August 31, 2010

Yankees playoff roster projection

I really hate counting out the Red Sox as early as I am, but I took the hint from their series loss to the Rays this past weekend. The Yankees and Rays remain tied with the best record in baseball and are heavy favorites to make the playoffs, so it’s time to start thinking about what their playoff rosters are going to look like.

Since I’m a Yankees blogger, I’m want to show you what I have in mind for them. By all means, make your case for players I reject. But please hear my cases for the fringe guys first!

The No-Doubters
Hitters (12)
Jorge Posada
Francisco Cervelli
Mark Teixeira
Lance Berkman
Robinson Cano
Derek Jeter
Alex Rodriguez
Brett Gardner
Curtis Granderson
Nick Swisher
Marcus Thames
Austin Kearns

Pitchers (8)
CC Sabathia
Andy Pettitte
Phil Hughes
Mariano Rivera
Joba Chamberlain
David Robertson
Boone Logan
Kerry Wood

I think it’s safe to say the Yankees will carry 14 hitters and 11 pitchers, so that leaves spots for two more hitters and three pitchers. Here we go:

The Fringe Guys
Ramiro Pena — I’ll take him over Eduardo Nunez as my backup infielder. Pena has far more major-league experience than Nunez and is better defensively at more positions. I think it’s a no-brainer right now, but this could change in September.

Greg Golson — This might come as a shock to you. He has five at-bats with the Yankees this year and I have him on their playoff roster. I think the Yankees would benefit more from a speedster off the bench than a third catcher because I see Marcus Thames and Lance Berkman sharing DH duties when Francisco Cervelli catches.

A.J. Burnett — I think he’ll make the roster, but I’m not sure if he’ll be in the rotation. Another poor start or two and I think Joe Girardi will kick him out to the bullpen (where I happen to think he could be great). He’s really the biggest question mark on the whole staff.

Javier Vazquez — Like Burnett, I don’t know whether he’ll be a starter or reliever, but I think he’ll make the roster. If he’s in the rotation, that means he’s back to mid-season form. If he’s still in the pen, then maybe Girardi doesn’t want to mess with what’s working. We’ll see. Ivan Nova is the guy I’m rejecting here.

Damaso Marte — Oh how much a big game in the World Series can mean for a player. Such is the case for Marte. There hasn’t been a lot of good news about his rehab, but if he can make a few appearances in late September I think that’s more than enough evidence for Girardi to choose him. Plus, Girardi loves left-handed relievers. Who doesn’t?

There you have it. I’ll post an updated version when late September rolls around, but until then you can feast on this. And if you’re really hungry, take a look at another perspective from a fellow Yankees blogger.

The Marcus Thames praise thread

With August injuries to Lance Berkman and Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees didn’t figure to have an offensive upgrade. But they have. In the six games Marcus Thames has started since those two injuries, the Bronx Bombers have averaged more than eight runs per game.

Thames is the only Yankee hitting over .300 in August, and he’s sitting at a cool .368 AVG with a .772 SLG.

However, with Berkman rehabbing in Trenton, Thames is likely to lose some playing time. Here’s what Joe Girardi had to say on the matter.

“He’s been big for us, there’s no doubt about it,” Girardi said (of Thames). “The key thing for us is getting people back healthy. That’s really important. I have some decisions to make, but the best thing would be for me to have to make some hard decisions.”

I think when Berkman returns you’ll see him starting strictly against righties while Thames will earn starts against southpaws.

Feel free to express your love for Thames in the comments.

Vazquez has Eiland to thank for recent success

Last night Javier Vazquez picked up his first win for the Yankees since July 26. Ever since Vazquez lost his spot in the rotation, he’s turned in two dominant long relief appearances (9 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K combined). Mike Mazzeo of the Star-Ledger reports pitching coach Dave Eiland made a minor change to Vazquez’s windup.

Vazquez’s fastball was regularly registering on the radar gun at 90 to 91-mph (last night), instead of its usual 87 to 88.

All it took was Vazquez moving his leg kick backward and in, which, in turn, allows him to have more momentum going forward. And, as a result, according to the right-hander, his ball doesn’t tail inside as much, because he’s throwing more over the top instead of dropping his arm slot.

I expected Joe Girardi to comment on the idea of reinserting Vazquez into the rotation. Last night he didn’t have much to say.

“As of now, we’re going to stay in rotation,” Girardi said. “But that could change.”

I think it should happen. The Yankees will probably keep Phil Hughes in the rotation the rest of the year to build his innings, so that leaves A.J. Burnett, Dustin Moseley or Ivan Nova as candidates to lose their spot.

The way Nova is pitching, I don’t think he’s going anywhere, especially as Moseley and Burnett are the ones pitching under par.

I say if Burnett delivers another poor start Wednesday, he should be moved to the bullpen. He certainly has bullpen-type stuff, as he’s a two-pitch pitcher and throws mid-nineties heat.

When (if) Andy Pettitte returns Girardi can change the rotation again to prepare for the postseason.

August 30, 2010

Tex and Cano sound off in 11-5 rout of A’s

The Yankees made a fool of Cy Young candidate Trevor Cahill tonight. He allowed eight earned runs, his highest total all year, and the Athletics fell hard to the Yankees, 11-5.

Best of All: Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher collected three hits apiece: a homer and a double for Teixeira, a homer for Cano and two doubles for Swisher.

Marcus Thames added a three-run bomb in the fifth to put the game out of reach.

Javier Vazquez delivered another strong outing out of the bullpen and earned his first win since July 26. He just may have earned his way back into the pen. More details here as they become available.

Worst of All: Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson missed out on the hit parade. Of the team’s 13 hits, none came off Jeter’s or Granderson’s bat.

Coming Up: Game 2 of this four-game series is Tuesday night. It’ll be Vin Mazzaro vs. Phil Hughes.

Athletics-Yankees series preview

The Athletics are in town this week, and so is Dallas Braden. Alex Rodriguez isn’t eligible to return in time for Thursday’s affair, possibly avoiding a major conflict.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, click here.

As for the rest of the series, the A’s are no slouch. They’re second in the AL West (well behind Texas) and hold the best team ERA in the league.

The Athletics pitching really has been phenomenal this year. However, I credit a lot of that success to their pitcher-friendly ballpark. Here are the splits:

Home: 2.86 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 458 Ks
Away: 4.17 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 397 Ks

The Yankees are just 14-13 in August, easily their worst month of the year, but still hold a share of the division lead and a 6.5-game lead over the Red Sox.

Head to Head:
The Yankees have won four of their six games against the Athletics this season, and swept them in Oakland last month. The Yankees need to take two games to secure a season series victory.

