May 31, 2010

A-Rod's grand slam heads 11-2 pounding of Indians

Alex Rodrguez broke open a pitchers' duel in the seventh inning with a grand slam following an intentional walk of Mark Teixeira. He is now 5-for-5 with 18 RBIs when opposing teams walk Teixeira to load the bases and it was his 20th career grand slam to give him sole possession of third place on the all-time list.

Andy Pettitte pitched seven innings of one-run ball en route to his seventh win of the year, an 11-2 thumping of the Indians.

Best of all: A-Rod's six RBIs. He now leads the team with 41 with Robinson Cano, who hit a solo shot after A-Rod's granny, trailing by one.

Every Yankee starer had at least one hit and combined for 18 as a team.

Worst of all: Chan Ho Park walked a hitter with two out in the ninth. The walk snapped a streak of 65 batters faced without a walk.

Coming up: The Yankees start a three-game series with the Orioles on Tuesday night. I'll have a series preview posted, as usual. Although, I haven't quite figured out the Internet in my new apartment. I should be able to figure it out.

Poll Results: Cervelli’s future with Yankees

poll results24 Of all the great catchers in the Yankees organization, fans have voted Francisco Cervelli, the only one currently with major league experience, the catcher who has a long future ahead with the Yankees, securing 50 percent of the vote.

Notables following Cervelli in the polls were Jesus Montero (23 percent) and Austin Romine (20 percent). Just four percent voted none of the Yankees catchers will have a long future with the team.

At this point in time it may seem like Cervelli is the future, but a simple background check might sway voters’ minds. Cervelli wasn’t even regarded as a top prospect when he was in the minors. Hitting under .250 with Trenton last year, Cervelli was the most qualified to be called up when a third-string catcher was needed.

Montero and Romine are considered two of the top prospects in the organization. Some scouts believe Montero will wind up a first baseman or DH because of his below-average catching, but most will tell you his bat is major league ready and is comparable to Miguel Cabrera.

Montero is with Triple-A this year, hitting a mere .238/.315/.371. Romine is off to a flying start in Double-A with a line of .324/.383/.486.

Jorge Posada is 38 years old but is having one of his best years in the majors thus far. He is signed just through next year, but I wonder if he’ll get an extension to play solely as a DH/backup catcher. The Yankees already have plenty of coaches with catching experience. Just ask Tony Pena or Joe Girardi.

My vote went to Montero, as I can’t remember the last time the Yankees have had such a highly touted catching prospect. I have to be worried about his defense, but, then again, he’s only 20 years old and scouts say his arm has shown improvements already in 2010. The Yankees organization has plenty of guys to teach him the tricks of the trade to catching in the majors.

Next poll: Who will finish the year with more wins?

May 30, 2010

Late rally propels Yanks past Indians

It seemed as though my pregame prediction of a 1-0 game was going to come true through six innings, with the score in favor of the Indians. But then thunder struck Mark Teixeira’s bat and his three-run homer boosted the Yankees over the Indians, 7-3.

Best of all: A.J. Burnett. W, 8 IP, 5 H, 3 R, ER, 0 BB, 8 K. He looked very sharp, as he improves to 6-2. Need I say more?

Robinson Cano has caught fire as well. He is 13 for his last 21 with nine RBIs and 20 total bases.

Worst of all: Alex Rodriguez went 0-for-3 with a walk. Derek Jeter’s throwing error allowed two unearned runs to score in the seventh. (But he made up for it with a two-run single in the home half.)

Coming up: The Yankees look to take the series Monday afternoon with Andy Pettitte on the mound searching for his seventh win of the year.

Anyone worried about the bullpen now?

After hearing about yesterday’s bullpen choke, Alfredo Aceves’s injury and Joba Chamberlain’s recent ineffectiveness is starting to set in with people.

The bullpen blew a five-run lead yesterday to one of the worst teams in baseball. Scoring 11 runs should always be enough for a win. Jon Heyman’s recent report that the Yankees will be looking to add a reliever midseason shows the team isn’t confident in its current bullpen. Yesterday’s events only amplified this notion.

If Chamberlain, who now has a 5.82 ERA, can’t be the eighth-inning guy, the Yankees need to consider making a drastic change. Meaning: Give up a proven player or a top prospect for a big-time pitcher.

I’m serious. If it means giving up Francisco Cervelli, who might be at the highest value of his career, so be it. A bad bullpen translates to failure in the postseason. If the Yankees want to make a run at repeating as champs, Brian Cashman is going to have to make up for his offseason moves at the deadline this year.

May 29, 2010

Yankees notes: Heyman tweets Yankees’ trade deadline plans, much more

This batch of Yankees notes has updates on the the Yankees’ plans for the trade deadline, Curtis Granderson’s return, Jorge Posada’s injury, Nick Swisher’s personal life, the Yankees upcoming schedule and a few impressive individual performances.

  • Jon Heyman, the guy you want to follow on Twitter for trade rumors, tweeted the Yankees plans this summer. They’re looking for two things, he says. A bat to replace for Nick Johnson and a reliever.

    I certainly agree with acquiring a new reliever, one that actually lasts full seasons on the same team, perhaps. But replacing Johnson is a different story. He’s expected back by early July, so are the Yankees planning on acquiring this new bat in June? Or are they planning to deal Johnson in exchange for a bat at the deadline?

    As far as I’m concerned, it’s a little early to thinking about trade rumors. I couldn’t even tell you who the key guys on the market are. I’m not sure if anyone could!

  • Curtis Granderson made his return to the Yankees last night, which I was on hand to see. Randy Winn was designated for assignment to make room for Grandy. With a typical lineup, this leaves these players on the bench:

    Juan Miranda/Marcus Thames, Kevin Russo, Ramiro Pena and Chad Moeller.

  • Jorge Posada played catch yesterday and could be hitting off a tee soon, Joe Girardi said, according to Chad Jennings. It sounds to me like the Yankees starting catcher could be back in a week and a half (solely my speculation).

  • Nick Swisher is engaged. The lucky lady? An actress on a show I’ve never heard of “Privileged.” Her name is Joanna Garcia. Check out the link for a picture of the couple holding their puppy.

  • The Yankees upcoming schedule looks prettay good, as Kevin Rozell of Zell’s Pinstripe Blog points out. After three more games with the Indians, the Yanks face the Orioles twice, the Blue Jays and the Astros. Throw in an off day in the middle and at the end to put the cherry on top.

  • Robinson Cano stepped into the cleanup spot for the first time in his career last night, and he delivered. (Alex Rodriguez was given a full day off because he was due for a day off, Jennings said. Francisco Cervelli got one too). Cano is clearly the team’s MVP up to this point, and is making a case for league MVP — a race I’ll be following as long as the Yankees have a candidate for the honor.

  • Phil Hughes collected his sixth win last night. Between him and Andy Pettitte, the dynamic duo combine for a 12-2 record with a 2.66 ERA and 93 strikeouts this year. Very impressive.
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Lots of good news here for the Yanks. Be sure to check out my plans for maintaining this blog over the summer and this post I made highlighting the craziness that the Yankees have dealt with so far in the 2010 season. Trust me, it’s a fun post.

Yankees trounce Tribe under my watch, I reveal summer plans for lenNY’s Yankees

I knew it! The Lenny-Fletch tandem improved to 3-0 with tonight’s 8-2 win over the Indians. Nick Swisher’s two-run shot in the second gave the Yankees the early lead, and Robinson Cano’s seventh-inning grand slam put the game away to preserve Phil Hughes’s sixth win.

