July 31, 2011

Yankees notes: A win, a promotion, but no trades

A lot going on in baseball on this fine Sunday. Justin Verlander almost pitched his third career no-hitter, the Red Sox unofficially acquired Erik Bedard from the Mariners, the Indians traded for Ubaldo Jimenez, and much, much more.

The Yankees, however, didn’t make any of the major headlines. For the first time that I can remember, the Yankees didn’t add a single piece to their team before the trade deadline. I guess initial rumors were true in that the Yankees real acquisitions were just the returns of both Eric Chavez and Rafael Soriano.

Here are some Yankees news items to be aware of for Sunday.

  • Brian Cashman told Joel Sherman he was never close to doing a trade of any type. I was surprised they didn’t land anybody, but it sounds like they weren’t even close.
  • No trades? Fine. They’ll take a 4-2 win instead, completing a series victory against the Orioles. Brett Gardner led the way with a three-run triple and Freddy Garcia earned his 10th win. Derek Jeter exited early after being hit by a pitch but X-Rays were negative.
  • Manny Banuelos, a highly regarded prospect for the Yankees, was promoted from Double-A to Triple-A, according to Jack Curry. It’s nice to see the Yankees move a prospect at the deadline — within their organization.

July 28, 2011

A sad ending to Hideki Irabu’s memorable career

It appears Hideki Irabu took his own life at his home in Los Angeles today, a shocking ending to one of the most peculiar lives for a baseball player.

Irabu pitched in an independent league in 2009, and last pitched in the majors in 2002 with the Rangers. His first two professional seasons were in pinstripes, posting a 4.80 ERA with a 29-20 record.

George Steinbrenner once called him a “fat pussy toad,” immortalizing him in Yankees history.

This news ruined my day.

Guest Post: Moneyball: A great book, an upcoming movie, a correct baseball theory

Ryan writes a WordPress blog where he blogs about music, politics, and sports (namely the Yankees) with a graduate school classmate. He’s written for LenNY’s Yankees before when he discussed the Yankees false reluctance to move their top prospects. You can follow him on twitter @Ryan_Kantor.

I just finished reading Moneyball by Michael Lewis—a phenomenal book that explained how a more objective way of managing baseball was discovered and resisted. It was great for its statistical objective look at baseball, its bashing of Joe Morgan, and its nostalgic reminder of Scott Hatteberg, Chad Bradford, Jeremy Giambi, and the Oakland A’s always falling just a hair short of beating the Yankees.

There’s also a movie based on the book coming out on Sept. 23, with Brad Pitt playing the role of Billy Beane. It should be pretty good, but it’ll be hard for it to capture even half of what the book gets into. You can see the movie trailer here.

If you want to read a book review you can read one on my personal blog, but I’m going to use the rest of this post to discuss about the actual style of baseball that Moneyball purports.

July 26, 2011


Oh what a night. Not even two rain delays could stop CC Sabathia from picking up his major league leading 15th win. He flirted with perfection, struck out 14, but lost it all in the eighth. Fortunately, David Robertson bailed him out of yet another jam and Mariano Rivera did his thing in the ninth to preserve a 4-1 victory.

Scoreboard Says:
Yankees 4, Mariners 1
W: CC Sabathia
L: Doug Fister
S: Mariano Rivera

July 25, 2011

Paul O'Neill proposed to his wife over the phone on a collect call

Paul O'Neill proposed to his wife over the phone on a collect call, O’Neill said during tonight’s YES broadcast. He was in the minor leagues and couldn’t wait to see her in person, apparently.

UPDATE: Via BleedinYankeeBlu on Twitter: O’Neill called her father before proposing.

UPDATE II: She picked out a ring O’Neill couldn’t afford, but she’s upgraded a few times since then. He was playing in the Florida State League when he proposed as a 21-year-old. They met when they were five. “Love story for the ages,” Michael Kay said.

That’s all I’ve got. Carry on.

And you thought Curtis Granderson was having a good season

There’s no doubt about it: Curtis Granderson has been this season’s biggest surprise bat for the Yankees. But measuring by WAR, wins above replacement, he’s not even the best center fielder in the game today.

