Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Yankees Sign Brian Roberts, Matt Thornton

Earlier today, the Yankees came to terms with second baseman Brian Roberts and left-handed relief pitcher, Matt Thornton. The agreement with Brian Roberts is for one year with a salary of $2.5 million plus incentives the oft-injured second baseman can obtain based on plate appearances. Brian Roberts has not played in more than 77 games in any of his last four seasons in Baltimore, and the Yankees will be lucky to get more than that out of him in 2014 with Kelly Johnson there in case of emergency. When healthy, Roberts can hit 50 doubles and be as pesky of a hitter as anyone in the league; the problem is that he can't stay on the field to play to his potential. In the early part of his career, Roberts was as dynamic of a player as anyone and was above the Jacoby Ellsbury caliber in terms of pure talent. However, that has gone downhill since injuries of all sorts started to plague his career. If the Yankees get a decent year out of Roberts, he has the potential to make them forget about Cano quickly with a couple of clutch doubles and a key stolen base. He hustles and plays like his career is ending tomorrow, which is probably what contributes to his long list of injuries.
The signing of lefty reliever Matt Thornton was a sneaky-good signing for the Yankees. Thornton, 37, has proven to be dominant against lefties, although his strikeouts have been on the decline recently. He will be on the Yankees for two years and will make $7.5 million, which is still less than half of what Boone Logan signed for to pitch in Colorado for three years. I don't understand how a left-handed specialist gets over $16 million for three years, but the Rockies are trying to shore up the pitching out of their bullpen, as it was suspect throughout the 2013 season. Their starters pitch well but there is no core of relievers to shut down the game for the Rockies, especially playing in the high altitude where the ball flies. I'm not sure Logan will do well in Colorado- he surrenders too many home runs and is a fly ball pitcher when he isn't striking batters out.

Today was a good day for the Yankees, as they are one step closer to having their bullpen complete. Another arm or two and the Yankees will be back where they were in 2013 and before. If there's something Girardi does well, it's good bullpen management.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

BREAKING: Yankees to sign Carlos Beltran

Just hours after learning that Robinson Cano left to sign with the Seattle Mariners, the Yankees go out and sign another outfielder in Carlos Beltran. The 37 year old is a power hitting switch-hitter whose swing is tailor made for Yankee Stadium. The initial shock of the Yankees front office must have been very strong to have made the Beltran deal hours after learning of Cano leaving for the Mariners. They considered the Cano money as a reserved sum that would have been set aside for Robbie had he decided to stay with the Yankees. However, with $25 million a year freed up, the Yankees figured that they better start signing free agents, and they used Cano's money to sign Carlos Beltran.

Beltran is a power hitter that will thrive in Yankee Stadium. It was Beltran's lifelong dream to play for the New York Yankees and now it is somewhere that he can possibly finish a border-line Hall of Fame career.

However, with Beltran's Bronx welcome comes a problem in the outfield. Jacoby Ellsbury will be playing center field and Carlos Beltran will play right. This means that either Alfonso Soriano or Brett Gardner will play left field with Vernon Wells and Ichiro Suzuki on the bench. Brett Gardner will likely be used as trade-bait for another team needing a player of Gardner's caliber. He can provide a team with stellar defense and speed on the bases with 30 doubles and 10 home runs a year. This is what a possible lineup will look like in 2014 with a healthy offense:

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Derek Jeter SS
Carlos Beltran RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brian McCann C
Alfonso Soriano DH
Kelly Johnson 2B
3B ?????
Brett Gardner LF

Yankees Agree to Terms with Hiroki Kuroda

One piece of the Yankees pitching rotation puzzle has been solved with the reported agreement between the Bombers and right handed pitcher Hiroki Kuroda. This fills a major hole in the Yankees rotation that now consists of CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda and whoever the Yankees go out and sign. There are rumors that if Japanese pitcher Tanaka posts, the Yankees will be heavy favorites to sign the Japanese star.

Despite Kuroda struggling at the end of the season, the Yankees believe that an off-season of rest and workouts will help Kuroda to freshen up and come back recharged and ready to pitch 200 innings for the Yankees in what the Yankees hope will be a World Series Championship
winning club.

Friday, December 6, 2013

BREAKING: Mariners to sign Robinson Cano

After talks regarding Cano's negotiations with the Seattle Mariners coming to a halt late last night, just hours later ESPN Deportes is reporting that the Seattle Mariners have agreed to a 10 year deal worth $240 million. The signing will be official on Monday when Cano undergoes his physical. The Seattle Mariners are going all-out right now, so I would not be surprised to see them land David Price in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays. Sources also say that the Mariners are involved in the Mike Napoli sweepstakes.

The Yankees letting Cano go to Seattle negates the signings of Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury in that the lineup would have been completely filled out with the three biggest free agents, but now the Yankees must scramble to sign a second baseman or stay with Kelly Johnson to play second, who can hit 20 home runs over the course of a season. The Mariners gave Cano more years and more money than he deserved, granted he is the top second baseman in the league. However, the Mariners will regret the contract in year seven of the deal when Cano's power is gone and he needs a position change to accommodate his reduced quality of play. There is no doubt that Cano will lose home runs playing in a spacious Safeco Field, but his line drives will translate into more doubles. The only issue with Cano going to Seattle is that he has no protection in the lineup.

Cano is the lone bright spot in a lineup filled with Minor League players like Kyle Seager, Nick Franklin and Jesus Montero. His average will diminish because of his inability to have protection in the lineup unless the Mariners sign other key free agents, which will make them more attractive after getting a player of Cano's caliber. Cano will be the offensive star in Seattle, similar to how Felix Hernandez is the pitching star in the rainy city.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Seattle in serious talks with Cano

On the same day the Yankees had a lavish press conference for newly acquired catcher Brian McCann, the talk of the day was barely about their new All-Star catcher. Various credible sources have been reporting that the Seattle Mariners are ready to offer Robinson Cano a nine year, $225 million contract, somewhere the Yankees are not willing to go. The current Yankee offer is believed to be at 7 years, $170 million. If Cano accepts the Seattle offer that they reportedly have on the table he will regret it in the long run. He could have easily made up a lot of that money in endorsement deals in New York. Also, Jay-Z would lose a lot of his popularity among Yankees fans, that of course comes secondary to Cano finding a team that is willing to meet his demands, or close to them.
The Yankees are prepared for Cano to leave elsewhere, with offers on the table to Omar Infante and having already signed Kelly Johnson who can serve as a second/third baseman. Now, there is no second baseman in the league anywhere near as talented as Robinson Cano but the Yankees will have to try their best to find the player(s) that best suit(s) their needs. Brandon Phillips is said not to be available by Reds officials. However, if the Yankees become desperate they can trade for Phillips by including Gardner as a centerpiece in a trade and by sprinkling in catching prospect Gary Sanchez and Mason Williams, as well as a Major-League ready starting pitcher. Trading Gardner to the Reds for Brandon Phillips would enable the Yankees to go after Carlos Beltran more intensely and would give room to sign Tanaka and Hiroki Kuroda.

According to Brian Cashman, Kuroda is definitely pitching in 2014 however the pitcher is still unsure of whether it will be in the Major Leagues or for Japan. The Yankees have reportedly offered Kuroda a one-year deal in excess of $15 million to stay with the Yankees for another year. In addition, according to sources close to Kuroda, the free agent right-hander will stay with the Yankees if he decides to pitch in the Majors for one more season.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Yankees agree to deal with Kelly Johnson

Just hours after the huge Jacoby Ellsbury news, sources have broken the news that the Yankees are in agreement with utility infielder Kelly Johnson on a one deal worth $3-4 million. Johnson will provide them with insurance in case Cano walks or in the case that Alex Rodriguez is suspended for the 2014 season, which is a very realistic possibility.

In 2013 with the Tampa Bay Rays, Johnson hit a low .235 with 16 home runs and 52 RBI in limited playing time. In his only full season in the Majors, Johnson hit .285 with 26 home runs in 2010 with the Arizona Diamondbacks. With the Yankees spending rate this winter, I would not be surprised to see Johnson getting playing time just to spell players a possible second or third baseman. He reminds me of Eric Chavez but instead of playing third and first, would play third and second base.

The Robinson Cano saga will continue, and I will not be surprised to see the Yankees make another move before coming to terms with Cano. With each player the Yankees sign, the window of opportunity for Robinson Cano to accept the Yankees' offer is closing.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

BREAKING: Yankees sign Jacoby Ellsbury

Multiple sources are reporting that the Yankees have indeed agreed to a context with center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury. The contract will exceed Carl Crawford's 7/142 contract that he signed with the Red Sox after 2010. Ellsbury's contract will be worth $153 million over seven years with an option for an eighth year that could bring the total to $169 million. That would make the contract MLB's ninth largest contract in history. Ellsbury is only a physical away from officially becoming a Yankee, with the press conference for him and McCann coming on the same day, Thursday.

