Category Archives: Personal Opinion
Two weeks ago, it appeared that the Alex Rodriguez era in New York was coming to a crashing conclusion. MLB had announced they are seeking to suspend him and about twenty other ballplayers for having connections to Anthony Bosch, the PED supplier from the Biogenesis clinic in Miami.
Many Yankees fans reacted with pure joy, believing that A-Rod and his mess of a contract could finally be shed by the team. With him taking only baby steps in his long road back from a second hip surgery, the looming 100-game suspension almost certainly would ensure that 2013 would be a year without the 37-year old has-been slugger.
As the Yanks had just gotten Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis back off of the disabled list, there was little doubt that the team wouldn’t continue its surprisingly hot start to the season. Yet, just returning home after losing six out of ten games on the West Coast, the Bombers have hit a low point. The offense can barely score more than two runs a game, and the pitching has been average at best.
Adding injury to insult, Tex and Youk were both placed back on the disabled list with the same injuries that had them land on it in the first place. Inflammation in the right wrist for Mark, and a herniated disc for Kevin, one that was just operated on and will take 10-12 weeks at the minimum to heal.
If it explains their anemic performance since first returning from the DL, so be it. But the fact remains that the disabled list has once again inflated back to including all of the potent Yankee hitters not named Robinson Cano. With Youkilis almost certainly done for the year, and the constant threat of Teixeira suffering the same fate, it is not looking promising for the lineup to get any better any time soon.
That is, until A-Rod comes back.
You read that right. As far as the public knows, the only evidence MLB has been able to sniff out of Biogenesis is the journal of names and drugs Bosch allegedly kept for keeping tabs on all his clients. If I were a betting man, the investigation could go on well into the winter. Meaning (when he is physically ready), A-Rod can come back and be re-inserted as the team’s everyday third baseman.
It sounds ridiculous and trust me it’s not something I want to see happen. I am just like the common fan who would forever love Brian Cashman if he was able to get #13 out of the Bronx somehow. But, putting all the baggage Rodriguez brings with him aside, the Yankees need offense in the worst way possible. The trade market looks incredibly thin for impact bats, and the Yankees probably don’t have the pieces to acquire one even if they tried to.
So if I’m the Yankees and I can count on A-Rod hitting .280, driving in runs, and having the occasional power to hit one out, why the hell wouldn’t he be welcomed back? The fact is, no one knows if Curtis Granderson will still have enough pop in his broken hands to be the main power source of the lineup, or if Derek Jeter’s cranky ankle will hold up for him to be a reliable top-of-the-order hitter for the stretch run.
At this point in the year, as the lineup looks as bad as its been in decades, Alex Rodriguez may be the last hope for the Yankees to have a shot at competing for a playoff spot. The Red Sox, Orioles, and Rays are not going away anytime soon, and they have the younger, more athletic, and overall healthier ball-clubs.
Counting on Lyle Overbay, Vernon Wells, and Travis Hafner to be a potent middle-of-the-order bunch come the dog days of summer and the tense moments of a pennant race is not the way to go. As lost as the season once seemed for the Yankees’ oldest, most banged-up stars, it may be up to the Captain, and more importantly A-Rod alone, to keep Yankee Stadium’s lights glowing for the month of October.
As crazy as it sounds, it may be the only rational route to another Yankee playoff berth.
First, there was 20-year old Phil Hughes, a hard throwing right-hander who drew comparisons to Roger Clemens as he advanced through the farm system. Drafted 23rd overall in the 2004 amateur draft, the Yankees had high hopes that finally, after a dry spell of All-Star caliber players emerging from the minors, that Hughes would become their ace for the next decade. Due to injuries to the pitching staff, he came up and made his debut on April 26th, 2007, finishing the year with 72.2 innings under his belt and a respectable 4.46 ERA for such a young starting pitcher in such a ferocious AL East division.
Then there was Joba Chamberlain, who was drafted 41st overall in 2006. Not even a full calendar year after signing his first contract, the then 21-year old Joba burst upon the scene when he pumped 100 mph fastballs past a dazed Blue Jays team in Toronto on August 7th. His pure dominance of each batter he faced allowed Joe Torre to entrust him with the eighth inning job, setting up Mariano Rivera. Like Mo had done years prior, it was the hope of the organization that Joba would start out as the bridge to a dominant closer, and then become one. Allowing one earned run in 24 innings surely reassured any of the doubters.
Since such promising starts to their careers in ’07, both Hughes and Chamberlain have endured injuries, moves into and out of the bullpen, and flat out inconsistent performances. There have certainly been bright spots along the way for both hurlers, however.
Hughes pitched to a 3.03 ERA in 2009, starting out as a starter and then filling the role of set-up man admirably. And after permanently being put back into the rotation in 2010, he won 18 games. Also, Joba was putting together a terrific 2011 season [2.83 ERA in 28.2 innings pitched] before he underwent Tommy John surgery.
Yet, to claim their Yankee careers to date have been successful ones would probably be a misguided belief. They are now in what are considered their “prime” years, and yet 2013 has been one of the ugliest for Joba and Phil. Of course, with the offense the pitching staff has to deal with or lack thereof, both are certainly under a lot of stress and any small mistakes they make are magnified like never before. But, there is no escaping the fact that both of them have underperformed, no matter the circumstances.
Yes, Hughes has had his share of good starts this season, but they are normally sandwiched in-between horrible outings. It is still fresh in this fan’s mind that he allowed 7 runs in the first inning to the Mariners, who in all respect have a better offense than last season, but certainly not good enough to put up rallies like that against even an average starter. But as I said, then he goes out the other night in Seattle against the very same team and throws seven shutout innings. It’s frustrating, bizarre, and as much potential as he has to be great every night, the times that he isn’t have really cost the Yankees so far this year.
At this point it really doesn’t matter what Joba Chamberlain does, because he is in the doghouse for eternity with Yankee fans. No matter how he “shushed” Mariano Rivera, all I care about is what happens on the field, and even still Joba has been disappointing. Granted, he did miss practically the whole month of May with a strained right oblique, but collectively in 2013 he has given up three more hits than innings pitched, a red flag right off the bat. Even when he has an “effective” outing, he still often gets into trouble by nibbling at the corners and forgetting that he boasts a 95 mph fastball that still has some bite left in it. He too has been such a streaky pitcher, and ultimately you’d have to hope it wouldn’t last long in New York. Right?
Well, that is why I strongly consider that the Yankees trade not just one of them, but both Joba and Phil. Like I started the article saying, these two guys have been here for a long time, and it certainly would be odd not seeing them in the dugout or on the mound every other day. But it’s been shown that when they are “on”, Chamberlain and Hughes can be two of the most dominating pitchers in the American League, and that potential alone attracts pitching-deprived teams.
With the way the Yankees lineup has fallen into its worst slump since likely before I was born, I am shocked there aren’t many rumors going around about the team trading some of its pitchers. The pitching has been tremendous, Hughes and Joba aside, so what is holding back Cashman from dumping them off for a bat? I’m not talking players. A literal bat.
Maybe I’m being too harsh, but the fact remains that the Yankees are not a better team with Joba and Hughes on the roster than they are with them off it. Now I have no specific players I would target, which may be where my argument falls a bit flat, but there has to be a match somewhere. There always is, if the Yankees want one. It would be bittersweet to trade Joba, and especially Hughes, but giving up on these guys in a trade would be a signal to me that the Yanks are not by any means ready to surrender their AL East crown, which is still very much in reach with the right reinforcements.
Get to work Cash. You too Joba and Phil.