That honor goes to Jacoby Ellsbury, who boasts a 5.3 WAR compared to Granderson’s 4.8. Ellsbury only trails teammate Dustin Pedroia (5.7) and Jose Bautista (7.0) for the league lead in WAR.

For those who have doubts or are unfamiliar with WAR, it’s worth noting the Red Sox are the only team to have more than one hitter with a WAR in baseball’s top 10. And they have three, Adrian Gonzalez (4.7) being the third.

The Boston Globe’s Chad Finn sparked the idea for this article after posting one of his own this morning. Below is a quick comparison of Ellsbury and Granderson based on more commonly used statistics (leaders italicized).

Jacoby Ellsbury 16 58 74 31 .320 .893 5.3
Curtis Granderson 27 74 88 19 .265 .926 4.8

Nate’s Takes: Brandon Laird, Brett Gardner, Robinson Cano, Adam Warren

In any division besides the AL East, Yankee fans would be talking about how the Yankees are rolling and approaching 25 wins over .500. But in the AL East, Yankee fans can only look up at the red hot Red Sox and wonder if they can keep pace. The Yankees had a so-so road trip, splitting two of four against division rivals before almost sweeping the A’s.

Mark Texeria continues to have a terrible month, while Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon just won’t give up. The reinforcements are on their way as Eric Chavez and Rafael Soriano continue to rehab, and as the trade deadline approaches Yankee fans must sit back and see if Brian Cashman has anything up his sleeves. Here are my takes.

Poll Results: Fans split on Jesus Montero’s trade value

poll results84My latest poll was inconclusive, so the debate will linger until Sunday’s trade deadline. Would you include Jesus Montero in a trade for Ubaldo Jimenez? Some of you said yes, some said no, and one said as long as it would only be him in the deal.

This type of result tends to occur with prospect value. Some fans put an incredible value on potential, while others realize they are still just prospects. If that statement didn’t reveal my vote then I’ll be a little more blunt for you: Yes, the Yankees should absolutely include Montero in a trade for Jimenez.

July 21, 2011

Interview with John Smoltz on baseball, Mariano Rivera [Audio]

I had the opportunity yesterday at work to interview John Smoltz over the phone. We talked about the division races, awards, Red Sox and Yankees.

Smoltz is very well-spoken, as he has broadcast games for TBS and MLB Network ever since leaving baseball after 2009 (he hasn’t officially retired).

Here’s the audio:

I asked him about Mariano Rivera (begins at 6:12) when he got a chance to see him in the 1996 World Series, and if he knew right then that Rivera was the real deal. Surprisingly, he said, “no doubt,” he’d be special. Rivera was terrific in 1996, don’t get me wrong, but it’s hard to foresee a Hall of Fame type career for a reliever (there are so few).

For the full interview transcription, head over to Boston.com or read more below.

July 20, 2011

Luis Ayala steals foul ball from Rays fan with his hat [Video]

The stunned look on the Rays fan’s face is the reason for watching this video, not the nice grab by Luis Ayala. It looks like Ayala gave the ball back to the fan, but the video evidence was inconclusive.

Tonight’s matchup is Freddy Garcia vs. David Price. Should be fun.

Christian Lopez is a Steiner Sports receptionist … for a day [Photo]

christian lopezRecognize this guy? That’s Christian Lopez, the lucky fan who snagged Derek Jeter’s home run for hit No. 3,000. Eleven days after making a name for himself, he’s still reaping the benefits. It appears he’s spending the day with Steiner, doing memorabilia type things.

He also autographed a DJ3K ball with a note, “I caught DJ3K.” You can purchase that ball here for $34.99 (just type in your email address to view it).

July 19, 2011

Curtis Granderson featured on ESPN’s E:60 tonight [Video]

The Yankees are on at 7 p.m., but set your DVRs to ESPN during the game. Curtis Granderson will be featured on ESPN’s E:60, which might be the best show on that station. Click read more for the press release.

Right now, who do you want at second base: Robinson Cano or Dustin Pedroia?

Former Yankees beat writer and current Red Sox beat Peter Abraham posted an interesting comparison between Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia on his Extra Bases blog today.

He concludes: “You could not go wrong with either player. But right now, Pedroia is the clear choice given his 1.177 OPS in the last 35 games.” 