Pitching Matchups:

Date: Athletics starters Yankees starters
Mon., 7:05 p.m. Trevor Cahill (14-5, 2.43) Dustin Moseley (4-2, 4.53)
Tues., 7:05 p.m. Vin Mazzaro (6-6, 3.61) Phil Hughes (15-6, 4.12)
Wed., 7:07 p.m. B. Anderson (3-5, 3.32) A.J. Burnett (9-12, 5.17)
Thurs., 1:05 p.m. Dallas Braden (9-9, 3.28) CC Sabathia (18-5, 3.14)

Lineup Notes: Mark Teixeira is in the lineup tonight. He was in last night’s originally, but he was a late scratch. We’ll see if he’s healthy enough to play tonight.

The Yankees have a tough matchup tonight against a top candidate for the Cy Young Award, but I like the pitching matchups for the Yankees in the rest of the series. I bet Burnett brings his A-game Wednesday too. I say the Yanks take three out of four.

Poll Results: Lineup spots uncertain for Cano, A-Rod

poll results37The most recent poll results were inconclusive,  as fans voted evenly on whether or not Robinson Cano should hit cleanup when Alex Rodriguez returns from the disabled list.

The Yankees have a surprisingly great record without A-Rod in the lineup, but in an earlier post I found that is most likely due to facing weak opponents.

Cano’s numbers have been slightly better out of the cleanup spot than the five-hole, but only in a very small sample size.

Hitting fourth: 81 PA, 6 HR 20 RBI, 10 BB, 10 K, .338/.420/.648
Hitting fifth: 475 PA, 19 HR, 67 RBI, 38 BB, 51 K, .319/.379/.541

I say you stick with what’s worked all year. Cano is still very effective hitting fifth. Plus, A-Rod was heating up before he got injured.

August 29, 2010

Pettitte’s return vital to Yankees’ success

Great news for the Yankees: Andy Pettitte could be back in two weeks.

The Yankees haven’t been the same team since Pettitte hit the DL July 18, and their record shows it. New York was 58-33 (.637) on July 18, and are 21-17 (.553) ever since then.

Pettitte’s absence has affected the rest of the staff as well, accumulating a 4.18 ERA. The Yankees had the second best ERA in the league with him in the rotation.

In my opinion, the Yankees don’t have a prayer to repeat as champions without a healthy Pettitte. CC Sabathia has been outstanding, but he isn’t enough to carry them past deeper rotations.

Pettitte needs to return in the two weeks expected of him, and he needs to return to his great early-season form immediately.

August 28, 2010

Burnett bombed, Yankees fall hard

A.J. Burnett did not provide the boost the Yankees needed in the opening game of a three-game series against the White Sox. He was hit hard for nine runs, eight earned, and exited with one out in the fourth, as the Yankees were defeated 9-4.

Best of All: Nick Swisher had a two-run homer and a double. He also airmailed a throw to home plate, which forced a laugh out of me despite the Yankees getting romped.

Worst of All: Burnett is obviously the major cause for concern. The Star-Ledger reports his spot in the rotation may not be completely secure, as Joe Girardi said “we’ll evaluate after this weekend where we are and what we need to do.”

Derek Jeter went 0-for-4 with a groundout, strikeout, fly out and double play. But he wasn’t the only one; Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada each went 0-for-4 as well.

Coming Up: The Yankees play Saturday night at 7 p.m. with their ace on the mound and then 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon.

August 26, 2010

Analyzing Hughes’ and Swisher’s splits

In the past two years, two Yankees have had very, very abnormal home-road splits. Last year, Nick Swisher hit 72 percent of his homers away from the dinger-friendly Yankee Stadium. This year, Phil Hughes has allowed 19 home runs, 16 of which in the Bronx.

There’s really no explanation for either, but let’s dig a little deeper.

Last year, the most homers hit per game came at Yankee Stadium (1.261/game). This year, nothing’s changed. Yankee Stadium has yielded the most home runs per game in the majors at a mark of 1.553 per game.

So if you asked me which home-road split makes the most sense, it would be Hughes’. What in the world was Swisher thinking in the batter’s box at Yankee Stadium last year? Of course, this year his homers are split dead even home vs. road — 11 each.

August 25, 2010

Link dump: Theeee Yankees win, Steinbrenner, Damon, Kuroda, Lee

It’s my last day of my internship! Below are a few Yankees headlines you need to see.

Elston Howard Featured Card of the Week

The first African American to ever play for the Yankees, Elston Howard was a 12-time All-Star selection, two-time Gold Glove winner, six-time World Series champion and the 1963 MVP.

He isn’t a Hall of Famer, but his No. 32 is retired out in Monument Park.

Here are Howard’s career stats:

August 24, 2010

Javy booted to bullpen, Nova to rotation

This just in via LoHud:

Ivan Nova will start on Sunday. Javier Vazquez will move to the bullpen. Vazquez will be available in relief beginning tomorrow.

It’s a great call by the Yankees as far as I’m concerned. Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal outlined Vazquez’s season beautifully into three distinct segments: awful-great-awful. And it doesn’t seem likely that he’ll be climbing out of his latest hole. I gave up on him almost two weeks ago.

Nova, on the other hand, looked very sharp last night against a powerful Blue Jays lineup. He featured a live fastball, a biting breaking ball and a darting changeup, at times. According to the LoHud article, Joe Girardi hasn’t made any plans past this Sunday, but Jack Curry of YES did some reporting of his own:

Some Yankee officials envision a scenario where Nova stays in rotation 4 rest of season. Remember, Hughes has innings limit.

This makes perfect sense to me. Vazquez has clearly lost his  spot in the playoff rotation. Why not let a respectable prospect fill in and gain valuable major league experience? If he performs well, the Yankees will be able to sell him at a much higher price if they choose to this offseason.

Twitter: Red Sox claiming Damon to keep him away from Yankees, Rays

The Red Sox claimed Johnny Damon off waivers, but it’s up to Damon if he’ll make a return to Boston because of his no-trade clause. He has until 1:30 p.m. Wednesday to decide.

Red Sox blogger Chuck H. of Two Cents From Beantown wondered the same thing I wondered.

I'm not really clear what the Red Sox are hoping to achieve with this claim of Damon. I am confused. This team did ZERO at the trade deadline to improve this ball club, yet now they want to bring Johnny Jesus back into the fold to help them with the nearly impossible task of making the playoffs at this stage of the game?

Doesn't add up.

Couldn’t agree with Chuck more. The Red Sox are not COMPLETELY out of the playoff run yet; 5.5 games isn’t absurd when you consider how many times they face the Rays and Yankees down the stretch.