Anyone watching Sportscenter for the last week or so has seen Dodgers OF Yasiel Puig put on a show, cracking opposite field HRs and gunning runners out from RF. He has jump-started the anemic Dodgers offense and energized their fan base while looking like a young Bo Jackson on the field. Watching Puig and being reminded of fellow Cuban OF Yoenis Cespedes while playing the A’s tonight, I couldn’t help but cringe when thinking that both of these talents were available to the Yankees a little more than a year ago. At a time when the Yankees offense is putrid and their corner OFs are the worst in baseball it is very frustrating
Puig was one of 3 talented Cuban OFs who were available to the highest bidder in 2012. Cespedes and highly regarded Cubs prospect Jorge Soler were the other 2. Many of us fans thought the Yankees would sign at least one of them and it’s beginning to look like they made a big mistake by passing on these talents. Under Brian Cashman’s leadership, the Yankees have become extremely conservative on the International Free Agent market. After being burned by the signings of Hideki Irabu and Kei Igawa, the team has refused to spend significant money on any IFA. In an interview this winter with Drew Voros, Cashman said. “We have learned over time to be very conservative and cautious in acquiring pitching talent from Japan, for instance. It’s a different game there”
Cashman has been applying that conservative approach to all IFAs, signing only a few low-priced players like Adonis Garcia and Ronnier Mustelier. While it’s natural to be conservative, it seems the team has become gun-shy and is more afraid of making a mistake. When you have the largest payroll in MLB, you can afford to take some risks on high-upside talents. While it’s true you cannot expect success in Japan, Cuba, Korea or any other league to equate to success in MLB, talent plays anywhere. And that is where the Yankees are missing the boat. If a 20-yr old LHP in the U.S. was consistently throwing 98-100 MPH or when a trio of young OFs are displaying 4 out of 5 plus tools or a 6’5′ 225 pitcher is throwing 3 plus MLB pitches with great command and poise, you have to get involved! The Yanks let all of the above players pass them by when all they would cost was money….no draft picks, no players in trade. Where else can the Yankees obtain talent like that? The answer is no where. While I think the Yanks did well in this year’s amateur draft, they never have access to elite amateur talent picking at the end of the first round and the financial restraints put on them in the new CBA when it comes to signing amateur foreigners, they are going to have trouble finding high-end talent there also. Well, no problem, the Yankees have always just been able to buy Free Agents at the Major League level, right? Well that window has been closing also. Teams are locking up their young talented players before they become FAs and the small number of big talents that do hit the open market are able to command huge salaries since so many teams have money to spend.
The Yankees MUST become players on the IFA market again. They are paying $27 Million for washed up Vernon Wells and Ichiro to play LF and RF this year and next – approximately $6.5M per yr for each of them. Meanwhile, 22-yr old stud Yasiel Puig signed with LA for $6 Million a year for 7 years and the A’s 27-yr old slugging OF Yoenis Cespedes (36 HRs and .843 OPS in 181 games) is earning $9M per season over 4 years. And they aren’t the only IFA players doing well. Japanese OF Norichi Aoki had a strong year for Milwaukee last season hitting .288 with 10 HRs and 30 SBs and is hitting .300 with a .375 OBP this season while earning just $1.25 M per yr (plus a $2.5M posting fee for his rights). These are just some IFA OFs who were signed in the last year or2 but there are other IFAs all over MLB from Shin-Soo-Choo to Dayan Viciedo to Alexi Ramirez, etc.
There has also been a wave of talented foreign pitchers doing well in MLB the last year or 2 also. The 100-MPH lefty I mentioned of course is Reds closer Aroldis Chapman who has a 15.4 K/9. Texas Ace Yu Darvish was a guy I thought the Yanks should have been all over. He’s a true #1 type starter in his prime at just 26 and signed for the extremely reasonable 6 years @ $56M. An ace pitcher hitting the FA market would get nearly triple that. And make no mistake about it, Darvish is an Ace. He’s 7-2 with a 2.75 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and a 12.0 K/9 pitching in the offensive haven of Texas. And he’s not alone as a front-end starter, Korean LHP Ryu-Hyu Jin is 6-2 with a 2.89 era in his first year for the Dodgers, Japanese RHP Hisashi Iwakuma is 7-1 with a 1.89 ERA and 0.81 WHIP for Seattle in his 2nd season and 27-yr old Taiwanese LHP Wei-Yin Chen has been Baltimore’s best starter the last year and a half.
It’s time for the Yankees to dive back in to the IFA waters. George Steinbrenner was a trailblazer who was all over talented IFAs. While it worked brilliantly with Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez and Hideki Matsui, the failures of Irabu and Igawa seem to have the Yankee brass afraid today. It is poor reasoning to write off all big-ticket IFAs because of a couple of failures. This is the last market where the Yankees money can be used to acquire high-end talent. Amateur IFAs are subject to spending limits and penalties in the CBA but for veteran IFAs 23 and older, it’s still an open market and one which the Yankees must begin to capitalize on or they will have to continue to spend their money on the veteran has-beens like Wells and Ichiro.
During Brett Gardner‘s career, he has always displayed the perfect approach and skill set for a leadoff hitter. He takes a lot of pitches, draws walks, slaps the ball on the ground and runs like the wind. However, because of the Yankees loaded offense and the presence of Derek Jeter, Brett never settled into the leadoff spot for the Yankees until this year. Finally getting the opportunity to lead off everyday, for the first time in his career Gardner has not produced like a typical leadoff hitter. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but Brett is definitely getting different results.
He is still doing a fine job of working pitchers as he is 12th in the A.L. with 4.17 Pitches per Plate Appearance. However, he is swinging at more of those pitches, putting more of those pitches into play and Walking less. His Walk Rate is a career low 8.9% which has led to a semi-disappointing .333 OBP which is about 20 points below his career average. Per this Fangraphs article, he has is swinging at 42% of pitches this year which is a 8.3% jump from his previous 4 seasons – a bigger jump than anyone in MLB over the same period of time. He is also swinging at the 1st pitch more than twice as much as before and hitting the ball on the Ground less (from 51% to 40%).
But the results of this change in approach isn’t just a reduce in Walks and OBP%, Brett is driving the ball with much more authority this year. His 6 HRs are just 1 below his career-high and he’s also on pace for career-highs in Doubles and Triples. His .429 SLG% is 4th on the team behind only Cano, Hafner & Overbay and he is behind only the same 3 players for the team lead in RBIs with 26. For a leadoff man in a weak lineup to drive in that any runs is impressive and means he’s getting a lot of big hits. 15 of those RBIs have come on 2-out hits when he has done most of his damage this year hitting .322/.365/.525/.891.
Watching the games it’s evident Brett is more comfortable with his swing and driving the ball with more authority than any time in his career. Although his .265 Batting Average this yr is the same as his career mark, the type of hits he’s getting has changed. In his last 2 full yrs of 2010-11, he had 48 infield hits which made up 18.2% of all his base hits. This yr, he has legged out just 4 hits which is just 6.9% of all his hits. Speaking of legging it out, Brett has not had a great year on the bases with just 9 steals in 14 attempts – a far cry from the 49 and 46 SBs he had in 2011 & 10, respectively. I think there are 3 main reasons for this, the first being less chances. His SB opportunities have decreased because of the drop in OBP% and the increase in extra base hits. He’s simply been on First base less. The other reason is Robinson Cano has been batting 2nd most of the year. Cano is a free swinger and Girardi doesn’t want to send the runner too often with his best hitter at the plate. The last reason is he hasn’t been good leading off in the 1st inning with just a .208 BA and .296 OBP. That is the only time he’s assured of batting with no one in front of him but he’s struggled for whatever reason. I think that will level out and he’ll steal more as the season progresses.
Are these changes in Gardner’s game a good thing? I think they are. I’ve always thought that Gardner could put up better power numbers and a higher average because he has shown the ability in the past for spurts. But he always seemed conflicted between being the hitter he is now and the slap-hitting ground ball machine he often was. While I’d like to see him getting on base more often out of the leadoff spot, I like the confidence and more aggressive approach at the plate. The Yanks have been starving for run production this year and Gardner has stepped it up. If he can begin to incorporate the power gains with the Walks & SBs of previous years, he will really be something special. He’s also providing his offense out of CF now, where he should have been years ago. His defense has not slipped a bit moving from LF to CF and he’s truly one of the game’s best defensive OFs.
Publicized to incredible heights, Kevin Youkilis and Mark Teixeira were in the Yankees’ lineup last night as they opened up a three-game set with the Red Sox. After being swept by the Mets in a Subway Series where the offense never really posed a threat, re-acquiring [in a sense] two former All-Stars to bolster the middle of the order certainly is the biggest boost the Yanks will get all year.