Both hitters are hot right now, so I don’t mind the comparison for “right now.” Cano is hitting .321 in July, just not as hot as Pedroia (.410).

The key distinguishing factor between these two is the ability to take pitches and walk. Cano has trouble with this while Pedroia thrives. Here’s a fun fact: the two second basemen have both struck out 50 times this season, but Pedroia has walked 47 more times.

July 18, 2011

Yankees-Rays Series Preview: Meet Brandon Laird

The Rays are probably a bit tired after last night’s 16-inning affair against the Red Sox. The Yankees can catch the Rays sleeping tonight, as the two AL East giants start a four-game series at the Trop.

On the Hill:
Monday: A.J. Burnett (8-7, 4.15) vs. Alex Cobb (2-0, 3.41)
Tuesday: Bartolo Colon (6-5, 3.47) vs. Jeremy Hellickson (8-7, 3.21)
Wednesday: Freddy Garcia (7-7, 3.43) vs. David Price (9-7, 3.73)
Thursday: CC Sabathia (14-4, 2.64) vs. James Shields (8-8, 2/60)

Rockies mistaking Ubaldo Jimenez for Roy Halladay in Yankees trade talks

Starting pitchers are hot commodities at the trade deadline. Always have been, always will be. But, according to Jon Heyman, the Rockies are going overboard in the preliminary negotiations with the Yankees for Ubaldo Jimenez.

how apart are rox, yanks? colo seeks banuelos, betances AND nova w/ montero. nyy says it wont trade any of those 3 w/ jesus

In other words, the Rockies want the Yankees’ top three prospects and a 24-year-old major league starter in exchange for a 5-8, 4.08 ERA pitcher.


Nate’s Takes: Jesus Montero, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova, Sergio Mitre, Joe Girardi’s dog

After an anti climatic All-Star Game the Yankees got off to a rough start in Toronto. Before that, Robinson Cano brought the Home Run Derby crown back to New York after his teammate Derek Jeter was bashed for making the first mistake in career full of perfection. In the past couple of days, CC Sabathia showed why he should be the front-runner for the AL Cy Young award and Brett Gardner showed why he should replace Jeter in the leadoff spot.

The Yankees right now find themselves in an interesting spot. With the trade deadline looming it’s hard to find a legitimate trade target that makes sense for them. The signing of Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon have worked out well so far, but who knows if they can keep it up. While the bullpen has suffered injury after injury, they still remain one of the best in baseball. While the lineup has had its ups and downs the Yankees feature one of the best lineups in baseball and have very little room for an acquisition.

One trade target the stands out is Ubaldo Jimenez. While the name sounds good, Jimenez has struggled for almost a year now. The Rockies would want a huge package in return starting with at least Jesus Montero. With the trade deadline approaching here are my takes.

Poll Results: Most people watched some of the All-Star Game

poll results83 Most voters said they watched some of last Tuesday’s All-Star Game. In other news, the sky is blue and grass is green.

OK, but I hope you know what I was getting at when I posed that question last week. There is so much wrong with baseball’s All-Star Game, from the fan voting to the game’s management to the impact on the World Series. Bud Selig only has one more year left in his reign over baseball. If he can’t change all — or at least some — of what is wrong with the Midsummer Classic, I hope his successor will be able to fix it.

Next poll: Would you include Jesus Montero in a trade for Ubaldo Jimenez?

July 14, 2011

Yankees-Blue Jays Series Preview: 2nd half begins

The Yankees begin the second half tied with the Red Sox in the loss column and two behind in the win column. Don’t fret, there’s still plenty of Boston-New York matchups ahead — nine, to be exact.

But first, the Yankees have another AL East foe to handle. The Blue Jays took three of eight games against the Yankees in the first half, and they’re set to begin a four-game series tonight.

On the Hill:
Thursday: Bartolo Colon (6-4, 3.20) vs. Jo-Jo Reyes (4-7, 4.57)
Friday: Freddy Garcia (7-6, 3.13) vs. Brandon Morrow (5-4, 4.60)
Saturday: CC Sabathia (13-4, 2.72) vs. Ricky Romero (7-8, 3.09)
Sunday: Phil Hughes (0-2, 10.57) vs. Carlos Villanueva (5-1, 2.99)

July 13, 2011

Sherman: Yankees rejected K-Rod deal

Via Joel Sherman’s Twitter:

Heard #Yankees rejected similar deal for K-Rod, in part, because then either Soriano or K-Rod have pitch 7th inning and (cont) #Mets

If you haven’t heard, Francisco Rodriguez wound up with the Brewers in exchange for two players to be named later.

