nunez SS

SP: LHP CC Sabathia

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Season on the Brink

The Yankees had to face none other than Justin Verlander tonight after getting shut out by Anabal Sanchez and Phil Coke in game two of the ALCS. Verlander came as advertised. He was flat out nasty tonight and the Yankee hitters did not stand a chance despite constantly working the counts in their favor. Verlander nibbled for much of the game, leaving the hitters assuming that the at-bat would end on a positive note. The at-bat ended, but not the way they wanted it to. Ichiro got the only two hits that Verlander allowed through eight innings. In the ninth, Eduardo Nunez, who was starting at shortstop at Alex Rodriguez's expense took Verlander deep after fighting off nasty fastballs and off-speed pitches. Leyland allowed Verlander to face Gardner, who went 0-4 in his first start since April 17. Gardner, despite making an out drove up Verlander's pitch count to the point of where Jim Leyland was forced to go to the bullpen for the final two outs. The Yankees did not go down quietly, but ultimately Raul Ibanez struck out against Phil Coke on a nasty 3-2 slider with the tying run in scoring position.

From a starting pitching perspective, this was a game where you knew that it would only take one run to give Verlander a win. Phil Hughes started the game nicely before allowing a solo home run to Yankee killer, Delmon Young. Ultimately, in the same inning Hughes was taken out with what the team says is back stiffness. Fake injury or not, it was probably the best thing to do with Hughes who is a three-run homer waiting to happen. The bullpen was solid, giving up only one run the rest of the way. However, that run would cost them the game.

The Yankees find themselves in a deep hole going into tomorrow. They are down 0-3 and a loss tomorrow night would end their season with a sweep at the hands of the Detroit Tigers. One positive in a world of negatives for the Yankees is that CC Sabathia will be starting. If you are going to go down, you want it to be with your ace on the mound. Sabathia has been stellar in September and his two starts against Baltimore in the ALDS, so a win tomorrow night would give the Yankees a glimmer of hope in what was a otherwise weak series where the Yankees could not get a hit to save their season.

Game 3 ALCS lineup shake-up

Brett Gardner LF
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Robinson Cano 2B
Raul Ibanez DH
Russell Martin C
Eric Chavez 3B
Curtis Granderson CF
Eduardo Nunez SS

SP: RHP Phil Hughes

Monday, October 15, 2012

Swisher turns Sour

During the game last night, Nick Swisher had a tense vibe about him and gave his most loyal fans in right field the cold shoulder. After the game, Marc Carig caught up with the free-agent-to-be right fielder and discussed what was transpiring between him and the fans out in right field. Swisher’s answers were very disrespectful, hinting at the most loyal fans being the main culprits the heckling. On Friday night, Swisher missed a ball lined to right field that went past the outfielder and rolled to the wall to allow Detroit to score the go-ahead runs in extra innings where they would end up beating the Yankees in twelve frames. According to Swisher, the fans were suggesting that he was responsible for Jeter’s injury. Derek Jeter went for a ground ball and rolled over, suffering a fractured left ankle which has sidelined him for the remainder of the Yankees’ postseason.

The resolution for Nick Swisher is simple. Start getting hits. Swisher has been historically awful in his postseason career, posting a sub .150 average in four postseasons with the Yankees. The fact that a ball lined right to him was able to go to the wall and score Detroit’s go-ahead run only added fuel to the fire. Swisher has a chance to undo all the wrong that he has gotten himself into. He can do that tomorrow night with a decent offensive performance against Justin Verlander.
Chances are that Nick Swisher’s time in pinstripes has come to an end, and he is going out in a sour way with the fans. The thin-skinned player is taking fans’ frustrations too close to heart and turning his struggles over to blame the fans. Swisher is leaving the Bronx, and it couldn’t be at a more fitting time. Fans’ love for the right fielder has turned to heckling and impatience after Swisher has continued to struggle in the postseason.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