Up until this week, the team had been excelling with the likes of Lyle Overbay, Vernon Wells, and Travis Hafner, but right now it appears they all are out of gas. The lineup’s struggles do not fall on their shoulders alone, but all three look lost at the plate and are shells of the .300 hitters they were for the month of April. Even Robinson Cano went through a cold streak, as he fell into the habit of trying to make contact with anything near the strike zone, which resulted in pop ups, ground outs, strike outs, and only the occasional bloop single.
Robbie did go 2 for 4 with a home run in Thursday night’s loss to the Mets, so he may be coming out of it. But the fact remains that he alone cannot carry the offense, and though the pitching has been solid the saying holds true that, “you can’t win if you can’t score.”
So unfortunately as we expected, the return of Tex and Youk can not just be a sight for sore eyes. These two sluggers must produce like they have in the past, otherwise the team could find itself battling it out with the Blue Jays in last place by the end of next week.
Maybe I’m over-exaggerating, but the upcoming schedule offers little time for the Yankees to struggle like they just did. As detailed the re-tooled Red Sox are at the top of the division and intend to stay there through the weekend, while next week Terry Francona will look to re-establish himself as a man no one wants to see in the opposing dugout when his Indians come for a visit. After that it’s off to the West Coast to battle it out with the Mariners, Athletics, and Angels – all of them improving and posing a real threat. Anything worse than a .500 record in those games and this joyful, miracle-like season could quickly turn to despair and doubt.
Am I saying Teixeira and Youkilis will decide our fate? Of course not. Robinson Cano needs to start hitting like he’s capable of doing, and Vernon Wells needs to stop hitting as he did with the Angels, as in, poorly. Overall, the Yankees have hit better than predicted, as they’ve scored just enough to win in numerous games. But now they aren’t, and it concerns me greatly.
Perhaps it’s the simple fact that the replacement-level guys such as Overbay, Pronk, and Wells couldn’t carry the team as much as we thought they could when everything was dandy in Yankeeland. Ultimately they were going to break down, and it looks like now is the time. Getting back Teixeira and Youkilis is a huge boost, but if that boost isn’t visible over the next two weeks, to paraphrase a baseball quote to fit this new month – “you can’t win a division in June, but you sure can lose one.”
The Subway Series didn’t get off to a great start for the Yankees, but what happened in yesterday’s game still left me with a smile on my face; even after the game was long over.
When you think of the Subway Series going into last night, you would think Robinson Cano vs. David Wright as the rivalry within the rivalry, them being the gigantic catalysts in bringing their team out in front during the games and leading their teams to victory. However, yesterday’s game had two players that you last expected to attempt to lead their teams to victory: Brett Gardner vs. Daniel Murphy. Gardner won the battle for his team, but Murphy won the war that night. Let’s rewind to last night, shall we?
Gardner commits Grand Larceny (on a HR): Daniel Murphy was entirely sure that he hit a HR to deep left-center. He was sure he had enough to give his team the lead–until Brett Gardner ran all the way to the track and robbed Murphy of a 2-run HR. Murphy’s reaction to Gardner’s catch was priceless: he took his helmet off his head and threw it to the ground, causing Yankees fans like myself to emit laughter, even through the commercial break. Even after the loss, I still had a smile on my face. Yes, I was ecstatic about the Gardner catch–but Murphy’s reaction is what kept me in a good mood.
Tickets to Citi-Field? $50
Subway Sandwiches? $9
Daniel Murphy’s reaction to Brett Gardner’s catch? Priceless. Everything’s better when you’re a Yankees fan.
Murphy extracts revenge (and wins the game for the Mets): In the 8th inning is where it got grim for the Yankees. David Robertson was one out away from getting out of the inning tied…until Daniel Murphy lined a base-hit…in front of Brett Gardner. Daniel Murphy’s reaction? He flipped the bat to the ground as if he hit a HR, walked to first base, then pumped his fist. Yeah, Mets fans may have liked that…but I didn’t. Let’s just say that my reaction to Murphy getting the game winning single mirrored his reaction innings earlier (I took my Yankees cap off and threw it to the ground). Don’t worry–the hat has recovered from collecting dust from hitting the floor.
Even if it was just for yesterday, the fact that Brett Gardner and Daniel Murphy were looking for ways to one-up another was exciting to watch. We all know that Daniel Murphy was ecstatic for winning the game for the Mets. Brett Gardner had trouble being upset about the loss–especially after the catch he made during the game. And frankly, I don’t blame him one bit.
Let’s be honest. When the “Yankees” lined up down the first base line on Opening Day, was this a team you were ready to watch for 162 games? Probably not.
Sure, there was Robinson Cano. You may have spotted Brett Gardner and Ichiro as well. But besides them, did anyone else catch your eye? Kevin Youkilis in pinstripes was “something else”, but what I mean is, did you feel comfortable relying on Lyle Overbay at first, or Vernon Wells in left? I don’t think so.
Where was Nick Swisher, the heart and soul of the team the past four seasons? What about Russell Martin, our Munson-esque backstop? How could we possibly win with these replacement-level, over the hill scrubs?
These questions and more swirled through many fans’ heads as the Yankees opened up the season back in April. Numerous analysts were picking them to finish last, and if they weren’t that harsh, they still predicted them to miss the playoffs.
Now of course it’s still early in the season, but who could have thought just how different the first month and a half would play out on the field, than we thought it would in our minds.
Here are our 2013 Yankees, at 22-13, first place in the A.L. East. A familiar sight without a doubt, but how they’ve gotten to the top of the division is as unusual as it’s ever been in the Bronx. Absent are the headlining stars – Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Curtis Granderson – and present are former big name players revitalizing their careers, and youngsters trying to sink their teeth into the major leagues.
They still hit home runs like the usual Bombers, but win close games more often than not with solid pitching and nearly flawless defense. When was the last time those two aspects were keys to winning for the Yankees? It may have been in the playoffs, but certainly not on the path to get them there.
As mentioned, injuries have paved the way for players young and old to make an impact in pinstripes. Vernon Wells is second to Robbie Cano in runs scored, home runs, and average, Lyle Overbay already has 20 RBI, and Travis Hafner has made a fairly big impact when it matters with his still ferocious bat. Austin Romine, Preston Claiborne, Adam Warren, [and soon David Adams] have all made their big-league debuts and figure to be relied upon more as the days get longer and the season moves into the dog days of summer.
It’s hard to pinpoint the last time the Yankees have had so many role players, rather than superstars, and have been A) successful, and B) fun to watch. Maybe sometime in the 90’s, but they never went anywhere.
Sensing the sarcasm, no, this roster right now is not world championship worthy, and it will be a big help when everyone comes back off the DL. But, when they do, don’t be so willing to part with the Overbays, Hafners, and Wellses of the world.
Because truth be told, they’re the reason why Tex, Grandy, A-Rod and the Captain will jump right back into a pennant race they can win.
Keep it up guys…
Outside of baseball, 42 is a random number. It could be an age or how much of something one person possesses.
But in baseball, 42 takes on a whole new meaning.
42 was the number that belonged to none other than Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier on April 15, 1947 for the Brooklyn Dodgers (now known as the Los Angeles Dodgers). And because of Jackie Robinson, baseball is what it is today.
Jack Roosevelt “Jackie” Robinson was born in Cairo, Georgia on January 31, 1919, the youngest of five children. When he was a high school student, he took up multiple sports ranging from track-and-field, football, tennis, basketball and most importantly of all, baseball. He was the shortstop and catcher on his school baseball team, quarterback on the football team and guard on the basketball team. It was no secret that Jackie Robinson was an athletic individual but he would face challenges that gave him a whole new perspective on the game.
When Robinson enrolled in Pasadena Junior College, he made the baseball team. He was the lead-off man and the shortstop but most importantly, most of his teammates were white. Robinson developed his combativeness towards racial antagonism when he was arrested in 1938 after he vocally disputed the detention of a black friend to police. Robinson was hit with a two-year suspension and after his brother Frank Robinson was killed in an automobile accident, he transferred to UCLA to be closer to Frank’s family.
Like other ball-players in the early 1940′s, Robinson was in the Army although he was never sent overseas. He served as an army athletics coach until he was honorably discharged in 1944. It was then when a former player of the Kansas City Monarchs suggested that Robinson write a letter to the Monarchs co-owner Thomas Baird to ask for a tryout. And that’s exactly what Robinson did. He received an offer in 1945 from the Monarchs to play for their ball-club. The contract was $400 ($5,101 in 2013 dollars) per month, and Robinson couldn’t say no.