The Yankees are also in serious discussions for another Boras client, Shin-Soo Choo. However, Ellsbury was their top target. The Cano contract is still on the table, and the Yankees must be sending their free agent second baseman a message with their enormous Ellsbury contract. According to Yankee officials, the contract to Cano is still on the table, but the time in which he has to accept the deal is closing. He may end up on a team like the Seattle Mariners who have the money to spend. However, his numbers will take a hit if he is the sole hitter in the Mariners lineup. Rewind to the way pitchers pitched around Cano in 2013 with no other real threats in the depleted lineup.

With Ellsbury now a Yankee, the team has a dynamic top of the lineup in Ellsbury, Jeter and possibly Gardner. I can't help but think though, that Gardner is on the trading block. However, upon the agreement with Ellsbury the Yankees clearly stated that they have no intentions to trade Gardner, who will be on the last year of his deal with the Yankees in 2014. With Carlos Beltran in deep discussions with the Royals, the Yankees seem to have given up on the aging outfielder, who is looking for a three year pact. The Yankees have contingency plans if discussions do not pan out with Robinson Cano, as they have publicly stated that there is an offer on the table for free agent second baseman Omar Infante.

With the signing of Ellsbury, the Yankees could have a scary lineup in 2014:

Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Alfonso Soriano RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brian McCann C
DH ?
2B ?
3B?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Yankees Trade Stewart to Pirates, other notes

The Yankees have traded catcher Chris Stewart to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for cash or a player to be named later. With the Yankees' acquisition of Brian McCann and Francisco Cervelli as the favorite in-house option to be the back-up catcher, their catching situation seems to be set for 2014. Chris Stewart caught 109 games for the Yankees, which was the most he'd ever caught in a season for his career. Before the All-Star break, Stewart played well, hitting in excess of .270 and defending well, which was the prominent reason for the Yankees trading for him prior to the 2012 season.

Stewart will reunite with Russell Martin, with whom he shared the catching duties for the Yankees in 2012, catching the 55 games that Martin did not appear in or appeared in but left in later innings due to injury or defense.

In other notes:
  • The Yankees and Robinson Cano are far apart on numbers, and the two sides are not in discussions as of now. Cano's agent is looking for $260 million for 10 years as the Yankees still stand firm in their offer of 7 years/$160 million which is a beyond reasonable number for a player who is entering his age 30 season.
  • The Brendan Ryan deal is official, two years/$5 million with a mutual option for a third year.
  • Brian McCann will be in New York to take his physical either today or tomorrow, with a press conference not far behind, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News.
  • The Yankees have again signed first baseman/outfielder Russ Canzler to a minor league contract. The Yankees claimed Canzler off waivers early in January of this year but he was taken off the roster when Travis Hafner was added in early February.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Phil Hughes Agrees with Twins

Sources say that RHP Phil Hughes is in agreement with the Minnesota Twins on a 3 year/$24 million contract. The Twins are looking to sure up their rotation after historically bad team pitching statistics in 2013. Like the Twins in 2013, Phil Hughes had his worst season in 2013, going 4-14 with a hefty 5.19 ERA. After what looked like a promising first half, where Hughes just ran into bad luck he had an awful second half in which he failed to win even one game the rest of the way through the season. He was even taken out of the rotation down the stretch when the Yankees were competing for a wildcard spot in favor of David Huff who too, could not handle the September pressures of a playoff race.

Hughes' annual salary will be $8 million for three years over the length of the contract. He is only 27, which would put his next free agency year at age 30 when pitchers are in their prime. The contract is good for both sides; Phil Hughes received a raise after an awful year and the Twins are buying low on a pitcher with a very high ceiling. Remember how Jason Giambi and Jorge Posada called Hughes the next coming of Roger Clemens?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

BREAKING: Yankees Sign Brian McCann

The Yankees have an agreement with free agent catcher Brian McCann that will make him a Yankee for at least the next five years. The contract is reported to be 5 years/85 million with a sixth year vesting option that can bring the contract to 6/100. The contract will have a full no-trade clause to ensure that McCann will remain a Yankees through at least the 2018 season.
The contract is the largest free agent signing for the catcher position in New York Yankees history. He will make $17 million per year and $15 million in his potential final year if the sixth year vests. Joe Mauer will still make more per year with an annual average salary of a whopping $24 million.

The Yankees have solved one of the pieces of ther seemingly never-ending puzzle of holes to fill. I see a trade in the works with one of the Yankee backup catchers  

As a left-handed bat at Yankee Stadium, McCann should hit at least 30 home runs given that he plays 150 games. With the way Girardi likes to rest his catchers, I see a healthy McCann catching 125 games and playing the remaining 25 games at DH or first base. Out of his eight full Major League seasons, Brian McCann has hit 20 or more home runs in a season seven times. His lifetime batting average is a healthy .277 for a catcher. As a left handed power bat I expect McCann to do well at Yankee Stadium. He has become a dead pull hitter recently which should suit him well to the short porch in right field.

In 2013, the Yankee catchers were dead last in the Major Leagues in the home run category, with only eight long balls from the position. McCann is not just an improvement, but a savior to the Yankees. Over the last two seasons McCann has thrown out 24% of potential base stealers, which is not very impressive but as an offensive catcher he will bring more to the table in terms of his run production at the plate. The Yankees won four championships with Jorge Posada behind the plate, along with his 28% career success rate in throwing out base stealers.

The Yankees were aggressive on McCann after the catcher came to New York earlier in the week to visit the Yankees. The Yankees brass is not waiting on anyone this off-season, and their patience will come to the ultimate test when it comes time to resign Robinson Cano, who they plan on meeting with this upcoming week.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Long Off-Season Ahead

The off-season is officially underway with the general manager and owner meetings in Florida beginning today. The deadline for accepting qualifying offers came last night at 5:00 PM and none of the three Yankees who received a $14.1 million, one year contract offer from the Yankees accepted. Robinson Cano was clearly not going to accept the offer as he is looking for a lucrative 10 year deal. Curtis Granderson and Hiroki Kuroda rejected their offers. After an injury plagued season for Granderson, he is looking for a multi-year contract and already has some serious suitors in line like the White Sox and Mariners. However, Granderson has made it clear that he wants to sign with a winner. He is still looking for his first championship ring and he doesn't feel that the Yankees are in that place right now.

Speaking of the Yankees, there is chatter at the meetings today about the Yankees and how they are in serious pursuit for Carlos Beltran, who is a free agent coming off the books in St. Louis. Beltran is still looking for a World Series title and he has always liked the Yankees. I see him as a good fit in New York, granted he will have to live with the pressures that he could not handle when he was with the Mets. The Yankees are also chasing after Brian McCann, a free agent catcher for the Braves who would provide the Yankees with lefty power behind the plate, something they were lacking in 2013 with the Chris Stewart/Austin Romine combination. The Yankees brass may feel obligated to put a new product on the field in 2014, as the 2013 version of the patchwork Yankees did not draw big crowds, and more importantly did not make the postseason for only the second time since 1995.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

BREAKING: Yankees Sign Girardi

The New York Yankees have announced that they have signed manager Joe Girardi to a new four-year contract that will take him through the 2017 season. Girardi will make $16 million for four years plus bonuses, likely based on postseason appearances. This puts much speculation to rest regarding possible external candidates for the Yankees skipper job which has been linked to Don Mattingly and Dusty Baker.

Joe Girardi has managed the Yankees since the 2008 season, leading the squad to one world championship in 2009 and a visit to the postseason in every year but two. Most recently, Girardi capped a long and injury plagued season with the Yankees who finished with 85 wins, which was more than experts predicted at the beginning of the season after injuries to Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira. Joe Girardi has compiled a 564-408 record with the Yankees for a .580 winning percentage in six seasons.

Girardi had worked on two three-year deals in his last two contracts with the Yankees but the Yankees clearly think Joe is the best man for the job, as evidenced by the most recent four year contract with the manager. If the contract goes sour within the four year window the Yankees can always fire Joe and commence a search for a new manager. However, Girardi has always done the right thing in New York. He handles the media well and protects his players from negative press, preferring to deal with guys in private as opposed to firing shots at them in front of the media.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Yankees Win their Final Game

Although it wasn't in the World Series, the Yankees won the final game of their season. For the first time since 2008 the Yankees didn't make the postseason, but at least gave fans something to root for coming down the stretch in September. The Yankees really didn't want the season to end with the game going fourteen innings until the score was finally settled and the season finished for the Yankees who came in tied for third place in the American League East with the Baltimore Orioles. Both teams went 85-77, which for the Yankees is a huge feat considering what they were working with throughout their injury-plagued season. At least for the Bombers, they end the season on a high note, winning three straight against a Houston team that finished their season on a fifteen game losing streak. The big hits came from Curtis Granderson and Mark Reynolds. Granderson tied the game at 1 in the eighth inning with an RBI single and Mark Reynolds gave the Yankees the lead in the fourteenth with a solo home run to center field. Reynolds had a plane to catch so he wanted the game to end as quickly as possible. He left after the Yankees tacked on later on in the same frame but his contribution did not go unnoticed. Eduardo Nunez hit a two-run double to give the Yankees a three run lead and JR Murphy hit an RBI single to cap the scoring on the Yankees season. For Murphy, it was the first RBI of his Major League career.