MISSING: Offense

The Yankees bats have quieted when they have needed them most in this series. Aside from the outburst in the ninth inning of last night's game, the Yankees have not been able to score in any other inning against a pedestrian Tigers pitching staff. Down 0-2 in the series, they now have to face Justin Verlander in game three in Detroit. Getting at least a split at home was crucial for the Yankees because they knew Verlander was waiting for them in the third game of the series. Tonight, the Yankee offense was non-existent after getting shut out by Anibal Sanchez and the rest of the Tigers bullpen. Kuroda was fantastic tonight and should have gone eight innings to allow one run. Instead, a blown call at second base cost the Yankees an additional four pitchers and an additional two runs to trail by. Raul Ibanez cannot hit 1-9 in the Yankee lineup and another guy has to step up now that Jeter is out for the remainder of the postseason. Alex Rodriguez continues to look helpless at the plate and Cano, who has set an MLB postseason record with consecutive hitless at-bats. Cano has been complaining to the umpires a lot in the postseason, but he is the only person to blame for his slump, which is probably the worst of his career. After ending the season so hot, how is it possible to get so cold in a matter of single digit games?

The Yankees have a tall mountain to climb if they want to get back into this series and it will start by facing Justin Verlander on Tuesday night in Detroit where he will square off against Phil Hughes, who actually beat Verlander in Detroit earlier in the season. If Verlander beats them, which is a probable outcome based on the Yankees offensive slump, they will essentially be out of the World Series hunt in a painful way. Let's see if they are able to muster something up against Verlander and suddenly come out of their offensive dip.

ALCS Game 2 lineup

Ichiro Suzuki LF
Robison Cano 2B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Raul Ibanez DH
Russell Martin C
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Curtis Granderson CF
Nick Swisher RF
Jayson Nix SS

SP: RHP Hiroki Kuroda

The Captain Goes Down in Extra Inning Loss

This was a winnable game for the Yankees as Raul Ibanez and Ichiro Suzuki powered the Yankees back into a tie in the ninth inning against Tigers closer Jose Valverde. However, the story after this game will not be the team's inability to get a big hit aside from Ibanez's at bat. It will be about Jeter rolling his ankle in the twelfth inning as the Tigers scored two runs off David Phelps.

Derek Jeter has had problems with his leg for about a month now, but this time it looked like it was as bad as it's been all season. This could have been avoided all together if the Yankees would have scored the winning run in the tenth or eleventh inning. As a matter of fact, they had chances throughout the ENTIRE game to blow it open. However, when they needed a hit most, the batter either struck out or grounded out. Alex Rodriguez had another disgusting day at the plate. Swisher continues his postseason woes as he not only struggles offensively but also defensively as he missed a liner hit right at him and allowed it to roll to the wall.

Tomorrow afternoon, Hiroki Kuroda will try to give the Yankees their first win of the series to even it up before heading into Comerica Park in Detroit where Justin Verlander will be waiting in game three.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

ALCS Game 1 lineup

Derek Jeter SS
Ichiro Suzuki LF
Robinson Cano 2B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Raul Ibanez DH
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Nick Swisher RF
Curtis Granderson CF
Russell Martin C

SP: LHP Andy Pettitte

ALCS Roster change

The only change of the ALCS that the Yankees made to their roster was taking Eduardo Nunez off of the roster. With all four of the Tigers starters being right handed, the Yankees do not need an extra righty bat off the bench. However, they do add RHP Cody Eppley to the 25 man roster because of the Tigers lineup being almost completely right handed.

Friday, October 12, 2012

ACE-ALCS

CC Sabathia put the Yankees on his back this afternoon and went the distance to advance the New York Yankees to the American League Championship Series. The performance that Sabathia gave his team is the definition of ace. Sabathia was as clutch as he has been as a Yankee, putting the Yankees on his back and giving them their first trip to the Championship series since 2010. Sabathia had all of his pitches working for him and the Orioles aggressiveness helped keep his pitch count low to enable him to go all the way tonight. There was one inning where Sabathia got into trouble and allowed a run to score in the eighth but that would be all that Sabathia would allow as he pitched his way through the eighth inning, leaving the bases loaded. Sabathia is the first Yankee starting pitcher to pitch a complete game in the postseason since Roger Clemens in 2000. That is a remarkable statistic that CC Sabathia will now hold next to his name. He definately earned his paycheck tonight. Sabathia took the three runs that he was provided with and ran with it all the way to the finish line.