While Robinson played for the Kansas City Monarchs, few major league teams were interested in adding a black player to their ball-club. The Red Sox were one of the first teams to show interest, although it was later revealed to be a farce, and were the last team to integrate their roster fourteen years later. The team that showed the most interest in Jackie Robinson–the Brooklyn Dodgers, run by Branch Rickey. Rickey interviewed Robinson, and in a famous three-hour conversation, questioned whether or not Robinson could control his tempter against racial antagonism.
”Are you looking for a Negro who’s afraid to fight back?” Robinson was aghast.
”No.” Rickey replied. “I need a Negro player with guts enough not to fight back.”
Robinson agreed to turn the other cheek and on November 1, 1945, Robinson was signed to a minor league contract, beginning the 1946 season with the Montreal Royals.
In 1947, the Brooklyn Dodgers purchased Robinson’s contract, making him their opening day first baseman. He didn’t have a base-hit his first game, but walked and scored in the Dodgers 5-3 victory. Robinson was received generally positive, although mixed with newspapers and white major-league players. However, there was racial tension in the Dodgers clubhouse. Players would sign petitions and order they wouldn’t play unless Robinson didn’t, but Dodgers managing wouldn’t have it. Robinson was here to stay.
He also faced racial discrimination among other teams, some teams targeting Robinson physically during games. With the antagonism and despair, most players would have given up. But not Jackie Robinson. Robinson had support from players such as his own teammate Pee Wee Reese, who put his arm around Robinson’s shoulder in response to the racial slurs Robinson was receiving during a game in Cincinnati. Pee Wee Reese once famously said these words:
”You can hate a man for many reasons. Color is not one of them.”
At the end of his rookie season, Robinson’s line was .297/.383/.427, earning him the award for Rookie of The Year.
After nine years with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Robinson retired from baseball, but his impact on the game will forever be imprinted on the number Robinson wore the last nine years: number 42.
On April 15, 1997, Major League Baseball universally retired the number 42, although players that already had the number would be grandfathered in, allowing them to keep the number until the day they retire. Future Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera is the last player to wear the number 42. Rivera considers it an honor, and is thankful for what Jackie Robinson had done for baseball.
”Jackie Robinson was a great man.” Rivera told ESPN over the weekend during the Baltimore Orioles series at Yankee Stadium. “I have always said that wearing this number is a privilege and a great responsibility. To represent what Jackie Robinson represented for us, as a minority, and for all of baseball in general, it’s tremendous.”
To the Yankees, Jackie Robinson represents a lot. If Jackie Robinson didn’t have the courage or strength to do what he did, we wouldn’t see players such as Curtis Granderson, Mariano Rivera, CC Sabathia or Robinson Cano on the roster–or in the Major Leagues.
”As a baseball player, number 42, without it, I’m not here talking to you.” Curtis Granderson said during an interview with MLB.com. “42 has done amazing things for not only Africans-Americans…but for the globalization of the game.”
”The way he handled himself was unbelievable.” Cano, who pays homage to Jackie Robinson by wearing 24 (the reverse of number 42) said. “I don’t know if I would of had the same courage he had back in the day. That’s somebody that we truly learn from. Not only fighting for ourselves but look how he opened the doors for everybody. Look how different is baseball today. It’s not about one country, it’s about one world. “
”Doesn’t matter where you came from, doesn’t matter what your background is. Your effective impact moving forward is the way that your life should be, and that’s what Jackie did.” Granderson said. “He came from where he was, he broke through the barriers, continued to move in and we still continue to talk about his name now and we will continue to talk about his name forever.”
Following a long awaited start to major league games that count, the minor leagues kicked off last week with opening series against the Red Sox affiliates. Over the past months we at YFU have brought you numerous prospect profiles along with our top 40 in the system list, so many of you will be familiar with the names thrown around here in the regularly scheduled recaps. Each week we’ll highlight performances and keep you updated on some of the bigger names in the system, along with some who should be on the radar soon. Without further ado, let’s get rolling.
The newly coined RailRiders kicked off the season with a thud, losing 4 straight and going 1-5 in what was a dismal, rainy start to the season. Like the parent club, SWB missed their last two games due to inclement weather, and luckily so. There’s been a bit of good news though, and that starts with budding catcher Austin Romine who went 7/18 with 3BB’s and 8K’s. No extra base hits yet, but it’s ggod to see him out there and making a bit of contact. Addison Maruszak stepped in at short and drew 5 walks to one strikeout while going 4/11. Melky Mesa is busy doing his best windmill impression, hitting .250 while whiffing 13! times. Newly re-signed Mike Adams is struggling to get going with just three hits in 15 AB’s, but has walked as many times as he’s struck out (4). 2B Corban Joseph is also off to a sluggish start going 5/23 with 5BB’s and 4K’s. Good to see at the least his plate discipline is holding fast.
On the pitching end Vidal Nuno continues to shine. He went from an impressive 2012 campaign to shining in winter ball, carried that opver to major league spring training and he still hasn’t stopped. The soft tosser didn’t pick up a win, but threw 11.2 IP of 3 run ball on 6 hits, walking none and striking out twelve. Aside from the guys already in the BX, Nuno is making a strong case to be the next in line for a spot in the rotation or that of long man. I iamgine he could serve as a lefty reliever, but he shouldn’t be limited to short bursts and lefties only. Dellin Betances also made his debut and threw 4 innings of 2 run ball on three hits and two walks, striking out four. He started off a bit shaky and then settled in. Normally a stat line like this wouldn’t be much to speak of, but considering the drubbing he took last year this is actually a good sign. Sinkerballer Brett Marshall was toasted in his outing, giving up 5 runs on 6 hits over 3.2 innings. He walked and struck out four. Mark Montgomery got in five innings of work and gave up a home run….the second of his professional career spanning over 100 innings. I suppose he’s allowed. He conceded only one run and four hits, walking none and knocking out nine. Left Juan Cedeno has been solid, going 3.1 innings, allowing a lone run on one walk and four K’s. Craig Claiborne also had a good week, throwing 3.1 innings of two hit ball, walking none and striking out four.
The Thunder have quite a team this year, sporting several players in the top 20 of the system, with a few more likely to join them later this year. They ended the week 4-3 backed by Neil Medchill, who went 9/23 with three 2B’s and 2 HR’s, driving in 8 runs. Catcher JR Muprphy is focusing more on his bat this year now that his defense is well on it’s way, going 6/23 with a HR, driving in 4, taking 4 walks and striking out 4 times. Ramon Flores is sputtering a bit with only 8 hits in 33 AB’s including a double and three RBI’s. The notable part of his line is that he’s only taken 2 walks while striking out 9 times. He’s considered one of the better disciplined hitters in the system so let’s hope he gets himself adjusted to AA ball. Fellow outfielders Slade Heathcott and Tyler Austin are having their struggles getting used to a new level as well. Slade has gone 7/29, albeit with a pair of doubles and a triple, but had some early strikeout woes ending the week with 8 K’s and 3 BB’s. Austin went 6/31 with three doubles and a HR, driving in three while striking out 11 times. Let’s hope he can get his feet under him as he adjusts to life in Trenton. 1B Kyle Roller chipped in 6 RBI’s this week including a HR.
The Thunder pitching has gotten knocked around a bit, namely southpaw Nik Turley who made two starts this week, going 8.2 innings, allowing 9 runs on 14 hits. He walked four and struck out 6. Matt Tracy made his brief debut, recording a single out before getting yanked for giving up 5 runs. He walked the park (4) and recorded a K in his only out. Zach Nuding had the best debut, allowing just a single run in his two starts totaling 9.2 innings and 11 hits. He walked four and struck out eight. Newly converted starter Francisco Rondon threw 5 innings of 3 run ball, all on HR’s, and all to right handers. We’ll see how long this experiment lasts, as he could be a very effective guy out of the bullpen for the Bombers. Kelvin Perez, who may be a victim of the numbers game finds himself back in Trenton after making his way to AAA last year, went 5 IP, allowing just two hits while striking out five. Branden Pinder has gotten kicked around thus far, allowing 8ER over just 4.2IP. Tommy Kahnle is also off to a shaky start, albeit not as ugly as Pinder’s. He’s allowed a pair of runs to cross the plate in his two innings pitched, walking two and striking out a pair. Jeremy Bleich….yep, that Jeremy Bleich has returned to the fray pitching in relief. He’s tossed 5.1 scoreless innings on 5 hits, walking three and striking out four.