Joe Girardi let everyone in on a secret after the game, where he admitted that he let Jayson Nix manage the game today. Nix managed the first nine innings of the game then Girardi took over in extras. Girardi has a lot of respect for Nix, calling him a "baseball player". Girardi believes that Nix will manage in the Majors one day, and why not give him a taste while he is still playing. The Yankees pitching was outstanding for all fourteen innings. Starting with David Huff who went five innings and struck out seven batters, and ending with David Robertson who pitched a perfect fourteenth to seal the win on game 162.

Tomorrow will be a fun day in baseball with the Rays playing the Rangers in Arlington for the AL wild card tie-breaker to see who gets to play the Cleveland Indians in the one game playoff before advancing to the ALDS. It is a shame that the Yankees couldn't make the postseason this year, but then again given what they had it is a miracle they finished four games above .500.

With that, this was be my final post-game recap of 2013. It was quite a ride with these Yankees, providing me with excitement and hope one day then giving me ojida the next. From blogging on trains, to blogging at 2 in the morning after working an eight hour shift; it was worth it to give myself a feeling of accomplishment knowing that I could stick to something, and I did. For 162 games, I gave you all everything I had to say and hope you enjoyed reading my opinions too. The off-season gets underway in a matter of weeks, and it will be an interesting one for the New York Yankees indeed. Stay tuned!

Game 162 lineup

Eduardo Nunez 3B
JR Murphy C
Curtis Granderson CF
Vernon Wells LF
Mark Reynolds 1B
Travis Hafner DH
David Adams 2B
Brendan Ryan SS
Zoilo Almonte RF

SP: LHP David Huff vs. LHP Erik Bedard

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Pettitte Tosses Complete Game to Complete Career

There was no better way to send Andy Pettitte off into retirement. Pettitte's last complete game came in 2006 and he was able to go the distance in the final start of his big league career. Pettitte has meant so much to the Yankees and finishes his career with 256 wins in the regular season. He finishes with 275 wins in his career when his postseason statistics are taken into account. Andy Pettitte has always found a way to get out of jams in his career and tonight was no different, as Pettitte was able to get two key double plays early in the game. The second double play was started by Pettitte himself. The only run that scored against Pettitte came when Chris Carter grounded out and Jose Altuve who was on second hustled around and scored the lone Houston run.

The Yankees scored their two runs on a throwing error by the catcher and the other on a Robinson Cano RBI single in the sixth inning. The Yankees offense has been sluggish to close out the season but they have been able to keep the pitching in check on their way to two wins against the Astros in hopes to close out the regular season on a strong note to send Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera out strong. 

The final game of the season tomorrow will be started by David Huff and Erik Bedard will get the start for Houston as the Yankees aim to end the season with a win to give them 85 wins, which is more than anyone expected out of them this year with the players they were missing from the lineup throughout the whole year. 

Andy Pettitte's last start

Curtis Granderson CF
Eduardo Nunez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Lyle Overbay 1B
Zoilo Almonte RF
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Brendan Ryan SS
Chris Stewart C

SP: LHP Andy Pettitte vs. RHP Paul Clemens

Yankees beat Astros in Tight Game

Adam Warren notched his first career win as a starting pitcher which may be a sign of things to come as the Yankees gear up for a new-look team in 2014. There is no doubt that Adam Warren will play some type of role with the Yankees in New York but the question is whether the Yankees want to keep him as a long reliever or if they want to try him out as a starter with Andy Pettitte retiring, Phil Hughes' free agency and Kuroda's return still unknown. Warren fired five scoreless innings against the weak hitting Astros whose lineup look like a minor league set-up. You can make a case for two of their hitters to be in the lineup, but if they released Carlos Pena, this team must be desperate for something out of their system. The rest of the Yankee bullpen did their job as David Robertson, not Mariano Rivera, got the save. Mariano Rivera was not available tonight, but I wonder whether he will be available at all this weekend. Girardi probably wants to keep Mo out of any pitching duties because of the way he went out in New York on Thursday with the emotional outpouring of support from teammates and Yankee faithful.

The offense was able to score three runs off a starting pitcher they have never faced before, which is a victory in my book. Whenever your 6-9 hitters consist of Adams, Almonte, Ryan and Murphy, you probably don't expect to score many runs from that part of the order. However, David Adams got the big hit, a two-run double of the top of the right field wall as the second run that scored was all the Yankees needed to win the game. Mark Reynolds also chipped in with an RBI single. The rest of the lineup had three hits combined. If the Yankees were playing any other team tonight it would have been a loss. Thankfully, the Yankees played the Astros who are playing historically bad this year.

Andy Pettitte makes his final career start tomorrow against his former team where he wore #21 for three seasons. If the Yankees send him out with a win and a save by Mariano Rivera, it would be a perfect ending for two perfect ball players.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Game 160 lineup

Curtis Granderson CF
Eduardo Nunez 3B
Robinson Cano DH
Alfonso Soriano LF
Mark Reynolds 1B
David Adams 2B
Zoilo Almonte RF
Brendan Ryan SS
JR Murphy C

SP: RHP Adam Warren vs. LHP Brett Oberholtzer

Thursday, September 26, 2013

One Mo Time

The Yankees loss came second to the emotional night that the Yankees went through in their final home game of 2013. Mariano Rivera entered the game in the eighth with runners on first and second with one out and managed to wiggle out of the jam, which did not come as a surprise. When it came time for Mariano Rivera to enter the game in the ninth down 4-0 he retired the first two batters of the inning then the unthinkable happened. As a touching gesture, Joe Girardi let Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter do the pitching chance honors. Mo, broke down as he said he would not do. He gave Andy Pettitte a bear hug and wept into his shoulder, realizing that he will never again step on the mound in a game for the New York Yankees. A true legend left the Bronx tonight, and there will never again be another like Mariano, both on the field and with as big of a heart. There are no other words for Mariano Rivera, a class act that will be remembered by all fans of baseball. He crossed team lines, fans of all teams admired him and he was thankful for that. In his final game in Boston, Mariano Rivera received a rousing ovation from the Fenway faithful; that's when you know you have achieved legendary status.

Mariano Rivera will retire as the all-time saves leader, and with his four outs recorded tonight, will also retire as the all-time ERA leader at 2.209, assuming he doesn't allow any runs in his appearences in Houston. Mariano Rivera will also achieve his lifelong dream of appearing in center field for the Yankees. I think he should play more than one inning in the outfield, as a way to pay homage to Rivera. Let him live out his lifelong desire and allow him to do what he would like to do as a final check off his bucket list. The moment Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter came out to do the pitching change honors, my heart sunk and the feeling was one of sadness, but it was a happy sadness. I know that Rivera will remember this day for the rest of his life, and after the game Mo came to the mound one last time, collected dirt and stepped off to a standing ovation to the remaining crowd, many of whim stuck around to watch Mariano Rivera take his final trip to the Yankees clubhouse as an active player.

Final Yankee Stadium lineup

Ichiro Suzuki RF
Eduardo Nunez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano DH
Curtis Granderson CF
Lyle Overbay 1B
Zoilo Almonte LF
Brendan Ryan SS
JR Murphy C

SP: RHP Ivan Nova vs. RHP Alex Cobb

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Yankees Dim the Lights on their season

The Cleveland Indians winning their game against the Chicago White Sox was enough for the Yankees to be officially eliminated from postseason contention for only the second time since 1995. This is a somber moment for the Yankees who lost again tonight to the Tampa Bay Rays and now begin to look forward to 2014. There will be many players who will not be back. Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera will be soaking in retirement and Phil Hughes along with Joba Chamberlain will likely be in different uniforms. There are other questions regarding Curtis Granderson and Hiroki Kuroda who will be free-agents that the Yankees will need to make qualifying offers to. Coming off an injury-plagued season I expect Granderson to accept the qualifying offer. Hiroki Kuroda wanted to pitch for Japan before retiring so I see that as a road block for the Yankees considering Kuroda's age. He had an ace season but will fail to be a .500 pitcher after being the most reliable starter all season long. Kuroda has been the model of dependency for the Yankees in 2013 and his record reflects the Yankees inability to score runs when they needed to score them most. Joe Girardi did the best he could with this team, which used 56 different players this season; a new Yankees franchise record.


Coming back to this game. Phil Hughes had nothing, which has been status quo for the free-agent-to-be pitcher. With the loss, he will likely finish the year with a 4-14 record and a 5.19 ERA. Phil Hughes has some adjustments to make before making his debut in a new uniform. The fans of his new team will likely get impatient with Hughes but I have a feeling that being out of Yankee Stadium will bode well for Hughes. David Huff was god early, but Evan Longoria hit a three-run home run in the sixth inning to take the life out of the Yankees. He would also homer to right in the ninth to give him 31 homers on the year and nine against the Yankees, which ties the most for an opposing player against the Yankees. Jose Cruz hit nine against the Yankees in 2001 and Longoria has a chance to surpass Cruz because he has one game remaining against the Yankees tomorrow night.