So why ‘d they do it?

A lot of people on Twitter added input to this discussion. The quick vote was 7-2 in favor of the Red Sox claiming Damon to prevent the Rays and Yankees from getting him, but take a look at what they had to say.
twitter responses 8.24

One tweet I’d like to discuss for a second is the one from truegrich. Would Damon hurt the Yankees if they acquired him?

I don’t think so. With Lance Berkman on the DL and Brett Gardner struggling, Damon would add a nice spark to the offense. And everyone knows he adds nothing but good to a clubhouse.

That being said, I’d rather have Manny Ramirez than Damon. But he’s not available, and likely wouldn’t be to the Yankees.

August 23, 2010

Boom goes Bautista and the Yanks fall, 3-2

The major league home run leader, Jose Bautista, went yard twice and drove in all three Toronto runs in a 3-2 win over the Yankees.

Best of All: Ivan Nova showed off his great stuff once again, probably earning himself another start, but Joe Girardi yanked him after just 73 pitches and 5-1/3 innings. His only blemish was a two-run homer to Bautista.

Robinson Cano had an RBI double and reached base three out of four times. He led off the ninth with a walk, but nobody could advance him.

Worst of All: The Yankees shouldn’t have let Bautista beat them. I don’t understand why teams aren’t pitching around him more. He’s got 40 homers now! At this rate, he’s looking at a 50-plus homer season. How do you let him beat you?

Brett Gardner went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in the leadoff spot. Derek Jeter had the night off, but pinch hit in the last inning and made the final out on a pop up in foul territory.

Coming Up: Game 2 of this series is Tuesday between Dustin Moseley and Marc Rzepczynski.

Yankees-Blue Jays series preview

The Blue Jays and Yankees kick off a three-game series in the Rogers Centre tonight. Ivan Nova will make his first major league start for the Yankees tonight, his third major league appearance.

Head to Head:
The Blue Jays lead the season series 5-4, and after this series these two teams face each other six more times in September.

Pitching Matchups:

Date: Yankees starters Blue Jays starters
Mon., 7:07 p.m. Ivan Nova (0-0, 0.00) B. Morrow (9-6, 4.45)
Tues., 7:07 p.m. D. Moseley (3-2, 4.76) M. Rzepczynski (1-1, 4.76)
Wed., 7:07 p.m. Phil Hughes (15-5, 3.90) Brett Cecil (10-6, 3.90)

Lineup Notes: The Yankees have benched Derek Jeter for the series opener, resulting in a weak bottom of the lineup.

This will be an interesting series. Nova makes an important start tonight, as he needs to get the Yankees going on the right foot to start this road trip. I think tonight will dictate whether the Yankees win or lose two out of three. Because I like the guy’s stuff, I say the win.

Is A-Rod’s DL stint a blessing in disguise?

How could the most expensive ballplayer make his team better by going on the DL? Alex Rodriguez was placed on the 15-day DL Saturday, but the Yankees haven’t lost once in 12 games with their star third baseman out of the lineup.

First, let’s take a closer look at those 12 games. There’s no way the Yankees could actually be a better team without a perennial All-Star, right?

Date Opponent Opponent Games Back Opponent Starter ERA Yankees Starter ERA RS RA
5/2 White Sox 6 5.30 1.44 12 3
5/28 Indians 10 3.69 2.70 8 2
6/11 Astros 10 3.18 2.46 4 3
6/12 Astros 11 5.60 5.43 9 3
6/13 Astros 11 6.32 3.11 9 5
6/15 Phillies 3.5 2.36 4.00 8 3
8/7 Red Sox 6 4.60 3.14 5 2
8/17 Tigers 11 3.77 3.12 6 2
8/18 Tigers 12 5.37 4.76 9 5
8/19 Tigers 12 5.76 3.90 11 5
8/21 Mariners 19.5 3.43 5.05 9 5
8/22 Mariners 20.5 4.57 3.02 10 0

The ERA stats may have something to do with it, but I think the biggest factor contributing to this odd streak of wins is the opponent. If you take the average of games behind the opposing team is in its division, it comes out to 11.04.

This is evidence that the Yankees aren’t necessarily a better team without A-Rod, but the teams they’ve faced haven’t been very challenging.

Of course, if you look at the Yankees upcoming schedule there aren’t many challenging teams. If he returns as soon as he’s eligible, he’ll miss five vs. Toronto, four vs. Oakland, three vs. the Chicago and he’s already missed two against the Mariners. The White Sox are the only team within five games of first place.

The Benefits of A-Rod’s Absence
Now we know the Yankees haven’t, and won’t be, facing a lot of competitive teams without A-Rod, let’s look at the bright side of his DL stint.

Super Nova Experiment: The only thing set in stone for Ivan Nova, the Yankees’ best starter in Triple-A this year, is he’ll make tonight’s start against the Blue Jays. After that, the plan for Nova is uncertain. Nova made one relief appearance for the Yanks earlier this year and I really liked what I saw. I love when the Yankees bring up new pitchers, and I’ll definitely be rooting for Nova tonight.

Cano’s MVP Chase: Robinson Cano isn’t the frontrunner for the MVP anymore with Miguel Cabrera and Josh Hamilton having the years they’re having. No matter what, Cano’s chances at the MVP Award are hurt because he plays for a team filled with All-Stars. Now that A-Rod is gone for a couple weeks, Cano will have a chance to prove he can put a team on his back. Yesterday’s game was a statement.

Grading Eduardo: Eduardo Nunez has started both games at third base since A-Rod went on the shelf, and he’s been solid in both. Nunez will likely stay on the 25-man roster through Aug. 31, meaning he’ll be eligible for the playoffs. If he proves his bat is worth having off the bench, he could possibly find himself a spot on the playoff roster. If not, at least the Yankees will have a better idea of what they’re getting from Nunez.

Poll results: Gardner should stay in lineup

poll results36 Eighty percent of fans voted to keep Brett Gardner in the lineup despite a small slump that started post-All-Star break. He’s picked it up in the past couple of weeks, but isn’t near the .320 batting average he once held.

I actually voted with the minority on this poll. Austin Kearns and Marcus Thames could provide a solid platoon for left field, and I think putting a little extra  pressure on Gardner to perform might pay off.

We all saw what a little kick in the rear end did for Joba Chamberlain. Why not try something similar with Gardner?

He would still be valuable to the Yankees as a pinch-runner. Plus, it would freshen up his legs, as fatigue has slowed his stolen base rate.

Next poll: Should Cano hit cleanup when A-Rod returns?