Tampa sports the other half of our top four prospects in Gary Sanchez and Mason Williams. Gary has picked up where he left off, going 11/30 with four 2B’s and four RBI’s. He’s taken one free pass and struck out four times. Mason is getting back into the swing of things after having season ending shoulder surgery last year. He went 7/27 with a pair of doubles, walking 6 times and striking out 7. New to the Tampa club is Angelo Gumbs, who is struggling as of now in a 3/30 slump, a triple his only XBH. He’s walked once while striking out five times and swiping a pair of bases. Another outfielder to keep an eye on is Ben Gamel, who I spoke with Matt about earlier in the offseason, regarding why he was left off the top 40 list. It was for the most part a matter of too many players and not enough chairs, and at that point in the list you could re-write it a dozen times and make a case for a myriad of endings. Gamel is one to watch though, and from all accounts he added some mass to his frame over the winter and should see a power spike this year. If that comes to fruition he’ll be making his way up the best of sheets in no time. The kid can hit, but for a corner outfielder he’s going to have to add some pop. He’s had a nice start to the year showing some gap power with 5 of his 11 hits going for doubles. He’s walked twice, struck out four times and stolen two bases.
Bryan Mitchell led the team in innings this week, tossing 12 while allowing 4 runs on 8 hits. He walked five and struck out ten. Corey Black added 11 innings of his own, giving up 3 runs on 9 hits. He walked four and struck out ten. He was also noted to be in the low to mid 90′s, touching 96 at times. He has no problem getting it up there, but maintaining that velocity through the latter innings has been his issue. He’ll need to show he can build up some stamina or he could be off to the pen. Nothing wrong wit ha late inning guy that can dial it up to triple digits, but you can’t blame them for trying to get as many innings out of him as they can. Scottie Allen and Shane Green combined for 11 innings of two run ball, Mikey O’brien pitched 4.2 innings allowing 3 runs on five hits. He walked none and struck out four. Nick Goody, who was invited to big league camp but missed most of it due to a sprained ankle as the result of a car accident returned to action, pitching 3 innings of one run ball on two hits. He walked two and struck out three. Once he gets rolling he could be a quick mover, and a trip to Trenton is not out of the question later this season. Manny Barreda chipped in 2 innings of one hit ball while Sean Black added 3 innings of 3 hit ball.
Cito Culver is the big news this week for the RiverDogs. Over the winter he decided to ditch the whole swithc hitting thing and go solely as a right hander. He also gave up the high leg kick for one more abbreviated and so far the results have been outstanding. He kicked off opening week going 11/37, which included three 2B’s, a 3B, and 2 HR’s. No…that’s not a typo. Cito went deep twice in the same game and has amassed about a third as many XBH/s in the first 8 games as he did all of last year. Small sample size admitted, but he looks damn good at the plate. Robert Refsnyder rolled in with nine hits of his own, including three doubles. He drove in one, took four walks, struck out five times and stole four bags. He’s getting used to life at second base and could give Gumbs a run for his money as best in the system at that spot. Greg Bird, who is now a 1B after back problems moved him away from catcher, started off the year going 10/30 with a double a HR and 4 RBI’s. He’s walked eight times while striking out ten. Taylor Dugas is also off to a good start, going 9/26 with a double. He’s driven in a pair, walked four times, struck out twice and stolen two bases. Dante Bichette was getting it going later in the week and finished 6/33 with a pair of HR’s (one a grandy) and 11 RBI’s. He also adjusted his swing over the winter, so keep an eye on him even if last year soured you on his future.
Two of our more interesting pitching prospects currently reside here, first in Jose Campos, the other piece in “The Trade” who went down with elbow inflammation early last year. He made his first start in 11 months, and was a little rusty, He allowed 4 ER on 4 hits including a HR, while walking one and striking out three. Cobwebs i’m sure…he has great stuff and is pretty polished for his age. Expect a lot more from him moving forward. Rafael DePaula was the big story this week. He rang in his stateside debut with a bang…er, K. Eleven of them actually. He went about 70 pitches in his opener and knocked out eleven of the nineteen batters he faced. He made another start later in the week and was a little wild, giving up four free passes. He finished off with 6.1 IP, 6H, 4ER, 5BB, 16K and 2 HB. There’s a lot to look forward to with this guy as he has some great stuff coming from a good sized frame and free and easy delivery. Gabe Encinas had a nice little game of his own, going 6 innings and allowing just one hit. He walked three and struck out four. Even Rutckyj pitched five shutout innings of his own, allowing 3 hits and two walks against one K. Daniel Camarena had a rough first week, allowing 5ER on 11H, walking one and recording not a single strikeout. Charlie Short, Ben Paullus and Alex Smith pitched a combined 13.2 innings of eight hit ball, striking out 20 while walking just five.
That’s it for our first week in review, tune in every Friday for the rundowns of all our minor league action, and keep an eye out for more prospect profiles, as well as some articles detailing the upcoming 2013 first year player draft.
The Yankees bullpen was supposed to be a strength this year, just like it has been throughout the Joe Girardi era. One of Girardi’s biggest strengths as a manager has been his bullpen management, as he usually never overworks anybody. Bad starting pitching has forced his hand this year, and other than David Robertson and Mariano Rivera, the bullpen has been terrible.
The Yankees bullpen has allowed 21 runs and 52 base runners over 25.2 innings this season. Yesterday, they turned a painless game into an annoying one, as they made closing out a 11-3 game a lot harder than it should have been. Shawn Kelley was awful, as he allowed three runs, three hits and a walk, over 1.1 innings. Kelley was selected to be on the roster over David Aardsma for his ability to pitch multiple innings, but in the second inning of his last two appearances he has allowed two and three runs respectively. His career fly ball percentage of 51.3% may not play well in Yankee Stadium, and his fastball has been down two MPH this year (90.4).
Also, contributing to yesterdays and this season’s poor bullpen performance was Joba Chamberlain. He did not allow a run yesterday, but he did walk two batters in the ninth inning of a 11-6 game, which is brutal. Chamberlain was throwing full count sliders with that 11-6 lead, which just made no sense. This is when he gets into trouble. He over thinks things and does not attack hitters enough. He has great stuff, yet is still always nibbling at the corners, as he has six walks already this year in only 2.2 innings. The Yankees desperately need Chamberlain to get consistent and become a reliable pitcher in the seventh inning.
Boone Logan has not looked good for the Yankees either, which is a big problem since he is their only lefty. Clay Rapada got released because he was injured and the Yankees had a tight squeeze on the 40 man roster. Logan allowed a big three-run home run to Prince Fielder on Friday that blew the game open and could not retire him again on Saturday either, allowing a single. He threw 80 innings last year, which you might think could be the reason for his struggles now, but his velocity is essentially the same as last year, so it might just be a slow start. Logan was very good last year, as lefties only hit .231/.293/.372/.665 against him, so he deserves the benefit of the doubt. If he continues to struggle the Yankees could call up Vidal Nuno, who lit it up spring training, but he is not on the 40 man roster.
Chamberlain and Logan are the two most important players that have to get going because they are the most proven and have the talent. The Yankees have often gotten in-season reinforcements in the bullpen that nobody saw coming, so that is always possible. David Phelps, who has also been bad, Adam Warren and Kelley all have minor league options available. The Yankees might want to consider sending Phelps or Warren down to be stretched out as a sixth starter if one of the starters gets injured.
Obviously, we are dealing with a small sample size, so this is nothing to go crazy over yet, but it is something to keep a close eye on. On some level everybody team’s middle relief is bad, since they are always the worst pitchers on a baseball team. Also, the starting pitchers pitching at least six innings is a good way to improve your middle relief, which has not been happening for the Yankees. This is a much better problem to have than having late inning issues or starting rotation issues because it is less important. However, if Rivera or Robertson were ever to get hurt than it would become a huge problem. The bullpen was supposed the be the biggest strength on the team and it needs to get turned around.