Tomorrow night will also be the Yankees final game at Yankee Stadium in 2013. Will Mariano Rivera get his inning in center field? It would certainly be a fitting end to a spectacular career since the Yankees are out of it and won't need Rivera in anymore high-leverage situations. Ivan Nova will be on the mound for the Yankees coming off his shutout of the Giants on Saturday when the Yankees were still in the thick of things in the postseason chase.

Elimination lineup

Eduardo Nunez 3B
Alex Rodriguez DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Vernon Wells RF
Mark Reynolds 1B
Curtis Granderson CF
Brendan Ryan SS
Chris Stewart C

SP: RHP Phil Hughes vs. LHP David Price

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Yankees Almost Mathematically Eliminated

The offense didn't show up at all tonight after a day off yesterday. The Yankees hitting doldrums extend from Sunday's Mariano Rivera game where they could not score with runners on second and third with no men out in the eighth inning to at least tie the game. Thankfully for the offense tonight, Kuroda put them in an early 3-0 hole in the first inning and the bats couldn't wake up despite Matt Moore wanting to give the Yankees a win. Moore walked six batters in five innings of work and allowed three base hits. Overall Moore allowed ten base runners to reach and the Yankees still could not score! Talk about giving up on the season. Granted, the Yankees suffered an off day yesterday which probably sucked the life out of them. These guys are professionals. They can't be making excuses for them not hitting. There are players on this team making more than all of the Houston Astros combined who are not hitting right now. Imagine how well the Astros would be playing if they were allowed to spend the money owed to Alex Rodriguez this year. They would be one game out of a wildcard position. Alright, maybe I am getting a bit carried away, but you get the picture. These professional ball players are getting shut down by average pitchers and look pathetic in their attempts to swing the bats.

These players are an embarrassment to the Yankees organization, who too will have their work cut out for them after Sunday's season finale against Houston. No longer can the Yankees rely on having Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte as being "sure things" in the off-season. The Yankees need to build from within and if the organization is committed to staying under the $189 million next year, you will see that it will be a rebuilding period for the Yankees as their farm depth in the higher levels is not Major League ready. Most of their talent is down in Tampa and in Trenton playing for the Double-A affiliate. If the Yankees plan to stay under the magic "189" it will be an unusually empty Yankee Stadium in 2014 and beyond. You can't build a team around a 40 year old shortstop and an aging group of outfielders well beyond their prime.

"Not officially out of it" lineup

Ichiro Suzuki CF
Alex Rodriguez DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Mark Reynolds 1B
Eduardo Nunez 3B
Vernon Wells RF
Brendan Ryan SS
Chris Stewart C

SP: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. LHP Matt Moore

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Deflating Loss on Mariano Rivera Day

The Yankees offense abandoned Andy Pettitte who pitched into the eighth inning to give way to David Robertson who allowed Pettitte's third base runner all afternoon to score the go-ahead run. I understood Girardi's thinking in having Pettitte pitch to one batter in the eighth to receive a standing ovation in his final start at Yankee Stadium in front of the Yankee faithful. After Robertson allowed the runner on second to score, Girardi called upon Rivera to pitch 1 2/3 innings in hopes that the Yankees offense would pick him up. The Yankees were not able to get a run across after beginning the eighth inning with runners on second and third and no outs. Two runners were gunned down at the plate and the Yankees went quietly in the ninth to Sergio Romo and the lowly San Francisco Giants. At least one Giants team was able to convert a win today. We won't get into the other Giants.

The offense is solely to blame in this offensive slump where the Yankees could not get runners home after getting men on base early in innings. The Yankees are now essentially out of the race after falling back to four games behind the Rays who beat the Orioles today in their finale. Even if the Yankees sweep Tampa Bay in their upcoming series they would still be one game back with three to play. The Yankees had to win today's game but like many times in must-win situations, they came up short and only by a base hit which has been the mantra to their season riddled with injuries and shortfalls.

Andy Pettitte's last home start

Ichiro Suzuki RF
Alex Rodriguez DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Curtis Granderson CF
Eduardo Nunez 3B
Mark Reynolds 1B
Brendan Ryan SS
Chris Stewart C

SP: LHP Andy Pettitte vs. RHP Yusmeiro Petit

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Nova Tosses a Gem

The Yankees needed a strong outing from Ivan Nova since the bullpen will likely be in use by the seventh inning with Andy Pettitte on the mound tomorrow for his final home start. Nova went the distance as he threw nine scoreless innings for the second time this year and the second time in his young career. The Yankees have something special in Ivan Nova. The pitcher has gone through his trials and tribulations and has come out stronger in the second half of 2013. Nova was a shell of his rookie self last season when he had an ERA north of 5 and couldn't get past the sixth inning in any of his starts. After three straight rocky starts for Nova where he still was able to keep his team in the game, the right handed pitcher showed his team why he was the American League pitcher of the month in August. In today's start against the slumping Giants, Nova allowed six hits in nine innings. He walked one batter which came in the eighth inning and struck out seven. The Giants couldn't get a runner past second base and never really mounted a significant rally against the Yankees starting pitcher. Nova's heavy sinker was causing the Giants hitters to pound the ball into the ground for groundball outs and Nova was fooling the Giants with his big looping curveball which was causing batters to swing and miss all afternoon. The Giants only made five outs in the air and the despite Nova's decreased velocity he was able to adjust and get his third complete game of the year and second shutout. Days like these make you think that the Yankees may have a future ace in waiting.

The offense certainly backed Nova as they scored six runs. Five of the runs were scored off starter Ryan Vogelsong. Three of the runs were scored in the third when the Yankees played ABC baseball on a sac fly, a ground ball and a single by Cano with a runner on third with two outs in the inning to give the Yankees a 3-0 lead. In the next inning Eduardo Nunez showed his power stroke as he hit a two-run shot to left field which gave the Yankees a 5-0 lead. The score would hold until the sixth when Alfonso Soriano led off the inning with a home run of his own, swinging at the first pitch. Soriano's thumb looks like it is improving with his recent power surge. Soriano now has 34 homers on the year and 17th with the Yankees. Soriano had the same number of homers in 93 games with the Cubs. It has taken him 52 games to get as many home runs with the Yankees. He also has one less RBI with New York as he did with Chicago.

Tomorrow should be a special day for the Yankees as they will honor Mariano Rivera with a special ceremony at 12:15. It will also be Andy Pettitte's final regular season home start and you can bet that he will be honored along with Rivera. I will be at the game tomorrow, so I'm hoping that I can remember watching Pettitte's last home start with a win and save by Mariano Rivera.

Lineup

Ichiro Suzuki RF
Alex Rodriguez DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Curtis Granderson CF
Eduardo Nunez 3B
Mark Reynolds 1B
Brendan Ryan SS
Chris Stewart C

SP: RHP Ivan Nova vs. RHP Ryan Vogelsong

A-Rod's Historic Slam Leads Yankees Past Giants

The game was tied until the seventh inning. Tim Lincecum had already been out of the game and former Yankee George Kontos was pitching to Alex Rodriguez with the bases loaded. A-Rod made him pay with a go-ahead grand slam, the 24rd of his career. The grand slam put Rodriguez past Lou Gehrig as the all-time career grand slam leader. The Iron Horse had 23 four-RBI homers in his career. Alex Rodriguez could certainly be tied to Gehrig in terms of his ability but the PED's took away from any career accolades that A-Rod will amass before he ultimately calls it quits. The grand slam gave the Yankees a comfortable lead but did it come too late? The Yankees are three games out of the wildcard with eight games to play. Some of the teams in front of them have to go on incredible losing streaks and the Yankees have to win seven- if not all eight of their remaining games. It is an incredibly high mountain to climb but the Yankees have surprised us all time and time again this year.

CC Sabathia pitched very well, granted it was against a weak hitting lineup. The lefty went seven strong innings, allowing only one run on seven hits and three walks. Sabathia allowed too many men to reach base in his start, but I'll take that over the alternative CC Sabathia start in 2013. As long as the runners don't score Sabathia will always remain the Yankees strongest pitcher because of what he has done in the past.

With every game a "must-win" the Yankees will send Ivan Nova to the mound tomorrow afternoon against the weak hitting Giants. Ryan Vogelsong, who has struggled this year will get the ball against the Yankees. The Giants are trying to play the role of "spoiler" to the best of their abilities but it did not detour the Yankees from winning the first game of the series. The Yankees must sweep if they want to remain in the postseason conversation. Making it in would be a great way to thank Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte. I wouldn't want to waste those two weapons in the postseason given their career numbers when the calendar flips to October.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Lineup vs. Lincecum

Ichiro Suzuki RF
Alex Rodriguez DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Curtis Granderson CF
Eduardo Nunez 3B
Lyle Overbay 1B
Brendan Ryan SS
J.R. Murphy C

SP: LHP CC Sabathia vs. RHP Tim Lincecum

Andy Pettitte Announces Retirement

Number 46 will hang up the cleats following the end of the season. The Yankees chances of making the playoffs are now slim to none after suffering a brutal loss to the Blue Jays last night and Pettitte is choosing a perfect time to announce his decision, which was first reported by Joel Sherman. Pettitte will make one more start at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, a day in which the Yankees are also planning a ceremony to honor Mariano Rivera as he too is calling it quits after season's end.