August 22, 2010

Guest Post: The Yankees’ non-existent strategy of keeping top prospects

Hey, I’m Ryan Kantor. I write a blog with my friend Tommy. Our blog is about sports, music, and politics, but we’re both Yankee fans and Lenny was nice enough to let me make a guest post on his wildly well-read Yankees Blog. So first of all, I want to thank Lenny for letting me do this and then I want to correct an incorrect perception.

You probably know about a lot of the young talent we’ve moved over the years (Mike Lowell, Ted Lilly, Jake Westbrook) but since we decided not to trade Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain for Johan Santana (great decision) there has been a perception that Brian Cashman is keeping all of our top prospects and aggressively building the farm season, and that just isn’t so.

In 2008 the Yankees moved a big package of talented prospects for just a little bit of major league talent. New York shipped talented outfielder Jose Tabata, and right-handed pitchers Daniel McCutchen, Jeff Karstens and Ross Ohlendorf to Pittsburgh. Tabata is now Pittsburgh’s young productive No. 2 hitter, and Ohlendorf has been a consistent arm in their rotation (I’d take him over A.J. Burnett and save the $16 million). The Yankees received Damaso Marte and Xavier Nady. Marte is currently on the DL while Nady is now on the Cubs.

This offseason, we moved another group of talented prospects in Phil Coke, Ian Kennedy, and most notably Austin Jackson for Curtis Granderson. Granderson’s struggles in New York and Jackson’s torrid start to the season have made some wonder if this was a wise move for the Yankees.

The point is not that Cashman is making bad trades and giving away prospects for nothing. Rather, it’s quite the opposite.

They gave up quite a lot for Marte and Nady. Nady only played in 66 games for New York, while Marte contributed a 5.40 ERA in 2008 and a 9.45 ERA in 2009. That being said, do you remember when Coke stopped getting people out in the 2009 postseason? Joe Girardi turned to Marte and he came through for them time and time again. Would we have won the World Series without him? Maybe, but who knows. Does the shiny set of rings justify the trade? Absolutely!

The Granderson trade looked pretty bad when Granderson was struggling and Jackson was raking, then Granderson went on the DL and it looked even worse. That said, would you rather have a rookie center fielder with two home runs and the AL lead in strikeouts or a 29 year old with some pop up at the plate in a meaningful October game?

The Yankees are at a point with their roster where it’s time to go all in. Exactly as the Los Angeles Lakers seem to recognize, Cashman and the Yankees know their core can only win 100+ games and add to the Yankees collection of World Series flags for another year or two. With Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriquez, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte at the end of their primes and CC Sabathia, Burnett, Mark Teixeira, and Nick Swisher already deep into their primes, what will this team look like in three years?

A lot goes into being a great GM, knowing what your team needs is critical, but knowing when they need it most may be just as important. This could be their last shot to win it all before entering rebuilding mode, so Cashman is going all in and I applaud him. The Yankees are placing their bet on themselves, and giving it one or two more shots with Jeter, Posada, Rivera, and the classic Yankees we have come to know and love.

Here’s to #28!

Thanks, Ryan! Great stuff. Make sure to check out Ryan’s blog for more of his commentary.

Robby’s 6 ribbies boost Yanks to 10-0 win

Robinson Cano drove in six runs, four coming on the Yankees’ 10th grand slam of the year, and CC Sabathia was lights out in a 10-0 win over the Mariners.

Best of All: Austin Kearns and Jorge Posada each added solo shots and Mark Teixeira reached base in all five of his at-bats.

Cano’s six RBIs tie a career high and bring him to 86 on the year. He’s never had a 100-RBI season.

The Yankees are now 12-0 this year without Alex Rodriguez in the lineup.

Worst of All: Every starter had at least one hit except for Brett Gardner, who walked twice and scored once. Marcus Thames was the only starter who didn’t score a run.

Coming Up: The Yankees hit the road this week for three in Toronto and then wrap up the week in Chicago.

August 21, 2010

Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos scouting reports

MLB Fanhouse’s Frankie Piliere brings us scouting reports of two of the Yankees’ top pitching prospects: Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances. Coincidentally, Josh Norris of The Trentonian is reporting both have been promoted to Double-A.

Banuelos scouting report: Piliere gave the 19-year-old southpaw plenty of praise in his report. Most notably, he confirmed his sudden increase in velocity (from 90-92 last year, 93-96 this year). Piliere concludes the report saying, “If he can remain healthy and keep his shorter frame in check, he is a true front-of-the-rotation type pitcher.”

Betances scouting report: The major question with Betances is his health. Piliere wrote the sky is the limit for the 6-foot-8 right-hander as long as he can stay healthy. He throws mid-nineties with decent control, and Piliere compared him to Josh Beckett.

This is obviously great news for the Yankees, as the organization is as strong as it has ever been from top to bottom. Just look at the Trention Thunder’s rotation, potentially, with these new additions:

1. Manny Banuelos
2. Dellin Betances
3. Hector Noesi
4. Andrew Brackman
5. Adam Warren

If you aren’t familiar with the Yankees’ prospects, Noesi and Brackman have had brilliant seasons thus far.

Consider this your mid-month Yankees minor league prospects report.

August 20, 2010

Mariners-Yankees series preview

Hopefully Felix Hernandez won’t steal too much wind out of the Yankees sails tonight, as he brings his high-nineties fastball and leads the Mariners into Yankee Stadium for a three-game series.

The Mariners have been a major disappointment this year, but, of course, they are cruising lately, winning seven of their last 10 games.

The Yankees are clinging to a one-game lead over the Rays, and are doing so despite an 8-10 August thus far.

Head to Head:
The Yankees are leading the season-series 4-3 and this is the last time they’ll face the Mariners this year. Consider yourself warned: King Felix has thrown two complete games in two tries against the Yanks this year. In those starts he struck out 20 Yanks and allowed one run, a solo shot to Nick Swisher.

Pitching Matchups:

Date: Mariners starters Yankees starters
Fri., 7:05 p.m. F. Hernandez (8-10, 2.62) A.J. Burnett (9-10, 4.66)
Sat., 1:05 p.m. Jason Vargas (9-5, 3.15) J. Vazquez (9-9, 4.89)
Sun., 1:05 p.m. Luke French (2-3, 4.02) CC Sabathia (16-5, 3.12)

Lineup Notes: Alex Rodriguez is back in the lineup tonight after missing the last three games against the Tigers due to a minor calf injury.

Surprisingly, Brett Gardner is hitting leadoff again despite A-Rod’s return. He has seemed a little more comfortable there the past few games and it took him out of his funk.