This was the fourth Yankees game I attended this year. You must understand: I was born and raised in New Hampshire. I went to one game — two if I was lucky — per year for at least 10 years.

eicNow I feel like I know my way around Yankee Stadium better than I do New York. But hopefully that will change this summer, as I’ll be interning for a small digital marketing agency called eic. I’m receiving academic credit at Quinnipiac University, where I’ll be a junior this fall.

The internship is full-time, and I start Tuesday. On top of that, I’m taking a digital design course online which lasts for the next month or so, so I can, you know, graduate on time. Let’s just say, I’ll be busy this summer.

But I’m not about to put down this blog for the summer. To be honest, I don’t think I could. It’s kind of addicting. As long as I excel in both my commitments and have some extra time on my hands, you’ll have your Yankees daily news and analysis.

Other places you can find me this summer:

May 28, 2010

Indians-Yankees series preview

The Yankees (28-19) haven’t faced the Indians (17-28) yet this year, and they should be excited to face a city where the main focus is on a basketball player named LeBron James instead of a team in season.

The Indians are 2-8 in their last 10 games, while the Yankees are only two games better in that span. The Bronx Bombers, who’ve scored 13 runs in their last six games, are coming off a series win against the Twins and the Indians just lost a series to the White Sox.

Pitching Matchups:

Date:Indians startersYankees starters
Fri., 7:05 p.m.F. Carmona (4-2, 3.45)Phil Hughes (5-1, 2.72)
Sat., 1:05 p.m.David Huff (2-6, 5.25)CC Sabathia (4-3, 3.86)
Sun., 1:05 p.m.J. Masterson (0-5, 6.13)A.J. Burnett (5-2, 3.55)
Mon., 1:05 p.m.Mitch Talbot (6-3, 3.73)Andy Pettitte (6-1, 2.62)


Players to Watch:
Indians: Shin-Soo Choo.
He is the only player on the roster with a batting average over .300 (.302) and should be in All-Star Game discussions if it weren’t such a popularity contest.

Yankees: Mark Teixeira. Suddenly, Teixeira has three two-hit games in his last four and is hitting .216. He also has a great track record against the Indians: .367/.444/.628 in 205 career plate appearances.

Also, keep a close eye on Curtis Granderson, who makes his return from the DL tonight.

Prediction:
A four-game series is tough to sweep, but this one might be as easy as they come. The Yankees have their rotation aligned perfectly, and I think a win tonight over Carmona would lead to a sweep. Although the Yankees lost last time I attended a game, tonight I will be attending without my parents. Andrew Fletcher and I will look to improve to 3-0 as a tandem.

Pork chop incident adds to 2010’s long list of craziness in Yankeeland

If you haven’t heard by now, YES Network reporter Kim Jones lost a bite of her pork chop stick to a drunk Yankees fan last night at Target Field. Here’s the video (that made Deadspin and the No. 1 play on SportsCenter’s Not Top Plays this week):


Add this video to the long list of crazy happenings in Yankeeland this year.

April 8: Sterling’s Granderson call [Audio]
April 9: Friday links: Rivera responds to West
April 12: Chan Ho Park’s diarrhea of the mouth (literally) [Video]
April 22: Yankees turn triple play, fall to Athletics
April 28: Yankees are NOT the most hated team!
May 6: Sports Illustrated cover jinx: Part … Yankees’ Core Four
May 12: Video: Dallas Braden’s top 10 thoughts in perfect game: ‘I can Give Kate Hudson a call’
May 13: Video: Michael Kay & Ken Singleton interview Eminem & Jay-Z on YES
May 16: Sterling’s ‘Gardy goes Yardy’ call is ridiculous [Audio]
May 25: Hideki Irabu arrested for drunk driving
May 26: Video: Nick Swisher drops the F-Bomb on YES
May 27: Video: Yankees fans fight in stands at Rays game last week

Posada ‘feeling better’ ahead of schedule

When Jorge Posada knew he was going to miss time, he vowed he’d return a week, or even two weeks, ahead of schedule. He might get a chance to live up to his word, as Bryan Hoch is reporting Posada’s foot has healed quickly and will be re-evaluated today.

“He is feeling better, and we're going to try to come up with a course of action,” Joe Girardi said. “I can't tell you exactly when he will start baseball activities, but I want to see him and how he's moving around.”

If Francisco Cervelli catches tonight, it will be the 10th time in the last 11 days he’s squatted behind home plate. Cervelli’s average has dipped, but not by much. He’s still hitting .330/.410/.418 — not bad for the supposed backup catcher — who also happens to be leading the current poll on the left column.

Last Thursday’s call-up, Chad Moeller, has yet to see any action with the Yankees.

May 27, 2010

Kubel, Twins rock Vazquez to avoid sweep

Javier Vazquez allowed five runs, eight hits and a lot of hard-hit outs against the Twins, and Jason Kubel drove in five runs on two long homers to propel the Twins to an 8-2 win over the Yankees.

Best of all: Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano had two hits apiece. Cano drove in both of the Yankees’ runs.

Worst of all: Vazquez. I guess two good starts in a row is his max.

Also, the bullpen is in trouble. Chan Ho Park and Chad Gaudin looked awful and were awful tonight. Damaso Marte, the lefty specialist, was brought in after lefties Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau hit in the seventh. With Alfredo Aceves possibly out for the year, the bullpen is going to need some help.

Coming up: The return of Curtis Granderson! He’ll be in the lineup — we don’t know where yet — to start a series against the Indians in The Bronx.

Tom Tresh Featured Card of the Week

Tom Tresh played for the Yankees for seven full seasons, was named Rookie of the Year in 1962, a two-time All-Star and a Gold Glove winner.

The Yankees won the World Series in his rookie season, thanks in large part to Tresh, who hit .321 with a homer and four RBIs.

As you can see, this is the most damaged card I’ve posted in this series and is one of the most damaged of the entire collection.

Although it greatly diminishes the book value of the card, I still like the feeling of holding a card that barely made it.

**Sorry this is a day late! I'll be back to usual Wednesday's schedule next week.

Video: Yankees fans fight in stands at Rays game last week

Two Yankees fans broke out in a fist fight in the left field stands at a Rays game last week at Yankee Stadium. Here’s the video (via Pro Rumors):


The fight dies down after about 30 seconds, but the guy in the blue Yankees shirt against the wall really got his hacks in on the grey-shirted fan. Then someone lost their shirt. Quite a mess, really.

Post: Aceves could be out for the year

George A. King III of the New York Post reported last night Alfredo Aceves could miss the rest of the season if he needs surgery to repair a bulging disc.

Chad Jennings reported this morning that the Yankees are still waiting on a team doctor’s examination from Wednesday.

Aceves suffered a setback on Tuesday and was eligible to return from the disabled list this week.

If he is out for the year, the Yankees will rely on Chan Ho Park, Sergio Mitre and the recently acquired Chad Gaudin for long relief help. Boone Logan was sent back down to Triple-A to make room for Gaudin.

Roy Oswalt to Yankees rumors likely false

Roy Oswalt wants out of Houston, but suitors have been hard to come by. The Yankees, who most feel are one of the few teams who could even afford his outrageous contract, are content with their starters, according to an official, which makes them unlikely to pursue Oswalt in a trade.

The Yankees should be content with their starters. Here’s a breakdown of the current rotation:

CC Sabathia: 4-3, 3.86
The ace of the staff has actually been the team’s worst pitcher as of late, turning in two rough outings in his last three starts. He hasn’t won since May 3, but was robbed of one on May 8.