It certainly would have been an interesting situation with two loose cannons in the bullpen who think they should be closing when there’s a guy named Mariano Rivera still in town. I think it’s a scene the Yankees were right to avoid, even though they could use some bullpen help to make up for all of their injuries. Your thoughts?

July 11, 2011

Robinson Cano representing Yankees in Home Run Derby

The Yankees have Robinson Cano representing them at tonight’s Home Run Derby. The lefty has 15 jacks this season.

Personally, I have to put my money on Adrian Gonzalez. His smooth swing reminds me of Bobby Abreu’s, and he won it a few years ago.

Who do you like? Follow my tweets during the Derby tonight @lenNYsYankees.

Nate’s Takes: CC Sabathia, Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, Russell Martin, trades

Hey Yankees fans, I have returned from my trip to Europe just in time to watch Derek Jeter make history. Only Derek Jeter could reach a milestone in the fashion and even the most optimistic Yankee fan couldn’t see that coming. Hopefully Jeter can start hitting right away, but in my opinion he should be moved down in the order as soon as possible.

While I was in Europe the Yankees were cruising and it seemed as though they were going to put some distance between them and the Red Sox. Unfortunately, after Mariano Rivera blew the save against the Mets, the Yankees proceeded to lose ground and now find themselves one game behind their rivals going into the break. With a lot of Yankees banged up, this break could not have come at a better time. Here are my takes:

Poll Results: Yankees need starting and relief help at trade deadline

poll results82Fans weren’t conclusive in my latest poll results, but one thing is for certain: the Yankees need to pursue pitching at the trade deadline.

This shouldn’t be news to anyone, as most contending teams will look to bolster their staffs at the deadline. The only teams who probably aren’t looking for pitching are the Phillies, Braves and Giants.

It’s still unclear whether teams will be buyers or sellers so it’s too early to tell which pitchers will be on the market. Felix Hernandez is the first name that comes to mind but NY Daily News beat Mark Feinsand unequivocally refuted that notion.

New poll: Will/did you watch the All-Star Game?

July 9, 2011

Derek Jeter homers for No. 3,000 [Video]

As the clock struck 2, No. 2 cranked a low curveball over the left-field fence for his 3,000th hit. Jorge Posada was the first to congratulate him at home plate and an on-field celebration ensued. Better quality video here.

Derek Jeter joined Wade Boggs as the only player to homer for No. 3,000. Meanwhile, he’s 4-for-4 and vying for the cycle.

The lucky fan who caught — picked up — the home run ball, Christian Lopez, showed a lot of class by giving the ball to the Yankees without a fight. The Yankees gave him several prizes in return, including tickets for the rest of the season through the World Series.

Obviously I will have more on this later. For the time being, congrats, Jeet!

July 8, 2011

Red Sox trade targets likely overlap with Yankees’

I compiled a list of players the Red Sox could potentially target for this year’s trade deadline for Boston.com — I’m working there this summer, don’t hate. The thing is, the Yankees are usually competing with the Red Sox to nab the top players available at the deadline, which is why I’m sharing this list.

I put asterisks next to the players who I thought would particularly make sense for the Yankees to pursue.

Yankees might be scouting Cubs John Grabow, Aramis Ramirez & Alfonso Soriano

The Yankees had three scouts at yesterday’s Nationals-Cubs game, and ESPN Chicago’s Bruce Levine says, “it appears the Yankees may have some interest in Cubs left-handed reliever John Grabow as well as hitters such as Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano.”

The Yankees were also linked to Nationals lefty reliever Sean Burnett yesterday, originally reported by Craig Heist of WTOP 103.5 FM in Washington (via MLBTR).

Below are quick profiles for all four possible Yankees’ trade targets.

July 7, 2011

Nike’s Derek Jeter 3,000 hit T-shirts are awesome

And I thought Jeter’s 2,722 T-shirt was cool (see below).