Ever since 1989, John Sterling has been in the broadcast booth calling Yankees games through thick and thin. He’s entertaining, he’s interesting and one of the few radio announcers I can turn to when it’s time to mute a FOX game. One of the reasons that I enjoy listening to Sterling is for his inventive and interesting home-run calls. His home-run calls are one of those staples that are needed to be memorized by every Yankees fan. Over the years, he has created home-run calls that cannot be forgotten. Remember Bernie William’s famous home-run call “Bern Baby Bern” or Tino Martinez‘s “Bam-Tino?” Yep, that was John Sterling’s entertaining mind. When a new Yankee hits a home-run, fans turn and ask “What’s John Sterling’s home-run call for this player?” Well, being the John Sterling radio fanatic that I am, I compiled a list of some of our favorite New York Yankees home-run calls for the players on the current team. (that includes our new Yankees brethren as well).
Brett Gardner: Brett Gardner has two home-run calls, depending of the mood that John Sterling is. Personally, I love hearing them both since Gardner rarely hits HR’s. The first one is fun to say because he went yard, yet the second one is a pun on his last name ‘Gardner’ which is an actual word.
1) “Gardy goes Yardy!”
2) “Gardner plants one in the (left or right) field seats!”
Ichiro Suzuki: Ichiro’s home-run call. I felt like John Sterling could have been more inventive with Ichiro’s home-run call, but it is what it is.
“Ichiro, the Yankees rising son, says sayonara.”
Curtis Granderson: The second home-run call is one of my favorites. The first one is a pun on his last name, but the second one you get to sing! Every time Granderson goes to bat, I find myself singing it. I can’t wait to start singing it when Granderson comes back from the DL.
1) “Isn’t he something sort of Grand-ish?”
2) “Oh, the Grandyman Can! Oh, the Grandyman can!”
Derek Jeter: Derek Jeter is the captain of the Yankees, so his home-run call is rather fitting.
Mark Teixeira: Mark Teixeria is another one of those Yankees that has two home run calls. I actually enjoy the first one more since it’s a pun on getting a text message. (And I like to look at my smartphone and ask why haven’t I got a ‘Tex’ Message yet when he goes to the plate).
1) “Mark sends a Tex Message to the (left or right) field seats!
2) “You’re on the Mark, Teixeira”
Alex Rodriguez: Everyone knows A-Rod’s HR call. It’s not a secret.
“An A-Bomb for A-Rod.”
Robinson Cano: If I were John Sterling, I would trademark this home-run call. It’s became a very popular saying among Yankees fans.
“Robbie Cano, Don’t Ya Know!”
Francisco Cervelli: I personally am a sucker for this home-run call. It simply reminds me of food.
“Cisco the Kid Cerv’s one up!”
Travis Hafner: All right, I love John Sterling and all but…this call was L-A-M-E! It lacks the magic. Did Sterling figure that he wasn’t going to be a Yankee past this season and gave him a home-run call that was sad yet lame?
1) “The Pronx Bomber.”
2) “A Hafner Homer.”
Vernon Wells: So Vernon Wells has two HR calls that are slightly better than Travis Hafner’s. Wells’s walk-up song may be awesome…but his HR call is something that’s almost cringe-worthy.
1) “The Bronx is Vernon.”
2) “Wells rings the bells.”
Kevin Youkilis: So all of my favorite things in life has to have carbon copies of something? My favorite T.V show has carbon copies of the original characters and Kevin Youkilis’s HR call is a carbon copy of Alex Rodriguez’s.
“A Nuke for Youk.”
Yeah, that was really inventive.
Yep, we may love them and we may hate them but the John Sterling HR calls are iconic to the Yankees. When a new Yankee hits a home-run, you never know what call John Sterling could come up with.
When the baseball season starts, fans usually go to the ball park in order to take in nine innings of glorious baseball. As much as I enjoy going to the ball park to hear the crack of the bat, the fans cheering loudly and the food, I usually love going to the ball park in order to listen to the walk-up music of the Yankees. Music is one of my biggest passions, and to me the Yankees have done more than play great baseball over the years; they’ve also introduced me to new music and have filled up my iTunes with songs that I listen to on a consistent basis. Since Opening Day for the Yankees is tomorrow, I went on the Yankees website, found the list to some of the Yankees walk-up songs and took a listen to them, introducing myself to the different types of music that our players listen to.
1. Brennan Boesch: Brennan Boesch didn’t waste any time in choosing his songs for the 2013 season as he went and chose two songs for his walk-up music. The first song was “Sail” by Awolnation. When I first took a listen to the song, I found it intimidating in a good way. It’s not as intimidating as Evan Longoria‘s walk-up song (which is arguably one of the best walk-up songs in the Major Leagues), but it makes you think that something big is coming. The second song that Boesch chose was “We’ll Be Fine” by Drake. This is one of those songs that has you nodding your head while Boesch comes to the plate. Boesch hasn’t played a real game for the Yankees yet, but if I must applaud him on one thing, it’s his good taste in music.
2. Brett Gardner: I have to admit that before I started watching Gardner play baseball, I did not listen to country music; at all. But in 2011, Gardner had “Dirt Road Anthem” by Jason Aldean as one of his walk-up songs and ever since then, half my iTunes is consumed with country music. This year, Gardner went with “Hell On Wheels” by Brantely Gilbert which is another great country song. Now, let’s hope that Gardner’s 2013 season is as dynamite as his walk-up song choice.
3. Chris Stewart: Chris Stewart is close to having one of the best walk-up songs on the Yankees if he only played the first twenty seconds of the song over the P.A. Stewart’s song choice is “Forsaken” by Skillet and if there’s one thing I must say, is that the guitar riffs were amazing. I wouldn’t normally listen to music like this, but after today now I would. Now, all he has to do is play on a consistent basis so I could heart this song over and over at the ball park. I wouldn’t mind paying money for that.
4. Curtis Granderson: We all remember the famous video where Curtis Granderson was picking his at-bat music and then almost cried when he chose “Friday.” Well, maybe all those hours of going through his laptop did the Grandy Man some good. His walk-up song (when he comes back) is none other than “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See (Instrumental)” by Busta Rhymes. Not too fond of the lyrics, but I do love the beat, so a smart move by Granderson in just using the instrumental.
5. David Robertson: We all know that David Robertson is an Alabama boy. He was born in Tuscaloosa and he is constantly helping his hometown with High Socks For Hope. So it doesn’t surprise me that his walk-up song is the awesome “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. It’s actually a good thing I know about this now because I made a deadly mistake in asking my Twitter followers last season what D-Rob’s walk-up song was. Let’s just say they weren’t too happy with me during the game when they found out I seriously didn’t know. Well, I know now and it’s an awesome song. I’m looking forward to the 8th inning where I could sit back and listen to the tune that introduces us to the Yankees favorite set-up man.
6. Derek Jeter: The Captain won’t be there on Opening Day for us to hear his walk-up music but he made sure that he chose a song. I’m not too fond of rap music but, “Otis” by Jay-Z and Kanye West was a decent choice by Jeter. It would be nice to hear it at Yankee Stadium when The Captain returns, but in the meantime I guess the closest we can hear this song is on Youtube (and on iTunes if you have it already).
7. Hiroki Kuroda: Hiroki Kuroda has some great taste in music! Kuroda’s walk-up music is “The Whip” by Locksley and when I heard it for the first time, I heard some influence of ‘The Beatles’ in the chorus of the song. It’s nice that Kuroda was able to take us back to the good music–without actually taking us all the way back to the 1960′s.
8. Ivan Nova: Ah, is there nothing better than listening to some awesome Spanish music at Yankee Stadium? That’s what Ivan Nova introduced to the fans when he made his walk-up choice “Marta La Reina” by Antony Santos. This is one of those songs where you can’t help but get up from your seat and start dancing. According to the Yankees website, I don’t think it’s available for purchase but they have the song on Youtube where you can hear it over and over and over. It’s actually a great song to hear on a Sunday morning (with your headphones on).