A.J. Burnett: 5-2, 3.55
Burnett earned a win yesterday without even pitching! OK, it was a continuation from the day before when he threw five scoreless innings, but still, it was a pretty cool feat. He got roughed up against Tampa Bay and Boston this month, but he’s handled weaker offenses — the rest of the American League — without any difficulties.

Andy Pettitte: 6-1, 2.62
The 37-year-old Pettitte is pitching like a 27-year-old. He’s off to the best start of his career and is currently the team’s best pitcher. His only loss came to the Rays, the killer Rays, on May 20, but he’s only allowed three runs combined in his other three starts this month.

Javier Vazquez: 3-4, 6.69
A 6.69 ERA is atrocious, but it’s better than 9.78. Vazquez has earned wins in each of his last two appearances and has allowed just two runs in his last 13 1/3 innings. If he hadn’t pitched those quality efforts, he might not be in the rotation today. But he is, and he’s pitching tonight to try and complete the sweep of the Twins.

Phil Hughes: 5-1, 2.72
Not bad for a fifth starter, right? He was considered the AL Cy Young Award leader last week and remains in close contention for the honor. However, he has returned to reality in his past two starts against the Red Sox and Mets, as his ERA has nearly doubled from 1.38 to 2.72. Still, a sub-3 ERA isn’t too shabby for a fifth starter and a guy who could’ve started the year in the bullpen.

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Not much room for Oswalt, is there?

May 26, 2010

Swisher’s shot backs Pettitte in 3-2 win

Andy Pettitte pitched eight strong innings and Nick Swisher broke a 2-2 tie with a solo jack in the ninth and the Yankees held on for a 3-2 win over the Twins to clinch another series win .

Best of all: Mariano Rivera closed for the second time in four hours and looked better than his first appearance. All of his pitches were right to the glove and no ball made it out of the infield.

Worst of all: Not much. Alex Rodriguez and Francisco Cervelli combined to go 0-for-5, but Cervelli walked twice and A-Rod walked once.

Coming up: The Yankees look for the sweep Thursday night at Target Field.

Video: Nick Swisher drops the F-Bomb on YES

**This is NSFW**

Nick Swisher clearly yelled out the F-Bomb in the fifth inning of today’s game against the Twins, and the YES Network left their mics on.

I’m not sure if ESPN2 made the same mistake, but I doubt it.

Swisher had grounded out to third after Derek Jeter’s leadoff double, and Jeter was left stranded.

Jeter takes over in 2nd half, Yanks win 1-0

Maybe Joe Girardi should think about switching Derek Jeter back to the second spot in the lineup.

In today’s completion of yesterday’s game, Jeter cracked a homer to break a scoreless tie after watching today’s leadoff hitter, Kevin Russo, strike out.

The solo shot was the only run scored in the second half of the game, giving A.J. Burnett, who completed five shutout innings in the first half yesterday, his fifth victory of the year.

Best of all: Jeter made a “Jeterian” play in the field in the home half of the sixth. Getting to the ball saved two runs from scoring, and making the play at first prevented the tying run from scoring.

Honorable mention: Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera got the hold and the save, respectively. Chamberlain didn’t look outstanding, but was sharp enough. Likewise for Rivera, but he got Denard Span to end it on a 4-6-3 double play.

Worst of all: Girardi said before today’s game nobody will pitch twice today. After today’s game, he didn’t exactly stand by that promise. Without David Robertson, Chamberlain and Rivera, Andy Pettitte will need to pitch deep or the Yankees will need to score a lot of runs if they want to sweep the one-and-a-half header.

Coming up: Pettitte takes on fellow lefty Francisco Liriano on a nationally televised game.

The return of ‘The Chad’

Chad Gaudin has rejoined the Yankees in Minnesota today to help complete the one-and-a-half header, according to Mark Feinsand.

Gaudin had a rough spring training with the Yankees, allowing 10 earned runs in 11 1/3 innings. But he was even worse for the Athletics this season, allowing 17 earned runs in 17 1/3 innings.

This addition may be directly correlated with Alfredo Aceves, who suffered a setback in his rehab yesterday, and perhaps Chan Ho Park too, who has been awful since returning from injury.

Lately, the only stable forces in the bullpen have been David Robertson and Sergio Mitre. We’ll see today if Gaudin can eat up some innings without completely blowing a game.

May 25, 2010

Tonight’s game suspended, will resume tomorrow at 5:05 p.m.

After five innings of scoreless baseball, precipitation delayed a Twins game for the first time since 1981. The game was suspended after nearly an hour and a half of waiting and will pick up in the sixth inning on Wednesday at 5:05 p.m. ET.

If the game goes longer than expected, it will be interesting to see ESPN2’s coverage, as they have Game 2 of this series (originally scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET).

It’s too bad rain interfered tonight. Both pitchers, Scott Baker and A.J. Burnett, were really dealing. I suspect Sergio Mitre will take over for the Yanks tomorrow.

Yankees-Twins series preview

The Yankees are coming off their worst week of the season and have won four of their last 10, but so have the Twins. The last time they met, last weekend, the Yankees won the first two games convincingly before the bullpen blew a 3-1 lead in the finale.

Fact is: Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau are still crushing the ball and are even more menacing at their new home, Target Field.

Pitching Matchups:

Date: Yankees starters Twins starters
Tues., 8:10 p.m. A.J. Burnett (4-2, 3.86) Scott Baker (4-4, 3.88)
Wed., 7:10 p.m. A. Pettitte (5-1, 2.68) F. Liriano (4-3, 4.25)
Thurs., 8:10 p.m. J. Vazquez (3-4, 6.69) Nick Blackburn (5-1, 4.50)


Players to Watch:
Yankees: Mark Teixeira
. He hit .500/.538/.833 last weekend against the Twins, facing the same three starters. Sounds to me like he’s ready to get back on a hot streak.

Twins: Denard Span. The Yankees did a good job keeping him off the bases last series, where he can really be a pest.

Prediction:
Although the Twins are at their new home, you can’t go against the overwhelming favorites in the recent history of this matchup. Maybe this time the Yankees will be able to complete the sweep.

Jeter’s future, contract & defense analysis

When your team is losing, you start to blame the strugglers. And Mark Teixeira isn’t the only one struggling this season.

The entire country saw two grounders slip under Derek Jeter’s glove while ranging to his left on Sunday Night Baseball. That, and this article from The Faster Times sparked questions of his age, defense and value.

In a sample size of less than two months, which everyone knows is way too short for measuring defense, Jeter is making seven fewer plays to his left and seven more plays to his right than the average shortstop. This ranks him 24th among major league shortstops, according to Baseball Info Solutions.

Let’s say he really is the 24th-ranked shortstop in terms of defense this year. Couple that rank with his seventh-ranked OPS among major league shortstops. Now add the fact that he’s the oldest qualified shortstop in baseball and how much should the Yankees re-sign him for if the season ended today?

Twitter says:

@MyPinstripes: not much, but that's why you don't base it on 3 weeks

@MarcusBlumberg: For real? 5-10 Million $ – with name value 15 million a year at best!

MLB Trade Rumors says:

Jeter is the face of the Yankees, and an extension seems a near-certainty. Based on Heyman's September guess, Jeter's premium could be in the range of $10MM annually, plus an extra year or two.

I agree with all three assessments. But what will Jeter decide? Will he happily accept any realistic offer from his beloved franchise? (That’s what I think.) Will he sell himself to another team? Or, will he decide to hang up the spikes early?

The only thing Jeter has left to accomplish in his Hall of Fame career is reaching 3,000 hits. That’s it. He’s got five rings, he already has the Yankees all-time hit record and he’s made a ton of money.