I was dead on with my call last series, so let’s see if I can come through again. Tonight will be a challenge, obviously (I just benched Burnett on my fantasy team), and I don’t like Vazquez’s chances tomorrow either. That leaves one small victory for the big man on Sunday.

Lupica: Padres’ success more impressive than Yankees’

I beg to differ.

Infamous New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica wrote a column praising the Padres for nearly matching the Yankees’ success this year despite spending $173 million less on players.

Bla bla bla … the Yankees are evil … bla bla bla.

Lupica forgot to mention one thing, and it seemed fairly obvious to me: Strength of schedule.

Yes, only a game-and-a-half separates the Friars and the Yanks, but the Yankees play the two toughest teams in baseball (besides themselves) more than most teams. Let’s compare divisions, shall we?

Yankees 75 46 .620 Padres 73 47 .608
Rays 74 47 .612 Giants 68 54 .557
Red Sox 69 53 .566 Rockies 62 58 .517
Blue Jays 63 57 .525 Dodgers 62 60 .508
Orioles 43 79 .352 Diamondbacks 47 75 .385
Total 324 282 .535 Total 312 294 .515

If you look at the MLB RPI rankings, the Yankees are well in front of the Padres in strength of schedule and are a few spots ahead in RPI.

So there.

P.S.: The last sentence of Lupica’s column will crack you up, unless you’re a Mets fan.

August 19, 2010

What was going through Eric Cooper’s mind when Gonzalez threw behind Jeter?

I’ll be honest, when I was at the game last night it was hard for me to pick up on the altercations that went on between the managers and home plate umpire Eric Cooper. But now that I’ve seen replays and read the stories, I’ve reached a few conclusions.

When Enrique Gonzalez threw behind Derek Jeter in the eighth inning, it was as obvious as it gets. It came right after Jim Leyland was ejected for arguing why Chad Gaudin should’ve been tossed for hitting Miguel Cabrera. So why didn’t Cooper run Gonzalez out of the game? I think because he didn’t throw out Gaudin, he was scared he would’ve been ridiculed for throwing out a Tiger but not a Yankee (to answer the question in the post title).

You’re also probably thinking, why didn’t Joe Girardi come out of the dugout to talk to Cooper about ejecting Gonzalez like Leyland did for Gaudin? Because the Yankees were winning. It wouldn’t have done any good. In my history watching Girardi, he tends to pick fights with umps when his team is behind (rightfully so, in my opinion).

Bean balls are, and always have been, a part of this game. It’s probably my least favorite part of the sport, but it’s not going away. When warnings are issued, both catchers have to factor that into their pitch selections, especially when working with a wild pitcher.

What I dislike most about bean balls are the way umpires deal with them. They’re inconsistent. Some have short leashes, and others are too scared to make the right call (like Cooper last night).

Let me digress quickly. Umpires also have inconsistent strike zones. Some like low pitches, some like high. Some are tight, some give the veterans pitchers off the black. Ask any major leaguer and they’ll agree with me.

I remember when I played on my American Legion team last summer and I was asked by my coach, an ex-pitcher in the majors, to intentionally throw at a player if the other team threw at one of our players.

Thankfully, I never was put in a situation where I was told to throw at a batter, but, it’s real, as my coach would say. And I don’t doubt him for a second.

If it were up to me to revise the current ejection and suspension policies for this, mine would be a lot harsher.

As I wrote this post, the Yankees dismantled the Tigers in the series finale, 11-5, to take the series.

Sometimes, the picture says it all

8.18 Amazing SkyI’ve learned a picture is worth a thousand words. The one above is no exception, as it sums up my night at Yankee Stadium beautifully. It only left out one thing.

The Kafafian Group knows how to party!

I was invited to attend last night’s Tigers-Yankees game by Jeff Marsico, a bank consultant in The Kafafian Group who follows my blog, and it was a no-brainer for me to accept. After all, I had never enjoyed the luxury of a party suite at Yankee Stadium.

Jeff and I met around 6 p.m. at Gate 4, and we hit it off from the moment we shook hands. He introduced me to his boss and his co-workers, who were all extremely pleasant to meet and be around, and then we made it to the suite.

8.18 Party Suite Complete with a table of hot dogs, pizza, chicken, popcorn an open bar and, of course, name tags, the suite was a success!

The only thing I’ve left out was the game, which I guess was OK too.

The first inning featured back-to-back homers from Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano, both of which were hit directly at our seats, and warnings issued to both teams.

In the second inning … just kidding. Not that it wasn’t exciting, but I’m not going to bore you through what you’ve probably already heard by now.

My memory of last night won’t be the game — even though six homers were hit and my team won — it will be the conversations I had with the new friends I made.

Despite most leaving a little early, they were the ones who made the night, not the stars on the field.

And how about a little icing on the cake?

Mmm. Good.

Thanks again, Jeff! For more pictures from last night, check out my blog’s Facebook page!

Berkman to DL, Eduardo Nunez called up

The Yankees’ newly acquired DH Lance Berkman will nurse his right ankle on the disabled list and the Yankees have taken action by calling up infield prospect Eduardo Nunez from Triple-A.

Nunez’s reputation in the minors is an infielder with a nice bat and weak fielding skills, but I don’t think we’ll be seeing much of him in the field with Ramiro Pena making web gems every night he plays. This is the first time Nunez has reached the majors.

I had a feeling Berkman wasn’t recovering from that ankle injury very quickly when I saw it happen live. If you missed it, Berkman hit a grounder to the right side and the pitcher covering stepped on the bag where Berkman’s foot was headed. I don’t think Berkman ever touched first base, and the video replay showed an ugly turn of his ankle.

By the way, I’ll have a post up with pics and video from last night’s game soon!

August 18, 2010

Pettitte suffers setback, out until ‘at least September’

Pettitte CC
The Yankees are being extra cautious with Andy Pettitte, who suffered a setback in his rehab yesterday and won’t return to the rotation until “at least September,” Joe Girardi said.

As Joel Sherman wrote in his column this morning, this means the Yankees will rely on CC Sabathia more than ever. With Javier Vazquez returning to his ugly, early-season form, and my bold prediction, the Yankees will have to hope for the best from A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes, who in my mind now are the likely candidates to tag along with Sabathia in the playoff rotation.

This may be tough for Yankees fans to grasp, as Pettitte was so valuable to the Yankees this season, but the fact is he’s 38 years old and having trouble recovering from a groin injury.

When a manager says a player is out at least until the last whole month of the season, it implies his return is in doubt. Of course, I’m  hoping Pettitte can return for the playoff rotation — he won the clinching game of all three playoff series last year, the first ever to do so — but, sadly, I don’t expect him to return.