9. Mariano Rivera: Mariano Rivera’s song choice is as fitting as his role on the Yankees. When the Yankees have a lead and they go to the 9th inning, Mariano Rivera comes in the game and puts it to bed, dubbing him “The Sandman.” Rivera’s song choice is the best song choice by far on the Yankees with “Enter Sandman” by Metallica. The guitar riffs in the song are simply amazing and when Yankees fans hear it, they can’t help but get excited, knowing that the greatest closer of all time is coming in to make the opposing team’s offense go to sleep. Yankees fans better soak in all of “Enter Sandman” that they can this season, since Rivera plans on retiring at the end of the season. I know I’ll soak up every moment.
10. Mark Teixeira: If there’s anyone that we can count on to take us back to when rap music was at it’s best, it’s Mark Teixeira. His song choice “It’s Tricky” by Run D.M.C is a great way to pay a homage to rap at it’s finest. Of course, we expect nothing less of Teixeira since he has been famously known of using classics from the Twisted Sisters in the past. But Teixeira didn’t stop there. His second song choice was “This Town” by O.A.R. which is one of my favorite songs. Teixeira hit a home run with his song choices and I can’t wait until he gets back on the field so we can hear it blaring from the P.A speakers.
11. Phil Hughes: Phil Hughes’s walk-up song is pretty vague. There’s no artist next to his song choice ”Tomorrowland” so I did a search on Youtube and it sounds more like Hughes is ready for summer in a club than ready to play baseball. If this is his song, I’m not too fond of the techno-beat, but I can see it getting fans excited.
12. Robinson Cano: Robinson Cano simply outdid everyone when it came to choosing songs. He didn’t choose two songs, he went the extra mile and chose three! His first song was “El Que No Aguante La Presion” by Secreto El Biberon which is a great song choice. It reminds me of summer like Hughes’s song choice, but Cano’s song reminds me more of running through fire hydrants that have water coming out of them than the club. Cano’s second song choice was “Me Kitee” by Black Point. Again, it reminded me of summer. Cano’s last song was “Te Prendo” by Chimbala. As far as Spanish songs go, all three of Cano’s song choices hit it out of the ball park. Simply great. If his goal was to get Yankees fans on their feet while he comes to bat, he succeeded.
13. Vernon Wells: I’m not a fan of rap music, but if you choose a song with Dr. Dre and Eminem, then you are in my good graces for the entire season. And that’s exactly what Vernon Wells did by choosing “Forgot About Dre” by Dr. Dre & Eminem. The beat is fantastic and this was when rap was still at it is greatest. It’s great that someone chose a throwback song, and now I will await his arrival to the plate just to hear this awesome song.
The Yankees choosing their own walk-up music is a way for them to connect to their fans. It shows fans what kind of music their idols like and in their own way, they introduce you to music you may have never heard of before. The Yankees are always winners in the fans eyes, but they’ve become more than. They’re role models with impeccable taste in music. So the next time you go to the ball park, open your ears when your favorite Yankee goes to the plate. You just might have a new favorite song that you’ll want as soon as you get home.
With less than two weeks until Opening Day, the Yankees have a little bit more clarity on who will be playing where when the season begins. Injuries to Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson have opened up more spots and competition than there has been in a Yankees camp in a long time. Obviously, there is still time for things to change due to injuries or play on the field, but it looks like some favorites have emerged for the open positional spots on the Yankees.
Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart will be the two catchers on the roster ahead of Austin Romine. Cervelli probably has an edge to start over Stewart, due to his much improved defensive play in the spring, and because he probably has a slightly better bat. I have been a skeptic of Cervelli, but if he can keep up this improved defensive play, letting go of Russell Martin might not be the awful decision that I and many others thought it was. However, given regular AB’s, I still think Cervelli will hit closer to .220 rather than his .271 career average.
Brennan Boesch was a solid low risk pickup by the Yankees and he is the favorite to start in one of the corner outfield spots. I think Boesch will be in right field and the stronger defender Ichiro will be in left field.
Boesch is another lefty, but he actually hits lefties better in his career (.286/.348/.420/.767) than righties (.250/.305/.412/.717), so he has no real platoon split. He is only 27 years old, so he is still in the prime in his career. Boesch has averaged 14 home runs per season in his three seasons at spacious Comerica Park, so at Yankee Stadium he might be able to hit 20 home runs this season.
Boesch had an awful 2012 season by hitting only 12 home runs and having a slash line of .240/.286/.373/.659. However, Boesch had surgery in the 2011 offseason to repair a torn ligament in his thumb. This may have had a negative effect on his season, as hand and wrist injuries are tough to deal with for a hitter. If Boesch can repeat his 2011 season of 16 home runs and a slash line of .283/.341/.458/.799 the Yankees would be thrilled.
Matt Diaz has been released, and Zolio Almonte and Slade Heathcott have been sent to the minor league camp, so that leaves Boesch, Ben Francisco, Melky Mesa and Thomas Neal in the competition for the outfield spots. You can probably rule out Neal, although he has had a nice spring. With Boesch starting in right, that leaves Francisco and Mesa to battle it out for right-handed outfield/DH role. The Yankees always seem to lean toward the veteran in these situations and Francisco (.345/.441/.586/1.027) has greatly outperformed Mesa (.186/.239/.395/.634) at the plate this spring. By keeping Francisco on the major league team and sending Mesa down the Yankees can afford to keep both players, since Francisco does not have any options remaining and Mesa does. This is good for depth purposes.
In the infield it appears as though Juan Rivera and Kevin Youkilis will be starting at the corners at this point. Dan Johnson has been egregious this spring (.069/.270.069/.339) and Ronnie Mustelier’s injury might have cost him a chance to start at third base if the Yankees wanted to move Youkilis to first. Rivera has hit for a decent average this spring (.286), but he has hit for no power. It is unknown at this point whether Jayson Nix or Eduardo Nunez will be the utility infielder or maybe both make the roster.
The corner infield is the place that the Yankees really should look to upgrade before the season begins. The Yankees can get by with Boesch and Francisco replacing Granderson for a month, but Rivera starting at first base is really not acceptable. This is why the Texiera injury hurts so much. Losing a guy who you can pencil in for 35 home runs, over 100 RBI and gold glove defense and replacing him with Rivera is really going to hurt your team.
The Yankees should look for an upgrade at first or at third and move Youkilis over to first because it sounds like the Teixeira injury might be a long term thing, so you cannot worry about having a surplus once he gets back because you have no idea when that will be at this point. These are certainly some different and unusual players who will be in the Yankees starting lineup on Opening Day, but this is what we have to live with at this point.
Two days before Christmas of 2008 the Yankees and their fans received what they thought was a fantastic present. It was on December 23rd, 2008 that highly sought after free agent Mark Teixeira agreed to terms with the New York Yankees. The Yankees had made Teixeira an offer weeks before, but had withdrawn that offer, leaving the Angels, Nationals, Orioles and the Yankees archrival Red Sox as to battle over Teixeira. The Red Sox offered Teixeira 168 million dollars over eight years and Teixeira appeared on his way to Boston. The Yankees came over the top of Boston’s offer by offering 180 million dollars over 8 years and Yankee fans rejoiced not only because one of the premier first baseman in the game was headed to the Bronx, but also because the Yankees had swooped in and stolen him from the Red Sox. Four years and almost three months later, it’s debatable as to which team actually won that day.
When Mark Teixeira was signed by the Yankees he was 28 years old and had played seven full seasons of MLB. Teixeira played incredible defense, hit for power and average, and appeared to be entering his prime. He started out his Yankee career in 2009 by struggling in April, igniting concerns that he may not be cut out for the pressures of playing New York. Texeira surged with an incredible May in which he hit .330 and 13 home runs and never looked back in the regular season. Teixeira was an All-Star in 2009 and also earned a Golden Glove and a Silver Slugger while finishing 2nd in MVP voting to Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer. Teixeira hit .292 with 39 home runs and 122 RBI’s and a .383 OBP in 2009.
Teixeira largely disappeared in the postseason that year, hitting only .180 in the 2009 postseason and a pathetic .136 in the World Series, but the Yankees had accomplished their mission of a World Championship that Teixeira had played a huge part in obtaining with his regular season play. At that point the signing of Texeira seemed to be a steal for the Yankees with the best yet to come.