He is at an even 2,800 hits entering Tuesday, meaning he’d have to hit .380 (I did the math) the rest of the season to eclipse the milestone. In other words, barring a miracle he’ll have to sign one more contract with the Yankees to join the 3,000 hit club.

As many experts say, a team handling a star on the decline is the toughest thing in baseball. I absolutely agree. Does it mean changing positions? A big pay cut? Asking the player to retire? Who knows.

What I do know is Jeter’s performance over the next four (hopefully five) months will play a huge factor in his future with the Yankees.

Hideki Irabu arrested for drunk driving

Nooo!

My man Hideki Irabu got arrested for alleged drunk driving. He posted $5,000 bail. That’s the entire story.

The article notes he is just 41 years old. Sounds to me like he’s ready to pitch! I’m sure the Yankees still have his number.

May 24, 2010

Jeter, Cano & Teixeira lead All-Star vote

The popularity contest, also known as the All-Star Game, released its first balloting totals for the American League today. Yankee infielders Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano are the leading vote-getters at their respective positions.

If you’re wondering, Alex Rodriguez is trailing Evan Longoria by more than 100,000 votes and Curtis Granderson is a mere 1,324 votes behind Josh Hamilton for a starting outfield position.

The sad truth is, Jeter, Teixeira and Granderson shouldn’t be close to contending for a spot on the All-Star roster. Cano might be the only one deserving of a spot, but Ty Wigginton should be right up there too, in a perfect world.

Now, I haven’t filled out my ballot yet because it’s not even June and the Midsummer Classic isn’t until July 13 — at Angel Stadium, by the way. But if the game were tomorrow, here’s what my ballot would look like:

1B: Justin Morneau — 1.199 OPS leads majors
2B: Cano — leads Wigginton in runs, doubles, BA and OBP
3B: Longoria — I’d vote for Jose Bautista if his BA wasn’t .242
SS: Alex Gonzalez — slugging 150 points better than any AL SS
C: Joe Mauer — no comment
OF: Vernon Wells — leads AL outfielders in homers, RBIs and OPS
OF: Alex Rios — second highest OPS among AL outfielders
OF: Nick Swisher — third highest OPS among AL outfielders
DH: Vladimir Guerrero — edges out Jose Guillen with his .339 BA

Feel free to dispute my picks in the comments.

Poll Results: Granderson missed most

poll results23 The results in my latest poll were very definitive, showing Curtis Granderson is missed far more than Nick Johnson. Although I think Johnson’s value is underappreciated, I can certainly understand why fans miss Granderson.

When both were injured in a seven-day span, they were expected to return by early June. That estimate has changed.

Granderson should be back by the end of this week and Johnson was transferred to the 60-day DL and won’t return until July at the earliest.

Some fans wonder where Granderson will find himself in the lineup when he returns. Will it be in the two spot, or back to the bottom of the order? I think it depends on how the team fares this week against the Twins.

If Brett Gardner starts racking up those infield hits and stolen bases again like he did in April, he shouldn’t be going anywhere. But if he continues to stumble below a .300 BA, we might see Granderson take over.

Next poll: Which catcher has a long future ahead with the Yankees?

May 23, 2010

Santana shows up CC at Citi in Subway Series showdown

CC Sabathia didn’t have close to his best stuff tonight and Johan Santana was absolutely dealing through seven innings en route to a 6-4 win.

Jason Bay hit two homers off Sabathia, one to left and one to right, tripling his season total in the process.

Francisco Rodriguez and the Mets bullpen made it exciting at the end, allowing the Yankees to send the winning run to the plate, but K-Rod struck out A-Rod to seal the series win.

Best of all: Derek Jeter notched three hits, including a two-run double in the ninth. He lived up to his great history against the cross-town rivals.

Worst of all: Sabathia looked lost on the mound today, rarely hitting Francisco Cervelli’s glove. His final line: L, 5 IP, 10 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 6 K.

Coming up: The Yanks get a much needed day off Monday before heading out to Minnesota for a three-game series and then will return home to close out May against the Indians.

Teixeira: ‘I can’t get any worse’

Well, technically, he could be 0-for-23 in his last 23 at-bats instead of 1-for-23, but who’s counting anyway?

… Only every single Yankee fan is counting.

Mark Teixeira is struggling in May, which is more like a nightmare for a player who is known for bad Aprils and great Mays. Here’s what he told reporters after last night’s loss and 0-for-4, three-strikeout night.

“For as good as I felt for two or three weeks there I feel the exact opposite right now,” Teixeira said. “I feel terrible. I can't get any worse right now.”

That’s saying a lot, and means a little at the same time. He knows he’s in a deep slump, but he doesn’t know how to get out of it. Further proof:

“I'm kind of caught in between being too aggressive and too patient right now. Maybe I'm taking too many swings (in the batting cage). Maybe I need to step it back and cut back on the lifting and cut back on the swings.”

Ahh. This is painful. The Yankees No. 3 hitter is in an awful slump and he has no idea what he’s doing wrong or how to solve it.

But I have the solution!

If the rest of the lineup steps up in his place, and the team starts winning, everyone will forget he is slumping and he will be under less pressure to perform. It sounds easy, but winning solves everything.

The fact is, the Yankees are about to complete one of the toughest weeks of their season, and it gets easier after tonight. Win or lose, it hopefully will be a good game with two of the best lefties of this era going head-to-head in the decisive game of a Subway Series.

Vazquez decision awaits on Monday

Unlike the beginning of the month when fans didn’t want to see Javier Vazquez anywhere close to a mound, now fans actually are hoping he’ll be able to pitch his next scheduled start on Thursday against the Twins. That decision will be made on Monday, his bullpen day, according to Joe Girardi.

If Vazquez can’t grip the ball, Sergio Mitre will likely be the fill-in guy. He did a nice job in his last spot start, pitching five innings of one-run ball against the Twins last Sunday, and tossed a scoreless frame last night to keep it a two-run ballgame.

With all of the injuries that have flooded this team in recent weeks, the one pitcher who was starting to find his old self after a dreadful start to his 2010 campaign got stung by the injury bee.

Vazquez had to leave Friday night’s start early against the Mets, in which he tossed shutout ball for six innings, allowing just one hit and earning his second win of the week.

After bruising his finger while attempting to lay down a bunt in the seventh inning, Vazquez left the game in the bullpen’s hands to close out the game, which, thankfully, it did.

May 22, 2010

Pelfrey outduels Hughes to tie series

The Mets evened the series with a 5-3 win on a strong pitching performance from Mike Pelfrey, while Phil Hughes was hit with his first loss of the year.

Jason Bay led the charge for the cross-town rivals with four hits and Yankees Nos. 4-8 hitters combined to go 10-for-21 but with no RBIs.

Best of all: They didn’t go quietly. Trailing 5-1 in the eighth, the Yanks loaded the bases with nobody out. They only plated two in the frame, but threatened again in the ninth with two men on base against closer Francisco Rodriguez.

Worst of all: Hughes got knocked around. He wasn’t completely ineffective, as shown by his seven strikeouts, but eight hits and three walks won’t suffice in a tough pitching matchup. Plus, the Mets didn’t miss their chances to score (except for the fifth).

Coming up: The series finale should be a good one. Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN with two southpaws: CC Sabathia and Johan Santana.

Granderson to start minor league rehab, could return next week

Curtis Granderson worked out with the Yankees before last night’s game and is meeting up with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on its road trip to play five games in six days, according to the Journal News. If all goes well, Granderson could be back in the Yankee lineup before the end of the month.

This is great news for the Yankees, as the weakened offense is certainly feeling the effects of losing Granderson, Nick Johnson, Jorge Posada and Nick Swisher full-time.