Speaking of offense, the Yankees looked dead through the first four innings of the game. Jason Hammel was keeping batters honest and not many balls were being hit hard. Mark Teixeira led off the fifth inning with a single lined over the shift into right field. He then stole second base after Baltimore had not been holding him on first for the entire series. Teixeira stealing second base was a momentum shifter in the Yankees direction as Raul Ibanez came up in a big spot and singled up the middle to score Teixeira from second. Later, Ichiro would add to the lead with an RBI double to score Jeter from first base. To cap the scoring, Curtis Granderson, who looked horrendus throughout the entire series added to the lead with an insurance solo blast into the second deck in right. Granderson also had a line drive single in the game, which is a great sign for the Yankees. If Granderson starts to hit he will be a huge threat in the series against Detroit.

Tomorrow night at the Stadium, Andy Pettitte will take the ball for game one against the Detroit Tigers who beat the Athletics in five games behind Justin Verlander. Fortunately for the Yankees, Verlander pitched for game five and will not start game one of the ALCS.

My prediction for the next series: Yankees in six. Verlander will win his game, but the rest of the Tigers staff doesn't scare me at all. The Yankees do well against right-handed pitching and have good numbers against Fister, Sanchez and Scherzer. They have even beaten Verlander twice in the 2012 regular season. With that being said, I give the Yankees an edge in the starting rotation and as long as they do not let Cabrera beat them, the Yankees should do well in this series.

Game 5 ALDS lineup: A-Rod out

Derek Jeter SS
Ichiro Suzuki LF
Robinson Cano 2B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Raul Ibanez DH
Nick Swisher RF
Curtis Granderson CF
Russell Martin C
Eric Chavez 3B

SP: LHP CC Sabathia

Thursday, October 11, 2012

It Will All Come Down to One

The Yankees blew a game that they had several chances of winning. They stranded islands on men in scoring position and used their entire bullpen. That is the story of their season and it came back to bite them when they needed to get over their RISP woes most. Tomorrow, CC Sabathia will make his second start of the series to try to send the Yankees into the American League Championship Series. The Yankees face a dilemma even if they make the next round: CC Sabathia will not start game one. That is a huge blow for the Bombers. Technically, they did this all by themselves with their inability to get a big hit tonight. The game went thirteen innings and the Yankees just wasted a ton of energy and bullpen arms. Now, because they weren't able to get it done tonight, they will burn their ace in a game that never should have happened.

Lost in the shuffle was Phil Hughes' start. He went 6.2 innings and allowed just a run on a home run to the hot Nate McLouth. The Yankees starting pitching has been fantastic this entire series, and it is a shame that that will be overshadowed by the lack of clutch hitting. Too bad Raul Ibanez couldn't repeat what he did last night. Too bad Alex Rodriguez failed again with runners on base. Too bad the Yankees have wasted every opportunity given to them in these four games.

Last year, the Yankees were eliminated in the fifth game of the ALDS against the Tigers. This year, they face a similar fate against the Orioles after they had countless chances to make a laugher out of this series. It is late, the Yankees lost and I am tired. I will go to bed and will wake up in the morning hoping for a game five miracle tomorrow afternoon at 5PM.

Game 4 ALDS lineup

Derek Jeter DH
Ichiro Suzuki LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Robinson Cano 2B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Nick Swisher RF
Russell Martin C
Curtis Granderson CF
Jayson Nix SS

SP: RHP Phil Hughes

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

RAUL DELIVERS TWICE!

