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(UPDATE) Yankees close to re-acquiring Alfonso Soriano

Thursday, 8:00pm: According to Cubs manager Dale Sveum, the deal is “99%” complete, as Soriano has been scratched from the lineup and is saying his goodbyes. Reports say Chicago will pick up $25 million of Sori’s remaining $36 million on his contract. In exchange, the Yankees are rumored to be sending prospects Joel De La Cruz and Chase Whitley to the Windy City.

Tuesday, 12:00pm: Word broke late last night via the New York Post’s George King that the Yankees were close to trading for their former rookie sensation and current Chicago Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano. They would apparently surrender no more than a mid-level prospect, and Chicago would cover most of Soriano’s remaining contract (2 years, $36 million) that expires next season.

However, there are conflicting reports on the potential deal. Just read what Cubs GM Jed Hoyer had to say on MLB Network Radio earlier today:

Even if a deal is reached, Soriano has 10/5 rights and can veto a trade to any team. But, it’s been reported several times in the past few years that if a return to New York was on the table, Soriano would gladly accept. The 37-year old is currently batting .256 with 17 home runs, 51 RBI, and a .471 slugging percentage, a right-handed power bat which the Yankees have lacked all season.

Soriano was the Yankees’ starting second baseman from 2001-2003, but was dealt to the Texas Rangers in February of 2004 for – yep, you guessed it – Alex Rodriguez. As A-Rod faces another injury and a possible suspension, Alfonso Soriano coming back now would be irony at its finest.

We will update you as more news comes in.

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Accept it: Kevin Youkilis is a Yankee

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Not even one full day into his first day at spring training, the few sentences said by Yankees third baseman Kevin Youkilis sent fans and the media into a frenzy. Likely a few hours after he was sized for his pinstripes, Youk was telling reporters he’d always be a Boston Red Sox.

He’s learned now, but that’s a big no-no and certainly not something that will go unnoticed in the big New York spotlight. Of course, his allegiance to Boston spread all over the back pages of newspapers was not the only quote he gave, but it was the only one people cared about.

Already on Yankees fan’s bad side, Kevin Youkilis said he will always remember the first nine seasons of his baseball career, which just so happened to take place with the Bombers’ biggest rival. Two World Series rings, three All Star appearances, a Gold Glove and Hank Aaron Award, and he is being ridiculed for saying he enjoyed what he accomplished there? Are fans truly clinging to any little thing he says that sounds the slightest anti-Yankee? That is truly pathetic.

Now, there’s not a fiber in my body that tells me a clean-shaven Kevin Youkilis wearing our beloved Yankee pinstripes is right. This is not a plea of defense nor show of love to the  guy who batted .235 last season and yet received $12 million, from an apparently penny-pinching Yankees front office. But it’s just me accepting it.

Many people have brought up the argument that players like Sparky Lyle, Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens, and Johnny Damon all started out as hated rivals in Beantown, and ended up becoming fan favorites [and more importantly, World Series champions] in the Bronx. Did any fan really expect those four “idiots” to put on the pinstripes, play with Yankee pride and partake in some of the greatest moments the team has ever had? I don’t think so.

I’ll give you a moment to reminisce about Sparky’s 1977 Cy Young season. Or Boggs riding the horse after ’96. Don’t forget Clemens’ postseason dominance either. Or Damon’s double-steal.

That is not my number one point, but it largely contributes to the idea that fans need to just wait and see what happens this season. The fact is, no one knows what Kevin Youkilis will do for the Yankees this year. I don’t expect anything outstanding, but I don’t expect anything horrible either.

Yankees fans have been considered vulgar, ignorant, downright stupid and clueless in the past. They have also been known as classy, every now and then, for cheering for whoever is wearing the pinstripes. I’m not a fan of A-Rod and a number of guys on the team. But I still support them and cheer for them. Why? Because they’re Yankees. And Kevin Youkilis is now one too.

So forget what he was, as he is now a player for our favorite team. Forgive and forget. Give him a chance. All those statements and more apply. The fact is, you don’t know anything until you know everything. Who knows what these upcoming 162 games have in store for Youk. Only time will tell. Not me or you.

New York Yankees clinch American League East & Home Field

The 2012 New York Yankees looked down and almost out in the beginning of September. They weren’t able to hit with runners in scoring position, the pitching had been on and off and players had been injured. The Yankees had a tough year when they lost OF Brett Gardner and closer Mariano Rivera within the matter of weeks. It was even tougher when the Yankees lost pitcher Michael Pineda before he event threw a pitch for the 2012 season. Things were looking slim and some writers and fans were questioning whether the Yankees would make the play-offs. But then–everything started to come together. Brett Gardner returned, Mark Teixeira returned, Alex Rodriguez returned, Robinson Cano became the hottest hitter in the universe and the pitching started to come together. All of a sudden, the American League East looked as if it was coming down to the wire at first between 3 teams; the Yankees, the Orioles and the Rays. But then, the faded picture started to look clearer. Tampa Bay was knocked out of the Wild Card spot, the Red Sox and Blue Jays tried to play spoiler and the Orioles tried to keep up. The Blue Jays took half a series from the Yankees, the Rays took the series from the Orioles and the Red Sox couldn’t play spoiler vs. the Yankees. In the end, the Yankees became the American League East Champions after brutally beating the Boston Red Sox 14-2 in Bobby Valentine’s final game as manager.

In years past the American League would usually be decided in a couple of days before the season ended, but the American League came down to Game 162. The Yankees had champagne chilled in the clubhouse fridge sitting there until they were certain that they had the Division Series in their midst. The Yankees made it clear that they weren’t going to open the champagne if they won anything less than a division but now that there is another division title in the Bronx, you can expect the champagne to fly.

The Yankees still have a huge question that has been left unanswered. The question? Who do the Yankees play against? Since the Yankees are the number one seed in the play-offs, they will have the home field advantage but because of the new play-off format, they won’t be able to start a series at home. Until then they will be working out at the stadium or watching from the comfort of their homes who will be their opponent. But for now–clinching the AL East and home field is a great start for a team that is on a chase–for 28.

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