Johnson was transferred to the 60-day DL and Posada went on the 15-day DL to make room for Chad Moeller and Kevin Russo. Russo, the star on offense in last night’s game, will probably start in left again tonight if Marcus Thames isn’t ready to return from a sprained ankle.

Swisher has played the last two games, hitting left-handed, and is 2-for-8 with two runs scored.

Granderson’s return would give the Yankees seven Opening Day starters in their lineup and also would be a big help to the struggling outfield defense. Steve S. from The Yankee U wonders if he’ll be moved to left field upon his return. Like Steve, I wouldn’t mind it if he moved. As Steve said, Granderson has said publicly he wouldn’t mind it either. Does he really mean that? Who knows. I think with his professionalism he would be fine.

Vazquez exits early, earns win vs. Mets

Nobody guessed in the beginning of the week that Javier Vazquez would earn the only two victories so far, but that’s what happened.

Vazquez threw one-hit, shutout ball against the Mets for six innings before leaving with a bruised index finger while trying to bunt in the seventh inning leading 2-0. The bullpen, backed by Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera, closed out the game for a 2-1 win.

Best of all: Vazquez was really a pleasant surprise looking at the box score from my phone at a Broadway show. Even against the struggling Mets offense, six strikeouts and three base runners allowed for six innings is great work.

Utility player and recent call-up Kevin Russo drove in both of the Yankees’ runs on a double to right field. He also had a single and played left field. Good to see from a promising player.

Worst of all: Mark Teixeira. He has two hits in his last 20 at-bats. Yikes.

It sounds like Vazquez will be able to make his next start (see link above).

Coming up: Saturday’s game is one of the few all season played at night. It begins at 7:10 on FOX.

May 21, 2010

Yankees-Mets Subway Series preview

The Subway Series currently stands at 42-30 in favor of the Yankees since interleague play began in 1997, according to Yankeeist.com. Interleague play in 2010 begins tonight with the Subway Series starting out at Citi Field.

After this weekend, the rest of interleague play wraps up in the middle of June with the Mets heading to The Bronx June 18-20.

Neither of New York’s teams have been playing particularly well heading into the friendly rivalry. (It wasn’t what it used to be; admit it.)

The Mets have dive-bombed to last place in the NL East after beginning May in first place. The Yankees have lost eight of their last 12, but still remain in second place five games behind the Rays.

The Mets have averaged just 4.2 runs per game in May, while the Yankees have averaged two runs better in the month and still hold the highest team batting average and on-base percentage in the majors.

However, I expect this series to be low-scoring due to the quality of starting pitchers, the loss of the DH and both teams’ slumping core hitters.

Pitching Matchups:

Date: Yankees starters Mets starters
Fri., 7:10 p.m. J. Vazquez (2-4, 8.01) H. Takahashi (3-1, 3.12)
Sat., 7:10 p.m. Phil Hughes (5-0, 2.25) Mike Pelfrey (5-1, 3.02)
Sun., 8:05 p.m. CC Sabathia (4-2, 3.43) Johan Santana (3-2, 3.72)


Players to Watch:
Yankees: Derek Jeter
. He’s always the guy to watch in interleague play. Against the Mets, he’s hitting .386/.441/.596 in 317 career plate appearances. He leads many statistical categories in interleague play and just picked up three hits yesterday to warm up. 

Mets: David Wright. He’s always had great success against the Yankees (.336/.402/.593), but is in a major slump. He just snapped a 15-game streak of striking out at least once and is hitting a meager .262 this year.

Prediction:
Even though both teams haven’t been playing well, they know this weekend is a time to rise to the occasion and create instant classics. Yankees sweep this series, starting with an extra-innings win tonight.

**Luis Castillo is not in the lineup tonight.**

A miserable time at the ballgame

BP 
Batting practice when I arrived.

Even with the help of my presence at the stadium, the Yankees couldn’t keep pace with the Rays. The 8-6 loss was the third in a row for the Yankees and fourth in their last five.

Best of all: Derek Jeter had three hits including a two-run double in the ninth. The captain was becoming a major cause for concern — and still is — but a night like this helps.

The bullpen wasn’t so bad tonight either: 4 IP, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K. David Robertson pitched two scoreless and Chan Ho Park allowed a solo shot to Carlos Pena.

Worst of all: Andy Pettitte. This was by far his worst start of the year — his first loss — as he gave up six earned runs over five innings. His ERA is still under three, but the Rays really embarrassed him, slugging three home runs.

Line of the night: Juan Miranda: 2-for-3, 3B, HR, 3 R, 2 RBI, BB

Up Next: The first Subway Series of the year begins Friday night at Citi Field. Full series preview will be posted as usual.

The End The sad stadium as I left.

May 20, 2010

Houston, the Yankee bullpen has a problem

I wasn’t worried about the bullpen heading into the year because I believed they had the best setup man and closer combination in the game. For most of April and early May I believe I was right.

However, in the past four games the Yankees bullpen has an ERA of 11.60 in 12 1/3 innings. That figure isn’t inflated either. All four starters have gone at least five innings. The team managed one win in this stretch, and that’s only because Jonathan Papelbon broke down.

Problems in the back end:
For a stretch of 13 2/3 innings Joba Chamberlain only allowed runs in one game, which resulted in a loss to the Angels. Still, in that span he collected five holds, two saves and a win. In the past two games he’s allowed six runs on six hits. Something is troubling him.

For a stretch of 11 innings Mariano Rivera didn’t allow a run, collecting seven saves in the process. In his past two appearances, he’s allowed four runs (two earned) and picked up his first blown save and a loss of the year. What’s wrong with him?

Boone the buffoon:
Boone Logan has allowed earned runs in four of his last five appearances. Damaso Marte has done well in May as the only other lefty in the pen, but Logan still has a spot on the roster somehow. I have no idea what Dave Eiland and Joe Girardi see in him.

International friends from the south:
Ivan Nova of the Dominican and Romulo Sanchez of Venezuela have a combined 6 2/3 innings in three appearances with the Yankees. They haven’t allowed a single run, and only six men have reached base. And for some reason … neither are on the active roster.

Hmmmmmmmm.

May 19, 2010

Girardi: Posada out 3 to 4 weeks; Montero, Romine, Moeller are replacement options

Just when I was about to post why Francisco Cervelli should be the full-time catcher, news breaks that Jorge Posada has a hairline fracture in his right foot and will miss three to four weeks, Joe Girardi said.

Posada suffered the injury when a foul ball hit him on the top of the foot on Sunday night. Still, he says it’s the bottom of the foot that’s bugging him.

The Yankees certainly will call up a catcher tomorrow, but the question is who. The organization is filled with catching prospects, most notably Jesus Montero (AAA) and Austin Romine (AA), but also have 35-year-old veteran Chad Moeller sitting in Triple-A.

In the postgame press conference, Girardi didn’t shoot down the idea of bringing up Montero or Romine, which came as a big surprise to me since they’re both so young. I’m inferring this means all three will be considered for the spot. Here’s my breakdown:

Montero: He’s just 20 years old, but tore up Single- and Double-A last year at 19. This year with Scranton his bat is only starting to come around, but his defense is still lagging way behind his bat, which some scouts call the best in the minors. I’d rather wait to call up Montero, but I wouldn’t be furious if he got the call. He’ll only be a backup and perhaps pinch-hit duties for a few weeks.

Romine: The 21-year-old has a much better glove than Montero and is hitting great in Double-A. As a prospect, he isn’t on the same level as Montero, but there’s always a chance the scouts overlooked him. After all, look at Cervelli! He was called up from Double-A last year and is hitting .400 now. Once again, he’d only be a backup for a few weeks so I wouldn’t mind him getting the call.