Just when you think the Yankees are dead, a man named Raul Ibanez comes to the plate. The man who has saved the Yankees season time and time again came to the plate in a crucial spot. He was batting in place of a man who may have cost the Yankees a few wins along the way. Raul Ibanez is the man, and he is the most clutch player the Yankees have had in years. This is the second time in a week that Ibanez saved the Yankees season. Tonight, he got greedy and got both of the big hits of the game; A game-tying solo shot off Jim Johnson in the ninth inning and a walk-off solo blast off lefty Brian Matusz in the twelfth inning. The script could not have been written any better and the Yankees should be on their hands and knees, bowing down to the king of big moments for the 2012 Yankees.

Kuroda made that walk-off possible by delivering eight plus innings of two run baseball to an Orioles team that was ready to call it a night up two games to the Yankees one game. Raul Ibanez had other plans tonight as the Yankees go up 2-1 in the series and look to advance to the American League Championship Series with a win tomorrow night. Some of the pressure is taken off Phil Hughes tomorrow as he is pitching in a game four with the Yankees having the series lead. The Yankees are now playing to advance and the Orioles will be playing to keep their season alive. Still, the Yankees have to go out and win tomorrow night to keep this from going to a fifth game after the momentum shift in the Yankees direction tonight.

Joe Saunders will make the start for Baltimore tomorrow night. Saunders has been great for the Orioles and performed well in Baltimore's one game playoff against the Texas Rangers last Friday. The Yankees have a long road ahead of them but they can put tonight behind them knowing they hold the upper hand.

ALDS Game 3 lineup: where is A-Rod?

Derek Jeter SS
Ichiro Suzuki LF
Alex Rodriguez DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Curtis Granderson CF
Russell Martin C
Eric Chavez 3B

SP: RHP Hiroki Kuroda

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Yankees Failure with Men on Base Haunts Them

It feels like I have been telling the same old story about the Yankees all year. Just when you think they have turned a corner in their runners in scoring position problem, the Yankees come back tonight and leave ten men on base and ended up losing by just one run. The Yankees had opportunities all night to get big hits off of the Baltimore starter but mustered only two runs, one of which was earned. The Yankees displayed a pathetic effort tonight offensively. This is why winning the first game is so important. If the Yankees went into tonight down 0-1 in the series this loss would have stung even more than it already stings. For the players in the Yankee dugout, they will have two whole days to sit and think about how they failed to get big hits in this game. Hopefully it eats at them to the point of them coming out with red hot bats on Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium where they will try to wrap up the series in front of the home crowd. The Orioles were able to do what the Yankees were not able to and ended up edging out the victory at home in front of their bandwagon fans. I won't get into that however.

Andy Pettitte pitched his heart out tonight, going seven innings and allowing only three runs. He kept the Yankees in the game the whole time but as they have done many times this year, they were unable to come up with the big hit against the Orioles pitchers. Pettitte falls short of winning his 20th postseason game but was very worthy of getting it tonight. If you take out the third inning, Andy Pettitte only gave up one run and the Yankees probably win the game.

It's up to Kuroda on Wednesday night to give the Yankees a series lead against the O's who seem to have all the momentum at the moment. If Kuroda's home statistics are any indicator of how he will do on Wednesday night, then the Yankees should be wrapping this series up on Thursday night in a game four. First though, they need to win on Wednesday before thinking about taking the series. Even before winning on Wednesday, the Yankees need to get their situational hitting together if they want to advance in this postseason.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Game 2 ALDS lineup

Derek Jeter SS
Ichiro Suzuki LF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Russell Martin C
Curtis Granderson CF
Eduardo Nunez DH

SP: LHP Andy Pettitte

Ninth Inning Rally Gives Yankees 1-0 Game Advantage

The Yankees entered play today having had three straight days off. As if that was not enough, the game was delayed by almost three hours due to rain. That didn't stop the Yankees from scoring in the first inning as Jeter singled up the middle to lead off the game and Ichiro wasted no time by doubling him home. Ichiro would get sloppy right after however, as he was tagged out trying to steal third with no outs in the first. That caught stealing gave the Baltimore starter Jason Hammel some momentum through the game as he only allowed another run in 5.2 innings of work. The Orioles would score a pair off CC Sabathia on a Nate McClouth single that temporarily gave the O's a lead before the Yankees came back the following inning by scoring one run on a Teixeira single off the right field wall but Teixeira was tagged out trying to advance to second. That was the Yankees' second base-running blunder of the night which cost them an additional out in the fourth with a runner at third base.