Photo credit: Keith Alllison

Harry Bright Featured Card of the Week

Harry Bright played 64 games for the Yankees in his career and was known more for his extensive minor league career — 14 different clubs, a near-.400 season and 1,752 career hits.

Bright played every position except pitcher and shortstop as a major leaguer, and played third base, right field and first base for the Yankees.

He had two at-bats in the 1963 World Series, but struck out both times.

Yankees snap skid with clean win

The Yankees evened their series with the Tigers with a smooth, 6-2, victory last night. With an unusual lineup, Brett Gardner thrived in the leadoff spot and Nick Swisher drove in a pair from the five-hole.

Best of All: CC Sabathia earned his league-leading 16th win with seven strong innings. The big lefty struck out nine and walked three.

It was nice to see Robinson Cano connect for his first homer of the month and 22nd of the year. This probably isn’t a surprise to you based on the way he’s hitting lately, but Curtis Granderson homered again, his 12th.

Worst of All: Mark Teixeira was the only Yankee without a hit, as he posted an ugly 0-for-5 line with three strikeouts.

Coming Up: The third game of the series is tonight. Same time, same place, except I’ll be in attendance. Check back around game time for live updates from Yankee Stadium!

August 17, 2010

NY-Penn League All-Star Game today

Are you in the Greater New York area? Are you looking for an enjoyable experience tonight? If you answered yes to both questions, head over to Richmond County Bank Ballpark in Staten Island tonight to see the New York-Penn League All-Star Game.

Check out this video package New York City’s local news station put together for the event. The stadium has prepared for this day for a couple years, so it’s sure to be a success.

I actually had a chance to cover this game as a credentialed blogger, but I couldn’t make it for work-related reasons.

Five members of the Staten Island Yankees were selected to the All-Star Game: Pitchers Mikey O’Brien, Preston Claiborne, and Chase Whitley, shortstop Jose Mojica and outfielder Eduardo Sosa.

For more information on the All-Star Game festivities, here’s part of the press release:

A home run derby, team autograph sessions, batting practice, memorabilia auctions, a cap giveaway and post-game fireworks will all be part of the full lineup of activities as the Staten Island Yankees host the New York-Penn League All-Star Game  at the Richmond County Bank Ballpark. 

For a ticket price of $16, fans will be treated to one of the greatest family values in sports this year. Gates open at 3:00pm to begin the day’s events.  For only $18 per ticket (in groups of 10 or more) fans can enjoy All-You-Can-Eat hamburgers, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, soda, water and popcorn throughout the game. 

The best of the American League will take the field for batting practice followed by an autograph session. Next up, the best of the National League will take the field for batting practice and an autograph session where fans get their chance to meet the future stars of the MLB.  Fans will then be treated to a Home Run Derby starting at 5:45pm and first pitch is at 7:00pm. 

A limited edition Staten Island Yankees All-Star Game commemorative cap will be given away to all paid admissions and the 2009 New York Yankees World Series Trophy will be on display.

In addition to these pre-game activities, fans will be able to participate in three auctions. The first will involve the auctioning off of authentic New York Yankees signed memorabilia signed by such players as Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mariano Rivera, CC Sabathia and many more.  The second will see the All-Star jerseys auctioned right off the backs of the 2010 New York-Penn League All-Stars.  The New York-Penn League Charitable Foundation will also auction off signed baseballs by former NYPL players currently in the major leagues.  The NYPL All-Star Game and a post-game fireworks show complete the night’s festivities.

The All-Star Game events begin with a VIP Meet and Greet Reception at the St. George Theatre on Monday, August 16th at 6:00pm.  Seating is limited. Lucky fans in attendance will be the first to see the 2010 New York-Penn League All-Star Teams assembled together for the first time.  Fans will enjoy cocktails and dinner, provided by Centerplate, and a short program introducing the players and coaching staff.  The evening’s festivities will conclude with a musical tribute (by the Unexpected Boys) to Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons featuring such unforgettable hits as Sherry, Walk Like a Man, Oh, What a Night, Big Girls Don’t Cry, and many more!  If you are interested in attending the All-Star VIP Reception please call Tom Conway at (718) 313-1308.

For those in the family that might not be the biggest baseball fan in the world, there will be plenty to do and see at the All-Star Game.  Mascot and fan favorite, Scooter, will be roaming the stadium with cohorts, Huck and Red, bringing smiles to kids of all ages.  There is also the Staten Island Advance Fun Zone out by left field with Tee-Ball, Skee-Ball, Face Painting, Moon Bounce, Speed Pitches, and more to add to the fun.  Just in case there may be a bit of energy left after all of that, kids can run the bases after the game, where Scooter will be there waiting to high-five them as they round third base.

Damon hints at wishing he were a Yankee

Although I didn’t agree with the majority of John Harper’s column in today’s Daily News, I do think he shared some information that shows Johnny Damon second-guessing his (and Scott Boras’) negotiation tactics in December. Let’s get right to it:

…when he was asked if he would like to have the chance to go back to December and do things differently in regard to negotiations, Damon seemed to be looking for a way not to answer the question.

“Do I wish things would have gone differently?” he said. “I don't know. I definitely think things happen for a reason.”

I think we’d all have a better idea of Damon’s beliefs if we had the audio for this interview, as Moshe Mandel has proved sometimes reporters can take things out of context.

But, if Harper isn’t embellishing his interview point, it sounds a lot like Damon really was looking to avoid this question. I’ve been interviewed before, and repeating the question is a basic tactic for stalling to think of a dishonest answer.

Even more evidence of a dishonest response is resorting to a cliché. They’re easy to think up. And that’s what Damon did.

Although he’s stated publicly he likes it in Detroit, I bet he wishes he could hit a few more homers in his home ballpark. Don’t you think?

Cano’s OPS directly correlates to Yankees’ success

Cano OPS chart
Robinson Cano’s OPS has an 82.8 percent correlation to the Yankees winning percentage this year. (Click chart to enlarge.)

In this study, samples were taken every month, not daily. This definitely makes room for error, but I’d be shocked if Cano’s OPS didn’t have at least some correlation to the Yankees’ success.

Although Cano is slumping lately, there is some good news for Yankee fans. Cano has a career .919 OPS in September/October (.346/.369/.549). This means that if this study holds true for the rest of the season and Cano lives up to his track record, the Yankees will make a strong push for the division title come September.

Data collected by Andrew McDermott.