Moeller: He can’t hit in the majors. He can’t even hit in Triple-A, but he has 1,524 major league plate appearances, which is exactly 1,524 more than Romine and Montero have combined. He plays solid defense and that’s what all teams ask for in a backup. After allowing six steals in one night, I’m ready for a defensive catcher to step in behind the dish. He’s the guy I’d call.

Rays bully Yankees in the Bronx

The best team in baseball showed why they were the best team in baseball in a 10-6 win over the Yankees (it wasn’t as close as the score makes it look).

The Rays pitched great (except Andy Sonnanstine), hit great and ran great. That’s tough to beat, and it seems that’s the way they play every night.

Best of all: Robinson Cano had four hits. And… that’s about it for the good stuff.

Worst of all: The Rays stole six bases off the A.J. Burnett-Francisco Cervelli battery. Six! AND, Ben Zobrist scored from second on a sac fly in the eighth. Granted, it was a diving catch near the wall in center field by Brett Gardner, but still, Zobrist scored standing up.

Even worse: Marcus Thames left in the sixth inning after spraining his ankle by stepping on his own bat after singling. Boy, with the injuries piling up like pancakes, that’s pretty embarrassing.

Line of the night: Cano: 4-for-5, 2B, RBI. He’s back up to .340.

Up Next: My parents and I are meeting up with Andrew Fletcher at Thursday night’s game. Hopefully Andy Pettitte can continue the best start of his career.

Rays-Yankees series preview

The Rays have won four straight and hold an absurd .718 winning percentage through almost a quarter of the season, and the Yankees bullpen has blown three eighth-inning leads in a row.

Fortunately for the Yanks, they won’t have to face David Price or Matt Garza — two pitchers SI’s Cliff Corcoran sees as top 5 AL Cy Young candidates thus far.

They also have another thing going for them: I’ll be in attendance on Thursday, and they’re 2-0 this year when I’ve been in the crowd.

Pitching Matchups:

Date: Rays starters Yankees starters
Wed., 7:05 p.m. Wade Davis (3-3, 3.38) A.J. Burnett (4-1, 3.31)
Thurs., 7:05 p.m. James Shields (4-1, 3.00) Andy Pettitte (5-0, 1.79)


Players to Watch:
Rays: Evan Longoria
. My preseason AL MVP pick. He’s leading the team with a .318 batting average as well as nine homers and 35 RBIs. He’s by far the most dangerous hitter in the lineup, so he’s definitely the one guy you don’t want to be beaten by.

Yankees: Alex Rodriguez. All the sudden, the cleanup hitter is hitting .290. He still only has five homers so far, but he also has nine two-hit games this month and has been very clutch. Trust me, the power stroke will come soon enough. 

Prediction:
It’s only a two-game series and I think the Yankees can snag both. The Yanks will need two big performances from their starters because the bullpen just isn’t cutting it right now. Burnett and Pettitte should do the trick.

1960 Yankees Featured Card of the Week

Above is a 1961 Topps card of the 1960 Yankees. The team finished 97-57, first place in the AL, before falling to the Pirates in seven games in the World Series. (I won’t go any further about that series.)

The Yankees got Roger Maris in 1960 and he picked up the MVP Award in his first year coming from the Royals. In 1961, he broke Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record with a homer in the final game of the year.

The back of this card features the batting and pitching leaders of 1960 as well as each pitcher’s record against its opponents during the season.

Art Ditmar led the team in wins (15) and ERA (3.06). Maris produced the most runs (112), while Mickey Mantle belted a club-high 40 knocks.

Joba, Mo blow away another

For the third straight game, the Yankees held a lead heading into the eighth inning. Sunday, Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera combined to blow the game. Monday, Chan Ho Park blew the lead, but the Yankees offense had his back. Tuesday, Chamberlain and Rivera blew the lead once again, and the Yankees comeback fell just short, as the Red Sox held on for a 7-6 victory.

Best of all: CC Sabathia pitched seven strong innings. He allowed one earned on four hits and three walks while striking out five. He left with a 5-1 lead going into the eighth. Joba owes CC a dinner.

**Note: This game isn’t technically official. Joe Girard protested a fifth-inning play. More here from Yankees.com.

Worst of all: Obviously, the bullpen. Chamberlain and Rivera are supposed to be automatic. They usually are, but both have looked absolutely lost in their past two outings. Chamberlain isn’t throwing any strikes, and even Rivera is missing spots by more than an inch.

Line of the Night: Robinson Cano: 2-for-5, 3 RBI, 2 2B.

Up Next: The Yankees stay at home with a tired bullpen facing the best team in baseball, the Rays, for two games.

May 18, 2010

Nick Johnson’s value unappreciated

What we all feared would happen happened yesterday. News broke that Nick Johnson will undergo surgery on his right wrist today, keeping him out of the lineup until July at the earliest.

As I’m writing this, the vote in my latest poll stands at Curtis Granderson 19, Johnson 2, for who will be missed more. People are forgetting Johnson was a valuable asset to this team because of his on-base percentage.

Yes, he was hitting .167 and didn’t have too many clutch hits, but he still made a huge impact on the game because he set the table for the producers and worked the heck out of opposing pitchers.

Granderson is leading this vote by such a wide margin because he hit two homers against the right team, made a few great catches and has a very likable personality. In terms of impact, this vote should be a lot closer.

---
Do the Yankees have any other choice but to keep Brett Gardner and Nick Swisher as the replacements in the lineup? It doesn’t look like it unless Brian Cashman makes a move.

May 17, 2010

Papel-bombed! A-Rod, Thames deliver ninth-inning heroics

After blowing a five-run lead, the Yankees trailed by two going into the bottom of the ninth against Jonathan Papelbon. The day after Mariano Rivera blew a save, the Yankees were the ones who came from behind, as Alex Rodriguez hit a two-run homer to tie it and Marcus Thames blasted a two-run shot to win it, 11-9, in walk-off fashion for the first time all year.

Best of all: Javier Vazquez, whose last relief appearance against the Red Sox in The Bronx goes without being said, earned the W by striking out Kevin Youkilis in the top half of the ninth.

Worst of all: The Yankees held a 6-1 lead after two innings. They should never have been trailing, especially with the emerging Phil Hughes toeing the rubber.

Line of the Night: A-Rod+Thames: 4-for-9, 3 R, 8 RBI, 2 HR.

Up Next: Game 2 of this two-game series is same place, same time, with CC Sabathia and Josh Beckett starting.

Red Sox-Yankees series preview: Rays, Mets on horizon

weekahead via MLB.com (click to enlarge)

The Yankees are walking into what should be a memorable week with a score to settle after yesterday’s unthinkable eighth inning.

Seven games in seven days against the two most rivaled opponents, the Red Sox and Mets, as well as the best team in baseball sandwiched in between, the Rays.

All seven games will be played in New York, starting with two two-game series in The Bronx and closing with a weekend in Flushing.

Before the Yanks rekindle the rivalry with the Sox, let’s take a look at the standings in the AL East (via MLB.com).
standings 5.16.10

Those top two winning percentages still rank at the top for all of baseball. But with the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, history has told us it really doesn’t matter which team is hot and which team is not. It’s like a playoff series. Any team can get their act together with the flip of a switch.

The Yankees are mad because of Mo’s meltdown yesterday, but the Red Sox have lost four of six against New York this year and the ultimate Yankee killer is returning to his old form, David Ortiz.