Pettitte was very uncomfortable taking away from his longtime teammate but it couldn't have come at a different time as Pettitte was thinking about his fans who have supported him. He wanted to be able to tip his cap to them as he came off the mound one last time. On Sunday, Pettitte will start against the San Francisco Giants as the Yankees look to remain in contention by the time Pettitte starts the game. Pettitte issued a statement through the Yankees a few minutes ago:

"I'm announcing my retirement prior to the conclusion of our season because I want all of our fans to know now -- while I'm still wearing this uniform -- how grateful I am for their support throughout my career. I want to have the opportunity to tip my cap to them during these remaining days and thank them for making my time here with the Yankees so special."

"I've reached the point where I know that I've left everything I have out there on that field. The time is right. I've exhausted myself, mentally and physically, and that's exactly how I want to leave this game."

It is hard to find a player more candid than Andy Pettitte has been over the course of his career. He is a reporter's dream and that will be yet another one of the intangibles that will be leaving the Yankee clubhouse. The best way the Yankees could really honor Andy Pettitte would be to get him a win on Sunday, then again on Friday against the Houston Astros, where he will make his final regular season start.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Yankees Sliding Back

There is no question that the Yankees needed to win this game against the Toronto Blue Jays. They came up short again, much like they have a lot in recent must-win games against teams they should have beaten. Tonight, Hiroki Kuroda went only six innings allowing three earned runs and it seemed like Anthony Gose was at the center of it all. The outfielder went 3-4 with a solo home run in the sixth against the Yankee starter. The Yankees were only down by two runs but it seemed like a mountain of runs by the way they have been scoring over their last handful of games. The Yankees are not clicking at all right now, and this game may cost them a chance at the postseason. However, if they take care of business against the San Francisco Giants in Yankee Stadium, the Rays will be waiting for them promptly afterwards. The Yankees must sweep the Tampa Bay Rays if they want a chance to be the second wildcard. If the Yankees lose a game to the Giants then lose one or two to the Rays their playoff chances are effectively over. This is why Joe Girardi cannot be bringing Joba Chamberlain into a game where the Yankees are still technically in it. Joba couldn't record an out tonight, as his Yankee days are pretty much behind him at this point. If this was Joba Chamberlain's final meaningful appearance with the Yankees he showed exactly why the Yankees have not been using him. His fall from stardom has been rash and ugly. He made his electric debut in Toronto in 2007 and exits the exact opposite way. The same goes for Phil Hughes, who may have pitched his last meaningful game with the Yankees last night. The Yankees were able to come back down 3-0 but the same thing failed to happen tonight, which is why the question stands regarding why Chamberlain was brought into a close game. Chances are that he will give up runs and he did just that tonight on a BOMB by Adam Lind into the second deck. The Blue Jays are loving this spoiler role against the Yankees and they are doing to them what The Yankees did to the Blue Jays during the whole first part of their season series. Luckily for the Yankees, the Orioles lost and Tampa Bay is losing to the Rangers late in the game.

Toronto finale lineup

Curtis Granderson CF
Alex Rodriguez DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Vernon Wells RF
Lyle Overbay 1B
Mark Reynolds 3B
Brendan Ryan SS
Chris Stewart C

SP: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. RHP Todd Redmond

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Yankees Steal a Win

The Yankees were in a very precarious position late in tonight's game. They had been shut out for sixteen consecutive innings against the Blue Jays until the eighth inning. Innocently enough, Brendan Ryan doubled off starter JA Happ to start the eighth inning and then John Gibbons went to his bullpen to have lefty Aaron Loup face Curtis Granderson who singled to put runners on the corners. After Alex Rodriguez struck out Robinson Cano singled to score one run. Soriano followed with RBI double to put runners on second and third with one out for Vernon Wells who was kept in to face right handed pitcher Steve Delabar. The Yankees took a 4-3 lead and won a game which looked like they were destined to lose and fall to four games back in the loss column with ten games left. After Robertson allowed allowed a two-out single to Rajai Davis who stole second, Girardi went to Mariano Rivera to a four-out save which was his third of the season. All four-out saves have come in September. Joe Girardi is really going all-out with using Mariano Rivera since he's not returning after this season.

The pitching again was patchwork for Girardi. Phil Hughes started but as assumed, Girardi had a short leash and put David Huff in the game after Hughes allowed a two-run shot to Colby Rasmus. Huff would allow a solo home run of his own to rookie Ryan Goins. The home run was the first of his big league career and the Blue Jays took a 3-0 lead that must have looked like 10-0 to the Yankees at the time. Mariano Rivera was able to put the game away with runners on second and third with two outs and JP Arencibia at the plate. Given Mariano's recent struggles I was waiting for the worst. Instead, I watched Mariano Rivera notch his 44th save of the season.

Winning this game was huge for the Yankees. With the Rangers and Rays playing each other, the Yankees are guaranteed to be 2.5 games in back of the current wildcard teams. Indians are losing to Kansas City and the Red Sox and Orioles are in extra innings. If the Red Sox beat the Orioles, it would obviously help the Yankees since the Yankees are chasing the Orioles. If they lost tonight's game it would be incredibly tough to come back with ten games remaining on the schedule especially since the Rays and Rangers are playing each other and one of the two teams would have won tonight. Now, with the Rays coming into Yankee Stadium with the Yankees currently 2.5 games back, the Yankees have a nice chance of capturing the wildcard spot from the Rays. It will be tough but the Yankees have surprised us before. Look at tonight's game...

Lineup behind Hughes

Curtis Granderson CF
Alex Rodriguez DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Vernon Wells RF
Mark Reynolds 1B
Eduardo Nunez 3B
JR Murphy C
Brendan Ryan SS

SP: RHP Phil Hughes vs. LHP JA Happ

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Yankees Suffer Crushing Loss

The Yankees lost to the Blue Jays 2-0 because of a brilliant performance by RA Dickey. The first two innings would prove to be the most important scoring opportunities for the Yankees but they squandered both chances after getting five hits and two walks in the first two innings alone. Usually when your team gets five base runners in two innings it's safe to assume that your team will score at least once, and maybe even twice. The Yankees had the bases loaded and two outs in the first inning which was truly their chance to strike. Mark Reynolds struck, but in the whiffing manner. It was not at all surprising to watch Mark Reynolds strike out in that situation. He does have power but he also has a ton of strikeouts to go along with the power numbers. Nobody in the starting lineup had more than one hit, and the Yankees had only five combined in the game. Unfortunately for the Yankees the Orioles won in the ninth inning at Fenway thanks to a Danny Valencia triple to lead off the inning. Valencia has been killing the Yankees lately. First with the home run against Robertson last week to tie the game. Tonight, he scores the winning run to put the Yankees further back in the wildcard race.

 
Andy Pettitte took the tough luck loss tonight. He pitched well for the eighth straight time but suffered his tenth loss of the year because his offense couldn't help him out. Pettitte went 6 2/3 innings allowing just one run on a Colby Rasmus home run in the fourth inning that went a long way into the right field seats. Pettitte's tough luck is something he isn't used to while playing for the Yankees. He has always had strong offenses to pick him up when he did not pitch well. Tonight, and lately overall Pettitte is pitching well and still not getting his well-deserved victories. Andy Pettitte has only two starts left to make in the regular season for the Yankees. They could be the last two starts he makes in his career. It would be fitting for the Yankees to get him two more wins in his big league career before he rides off into the sunset, assuming Pettitte doesn't come back for another year. If things line up the way they currently do down the road, Phil Hughes will make the final start of the Yankees season in Houston. With his struggles and the Yankees slim hope to creep into the race last minute, the last game of the year could be a symbol of the Yankees 2013 season if Hughes fails and the Yankees miss out on the playoffs.

Speaking of Hughes, he will make the start tomorrow night as the Yankees need to win the final two games of the series at Toronto before coming home to face the always dangerous San Francisco Giants. Despite their lousy record, their pitchers always have the ability to shut the opposing offense down. The Yankees will face JA Happ tomorrow night, and have fared well against the lefty so far this year.