In 2010 Teixeira got off to another slow start but never really recovered. While Teixeira’s power numbers were good with 33 home runs and 108 RBI’s, his batting average crashed down to a career low .256 while his OBP dropped 20 plus points to .365. His postseason performance was again disappointing in 2010. Teixeira batted .148 in the 2010 postseason, including an 0-14 disaster in that year’s ALCS against the Rangers but was known to have been playing with a sore right wrist and a broken right pinkie toe that was suffered in an August 31st game against the Oakland A’s.
Teixeira got a pass for his disappointing 2010 from just about everyone and rightfully so. Sub-par seasons happen to every player and he certainly couldn’t be bashed for his disappointing postseason while trying to battle through serious injuries.
2011 was when concerns about Teixeira became serious. Although his defense remained as stellar as ever, opposing teams readily employed a shift against Teixeira, exposing his inability to take the ball to the opposite field. Whether it was the shift itself or simply the shift getting inside of his head, Teixeira responded to the shift with his usual power but also with a second consecutive lifetime low batting average. Teixeira hit .248 to go along with yet another 20 plus point drop in his OBP, which crashed down to .341. Teixeira’s frustration with the shift employed against him appeared to have altered his swing to an uppercut, causing him to hit more pop-ups and fly balls than usual.
Teixeira ended his 2011 season with yet another catastrophic postseason performance against the Tigers in the ALDS. Teixeira hit .167 with no home runs and 1 RBI, on a bases loaded walk.
2012 was a bizarre season for Teixeira, filled with more struggles, illness, and injury. After declaring to the media in 2012 spring training that he may resort to the bunt as a defense to the shift employed against him by opposing teams, Teixeira started April out by contracting a mysterious illness that caused him to have extreme coughing fits. The cough was later found to have been caused by nerve damage to one of Teixeira’s vocal cords.
Teixeira continued to struggle against the shift in 2012 and never really got on track. Teixeira batted .251 in 2012 with his OBP falling to .332 while playing a career low 123 games. A calf strain in August through early September placed him on the DL, an injury he aggravated again in a controversial blown call against the Orioles in September in the midst of a heated division battle.
Texeira had an improved postseason in 2012, which isn’t saying much based on what he had done in his three prior postseasons as a Yankee. Teixeira hit .281 in the 2012 postseason but again had no home runs and drove in only one run.
Teixeira’s last postseason home run came in the 2010 ALDS against the Twins. Teixeira has only three home runs in 138 postseason at-bats as a Yankee, a mind-boggling statistic for a player now known primarily for his power. Teixeira’s postseason statistics as a Yankee are 27-138(.196) with 3 home runs and 13 RBI’s. Teixeira is the biggest postseason Yankee bust since Dave Winfield.
Including his postseason at-bat’s, Teixeira has gone 440 -1779(.247) since the postseason of 2009.
In this most recent offseason, Teixeira gave an interview to Dan Barbarisi of the Wall Street Journal in which he agreed with those who think he is overpaid. Teixeira also stated that he felt his career was on the downside.
While some gave Teixeira kudos for being refreshingly honest, many others were offended by the defeat in Teixeira’s tone as well as his hurry to declare himself on a steep decline when he turns only 33 the day after opening day. For a guy scheduled to make 23.5 million in 2013, he didn’t seem to be putting up much of a fight.
While hitting off of a tee practicing with Team USA for the World Baseball Classic two weeks ago, Teixeira felt pain in his wrist and left Team USA to return to the Yankees for an evaluation of his injury.
Initially called a “strained tendon” in his wrist that would sideline Teixeira for 8-10 weeks, the injury diagnosis was revealed this past weekend to be much more serious. Teixeira has a partially torn tendon sheath which has put his 2013 season in serious jeopardy.
Should the tendon itself become unstable due to the torn tendon sheath, Teixeira will require season ending surgery that is said to have a six month recovery period.
Teixeira’s contract has become a disaster second only to another Yankee, Alex Rodriguez. Teixeira was indeed overpaid the last three seasons and now has the potential to earn 23.5 million dollars this year while not appearing in a single game. As Alex Rodriguez may not play in 2013 either, the Yankees could have 50 million dollars in salary on the sidelines in 2013.
While Yankee fans are understandably upset after hearing about Teixeira’s far more dire diagnosis, it is important to keep in perspective that Teixeira himself doubted that he would ever be the player the Yankees paid for. Teixeira classified himself as an aging player on the downside of his career and sadly, he was probably right even before he sustained his most recent injury.
Kevin Youkilis plays a very solid first base and scouts have given thumbs up across the board at the more compact swing Youkilis has unveiled this spring. The drop-off at first base should not be large enough to cost the Yankees their season.
Mark Teixeira has been given a free pass by many for underperforming his contract the last three seasons as well as his embarassing postseason performances in large part because of his good looks that endear him to “fangirls” and his squeaky clean good guy image. He’s also made appearances on” Entourage” and this past offseason appeared on Broadway in “Rock Of Ages”. None of that changes the fact that he simply isn’t valuable enough as a player to cost a team their season because of his absence and that Teixeira himself predicted a downward spiral for the rest of his career.
If the Yankees’ season is “over” because Mark Teixeira is injured, than the Yankees weren’t going to have much of a season anyway. The Yankees can and will contend in the AL East whether Mark Teixeira comes back or not in 2013.
In a little less than three weeks, the Yankees will begin their home-opener against the Boston Red Sox with CC Sabathia on the mound. However, this year’s Opening Day lineup might be a little different than what we’re used to due to all of the injuries the Yankees were plagued with during the 2013 season. The Yankees are missing Curtis Granderson (broken forearm), Mark Teixeira (strained forearm) and Alex Rodriguez (hip surgery) in their offense which is sure to look like the ‘Robinson Cano Show’ for the first month and a half. But with still some time to go, just how are the Yankees shaping up as they prepare for the season?
The Yankees lineup has many question marks after losing so many players to free agency and injuries. The bats of Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, Raul Ibanez and Eric Chavez will be with different ball clubs, while we will most likely have to wait for Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson to return to their post in early to mid-May. However, the lineup hasn’t looked as puzzling as it did when Spring Training started. The Yankees proved that they can manufacture runs by using a key element that they possess: speed. Players like Brett Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki and Eduardo Nunez are capable of getting on base, going station to station on their own before a key teammate has to drive them in with an RBI. Speed will play an important part this season since the Yankees have lost over 100 home runs than in season’s past. But just because the Yankees are relying on speed, it doesn’t mean we should start calling them the ‘Bronx Bunters’. They will still find a way to hit home runs with Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira making their way back into the starting lineup.
Throughout the course of Spring Training, the starting pitching has been one early glimpse of how our starters will perform during the 2013 season. It looks as if they left off from last season. Hiroki Kuroda looks to be in mid-season form, David Phelps has a 0.63 ERA 14 Spring appearances Ivan Nova has an ERA of 1. Andy Pettitte has still proven that his pitches are effective although he’s the oldest starting pitcher in Major League Baseball. And as expected, there is no concern over CC Sabathia, whatsoever. The starting pitching looks to be one of the Yankees strong points like it was in season’s past. Let’s hope that the pitching can carry the Yanks this season.
The Yankees bullpen was another one of their key pieces that helped define the Yankees last season. With pitchers such as David Robertson, Boone Logan, Clay Rapada and Joba Chamberlain, it seemed like an easy task to get the ball to the 9th inning before handing it off to the greatest closer of all time, Mariano Rivera. Last season’s bullpen dynamic was different since there was no Mariano in the bullpen due to an ACL injury, giving the Yankees a glimpse of what it would look like if Mariano Rivera wasn’t there. With Rafael Soriano, the Yankees were able to still close games with a dominant force but this year there is no Rafael Soriano. Mariano Rivera plans to retire after the 2013 season, which gives Yankees fans one last look of the greatest closer before he hangs up his cleats and says goodbye to the game. The bullpen is expected to be a strong part of the Yankees once again, and from Spring observations, I wouldn’t be surprised if Shawn Kelley and David Phelps get spots in the bullpen. With both of their arms this spring, the Yankees bullpen could become an iron gate to prevent runs from scoring.
There’s only 17 days until Opening Day so from now until Spring Training is over, it would be a good time to start watching the games to see who has a legitimate shot of making the team. And from what I’ve seen all Spring so far, there are quite a few who have a chance to go north.