Pitching Matchups:

Date: Red Sox starters Yankees starters
Mon., 7:05 p.m. D. Matsuzaka (2-1, 6.35) Phil Hughes (5-0, 1.38)
Tues., 7:05 p.m. Josh Beckett (1-1, 7.46) CC Sabathia (4-2, 3.71)


Players to Watch:
Red Sox:
Ortiz. His overall numbers still don’t look that great, but  he’s on a 7-for-14 run with two homers and six RBIs, reaching base in his last eight games.

Yankees: Derek Jeter. The captain is in a slump, and he needs the Yankee faithful to have his back. He’s hurting, and boos aren’t going to help him break out. A big hit in this series is extra important for the psyche. This constant grounding out to shortstop nonsense needs to come to an end. How about some line drives to right-center?

Prediction:
Fortunately for the Yankees, the Red Sox starters are not at top form as of late. Hughes should out-pitch Dice-K no matter what tonight, and who knows whether we’ll see good or bad Beckett on Tuesday. I give the edge to the Yankees for the sweep because they’re at home.

Poll Results: Still no respect for Braden

poll results22 Dallas Braden is living evidence that even a perfect game can’t dig you out of a hole you dug yourself in the media. In my latest poll, 63 percent of fans still do not have respect for him (and I’m sure his grandma too).

I sided with the fans. Braden pitched the 19th perfect game in baseball history. It’s a miraculous accomplishment, don’t get me wrong, but it doesn’t translate to fame. Don’t believe me? Fine. Ever heard of a guy named Len Barker? That’s what I thought.

He threw a perfect game in 1981.

Barker finished his career with less than 100 wins and an ERA higher than 4.00

Enough about Braden and the perfect game. There is an exciting week ahead upon us. The Yankees play the Red Sox, the Rays and the Mets all in one week!

New poll: Who do you miss more? Curtis Granderson or Nick Johnson?

May 16, 2010

Kubel’s grand slam off Rivera sinks Yanks

Sergio Mitre left the game with a 3-1 lead after a leadoff single in the sixth, leaving it up to the bullpen to hold down the victory.

David Robertson, of all people, tip-toed his way through two shutout innings, but Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera couldn’t combine to make it through the eighth, as Jason Kubel launched a grand slam off Rivera to lead the Twins to a 6-3 win.

Quick ‘Cap:
Justin Morneau opened the scoring in the second with a leadoff homer to right, but Randy Winn countered in the home half with a two-run triple. Mark Teixeira made it 3-1 on an RBI single in the fifth, but the Yanks’ rally ended without further damage.

In the eighth, with the meat of the Twins order coming up, Chamberlain recorded two outs and left the bases loaded for Rivera. Rivera fell behind 3-0 to Jim Thome and eventually walked him to allow a run. Then, the pitch after a mound visit from pitching coach Dave Eiland, Rivera served up a grand slam to Kubel**.

The Yanks threatened in the ninth, but closer Jon Rauch worked out of the jam. Perhaps the Yankees needed Jose Contreras today, who recorded his first career save yesterday for the Phillies. Twins-Yankees box score.

**Kubel had another game-winning grand slam under his belt before today. Back in 2006, he hit a walk-off grand slam in the 12th inning against the Red Sox off Julian Tavarez.

Thoughts:
Rivera had been perfect this year up until today. He had tied a major league record for consecutive saves at home, in fact, but he will remain co-leaders with Eric Gagne until someone can save 52 in a row.

The Yankees had their chances to break the game open early, but didn’t, and it cost them.

Line of the Day:
Mitre: 5 IP, 4 H, R, ER, BB, 3 K. In 79 pitches, he certainly did the job. This one’s on the back end of the bullpen, not Mitre.

Up Next:
The Yankees have the most exciting week ahead all season! More on that later.

Sterling’s ‘Gardy goes Yardy’ call is ridiculous [Audio]

Love him or hate him, John Sterling will always be remembered for his quirky — to say the least — home run calls. If I’m not mistaken, I believe he has just released his latest hit: “Gardy Goes Yardy.”



This call came on Friday night in the fourth inning when Brett Gardner launched his second homer of the year to tie the game at 1. But that’s not where I’m going with this.

We did a nice job brainstorming for Curtis Granderson, and Sterling eventually used one Mr. Andrew Fletcher** thought up. Let’s see if we can do the same for Gardner, as I really think Gardner deserves a better call on the rare occasion in which he does hit a homer.

Here’s what popped into my head:

  • “A homer by Brett the Jet, something he’ll never forget!”
  • “Brett the Jet, bombs away!”

If you think of better ideas be sure to leave them in the comments.

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**If you happen to know Mr. Fletcher, creator of Scott Proctor’s Arm, you should know he is graduating from Quinnipiac University today. You can follow the live Webcast here to see him walk. The ceremony begins at 10:45 a.m., and Bill Nye (the Science Guy) is this year’s speaker!

Congrats, Fletch. And to you too, Mr. Andrew Vazzano, creator of TheRopolitans.com. These two chuckleheads introduced me to blogging, and I can’t say thank you to them enough. I’ll miss you two dearly next year.

I hope both of you will be employed by the time I graduate.

May 15, 2010

Pettitte, Posada power Yanks past Twins

Mark Teixeira and Jorge Posada homered in a four-run seventh inning and Andy Pettitte tossed 6 1/3 shutout innings to fuel the Yankees to a 7-1 win.

Quick ‘Cap:
The Yankees gave Pettitte a 1-0 lead in the first and the team never looked back. In the second, Derek Jeter added an RBI single, his second hit in as many innings, and Marcus Thames made it 3-0 when he singled home Posada in the sixth, who hit a ground-rule double.

Pettitte breezed through most of his innings, except for the second, when he danced out of trouble by inducing a double play and snaring a comeback liner. He allowed a season-low two hits, walked three (two coming in the sixth) and struck out two.

Francisco Lirano came out after six quality innings, but Jesse Crain couldn’t hold down the Yankees’ bats. Crain led off the seventh by walking Nick Swisher, who chose to hit right-handed against the righty — most likely because of his biceps, and then allowing a towering homer to Teixeira that landed in the luxury suite in right. Twins-Yankees box score.

Thoughts:
Pettitte showed absolutely no signs of rust for pitching with nine days in between starts. The start restored my confidence in the overall greatness of the rotation. Meanwhile, Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez combined for four more hits. That’s a great sign.

Line of the Day:
Pettitte: W, 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 2 K. He’s 5-0 on the year, joining Phil Hughes in the “5-0 club.”

Up Next:
The Yankees can help make up for losing four of five by completing the sweep of the Twins on Sunday.

Chan Ho Park to return Sunday, Nick Johnson TBD

Chan Ho Park hasn’t pitched for the Yankees since April 13, out with a hamstring, but was with the Yankees today and is expected to be available on Sunday. Hopefully diarrhea won’t play a factor in his availability.

Nick Johnson’s return to the team is in question (via LoHud). In sum: he’ll be out either three weeks or as many as six weeks — and it’s a 50-50 bet.

After going on the DL in Boston, he got a cortisone shot and the Yankees are waiting to see if that solves the problem in his wrist. Brian Cashman said that the shot does the trick roughly 50 percent of the time.

“We’re hoping that works,” Cashman said. “But if it doesn’t, we’ll have to take other avenues.”

Those other avenues are pretty limited to some sort of surgery. If the shot has done the trick, Johnson could be back in three weeks or so. If he has to have surgery, it will be another four to six weeks from the time of the procedure before he can pick up a bat. The Yankees should know within the next 10 days whether surgery is necessary.