A-Rod in the lineup

Curtis Granderson CF
Alex Rodriguez DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Lyle Overbay 1B
Mark Reynolds 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Brendan Ryan SS
Austin Romine C

SP: LHP Andy Pettitte vs. RHP RA Dickey

Monday, September 16, 2013

Nova Struggles as Yankees get Swept

I said in the beginning of the series that in order for the Yankees to stay relevant they would have to win at least one game in this crucial series. They were swept rather easily by the Red Sox which shows just how flawed the Yankees are. The Boston offense destroyed Yankee pitching night after night as all three of the starters failed to perform to their capabilities. I thought that Ivan Nova would be able to be the one bright spot in the rotation but he proved that he is back to his inconsistent ways. He failed to record an out in the fifth inning, going four plus innings. He allowed four earned runs in his start and struck out only two batters. Nova also gave up a home run to Mike Napoli in the first inning. Napoli continues to be a thorn in the Yankees side. Lucking for the Yankees this was the last time in the regular season that they will play the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox won the season series 13-6 and the Yankees looked weak all season long as they were toyed around with by Boston pitching and their offense outscoring the Yankees by a wide margin. The Yankees had leads at some points in their thirteen losses to the Red Sox but the starters and bullpen pitchers were unable to hold on to leads. If the Yankees won at least half of their games against the Red Sox they would hold the keys to the second wildcard spot. Instead, they are on the outside looking in and are beginning to wonder if they have what it takes to come all the way back to beat Tampa and Cleveland for the postseason spot. Their chances are dwindling each day that they record a loss. With only twelve games remaining for the Yankees they have to win ten of those games to realistically win the wildcard position. I don't see that happening for the Yankees as they have let everyone down when things got critical.

The offense couldn't catch up tonight. After Granderson scored after walking and advanced to third on a pick-off attempt, that is the only run the Yankees would score until the ninth inning when Ichiro had an RBI single while trailing 9-1. The game was over at that point and the Yankee offense looked pathetic. After Napoli's first inning homer you could tell the life was sucked out of the Yankees. Buccholz walked four batters and hit one in six innings. He allowed seven baserunners in six innings and only one scored. That number shows just how incapable the Yankees were in producing runs against Buchholz and the bullpen. The starter was weak and the Yankees did not take advantage as they have in the past.

After a much needed day off tomorrow to rest some of their key injured players like Soriano and A-Rod, the Yankees will head to Toronto for one final series against the depleted Jays. Andy Pettitte will make the start, who has been the Yankees most reliable pitcher of late. RA Dickey will make the start for the Blue Jays as the Yankees look to beat up on the Jays before entering a crucial series against the Rays as that will be
 the final key series of the year.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Lineup

Curtis Granderson CF
Alex Rodriguez DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Lyle Overbay 1B
Mark Reynolds 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Brendan Ryan SS
Chris Stewart C

SP: RHP Ivan Nova vs. RHP Clay Buccholz

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Red Sox Chip away at CC

Again, this year will be one that CC Sabathia will try to not remember. He knows that he is pitching badly and is doing his best to make adjustments but they just aren't working this year. I'm not even sure if he gives his team a chance to win anymore. Running him out there every fifth day is not scaring other teams. However, there are games where Sabathia looks like somewhat of his old self. Today against the Boston batters he went six innings allowing five earned runs which was more than enough for the Red Sox to come away victorious. The Yankees only scored CC one run in support which will not win your team a game nine times out of ten. Sabathia walked too many again, handing out four free passes to the Red Sox. Walking Boston batters is sure to get you in trouble because their offense knows how to put the bat on the ball and won't strike out in big spots. Red Sox batters worked six walks against Yankee pitching, with Joba Chamberlain handing out the final walk in mop-up duty.

The Yankees have a lot of work to do if they want to contend in this race. I said in the beginning of the series that the Yankees need to win one game to stay in the race. If they lose tomorrow too, it may be too late for them to get back in this with two weeks left in the season. Tomorrow night the Yankees play the Red Sox on ESPN which means it will be a late start. Ivan Nova will get the start for the Yankees. Clay Buccholz will start for the Red Sox. This will be Clay's second start since coming off the DL. In his first start he pitched five scoreless to earn the win against the Rays in Tampa Bay.

Lineup against Lester

Curtis Granderson CF
Alex Rodriguez DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Mark Reynolds 3B
Vernon Wells RF
Lyle Overbay 1B
Brendan Ryan SS
JR Murphy C

SP: LHP CC Sabathia vs. LHP Jon Lester

Salty's Granny

All was going well for the Yankees in their  rally in the sixth and seventh inning to tie the game at 4 against the Red Sox. Cano had a two run double that should have scored three but Alex Rodriguez couldn't run well due to his hamstring problem. The Red Sox came back in the home seventh to take a commanding four run lead on Saltalamacchia's grand slam that put the Yankee offense to sleep the rest of the way. 

Hiroki Kuroda wasn't great again, getting the loss after allowing five runs total. The last and ultimate decisive run came in the seventh after Kuroda left the game. He gave up a single to lead off the inning and Girardi went to his depleted bullpen in search of possible answers. Instead, he got the worst outcome possible when his pen gave up three earned runs. Two of the runs were charged to Preston Claiborne who allowed the grand slam to Salty. Claiborne has now allowed nine earned runs in his last three appearances (1 1/3 innings). If I were Girardi I would steer clear of using the reliever in any big games this season as he clearly can't pitch big innings for his team when called upon. The Yankees offense did its job by tying the game in the seventh but couldn't do anything else as the bullpen let the team down again. Using Kuroda would have been a safer bet than using the bullpen in that spot. Kuroda allowed four runs to start the game in the first but allowed nothing else until Claiborne gave up his fifth run in the seventh inning on the decisive home run. With the Yankees loss and everyone else winning who are fighting for the wild card spot, the Yankees slide behind the Indians for 2.0 games back of the second wildcard. Only two weeks left for the Yankees to make a comeback. Winning at least one of the next two games against Boston could go a long way in determining if that happens. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Fenway opener lineup

Curtis Granderson CF
Alex Rodriguez DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Lyle Overbay 1B
Eduardo Nunez 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Brendan Ryan SS
Chris Stewart C

SP: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. RHP John Lackey

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Patchwork Pitching and Jim Johnson

I'm not kidding; Joe Girardi put this game together with his pitching staff. Phil Hughes was the starter and he only lasted three innings as Girardi was keeping him on even less of a leash than I have ever seen before. Eduardo Nunez committed an error at third base to open the inning and that was it for Hughes, who may have made his final start as a Yankee if Girardi goes back to Huff five days from now. Speaking of David Huff, he came into the game after Hughes departed and delivered the same exact performance as Hughes -- three innings of one run baseball. Girardi then went into his big bag of tricks again and called on Adam Warren who was able to get the first two outs in the seventh inning with a three run lead. Then it was Cesar Cabral's turn who appeared in the third Major League game of his very young career. Cabral faced pinch-hitter Michael Morse who grounded out to shortstop Brendan Ryan and the inning was over. The eighth inning would turn into a circus as Robertson stepped in. Manny Machado opened the frame with a fly ball to let field that looked gone off the bat. However, hero of the game Alfonso Soriano timed his leap beautifully and went into the stands to rob Machado of his home run that would make the game 5-3 Yankees. Soriano came up with the ball and initially made a face as if to say "damn, I should have had that". He then flipped the ball out of his glove and everyone, but even more so Robertson, took a huge sigh of relief. Even though Robertson was helped out by his defense, he would not thank them in any way when Danny Valencia took him deep with two runners on base to tie the game and seemingly flush the entire night down the drain. The Orioles were teeing off on Robertson but he was able to keep the game tied thanks to a Matt Wieters strikeout to send the game into the ninth.


The offense came early but seemed late after a one hour and eighteen minute rain delay. Mark Reynolds opened the scoring with his 200th career home run that gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead. Vernon Wells would come through in the following inning with a two-run single that extended the Yankee lead. Finally, Granderson would homer in the seventh to give the Yankees a run they would come to need given Robertson's blown hold. Thanks to a wild pitch in the ninth by erratic Jim Johnson, the Yankees would score the go-ahead run and send in Mariano Rivera to pitch in his third straight game and fourth game in five days. The official scorer awarded Mariano Rivera with the win, very strangely, instead of Robertson, citing that Robertson was brief and ineffective. I don't think it matters to the players, but give Mariano Rivera the save that he deserves.

The win came at a price when Gardner left the game in the first inning after experiencing pain in his left side which turned out to be an oblique strain. With fifteen games left this may be all we see from Gardner in 2013. However, Gardner is tough and I can see him making a comeback at less than 100%. The Yankees will now rely more heavily on the Ichiro/Wells platoon with Granderson spending the rest of the season in center field. This injury is a huge blow for the Yankees as Gardner led the team in doubles and stolen bases.

Tampa Bay and Cleveland are both coming away as winners tonight, so the Yankees don't gain anymore ground on the Rays. With the win against the Orioles, the Yankees do set Baltimore back in the standings which is not a bad thing. The upcoming three game series in Boston will be huge for the Yankees. I believe that with one win in three games they should not lose anymore ground in the standings. With two wins I believe that the Yankees can have a share or even take the second wildcard from the Rays. With Mariano Rivera definitely unavailable in tomorrow's game it is pivotal for Kuroda to pitch a gem against the peskiest lineup in the American League.