Sadly, I won’t be at the stadium to see Derek Jeter get his 3,000th hit (unless it takes him until July 30) like I was to see him pass Lou Gehrig. But I’m not going to miss out on snagging this T-shirt. It’s a thing of beauty, and it also comes in navy.

Rays-Yankees Series Preview: Finishing the 1st half

In the last series before the All-Star break, the Yankees face division foe Tampa Bay in a four-game series at Yankee Stadium.

The Rays are 5-5 in their last 10 and the Yankees are coming off their first series loss since the Red Sox swept them nearly a month ago.

On the Hill:
Thursday: Jeff Niemann (3-4, 5.05) vs. Bartolo Colon (6-3, 2.88)
Friday: Jeremy Hellickson (8-7, 3.21) vs. Freddy Garcia (7-6, 3.13)
Saturday: David Price (8-7, 3.56) vs. A.J. Burnett (8-7, 4.12)
Sunday: James Shields (8-6, 2.47) vs. CC Sabathia (12-4, 2.90)

July 6, 2011

Derek Jeter Featured Card of the Week, again

And why not?

I made an attempt to shine the spotlight on Phil Hughes’s return tonight, but that was an impossible endeavor with the most popular baseball player on the planet vying for 3,000 hits on ESPN tonight.

July 5, 2011

When should Joe Girardi bite the bullet and move Derek Jeter down in the order?

Yes, I have more Derek Jeter commentary from Tyler Kepner’s column I alluded to earlier this morning.

As usual, Kepner penned an excellent piece. He didn’t dance around the tough Jeter lineup question, and he also acknowledged Joe Girardi’s points about keeping him as a leadoff hitter.

“I think people sometimes manage short term,” Girardi said. “When [Brett Gardner] was in the leadoff spot and wasn’t hitting, everyone wanted me to move him out of the leadoff spot.”

As Kepner later mentioned, Jeter isn’t just going through a cold spell; he hasn’t hit like the 3,000-hit Jeter since 2009.

Derek Jeter doesn’t always get the Yankees on cable at his home in Tampa

I’ve successfully blocked out yesterday’s 6-3 loss with this stunning news about Derek Jeter culled from Tyler Kepner’s column.

Jeter deflected a few tough questions by saying he could not always watch the Yankees play on his cable system at home in Tampa, Fla.

A man as rich as Jeter can’t watch his own team from his castle in Tampa, but me, a college journalist living in the heart of Red Sox Nation, watches the Yankees nightly without any trouble. Quite the conundrum, isn’t it?

July 4, 2011

Rosenthal: Yankees to pursue relief help at trade deadline

Via Ken Rosenthal:

The Yankees, knowing that the trade market is thin in quality starting pitching, likely will pursue relievers aggressively after suffering numerous injuries in their bullpen.

The report mentioned Padres closer Heath Bell, who is having another stellar season.

Rosenthal is right, kind of. The Yankees have had the worst luck with injuries to their bullpen this season. Losing Rafael Soriano, Joba Chamberlain, Pedro Feliciano and Damaso Marte for extended periods of time hasn’t made it easy for the Yankees. Plus, the trade market for starting pitchers will likely be incredibly thin.

Poll Results: Fans happy with Yankees season

poll results81What more could you ask for on this beautiful July 4 holiday? Derek Jeter returns from the disabled list to continue his pursuit of 3,000 hits, the Yankees have won seven of their last eight games, and they hold a 1.5 game lead over the Red Sox.

Oh, and in case you missed it, six Yankees made the All-Star team, four of whom will start. CC Sabathia (11-4, 3.05 ERA) did not make the team, however, because he’s scheduled to start two days before the All-Star Game. (If you ask me, CC should at least be recognized as an All-Star.)

July 1, 2011

Yankees likely have two undeserving All-Star starters

Every year, the fans miss a few players — and the reason for that usually circles back to New York’s overwhelming fan base. You could even blame mainstream media for not giving enough credit to some of these snubs, but for some players the fans just get it wrong.

Yankees who deserved to make the team (and likely will):
1. Mark TeixeiraAdrian Gonzalez (.352, 16 HR, 71 RBI) is the sure bet starter, but Teixeira (.243, 25 HR, 63 RBI) continues to pump out homers.

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