Yankees sign 16 of top 17 draft picks

Last night was the deadline for signing players out of the 2010 draft. Heading into deadline day, the only pick unsigned by the Yankees in their top 10 rounds was their fourth-rounder Mason Williams, but the Yankees signed him before the deadline last night. They signed 16 of their top 17 picks and 29 of their 50 overall.

For scouting reports on Cito Culver (1st round), Angelo Gumbs (2nd) and Robert Segedin (3rd), check out my posts from draft night.

For a complete list of the Yankees draft picks, head over to Baseball America. And if you’re really into prospects, go ahead and pay the fee to subscribe to Baseball America.

Also, check out The Yankee U’s take on the Yankees’ top 10 picks and more.

Yankees lose tight one to Tigers, A-Rod & Swish exit early

It was not a positive way to start the week for the Yankees, as they lost a heartbreaker to the Tigers, 3-1, as well as their All-Star third baseman and right fielder.

Best of All: Not much here. The run they scored in the ninth was gift-wrapped by Detroit closer Jose Valverde. He walked four in the inning but escaped when Derek Jeter grounded into a game-ending, 6-4-3 double play.

Oh! Excuse me, Curtis Granderson gave you a reason to smile. He had three of the Yankees’ six hits, including a single in the ninth and a double off lefty, ex-Yank Phil Coke in the seventh.

Worst of All: Where did the Yankee bats go? They were a couple outs away from getting shut out twice in a row.

Javier Vazquez worked his way out of a lot of trouble, but had to leave after four innings because of a high pitch count.

Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher left the game early and both are day-to-day.

Coming Up: There is a great matchup in the Bronx Tuesday night with two tall flamethrowers dueling. Justin Verlander vs. CC Sabathia.

August 16, 2010

Tigers-Yankees series preview

Johnny Damon and Austin Jackson make their season debuts in Yankee Stadium tonight, as the Tigers are in town for a four-game series.

For a check-in on all the ex-Yankees, check out my post earlier today for a complete update.

Head to Head:
The Yankees lost three out of four to the Tigers back in May and this week marks their final matchup of the season.

Pitching Matchups:

Date: Tigers starters Yankees starters
Mon., 7:05 p.m. Max Scherzer (7-9, 4.03) J. Vazquez (9-8, 4.90)
Tues., 7:05 p.m. J. Verlander (13-7, 3.72) CC Sabathia (15-5, 3.14)
Wed., 7:05 p.m. J. Bonderman (6-8, 5.16) D. Moseley (2-2, 4.41)
Thurs., 1:05 p.m. Rick Porcello (5-10, 5.53) Phil Hughes (14-5, 3.94)

Lineup Note: Both catchers are in the lineup tonight, leaving Lance Berkman on the bench.

The Yankees will win three out of four to even the season series. Tonight’s matchup will be tough, but I give the edge to the Yanks in the next three.

Ex-Yanks season update No. 4

Here’s another 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) 388 108 .278/.361/.425 7 39
Austin Jackson (DET) 436 132 .303/.355/.401 1 25
Hideki Matsui (LAA) 370 93 .251/.331/.416 15 59
Melky Cabrera (ATL) 349 94 .269/.329/.381 4 31
Xavier Nady (CHC) 169 39 .231/.304/.349 4 23
Jose Molina (Tor) 122 30 .246/.313/.377 4 9
Eric Hinske (ATL) 232 49 .254/.336/.461 9 42

Pitcher (team) G IP ERA K WHIP
Ian Kennedy (ARI) 24 146 4.38 124 1.25
Phil Coke (DET) 56 49.1 2.55 42 1.32
Brian Bruney (WAS) 19 17.2 7.64 16 2.32
Chien-Ming Wang (WAS) -- -- -- -- --

Notes on notables:
Melky Cabrera: Melky has finally picked up the pace for the Braves after an awful start. Since the last update, the Melk-Man is hitting .304 with a homer and seven RBIs.

Jose Molina: Slow-Mo-lina is in the midst of a rough stretch for the Blue Jays. All three of his averages dipped around 30 points since my last update.

Ian Kennedy: Kennedy has been a fairly steady presence in the D’Back rotation. But in his last six starts, only two have been quality.

Brian Bruney: Bruney hasn’t pitched for the Mets’ Triple-A team since July 27. He has a 3.18 ERA in 11-1/3 IP for the Bisons.

Chien-Ming Wang: The latest report on Wang is he’s scheduled for a side session this Friday, but recently the Nationals manager said he “isn’t counting on Wang” to return this season. Wang has pitched in just 27 games since 2008.

Yankees bullpen is hot, hot, hot!

The Yankees are off to their worst start to a month this season, but it’s not because of their bullpen. In fact, of their eight losses in August, the only one lost by a reliever was when Mariano Rivera allowed a walk-off homer to the Rangers.

The big four that have made the most difference are Boone Logan, David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain and Kerry Wood. Here’s a look at all four of their great stretches:

Player Since G IP K BB ERA
Logan 7/21 12 8.2 9 1 0.00
Robertson 7/4 16 15.2 21 9 0.00
Chamberlain 7/28 9 8.2 6 3 0.00
Wood 8/1 6 7.0 9 4 1.28
This is absolutely great to see down the stretch for the Yankees. Let’s just hope they haven’t caught fire too early.

Poll Results: Berkman shouldn’t hit 2nd

poll results35 Despite my best efforts to persuade fans Lance Berkman still has time to turn his stint with the Yankees around, the fans voted in convincing fashion Fat Elvis should remain low in the order.

I argued that Berkman’s track record is too good for him not to come around, similar to the way Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira inevitably broke out of their slumps this year.

But there’s always that chance I’m just totally wrong, when Berkman never quite figures out New York City. We’re just going to have to wait and see.

New poll: Should the Yankees bench Gardner?

August 15, 2010

Yankees shut out by former 1st-rounder

The Yankees failed to win the series finale against the Royals, as the first pick of the 2002 draft, Bryan Bullington, tossed eight innings of shutout ball in a 1-0 win. A.J. Burnett threw all eight innings but was the hard-luck loser.

Best of All: The Yankees didn’t get perfect game’d. Robinson Cano broke it up in the fifth, but Lance Berkman promptly grounded into a double play and rolled his ankle by stepping on Bullington’s heel. He’s day-to-day.

Brett Gardner got the only other Yankee hit, but he was caught stealing shortly after.

Worst of All: The Yankees’ woes against pitchers they’ve never seen before continued Sunday. I think t

The Yankees committed three errors on the day, including two on one play in the sixth.

Coming Up: The Yankees are back at home this week with series against the Tigers and Mariners.