Lineup (weather permitting)

Brett Gardner CF
Alex Rodriguez DH
Alfonso Soriano LF
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells RF
Eduardo Nunez 3B
Mark Reynolds 1B
Brendan Ryan SS
Chris Stewart C

SP: RHP Phil Hughes vs. LHP Wei-Yin Chen

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Ninth Inning Blast Powers Yankees past O's

It wasn't pretty, but the Yankees eek out a win tonight in Baltimore in a game where they were trailing by two runs early on. Andy Pettitte was sharp early but come the third and fourth inning Pettitte was giving up too many hits and the Orioles took advantage by scoring three times in the two innings. Pettitte ended up throwing a season high 109 pitches through 6 1/3 innings after walking Nate McLouth in the seventh inning. At that point Girardi was going batter to batter with Pettitte and after getting ahead of McLouth early, Pettitte fell behind and walked him which wouldn't hurt the Yankees because he would get thrown out trying to steal second base by the Shawn Kelley/Chris Stewart combination. Kelley did his job by trying to keep him close which resulted in the speedy outfielder not getting a great jump when he finally attempted to steal the bag. David Robertson had been out since September 6th which was crushing for the Yankees but he worked a scoreless inning in the eighth to get the win for the Yankees. Robertson will always put men on base and that is something fans will have to live with. We have been spoiled with Mariano Rivera who works 1-2-3 innings like clockwork. Speaking of Mo, after getting four outs last night he was right back in there to seal the win with a two-run lead. Despite giving up one run with two outs Mariano struck out Machado on three pitches to put the game in the books and to give himself his 43rd save of the year. The 43 saves now tie him with Orioles closer Jim Johnson for most in the American League.
The offense's key contributions came from guys who missed the majority of the season. After manufacturing a run without the benefit of a hit in the first inning, the Yankees didn't get their first hit until the fifth inning. Curtis Granderson homered deep to right field off starter Scott Feldman who was the tough-luck loser. Following Granderson's homer was A-Rod's long ball to the opposite field that tied the game at 3. Rodriguez's home run landed in almost the same exact spot where his home run on Monday landed. The Yankee bullpen held the Orioles scoreless the rest of the way until Mariano Rivera gave a run up in the ninth that wouldn't matter in the final outcome. Robinson Cano homered on the first pitch in the ninth inning off Tommy Hunter that went to straightaway center field which gave the Yankees a 4-3 lead. Granderson then tripled and scored on Overbay's infield single. The run scoring single by Overbay would prove to be the difference in the game because Mariano Rivera gave up a run in the bottom of the ninth.

The Yankees have now gone ahead of the Indians and Orioles and trail in the wildcard race by just 1.5 games. If the Rays lose tonight the Yankees will be one game back in the standings. A win tomorrow against the Orioles would put the Yankees in good position to take a commanding lead in the wildcard race against the Orioles and Indians. The series against Boston this weekend will be HUGE in determining where the Yankees stand in the race. If they lose two of three or get swept by Boston their season could very well be over. This is why winning tomorrow against Chen is that much more important. Hughes will start tomorrow over Huff, which Girardi based on Huff's inexperience.

Jeter's season over, lineup

Brian Cashman just said in a news conference that Derek Jeter is going back on the DL, which will effectively end his season. He will not play in the postseason if the Yankees get there. You had to expect this, as he hasn't been healthy at any point this year. Hopefully Jeter has one more full year in him before he possibly calls it quits after 2014.

Lineup:

Brett Gardner CF
Alex Rodriguez DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Curtis Granderson RF
Mark Reynolds 3B
Lyle Overbay 1B
Brendan Ryan SS
Chris Stewart C

SP: LHP Andy Pettitte vs. RHP Scott Feldman

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Another Big Inning Rides Yankees to Victory

Early on it looked grim for the Yankees as the Orioles scored four runs in the fifth inning fueled by an Eduardo Nunez error and a throw that was cut off by Alex Rodriguez on Nick Markakis' sac fly that was followed by a two run homer by Chris Davis, his 49th of the year. The Yankees looked like they were out of the game based on how bad their offense looked last night against Tillman and the bullpen. However, the Yankees had another magical inning in them in the eighth while trailing 4-3 to take a 7-4 lead. The inning started innocently with an Alex Rodriguez double down the left field line. He would score on the Robinson Cano RBI single. Alfonso Soriano who homered earlier in the game belted another home run, this one a two-run shot to give the Yankees a 6-4 lead. A couple of batters later Mark Reynolds took a high pitch into left field for an RBI double that would end up capping the Yankee rally and sealing the win for New York, who desperately needed a win tonight. The offense came alive tonight to score seven runs on three home runs courtesy of Mark Reynolds and two by Soriano who has been the most productive player in the American League since the Yankees acquired him in late July from the Chicago Cubs. His numbers are outstanding, as his fourteen home runs with the Yankees combined with the seventeen with Chicago give him 32 on the season. The only difference is that he hit the seventeen home runs in 93 games with the Cubs and has hit 14 long balls in just 43 games with the Yankees. He also has 47 of his 98 RBI in 43 games with New York. That is some hot streak that Soriano is riding, and without him the Yankees would have long been out of the wild card race.

Ivan Nova had a serviceable start tonight, going six innings and allowing only the one big inning that was fueled by his defense letting him down. He left the game early because of triceps tightness as a precaution and Girardi doesn't think it will be serious enough for Nova to miss his next start against the Red Soc. Nevertheless, the runs he gave up didn't hurt for the Yankees who ended up winning this game rather easily in later innings. Adam Warren got the win in relief of Ivan Nova. Warren only pitched one inning but retired all three batters in order which gave way to Shawn Kelley and ended with Mariano Rivera coming in for another four-out save. Contrary to his last two multi-inning save chances, Mariano Rivera was perfect in 1 1/3 innings for the Yankees as he picked up his 42nd save of the season. The 42 saves are a suitable number for the greatest closer in history.

The Yankees look to continue their offensive outburst in tomorrow night's game against Scott Feldman. Andy Pettitte who has pitched well looks to record a win after leaving his last two starts with leads that the bullpen couldn't hold on to. With the Orioles, Rays and Indians all losing tonight, the Yankees gain ground on all three teams and are now only 2 games behind the Rays for the second wild card spot. Every game matters.

Lineup behind Nova

Brett Gardner CF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Curtis Granderson DH
Mark Reynolds 1B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Eduardo Nunez SS
Chris Stewart C

SP: RHP Ivan Nova vs. RHP Miguel Gonzalez

Monday, September 9, 2013

Yankees Slipping Away

It started innocently enough with a solo home run by Alex Rodriguez in the first inning off Orioles starter Chris Tillman and the Yankees offense was looking like it would be off and running like it did against the Red Sox this weekend. The Alex Rodriguez solo home run would be the only run they would score until the eighth inning when Lyle Overbay led off the inning against Tillman with a solo shot of his own. By the time he scored the Yankees second run, New York was already down by two runs. There would be a glimmer of hope in the ninth when Granderson lifted a fly ball to the warning track with two outs representing the tying run. It wasn't meant to be for the Yankees tonight who were able to scratch out five hits against Tillman and Co. In the middle of the game there were no signs of life in the Yankees offense as Tillman went 7+ innings, striking out nine Yankee batters and walking none.

Sabathia coughed up an early 1-0 lead and would give up four runs in 7.1 innings again for the second time in his last two starts. Sabathia has yet to figure things out with his decreased fastball velocity however he sat consistently at 92-93 MPH tonight. It was not enough as he allowed a couple of leadoff doubles and a couple of crushing runs with two outs in the latter part of the game. With a depleted bullpen Sabathia needed to provide length. He did that but it wasn't quality length. The Yankee offense wouldn't have backed him up either way by scoring two runs in the game. Yesterday's win against the Red Sox is huge as the Yankees drop a game behind the Orioles tonight. They are now three games behind the Tampa Bay Rays who are idle tonight. The Orioles and Indians have gained a game on the Yankees with victories. However, there are three games left in the series and the Yankees have a chance to overtake the Orioles. Tonight's game will mean nothing if the Yankees can win tomorrow night with Ivan Nova on the mound against Miguel Gonzalez.

A-Rod batting second

Brett Gardner CF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Curtis Granderson DH
Eduardo Nunez SS
Lyle Overbay 1B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Austin Romine C

SP: LHP CC Sabathia vs. RHP Chris Tillman

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Walk-Off Wild Pitch

It was a struggle for Hiroki Kuroda again today but he was able to deliver six quality innings once again as he has done for most of his Yankee career. Kuroda was at 50 pitches in the second inning and ended up throwing 117 pitches in the ninth inning walk-off win. Robinson Cano came through in the game with a two-run double against Lester. Mark Reynolds doubled in a run as well and the Yankees were on their way to a thrilling one run game that ended up in a win that the Yankees will take but it wasn't how they drew it up beforehand. Mariano Rivera came into the game for a six out save in the eighth inning that went awry. It took Mariano Rivera 20 pitches to get through the eighth inning and 35 pitches to pitch both innings. The ninth inning was led off by a Will Middlebrooks home run that tied the game and yet again the Yankees were facing a devastating loss against the Red Sox. However, the ninth inning would prove to relieve the Yankees and send them home on a good note. Ichiro Suzuki singled with out, stole second base and advanced to third on a fly all by Vernon Wells. On the first pitch to Soriano, the Red Sox catcher couldn't handle the high throw and Ichiro scored the Yankees fourth and final run of the series. They outplayed the Red Sox for most of the series and should have won three of the games but only came out with one victory. Boston will have to set up differently as their leadoff man and free agent to-be, Jacoby Ellsbury has suffered a broken foot. They are still a force without the center fielder but the top of their lineup will not be as intimidating.