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May 14, 2010

A-Rod comes up grand in win vs. Twins

It looked as though the Yankees had let the Twins’ M&M brothers  beat them in the seventh inning, but Alex Rodriguez countered in the home half with his 19th career grand slam to pass Frank Robinson on the all-time home run list and lead the Yankees to an 8-4 win.

Quick ‘Cap:
After allowing a run in the second inning, A.J. Burnett escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam with no more damage. The Yankees tied and took the lead in the fourth on Brett Gardner’s second homer of the year and Robinson Cano’s RBI ground-rule double.

Joe Mauer’s solo shot in the fifth tied it up again, but Mark Teixeira answered in the bottom of the frame with an RBI double to regain the lead, 3-2. Joe Girardi switched out Burnett when he reached 100 pitches in the seventh inning to give Damaso Marte a shot against Mauer and Justin Morneau. But he didn’t retire either of them, as both scorched run-scoring hits to center to take a 4-3 lead.

A-Rod’s slam came with one out off pitcher Matt Guerrier, who had allowed three homers and four hits in six previous at-bats to A-Rod. Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera pitched the final two innings to wrap up the win. Twins-Yankees box score.

Thoughts:
The key to this game was the middle of the lineup waking up and coming together. Nos. 2-5 combined for 8-for-15 with seven RBIs and five runs.

Oh, and I’m not forgetting about Francisco Cervelli, who improved his numbers with runners in scoring position to an unbelievable 10-for-13 after he tripled home Juan Miranda in the eighth. Cervelli is hitting .415 on the year. Amazing.

Line of the Night:
Chamberlain: W, IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K. He has struck out seven of the last 10 hitters he’s faced over three games. And he’s made them all look foolish.

Up Next:
The Yankees look to make it 12 straight regular season wins against the Twins on Saturday. It’s going to be a great matchup of lefties too: Francisco Liriano and Andy Pettitte.

Twins-Yankees series preview

At this exact time last year, the Yankees epitomized their season as the “Year of the Walk-off” with three consecutive walk-off wins against the Twins.

This year, the Twins are leading the AL Central with a 22-12 record, which just so happens to be the Yankees record. However, the Rays hold a two-game lead in the AL East over the Yanks. The Yankees are 10-2 at home this year while the Twins are 10-6 on the road.

Pitching Matchups:

Date: Twins starters Yankees starters
Fri., 7:05 p.m. Scott Baker (4-2, 4.57) A.J. Burnett (4-1, 3.40)
Sat., 1:05 p.m. Francisco Liriano (4-1, 2.36) Andy Pettitte (4-0, 2.08)
Su ., 1:05 p.m. Nick Blackburn (3-1, 4.76) TBA


The Yankees are likely to go with Sergio Mitre (0-1, 3.86) on Sunday, but Joe Girardi hasn’t confirmed anything in case he has to use Mitre in relief in games 1 and 2. I’d assume Ivan Nova is the backup option if they do use Mitre in relief.

Players to Watch:
Twins: M&M Brothers
. With the Twins, it’s always Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer. Both are healthy and hitting well over .300. Morneau especially is having a big year, leading the majors  in OPS (1.138).

Yankees: Francisco Cervelli. It’s time the backup catcher got some recognition. He’s hitting .408/.482/.490 and is 9-for-12 with runners in scoring position! This guy will approach 300 mini fist-pumps at this pace.

Prediction:
This is a big series for both teams. The Twins are really going to want revenge after last year’s ALDS and the Yankees are playing a little shorthanded. Saturday’s southpaw showdown is a must-watch if you ask me. In the end, I say the Yankees take two of three.

Ex-Yanks regular season update No. 1

Here’s the first of many regular season update on some of the key Yankees who left the team this offseason.

Hitter (team) AB H AVG/OBP/SLG HR RBI
Johnny Damon (DET) 123 36 .293/.405/.439 2 15
Austin Jackson (DET) 148 51 .345/.390/.466 1 10
Hideki Matsui (LAA) 124 28 .226/.307/.371 4 15
Melky Cabrera (ATL) 107 21 .196/.283/.234 0 8
Xavier Nady (CHC) 43 8 .176/.327/.301 1 6
Jose Molina (Tor) 28 6 .214/.333/.250 0 3
Eric Hinske (ATL) 39 13 .333/.409/.538 0 13

Pitcher (team) G IP ERA K WHIP
Ian Kennedy (ARI) 7 44 3.48 35 1.11
Phil Coke (DET) 18 17.1 3.63 14 1.50
Brian Bruney (WAS) 18 16.2 6.48 16 2.22
Chien-Ming Wang (WAS) -- -- -- -- --

Notes on notables:
Austin Jackson: He’s still the league-leader in at-bats and hits. However, he also leads the league in strikeouts and hasn’t shown much production and/or power (as expected by Brian Cashman).

Hideki Matsui: He’s gone downhill ever since Opening Day. He’s got four hits in 36 at-bats in May. This comes as a surprise to me, as I expected his bat to stay consistent. Also: he has played four games in left field so far — his first time in the field since June 15, 2008.

Ian Kennedy: The numbers don’t lie, he’s been a quality starter for Arizona this year. What’s his worst is Curtis Granderson, the player he helped acquire, has been resting on the DL this month and is off to a slow start.

Chien-Ming Wang: He hasn’t pitched yet this year. The latest update came yesterday afternoon from the Washington Post. The Nationals are targeting a July debut for Wang.

Yankees minor league prospects update

While the Yankees are battling for tops in the AL East, prospects in Double-A and Triple-A are looking to show they are ready to compete at the big league level.

With Juan Miranda called up yesterday, the Yankees have now promoted seven players five weeks into the season. The farm system always makes an impact on the parent club because every team has to battle injuries and cold streaks.

Here’s an update on some of the top hitting and pitching prospects in the top levels of the organization.

Triple-A: Scranton/Wilkes Barre Yankees 
Jesus Montero C: Montero is far and away the Yankees top prospect, as some scouts ranked him the best hitter in the entire minor leagues heading into the year. Sadly for him, he hasn’t quite lived up to the high bill. He currently owns a .233/.295/.359 hitting line with just two homers and 13 RBIs in 103 at-bats. He also was benched last weekend for not running out a groundball. I don’t think it could get any worse for the 20-year-old catcher, who is yet to prove he can play the field at a high enough level.

Mark Melancon RHP: Melancon was called up in the beginning of May, but only for one less-than-spectacular performance. But he has continued to thrive in Scranton, posting a 4-1 record, a 3.00 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP in 21 innings. Jon Albaladejo is having a great year so far, better than Melancon’s, but Melancon is still the much better prospect.
Full Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Triple-A stats here.

Double-A: Trenton Thunder 
Austin Romine C: Romine, another good catching prospect, came out to a roaring start for the Thunder in 2010. At one point he rode a 16-game hitting streak to a .337 BA, but has slowed down a little bit to a .304/.377/.480 line. He’s known more for his defense, but it’s great to see his production and percentages improve. If Montero gets promoted at some point this season, Romine will surely be his replacement at Triple-A.

David Phelps RHP: Despite not being ranked in the top 10 of any well-known Yankee prospect lists, Phelps has been the Thunder’s top starter by a long shot. In the Eastern League, known for its quality pitching prospects, Phelps currently ranks second in ERA at a miniscule 1.60 tagged with a 0.98 WHIP. Since you probably haven’t heard of him, his arsenal features a low 90s fastball and a curveball. Here’s a link to a video of his windup.
Full Double-A stats here.

High-A: Tampa Yankees stats here.
Low-A: Charleston RiverDogs stats here.
(All of the used stats are prior to action on 5/14.)

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