My 2nd Citi Field experience (with pics): Deja vu all over again

When I saw the Mets play at Citi Field last year for the first time, I didn’t expect Bronson Arroyo to toss a shutout — but he did. When I was at the game last night, I expected Phillies ace Roy Halladay to do the same thing — and he nearly did.

Doc threw eight beautiful innings, holding the Mets to four hits without walking a batter and ousted Mets spot starter Pat Misch in a 4-0 win.

The Mets would’ve had a legitimate shot to win this game if it weren’t for their three ugly errors which cost Misch three unearned runs. Ruben Tejada’s attempted double play turn sailed into left field, Misch fielded a bunt and threw it into right field, and David Wright let a grounder go through his wickets.

Despite the errors, the most comical part of the night was listening to the boos from fans as Francisco Rodriguez trotted out from the bullpen. It was his first game of eligibility after assaulting his father-in-law.

Now for some pics:
8.14 Sea of red

Look at all of that red! In left field, there were more Phillies fans than Mets fans.
8.14 New Apple

The only time we saw the new home run apple was during the seventh inning stretch.
8.14 Home Run Apple Here’s a picture of the original home run apple, now located in front of the stadium.
8.14 View from seatsHere was the view from our seats ($20 face value).
8.14 Motley Crew And here were the bozos sitting in front of us. The guy on the right’s shirt says, “Don’t mess wit da Mets, Aaight!”

You can check out more photos from the game on my Facebook page!

August 14, 2010

A-Rod breaks out in Royal dismantling

While I was at Citi Field watching the Mets get embarrassed by rabid Phillies fans, the Yankees were at work in Kansas City. Alex Rodriguez powered the charge with his fourth career three-home run game and five RBIs in an 8-3 blasting of the Royals.

Best of All: It was A-Rod’s best game all season, and he put it all together in his last three at-bats. Even better news: A-Rod is saying Kevin Long found something in his swing that made the difference tonight.

Long has also made a big impact on Curtis Granderson, who slugged his 11th homer and hit two balls to the warning track tonight. I’m starting to think the new Yankees team MVP is K-Long.

Jorge Posada also homered and reached base in three out of five chances. Every Yankee hitter had at least one hit tonight.

Worst of All: Phil Hughes pitched a quality start, but didn’t strike out a single better.

Coming Up: The Yankees look for the series victory Sunday afternoon. Be sure to join the conversation with me on Twitter!

August 13, 2010

Discussion: Team chemistry and “clutch”

I hate to deviate away from the Yankees when they’re winning like this, but sometimes I like to analyze general baseball issues too. Give this article from The Faster Times a read: Can Team Chemistry and Clutch Hitting Be Analyzed Better?

It discusses two controversial subjects that I always love to discuss. I’ve touched on team chemistry on this blog before, and I still stand by my opinions, but not so much on the idea of “clutch” players.

The Faster Times article links you to an article from the Wall Street Journal yesterday about Francisco Cervelli’s clutch hitting. You can look deep into the numbers, and I mean, really deep, but in some situations I think observational analysis is more valuable than statistical analysis.

“[Cervelli’s] at-bats throughout the season with runners in scoring position have been real good,” Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long said. “Some people really bear down and they seize the moment, so to speak, a little bit more than others, and he seems to be one of those guys.”

I think Long describes clutch hitting perfectly here. Broadcasters will toss around that term loosely, but isn’t being “clutch” really just seizing the moment?

I believe team chemistry can generate wins, not just vice versa, and I believe some players are better at seizing the moment than others. I’m also willing to bet that, although they may seem like unrelated ideas, these  two concepts go hand in hand.

I’d love to hear your take on both these concepts in the comments.

Sabathia sets the tone for Royals series

The big Yankees’ ace CC Sabathia put on a show in the series opener with the Royals last night, as he fell just one out shy of completing the game, a 4-3 victory.

Best of All: With a reformed swing, Curtis Granderson notched two hits, including a double, against lefty starter Bruce Chen. It’s only one game, but there’s good reason to believe last night’s game was the start of a turnaround to his season.

Nick Swisher collected three hits and inched closer to the .300 mark. Austin Kearns hit his first homer as a Yankee in the fourth inning.

Worst of All: Mark Teixeira went 0-for-4 in his first game back after the birth of his child. Let’s hope he can return to home run-hitting form soon.

Coming Up: The second game of four is tonight at 8:10 p.m.

August 12, 2010

Yankees-Royals series preview

The Yankees start a four-games series with the lowly Royals tonight, and I’m betting the Yankees will be carrying quite a bit of momentum after last night’s comeback victory.

The Royals are tied with the Indians for last place in the AL Central and are well out of playoff contention. That doesn’t mean these are giveaway games for them, however; no games are.

Head to Head:
The Yankees took three out of four in late July, and this weekend is the last time the Royals will see the Yankees this year.

Pitching Matchups:

Date: Yankees starters Royals starters
Thurs., 8:10 p.m. CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.14) Bruce Chen (7-5, 4.44)
Fri., 8:10 p.m. D. Moseley (2-1, 3.86) Kyle Davies (5-7, 5.21)
Sat., 7:10 p.m. Phil Hughes (13-5, 3.92) S. O’Sullivan (1-3, 5.05)
Sun., 2:10 p.m. A.J. Burnett (9-9, 4.87) B. Bannister (7-11, 5.95)

As Kevin Rozell pointed out on his blog, this is the first series of a very easy stretch for the Yankees. I expect the Yankees to come away with wins in at least seven, hopefully eight, of their next 11 games. It all starts with a series victory against the Royals at worst.

Guest Post: Yankees stats galore

The Good:
The victory last night makes the Yankees the first team in the majors with 70 victories on the season. They also were the first to break 600 runs scored on the season, and regained sole possession of the best run differential in the majors.

The Bad
Mariano Rivera's ERA is still above 1.00. He needs to pitch another three scoreless innings to have his ERA below 1.00 again.

The Ugly: 
[Stat] 17 strikeouts in win vs. Rangers. 17!  (Became eighth team in baseball history to strike out 17+ times and score 7+ runs and win the game.)

[Batting] Nick Swisher. 5-for-23, 12 K in past 6 games. 

[Pitching]  Javier Vazquez. 16 IP, 13 ER, 22 H, 9 K, 7 BB in last 3 starts (7.31 ERA, 1.81 WHIP).

Looking Ahead: 
4 vs. Detroit (55-59), 3 vs. Seattle, (44-71), 3 at Toronto (59-54), 3 at Chicago (64-50), 4 vs. Oakland (57-56): 

Cumulative record: .491

This post was written by Andrew McDermott, my roommate at Quinnipiac University. Thanks for crunching the numbers, roomie!

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