After giving up a pair of runs, CC Sabathia buckled down and went one out short of a complete game in what would turn out to be a 7-2 rout of the Orioles as the Yankees came back big time in the ninth. What was important for CC Sabathia was pitching around a JJ Hardy lead-off double in the eighth to retire the 3-4-5 hitters in order. That performance may have shifted the momentum of the game toward the Yankees side of the dugouts as Russell Martin led-off the ninth inning with a go-ahead solo blast off closer Jim Johnson who was brilliant in the regular season. Johnson would go on to give up five runs to the Yankees potent offense while only collecting one out in the inning. It was important for the Yankees to score in the ninth to stop Baltimore from believing they could come back in the bottom of the inning. An experienced playoff team knows how to perform when it's crunch time. The Yankees put their experience on display as they went on to beat the Orioles by a final score of 7-2.

The Yankees lead the series 1-0 and will play tomorrow night in Camden Yards once more. Andy Pettitte, the pitcher with the most wins in postseason history, will make the start against the Birds. The Orioles will counter with left handed starter Wei-Yin Chen. If the Yankees come out of these first two games with a split, they should be happy; however, the Yankees will be looking to come home to Yankee Stadium on Wednesday to wrap this series up with Kuroda on the mound in front of the home crowd.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Game 1 ALDS lineup

Derek Jeter SS
Ichiro Suzuki LF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Curtis Granderson CF
Russell Martin C
Raul Ibanez DH

SP: LHP CC Sabathia

Nova, Jones not on ALDS Roster

CATCHERS
Russell Martin
Chris Stewart

INFIELDERS
Mark Teixeira
Robinson Cano
Derek Jeter
Alex Rodriguez
Jayson Nix
Eduardo Nunez
Eric Chavez
OUTFIELDERS
Nick Swisher
Curtis Granderson
Ichiro Suzuki
Brett Gardner
Raul Ibanez
STARTING PITCHERS
CC Sabathia
Andy Pettitte
Hiroki Kuroda
Phil Hughes
RELIEF PITCHERS
Rafael Soriano
Dave Robertson
Boone Logan
Joba Chamberlain
Clay Rapada
Derek Lowe
David Phelps

Saturday, October 6, 2012

ALDS Rotation Announced

Joe Girardi met with the media a few minutes ago to discuss his starting rotation for the first round. The Yankees will be playing against the Orioles, who have not annouced a game one starter yet but things are leaning toward Jason Hammel.

Game 1: CC Sabathia
Game 2: Andy Pettitte
Game 3: Hiroki Kuroda
Game 4 (if neccessary): Phil Hughes

I like the move because Kuroda will be pitching the first game at Yankee Stadium, a place where he has had success in his Yankee career.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Thinking about the Postseason Roster

The Yankees have some choices to make regarding their roster heading into the postseason. Most of the spots are locks, but there are others that are up for grabs, and it can be taken by a pitcher or a position player. First off, the Yankees infield is set. Locks for the postseason roster in terms of position players are: Russell Martin, Chris Stewart, Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Eduardo Nunez, Alex Rodriguez, Eric Chavez, Raul Ibanez, Ichiro Suzuki, Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher. Brett Gardner fits on the roster because of his speed and now that he has the ability to hit, I don't think Girardi would mind at all to give him late inning at-bats after coming into a game to pinch run.

Pitchers who are locks for the roster are: CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes, Rafael Soriano, David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan, Clay Rapada and David Phelps.