The Yankees enter a crucial four game series against the Orioles in Baltimore starting tomorrow. CC Sabathia will make the start after delivering a solid performance against the White Sox last week. Chris Tillman will start against the Yankees in search of his sixteenth win with only five losses. 

Finale lineup

Ichiro Suzuki RF
Vernon Wells DH
Alfonso Soriano LF
Robinson Cano 2B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Mark Reynolds 1B
Curtis Granderson CF
Eduardo Nunez SS
Chris Stewart C

SP: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. LHP Jon Lester

Yankees Lose another Slugfest

David Huff pitched in place of Phil Hughes. I don't think he got the memo that he wasn't supposed to pitch LIKE Hughes. Huff went only 3 1/3 innings allowing nine earned runs on two home runs. He got in trouble early and often and buried the Yankees in a hole they were essentially unable to climb out of. The Yankees would stage a rally in the latter innings of the game but they fell short in the 13-9 contest against the lethal Red Sox. The Red Sox are scoring an outrageous amount of runs right now led by Mike Napoli who hit two more homers off Yankee pitching in this afternoon's game. The Yankees need to walk Napoli in the series finale tomorrow if they have any chance of salvaging at least one of the games at home against their rivals. With all this losing by the Yankees, they are not helping their postseason chances. Luckily for the Yankees the Rays keep losing out west and they aren't as buried in the standings. However, the Orioles are coming back and surpassed the Yankees in the standings last night. That isn't as much of a hassle because the Yankees are entering Camden Yards for a four game set starting Monday night when CC Sabathia will try to repeat his performance against the White Sox on Wednesday.

Tomorrow afternoon in the final game the Yankees and Red Sox play at Yankee Stadium in the regular season aces Hiroki Kuroda and Jon Lester will go face-to-face in a pitchers duel at Yankee Stadium. Judging by the number of runs scored by both teams in this series I expect both starters to keep the opposing team off the board and to make this a real 3-2 classic as opposed to a 13-9 like we had in the last game on Saturday afternoon.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Nunie at 3rd

Brett Gardner CF
Derek Jeter SS
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Curtis Granderson DH
Eduardo Nunez 3B
Lyle Overbay 1B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Austin Romine C

SP: LHP David Huff vs. RHP John Lackey

This May be the Season...

Going into the seventh inning the Yankees held a commanding 8-3 lead that went away in an eye-blink as soon as Joe Girardi called upon Phil Hughes to take care of some mop-up work. Hughes was only able to record one out before leaving the game due to a high pitch count. Following Hughes in the pen was Boone Logan who served up a game-tying homer to Mike Napoli on a grand slam. Logan would face an injury right after Napoli's homer when Daniel Nava singled up the middle and got a piece of Logan's left arm. He would leave the game and the Yankees would eventually surrender the lead and more. No lead is ever safe against the Red Sox. The Yankees probably should have won both of the first two games of this series. Given Tampa Bay's struggles the Yankees would have had sole possession of the second wildcard had they won the first two games of the series against Boston. The Rays keep losing to mediocre teams as their starting pitching is faltering and Wil Myers is not hitting.

The brilliance of Andy Pettitte will be forgotten tonight after he went six solid innings. He struck out eight batters in the no-decision and allowed three earned runs which qualifies as a quality start for the lefty. However, the Yankees bullpen which has been spotty of late could not hold on. These are the games that frustrate you as a fan, and I'm sure that the Yankee players are in disbelief again. First last night happens and now they lose a game in which they had a five run lead in the seventh inning. The lone bright spot was the Yankees ability to get hits with runners in scoring position. Also, Brett Gardner is really fast and Soriano can belt home runs even though he has no idea how to run the bases. These are the things you think about after a game like tonight's. Disbelief and anger are the first thought that come to mind after the pathetic bullpen effort displayed in the contest.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Vernon in, Granderson out

Brett Gardner CF
Derek Jeter DH
Alfonso Soriano LF
Robinson Cano 2B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Vernon Wells RF
Eduardo Nunez SS
Mark Reynolds 1B
Chris Stewart C

SP: LHP Andy Pettitte vs. LHP Felix Doubront

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Joba, Romine Can't Handle Pressure in Extras

In the top of the seventh inning you would figure that the Yankees do not have any business winning this game. However, after their six run outburst in the seventh which began innocently enough with a walk by Ichiro to lead off the inning you figured that this would be a game that the Yankees were not going to lose. The Yankees scored six times in the seventh capped off by a Lyle Overbay go-ahead two-run single against a very good Boston reliever. Because of the huge inning by the Yankees you had to believe that this would be the game that launches them into the playoffs in the long-run. They were losing by five runs in the seventh and much like the Yankees have done in every game this week they were able to big up a big inning, all without the benefit of a home run. The Yankees loss tonight will be as deflating of a loss as the Yankees have faced the entire year. To make matters worse, the Orioles also won against the White Sox and the Red Sox gain another game on the Yankees who had a slim chance of claiming the division if they played perfect baseball against the Red Sox. Although in a losing effort, the Yankees did all they could and Mariano Rivera could not put away Mike Napoli. Napoli singled with two outs in the ninth inning and after he was replaced by a pinch-runner, Quintin Berry, stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by Austin Romine. This wouldn't be the only crucial error Romine made in the game.

In the tenth, Joba Chamberlain was pitching to Shane Victorino with Jacoby Ellsbury on first and Victorino had a check-swing that was really a swing and he would follow with an RBI single to score the go-ahead run from second base, another runner that Romine was unable to throw out. As Ichiro threw the ball home on a line, Romine was unable to handle the short hop and allowed Ellsbury to score even though the throw beat Ellsbury home. Joba Chamberlain would get ejected by Joe West after voicing his opinion about the missed call. However, Austin Romine's spotty defense was the ultimate culprit in the game. Also, in the bottom of the ninth Alfonso Soriano was picked off second base with one out trying to advance to third with Granderson at the plate. When a team loses a game as painful as this one there will always be things that are second-guessed. One thing is certain, and it is that the Yankees have a long road ahead of them in the next three days against the Red Sox. Tonight's loss puts the Yankees in bad position to take the series against Boston but crazier things have happened. Look at the seventh inning of tonight's game...

Series opener lineup

Brett Gardner CF
Derek Jeter SS
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Curtis Granderson DH
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Lyle Overbay 1B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Chris Stewart C

SP: RHP Ivan Nova vs. RHP Jake Peavy

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Laugher Turns into a Tight Win

The first inning was a trying one for both starting pitchers. Just as I predicted in last night's post Erik Johnson struggled against the Yankees. He did manage to go six innings in his Major League debut but allowed five runs to score in the process. Only three of them were earned but he still gave them up, so he is still responsible for them. Those two unearned runs would have made a huge difference in the White Sox favor in the eighth when they scored four runs off Sabathia and Robertson but this is why they are the 56-82 Chicago White Sox. Sabathia began the first inning by throwing a lot of pitches and gave up a run but nothing more to keep the Yankees in the game early. Johnson promptly gave back the run when Cano jumped on the first pitch of his at-bat and hit it for a home run to right field. The game would remain tied until the fourth inning when the Yankees put together a four run rally against the young pitcher which gave them a 5-1 lead that Sabathia and the bullpen would hold on to. Robinson Cano ended up going 3-4 in another hot offensive night with 2 RBI. Brett Gardner would have a big two-run triple in the fourth and the Yankees were on their way to a win. Alfonso Soriano's sac fly in the seventh inning would turn out to be the difference in the game as the White Sox had a four run inning of their own in the eighth, trying to give the Yankees a taste of their own medicine.

The eighth inning started off innocently enough with a single, a force out and another single by Paul Konerko and that was enough for Sabathia to exit the game in favor of David Robertson to try and get the remaining two outs in the inning. Robertson threw 20 pitches and was only able to get one out in the process. He allowed four runs to score having allowed three hits and a walk. Two of the runs were Sabathia's and two were Robertson's. CC Sabathia was close to not factoring into the decision and the Yankees would have lost a game which they should have won, without question. Nevertheless, Sabathia went deep into the game which allowed the Yankees to rest the majority of their bullpen. Mariano Rivera should not have pitched in this game but Robertson's ineffectiveness forced Girardi to go to Mo for a 4-out save. Rivera had not been used for a 4-out save since July 2011 against the Athletics. Mariano Rivera pitched a scoreless 1 1/3 innings in the win and saved Robertson's bacon.
The Yankees will be able to move to within 1.5 games of the Rays if they lose tonight against the Angels but the Yankees have bigger things to worry about as the Red Sox roll into Yankee Stadium for a crucial four game set. Yankees recent ace Ivan Nova will pitch against newly acquired Jake Peavy for the Red Sox. The Yankees need to at least split the four game set at home and winning three out of four games would be wonderful as the Yankees are climbing to the promise land.