In my opinion, the most optimal thing to do in terms of the rotation alignment would be to start Sabathia in game one followed by Pettitte in game two. That means having Kuroda pitch the home opener and having Hughes follow in a game four. The reasoning behind that is because Kuroda and Hughes have both pitched great at home this season. Giving Andy Pettitte more rest than he has already gotten may throw him off because he is a guy who reacts to long rests.

That leaves the Yankees with two tough decisions. Who will occupy the final two spots on the roster? Position players who seem to be on the brink include Andruw Jones, Casey McGehee, Francisco Cervelli and Chris Dickerson. Right off the bat, you eliminate Cervelli from the mix assuming Martin will catch every inning of every game barring injury. Stewart is going to sit on the bench anyway. Having Dickerson on the lineup seems redundant because you already have Gardner on the bench as a left-handed bat serving the same purpose Dickerson would be serving. Casey McGehee doesn't look like a fit despite being a right-handed bat in the infield. However, should something happen to Mark Teixeira, Nick Swisher is totally capable of taking Teixeira's spot at first. Same deal with Alex Rodriguez who has Eric Chavez to back him up. That leaves Andruw Jones. Jones looks like he is finished. He hit well under .200 in the second half of the season and his lefty/righty splits are equally appalling. He does not give you confidence in the field anymore as he has looked terrible in the outfield many times this season. However, Jones is still a home run threat off the bench despite being terrible this season outside his run in early July against Boston.

Assuming Joe Girardi does not include Jones on the roster, which I am starting to believe he won't, it gives the manager two additional relievers to work with. With the final two spots, it would not surprise me at all to see Derek Lowe and Cody Eppley to occupy the final two roster spots. Girardi likes to mix-and-match and giving him more of these options would serve as optimal choices. The roster will likely be annouced tomorrow as the Yankees report to the Stadium for workouts.

Sorry Andruw, but it looks like your Yankee career is over.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

American League East Champions

Well, the Yankees have done it. They have clinched the top spot in the American League East without needing the help of the Tampa Bay Rays. All of the negativity by everybody questioning this team during their second half struggles has been answered as the Yankees come all the way back, fighting off the Orioles multiple times for the division lead and they get the lead for good on the final day of the season. Robinson Cano put on a show as he belted two home runs and drove in six runs, matching a career high. Curtis Granderson delivered big as well with two home runs, adding four more RBI to his name. Every Yankee had a special game because in the end, they did what they needed to do. This is a perfect time for the Yankees to start heating up offensively. Now, they must take the next step in their climb toward a twenty-eighth world championship.

The Yankees will open the ALDS on Sunday against the winner of the one game wildcard. The Texas Rangers and the Baltimore Orioles will square off in Texas on Friday night to determine the team that will advance into the first round of the postseason to face the New York Yankees. It was amazing to watch the Athletics win the game against the Rangers today as they put the finishing touches on their regular season and came out with the American League West title over the Texas Rangers who were alone in first place for almost 200 days! This is a special season for baseball not only because of the extra wildcard, but more importantly because of the teams playing in the wildcard game and the magic of the teams who were thought to be in last place before the season began. Oakland and Baltimore have shocked the baseball world and have proven that payroll means nothing.

The Yankees clincher was a special game for me to watch because they truly earned it this season. Last year, the Yankees clinched early and I believe that it was part of the reason they made such an early exit in the playoffs. This season however, the Yankees have been playing their best baseball when they needed to play it and that energy should carry over into the playoffs. I'm just ecstatic that the Yankees will not play the Oakland Athletics in the division series. I would not want to face that team right now after their second half surge and after they took the Rangers' first place spot. Detroit should watch out for the Athletics because the A's do not look like they can be stopped right now.

Well, it's been a fun regular season and I have enjoyed writing each and every one of these blogs for my readers to enjoy. I hope that everyone will continue to read my posts as the Yankees head into the playoffs and will continue reading into the off season and beyond.

Thank you and I look forward to this upcoming postseason. Hopefully for the Yankees, it will be a special one.